Sunrise Takes Steps to Dump Michelson and Klenet | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Sunrise Takes Steps to Dump Michelson and Klenet

The City of Sunrise, under the stewardship of recently elected Mayor Michael Ryan, voted to cut out one of its two lobbyists and decided by consensus to put its city attorney contract out to bid.

Make no mistake: This is another body blow to the top (and totally embattled) power couples in town.

Broward County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman's husband, Stuart Michelson, is the current city attorney after getting a no-bid $432,000 contract with Sunrise a couple of years ago. It's possible that Michelson could win the bid, but the commission's decision to put his contract out to bid may be a fatal blow to his rather cushy employment there.  

And Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter's husband, Russell Klenet, is one of the paid Sunrise lobbyists, along with the omnipresent Ron Book. The two lobbyists bring in an annual total of about $60,000 each.

The commission voted unanimously to cut the

lobbyist budget in half, meaning that one of those lobbyists must go, and it doesn't look like it will be Book. Commissioner Sheila Alu made her intent known during the meeting, suggesting that her colleagues go ahead and remove Klenet immediately.

That didn't happen, but the writing is on the wall. Klenet's strongest backer in the town is former mayor Roger Wishner, who was defeated by Ryan. It was Wishner, now a commissioner, who cast the decisive vote to keep Klenet around a couple of years ago.

While their husbands' jobs are threatened in Sunrise, both Ritter and Lieberman remain under investigation by the State Attorney's Office.

-- Did developer Anthony Mijares ever dodge a bullet. During the investigation of Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, it appears that Mijares, chairman of United Homes, lied under oath and accepted a falsified invoice when he paid the former (and currently imprisoned) commissioner $10,000 for lobbying services.

But because Mijares was given immunity by the State Attorney's Office for both contradictory sworn statements he gave to prosecutors, he's in the clear.

When Mijares was initially questioned under oath in 2006 about his hiring of Eggelletion to help him secure the multimillion-dollar contract to build what is now known as Bella Vista, he claimed that he paid Eggelletion only for work he did in St. Lucie County. When questioned last year, again under oath, he admitted that the money was actually for Eggelletion's help in securing the Lauderdale Lakes work.

Immunity does not extend to perjury, but Mijares was given immunity again when he basically admitted to lying in the first statement with prosecutors. You might call it double immunity.

Then there's that invoice. When United Homes paid Eggelletion, the invoice for the work claimed that it was for the commissioner's help in a wetlands assessment on a project in St. Lucie County. That invoice was a fraud, Mijares admitted.

"[W]hen he was originally given the $10,000 check, had there been any discussions about the wetlands?" Assistant State Attorney Jeannette Camacho asked Mijares during the second deposition.

"I don't believe so," Mijares answered.

When Camacho asks if it was actually for Lauderdale Lakes and whether the invoice was incorrect, Mijares admits it was.  

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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

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