Blast E-Mail Attacks Sunrise’s Alleged Shady Government


The following blast e-mail was circulated among the residents of Sunrise, political figures and the media.  It alleges shenanigans in Sunrise government.

What’s new?

Sunrise City Hall has been a shop closed to everybody but a small group of insiders for over a generation. Run by a clique of commissioners all living in the western portions of the city, the poorer eastern sections  get no representation.

Even voters in the Sunrise Lakes complex get abused. A car wash was opened next to the condominium, something that never would have happened in the past.

Recently, commissioners handed the city attorney’s job to lawyer Stuart Michelson at a ridiculously high fee without considering anyone else.  Michelson was campaign treasurer for one commissioner and handled private legal work for two others.

Now word comes that Michelson’s wife, County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman, is calling around trying to find a legal job for Sheila Alu. Alu is one of the votes that handed her husband a job?

Nothing illegal.  Just one friend trying to help another. 

But isn’t that what’s wrong in Sunrise?  A small group of “friends” control everything.  One hand washes the other while taxpayers pay for the soap and water. 

Another problem is the daily newspapers virtually ignore Sunrise government.  With nobody looking over their shoulders, commissioners and bureaucrats can do what they want without fear of exposure. 

When the cat is away, the mice play.

Sunrise needs a totally new government.  It needs its charter rewritten.  It needs districting so that all parts of the city gets representation. 

Here is the blast e-mail, which I received from a nondescript e-mail address:


“Remember Stewart Michelson, the attorney who received a sweetheart deal from Roger Wishner, Sheila Alu, and Steve Feren

 Your Sunrise tax dollars are paying him over $400,000.00 per year to be the Sunrise City Attorney  –  and he gets to keep working full time in his law firm too!  

He was the only attorney allowed by the commission to apply for this position.  All other qualified attorneys were blocked from applying. 

 A very small number of citizens of Sunrise were present at the meeting to object, so the deal was passed with resistance from minimal residents.  (Thanks Joey for fighting against this arrangement)
Now it’s time for Paybacks!   The new city attorney has blocked anyone from running for mayor in the next election – EXCEPT HIS BUDDY, ROGER WISHNER!   

This is in violation of the City charter, the law that the city attorney is required to follow.  If Roger wants to be the next mayor, he should run a campaign against any other qualified citizens who want to run for that position – and let the voters decide!
The citizens (not the city attorney) should elect their representatives, especially the mayor of the city!  
Now it’s your turn!   You can do nothing, and the new city attorney will be happy with Roger as your next Sunrise mayor.    Or, you can join your Sunrise neighbors at the next commission meeting to object to this scheme.
The corruption in this city must stop!   Please come to the commission meeting and demand the following:

  1. the city commissioners follow the city charter (law)
  2. a fair election for mayor

Join us on Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 6:30 PM at City Hall to protest this injustice.  Please don’t sit back and let election corruption prevail in Sunrise.
Most importantly, please forward this to everyone you know who lives in Sunrise.  Or print and post this where people will see it.
Contact the news media (TV, Newspapers, Etc.) and ask them to cover this issue.   They will respond if they believe a lot of people are interested in this.  The more people they hear from, the more likely they will cover the issue.
Roger Wishner would only allow Stewart Michelson to be the City Attorney.

 Now Stewart Michelson will only allow Roger Wishner to run in the next mayor election.

 Help us stop this political payback!!!  Others citizens should be allowed to run for this public office!!
Thanks for takng the time to read this. See you Tuesday evening.”

6 Responses to “Blast E-Mail Attacks Sunrise’s Alleged Shady Government”

  1. Commissioner Alu says:

    Here’s the provision in the Charter that relates to the filling of vacancies. The wording of the Charter is clear. There is NO election for the office of Mayor until November 2010. I’ve been told that this provision has been used time and time again as vacancies have come about throughout the inception of this Charter in 1991. I just became aware of this provision last week. However, it’s pretty clear. Now as for Ilene looking for me a legal job that’s news to me!

