This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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What a bombshell!
In the space of less than two months, Susan Haynie, the Mayor of Boca Raton has faced three separate ethics problems culminating with her arrest and booking into the Palm Beach County Jail on criminal charges.
Can any of us remember when this has happened to any prior Mayor of our city?
This is sad news for our city on many levels. No matter what your feelings may be toward our Mayor, it must be recognized that she has served in appointed and/or elected office for more than sixteen years. With that experience she should have known better.
The Mayor’s first two ethics violations were administered at the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics. Both have a negotiated settlement with fines plus a public reprimand. The most recent legal challenge, however, comes from the State Attorney’s office and is, by far, the most serious of the three; a legal challenge that has resulted in criminal charges including perjury and criminal misuse of office.
The Mayor deserves her day in court on these criminal charges and more details will be forthcoming during the ensuing days. Those details should reveal much. It is almost a certainty that regardless of the outcome, Ms. Haynie’s attempt to become a county commissioner in the November election have now gone up in smoke. She is politically damaged goods. Haynie’s criminal defense attorney has been heard to state that “Mrs. Haynie wholeheartedly and completely denies these allegations which she plans to fight in court to the fullest extent.”
Meantime, these incidents and others that remain unresolved, have left a blemish on Boca Raton; a blemish that may become a lasting stain if not dealt with effectively. Regardless of the outcome of Haynie’s criminal charges, Boca Raton needs to move on without her. Ms. Haynie’s many years of service notwithstanding, her chapter as an elected official needs to come to a close.
Trust, once lost, is difficult, if not, impossible to regain. Her immediate future will surely be consumed with resolving these mounting civil and criminal matters; a complete and total distraction.
What comes next for Boca?
In relatively short order the City Council and Administration should decide how to handle this difficult situation. If it is determined that Ms. Haynie can not continue to participate in City Council and/or CRA proceedings, her resignation or removal from office will trigger a special election as early as the currently scheduled August 2018 primary.
The legal process and Ms. Haynie willingness to fight the charges may dictate how quickly this is resolved. From the perspective of the resident and those conducting business in Boca Raton resolution must come; the sooner the better. Ongoing and prolonged headlines and news articles of the Mayor’s circumstance will surely hurt our city’s image.
How ironic that this news broke at a time when a Boca Raton City Council meeting was in process. While Deputy Mayor Scott Singer was conducting the meeting due to the Mayor’s absence, Susan Haynie was being fingerprinted in West Palm Beach for her booking into the county jail. With this breaking news, the three council members present, along with the City Manager and City Attorney were receiving text messages regarding the explosive event. Near the end of the City Council meeting, Councilmember Andrea O’Rourke forced conversation on the issue but, without complete facts, the discussion did not go far.
Minus an elected Mayor at the helm, the Mayoral responsibilities fall on the shoulders of recently appointed Deputy Mayor Scott Singer. Mr. Singer has proven himself capable of conducting meetings through years while serving as CRA Chairman but, in that capacity, he also demonstrated poor leadership judgement by failing to move forward against his political ally, Susan Haynie, with the available legal process that would have resolved this matter many months ago.
Referring back to Haynie’s run for County Commissioner, upon her announcement, Mr. Singer immediately filed to run for Mayor in what was then anticipated to be a March, 2019 election. Is it the cynic or the realist that would suggest that Mr. Singer was politically calculating when he participated in orchestrating his appointment as Deputy Mayor less than a month ago?
Hopefully, Ms. Haynie will resign and provide the residents with an early opportunity to restore trust in our city’s elected officials.
What are residents left to do to get our city’s image where it belongs?
This has not been a banner day for our Chamber of Commerce or our city’s Economic Development Department. Due to the hit on Boca’s image this has not been a good day for our city.
It is most assuredly, a sad day for our city and its residents.
Publisher of BocaWatch
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Mr. Batmasian has just recently settled two ex-employee lawsuits that he had vowed never to settle. He probably has to redirect his attorneys to address the Haynie case that has just blown up in his face. Any evidence of criminal violations discovered during the civil trials could have been used against him when/if charges are brought against him in connection to the Haynie case. A 62 year old ex-politician trying to avoid jail time might be very quick to testify against him at this point.
Batmasian is just as guilty. There is also a need to investigate Rodgers and Singer to see what they knew about Haynie’s voting on matters pertaining to Batmasian. O’Rourke for Mayor. I come from Long Island where political corruption is commonplace
I suggest that all read the Probable Cause Affidavit. It was Mrs. Batmasian’s honesty to the ethics investigators which led to the charges.
The mayor is a victim of her own arrogance and hubris. Next up. Find out who’s got the rare coins stashed in a safety deposit box.
The City Attorney needs to resign or be fired for covering for this. She has cost the City millions with bad decisions. (The Sober home lawsuit) She was wrong on the “museum” aspect of Chabad and the gun lawsuit is ridiculous.
Why did they stop investigating weinroth for appointing himself on the airport authority? He’s just as big a liar!!
You’re a nut job. I read your newsletter and just laugh at you. Keep them coming. I am just a long-term resident but you think you’re a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. You need to get out of retirement and do something less dramatic. Like, who cares about your topics? Look at the comments people give — only those that agree with you and the same people each time. Any opposing views ever?
You fight when a tiny little 7 Eleven wants to open on Palmetto. Not look at it. You feel stupid? Probably you don’t, but you should. How much energy into fighting that one? You’re a nut.
People would love to open a restaurant in the park at Palmetto and ICW. Nope, not you. You want another park. Really? Another dead park? You found the old crazy people to hang with you.
Nadal wants to come and invest in the city. Bring revenue taxes, for hotels, restaurants, shopping. Nope, not you. You think the residents could not find another park even though the quality investor was willing to spend to keep the scenery nice and let residents use it. Let me say it again, your nuts.
Normal people could give a shit about your topics — they just don’t talk. Most people don’t want to see the town die and be full of parks and nothing. Were looking for growth and cut taxes.
I will give you credit for making a stupid noise — and nobody opposes you. You have energy. You just are a nut. Anyone who has or works I see makes jokes about your newsletters. Your retirement community vision keeps downtown dead. Keeps the beaches dead. Keeps the mid-town dead. Keeps Boca dead.
I guess while I’m at it, you likely have never worked? You seem to have a passion for anything that brings revenue or excitement to the city. I think you should next write a letter for the Socialist Party of America. I would definitely support you on that. Please do an article in your crazy newsletter about the Socialist Party and why you agree with them.
Let me say it again, you’re a nutjob. Keep fighting everything and everyone. You might get a prize for best reporter with the nuttiest ideas in the most useless way.
Publish this. Oh, you won’t do it.
I personally thing Al is doing a wonderful unbiased job unlike yourself.
Well Tony, sorry you’re so uninformed about what’s going on in Boca. Before you throw a stone at those of us trying to keep the things that made this city so desirable, let me point out one good example of your failed knowledge. That tiny 7 Eleven that Mayor Haynie pushed and claimed to the press would be the “Taj Mahal of 7 Elevens” (her exact words), is in fact franchised by, guess who? Jim Batmasian. And upon opening that 7 Eleven, a long time family owned convenience store a few doors down was pushed out of business.
Ok, one more example. Are you enjoying the empty retail space at the monster Palmetto Promenade? The promised restaurants and high end retail will never lease this space because Haynie and the past city counsel waived the parking requirements. No parking, no tenants. Nice, considering Haynie’s specialty was supposed to be “planning and zoning”.
Anybody who has to use the word “nut job” several times in a reply is probably one themselves. A more articulate person with intelligence wouldn’t have to stoop to the lowest level of debate: name calling. Did you make it to high school or did you drop out? (See now that is about the same level of debate; so I’m thinking you might understand that insult.)
Many thanks to Al for taking on such a thankless job. In 2 short years our greedy & shortsighted council has pretty much destroyed our once quaint city, known nationally for its uniqueness.
Now, thinking back to the GA motto “The Empire State of the South”, may I propose:
Boca Raton, the swamp of the south.
Hi Glenn. Nice try there with the Tony Jackson alter ego.
All decisions related to real estate development made by Mayor Haynie should be reviewed by an outside agency. Unchecked real estate development in Boca cannot be undone and it is too prone to corruption. You also fail to note that Haynie is a Republican and we are living through the most corrupt presidential administration in history. Now, it has sunk down to the small town level.
Typical Dim talking points. Lumping one person’s criminality with false statements about the current administration in DC is narrow minded and blind to reality!! Each person in is responsible for their actions and there SHOULD be equal justice under the law! Making a comment like yours, you must have blinders on to the reality of the REAL Corruption scandal in DC i.e. HRC, Comey, McCabe, et al!!
Pandora’s Box just got opened…………
“sad day” I think not. While this news is a black eye for the city. The positive aspects far outweigh the negative. Removing this corrupt cancer from our city is the best thing that has happened to Boca in a long time. I just dont know what took so long, it was obvious to so many. Haynie and singer have been two peas in a pod for so long it’s hard to believe that he was unaware. Enough is enough, leave no stone unturned. It’s time to clean house. Mayotte and O’Rourke are the only trustworthy ones, broom the rest starting with the city attorney. I would trade honesty and devotion to do what’s best for the city for experience any day.
Tony Jackson – Thank you for your comments.
