It was high drama.
At the very start of a public hearing last night for a new proposed hotel at the beach, (the Vintro Hotel), Commissioner Dean Trantalis was blindsided by a very public accusation that he was guilty of ethical violations concerning the beach project.
The accusation was made by infamous Fort Lauderdale attorney Bill Scherer.
In a well planned out attack, Scherer basically said that a former partner of Trantalis, Rick Smith, a local realtor, had clients that were trying to buy the land away from the proposed hoteliers, and that Trantalis had to know and shouldn’t be hearing the development request.
Scherer is no stranger to local drama, having successfully sued the City of Fort Lauderdale when another development he was associated with was denied approvals.
Scherer also sued Broward County, (he tried to overturn County term limit laws) and headed a team that represented President Bush in the 2000 vote recount.
After Scherer made the accusations against Trantalis, and declaring that he was filing a State ethical action, Mayor Jack Seiler called for a 10 minute break to calm the room.
When the hearing restarted, Trantalis said he would indeed recuse himself, so there could be no hint of impropriety. He said he was unaware of any wrong doing by his former partner, and called the effort “ambush politics”. He added that the City should not stand for it.
He looked at Scherer and said “nice try”.
Commissioners Roberts and Rogers agreed with Trantalis, and called out Scherer for making the public accusations.
rendering of proposed hotel
In the end, it didn’t matter. The Commission voted down the project 3-0, saying the building was attractive, but way too big for the proposed quarter acre lot.
I’m sure there will be a follow-up !