    Sec. 3.05 (3)(f) Filling of Vacancies; Temporary and Permanent in the Office of the Mayor or Commissioner. A vacancy or vacancies in the Office of Mayor or City Commissioner shall be filled as provided in the following:

    (f) Succession by Deputy Mayor. A vacancy in the office of Mayor shall also be deemed a vacancy in the City Commission. If a vacancy occurs in the office of Mayor for any reason whatsoever, the Deputy Mayor shall succeed to the office of Mayor until the Mayor’s return if the vacancy is of a temporary nature or until a new Mayor is elected at the next City-wide election that is more than one hundred twenty (120) days in the future.

    Charter Section 3.05(3)(f) provides that if a vacancy occurs in the office of Mayor, (which will occur on January 6, 2009), the Deputy Mayor will succeed to the office of Mayor until the Mayor’s return if the vacancy is of a temporary nature, or until a new Mayor is elected at the next City-wide election that is more than 120 days in the future. The March 10, 2009 election is less than 120 days from January 6 2009. The Deputy Mayor will succeed to the office of Mayor when Mayor Feren’s resignation takes effect, and the seat will not be up for election until the next City wide election that is more than 120 days in the future from January 6, 2009. Thus, the new Mayor will not be elected until the next City-wide election that is more than 120 days in the future from January 6, 2009, i.e., November 2010.

    Looking forward to seeing everyone at the next meeting, especially Mr. DePelisi who continually spreads his lies for his own poltical and financial gain just like he did to the poor senior citizens in the State of Missouri.

  2. Sunrisefireman says:

    Wishner is a decent man and should be mayor. He should, however, have to run in an election. That is the American way.

  3. pedro dejols says:

    Lots of lawyers are out of work. Why doesn’t Ilene get me a job?

  4. Marty Rubinstein says:

    I posted this on my website last July in response to the accusations of the “sweetheart deal.”

    Sweetheart Deal? Tell The Truth!

    Well, well… They’re at it again.

    MUCKRAKING as usual.

    I, too was dead set against the City Attorney deal, at least until I listened to the facts. Reading both newspapers, you’d be lead to believe that Stuart Michaelson himself was being offered $432,000 for “part time work.” That’s the way the media played it even after the facts were presented at the meeting. That’s the way the vocal opponents play it even now.

    Tell me it isn’t so!

    It isn’t.

    Truth, it seems, has no bearing on what newspapers print. I can testify to that. From the1960’s and “all the news that’s fit to print,” to today’s “all the news that fits, we print.” I can verify that, too.

    What the contract (and the “deal”) is about is replacement of in house city attorneys with contracted legal services. Michaelson is NOT getting $432,000 for his services. His law office is. Under the contract, Michaelson’s office must hire an Assistant City Attorney for Sunrise. That money plus benefits comes from the $432,000. Paralegal services from within Michaelson’s office also are paid through that contract.

    When we look at the “massive” value of the “sweetheart” deal it isn’t so massive after all. What you and I know in the general sense is that when wages are paid, that is not the only cost to the employer. Anywhere from 25 to 40 percent additional are added as benefits. Your $50,000 salary costs the employer as much as $70,000 when social security, sick leave, vacation and retirement benefits are figured in. A guaranteed severance? That’s included, too. Okay, you might not get that severance, but the charter officers do. It’s a cost and it has to be considered.

    Look at it another way. Legal services for government is a specialized field, much as Oncology is in the medical field. Commissioner Sheila Alu has a law license. She isn’t qualified. Mayor Feren has a law license. He isn’t qualified. Simply put, my Dermatologist isn’t qualified for Lung Cancer surgery. My automobile insurance agent isn’t qualified to sell health insurance.

    One particular Commissioner (Joey Scuotto) during the Tuesday night “battle royale” was vociferously opposed to “no-bid” contracts. Laughable considering the fact that this very same Commissioner never uttered a single syllable of protest when considering a decade’s worth of no-bid contracts for his friends at the local garbage company. His opening commentary of “don’t listen to anything the others have to say” was absolutely inappropriate for a public official especially considering his real “no-bid” record.

