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

Angry Mayor Dean Trantalis Tells Concerned Fort Lauderdale Resident To Avoid Water “Because It’s Polluted!”

Mayor Dean Trantalis

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis (D-Hapless) appeared to vent his frustrations while bullying a resident at Tuesday’s City Commission meeting. It was not a good day for Dean. On Monday night, NBC Nightly News reported on the 200+ million gallons of raw sewage the Trantalis administration pumped into local waterways in December and January. Earlier in the day, the Sun-Sentinel wrote the amount of sewage pumped in the local waterways was “enough to fill 320 Olympic-sized swimming pools.” By Tuesday morning, Fort Lauderdale sewergate went international with stories from CBS, Fox News, NY Post, CNN and The Guardian of London.

Then, just before the meeting started, news broke that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection levied a $1.8 million dollar fine against the City Of Fort Lauderdale due to the pumping of raw sewage.

Mitchel Vitale was one of a handful of Fort Lauderdale residents seeking to be heard about an agenda item extending the term of the City’s Infrastructure Taskforce Committee (ITC). Last week, Trantalis announced the ITC would study the feasibility of a building moratorium in the City. Many residents saw this as an attempt to “kick the can down the road” until after the November 2020 elections.

As his three-minutes of speaking time began, a nervous Vitale read from prepared remarks. First, he asked who would pay the $1.8 million dollar fine. Then, Vitale asked the City Commission if they would have acted on the sewer problems at all if not for the big break in December. He wanted to know, if this really was a huge priority, why hadn’t Mayor Trantalis acted sooner?

Vitale’s questions appeared to anger Trantalis. The Mayor interrupted Vitale before he hit the two-minute mark.

Trantalis launched into his usual litany of excuses. He claimed the former City Manager hindered his attempts to “stop siphoning off money from water and sewer fund.” Trantalis said his Commission voted to spend money to fix the Rio Vista sewer pipes just three days before they failed.

“We weren’t sitting on our hands, not waiting for a break to happen,” Trantalis said. “Unfortunately, it got ahead of us.”

According to Trantalis, the sewer problems are “no one’s fault on this Commission.”

A flustered Trantalis declared, “right now, we need to focus on solutions not blame.”

When he was allowed to continued, Vitale asked about the clean-up of waterways and shorelines. Worried no one was keeping people out of the water, Vitale said “we can’t rely on nature. It’s your responsibility [to clean up the waste], not nature.”

Trantalis tried to deflect blame once again, stating how he is very sensitive to the issue. Trantalis said they have asked City Manager to find solutions. Vitale interrupted the Mayor. He said the City should at least pressure clean the shorelines still covered in waste. “No kidding,” Trantalis said.

When Vitale said “time keeps ticking” Trantalis snapped.

Trantalis said, “that’s not true. You’re not listening…you’re giving a speech…you haven’t been listening.”

Vitale, a lifelong resident, stated he was disappointed in the City. “Sad you can’t go enjoy the water.” Vitale said. “You can’t think of going swimming.”

And you shouldn’t [swim], because it’s polluted.” Trantalis declared. “I think we made that point clear, right?”

While the Fort Lauderdale waters may be cloudy, the lack of leadership from Mayor Dean Trantalis is crystal clear.

While he bemoans the “blame game,” Trantalis repeatedly blames past administrations and city managers for the problem. Never once mentioning his long tenure on these past commissions.

Trantalis refuses to answer questions about the role of his campaign advisers as lobbyists for companies seeking to benefit from Fort Lauderdale’s infrastructure woes.

Trantalis has no answers and no plans when it comes to protecting wildlife such as fish, birds, manatees and even household pets.

Trantalis is happy to dine with lobbyists at high-end restaurants, but he snaps when a local working stiff asks questions from the podium?

Can Dean Trantalis and his fellow commissioners even come up with an idea not filtered through advisers like “mayoral whisperer” James Blake MacDiarmid?

Perhaps Dean and Co. should listen to actual residents instead of their consultants who do not live in Fort Lauderdale?

Fort Lauderdale deserves better.

Team Blake MacDiarmid?