The Knuckleheads of the Day award
Today's winners are six Palm Beach County Commissioners, Jess R. Santamaria, Burt Aaronson, Addie Greene, Warren Newell, Jeff Koons and Karen Marcus. They get the award for the following.
A no-bid property deal between Palm Beach County and a group of developers that at one time included embattled real estate attorney William Boose slid through the County Commission on Tuesday in a 6-1 vote, but only after debate.Just more business as usual from our county commissioners. All of whom I'm betting are hoping the public will forget the Tony Masilotti scandal. TFM isn't, this land deal is inexcusable and someone has to be benefiting from it. For blatant business as usual policy making, Palm Beach County Commissioners Jess R. Santamaria, Burt Aaronson, Addie Greene, Warren Newell, Jeff Koons and Karen Marcus are today's Knuckleheads of the day.
The planned development includes a retail complex on the corner of Yamato Road and U.S. 441 west of Boca Raton, a complex of four group homes for the developmentally handicapped, a school and parkland.
"This is a win-win for all involved," Commissioner Burt Aaronson said. "Everybody benefits."
The agreement with Yamato Court LLC was originally approved by the County Commission in February 2005. But changes to the deal as well as information about the investors led commissioners to question it and Aaronson to defend it.
Yamato Court, whose three partners were Harvey Geller, Robert Levy and Boose, got the chance to buy the property for $4.75 million without bidding on it after the group facilitated a separate deal for the county to buy a needed drainage easement off Okeechobee Boulevard.
Commissioner Jess Santamaria said he was not comfortable with selling property without putting it up for bid.
"I just hope exchanges are not something we would prefer in the future," he said.
The Okeechobee property partnership was managed by George Elmore. Geller and Boose were and remain partners in that property as well.
Commissioners, led by Mary McCarty, focused on the role of Boose, who was brought up on federal charges relating to charges against former County Commissioner Tony Masilotti late last year. He subsequently sold his piece of Yamato Court to Elmore.
McCarty said this was the first she'd heard about Boose's investment. She also took issue with the involvement of Richard Crum, an accountant in Boose's law firm who was the trustee for the Masilotti family trust. Crum was in charge of the escrow money on the Yamato deal.