Update: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Says He Was Threatened With Arrest Over Gym Openings





Once they were members of Young Democrats, two fresh-faced liberals fighting together to improve Broward County.

Today they’re closing in on Social Security and near the pinnacle of political power. But after decades standing shoulder to shoulder, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis and Broward County Commissioner Steve Geller are feuding. Publicly.

The feud has gotten so bad, Trantalis says Geller stirred up the sheriff into start arresting anybody in Fort Lauderdale who supports opening gyms…including Trantalis.

His evidence is this email Sunday May 17 from Trantalis:

“Hi All. Commissioner Geller contacted the Sheriff just now and asked him to arrest me tomorrow over the gym issue. The Sheriff of course refused to get involved. This is the mentality we are dealing with,” Trantalis wrote in an email to city officials.

Geller immediately answered in an email to various officials:

“Dean and I spoke yesterday from about 4:15 until about 4:45 on the underlying issue.  We ended the call still disagreeing, but stating that our friendship was still intact.  Dean texted me at 6:18, advising me that the Sheriff had called Dean and told Dean that I had asked the Sheriff to start making arrests, including Dean.  I note that this text was after the email which Dean sent below.  I immediately texted back, telling Dean what I’ve said here, that I haven’t spoken with the Sheriff about anything in weeks.  I also left a VM for Dean offering to take a picture of my call log on my iPhone to prove that I hadn’t spoken with the Sheriff at all.  I normally wouldn’t d


Steve Geller 



At the heart of the squabble is this:

Trantalis wants to allow gyms in Fort Lauderdale to operate. They were shut for weeks because of Covid-19.

Geller says it is too soon.  First the county must write safety rules, he says.

And here is how the hostility bubbled to the surface over the past few days:

Trantalis signed an order Friday opening gyms.

The County immediately countered with its own order keeping the gyms closed. 

The two governments were headed for a collision. 

Then Sun-Sentinel’s Susannah Bryan wrote about the dispute, making it public.  


Susannah Bryan



Bryan wrote about the opposition to the gyms opening, including these comments from Geller: “…The county can always ask Sheriff Gregory Tony to send in deputies to shut down any gyms that dare to open.”

In an interview after the Sun-Sentinel’s article was published, Geller told Browardbeat that he was just listing various potential actions the county could take to keep the gyms closed. He never called the sheriff and asked him to take action, Geller said. 


Geller told Browardbeat:

“Dean and I have been friends for over 30 years, since we were in the Young Democrats together. I’m disappointed that Dean would believe that I would (ask deputies to arrest Trantalis).”   

Meanwhile, the gyms remain open, according to Trantalis. 

Or closed, according to Geller.

I suggest some power walking while you wait to see how this one is resolved. 



19 Responses to “Update: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Says He Was Threatened With Arrest Over Gym Openings”

  1. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    The art of compromise.I see Gellar concern.Also I see where Trantalis wants people to be able to go to the gym.My solution.Gym members call ahead of time to reserve to work out- no more than 10 people at any given time.Gym members must where mask and disposable gloves_ which to be provided by gym.Temperture is taken on way in.No showers.While members r working out to keep social distance.After each piece of equipment is utilized they must be wiped down w/ disinfectant- the gym membership would be responsible to wipe down.As far this Friday between these two I suspect neither r sweating it.As far as Sheriff Tony telling Trantalis not to worry ,Tony should be more concerned about his FDLE investigation,which in my assessment will conclude that the governor remove him.

  2. Jim Ryan says:

    I agree with Mr Walsh and think this can be worked out.
    His suggestion sound very durable plan.
    In anyway you look at people trying to stay in shape, will help more to deal with this virus

  3. Layne Walls says:

    Every one supports home rule until it interferes with you and what you want.

  4. jose esteves says:

    it is both hypocritical and irrational to open barber shops, nail salons, etc with close contact service but not open gyms where people can where masks , gloves and keep some distance. From a physicians point of view.

