Update: Sunrise’s Sorid Record of No-Bid Attorney Deals


Over 25 years, lawyer Stuart Michelson has pulled $100,000s in legal fees out of the City of Sunrise.

Probably millions.

That gravy train may be about to leave the station without Michelson aboard. 

The Sunrise City Commission Tuesday is scheduled to ask Michelson to reapply for his job.  Commissioners will also ask other attorneys for applications.

It means that Michelson is fighting to hold on to his very lucrative job.

This is a good for taxpayers.  For the first time in 24 years, the ccommission will conduct a competitive process for hiring a city attorney.

Is Michelson getting a sweetheart deal?  Taxpayers may soon know.

Michelson was handed his job two years ago without having to compete with other applicants the classic no bid deal.

The job is a big one Michelson’s current contract calls for $432,000 annually, but he got almost $100,000 in the past year for other work, according to commissioners.

Some of Michelson’s money goes to pay a second attorney, which has led to quips from critics that he needs a second attorney to ghost his city government work.

Some suspect that the cozy deal was steered to Michelson because he is the husband of County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman. Lieberman represents portions of Sunrise and has influence over any county money that flows to the city.

Michelson’s argument echoed by his vocal supporter Commissioner Sheila Alu is that he has long experience with Sunrise. He represented the city from 1985-2008 as an outside counsel.

Some of this work was defending Sunrise’s scandal stained commissioners against ethics complaints.  The city, or should I say the taxpayers, picked up the tab.

Michelson was successful in defending the commissioners.

Among his first work for the city, according to the Sun-Sentinel, was to defend the city against an opponent of corrupt Sunrise Mayor John Lomelo.  Lomelo later served federal time for extortion.

Bill Colon had alleged that Lomelo, Council President John Montgomery and the city had violated his civil rights.

The city lost the suit at the trial court level.  A jury awarded $850,000, but I don’t know if the city ever paid a dimeexcept to Michelson.  Knowing Stuart, I’m sure he got paid.

His work on ethics continued. At least one commissioner that Michelson defended Steve Feren, who is now a judge actively pushed for him to be hired as city attorney.

Here is Sunrise’s sorry record of no-bid city attorney deals as gleaned from the records of the city and the Sun-Sentinel:

  • 1970s — Arthur Parkhurst hired as City Attorney by City Council controlled by the corrupt Lomelo.  There was no bid.
  • 1985 – When Lomelo gets indicted, Gov. Bob Graham appointed Bob Butterworth as Mayor. Butterworth engineered the firing of Parkhurst after discovering his firm earned $523,000 in 1984 — $424,000 over his contract, mostly for bond work.
  • 1985 — Phil Montante  is hired as City Attorney without taking any applications from others.
  • 1985–  Montante asked Stuart Michelson to do outside legal work, charging the city on a hourly basis.
  • 1986 — Jon Henning was hired after a city search committee consisting of Montante and attorney Richard Weiss sifted through 10 applications. This is the only time Browardbeat.com could find that the city even bothered to look at applications. Henning was plugged-in politically his widow Patti Englander Henning was and remains a judge, while his sister-in-law Nicki Englander Grossman was a county commissioner at the time.  Grossman’s husband is Broward Circuit Judge Mel Grossman.
  • 1994 — Henning quit under pressure from then-Mayor Steve Effman.
  • 1994 — Jeff Olson was hired without taking applications from others.  Olson was Henning’s assistant attorney in Sunrise.  The Sun-Sentinel writes that Olson was a former copy editor at the Miami Herald who started his law career as a clerk in Sunrise.
  • 2003 — Olson was fired. The City Commission hired his assistant, Kim Register, without taking a bid. 
  • 2008– Register resigned.  Michelson is handed the job.


Update: Questions I wish commissioners would ask Stuart Michelson Tuesday:

 (1)  Michelson received $45,000 extra within the last year for work on a utility bond issue.  Why did this bond work not fall under his $432,000 annual contract with the city?   The work was clearly city work? 

(2)   If it was decided the bond issue was not work for the city I can’t imagine this why didn’t he charge the per-hour rate called for in his contract for outside work?  How did he decide on the figure of $45,000 and how is that allowed under his contract?

Michelson told me he could not comment for any story on Browardbeat.com.  I can understand that position and it should not be held against him.  His answers should come at the public city commission.

20 Responses to “Update: Sunrise’s Sorid Record of No-Bid Attorney Deals”

  1. Floridan says:

    There seems to be no shortage of attorneys in Broward County, so I suppose that there are quite a few who are qualified to be Sunrise’s city attorney.

    That said, anyone who hires an attorney based on he/she being the low bidder, should not be suprised if bad things happen.

  2. Sunrise Resident says:

    I have great hope that Mike Ryan cleans up Sunrise. The others including Alu have been there for too long and are ingrained to allow business as usual. The place needs a bucket of water, a mop and pink slips all around.

