In Case We Forgot: How Sunrise Got Its City Attorney


There are 686 lawyers in Florida who are described as specialists in some form of government law on

There are 99 in Fort Lauderdale.

Sunrise City Attorney Stuart Michelson isn’t one of them.

Lawyers claiming some degree of government law expertise include Mike Colodny, Gary and Keith Poliakoff, Richard Jay Weiss, Susan Delegal, Stephanie Toothaker, Bill Scherer, Jamie Cole, Alan Koslow and W. Earl Hall

All are familiar figures in Broward politics and government.

Stuart Michelson doesn’t claim government law expertise on  He doesn’t even claim government expertise on his own website.almost two years after being hired by Sunrise. 

To be fair, his listing with the Florida Bar today lists one of his two specialties as city county and local government law.  The other is appellate law.

Why did Sunrise hire him in June, 2008?

He did do previous work for the city previously as an outside litigator.  They were happy with his performance.

But I wasn’t born yesterday. I don’t believe that is the only reason Michelson got the job.

Maybe his employment chances were improved by his domestic situation. Stuart Michelson is the husband of County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman.  She represents part of Sunrise and votes on so many things cities want at the county commission.

Stuart Michelson also did private legal work for now-Mayor Roger Wishner, who was a commissioner at the time,  and Commissioner Sheila Alu.

 In 2008, Michelson was the campaign treasurer for the then-Mayor Steve Feren.   Ilene Lieberman hosted a campaign fund raiser for Feren’s judicial campaign just days before the vote on her husband’s contract, stated The Miami Herald.

Whatever the reason, when the Sunrise City Commission went looking for a new attorney in June, 2008, they only looked at Stuart Michelson.

Despite the fact that has 99 other local lawyers described as “government specialists.

It was a no-bid deal.

Oooops, Stuart doesn’t like the term “no bid.

He angrily called me about a previous post earlier this week when I described as “no bid his hiring by Sunrise’s ethically-challenged commission.

He said being the only attorney considered isn’t the same as “no bid.
I decided to research the matter.

Stu, the term isn’t mine.

Check it out: 

On June 19, 2008,  Miami Herald staff writer Dan Christensen wrote: “The Sunrise City Commission is poised to award a no-bid legal contract worth at least $432,000 a year to the husband and law associate of Broward Commissioner Ilene Lieberman, a deal unique for its price and political links between city and lawyer.”

A June 23 Miami Herald editorial captured the “no bid deal perfectly. 

Under a headline that stated “Scrap Sweetheat Deal, the Herald wrote,   
The no-bid deal that three Sunrise politicians and lawyer Stuart Michelson have put together smacks so much of political incest that it would make the late former Mayor John Lomello blush. Sunrise Mayor Steven Feren, Deputy Mayor Roger Wishner and Commissioner Sheila Alu want to hire Mr. Michelson’s firm to serve as the city attorney. .

Lomelo was the former mayor who served time for extortion.

On June 26, Christensen wrote again: “Before a packed and sometimes loudly skeptical audience, the Sunrise City Commission voted Tuesday to award a no-bid legal contract worth at least $432,000 to the husband and law associate of Broward Commissioner Ilene Lieberman.

It might be noted:

*Most other cities and the county pick their attorney from a wide group of applicants.  The School Board is currently doing a nationwide search for a new attorney, who will get paid about half of what Michelson is making. Even little Davie, which hired Town Attorney John Rayson at the same time as Michelson, took applications from many attorneys and interviewed two attorneys publicly. 

*The $432,000 contract Sunrise commissioners handed Michelson put him “at or near the top of the highest paid city and county attorneys in the state, according to The Herald.  He will pay for a second attorney out of his fee. The previous attorney earned $167,000.

*His salary automatically increases 4 percent a year.

*He is not required to give up any of his private clients.

5 Responses to “In Case We Forgot: How Sunrise Got Its City Attorney”

  1. Stuart Michelson is a Hack says:

    Another reason why ROGER WISHNER should be thrown out of office.

  2. S. Geruppi says:

    Michelson was never anything until he married Lieberman. He is her puppet, so if she wants the garbage dump in Sunrise he will agree.

  3. Sam Fields In A Dress says:

    Stuart Michelson is a loser who couldn’t win a case in court if his life depended on it. I saw him arguing at a hearing once and I had to hold my hand over my mouth so I didn’t laugh. He is old, old, old OLD OLD OLD and has lost his relavance

    FROM BUDDY: I very much doubt this is from’s guest columnist Sam Fields.
    I’ve known Sam for many years and have never known him to wear a dress.
    He has a beard. So he would really look strange in a dress.
    He is tall and–don’t get mad at me, Sam– big. So he would need a really big dress. Sam is not a 0-2 size. Or even 8-10 size.

  4. Get the Facts says:

    While maybe a “no-bid”, the idea was to save the City money from the past practice (and one abused in many cities) of doling out contracts for legal work to firms (only to get hourly bills that take your breath away). They were supposed to get a whole firm for that price.

    They said last year, it saved money. I guess it will depend on how many times needed to hire outside counsel. But, no one has proven otherwise. Just calling it no-bid maybe a procedural frustration, but doesnt mean it hasnt been good for the city.

    Frustration about his apparent one-sidedness on issues has its genesis in some belief that City Attorney should also be an independent auditor or investigator general. That is not the case. Maybe the City needs one but he can be fired on 3 votes and is really there only to give advice. It may be there is an incentive to give advice to maintain a majority but no one has proven that to be a real issue.

    So, without facts, simply saying no bid = bad choice is an overstatement. Might be bad process but doesnt mean it was a bad decision.

  5. CuriousO says:

    and rayson was (and still is, i believe) the attorney for the central broward water district, a governmental body before he got hired in davie.