The Bizarre World Of Sunrise’s Commission


I watched a video of the Sunrise City Commission meeting Tuesday. At times I thought I was back at the Sawgrass Mills Imax theater viewing Alice In Wonderland.

It was as if city hall dropped down the rabbit hole.

A few minutes in the bizarre world of the Sunrise City Commission makes one want to cry out: “Off With Their Heads.”

Here is the strange debate this week in a nutshell:

(1) Mayor Roger Wishner will run for mayor in the fall.  If he loses, he can go back to being a city commissioner, under an opinion by City Attorney Stuart Michelson.

Sunrise apparently has a type of reverse Resign-to-Run Law  in its charter.  Or so says Michelson.  

In the city charter,  Sunrise City Hall is a house of mirrors.  In those mirrors:  Heads, Wishner wins. Tails, he wins, too

Michelson’s interpretation is that the Resign-To-Run law is only if you are running for a different office.   

Wishner is already mayor, so he doesn’t have to resign to run.

But Wishner is a special kind of mayor that conveys special privileges, says Michelson.

Wishner is a temporary mayor!

He was elevated to the job when Mayor Steve Feren resigned last year to become a judge.

So if he loses the mayor’s race in the fall, Wishner can go back to his old job as commissioner without an election. He would serve as a commissioner until March 2011, when his old term ends.

“I didn’t write the charter.  That’s what is says,” Michelson says. “I’ve never seen a provision like this anywhere else.”

In all honesty, it was written long before Michelson was city attorney.  He believes it could be easily changed.

Commissioner Joey Scuotto was puzzled.

“He in essence has two seats? If he loses one he goes back to the other one? asked Scuotto.

That’s right, said Michelson.

Only in Sunrise…and its wacky charter.

Not so fast.  Commissioner Sheila Alu is a lawyer just like Michelson.

When you get two lawyers together, you rarely get agreement.  That’s why we have judges.

“I think you’re wrong, Alu said to Michelson.

Alu believes Wishner is really a commissioner running for another office, mayor.  So he must resign to run.

Or he gave up his commission seat to Sofield when he became mayor.  He can’t have it both ways, says Alu.

Michelson dismissed her views.

The other commissioners wisely agreed with Alu.  They want the Sunrise charter cleared up in the future.

One more point:  If Wishner had any integrity, he would solve this problem easily.  He vow to quit the commission seat if he lost the mayor’s race in August 2010.

Don’t hold your breath.

(2) Wishner wants to continue to fill vacancies on the city commission in some cases by appointment.

 “I’m telling you right now there is no way I’m going to spend $100,000 for somebody’s ego because they want to run for office, said Wishner, citing the cost of a special election in a recession.  “There is just no way. Absolutely not.

This is very strange position for an elected politician. 

Using Wishner’s reasoning, Sunrise should do away with all elections.  That would surely save thousands more.

How about Mayor for Life Wishner? Look what that would save in stationery and business cards alone!

It might be noted here that even Commissioner Larry Sofield, who was appointed to his current job, disagreed with Wishner.  

So did Alu. 

Referring to Wishner taking the mayor’s job without an election, Alu said, “That was a farce.  This wording needs to be fixed so it doesn’t happen again.  People deserve the right to elect their representatives.

Wishner persisted in insisting special elections were too costly.

These issues will be decided by Sunrise voters in a referendum later this year.

The debate this week proves that years on the dais has changed Wishner. 

He now has more in common with Alice’s Cheshire Cat than a stateman: All smile and no substance.

13 Responses to “The Bizarre World Of Sunrise’s Commission”

  1. sunrise resident says:

    Sheila Alu should be mayor.
    This creep Wishner has abused his power by refusing to hold an election for mayor. Now he wants an election that he can’t lose. He should leave, now, and take his moronic Michelson city attorney with him.

  2. Bill Bzdek says:

    Hey Buddy at least you could watch it , they put it on the web. In Plantation its on Comcast only and if its something they dont want the public to see or hear , video or audio gets lost in transmission. If its really bad they pull the fire alarm.

    FROM BUDDY: I absolutely agree that Plantation meetings should be on the Internet. This includes all workshops and important advisory board meetings.
    The city is behind the times!!!
    Many people do not have Comcast, but prefer the dish or ATT.

  3. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    We need Larry David to come straighten this out for us.