  3. intheknow says:

    Look into there NO BID Garbage Contract!!! and the New Back door deal to charge residents more and split the money with garbage Hauler!!! Its SMELLS!!!

    Alu won’t put it out to Bid wonder Why!!!
    Last three cities that went out recived cheaper rate and guaranteed franchise fees!!

  4. Sheila Alu says:

    To Intheknow:

    You obviously don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. We just put All Service’s contract out to bid a few years back, and we are NOT raising garbage fees or raising any fees for that matter. Moreover, we will be increasing the level of garbage service with All Service providing residents with new rollout garbage cans.

    As for our garbage fees, you might want to check your figures because Sunrise has the lowest fee in the county. I should know, seeing how I led the charge to make sure it went out to bid.

    Sheila Alu was the commissioner who insisted that the Sunrise garbage contract be put out for a bid. The resistance from the garbage hauler became quite intense and they even probed into Alu’s personal life in an attempt to smear her.

  5. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Well if it isn’t so. Is this the real Vice Mayor Sheils Alu. What’s the matter,no snitching on today’s agenda. You get around all right. OH its great that you are not raising the Garbage rates. How irionic or should I say great for the TOwn of Sunrise. And by the way speaking of garbage all this stuff I’m hearing about you from being an FBI informant. what is the real scoop? I’m sure I’m not the only one that has these questions?Could be very well,BS,what’s the real deal Att. Alu????

  6. reply to Mr. Walsh says:

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and answer your questions. First, I am a prosecutor. We worked with outside law enforcement agencies all of the time. My job is to uphold the law, seek justice, and prosecute crimes against the State of Florida. I have no remorse aiding the FBI in riding this County of corrupt elected officials and would do it again if called upon to do so.

    As far as my personal life, there is nothing I can do to stop ridiculous rumors about my sex life. It is BS. For whatever reason, women in the public eye are constantly subjected to these types of insults and innuendos.

  7. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    to Vice Mayor Alu:

    Please explain your comments a couple of years ago that somehow your support of hiring your current city attorney was based on him being the best, as you have indicated. He had never been a city attorney before, no day to day 365, 24/7 municipal attorneying experience!!!

    Your defense, rationale for hiring him in ludicrous and silly!!!! Please clarify for the record, PLEASE. OR what would be refreshing, is for you to just be HONEST for once, and come clean, and admit your hired him because he is MR. LIEBERMAN, your then very good friend’s Ilene Lieberman’s husband.

    Just come clean, before your boss starts interviewing in his official capacity.

  8. intheknow says:

    I belive the garbage rate were voted on and passed at a 12.00 increase in new budget. That is true.
    It has not been out to bid. Show the RFP to prove it. There isn’t one because it never went out to bid. You did do a Waste Generation Study which proved All Service was stealing and they lowered the price and you EXTENDED another NO BID CONTRACT when they paid you a couple of million dollars back!!

    Check into it Buddy. Bet you won’t find a BID for garbage in over thirty years.
    PS I really think Ms Alu has done wonders in that City and is someone I look up to in Politics.

    FROM BUDDY: I not only checked it. I covered part of the process back in 2005 when Alu insisted and got the garbage contract to be put out to bid. Here is a story by my colleague at the time, Kevin Smith:


    South Florida Sun – Sentinel – Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
    Author: Kevin Smith Staff Writer
    Date: Aug 14, 2005
    Start Page: 3.B
    Section: LOCAL
    Text Word Count: 300

    Document Text

    City officials next month will open bids from companies hoping for the lucrative opportunity to collect Sunrise’s garbage.

    While whatever agreement is reached will mean millions of dollars for the successful bidder, the structure of the agreement could also mean savings for residents and businesses. The bids will be opened Sept. 6.

    “I’m looking forward to the competitive process and looking for lower rates for our residents,” said Commissioner Sheila Alu, who, with Commissioner Don Rosen, was among the most vocal in calling for the waste collection contract to be opened up for bid.

    All Service Refuse Inc. now provides the collections service, and if the city did not open the contract up for bid, All Service’s contract would have automatically renewed next month. Interested waste haulers will need to wade through the 316-page request for proposals developed by the city and consulting company R.W. Beck Inc.

  9. About Robert Walsh says:


    Are you the best Judy Stern has to offer as her shill these days. Times must be tough. Interesting all your posts seem to either priase Judy or attack her ememies.

  10. Sheila Alu says:

    Stone Cold:

    Mr. Michelson acted as the backup City Attorney for Deerfield Beach anytime their city attorney was absent, and he did this for a period of 20 years.

    In addition, he filled in for the city attorney of Parkland, and he has represented the City of Sunrise since 1985 in a wide variety of legal matters. Mr. Michelson has acted as the interim city attorney while Kim Register was on maternity leave, and served as our acting City Attorney after she left her position in 2008 until we took a formal vote to hire him permanently.

    In order to be investigated for public corruption one must be suspected of taking something of benefit by using one’s office. I, Sir have a stellar record and never put friendship before my oath of office. Moreover, Mr. Michelson worked for the City long before he ever knew Ilene Lieberman.

