I’ve been looking into the ethics charges hurled at Commissioner Dean Trantalis by pit-bull lawyer Bill Scherer at last Tuesday’s City Commission meeting.
Scherer in action
Here’s the background
A developer, Enrique Colmenares, bought a parcel on the Fort Lauderdale beach to build a hi-rise hotel …….
……… he wanted to build this
..where this is……
So if you’re thinking that would be a rather tight fit, you would not be alone.
Even the traffic experts that looked at the proposal said silly things like “the bartenders might have to ride their bicycles to work”, and “the valet parkers will have to keep pocket change on hand” to put cars in City meters in a crunch”.
So the developers’ lawyer met with Commissioner Trantalis to gauge his opinion, and Trantalis reportedly told him it was too tight a fit, and the developer needed more land to accommodate the parking, etc.
here comes the ethics charge – follow closely !
……. Scherer says in the complaint (filed with the State Ethics Board), that on the day the developer met with Trantalis, Trantalis’s former domestic partner, Richard G. Smith, called the developer’s attorney, Scott Backman. The complaint says Smith called to try and buy the property away from the developer for one of his clients that was looking for a site on the beach for a restaurant.
The complaint says Smith told Backman that he had been referred by Trantalis, that the Vintro would be denied, and asked if Colmenares would be interested in selling the property.
Trantalis calls it all poppycock, says he never referred Smith to Backman, says he doesn’t even believe the call by Smith to Backman was made on the same day he met with Backman. He says if the call was made on the same day that “it was at best a coincidence”. Trantalis says he knows that” sounds odd, but it is the truth”.
He says he remembers Smith telling him about his client’s interest in the beach property, but says after that he had no knowledge what happened with the deal until he saw his name on a LOI (letter of interest) as the attorney for Smith, and told Smith that “he could not be a part of it” and that his name “needed to come off”.
Smith says that what Trantalis says is all true, and that he never told Backman he was referred by Trantalis, that his actions were totally independent of Trantalis.
Just another chapter in ugly politics, they say.