  4. Need A New City Attorney says:

    When Sunrise hired a city attorney because of political favortism, they should have realized they would run into trouble with a capital T.
    I saw that Sunrise Resident said Sheila Alu should be mayor. Sheila Alu voted for Michelson.
    Only Joey Scuotto wanted another attorney. Vote for Joey.

  5. Resident says:

    That is the strangest opinion I have ever heard. It’s not what the Sunrise Charter says, State law controls. The conclusion the city attorney concludes is that Wisher holds two offices. The one he was elected to, and the one he temporarily holds. State law prohibits this.

    Someone needs to challenge in court now.

  6. Who's Alice says:

    There had been rumblings about this for a while. I cant believe Wishner would do this because like the Dump he cant walk this back. Does he not have a political mirror? He doesn’t see how absolutely corrupt this looks? How incredibly ANGRY this makes people?

    Everybody has now soured on Wishner and all the developer money in the campaign war chest and all the great campaign skills will NOT be able to stop a credible challenger: Scoutto or Alu. The problem is that Scoutto

    a) Doesn’t understand this
    b) Is too comfortable
    c) Is too much of a WIMP to lead his waiting and disgusted Army.

    so all the massive amount of help must wait on the sidelines and smile in Wishner’s face and secretely pray that the Red King draws a credible challenger.

  7. Broward Lawyer says:

    Sheila will challenge it in court. She has co-jones. Go to it Sheila.

  8. Real genius says:

    Not state law, the state constitution.

  9. 2nd Opinion says:

    State law is the key, not any city charter or ordinance or whatever.

    Wishner holds an unambiguous and unqualified right to the Commission seat that Commissioner Sofield currently holds (temporarily). Therefore, Wishner must resign the Commission seat to run for Mayor. If he fails to do so, it will throw the whole election into the Courts and cost the city a fortune litigating the issue.

    If he fails to resign by deadline, watch for the litigation floodgates to open. Failing to resign will jeopardize his run for Mayor, and may even unseat him as Mayor if he is elected after failing to timely resign. If he is so confident he is going to win the Mayors race, why not resign the right to the Commission seat anyway to avoid putting the City through the foreseeable expense of litigation?

    FROM BUDDY: If Wishner had an integrity, he would formally resign his commission seat regardless of what Michelson says.
    Or he would publicly pledge not to take it back if he loses the mayor’s race.
    Meanwhile, the commission should clean up the charter by asking voters to remove this provision.

  10. City Attorney Endorsing Mayor's Race? says:

    Who does the city attorney work for? The City? The Mayor? The Commission? The Commissioners?

    Seems like city attorney should be trying to protect the City from unnecessary attacks rather than just siding with a mayor or an individual?

  11. Resident says:

    2nd Opinion has stated it much better than I.

    What also is interesting is that if Wishner follows his City Attorney’s advice, and doesn’t follow the resign to run law to run for Mayor, he violates that law. When he submits his qualifying papers to run for Mayor he can be declared to be immediately forced out of office. That is the penalty for violating the Resign to Run law. A judge will have to rule on this. Any action Wishner takes while illegally acting as Mayor calls into question anything done by the City Commission.

    On top of that Sheila will be the legitimate Mayor since she is Deputy Mayor now. Wishner won’t be able to use a defense that his City Attorney told him it is OK.

    It makes for great TV.

  12. Mirror Mirror on the Wall says:

    I think Stuart Michelson is the one that should take a hard look in the mirror. He is better than all of this nonsense. As a very accomplished and capable attorney, it is beyond ones comprehension why he needs to protect and placate to Wishner’s whims. Some would say it is the $400,000+ annual salary he gets, but he is astute enough to earn more in private practice without having to constantly be called upon to render legal opinions in trying to legally justify all of Wishner’s shell game antics. The Alice and Wonderland analogy should really be one of a sinking ship. The question is: how many fellow commissioners and city staff people, including Stuart, will Wishner take down with him when the ship finally sinks? And make no mistake, the ship is sinking. Hopefully Alu, who has been doing a great job lately, can have a lawyer to lawyer talk (on the dais) to make Stuart see the light.

  13. Get Answers says:

    Buddy, Have you called Wishner to get his side of this story? If he doesnt take your call or doesnt return your call that is also worthy of comment. But, seems like should see what he has to say about what he is intending to do.