Strong Mayor For Broward? Consider Debacle In Plantation

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

Those peddling a strong mayor for Broward should consider Plantation.

Plantation is the only major Broward city run by a strong mayor. Plantation is also a government that is deeply flawed.

The proof. Wednesday’s debacle at the Plantation Council over a lawsuit that the city lost.

The Council voted 3-2 to audit the suit’s half-million dollar legal bill. Plantation’s Strong Mayor Diane Veltri-Bendekovic blocked the audit with a veto.

 

Diane Veltri-Bendekovic ducks questions from Fox News on her campaign against the Christmas display.

 

The legal bill stemmed from Bendekovic’s futile attempt to shut down a huge neighborhood Christmas display in Plantation Acres.

Council members and residents called the bill questionable.

Hence, the suggestion that the bill from Bendekovic’s long-time City Attorney Don Lunny be audited.

The audit would have been done for free by the Florida Bar.

Let me write that again: The audit was FREE.

But Bendekovic has a strange and misplaced attachment to Lunny, whose family has held the city attorney job for 42 years. The mayor inexplicably rebukes anyone who criticizes the city attorney. She repeatedly rejects suggestions that the attorney job be bid to see if Plantation is getting a good deal.

In the Christmas display case, Lunny presented Plantation taxpayers with a $474,995 bill for losing the suit.   Or was it really $438,558?

The final figure is in question, which is another reason for an audit in most cities.

Strong Mayor Bendekovic doesn’t care what is done in most cities.

$474k. $438k.

Plus thousands more to pay for code enforcement and police.

Bendekovic apparently believes she can do what she wants. Spend what she wants.

After all, it’s only money….Ours.

Bendekovic is unrepentant.

She continued to argue this week that the Christmas display run by Mark Hyatt was a public nuisance. It featured 200,000 lights, live animals and entertainers, drawing hundreds per night to Hyatt’s Plantation Acres’ neighborhood.

There was no conclusive evidence presented in a four-day trial that the display was a dangerous public nuisance, a judge ruled last year.

A previous Council approved the law suit years ago. The current Council was blindsided when the bills arrived.

Hence, the clamor for an audit.

All along the case appeared to be a vendetta against the Hyatt.  He said this week that Bendekovic had the city harass his family for years using thousands in taxpayer money and untold staff time.

Bendekovic ended up losing once the dispute left Plantation.

Hyatt spent $180,000 to win his court case, a fraction of what the city was billed.

Was the campaign against Hyatt an abuse of power by a strong mayor with control of the city purse string?

Voters decided last November just days after Hyatt won his case.

Hyatt got elected to the City Council.  He now sits on the dais just a few feet from his nemesis Bendekovic. His election was a stinging rebuke to the mayor and her lawsuit.

So strong mayor or not, who got the last laugh Ms. Bendekovic?



18 Responses to “Strong Mayor For Broward? Consider Debacle In Plantation”

  1. Plantation Working Mom says:

    As a resident of Plantation, I am disgusted with the Mayor and her actions. The audit should have been approved, end of story. It is not her money to play games with; it’s mine and every other taxpayer in Plantation. The City Attorney should be put out to bid, end of story. The Strong Mayor should be abolished, end of story. She WILL be voted OUT in November 2018 – I guarantee it, even if I have to run against her in order to ensure it!

  2. Old Timer says:

    The strong mayor is a good idea whose time has not yet arrived. As long as Broward is dominated by one political party, there will be limited competition and the Republicans can be eliminated from voting if the race is partisan.
    Check back in 20 years!

  3. just one vote says:

    I thought wilton manors had a strong mayor.
    or lighthouse point. ?

    FROM BUDDY:

    Lighthouse Point is a strong-mayor form of government. I believe Wilton Manors has a city manager. Both cities together have roughly 23,000 residents, a fraction of the 92,000 population of Plantation. That’s why I wrote that Plantation is the only “major” city with a strong mayor form of government. I might add the word “larger”to clarify the sentence.

  4. Sam The Sham says:

    Plantation certainly has its problems. Bendekovic has managed to bamboozle enough voters to keep her in office. Isn’t it a state law that large expenditures (like legal services) be put out to bid? Their city charter certainly needs revision.

    But to compare Plantation to Broward County is an apples/oranges argument. Broward is a large county, 20 times the population of Plantation. Broward has a larger population than 14 states. We need an executive branch and legislative branch, with reasonable checks and balances. What we have now is corrupt and unweildly.

  5. Jorge Ortiz says:

    Buddy, why don’t you sell everything you own and buy a house near the Hyatt’s?

    FROM BUDDY:

    I never endorsed the Christmas display.

    I believe the amount of money spent on this issue — the full-time salary of maybe six or more police officers — was misspent.

    Why wasn’t the dispute negotiated? I believe the reason is the mayor’s stubbornness made a settlement difficult if not impossible. I also believe that she was being given legal advice by the very law firm that eventually benefitted from the lawsuit. Hmmmmm.

  6. Pity Party says:

    I watched on the net and caught the part where Bendekovic was having a pity party for herself. “The Veltri family and the Bendekovic family have been the victims of attacks.” She apparently believes everything in Plantation is about her.

  7. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    One a tangentially related note.

    This year’s 2017 Beer Can Festivus Pole will be a six-foot tall, pee colored endeavor inserted into the rump of a 3″ tall DJT doll.

    For those keeping score at home, the doll will have very tiny hands.

