CITY OF LAKE WORTH
CITY OF LAKE WORTH
CITY MANAGER'S OFFICE
7 NORTH DIXIE HIGHWAY
LAKE WORTH, FLORIDA
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2012
Pam Triolo, Mayor
Scott Maxwell, Vice Mayor
Christopher McVoy, Commissioner
Andy Amoroso, Commissioner
Michael Bornstein, City Manager
Glen Torciva, Esquire, Interim City Attorney
Brian Joslyn, Esquire, Outside Counsel
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[People mentioned, other than listed "In Attendance", in order of mention: Mr. Karns, Cara Jennings, Mr. McNamara, Mr. McCally (phonetic), Anabeth Carson, Mr. Magnis (phonetic), Mr. Exline (phonetic)]
COMMISSIONER AMOROSO: Okay. My next question would be for clarification. Commissioner McVoy, you opened the door on something I had no clue what we're talking about. There was a lawsuit against Commissioner McVoy before he was Commissioner because he was part of the PAC?
MR. JOSLYN: Yes.
COMMISSIONER AMOROSO: Please, can you enlighten us on that because I know nothing about that.
MR. JOSLYN: There was a referendum. Let me back up. There was a lawsuit involving a group called Save Our Neighborhood over another project here in town.
COMMISSIONER AMOROSO: Which was?
MR. JOSLYN: I don't even remember. It was a multi-family of some sort or another but it was only on two different parcels or three different parcels of property. There's a state law that says you don't get to have a referendum election for zoning or land use decisions that affect five or fewer parcels. So the City took the position that referendum that was being attempted by the Save Our Neighborhood people was no good because it only affected four parcels or fewer than five. We defended that lawsuit at trial. The judge whacked us on it. Said no, you're wrong, this clearly affects more than five parcels because the traffic is going to impact the neighborhood and blah, blah, blah. We took it up to the Appellate Court and won the case at the Appellate Court. They reversed and said no, five or fewer parcels means five or fewer parcels.
So while that case was on appeal this project comes up, the contract is signed, and the referendum is attempted.
COMMISSIONER AMOROSO: Same group?
MR. JOSLYN: Different group pretty much. I mean the same basic supported public but different group of people involved organizing the thing. And so that when the We Love Lake Worth referendum came out the beaches is one parcel. It's one town owned parcel. So Mr. Karns hired us to challenge the referendum on the same basis we were challenging the Save Our Neighborhood case and a lawsuit was filed and it turns out after the fact that Mr. Karns didn't have City Commission approval to hire or authorize the lawsuit and there was some City, I've seen minutes from this entire period of time where he was taken to task for not seeking Commission approval for this. And there was a huge cry in the City about the City is suing its own residents, you know, over these decisions that should be made part of the public when state law says no. And there's a set of minutes where Cara Jennings says well you shouldn't sue the town, you shouldn't sue the citizens, you should sue to set aside the state statute to Mr. Karns. Okay? So this lawsuit was going on against Mr. McVoy's group and against -- and the reason it was named, the individuals were named is because they didn't incorporate so it was a group, a political action group. These are the people. They weren't being sued for money or anything. They were being sued to stop this referendum.
There was a second lawsuit by Mr. McNamara joined by somebody else, I'll think of it in a minute, challenging the lease that was part of the Greater Bay deal and we were defending that lawsuit as well while all this stuff was going on.
MAYOR TRIOLO: Oh, go ahead, Commissioner. McCally (phonetic)? Is it McCally?
MR. JOSLYN: Yes, that's who it was.
VICE MAYOR MAXWELL: This is actually fascinating for me because I'm having trouble putting all these pieces together. It sounds like all the same players were involved in different PACs that were either suing the City or getting sued by the City, tinkering with zoning, tinkering with land use regulations, tinkering with the beach and now we've got this lawsuit. Is that what I'm hearing?
MR. JOSLYN: I got involved with this City -- I'll give you short long answer. I got involved representing the City in connection with the Lucerne project when Mr. McNamara, Ms. Jennings, Anabeth Carson and a number of others filed suit against the City under the wrong statute to stop the project. We pointed out to them that it was the wrong statute, that they didn't have a right, that they had missed their time limits and their case is going to be thrown out. They continued to press it for another year and a half. We finally got the case thrown out and we got a sanction attorney's fee award against Mr. McNamara and his attorney. And we recorded the judgment and within two days I was called by a closing agent, Mr. Magnis (phonetic) on some property he owned and the closing agent said they had a check for me and where did they need to send it? I needed to give them a satisfaction of judgment.
While that case was on appeal because the attorney didn't want to pay his share of the award, Mr. Exline (phonetic) filed suit against the City over the sale of the First Union site with McNamara in the background, Anabeth Carson and a number of these other people alleging that there were Sunshine Law violations involved in that. That was another two-year deal that we finally got thrown out by summary judgment. Okay? While that case was going on, the Save Our Neighborhood thing came up. And then while this was going on in the process of after the contract was signed and before the contract two years later was terminated, these other two lawsuits popped up. It's all the same -- not the same people but they're all sort of aligned.
COMMISSIONER MCVOY: Yeah. I think as somebody who was involved in one of them I think I might have a bit more insight into who the people were and I think your statement that it was all the same people or kind of the same people is a little bit disingenuous. The only thing that's the same people is your office has been making money off of every single lawsuit all along the way.
MR. JOSLYN: Well we've also won every single lawsuit all along the way.
COMMISSIONER MCVOY: Maybe so but there is an issue there that is somewhat of concern.
MAYOR TRIOLO: He didn't file the lawsuits.
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