  5. Give Me A Break says:

    It has become almost painful reading Mr. Walsh’s almost incoherent posts on every subject. He either needs to take a little more time and proof read what he has written or at least spell check. If he speaks as well as he writes than his intention of running for mayor is a joke.

  6. A reader says:

    “Geller says it is too soon. First the county must write safety rules, he says.”

    OMG. Just how long does it take to write a plan. The virus has been here for weeks and weeks. Who is in charge? The County Commission? The County Manager? Just who is asleep at the wheel??

  7. Broward County Vice-Mayor Steve Geller says:

    Let me elaborate on the article and some of the comments.

    First, on the underlying issue, I hope and believe that it’s been resolved. Dean sent the email as soon as he thought that I’d asked the Sheriff to arrest him. As I’ve repeatedly said, I hadn’t spoken, emailed, texted, or otherwise communicated with the Sheriff in weeks. It’s not a question of what I actually said to the Sheriff, as I didn’t speak with him at all. Between what the Sheriff said and what Dean heard, some type of miscommunication occurred. I understand why Dean was angry, even if he was mistakenly angry. As long as this issue is resolved, I’m prepared to simply let it drop and move on, with no ill will towards Mayor Trantalis.

    In reference to the issue of gyms, here’s my general position. Strictly from a health perspective, we should keep all businesses closed until there’s a widely available vaccine, herd immunity, or effective medical treatments exist. However, the earliest that this could occur is January of 2021, and I think that even that date is optimistic. It’s not realistic for us to try and keep the economy closed that long. Therefore, I believe that we need to find a balance. We need to open the economy, while taking steps to minimize the adverse health effects, and we need to enforce our restrictions.

    In reference to gyms, Broward County didn’t know until the Governor actually issued his Emergency Order last Friday that it would include gyms in Miami Dade and Broward. The City of Fort Lauderdale issued it’s order permitting gyms the same day, even though the County Administrator and County Attorney advise that the City doesn’t have the authority to do so while the County still has an order prohibiting gyms. I hadn’t seen the Fort Lauderdale order, and didn’t get a copy until Monday. I know that COVID-19 spreads through droplets exhaled by people, especially through coughing, sneezing, or heavy breathing. I check my public policy decisions with several physicians, including Doctor Stanley Marks, the Medical Director of the Memorial Heathcare System.

    It’s my position that we should open the gyms as soon as possible but must do so safely. Remember that the Governor’s order was just issued last Friday. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to take a few business days to come up with the appropriate rules. At my request, Dr. Marks testified to the County Commission at today’s (Tuesday) meeting. He testified that people lifting weights grunt and expel droplets at a distance greater than the normal 6 foot distance and that people that breath heavily when they run or otherwise elevate their heartbeat also expel droplets at a distance of more than 6 feet. He said that a 10 foot separation would be far safer. Also, the Fort Lauderdale order requires staff at the gyms to wear masks, but not patrons. Dr. Marks confirmed that there should either be a 10 foot separation and/or requiring patrons to wear masks and/or to place walls or Plexiglas between stations.

    I agree with the medical advice. Other Commissioners and I asked the County Administrator today to prepare new guidelines and issue them this week that would allow the gyms to open early next week. I asked her to ensure that the guidelines comply with the Medical advice that we’ve been given. I’m inclined to not require all three solutions proposed by Doctor Marks, but require at least one, or possibly two of the three solutions. I believe that we all need to work together during these difficult times, that everyone needs to give a little to reach a conclusion that everyone can live with, which includes enforcing our orders.

    I hope that this clears up the issues.

  8. Chaz Stevens, Sheriff In Training says:

    Apparently, if you have taken acid and kill someone, you can be Sheriff! I’m halfway there .. watch out beeches, I have to work on my resume!

  9. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    Basically like I have been staying to resolve this is Where the mask.All,everyone.Gym staff, members etc.And Comm.Gellar u did say u could send in BSO etc.That being stated again where the mask.Its that simple.As far as beaches I would go w/ June 1..

  10. Read It Dean says:

    Read Geller’s long explanation. He makes sense, Dean.

