Earlier this month, REDBROWARD exposed the roles Mayor Dean Trantalis’s campaign advisers were playing in the plans to privately build a new water treatment plant in Fort Lauderdale. During a January press conference discussing the City’s failing sewer system, Trantalis discussed plans to replace the aging Fiveash plant. Trantalis states, “several international players in the water industry have expressed an interest in a fast-tracked public-private solution that can bring more efficiency, more stable cost, guaranteed maintenance and higher water quality.” Trantalis said “we’ll see” if it is the right solution for Fort Lauderdale.
During a summer 2019 trip to Israel, Dean Trantalis met with five major Israeli investment groups for “discussions involving partnerships for major infrastructure and public works projects in Fort Lauderdale.” When detailing the finds of his trip during an October 2019 meeting of the Infrastructure Taskforce Committee (ITC), Trantalis said, “he “met with Israeli companies, Poseidon and Suez, both companies want to forward a P3 proposal regarding the water plant.”
When asked about the P3 process by a committee member, Trantalis said, “that at this it isn’t known specifically how the process of using a P3 approach will work with competitive job bidding.”
According to official meeting logs, on December 2, 2019 Mayor Dean Trantalis met with a Poseidon Water lobbyist, Stephanie Toothaker at Doc B’s restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Toothaker registered as a Poseidon Water lobbyist on November 19, 2019. One day later, Eric Johnson of Johnson Solutions registered as a Poseidon Water lobbyist. Then, on December 2, 2019, (the same day Toothaker met with Trantalis, Sorensen and Moraitis), James MacDiarmid of Layline Solutions registered as a lobbyist for Poseidon Water.
Published reports state Eric Johnson (via Johnson Strategies) represents Dean Trantalis. In his 2018 run for Mayor, Trantalis paid Johnson Campaigns $6,600 for consulting. According to State of Florida records, Johnson Campaigns is owned by Eric Johnson. City of Fort Lauderdale records show Johnson represents several clients.
While these same records show James MacDiarmid only represents one client, he is no stranger to City Hall. State records show Layline Solutions LLC was formed by twenty-one year Ian MacDiarmid in March 2019. The State records list a Miami Beach address as Layline Solutions’ place of business.
Official voter registration records show Ian MacDiarmid’s father, James Blake MacDiarmid, is registered to vote at the same Miami Beach address.
During the 2018 campaign, Blake MacDiarmid was a paid consultant for Commissioner Heather Moraitis. On November 14, 2017 Moraitis paid $10,000 to Blake MacDiarmid Inc (at the same Miami Beach address) for “professional fees.”
On his website, MacDiarmid, the self-proclaimed “mayoral whisperer,” claims to be an adviser to Dean Trantalis, Steve Glassman, Ben Sorensen and Heather Moraitis.
BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE
Now, official records show Toothaker, Johnson and MacDiarmid are registered lobbyists for Poseidon’s competition.
On Friday February 21, 2020, Stephanie Toothaker, Eric Johnson and James Blake MacDiarmid registered as lobbyists for Fort Lauderdale Water LLC at 461 From Road, Suite 400 in Paramus, New Jersey.
On February 19, 2020, Eric Johnson of Johnson Strategies registered as a lobbyist for Suez at 461 From Road Suite 400 in Paramus, New Jersey. On February 21st, Toothaker also registered as a lobbyist for Suez.
In March 2018, the Press & Journal reported how one Pennsylvania town regrets allowing Suez to control its water service. Residents of Middletown received news of an 11.5% surcharge added to water bills. “The change is not a rate hike. It is a surcharge to make up for water usage in the last three years that fell below a target in the 50-year lease with Suez.”
Middletown Council President Damon Suglia said the council in 2014 “really put this town in a long-term bind” with the lease.
“Suez knew those numbers (regarding water usage) were not realistic for us to reach in a town of our size,” Suglia said. “The borough is landlocked” and cannot grow beyond its current borders.
“Because we made an upfront payment and our investors invested in that upfront payment, there has to be a level of confidence that there is going to be adequate revenues to support the debt service and the recovery of that investment,” Kevin Chandler, vice president of Suez’s North Division told the Press & Journal.
Kevin Chandler is listed as the principal for Fort Lauderdale Water LLC.
Does Mayor Dean Trantalis care that Kevin Chandler and Suez put their investors ahead of water customers?
Does Mayor Dean Trantalis even care about Fort Lauderdale Water customers?
What happened to Poseidon Water? Did they pull out of plans to build the replacement water treatment plant?
Why did Trantalis campaign advisers switch allegiances from Poseidon to Suez/Fort Lauderdale Water? Are they lobbying for both companies?
How do Dean Trantalis campaign advisers keep getting hired by these multinational corporations seeking to build P3 projects in Fort Lauderdale?
Why did Mayor Dean Trantalis specifically mention Poseidon and Suez during the ITC meeting last year?
Doesn’t Fort Lauderdale deserve answers?