One Family Holds Plantation City Attorney Job For 35 Years!


For 35 years, one family has held the Plantation City Attorney’s job — the Lunnys.

First there was Donald Lunny, appointed by the late Mayor Frank Veltri in 1975.

Then there was his son Donald Lunny Jr., who has  had the job since 1992.

Since then nobody else has been considered.  That’s wrong!

Donald Lunny Jr.

Here’s the history lesson:

When Donald Lunny decided to retire in 1991, the commission sought proposals from lawyers.

Seeking the job was Ellen Gibbs of Plantation,  a former North Broward Hospital District general counsel, former city attorney of Margate and wife of former council President John Gibbs.

Also after the job was the firm named at the time Josias and Goren.  The firm is now known as Goren, Cherof, Doody & Ezrol and is city attorney for a dozen communities.

Les Stracher, then a Lauderhill resident with a practice is in Plantation, wanted the job. His wife was Bev Stracher, a Lauderhill commissioner at the time.

(In later years, Les Stracher joined scamster Scott Rothstein’s law firm, but that’s another story.  He hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.)

There were three other finalists, all who lived in Plantation and one who was the former assistant city attorney.

Then there was applicant Donald Lunny Jr.

Surprise. Surprise.

Donald Lunny Jr. got the job.

The city hasn’t considered any other city attorney since that day in 1992, according to the mayor’s office and a check of the Sun-Sentinel.

Like Father, Like Son

Lunny Jr. is a name partner of the Brinkley Morgan law firm. The firm is housed in the same downtown Fort Lauderdale building as the Sun-Sentinel.

City records show how the firm pays for some of that East Las Olas Boulevard space:

Brinkey Morgan received $613,789 from Plantation in fiscal year 2009.  It was paid $564,569 in 2010.

I know how city attorneys work.  This is probably not the only benefit for handling Plantation’s legal affairs.

First of all, there is prestige.  Plantation is a big city and a good client to put on a resume.

Another benefit is that city attorneys can refer cases to other firms.
They can either get a referral fee, if allowed under their contract.  Or they make a friend that could refer a private client case to them, a permissible tit-for-tat.

Either is totally legal. I have no idea if Lunny Jr. takes advantage of this.

The city loves his work.

“Your personal commitment and the firm’s expertise have translated into extraordinary success in matters of litigation, development review, code enforcement, pension, and other general legal work, Mayor Rae Carole Amstrong wrote Lunny Jr. in 2007.

Lunny Jr. can’t be compared to Sunrise City Attorney Stuart Michelson.

Yes, Michelson’s firm was pulling down less.

What I don’t know is if Lunny Jr’s much bigger firm is doing more work inhouse, while Michelson’s one-partner practice was referring more out to other firms.

Let others do that research if they are interested.

Michelson was hired without considering other attorneys.  Plantation at least went through the motions to interview other lawyers and compare them before hiring Lunny Jr.

Plantation is one of the best run cities in Broward, and Lunny Jr. is a part of that.  That said, no city attorney job should be held for that long without at least seeking other proposals.

This is especially true when cities should be trying to squeeze every tax dollar.

Just making noise about seeking proposals could drive Lunny Jr. to cut his price and keep him on his toes. That’s only human nature.

Lunny Jr. got his job almost two decades ago!   That’s too long for one person to have the job without at least seeing what others can offer.

22 Responses to “One Family Holds Plantation City Attorney Job For 35 Years!”

  1. Bruce Edwards says:

    Don’s firm does a good job for city. If the city thinks that there may be a better value approach, then that is up to the mayor to explore that option. I think Don would tell you, that if the City wanted to take a look at cost of how they receive legal they should. Sam, We at Dead Bug Edwards have had customers that have been with us for decades and like the service they get. We do not call them and say have you thought about a cheaper price or giving somebody else a try. I would have a in house attorney that is a city employee. Use a firm like Don’s for the things that can not be preformed in house. Do not forget how much the mayors, past and present, have relied on the city attorney for advice other than legal only. If you like what Plantation is and how it is run, The Lunny’s have had a role in that. Nothing wrong with the question, just not in step with the notion that Don’s firm gets some type of special treatment.

