By Sharon Aron Baron
The Tamarac City Commission is due to discuss on Wednesday and shortlist the permanent city attorney Applicants.
So far the city has received five applications and on Wednesday each commissioner will narrow down their selection to the three best.
Reviewing these requests has been lengthy, and some illustrate the poor quality the city of Tamarac is pulling out of the process after a debacle.
That’s how we got here
After 15 years of working with the city, Goren is suddenly resignation came on December 10, just a day after Commissioner Marlon Bolton accused him untrustworthy.
When the commission opened applications for an interim city attorney, they stated on the ad that the one they selected would not be considered permanent – so many high quality companies did not apply.
Weeks later, the commission hired Hans Ottinot as provisional city attorney. However, having selected Ottinot, the Commission is now considering him permanent city attorney. It came after an embarrassing meeting where both Commissioners Bolton and Mike Gelin spent 40 minutes calling for his title to be changed from temporary to permanent. Until a permanent replacement was found.
During the meeting on March 10th Commissioner Debra Placko was confused.
“We‘Are you going to make someone a permanent attorney until we hire a permanent attorney? That will not do‘That seems logical to me. “
Of course it wasn’t logical. That’s Tamarac.
Since the commission had voted 4: 1 in favor of changing Ottinot’s title to “permanent”, this became grossly unfair for any attorney who wanted to apply as provisional city attorney – but decided against it.
After the rules in this process are changed in favor of an applicant, it will be difficult for the city of Tamarac to maintain any semblance of integrity in their procurement process.
Integrity is priceless.
Ottinot is just a two person law firm made up of him and Pamala Ryan. He suggests his law firm as well as two attorneys, one of whom also happens to be an elected Miami-Dade county civil servant.
State representative Dotie Josephs The office appears to be in the office of her House of Representatives in Florida. Conflicts of interest swarm throughout this application. If the interests of the city conflict with the interests of the state on any issue, which side will Representative Joseph remain loyal to? His other lawyer Regine MonestimeThe office is in Florida City.
Perhaps the main problem with Ottinot’s motion is that if the Commission maintains its integrity and keeps its word, Ottinot will be excluded as a candidate. This would be no loss to the city after the North Miami Beach mayor alleged in a Miami Herald article that Ottinot got him to sign his contract by getting the mayor to believe the city’s procurement department was getting his contract checked. Mayor Anthony DeFillipo was quoted as saying that Ottinot had “pushed a piece of paper on my desk that has not gone through a ratification process”.
There are also articles in VotersOpinion.com about Ottinot and others in his circle who paint a bad picture of serious corrupt and unethical behavior.
Michael Garcia’s application is a whopping 289 pages listing all sorts of irrelevant information such as his car insurance. Inability to be succinct on your own should disqualify him. But there is more.
Michael Garcia, a one-person law firm, suggests five additional lawyers. If he needs five more attorneys, he admits he doesn’t qualify as a city attorney on his own.
Two of his proposed lawyers Christian Waugh and Gerrard Grant, with the Waugh Grant company are located in Orlando. Will Tamarac taxpayers pay the travel and lodging bills to get these attorneys to South Florida anytime they are needed in the city?
Another attorney for Michael Garcia is former District Court judge Julio Gonzalez. He was appointed by then Governor Jeb Bush and served for two years. After losing his election, he went to Scott Rothstein and was sued by several creditors, including American Express. Broward Beat wrote about it Julio Gonzalez and revealed some of its problems.
Gonzalez was never elected as a judge; he was appointed. It is relevant because Garcia portrays him as an experienced judge and attorney with excellent credentials. He is barely a pound sterling because of his Rothstein Association, which is a defendant on several debt collection issues, and his strangely altered financial statements.
Abrams has only been a lawyer for seven years – barely enough time to develop the skills and experience required to be a city attorney for a town the size of Tamarac.
A quick review of his résumé reveals that it is almost impossible to keep a job for long periods of time. He claims he was the assistant city attorney for Deerfield Beach and Parkland when he worked for Weiss, Serota, Helfman, Cole and Bierman for seven months. During his eight months at Goren, Cherof, Doody & Ezrol, he also claims he was an assistant city attorney for Margate, Boynton Beach and Pembroke Pines.
Here’s the problem: Deerfield Beach didn’t have an assistant city attorney, and just because you worked as a lawyer in a law firm, you aren’t an assistant city attorney. Or maybe Abrams was the town attorney’s assistant – like Dwight Schrute in the office.
Abrams’ website reveals that he is the only lawyer in his firm. He suggests an attorney – Theron Simmons, who is certified under city, county, and local law, a certification Abrams lacks.
Austin Pamies Norris Weeks and Powell
The applicant is Attorney Norman Powell of North Bay Village who does not list any city or county in which he previously served or is currently serving as a city attorney or assistant attorney.
His firm suggests three members of their firm and five lawyers from other firms. You have to wonder why they need five lawyers and what is the value of that for the city of Tamarac to have them?
But this is where it gets bizarre: applicants Michael Garcia is listed as a member of this company. Does Garcia apply twice for this position? There’s no way to tell. Applications show that he submitted his own application, and then he shows up on Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell’s website as one of the firm’s attorneys.
What the Commission should be concerned about is loud SunbizAustin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell was founded just two years ago.
John Herin submitted his application for his company to three of his partners. He is the only applicant who does not use a lawyer. He is also the only applicant from a large and well-established law firm.
Herin is also the only applicant who is a Florida Bar Board certified attorney in city, county, and local law.
Lean selection of applicants
When a city the size of Tamarac seeks a new city attorney, there are typically multiple applications from qualified attorneys in the South Florida area.
Not this time.
For some reason, Tamarac has mostly attracted unqualified applicants who submitted misleading résumés. These applicants implicitly acknowledge that they are not qualified because they are no longer able to fulfill their requests by adding two to six suspected attorneys whom they will rely on to provide essential services to the city.
Will the Commissioners keep their word to their constituents and look for a different law firm from Hans Ottinot?
Residents will see on Wednesday whether the members of the commission make the best decisions for the city – or for themselves.
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Sharon Aron Baron is the editor of Talk Media and Tamarac Talk, Coral Springs Talk, and Parkland Talk. Founded in 2011 to deliver news to Tamarac residents, Tamarac Talk is the # 1 resident news source.