  8. Nuff Said says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it again. Mr. Lunny needs to be the biggest proponent of the audit. Don, take the long view here to maintain your client relationship. Be smart. Get the bill audited, even if it’s at your own cost, and accept the result. Graciously. Nuff said.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Absolutely!

    He could have also agreed to negotiate a lower bill. With all the money he and his firm made from Plantation, he could have easily agreed to shave 20 % or more from his bill.

  9. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Chaz, I suggest taking a close look at politicalsculptor.com … this Florida artist has many interesting ideas about Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, etc. which I think you may find to be a great source of inspiration!

  10. Carl Buehler says:

    I’m certainly glad I don’t live anywhere near the Hyatts and their holiday carnival. The Plantation residents who are so unfortunate can’t safely navigate in or out of their homes due to all the commotion of thousands of strangers swarming their street all hours of the day and night. But hey you know, it’s Christmas, a sacred holiday, a celebration of faith. God forbid we limit that worship. Complete with a Ferris wheel, a half million lights, trained animals,actors, where are the street vendors? And six police officers plus public works department employees to manage traffic and street congestion. Blame it on the mayor, why should she make a fuss over that responsibility or public safety? Like you say “Why wasn’t the dispute negotiated? I believe the reason is the mayor’s stubbornness made a settlement difficult if not impossible.” Ever think that maybe it is the boneheaded stubbornness of this one family that cost the city about a half million dollars? Heck those Hyatts crave the attention and make darn sure all the local TV stations and newspapers know what they got going. Go ahead. Screw the mayor and the city, and the rest of us less celebratory citizens of Plantations.

  11. Bob Adams says:

    “Old Timer” has it backwards. The strong mayor is an idea whose passed long ago.

  12. Mayor Stinks! says:

    This is the same mayor who single-handedly, and surreptitiously dismantle the Plantation tram service. Despite major support for the tram by the residents of Plantation. This left many students, elderly people, and people with disabilities without a way to get to the Broward County bus system.

  13. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    #5 says it all. How would you like to live next door to this self indulgent,exploited Christmas display. The Hyatts will state its all to spread Christmas joy. BS. They were on tv. They participated in the contest to win like what was it 100g. Then he runs for comm. seat and wins. Not because of issues etc but because his Xmas display was given so much attention. Yes, almost a half a mill was excessive. Try hiring a lawyer see how expensive it is. Yes, the case was handled wrong and costs got out of control, but to blame the mayor is far fetched. I agree w/ the atty.Looney that Hyat should have recused himself. Most definitely a ethics complaint coming. As a commissioner Mr.Hyatt you are there to save the residents of Plantation money not cost them over a half a million dollars. I blame you sir Mr.Hyatt not Mayor Bendekovic…

  14. the ghost of christmas past says:

    Mr. Carl Buehler,
    Do you believe the city should spend any amount to stop a Christmas display that impacts a dozen residents?
    The dispute was about the money, not the issue of the display. Lunny the lawyer blew it, despite having three lawyers and two paralegals working on the case. Hyatt had one lawyer. A judge said the display wasn’t a problem.
    Mr. Fields testified that a suit such as this should cost a little more than a traffic ticket. He said death penalty cases don’t cost a half million dollars. Why did it cost the city a half million dollars? That is the question and if you watched the tape, Mayor Bendekovic refused to answer. She wasted city money by overspending on a law suit.

  15. sick of politics says:

    Nothing strong other than an muleheaded witch, she should repay the city, set a presitant for making bad decisions, another political moron, get her out before the lunitic makes another bad call

  16. Janet Brady says:

    Personally speaking, and as a taxpayer, I resent the City spending that kind of money to ‘resolve” this case and then lose it. Actually, I wonder what the Judge was thinking!!!
    I DEFINITELY would not want to live in the Hyatt neighborhood! How inconsiderate of them to inconvenience their neighbors for a month each year. Mr Hyatt, as a member of our City Council, how would you like to live next door to someone who could care less about your comfort IF YOU did not want a garish holiday display and you pay taxes to live in a nice neighborhood? You do this year after year without heeding polite requests from others to either discontinue this nuisance, or at least cut it down to a normal beautiful holiday display. We had one on the next street for years until the people moved, and it was so beautiful that Channel 4 was there each Christmas Eve, but it certainly did NOT disrupt the peace and enjoyment of living in our neighborhood. You are totally inconsiderate. As for Mayor Veltri, I recommend that you stop favoring your accountant and allow an audit as to how my (OUR) tax money was spent. I assume yours too!!!

  17. Paula says:

    If the mayor doesn’t want a huge Christmas display then there should be city ordinances that specify that. If they had the ordinances in place first and then filed a lawsuit this would have not cost the city half million dollars

  18. Carl Buehler says:

    RE #14 Ghost of Christmas; OK, let’s wait until some little kid gets run over in the night on a public street when thousands flock to the Hyatt’s Christmas carnival on personal property. That $500,000 in legal fees will seem cheap by comparison. The city and all of it’s residents will be on the hook for millions in damages. But wait, all of the citizens of Plantation are already on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in police and public works department overtime being paid to attempt to prevent that from happening during the Hyatts carnival. And there are certainly more than a half dozen residents affected by the traffic and noise if you lived anywhere in the area. Call all the attention you want to the cost of litigation, but do NOT forget the underlying cause: a private family with NO regard for the community or their neighbors who are using a religious freedom claim for private gain, celebrity status,and awards. All those legal costs go back to the Hyatts’ LACK of concern for public safety or the quality of life in our wonderful city of Plantation.

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