  2. Bruce Edwards says:

    sorry Buddy I refer to you as Sam, or sorry Sam I refer to Buddy as you. regards

  3. Bill Bzdek says:

    Buddy thank you for a long overdue discussion of this issue.

    It should be an issue for all that are running in this election. I do not disagree with Bruce but he and I both know that running a business , even when you might be giving great service , customers big and small will bid out your services to keep you sharp, competitive and to make sure they are getting the best bang for their buck.
    This has not happened for 35 years because Don has tried to make himself the unelected 6th councilman and has become so deeply rooted in the politics of the city.
    The mayor should be forced to look at alternatives as there will be no change if Diane is elected Mayor. Thats my only disagreement with Bruce.
    Good article .

  4. Warren Meddoff says:

    I believe your article is on the money. Mr. Lunny has performed a function for to long without citizen oversite or a competive bid process. I believe the City is better served by an internal City Attorney, that is an employee of the taxpayers, this is fiscaly better for the city.

  5. So Nixionian says:

    It is the job of the Mayor and City council to examine the City Attorney fees and see if it is a “value” proposition. The key question is that in addition to Mr. Lunny’s 564k fees what are the other outside legal firm expenses, that Mr. Lunny’s firm cannot provide(since his firm is in effect the City’s in house counsel).When you have that overall number you can determine if you are “getting value” continuing to use outside firms for all city matters or create an in house legal department for less than the $564,000 paid in 2010, and use outside firms as needed. That said, Don Lunny is a good man and has provided valueable counsel that enables the City to be what it is today. But times and revenues change and after 20 years maybe the arrangement should be subject to review.

  6. Bruce Edwards says:

    All on target comments. It is not Don’s place to tell city how to receive legal services. We in past years have set up non binding advisory group to discuss policies. The first was Economic Development, that led the city to hire and start Economic Department.
    This could be an area that could be set up for discussion by a group to look at legal services rendered and cost of service to make any suggestions as part of study. There may be a model to think about trying or the findings could support the current system is best value for services rendered.
    The start of a new Mayor’s administration could be the spring board for such a topic. regards

  7. Rastas says:

    I’d say that Broward County is America’s Pakistan…but that might be insulting to our Pakistani friends.

  8. Tiny Bubbles says:

    Lawyers are short of work, including many good ones. It is a good time to see if Plantation can get a deal.
    I haven’t seen any of the mayoral candidates comment and I wonder what they think, or don’t they have the guts to put their opinions on paper?

    FROM BUDDY: Actually Warren Meddoff is running for mayor. He commented above.
    The other candidates are Commissioners Jerry Fadgen and Diane Veltri Bendekovic.

  9. Questions says:

    Fadgen and Bendekovic owe the public an answer to what they think about a city attorney for life!!!

    It is an issue.

  10. Bill Bzdek says:

    Diane would be lost with out Lunny.

    More than once she has publicly stated at council meetings that she loves to pick up the phone whenever she has a question and call Don. In fact up until a couple of years ago the actual councilperson who would request info or talk with Don was not identified . 35 years of father son and daughter ( Diane ) and Father ( Frank Veltri ) have a way of making things cozy and comfortable.

  11. mustbecrazy says:

    I do feel that the city would be best served by an in-house attorney and use outside council only when a “special skill set” may be required. At pre-negotiated rates with a cap, of course. It is all too evident to many of us that the city must tighten its belt. And the city attorney is a perfect place to start. So far none sitting on the dais that is running again have proven that they can or are truly willing to do so. All we hear are words without any action to back them up and they have all had plenty of time to show us their actions. What they have done is show us their non-action. I am disturbed by what I am seeing and hearing from and about these candidates. It appears as though they think we are sheep and that simply by hearing their words about fiscal responsibility that we will pull the wool over our own eyes and believe them. It is time for a change Plantation, we, as voters are responsible for choosing our next public servants. We need to do our research and choose wisely. We do not need someone who will find money to buy parking lots and trailer parks at above market rates, or someone who wants pretty bus shelters that are effectively useless, or someone that will allow PAL to continue to be run by the same group that ran it before the city took over, cronyism at its best, or someone who has disdain for the public, or someone that is in it for the pension and on and on and on, far too much to even have time to mention. Our collective futures and that of Plantation depend on it. Vote wisely.