    The comment also from the Dais that “this is the way Sunrise has done it,” was the wrong justification. But its a prime example of why open government matters. The good news is that this was the first major open, fully engaged debate on such a contract. A two hour debate at that.

    The public commentary from other side of the dais didn’t help matters either. But then it’s political season and opponents frequently, and allow me to put it mildly, embellish and even misstate information. Ask one who knows.

    The real crime in Sunrise was the fact that Pat Salerno was permitted to walk away with $800,000 in severance. Pay off the remainder of the contract? To be expected. Unused sick and vacation time? There should have been a limit. Even the School Board limited sick and vacation time. FOR EVERYBODY. Use it or lose it. And exactly how much did Salerno get for each unused day? The rate at which the day was earned or at 2008 rates?

    And exactly how did your favorite Commissioner vote on Salerno’s contracts? Questions asked? Or no questions asked?

    We have our new City Attorney. You know my opinion.

    Time to move on.

    FROM BUDDY: The newspaper reports on the Michelson incident indicate that no one else was considered for the job. No nationwide search. No statewide search. No search throughout Broward County, where there are many qualified folks. You didn’t address that.
    How do you know other attorneys could not be hired who have more knowledge and would cost less money? Just what is Michelson’s experience compared to other potential attorneys and firms? He might be the greatest attorney the world has ever seen, but the commission owed it to the taxpayers to see if they were getting the best deal.
    The newspaper reports also indicate that Michelson had a relationship with at least three of the commissioners. He did legal work for two and was the campaign treasurer, raising money for a third, Steve Feren. Could that be the reason the commission didn’t want to seriously consider any other attorney?

  5. Marty Rubinstein says:


    While I cannot speak for either the Commissioners or the City, I can tell you that I was at both of those meetings on the subject. During the discussions a number of other cities that switched to contract attorney services were openly referenced as was Sam Goren specifically although he was not nominated.

    Do some of the individuals have connections to Stuart Michelson? Yes, but who is not connected in some way to anybody knowledgeable in the county? Stuart’s probably done some work for most of the elected officials in the county.

    Disqualifying? No.

    I, too had some initial reservations about the proposal, but the open debate at both meetings more than satisfied my questions. Since I am not an attorney, I have no direct knowledge of Michelson’s qualifications, so for that I must rely on the information provided at those meetings. In fact, Michelson had been a contract attorney for Sunrise for many years prior to the contract issue. In that light, Michelson not only has the experience as a City Attorney, but direct experience and knowledge of Sunrise issues. It’s not as though he came out of the blue with no experience.

    I find it truly amazing that none of the facts ever made it to print by ANYBODY.

    Newspaper reports be damned! Only the muckraking and misinformation were ever printed. Not a single fact or reference. Why? It makes for good copy.

    As a former elected official I often had to ask myself if the reporters were at the same meeting that I was. I’ll ask that again, this time in public. The author of that non-descript e-mail certainly wasn’t. Either that or the author is DELIBERATELY MISLEADING the public about the contract. The author has either no idea of what’s contained within the city charter or again is DELIBERATELY MISLEADING the audience as to the content.

    Best deal? According to the information provided at both meetings, Michelson’s contract would cost the taxpayer less than it was currently spending on the City Attorney’s office. No extra holiday pay, vacation pay, sick pay, retirement contributions or golden parachutes. And how much extra would the taxpayer have to spend on a search that was unnecessary considering the historical performance and experience for Michelson? All discussed at both meetings. How much was Michelson’s direct Sunrise knowledge and experience worth in light of the need to train others? Could that be considered as part of the deal?

    As I stated, I too, had many questions about the issue. And questions about the charter issue in the Mayor’s race. But as Commissioner Sheila Alu stated (and I DO have a copy of the Sunrise Charter) it’s written in black and white and while I’m not an attorney, I have to believe what I read in the document.

    While I’m not clairvoyant, I can predict that tomorrow night’s meeting is going to be interesting. You should be there as well.

  6. Matt Cooper says:

    Every one of these clowns should be thrown out of office. Remember these names for the election — Wishner, Alu, Rosen.