Decorum in Tamarac City Hall: The Conventions of Polite Behavior


Tamarac Vice Mayor Harry Dressler

By:  Patti Lynn

Watching a political meeting requires a modicum of humor. Were it not so, the observer might fly into a veritable rage of anger. Three, five, seven, or even nine individuals are in control of other people’s lives, living conditions, and money. Their behavior is sometimes documented in news stories or etched in our memories.

Some of the former, elected officials in the City of Tamarac have been much more contentious in their public behavior than their present counterparts.  How many times have we heard about the former Vice-Mayor Ed Portner tearing his toupee off of his head and throwing it at Mayor, Joe Schreiber? How about the numerous times the sexual harassment complaints against two former commission members were revisited?

Does anyone today believe the “That’s how they behaved in their day,” excuse? That seems to say, it’s okay to be a lecher, as long as you’re an “elderly” lecher? We thought that disgraceful behavior was long gone. Maybe not.

In 2013, we’re being exposed to a new type of behavior. People are lining up to decry the behavior, calling it non-decorous, unbecoming, unwelcome, and worthy of censure.


Me? I call it dignified and proper.

Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines decorum as, “Propriety,” and “Appropriateness to the purpose or circumstances, suitability, rightness, or justness.”

Therefore, I’d like to offer my thanks to Vice Mayor Harry Dressler and former Mayor, now Commissioner, Pamela Bushnell. Thank you both for behaving in a manner so appropriate for the circumstances.

Imagine having to sit on a dais, with your fellow elected officials, and pretend that everything is hunky-dory. Imagine sitting there, trying to work with a fellow commissioner who looked you in the eye, and lied to you. Try to put yourself in the place of a commissioner being forced to deal pleasantly with a commissioner who, angrily, called you a bitch, in public.

Try to visualize conducting business with another elected official who has claimed that she isn’t smart enough to know that she’s being bribed, yet, was smart enough to lie to you about how she financed her car, or her victory party. How civil would you be?

Atkins-Grad takes a phone call while the Vice Mayor speaks

Atkins-Grad takes a phone call on Wednesday while the Vice Mayor speaks

Again, the residents of Tamarac should be proud of Vice Mayor Dressler and Commissioner Bushnell. They very politely at first, asked Commissioner Patricia Atkins-Grad to step down, tender her resignation, and maintain what little dignity she had remaining. The entire commission, save Atkins-Grad, examined what steps could be taken to assure that all taxpayer monies due to Atkins-Grad, would be paid to her, even if she immediately stepped down.

What a foolish, foolish bunch they were, those elected officials. They were acting politely, believing that Atkins-Grad would be embarrassed, ashamed, regretful, and repentant. Instead, they found arrogance, superiority, condescension, and haughtiness. Behavior that was not, as Webster defined it, “Conforming to established standards of good or proper behavior or manners.”

Thank you again Mr. Dressler, thank you again Ms. Bushnell. You stood up for the people of Tamarac. You were acting, and continue to act, based on the conventions of polite behavior. It must be very discomforting to know that Broward County residents may consider you as, “One of those Tamarac officials.” You have openly apologized to the employees of the city, knowing that they, too, may have been painted with that same brush of corruption that has colored Patte Atkins-Grad.

Your dignity and respect are intact. Your behavior should be applauded, not condemned.

Decorum. You epitomize proper decorum. Thank you.

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