Like many Americans dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Winston Barnes spent most of the last year working remotely from his Miramar home. Due to health issues, Barnes felt working from home was best for his family. Winston Barnes, a longtime City of Miramar commissioner, attended all required government meetings via a webcam hookup.
Not wanting to run afoul of the law, Winston Barnes relied upon a legal document prepared by Miramar City Attorney Burnadette Norris-Weeks. According to Barnes, a November 11, 2020 memorandum written by Norris-Weeks states city commissioners are not required to physically attend meetings. Barnes claimed he relied upon Norris-Weeks’ legal opinion when he attended Miramar Commission meetings remotely from May 2020 to September 2021.
Barnes states official meeting minutes from that time period show he as present and participated in the meetings.
But on October 25, 2021 Barnes claims Burnadette Norris-Weeks “suddenly and surprisingly completely reversed course and now opined that participation is not the same as attendance, and that Commissioner Barnes could be relieved of his office by a majority vote of the City Commission.”
Now, Miramar Commissioner Maxwell Chambers submitted a resolution, drafted by Norris-Weeks, calling for the removal of Commissioner Winston Barnes. The resolution states:
WHEREAS, during the period of October 28, 2021, through September 29, 2021, Winston F. Barnes failed to physically attend a meeting of the City Commission for a consecutive period of more than three (3) months; and
WHEREAS, the Commission finds that it is in the best interest of the City and Commission that Winston F. Barnes be relieved of his commission office for his failure to physically attend meetings of the City Commission for a consecutive period of more than three (3) months.
The resolution will be heard at the November 15, 2021 commission meeting.
Also on the November 15th agenda is a resolution by Winston Barnes calling for the termination of City Attorney Burnadette Norris-Weeks. Barnes’ resolution includes a letter from his attorney Keith Poliakoff of Government Law Group. In that letter, Poliakoff shreds Norris-Weeks’ legal arguments and her interpretation of the law and Florida Attorney General opinions.
Burnadette Norris-Weeks is already embroiled in a costly legal battle surrounding her termination as city attorney by the Pahokee City Commission. She also serves as a legal advisor to controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.
Last week, Burnadette Norris-Weeks advised Holness during the recount process for the CD 20 election. Holness remains five votes behind Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick.
Holness enjoyed the support of Miramar Commissioners Maxwell Chambers, Yvette Colbourne and Alexandra Davis. The four were spotted together at numerous City of Miramar events during the election.
Unlike his fellow commissioners, Winston Barnes is not listed in the endorsement section of Dale Holness’ website.
Winston Barnes’ social media is devoid of any pictures or mentions of Dale Holness.
Is this removal process some sort of revenge against Winston Barnes?
Should Miramar taxpayers foot the legal bill for petty political shenanigans?
**UPDATE** An earlier version of this story said Keith Poliakoff worked for Becker Poliakoff . Mr. Poliakoff works for Government Law Group. We regret the error.