Commission Votes Against $50,000 Leaked Memo Investigation, Hires New City Attorney

What’s on your mind? Once again, Tamarac resident Dr. Darcy  isn’t shy about sharing her thoughts during public comments

By Sharon Aron Baron

It began as a quiet, organized meeting on Wednesday, as commission members were well aware not only residents were watching — media was too.

The agenda included voting for a new city attorney, an evaluation of the city manager, as well as the $50,000 private investigator to determine the whistleblower leaking the budget items to the Sun-Sentinel.

Instead of ruckus and interruptions, city commissioners politely took their turns speaking. It went smoothly — at least for the first hour and a half.  Proclamations and city commission reports were removed from the agenda, and there wasn’t much of the typical long-winded grandstanding either.  The meeting ended in a little over two hours.  It was glorious — and I’m certain the staff that has to sit through these after-midnight meetings were thrilled as well.

Barbara Sharief

New City Attorney

The decision to hire a new city attorney was on the agenda. But first, Commissioner Mike Gelin created a PowerPoint addressing what he considered “propaganda” in Tamarac Talk, where we gave an overview of each city attorney applicant.  

It was a compliment to be called out for our hours peering through applications. Just three weeks ago, Gelin told us, “… most voters don’t read your blog.”

Gelin said he disagreed with our assessment that applicants who padded their resumes with “of counsel” attorneys were not qualified. According to the Florida Bar, a lawyer may be considered “of counsel” if he or she has a regular, continuing relationship with a lawyer or firm in a capacity other than that of partner or associate. This is true, however, when someone needs several “of counsel” relationships, it’s basically an admission that the applicant alone isn’t qualified.

When we wrote the applicant John Herin was Board Certified (with no of counsel attorneys), Gelin illustrated on his PowerPoint that Attorney Pamela Ryan was too.  The problem is, Ryan wasn’t applying for the job; she worked for Hans Ottinot, who was. 

His presentation fell on deaf ears. Mayor Michelle Gomez passed the gavel to Commissioner Elvin Villalobos to make the motion to hire John Herin’s firm of Fox Rothchild, which was seconded by Commissioner Elvin Villalobos and passed by Commissioners Debra Placko and Marlon Bolton. Gelin voted no.

$50,000 investigation

The commission retreated on hiring the investigative firm of Kim Vaughan Lerner to figure out who leaked the memo to the Sun-Sentinel with proposed budget amendment items like:

  • Full health insurance: About $55,324 annually for the group to share “to provide city commission members with city-paid health insurance coverage at 100%.”
  • Retirement: $87,500 annually to be shared for the commissioners’ retirement plans. The new retirement dollars would amount to $437,500 over five years. The commissioners currently get a city contribution of $4,800 per person per year.
  • Furniture: $15,000 for “the purchase of furniture for City Hall commissioner’s office space.” Bolton’s Office.
  • Technology: $30,000 for a “technology” stipend for the group to share. Details of what qualified as technology weren’t specified.
  • Education: A $10,000 fund to reimburse commissioners as a group for education such as college classes.

Although Marlon Bolton was the one who requested the budget items, he was neither censured nor were his actions acknowledged by the commission for staying mum at the April 28 meeting, essentially throwing his colleagues under the bus.  

Nor was his 2,000 word nonsensical diatribe sent to every email in the city database from his campaign account blasting the mayor and the city manager’s salaries.  Not a whisper from the dais about his actions. However, they all voted unanimously against hiring the investigator,  saving the city money on an unwarranted investigation.

City Manager Evaluation

Gelin was concerned they didn’t give City Manager Michael Cernech a performance evaluation last year, although we covered the one he received on January 8, 2020.  Next up, the human resource director will work on an evaluation document based upon her discussion with commissioners, which will be at a future workshop. 

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Author Profile

Sharon Aron Baron
Sharon Aron Baron
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.

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