  11. Bill Bzdek says:

    So Buddy what about Plantation City Attorney Don Lunny , How does he get a pass? Same deal , his dad was city attorney , so the Lunny’s have had control for over 30 years . and make no mistake when Diane Veltri Veltri Veltri is elected as heir apparent ( Deal with the Mayor ) it will continue and he is a gnormous rainmaker for his firm !!!

    Nobody gets a pass. If anyone has real information about anyone, pass it along. Browardbeat@hotmail.com.

  12. Fort Lauderdale Lawyer says:

    Good questions, Buddy

  13. Rastas says:

    Let’s not be children here: there is only one reason a town would hire the husband of a county commissioner.

  14. Las Olas Lawyer says:

    Despite Ms. Alu’s attempt to justify her vote, she must know that Stuart Michelson was never considered an accomplished government lawyer and still isn’t. The lawyers I know laugh when they discuss how he has twisted the law to allow Wishner to take office as mayor without an election and then go back as a commissioner after losing.

  15. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    to Buddy and Commissioner Sheila Alu:

    Buddy, please don’t let Comm. Alu come on here and try to pass off her striving to help her then good Friend, Comm. Lieberman, by pushing a no bid deal to a non accomplished municipal attorney, who was/is Mr. Lieberman.

    Both Rastas and Las Olas Lawyer are dead on that Mr. Lieberman was not considered in any circles an accomplished city attorney.

    Commissioner Alu, it scares me that you prosecute in one life, for that warrants judgement and ethics. What you did when you pushed the sordid no bid deal to your friends, is not moral, ethical and shows horrific judgement. You should be investigated by your boss.

    BUDDY, please don’t give her a pass. You know in your intellect and your heart that Commissioner Alu violated the oath she took when she got elected/reelected, when she and her then cronies pushed this horrible no bid.

    Commissioner, please look in a mirror an come to grips with what you did and turn your self in.

  16. Charlotte says:

    If Sunrise wants to stop itself from being taken advantage of by outside counsel, then they ought to hire a permanent in house attorney. Hiring another firm to serve as general counsel is only going to cost the city exorbitant legal fees. Shelia Alu should wise up and recommend this. It is LUDICROUS that this valuable position is farmed out to the highest bidder. Bring the accountability in house.

  17. Charlotte says:

    Also, Comm. Alu, Mr. Michelson is NOT a local gov’t atty. As so many on here have pointed out, the City of Sunrise made a laughing stock of itself when it hired him for 400k a year. He knows (or knew, at the time he was hired) about local gov’t law.

  18. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    @Stone Cold Steve Austin

    Bro… You will need to type a little slower — many of us don’t speak idiot.

    You should get down on your hands and knees and say a prayer to whatever god you do that sort of thing with, thanking he/her/she/it for providing you with Sheila Alu…

    If you don’t like Alu, I’d be more than willing to trade you 100 Sylvia Poitier’s for part time use of Alu’s services.

    She was the only one to stand up to Wishner and his crony… What was his name. Big ears, limited mental capacity… Reminded me of that Sloth character from the Goonies…


    The good news about Sloth is he at least offered comic relief. Sunrise’s version of Sloth, Mr. Rosen, wasn’t even funny. Well, maybe funny in a pitiful way, but certainly not funny haha.

    Like I said, be glad you have Alu. She’s the only thing in your town keeping you from becoming Deerfield — a place that just might very have four elected officials, within the last two elected classes, arrested for corruption crimes.

    And to the end about Alu’s personal life, who really cares… Makes absolutely no difference to me what she does, or doesn’t do, in her private life.

    Anytime you want to fire Alu, ship her up to Deerfield and we’ll receive her with open arms and a ticker-tape parade.

    She might wear a skirt (and look really good in it), but she has more balls than most of you combined.

    Chaz Stevens, Genius

  19. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    to Commissioner Alu:

    If you weren’t going to step down before today, you now really have no choice, because this County’s biggest numnut wackjob, Chasshole Stevens, is your biggest fan.

    Wow, if this is who supports you, you need to re evaluate your morally corrupt votes on no bid jobs. Repent, Commissioner (3:16 because STone Cold says SO!)

  20. City Activist Robert walsh says:

    To Att. Vice Mayor Sheila Alu- Thank you for your reply so the whole kissing in the bushes sort of thing with the Reporter is BS. Ok for the record. I know full well that you are an Attorney in the DA. Again that is very noble,bringing down corrupt politicians etc. Only thing is that was not your claim to fame. What about basiclly back stabbing JUdge Gardiner and her involvement w. one of the attorneys from your own dept. That was really your business? So you did help and cooperate w/ the feds. Sop what’s next are you the next Clarece Starling?One last thing your name has been brought up more times in the last few months than I can shake a stick at concerning your alleged indiscretions. True or not,still has many questioning your values..