Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Dean Trantalis says he feels disrespected by his colleagues. And he says he is not going to let the dissing stand!…..
Here’s the story – and how he’s not going to let the issue go
Trantalis wanted to replace his appointment to Citys’ Planning and Zoning Board, Bradford Cohen, (whose term on the Board, according to City records, was up,) with long time city activist Steve Glassman.
Now if the name Bradford Cohen sounds familiar, it’s because Cohen, a local criminal attorney, is somewhat famous. He is a pundit on Fox and CNN, among other TV Shows.
And what makes the story somewhat ironic, Cohen was a contestant on Donald Trumps’ - the Apprentice, and was fired ! …. So when Trantalis decided not to reappoint him to the Board, Cohen got defensive and put up a fight - “I wasn’t going to be fired from this one”, he told me, laughing!
So Cohen allegedly spoke to the Mayor and other Commissioners before the meeting, and was ready when Trantalis announced that he would be replacing Cohen.
Trantalis’s colleagues said that the City records were flawed, and Cohen actually deserved another year on the Board. Trantalis asked the City attorney if that was correct, having been reassured before the meeting that Cohen’s term was up, and Attorney Everett , said she agreed – with both Trantalis and the Mayor ???
…. Anyhow, this morning Trantalis sent this memo to Everett, asking for her to definitively clear up the whole debacle.
What occurred yesterday at the Conference Meeting was very troubling on many levels.
I was informed by city staff that the term of one of my appointments on the Planning and Zoning Board was reaching its end, and it was my responsibility to either reappoint that person, or to appoint a new person.
It appears that this information was based on my understanding of the following:
1. The September 2012 resolution, signed by Mayor John P. Seiler, wherein it stated that Bradford Cohen would be appointed to complete the term vacated by Catherine Maus until May 2014.
2. The board appointment roster from the Clerk’s office indicating that the term of Bradford Cohen was to conclude on May 2014.
It seems that Mr. Cohen chose to challenge the accuracy of these documents, and he prevailed upon the majority of the Commission to interpret the rules regarding appointments in such a way as to permit him to serve until May 2015.
By way of history, you should be aware that when I was concluding my first term of office in 2006, Charlotte Rodstrom, who was serving as my appointee on P & Z, stepped down to run for office and I appointed Steve Glassman to replace her. He served through the balance of Charlotte’s P & Z term, and then, during the tenure of Harry Stewart, was informed that he needed to be reappointed before he could continue to serve on the Board. When Charlotte was elected to the Commission, she then reappointed him. He was not informed that he could serve a term of three years when he was first appointed.
I bring this up because you had indicated that based on the reading of the law and past practices, the decision of the commission was consistent. To me, common sense and decades of practice by successive city commissions was turned on its head yesterday, all for the purpose of placating the interests of one individual. The entire episode was not only embarrassing, but it showed the public that personal interests trumped the rule of law. Future commissions are now left with at best only a vague notion of term succession as it is practiced in the city of Ft. Lauderdale.
For this reason, I am seeking a legal opinion from you for the following:
Please reconcile the practice of what occurred yesterday with why Mr. Glassman had to be reappointed by Charlotte Rodstrom when Mr. Glassman was appointed to complete the balance of Charlotte’s term
Please define the words “term”, “expired term”, and “interim term” , and how those words relate to appointments for the Planning and Zoning Board as well as other Boards.
I am hoping to bring some clarity to the process so that we do not have to subject applicants or the general public again to what occurred yesterday.
I’ll keep you informed ….. Tim