A likely future State AG or U.S. Senator, Dave Aronberg places a priority on investigating public official corruption, unlike St. Johns County State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA (is he in on it?)
Remember when St. Augustine Commissioner SUSAN BURK publicly announced that she wanted to turn St. Augustine into a rich-guy town like Boca Ratón?
And I smell a rat -- with predictable 4-1 votes, St. Augustine City Commissioners have repeatedly voted to authorize noncompliant projects in violation of local and state law, violating the reasonable expectations of probity.
If only Dave Aronberg were appointed a special prosecutor for St. Augustine and St. Johns County.
UPDATE: Governor Scott suspended Boca Ratón Mayor Susan Haynie on April 27.
From Sun Sentinel:
Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie's arrest could end long history of service
Acting on complaints, prosecutors began their investigation of Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie the same month she was elected mayor, according to a 10-page arrest report.
Anne Geggis and Marci Shatzman
April 26, 2018
The arrest of Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie could bring an abrupt end to a long history of public service by a woman who has been both driven and polarizing.
Haynie, 62, rose to prominence over nearly two decades, providing years of volunteer and civil service to Boca before becoming an elected official. A fixture in the city, she always showed up to meetings and galas, often wearing her signature red, a power color.
But her political career was dealt a blow Tuesday, when she was booked on seven criminal counts that include corrupt misuse of public office and perjury.
Deputy Mayor Scott Singer, who’s among those asking for Haynie’s resignation, called it “a sad day for the city of Boca Raton.”
“I am upset and disappointed by the new information that came out last night,” said Singer, one of four who filed to run for her seat before her arrest.
Susan Haynie photos during her time as a politician in Boca Raton
Susan Haynie photos over the years
Haynie is accused of hiding more than $335,000 in income and lying about money she took from developers, according to an arrest report. Haynie also is accused of voting favorably on issues that would benefit real estate investor James Batmasian while not disclosing she did business with him through Community Reliance, a property management company she founded with her husband.
Haynie emerged as a polarizing figure in the city in recent years. She was both criticized and praised for her role presiding over a downtown construction boom that has doubled the number of apartments and condominiums since 2012.
Haynie, a native Floridian, moved to Boca Raton as a student at Lynn University at the age of 16.
She has two biological children and three stepchildren with her husband, J. Neil Haynie, who she married in 1995.
The two ran a golf software company. She also has been a licensed general contractor, specializing in disaster restoration work, and licensed as a professional staff member for homeowner associations.
Most recently, Haynie’s ambition was to move up in the political realm. She filed to run for Palm Beach County Commission in November. She wanted to fill the seat vacated by term-limited Steven Abrams, who also once served as Boca Raton mayor.
Derek Vander Ploeg, a contributor to her campaigns and an architect in the city, recalled Haynie’s work on the city’s behalf over the 40 years he has known her.
Vander Ploeg said she struck a balance between moving the city forward in its development while managing growth.
Ethics panel fines Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie for failing to disclose voting conflict
He also credited Haynie with promoting causes that helped the city, such as the Festival of the Arts Boca, which draws an estimated 15,000 visitors to arts events every March; Boca Helping Hands, which helps the needy; and the Boca Raton Historical Society, which preserves the city’s history.
Before getting elected, Haynie served on numerous volunteer city boards, including planning and zoning. “Her total public service is considerable,” Vander Ploeg said. “She went above and beyond the call of duty.”
But Haynie has been a lightning rod for those who opposed changing the rules that allowed for taller buildings downtown.
Haynie’s former opponent in the last mayoral election said her arrest didn’t surprise him.
Al Zucaro said during the election, he raised issues of her dealings with Batmasian, who owns property in Boca worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
“If Susan Haynie truly has the residents’ interests at heart, she should resign immediately,” Zucaro said.
Haynie succeeded the long-serving Mayor Susan Whelchel, bringing a softer style to the dais. While her predecessor was more outspoken, Haynie employed a restrained attitude.
“Susan has worked very hard over the years, and no one wanted to see her political career end up this way,” said Robert Weinroth, a former Boca council member who was going to be one of her rivals in her canceled bid for County Commission.
Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie: From election triumph to corruption charges
In the city, hardly a neighborhood picnic, festival or ribbon-cutting event went by without the mayor in attendance.
The governor never appeared in Boca without Haynie at his side. And in January, she was on hand for a news conference that pushed safety in response to a spate of deaths on railroad tracks.
Weinroth, who often aligned with Haynie on the dais for years, had a falling out with the mayor when their political ambitions clashed.
On Wednesday, Weinroth said it’s up to the mayor to decide if she wants to resign. “No one has the right to tell Susan what to do at this point,” he said.
If Haynie doesn’t resign, the governor still could suspend her from office.
Weinroth credited Haynie for helping make Boca Raton a preferred destination for half of all the businesses that recently moved to Palm Beach County.
He said she’s going to be best remembered for her dogged pursuit of getting the Interstate 95 exchange built at Spanish River Boulevard.
For a dozen years, she lobbied for the I-95 exchange. Part of it opened in December.
During Haynie’s tenure, key institutions of the community experienced leaps forward: Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton Regional Hospital and numerous corporate headquarters, Weinroth said.
“A mayor who has been in government over the last dozen years can take pride that the city is functioning as well as it is,” Weinroth said.
Glenn Gromann, another candidate who wants to fill the mayor’s seat, called himself a tacit supporter of Haynie’s.
He said her arrest left him “shocked and dismayed.”
Staff writer Skyler Swisher contributed to this report.