  11. A Reader says:

    This long winded explanation about opening gyms only proves one thing: Broward County Commissioners and the County Manager are reactive instead of proactive in issues pertaining to the public. The School Board of Broward County operates in the same manner. Runcie follows the lead of Miami-Dade instead of being prepared to act.
    Why would a county government not think ahead and be ready for getting business back to work? After all, those businesses and their customers pay taxes to support the bureaucracy that regulates them.

  12. Gordo the freak says:

    Geller and gym in the same article..That is funny. Geller might want to eat Dean.

  13. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    Geller threatened( the county could get BSO to fine, arrest).Then Dean came on so strong last night.Everything from county has bad attitude,to he has bad taste in his mouth,to not so sure about county/ city merger( bldg),to county has no plan.Pissing entire county comm.So Geller started it.Others( comm) flexed their.muscle states ok Big Boy( county) we will fine your gyms 15 Grand and to boot( cherry on top) could face arrest.I stated yrs ago be careful with that county.Wow.County 1.Ft.lau( Trantalis)0..

  14. Broward County Vice-Mayor Steve Geller says:

    Mr. Walsh:

    The quote from the Sun-Sentinel is attached above. The reporter asked me how the County’s order could be enforced. I indicated it could be enforced by fines, code enforcement, or the Sheriff’s deputies have Countywide authority to shut down gyms.The reported printed some of what I said. Note that I said “the County” could ask the Sheriff to shut down gyms, not that Steve Geller would ask anyone to do anything. That sort of request would come from the County Administrator. The “that dare to open” was the reporter’s editorial opinion, and not part of any quote from me.

    I never, ever, have suggested that anybody be arrested in connection with enforcing the order on gyms. Saying that deputies could shut down gyms is in no way comparable to saying that they should arrest people. I’m only concerned with protecting public health.

    I will agree with you on masks. I’ve listened carefully to the input I’ve received over the past few days, and some runners indicate that they think masks would be bad for people exercising. Fine. I personally would be ok if the gyms use any of the three methods listed above – masks, 10 feet separation, or physical barriers if they’re closer than 10 feet.

    I have passed my input on this to the County Administrator, Bertha Henry. Pursuant to the instructions that we gave her on Tuesday, I expect that by Friday of this week that she will enter an order permitting the gyms to open with either one or two of the additional requirements listed above.

    Thanks to all for the input.

  15. Just one vote says:

    Time to clean house in August 2020 elections of BCC. Those that are elected will be drawing (gerrymandering) their districts based on 2020 census. Voters, get your brooms and make a clean sweep.

  16. Hahaha says:

    Omg, Geller responds to Walsh, next he will be teaming up with Count Chocula, What a joke.
    #12- lol, I heard he and Stacey Abrams can wait forever for the gyms to open.

  17. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Dean is THE SMART ONE HERE. He ignores Geller n Walsh’s nonsense n gets on with the business of the City of Fort Lauderdale.

  18. City activist Robert Walsh says:

    Mayor Trantalis boy I got to tell u he is tough going up against.Tell u one thing his chief/ staff Scott Wyman.Scott he is the brains behind the whole operations.His salary worth every penny.( PS.May 2 huh guys)…

  19. John Murphy says:

    This gym thing is a crooked joke. How say you? Simple says I. memorial West is a tax payers entity an here is ther bs they are pulling: Public Gym closed since beginning. How ever Physical Therapy open, Cardio Rehab open balance shut down…..Now most insurances will pay for 36 visits only. But Memorial West will allow any person willing tofork over $22 a visit provided you had a previous cardiac position to be 100% accurate thats $88 a month for 4 visits a month…An we the tax payers pay for this gym thru our property taxes. Meanwhile the democrats hassle over BS still trying to fix the Nov 2020 election by stateing Jan 2021 for opening maybe. Time to fire the entire group of commissioners of South Broward Hospital District that at meetings must write there questions before they get an answer What a joke. People time to write Gov DeSantis…