Sun-Sentinel Calls For Sunrise To Hold Mayor’s Race


The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board agrees with Sunrise needs to hold elections for mayor. wrote about this on November 28, November 25 and November 22.

The idea that Vice Mayor Roger Wishner should automatically become mayor until November 2010 without having to face voters looks like a grubby inside deal.

City Attorney Stuart Michelson suddenly came up with an interpretation of Sunrise laws which made an election unnecessary.

The interpretation benefits Wishner, who was one of three votes to give a no-bid contract to Michelson earlier this year.

Some say it looks like payback.

Wishner helped to give Michelson a job. Michelson then gave Wishner the mayor’s job until 2010.   

As the Sentinel writes: “The justification — by a 4-1 vote set to be finalized Tuesday — is Michelson found a charter provision saying if the mayor’s seat is vacant, the deputy mayor takes over until a ‘new mayor is elected at the next citywide election . . .more than 120 days in the future.’

The problem was created because Mayor Steve Feren chose to resign his seat in January rather than in November when he won a judicial seat.   January is within 120 days of the regularly scheduled March election.

What makes this even sleazier is that Feren admitted at a Sunrise meeting that he knew about the 120 day rule.  He said he just forgot about it and no one bothered to tell the public, until Michelson ruled it was too late to do anything.

To someone cynical about Sunrise politics — who isn’t? — it looks suspiciously like Feren deliberately stalled his departure to let Wishner avoid this year’s election.

 Here is the Sun-Sentinel’s take.

The Sun-Sentinel editorial leaves out the names of the commissioners who voted to cancel the election.  They are Wishner and Feren, along with Commissioners Sheila Alu and Don Rosen.

Rosen is running for re-election in March because Michelson’s ruling didn’t cover his race.    Voters might want remember his role in this fiasco.

7 Responses to “Sun-Sentinel Calls For Sunrise To Hold Mayor’s Race”

  1. Commissioner Alu says:

    I find it appalling that the Sun-Sentinel would advocate that a Commissioner violate their Oath of Office by voting against their own City Charter. Any lawyer would know that if we violated our Charter by holding the election in March, we would/could be sued and the whole election would be overturned. I sincerely hope that Commissioner Scuotto files a declaratory judgment to finally bring closure to this issue. The wording is clear and concise, and the Judge would follow the law not make it up because he/she doesn’t agree with it. If the language was ambiguous, I would be able to look to the intent of the Charter, which I could only assume this provision was not designed to disallow the people the right to vote for their Mayor in the event of a vacancy.

    I think it’s wrong that someone did not inform Commissioner Scuotto about this provision, and it was unfortunate that he did not inquire or look at the charter before running for the vacancy. I certainly would have looked at the Charter, but not everyone is a lawyer. The best scenario would have been for the Mayor to resign in November when he won his Judge seat, but he didn’t. Maybe we should change the law and prohibit elected officials from holding elected office when they file to run for another. I think this whole situation is unfortunate. I don’t always agree with the law, but I certainly follow it. And, just for the record, if anyone believes that Mayor Feren would ever do anything to aid Wishner in gaining this Mayor’s seat they surely don’t know the antagonistic and confrontational history of these two elected officials.

    Although I do not agree with the provision and look forward to forming a charter review commission, I find it quite suspect that none of the press/blogs have reported that this same provision was utilized when the prior commission appointed former Commissioner Falenbaulm. He was appointed in August 2000. Under the direction of the former City Attorney, Jeff Olson, the Commission waited to hold an election until March 2001, yet there was a citywide election in September (the Primary) and the General election in November. So, why didn’t anyone from the press go up in arms when that provision was utilized in 2000? And, all of this talk about the City Commission appointing Mr. Michelson without a bid, the City Attorney from North Miami Beach just retired and the Commission hand selected his replacement with NO bid. I expect that you will write about this story also.

    FROM BUDDY: Ms. Alu makes many valid points in this e-mail.

    Her thoughts about a charter commission to change the current city laws is a great idea. She is 100 percent right about the long standing antagonism between Feren and Wisher.

    I still believe that the job of city attorney should have been open to applications from all qualified lawyers. The commission owed that to the city. Stuart Michelson is a top attorney who could have held his own against any other lawyer in a competitive process.

    That is in the past. The future is bright if an impartial commission meets to change some of the laws. Their goal should be to make Sunrise more inclusive and to encourage representation from all parts of the city.

    I believe Ms. Alu is tough enough to help force through some of the changes needed in Sunrise. Her championship of Everglades preservation at the last meeting– against other commissioners who wanted to make it easier for a developers to build between the Sawgrass Expressway and the Everglades — is a prime example of her willingness to stand up for the citizens of Sunrise.

  2. Strange Bedfellos says:

    Even though Wishner and Feren are not the best of buddies, Michelson is the common bond. He coordinated a deal between the two. Wishner would support Feren for Judge and Feren would support Wishner for Mayor. And Michelson keeps his job. No Sunshine issues there.
    The other point involves the Charter, when it states that the commissioner will retain office until the end of the term or the next city wide election more than 120 days away, which ever comes first. How is the point being over looked?
    To Alu’s opinion, if she has that much belief that the election is the right thing to do, then she should hold true to her convictions and vote accordingly and not play partisan politics.

  3. Marty Rubinstein says:

    Wishner and Feren “not the best of buddies” is an understatement. But there was no “agreement” as you suggest.

    More like “don’t let the door hit you in the rear on the way out.”

    The point you are missing along with everything else is this:

    Section 3.05 (3)(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.

