Published On: Sat, Apr 28th, 2018

Small City Trust. Big Time Lie. Again?

Our embattled mayor Susan Haynie was arrested earlier this week after a 13-month corruption probe.

The mayor, first elected in 2000 to the city council, elected mayor in 2014 and then won another three-year term in 2017, allegedly lied about money she took from developers and hid more than $335,000 in income, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors also said Haynie, among other things, voted favorably on issues that would benefit Boca Raton real estate developer James Batmasian who owns the largest amount of commercial property worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the city.

Haynie also did not disclose that her property management company, Community Reliance LLC, did business with Batmasian, investigators said. She and her husband, Neil Haynie, were listed as managing members of the company when they founded it in 2008 until 2015, according to records from the Florida Division of Corporations.

Only Haynie’s husband was listed as sole managing member in 2016 and 2017, according to state records. The Haynies also own Computer Golf Software of Nevada Inc.

Haynie falsified her required state financial disclosure forms in 2014, 2015 and 2016 by omitting that Batmasian compensated her, Detective Diana Burfield, the investigator with the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, wrote in the arrest report.

She also told ethics investigators that her husband had not been paid, but Batmasian’s wife, Marta Batmasian, said that he had, the investigator wrote. Batmasian and his company paid Community Reliance at least $12,000 a year to manage his condos in the Tivoli Park building.

If the allegations are true — we are in no position to judge — and Haynie is convicted, she could be sentenced to 23 years in prison.

As I pen this column, it does not appear Haynie has any intention of stepping aside from her public service job despite coming under fire. While she has no legal obligation to do so, it is evident her moral compass is pointing toward her own self-interest, not those of the residents who elected her.

And as Gov. Scott mulls Haynie’s fate, I can only imagine she will stand firm as she maintains her innocence.

But let us not forget Haynie likely will need deep pockets to pay off attorney bills, so those taxpayer-funded paychecks might come in handy.  

Boca Raton residents should expect their public officials to conduct themselves properly, follow the law and — at the very least — not put themselves in compromising positions.

There needs to be a strong public outcry now.  Residents should be piling up at the next city council meeting to use their three minutes. In fact, the city will be holding a meeting on Monday to discuss Haynie’s fate on the council. Your loud voices and peaceful protests can lead to change.

Haynie will have her day in court, but until then, the cloud that hangs over her is embarrassment to herself and the city. Her decision to remain in her current capacity is troubling as the public trust crumbles.

It appears Haynie either has a pattern of sidestepping the truth or the truth does not exist in her.

After knowing she would not be attending the city council meeting Tuesday evening because she would be turning herself in at the hoosegow, Haynie told City Manager Leif Ahnell that she would not be attending because “she was ill.”

In fact, Haynie’s peers on the city council first learned of her arrest during their meeting that night.

Without being redundant, Boca Raton residents, taxpayers and voters, you deserve leaders who are ethical and honest. Let your voices be heard at Monday’s public meeting at 4:30 p.m. at 6500 North Congress Ave.

 

  1. Ron Allen can be reached at crallen@Delraybeachtribune.com or 561-665-0151.

About the Author

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>