By Tom Lauder
Once again, Tamarac Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin wasted time during a commission to attack the media for covering city issues.
During the May 12, 2021 meeting, Gelin blasted Tamarac Talk and REDBROWARD for examining the candidates for the city attorney position.
Similar to his recent attacks on The Sun-Sentinel, Gelin smeared fact-based news stories as “propaganda.” Gelin even used a PowerPoint presentation in a futile attempt to rehabilitate three of the five candidates for the position.
TEAM DALE HOLNESS
In April, REDBROWARD revealed three of the five law firms vying for the Tamarac city attorney position were supported by allies of Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.
Commissioner Gelin reprinted portions of this story for his May 12 defense of attorney Michael Garcia. Gelin took exception to our reporting of Garcia, including 100 pages of irrelevant insurance documents in his proposal.
Gelin appeared to be well-versed in Garcia’s biography.
He mentioned how Garcia started a paralegal before attending law school. Gelin mentioned Garcia performed legal work for the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the City of Miramar.
REDBROWARD reported Garcia had listed Miramar City Commissioner Maxwell Chambers as a professional reference. In February 2020, Commissioner Gelin made a $1,000 contribution to Maxwell Chambers’s re-election campaign.
In early April, Chambers and Commissioner Gelin endorsed Dale Holness at his congressional campaign announcement.
REDBROWARD reported Michael Garcia was listed as an attorney on another law firm’s website seeking the Tamarac city attorney job.
Michael Garcia is still listed as an attorney with the Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell law firm. Founded by former Broward Supervisor Of Elections attorney Burnadette Norris Weeks, Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell was another applicant for the City of Tamarac job.
Norris Weeks is a longtime ally of County Commissioner Dale Holness. While Holness is not listed as a professional reference, Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell does list Brenda Snipes.
Another of Burnadette Norris Weeks’ professional references is Miramar City Commissioner Alexandra Davis.
In April, Davis joined Maxwell Chambers and Gelin at Dale Holness’ campaign kickoff. In March, Alexandra Davis joined Dale Holness and Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton at a party hosted by Jamaican General Consul Oliver Mair.
GELIN’S LUCRATIVE CONNECTION
During his presentation at the May 12, 2021, Tamarac commission meeting, Gelin stated Michael Garcia served as a subcontractor with the Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell law firm. Gelin said a “simple phone call” would have revealed that Garcia handled legal work for the City of Miramar on behalf of the Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell firm.
How did Gelin know about this business arrangement? It was not included in the proposals from either firm. Gelin stated, “There’s no controversy here.”
During his full-throated defense of the Michael Garcia and Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell firms, Gelin stated both firms worked for the City of Miramar.
But Gelin never mentioned his business relationship with the City of Miramar. According to public records, a company owned by Gelin has a lucrative contract with the City of Miramar.
State records show Gelin formed the company in January 2015. Three years later, the City of Miramar signed a $105,000 contract for health benefits consulting with Gelin Benefits Group, Inc. The three-year deal was set to expire in January 2021.
On January 27, 2021, City of Miramar officials recommended a new deal with Gelin Benefits Group. The new deal saw a huge 60% increase for Gelin Benefits Group. Under this new deal, Miramar taxpayers would pay $165,000 per year to Gelin’s company as well as “$240 hourly for work on an as-needed basis.”
The resolution for the new contract and the contract itself were drafted by attorneys from the Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell law firm — one of the firms that applied for the Tamarac city attorney position.
On May 12, Commissioner Gelin was the lone vote against the hiring of the Fox Rothschild law firm as the new Tamarac city attorney.
Was Gelin’s defense of Michael Garcia and Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell done out of friendship?
Or worse, was Gelin acting out of self-interest by pushing for favored candidates in the city attorney hiring process?
Does Gelin have business interests with other cities or government entities? Does his business come before the needs of Tamarac taxpayers?
REDBROWARD asked Gelin about his business interests. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Originally reprinted with permission from RedBroward.com.
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