Broward News

Mayor Hires P.R. Firm To Counter Bad Press

So I got an e-mail from a P.R. firm in Boca Raton called TransMedia Group. The subject line: "Mayor Al Capellini Speaks Out!"

That's right, Mayor Al has hired a P.R. firm to rebut negative press, including coverage of his use of a city supervisor to coerce a city lifeguard to go on a date with him and, most recently, my report on his conflicts of interest. Here's a link to the complete press release.

On the lifeguard affair, Capellini is quoted:

"One incident that made headlines was my having dinner one night with a single female who at the time was a city worker. Big deal! This is a news story? But from all the innuendo that opponents crammed into the story, you'd think I'd broken the law. 'Thou Shalt not have dinner with a single, adult woman.' One of my friends jokingly said I should handle it like President Clinton and announce: 'I did not have dinner with that woman!

A thorough investigation, however, conducted by the City Attorney into Capellini's relationship with the then-city worker found nothing wrong.

"Yet somehow that doesn't get the same media attention," he said. " I can almost hear the reporter saying: 'Ah shucks . . . nothing dirty there. But we'll keep prying.' That's how ridiculous this recent spate of negative stories about myself and our City Manager has become," he said.

In fact, the internal city review found that the city's deputy recreation director Jack Disher acted inappropriately when he pressured the lifeguard to date Capellini. Read Sentinel beat reporter Susannah Bryan's article . And, if Disher acted inappropriately, then what about the mayor, who pressured Disher to set the lifeguard up on the unwanted date?

As for my article this week about his unseemly relationship with architect Bill Gall0, Capellini and his P.R. flacks go on the offensive:

A voluminous article stretching over six pages in the New Times newspaper on June 1, implied some shenanigans were going on between myself and Mr. Gallo who occasionally represents clients before the Deerfield Beach City Commission.

"Yes, I admit to having business relationships with architects. Occasionally I may even have dinner with them. I'm an engineer by profession and engineers and architects work together. Hello? But any time Mr. Gallo brought a matter before the City Commission, I made it a point to declare a conflict and not vote. New Times says I have a 'convenient bladder' as I always excuse myself when Gallo brings a matter before the commission. I call it just Mother Nature calling. By the way, the incident to which the New Times article was referring was just a tabling of the issue, not even an approval or disapproval."

In fact, I've found several instances where Mother Nature has called Capellini away from city votes in a patently illegal fashion. But I'm not going to get in a tit-for-tat on this thing. I just wonder how much this press release cost and if the mayor is going to try to bill the city.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman