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.
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