  12. mustbecrazy says:

    And no, this is not R. Warren. In reading my comments I just realized I might agree with him more than I realized and sound a lot like him minus the kookiness. (Scared myself there for a moment) Warren has a lot of good ideas, it is too bad that he is too focused on his agenda to take his blinders off and truly look around him. If he could do this and get out of his own way he might have a chance. Anyway I am still up in the air about who to choose for mayor, the field is at best dismal.
    That being said, I want to know more about Connie and her platform, who is she, who does she know (this does matter), why is she running, what is her platform? Why is Rabbi Harr running, why is he connected at the hip to Diane; the same goes for Eric (don’t get that one at all)? IMO no clergy should be running for elected office. And Jeff (Jeptha) what is this all about, what are the ulterior motives of this group? Can I take whiteout with me to the voting booth? Is this where you use the term “red herring”. So much to find out before I vote.

  13. So Nixionian says:

    To the best of my knowledge, the other longtime city councilman running for Mayor has not acted or taken any position on the topic of this blog post. So why do you only single out Ms. Bendekovic for criticism? If you are going to swing an axe and chop at someone by innuendo, do it fairly and disclose who you favor for Mayor. If not, you can make your point as you did in your first post,without using this Blog as a forum to “flog” someone.

  14. Prof Dumbledore says:

    Bev Stracher just a lauderhill commish? Did you forget about her bag filled with $100K by the Chaits? Did you forget your time with her at the Sun-Sentinel?


    Of course, I didn’t forget. And you just mentioned it!

  15. mustbecrazy says:

    To So Nixonian: To whom are you speaking.

  16. So Nixonian says:

    to mustbecrazy
    I was referring to Mr.Bdzek

  17. mustbecrazy says:

    Well I am going to make the jump and say you are talking to me. I think you are ultra sensitive to the mention of Diane’s name and you have taken quite a stretch in indicating that I swung an ax and chopped at her. I did not single her out for criticism, nor did I criticize her. And I certainly did not “flog” her. Is asking questions about a person or group of people now considered “flogging”?
    Hmmmm, is this spin?
    I mentioned Warren being a kook and tripping over himself, I asked about Connie and I asked the question on many people’s minds, what is the connection between Diane, Sheldon, Eric and Jeff. Seems like I mentioned lots of people; not one in particular. Did I hit an ultra sensitive nerve? Is there something to my query?
    So, that being cleared up, if you are trying to imply I purposefully left Jerry out, you would be making an incorrect implication. As I have mentioned (in case you have forgotten), the field is dismal and I have not made up my mind just like many others trying to wade through the muck. I spoke to the questions on my mind at that moment. I am sure I will have a lot more questions as I do my research, I might even ask them here or on another blog, so stay tuned.

  18. mustbecrazy says:

    Oh well alrighty then.

  19. Another resident says:

    Well, I will say I am voting for Fadgen. Am I happy with my choice….. no, but have based my decision on who can do the least damage (hopefully).

    Meddoff; I like a lot of what he says and what he wants to do. Actually was strongly considering voting for him. But as someone else said, this man can not keep focused and seems to easily bothered when someone disagrees with him. Nothing is more revolting to me than out of left field comments like “you don’t like me because I’m Jewish” type statements.

    If Meddoff could be trusted to take his meds everyday, I could easily vote for him. But some of his whacked out comments scare the crap out of me.

    Bendekovic; she’s a nice person, but you know “nice” doesn’t really qualify you to run a business. She was simply a Bendekovic for many years until she found her second calling and suddenly she’s a “Veltri Bendekovic”. Whatsamatter, you can’t run for office without daddy’s coattails? Coattails we might add that she wanted nothing to do with for a long time? Next, why is she more concerned with continuing her “machine” rather than worrying about conducting Plantation business? Harr, Holness, Hammonds, just all of her little pawns.

