By Sharon Aron Baron
Renaming city streets should only be taken after if the leader or activist has a stellar background or made some exemplary contribution to the public.
The person in question should also be deceased or is an elected official no longer in office.
Tamarac city commissioners have proposed changing the names of two Tamarac streets — Southgate Boulevard to Alcee L. Hastings Boulevard and NW 108th Terrace to Diane Glasser Terrace, without any fact-finding or public input. At Wednesday’s meeting, they will be voting on it.
Congressman Alcee Hastings
Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton proposed renaming Southgate Blvd to Alcee L. Hastings Blvd. Although Hastings has pancreatic cancer, he has not passed away and is still in public office. So he does not meet the criteria.
Hastings was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1992, representing Florida’s 23rd district — now the 20th district. As a representative, Hastings has been good, however, missing 9.7 percent of roll call votes. He has passed seven pieces of legislation into law that he sponsored, including the Miccosukee Reserved Area Act, Gang Prevention through Community Partnerships Act, and five pieces of legislation designating South Florida Federal building named after someone.
His voting record supports women’s rights, animal rights, expanding Americans’ access to the ballot box, protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, the Equality Act, impeaching Donald Trump, and decriminalizing cannabis, to name a few.
But his career hasn’t been without some legal issues.
In 1981, while serving as a judge, he was involved in a sting operation by the FBI against an attorney and alleged co-conspirator William Borders; Judge Hastings was charged with conspiracy to solicit a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence for two men on 21 counts of racketeering and the return of their seized assets. In Hastings’s 1983 trial, he was acquitted by a jury after Borders refused to testify in court, despite having been convicted in his own trial in 1982.
However, Hastings’s own peers in the Democratic-controlled House did not forget and took up the case. In 1988 Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413–3. He was then convicted on October 20, 1989, by the Senate, which, at the time, was also controlled by Democrats.
Hastings became the sixth federal judge in the United States’ history to be removed from the Senate’s office.
So here we have Hastings impeached as a judge by his own party in both the house in the senate. But that’s not all.
In June 2011, one of Hastings’s staff members, Winsome Packer, filed a lawsuit alleging that he had made repeated unwanted sexual advances and threatened her job when she refused him. In February 2012, Hastings would be released from the lawsuit, and it would only continue against the Helsinki Commission, which Hastings chaired, and Packer represented in Vienna.
In December 2017, the Treasury Department paid $220,000 to settle the lawsuit. Hastings later complained that he played no role in the settlement negotiations but how they had been framed implied that he had.
In 2012, Hastings was ranked #1 out of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives for paying salaries and fees to family members, according to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. A state-by-state report on Congress members published by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington reported that Hastings paid his girlfriend, Patricia Williams, an attorney who worked as his deputy district director, $622,574 over the four-year period from 2007 to 2010, who he later married.
Let’s talk about renaming NW 108th Terrace after Diane Glasser. Commissioner Debra Placko proposes she is honored with a street; however before Glasser was a commissioner, she was former Tamarac Commissioner Patte Atkin-Grad’s campaign manager. When Atkins-Grad was on trial for corruption, Glasser received $15,000 from father and son developers Shawn and Bruce Chait as a thank you for getting her elected.
Shawn Chait told Glasser that he was “anxious for Atkins-Grad to be elected.”
“It was a bonus,” said Glasser to the jury, “for doing a good job on the campaign.”
They met in a bagel shop in 2006, the day after the election, where Bruce Chait handed her an envelope. Glasser said that she never looked in the envelope until she arrived home. She was owed $4,000 from Atkins-Grad after the election, but $4,000 wasn’t in the envelope. Inside a bag was a $15,000 check made out to her.
There was also that time in 2015 when she turned her back on her fellow Kings Point residents she represented and was in favor of putting a charter school on seven acres of city land in the Sports Complex. This meant relocating the skate park, tennis courts, and basketball courts to make way for the school.
Residents told the commission they saw Glasser in a private meeting with the school principal and architect for the Doral Academy at the Tamarac Diner, filling residents in on the plans. According to Glasser, her explanation for attending the meeting with charter school officials was that she was trying to find more information.
However, her live-in employee Percy Johnson created an email account, TamaracforDoralAcademy@gmail.com, to garner community interest in the project — a conflict of interest.
Johnson, who was arrested back in 2012 on a single count of Grand Theft for stealing over $2,000 in funds from the Democratic Council of Club President’s, was never condoned for his illegal behavior by Glasser — a Democratic State Committeewoman. He eventually received a withhold of adjudication and 18 months of state probation.
Residents have an opportunity to share their opinion either way on March 24, 2021, where the commission will consider renaming the streets. Submit your public comments to CityClerk@Tamarac.org or sign up to speak by phone at www.signupgenius.com.
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- Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and Tamarac Talk, Coral Springs Talk, and Parkland Talk. Tamarac Talk was created in 2011 to provide News for the residents of Tamarac and is the #1 News Source for Residents.