City Pahokee Commissioners voted to terminate the contract of “interim” city Burnadette Norris Weeks, a staunch supporter of Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness. The move comes while Holness tries to convince Pahokee residents to send him to Washington DC to replace Congressman Alcee Hastings. While a local television tried to play up racial overtones of the decision, a review of the actual meeting video shows much more than a “shouting match.”
WPTV Channel 5 News said the Monday night meeting erupted into a “shouting match” with nameless residents claiming race was the reason behind the firing of Norris Weeks. Yet, the Commissioners who voted to terminate the contract, Vice Mayor Regina Bohlen, Sara Perez and Juan Gonzalez, said nothing about their decision. Commissioner Clara Murvin, a Norris Weeks supporter, claimed a mystery man from another county, was behind the “plot” to oust Norris Weeks as well as other employees. Mayor Keith Babb echoed Murvin’s claims by stating every city employee was “at risk” of getting fired if Norris Weeks was removed.
Before the vote, Babb allowed Burnadette Norris Weeks to address the Commission. Norris Weeks claimed Commisioner Perez wanted her gone because her husband has a legal case against the City of Pahokee. Norris Weeks said she was a “big girl” and told Commissioners she still has plenty of work with other municipalities.
Commissioners voted 3-2 to terminate Norris Weeks’ $6,800 per month contract as city attorney.
After the vote, Commissioner Murvin mentioned Norris Weeks was entitled to ninety days notice. Mayor Babb stated the Commission could vote to suspend Norris Weeks and simply pay her three months of salary. “If she agrees,” Murvin screamed.
When Vice Mayor Regina Bohlen questioned the terms of the contract, Norris Weeks stated “I drafted it. This provision applies.”
After Bohlen stated Norris Weeks had “no right to give us a legal opinion,” audience members started screaming and disrupting the proceedings.
At one point, an unidentified woman asked Mayor Babb to “shut them up.”
Perez introduced a motion to remove Norris Weeks immediately and pay her for the ninety days. Bohlen seconded the motion. Instead of entertaining the motion, Mayor Babb adjourned the meeting.
“You planned this all along,” Perez told Babb.
For all the hyperbole surrounding the meeting to remove Burnadette Norris Weeks, it’s pales in comparison to the fiasco that landed her the job in the first place.
CITY MANAGER FIRED BEFORE GIVING SCATHING REPORT ON CITY MANAGER
In April 2019, longtime Pahokee city attorney Gary Brandenburg planned to give City Commissioners a scathing report on the actions of then-City Manager Chandler Williamson. After catching wind of Brandenburg’s plan, Williamson’s allies on the Commission made their move to remove Brandenburg.
“In a brazen power play that has raised suspicions of back-room dealings, city commissioners re-ordered their April 23 agenda and fired Brandenburg, a former Palm Beach County attorney with 40 years of experience, without letting him speak.”
“Minutes later, after ordering a sheriff’s deputy to escort Brandenburg from the commission chambers, they voted to hire an interim city attorney who, stunned observers noted, ‘just happened to appear’ in the audience.”
Clara Murvin presided over the meeting to remove Brandenburg. Murvin did not allow Brandenburg to speak before the vote. Murvin did not allow Bohlen to ask questions.
After the vote, a gracious Brandenburg thanked everyone in the City. But when he said the City Manager’s speech was full of “misconceptions and lies” Murvin called on a sheriff’s deputy to escort Brandenburg out of the meeting. Saying he did not need to be escorted out, Brandenburg shook everyone’s hand and walked out.
When Bohlen asked to table the matter of hiring a new attorney for a couple of weeks, City Manager Williamson said he needed “legal representation.” Norris Weeks was hired on the spot.
“‘She just happened to appear in the chambers,’ Bohlen quipped sarcastically.”
How did Fort Lauderdale resident Burnadette Norris Weeks just happen to be at the Pahokee City Commission meeting?
“Murvin said she asked Weeks to attend the meeting. She said she met with Weeks several days earlier.”
“‘It was not a planned plot,’ Murvin said. ‘No one knew attorney Weeks was coming but me.’”
For those keeping score, Murvin says move to hire Burnadette Norris Weeks was “not a planned plot.” But the move to fire Burnadette Norris Weeks was definitely “a plot.”
On Monday night, one resident said Pahokee was the “laughingstock of the County and the State.”
Funny, that’s often said in cities under the control of Team Dale Holness….