By: Sharon Aron Baron
It was announced by the Supervisor of Elections that the recall effort to remove Tamarac City Commissioner Patte Atkins-Grad fell 18 signatures short. However, Petition organizer Alvin Entin may challenge the total number of qualified voters in the district based on the fact that the Supervisor of Elections may have failed to purge voter rolls due to deaths in the area.
Based on the number of deaths in Tamarac, this would significantly change the number of petitions due, and easily qualify the petitions that were turned in.
Atkins-Grad, who failed to disclose or report the fact that developers Bruce and Shawn Chait not only paid for her election victory party, but also provided her with over $6,000 to lease a BMW and never disclosed any of this before or after voting in favor of the Chaits on zoning matters before the City Commission. Her vote was worth millions of dollars to the Chaits and was bitterly opposed by many citizens in Tamarac.
She was arrested and acquitted of all charges, then reinstated back in office by Governor Rick Scott in January, however, many residents did not buy her “naive” or “dumb” defense and believed she should have never have taken office again saying that if she was too dumb to understand she was being bribed, she was had no place representing the residents of Tamarac.
Volunteers formed a committee to recall the commissioner, and although they managed to get almost 20 percent more signatures than they needed, it still fell short of signatures due to residents being registered in the wrong district or not being registered at all.
According to volunteers, who asked each resident if they were registered voters in the district, they could only take them at their word and did not ask them to produce their voter ID cards upon signing the petition.
“I think it’s a matter of ethics, and people were fed up with corruption and they were over-zealous and they wanted sign,” said Tamarac resident and volunteer Bob Bearse. “Unfortunately, they weren’t registered in our particular district and didn’t tell us.”
On Thursday evening, recall volunteers are meeting to discuss if they want to try again or give up. Many volunteers were ready to do it all again, even if it meant giving up their weekends to spend gathering signatures in an effort to remove the commissioner from office.
Entin suggested that they wait and challenge the voter rolls.