By Agrippina Fadel
Tamarac resident Kate Johnson believes city attorney Hans Ottinot should resign or be fired and is prepared to pursue legal action if the city does not act.
Johnson, HOA president of Mainlands 4, addressed the city commission at every meeting this year, previously saying that the members were “playing politics at the expense of residents” when they hired a new attorney and city manager last December without proper procedure and supporting documents.
At the February 22 meeting, Johnson came prepared with every part of the State Statue 286 that the commissioners violated, in her opinion.
She said that members of the public shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard about matters discussed by the commission before it takes official action, which did not happen when Vice Mayor Marlon Bolton pushed for Ottinot to be hired on the spot, using the majority vote from the new commissioners Kicia Daniel and Morey Wright.
“If you know much about reading statutes, “shall be” in legal terms is not up for debate. It must occur,” said Johnson, adding that the statute also says a circuit judge has jurisdiction to issue an injunction and assess attorney fees against the commission to enforce the matter if a resident sees the statute being violated and pursues legal action.
Johnson wondered if Bolton consulted Ottinot before the matter of his hiring was brought to the commission. “Did he not know the statute to advise [Bolton] on the proper procedures? If he didn’t, that brings into question his competence as our attorney,” she said.
She added that if Ottinot did tell Bolton about the statute that would be violated when a city attorney hired against the procedure and protocol, and the latter then disregarded the statute, the city does not “need a commissioner who flouts the law to the detriment of its citizenry.”
Johnson said the commission completely disregarded and violated the statute by firing and hiring both the attorney and the city manager.
“What do we want? First, Ottinot should follow what Bolton was forced to do [when he stepped down from a Broward County aide position] and resign since the procedure [of his hiring] was illegal,” she said, adding that if the attorney refuses to quit, the commission should rescind his appointment.
Johnson said the city should advertise city manager and city attorney positions so it has the best candidates to choose from and hire an independent and unbiased interim attorney to serve until applications are accepted and a qualified attorney is hired.
She added that the city should bring both positions back in front of the commission with proper notice and background information to allow the citizens of Tamarac to be heard before applications are reviewed.
“If you do not, we, the citizens of this city, will consider whatever legal redress is necessary and at our disposal. This statute lays out what that is. Know that we are not letting this issue rest,” Johnson said.
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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