The dance partner of Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Dean Trantalis is part of political stunt planned in front of City Hall on Wednesday. Even though the item is not on the agenda, Michelle Verdi-Knapp and two other women want to give a “neighbor presentation” regarding gun shows at the War Memorial Auditorium in Holiday Park. Verdi-Knapp will be joined by Barbara Markley Venkataraman, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, and Laura Finley, a Plantation resident.

In an announcement shared on the social media pages of left-wing groups, Venkataraman urges supporters to speak out against the popular gun shows at the city owned facility. She wrote, “One of the Commissioners, Dean Trantalis, supports us on this issue and has attended a protest.” In a letter to the Sun-Sentinel editors, Venkataraman said the gun shows, held eight times a year, floods “our community with thousands of guns.”

Then, Venkataraman attacked Fort Lauderdale for protecting turtles. “Why are the commissioners (with the exception of Dean Trantalis) more concerned about us tripping in the dark during turtle season than they are about us being killed by all the guns pouring onto our streets because of them.”

Laura Finley of Plantation does not like gun shows either. Finley is an assistant professor of sociology and criminology at Barry University. According to the National Peace Academy (“Where peacebuilders go to grow”), Finley is a “community activist for peace, justice, and human rights.” When not helping peacebuilders grow, Finley is an author. Her latest book, “Beyond Bra Burning: Feminist Activism For Everyone” is available on Amazon.

Dr. Michelle Verdi-Knapp Of Fort Lauderdale will also speak at the gun show protest. Verdi-Knapp is social worker/actress. According to her website, Verdi-Knapp is an award winning actress. She says her titles include, “Ms. Hawaiian Tropic of Clearwater and Ms. Hawaiian Tropic National Finalist, Ms. Fitness America National Finalist, Ms. Supercross, Ms. ABC Liquors Calendar Girl, Homemade Bikini Contest National Finalist, and countless other titles which resulted in prizes including 2 cars (one a corvette!), boats, trips, and lots and lots of cash!”

So, why does an actress, a college professor and a lawyer want to protest an issue that’s not even being discussed by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission?

ANOTHER DEAN TRANTALIS POLITICAL STUNT?

Politicians love “earned media.” According to Wikipedia, “Earned media (or free media) refers to publicity gained through promotional efforts other than paid media advertising, which refers to publicity gained through advertising, or owned media, which refers to branding.” Trantalis is running for Mayor of Fort Lauderdale. The primary is just two weeks away. He’s facing a tough battle against Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts and Charlotte Rodstrom. Perhaps these women hope local media will cover their protest. Venkataraman has already sung the praises of Trantalis.

Trantalis is already well acquainted with Michelle Verdi-Knapp. In December 2011, Trantalis and Verdi-Knapp were “Dance Team Number Nine” at the “Dancing With The South Florida Stars” event in Wilton Manors. The duo danced to Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me” while dressed as an airline pilot and stewardess.

Will Verdi-Knapp sing the praises of Trantalis at this ginned up protest?

As REDBROWARD reported last month, Dean Trantalis is no stranger to political theater.

REDBROWARD reported how Dean Trantalis’ alleged green algae bombshell blew up in his face at the December 5th City Commission conference meeting. During the public meeting, Trantalis told Mayor Jack Seiler and his fellow commissioners that Broward County officials determined the mysterious green algae was caused by the city’s sewage problems.

Trantalis said, “The County came back with its report and it’s not what we were told!” Trantalis referred to a November 30th email from City Manager Lee Feldman. This email stated the algae was likely a result from “unprecedented rain events” washing nutrients into the canal system. Trantalis claimed the County report proved Feldman wrong. “This past week…results were disclosed to us. In fact, their information is that the green algae came not from nutrients but from fecal chloroform, E. coli and tetracoccus bacteria.” Trantalis said.

“It’s coming from all the sewage that’s coming from our system that has been poured into our canals,” Trantalis said. “It’s more intense and dangerous for our community.”

Despite Trantalis’ prosecutorial tone, he was wrong about the report.

After Mayor Jack Seiler questioned the source of Trantalis’ information, he admitted the documented he presented to the Commission was written by his aide. Then, Dr. Nancy Gassman, City Of Fort Lauderdale Assistant Public Works Director, stated she once ran the County lab that tested Fort Lauderdale waterways.

Gassman said the report Trantalis submitted tested water quality only and the presence of fecal bacteria was unrelated to the green algae.

Gassman stated the report did not back up Trantalis’ claims. She stated previous tests on the algae showed it was not harmful to humans. Gassman stated only the State of Florida conducts tests on algae.

Trantalis was forced to backtrack. He stated he was merely bringing information to his fellow commissioners.

After our story ran, Dean Trantalis responded as if REDBROWARD owed him an apology. He wrote, “Whether or not the algae came from the fecal substances, the discussion brought out the discovery of the exceptionally high pollution in our waters. But because no expert was willing to make the causal connection between the feces and the algae, at the very least it was my opinion that we should initiate steps to see why the fecal pollution was so high.”

In a comment to REDBROWARD, Vice-Mayor Bruce Roberts said, “[Trantalis’] attempt to continue to sidestep the true science just further casts doubt on his veracity.”

Will these political sideshows become the new normal if Dean Trantalis is elected mayor? Did Trantalis or his campaign encourage these women to protest the gun shows? Doesn’t Fort Lauderdale have real issues to address at their already lengthy Commission meetings. A recent discussion on the Bahia Mar development lasted until 4am. What happens if Mayor Trantalis starts inviting local peace activists to meetings to protest President Trump, nuclear weapons freezes, climate change, e-cigarettes etc?

Fort Lauderdale voters deserve answers.