Company Repped By Mayor Dean Trantalis’ Campaign Adviser Lands Lucrative Deals For City Of Fort Lauderdale Police Station; Parks Deal Next?

From left, James Blake Diarmid, Mayor Dean Trantalis and Commissioner Steven Glassman

While another part of Fort Lauderdale drowned under a sea of poop and raw sewage, a company represented by one of Mayor Dean Trantalis’ key campaign advisers landed deals rebuilding the City of Fort Lauderdale police station and (coming soon?) parks. Last week, the multinational corporation AECOM was awarded a contract to serve as consultant to the construction of a new police headquarters. The request from the City stated, “The services required may include, but not be limited to, the development of space needs (program verification of existing prior space study), full construction documents and specifications including a full site development plan, permitting and construction administration, demolition of all existing structures, (the radio tower may have the possibility of remaining at its present location or need to be redesigned to another area on the site).” And the news gets better for AECOM.

In December 2019, three out of five city officials reviewing proposals for “Parks Bond And Master Plan Implementation Services” ranked AECOM first. The other two officials ranked AECOM second. How does AECOM keeping landing these huge City of Fort Lauderdale projects?

Surely, the AECOM proposals and references must be first class. The company’s recent work on the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport is widely praised. But it cannot hurt to have a member of Mayor Trantalis’ campaign team lobbying the City on your behalf.

Earlier this month, REDBROWARD exposed the lobbying done by key members of Trantalis’ campaign team as well as advisers to Commissioner Steven Glassman, Commissioner Heather Moraitis and Commissioner Ben Sorensen.

In June 2019, a group, headed by AECOM, presented unsolicited bid to build a shared Broward County/City Of Fort Lauderdale Government campus by public private partnership (P3). According to the Sun-Sentinel, County and City officials agreed to a staff review of the AECOM proposal even though the public was not allowed to view the details of the bid.

At a December 2019 meeting of County and City officials, details of the AECOM were still secret. “Without describing the unsolicited bid in detail, AECOM Vice President Mark Blanchard told commissioners that the company’s proposal would ‘accommodate everything you need.‘”

According to published reports, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis favored the hiring of a design consultant before moving forward with the AECOM proposal. “We don’t know what we don’t know,” Trantalis said. [AECOM] “may try to sell us a Cadillac, and we may only need a Chevrolet.”

After hiring a consultant, Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Ben Sorensen chimed in on the proposal. “Sorenson suggested another joint meeting of city and county commissioners in early January to amend an intra-local agreement prohibiting them from considering confidential details of the unsolicited AECOM proposal.”

City of Fort Lauderdale lobbyist meeting logs show representatives of AECOM and its partners first met with Mayor Dean Trantalis one month after they presented their proposal to build the Joint Government Center Campus. On July 29, 2019 Mayor Dean Trantalis met with Fengate Capital lobbyist Eric Johnson (of Johnson Strategies) at Fort Lauderdale City Hall. These same records show Eric Johnson registered as the Fengate Capital lobbyist on July 26, 2019.

On January 6, 2020, Johnson and other AECOM lobbyists met with Dean Trantalis and Commissioner Steven M. Glassman at City Hall.

Two days later, Eric Johnson and the AECOM team met at City Hall to discuss the Joint Government Center Campus with Commissioner Ben Sorensen. City records show Eric Johnson registered as the AECOM lobbyist on December 3, 2019.

City of Fort Lauderdale campaign records show on January 16, 2020, Ben Sorensen’s campaign paid $5,000 to Johnson Strategies for consulting services.

Sorensen is not the only Fort Lauderdale official with Eric Johnson on his campaign team.

DEAN TRANTALIS’ POSEIDON ADVENTURE

Earlier this month, REDBROWARD revealed Mayor Dean Trantalis’ campaign advisers were lobbying on behalf of not one but two companies seeking a public private partnership (P3) to replace a Fort Lauderdale water treatment plant.

City records show Eric Johnson, Stephanie Toothaker and James Blake MacDiarmid are registered lobbyists for Poseidon Water. MacDiarmid, the campaign consultant for Commissioner Heather Moraitis, claims to be an adviser to Mayor Dean Trantalis, Steven Glassman and Ben Sorensen.

Days after REDBROWARD revealed their roles in the Poseidon bid, the trio registered as lobbyists for another company.

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.

Perhaps Fort Lauderdale residents should hire Johnson, Toothaker and MacDiarmid to lobby on their behalf to get the sewers fixed?

Campaign Advisers For Mayor Dean Trantalis Now Lobbyists For Second Company Seeking To Build Fort Lauderdale Water Plant

Blake Macdiarmid, Steven Glassman and Dean Trantalis

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?

Dean Trantalis
Eric Johnson’s Johnson Strategies website lists The City of Fort Lauderdale as a a client.

Hypocrite? Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis Voted AGAINST Sewer Repair Funding In 2018

Dean Trantalis voted against sewer bond money in 2018

It appears as thought the waterways are not the only things filled with poop in the City of Fort Lauderdale. As REDBROWARD reported, even though he says residents should not play the “blame game,” Mayor Dean Trantalis (D-Hapless) continues to blame previous city officials for the sewer and water issues across the City. Trantalis insists his administration and his fellow Commissioners made infrastructure their top priority from day one. But a key vote held while Trantalis ran for Mayor calls into question his true commitment to fixing Fort Lauderdale’s failing sewers.

On January 23, 2018, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission heard an item regarding $200 million funding to fix infrastructure issues. Agenda item R-2 concerned bond money to fund water and sewer pipe repairs across the City of Fort Lauderdale. The list of projects to be fixed included sewer mains in the Rio Vista and Victoria Park neighborhoods. Several residents spoke in favor of the $200 million dollar bond.

Mayor Dean Trantalis’ only comments on the matter dealt with the bond payments. Trantalis asked what would happen if the City did not have money in eighteen years to pay the principle on the bond.

Without any further discussion, the vote was called. Mayor Jack Seiler, Commissioner Romney Rogers, Commissioner Robert McKinzie, and Vice-Mayor Bruce Roberts voted to fund sewer repairs.

Then-Commissioner Dean Trantalis was the lone vote against funding the projects.

If it was such a top priority for him, why did Dean Trantalis vote against the $200 million dollars?

Trantalis did not even bother to explain his vote. He could have easily said, “I want to fix sewers, but….” Instead, Trantalis voted no.

Since the sewer breaks in December 2019, Trantalis claims he has been “very aggressive” in his approach to fix infrastructure.

On Tuesday, Mayor Trantalis scolded a resident who asked why he has not done more to fix sewergate. “We weren’t sitting on our hands, not waiting for a break to happen,” Trantalis said. “Unfortunately, it got ahead of us.”

But since his election in May 2020, Trantalis had $200 million dollars in the bank to use on sewers but he’s done nothing.

Even though Trantalis voted no, the money was there for him to use on day one. What if he started work in Rio Vista in June 2018? Could the City avoided pumping 200 million gallons of raw sewage into Fort Lauderdale waterways?

What was Dean Trantalis waiting for?!?

Now, Trantalis wants federal taxpayer dollars to bail him out. Will Mayor Dean Trantalis actually use that money?

Is this the real leadership Fort Lauderdale needs during this crisis?

Doesn’t Fort Lauderdale deserve better?

Dean Trantalis