    Tingom is her little pawn and Nevins fell right into her trap to help elect Tingom. Great choice he has been one of the best “yes” men our council has seen.

    Aside from these factors please name anything, anything at all that qualifies her to run a business? ….and when naming her qualifications, please leave out the words “osmosis” and “Veltri”.

    Fadgen, a disappointment in his own right. Surely as an accountant you can read, year after year, our budget and see the bloat and yet, you’ve done nothing to stop it. Recently you voted for those stupid bus benches along with everyone else. This alone is just the most recent example why “fiscal conservative” does not apply. Sure Plantation isn’t paying for them, but Plantation’s taxpayers are. Don’t mince words, do you think I care whether my property taxes I pay to the city or my income tax I pay to the feds paid for these benches????? I paid for useless benches, that’s all that matters.

    So there is my three lousy choices. Fadgen edges out solely because he is an accountant. I have to figure he will put that to use as mayor.

  20. Connie Freund says:

    Hello MustBeCrazy,
    Thanks for wondering about me because it gives me a chance to answer. I don’t know any of them, existing or running. No connection to anyone. I am not a politician, just a concerned resident and successful businesswoman with a specialty in healthcare design and construction. For 25 years, I’ve been responsible for large commercial projects, budgets and project management. Living here, I ask “Why is our City disappearing?” I see great businesses leaving to go to Sunrise and Davie. Half empty shopping centers and the Mall with lots of empty shops….what’s ahead in two years?? I can’t sit back and just watch this happening. I use to view City Council meetings on Comcast till I switched to U-verse. After that I read the minutes online. But they are 7 months behind in posting. That bothers me. I find lots of people who want to be involved and know more of what is being decided at City Council meetings if the information was available. We are entitled to that information in a timely manner. We’ve watched during good times in the last 12 years, the Mayor and Council raise the millage and raise the cost of services. Now in these lean years, what do you think they will do?

    Doing the same things in the same way can only lead to the same results.

    We need real change. And waste has to end. Stand alone elections are expensive. In 2009, the Municipal election cost us $100,000. This 2011 election is costing us $180,000. What will it cost in 2013? If the City held the election for Mayor and Council last Nov with the General Election it would have cost us $15,000. That’s a huge 165K savings! 15 other Broward County cities chose to vote for their city elections last Nov and save their cities a bundle! Why isn’t Plantation doing this?? There is so much waste. When you run a business, you cannot waste; you have to be efficient and timely. You have to adjust to the needs of your clients. We, the taxpayers are the clients. The Mayor and Council members are our servants, our public servants. They serve us because we pay their salaries. So, this time, this election, change is possible. There are lots of choices in candidates. Attend Candidate Forums. You and anyone who is interested are welcome at any of the Forums. To see the schedule, go to my website.
    On my website, you can read more about my ideas and point of view. My contact info is there also. You are welcome to call me.

    Why vote for me? My opponent is a very nice gentleman, served for 11 years and has lots of experience on Council. I have a new approach coming from a successful business background. The city is a business and should be run efficiently so that residents don’t have to keep opening their wallets. I will be a fresh point of view and I am not afraid to challenge anything. I have no connection to anyone and will vote what is best for residents. I want to be the voice of the people. I hate waste and inefficiency. If that is what you are looking for, then vote for me. You can read more here:
    I appreciate that you asked and gave me this opportunity to respond. Everyone who is Blogging and commenting here is building awareness and interest in this Election. Keep it up! You will make a difference in voter turn-out. Together our voices have power. Use your voting power to be heard and encourage others to vote this March 8th.
    Warm Regards,
    Connie Freund
    Candidate for City Council Seat 3

    FROM BUDDY: Thank you very much for participating and introducing yourself to readers, Ms. Freund.

  21. mustbecrazy says:

    Thank you Connie, I appreciate you taking the time to respond. I will certainly take a look at your website. Best of luck to you.

  22. beenhere says:

    How much did the City of Plantation settle out of court with Jacobs’ witch hunt against ADAs’Stultz? (not sure about his name) Isn’t that why he didn’t run again until now. How about his bobo for the police laptops?