Please reflect – the residents of Boca Raton strongly favor their parks and have voted to keep them as they voted on November 8th of 2016 by 67% to keep our waterfront parks for recreation and boating. The City is spending millions on consultants that will make our parks more inviting and useful to all, including you if you wish to use them.
But, here is an answer to your desires, your dreams for the good life. Right now, this very moment, the utopian land you lust for is available. Check it out and see if it doesn’t meet your personal criteria for “a land of wonder”. Fort Lauderdale beckons your arrival to its lifestyle. Why not, Tony? It offers all you want. You deserve it and should take advantage of it. Please, Tony. Get out of this City Within a Park where the majority of residents wish to have open green space for themselves and their families. You have every right to choose your lifestyle but not at the exclusion of the majority. Just know you or your dependents are welcome and can come back in 50 years when there are no parks save those preserved in Boca Raton. You will always be welcome in Boca Raton just as your point of view is important to the process of community. Thank you again.
I am not a fan of public corruption, but I am a fan of the presumption of innocence.
Thanks mom. These folks are something special, aren’t they? Thanks for moving us down here so I got to be around all these people. Imagine if we never moved out of the Hudson Valley, never gave Boca a chance?
Just a suggestion …
Wouldn’t it be a deterrent for all future, “rogue developers”, if all of the Batmasian properties, developed while conspiring with Haynie, were razed?
I’m willing to bet that no other developer would be willing to run the risk of attempting any of these shenanigans.
The damage to our community has been done.
Overdevelopment has taken place, without the necessary increase in infrastructure in place to support it.
On another note … Why is it that, in the State of Florida, a convicted felon can’t vote, but is allowed to contribute funds to the campaigns of those running for office?
It’s simply a case of greed, run amuck.
Labeling an individual like Haynie as an unprincipled exception shoves under the rug the deeper problem: informal rules that dictate the ‘norm’ or Standard Operating Procedure for an organization.
Susan Haynie has been part of a machine implementing council and staff decisions for years.
Her casualness dismissing the charges as unfounded indicate a culture. A learned behavior if you will and one that calls into question 16 years of experience.
I wonder if any local teachers are speaking to their students about the take-aways.
True. I recently sat through my first city council meeting and was amazed to see things getting voted on and people approved for board seats with little or no discussion. It was apparent that decisions had already been made and the meeting was just a formality. I was the most qualified for a seat, by far, but didn’t get asked a single question. Who needs the headache anyways for a volunteer position? I actually like the development and new restaurants in Boca, but I appreciate this site because we need to respect and hear everyone’s voice.
Black eye on the city? I doubt it. Not many trust the political system in general and I would assume most are not surprised by these types of accusations against a Mayor. Boca Raton will survive, Haynie or no Haynie.
The city has plenty of other issues beyond the Haynie arrest. Boca has always had issues with its image. It simply tries way too hard to appear as upscale as it can. Meanwhile, we all sit at traffic light after traffic light and frequently you can barely move through this town. New York City I understand, Boca Raton’s traffic issues I don’t. There is no downtown which severely limits what one wants to do after dark. An oasis it is not.
Let Haynie get a fair trial and if convicted, with actual real proof, rather than gobblygook, go after her and investigate all her deal making as well.
As for the Batmasian’s it would be justifiable to look at deals involving them as well although should Haynie be found innocent my vote would be to leave Batmasian alone.
Time to clean house in city hall! To hear the city attorney state at the last meeting of the council that she did not provide legal advice to Mayor Haynie is a perfect illustration of where to start with the house cleaning IMHO. The city attorney was aware of these ethical issues and communicated to the ethics commission while trying to shield the Mayor from being identified, so this legal calamity certainly should not have been a surprise to the city attorney (and city manager?). Current city council members should be leery of accepting any advice from the city attorney as it may appear that there was poor advice given to the mayor on ethics issues, or a blind eye turned in order to support the development machine that has been running the city for several years..
Good reporting! And the comments are ALL appreciated!!!
Thankfully, we still live in a free & open society where ALL citizens are welcome to freely express their individual opinion & personal passion. And, even better, we can do so in a civil, respectful & inclusive manner, acknowledging our shared heritage of rule of law, common good & fair play.
As the FBI steadily uncovers the extent of Russian interference in our delicate democracy’s due diligence, it’s refreshing to witness our existing system of criminal investigation & judicial checks & balances, at all levels of government, persisting to protect our enduring union!
Would someone look into the supposed “abandonment” of Balboa Lane re: developers/commissioners connection ?
Ms. Harris, It is my understanding that the Balboa Lane matter has been in the hands of counsel. I suggest that you contact Sandi who has been very active researching the facts and circumstances on this matter. Al Zucaro