    It is not about partisan politics. It’s about following the law. You can’t just make arbitrary decisions because you don’t like what’s contained in the Charter (law).

    Voting against the contents of the Charter is pure malfeasance, which by the way, is legal ground for removing an elected official from office.

    Malfeasance as defined: the performance by a public official of an act that is legally unjustified, harmful, or contrary to law.

    So which of the five voted in opposition to the law?

  4. Marty Rubinstein says:

    Isn’t it just amazing how the armchair generals can sit in their ivory towers and complain about Sunrise “Embarassment” without either knowing all of the facts or reporting them. They are correct that at this point, there will be no election in March for the Mayor’s seat.


    The item is up for a second vote tonight and will more than likely pass with yet another 4 – 1 vote. Commissioner Scuotto will likely pursue a “Declaratory Judgement” through the appeals process, and that’s his right.

    But consider this:

    Stuart Michelson’s Nov. 17th opinion did not come out of thin air. It came from the Sunrise Charter, the basis of all city code. The laws of Sunrise (charter and code) are also part of the swearing in ceremony of each Commissioner.

    Only one Commissioner violated his oath of office that night.

    That particular rule found by Michelson was not only adopted by the City Commission on June 23, 1992, but passed by a majority of the voters of Sunrise on September 1, 1992.

    Wht four members of the Commission did, quite simply was to exercise the will of the voters as well as fulfill their oaths of office.

    But let’s look further. There has to be subterfuge somewhere.

    For all of the ‘mea culpa’ professed by Mayor Steve Feren during the Nov. 25th meeting, it was more than likely as close to admission of malpractice as an attorney can get.

    Looking back at the makeup of the Commission in 1992, Feren was one of two attorneys sitting on the Sunrise Commission. Steve Effman was the other. The City Attorney at that time was John Henning, who’s deceased now.

    We cannot expect that Henning failed to consult with either Effman or Feren on the wording of the adopted item, nor can we expect that as attorneys by profession, neither of the two were likely to have been unaware of the wording and hence the conflict.

    But then neither are likely to acknowledge anything at this point and Henning is no longer available.

    In essence, the alleged subterfuge that resulted in the “non election” in March began not with Michelson’s November 17th opinion, but with a completely intentional change to the city’s charter in 1992.

    Today everybody argues that the Mayor is defined as a Commissioner. So why the change?

    You cannot possibly suggest that three attorneys did NOT know what was being done and why, especially since wording is the basis of all lawsuits and legal decisions, their chosen profession.

    There’s no wiggle room here. If Henning was wrong, the other two attorneys should have known. Steve Feren already professes “ignorance” of the issue.

    Believe it was “just an accident” and one might as well believe in the tooth fairy.

    Hence the legacy of the Sunrise Commission continues. But which legacy? The Lomello legacy, the Feren/Effman legacy or the Wishner legacy? Considering where and when the rule came from, I suspect we know.

    Apparently, there was a Charter Review Committee involved and I have filed a public information request to uncover the names of those on that committee as well as the documentation on their recommendations and more.

    The public has the right to know all of the facts, not just the opinions of the armchair generals in ivory towers and special interests.

    What the Sun Sentinel and all the other critics should be saying is that the law needs to be changed. There’s a process to do that.

    Let’s get it done the right way.

  5. Strange Bedfellos says:

    Marty, i understand contracts fluently. Do not lecture me, i have been writing them for well over 20 years. You and the individuals who are behind this charade only want the voters to see one paragraph of the charter, because when you read it in full, it states quite a difference scenario. The charter is very clear in my opinion and that is why the commission, the city attorney and you do not want to get an unbiased opinion. The Sun-sentinel and the Miami Herald do not give their opinions lightly. This is the United States of America and you do not have the right to take our right to vote away. This is not Havana, it’s Sunrise.

  6. Sunrise Resident says:

    I know that Wishner is up in 2010. who else. ALU? whoever is appointed to Wishner’s seat?

    FROM BUDDY: I believe all three.

  7. As Sunrise Turns says:

    Fox is starting a new soap opera, it revolves around a group of regime of commissioners in a communist city of Sunrise. The first episode will be about canceling elections and letting the regime decide who should represent the people. The regime knows what’s best for the people.

    The stars of the new series are as follows:
    Steven “Fidel” Feren, playing an aging dictator who wants despartly to hold onto power.
    Roger “Raul” Wishner, the brother who is chomping at the bit to seize power from his brother.
    Sheila “Consuela” Alu, the vixon who dates both brothers and other power brokers in the regime, and will do anything to take control of the regime leadership by any means.
    Donald “Hugo” Chavaz, the friend of the regime who will do anything to have a friend.
    Joey “Elian” Gonzalez, the yound man who the other leaders want to bring along party lines, but has his own mind and must be punished by the regime leaders from time to time.
    Pat “Che” Salerno, the revolutionary leader who assisted Fidel with the coup in Sunrise. He was exiled, because the other regime leaders did not want to share power with him.
    Stuart “Secret Police” Michelson, hired by the regime to keep opponents from disrupting the regime’s future. He has the authority to hire private investogators to follow citizens with the intent to protect the regimes interest and make any changes or opinions about the charter that benefits the regime.

    The regimes first agenda items:
    1.Make Havana, Sunrise’s Sister City.
    2.Lock up an Ace of a Waste Contract.
    3.Rid the City of any future elections, the regime will handle all future appointments.

    Attention all voters, get your rafts and head for the canals while you still can.