On Wednesday morning, Tamarac Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin wanted his fellow commissioners to approve a $300,000 deal to conduct a “disparity study” of Tamarac’s business dealings. One of these consultants is the niece of former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, a Gelin ally. Gelin also failed to disclose his wife Shaheewa Jarrett Gelin pushed for disparity studies in Broward County and its thirty-one municipalities since at least 2020. REDBROWARD obtained an August 2020 video where Shaheewa Jarret Gelin, founder of the Broward County Black Chamber of Commerce, bragged how the studies would help her affiliates get a piece of the 41 million dollars spent by the City Of Tamarac. The 2020 interview was conducted by one of consultants seeking the $300K deal with Tamarac.
“THEY SPEND A LOT OF MONEY”
According to the City of Tamarac, “A Disparity Study determines whether a government entity, either in the past or currently, engages in exclusionary practices in the solicitation and award of contracts to minority, and women‐owned, and disadvantaged business enterprises….” Under questioning by commissioners, Tamarac staff stated there are no legal issues with how the City conducts its business. But in her 2020 interview with Ann Marie Sorrell of The Mosaic Group, Shaheewa Jarrett Gelin claimed disparity studies were needed because white government and businesses believed there is no reason to share with black businesses. “You’re getting money, they’re making money, they’re fine,” Jarrett Gelin said.
Shaheewa Jarrett Gelin said her group needed a disparity study to, “Understand if [government’s] vendor base is diverse, if not, we can do something to correct the disparity study.” In addition to County and municipalities, Jarrett Gelin wanted to target disparity studies at big “anchors” such as Broward College, Broward Health and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. “How can we partner with you to ensure public monies are being spent equitably with black companies,” Jarret Gelin told Sorrell.
Then, Shaheewa Jarrett Gelin brought up the City of Tamarac:
“I always give this example. An unexpected example of the City of Tamarac. Last year when we took a tour on getting certified, their procurement director announced that they in spent $41 million dollars last year.”
Ann Marie Sorrell had a one word reply, “wow.”
Shaheewa Jarrett Gelin stated, “We need to get in on that!”
Shaheewa Jarrett Gelin wants to “get in on” the multi-million dollar budget of the City her husband represents?
Was the $300K contract with Miller 3 Consulting and Ann Marie Sorrell a way to “get in on that?”
Why did Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin fail to disclose his wife’s strong advocacy of a disparity study in the City of Tamarac?
Luckily for taxpayers, the contract was not approved.
But if it had been approved, what would have stopped Shaheewa Jarrett Gelin and the Broward County Black Chamber of Commerce from coming in to “correct the disparity study?”
On October 7, 2018, Tamarac Commissioner Debra Placko paid $4,000 to Resident United Advertising LLC for a “campaign expense,” records show. State records show Resident United Advertising LLC was a Margate company owned by Trace Robinson. Over the last year, REDBROWARD exposed the deep ties between Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton and another Margate-based company owned by Trace Robinson. And Debra Placko never said a word.
In addition to Resident United Advertising LLC, State records show Trace Robinson also owns Happy Feet Advertising LLC. Both companies are located at 300 Lakewood Circle in Margate. While the business paperwork shows the Margate address, the mailing address for Happy Feet Advertising is listed as P.O. Box 451711 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33345.
State records also show businesses owned by Marlon Bolton use the same post office box.
Florida business records show the post office box address used by Happy Feet Advertising has been used by Marlon Bolton since at least 2014. These businesses include Tyson Bolton and Associates, Forecast Holdings, LLC, Prophet Fire, and Win Without War. These same records show Marlon Bolton and Trace Robinson are business partners.
Records list Marlon Bolton and Trace Robinson as owners of The Driven Project, Praise Experience Worldwide Outreach Church, and South Florida Theological Seminary, Inc. The companies also use the same post office box.
In 2020, Trace Robinson created the Broward Vision PAC political committee. The address for the PAC is the same post office box used by Bolton.
State of Florida campaign records show Broward Vision PAC paid $1,400 to Exy Consultants, a corporation created under the Happy Feet Advertising LLC name by Robinson. Exy Consultants used the same P.O. Box 451711 address as Marlon Bolton.
According to his campaign reports, Commissioner Bolton provided Happy Feet Advertising with a huge payday—nearly $14,000 during the 2020 election cycle.
In April 2021, REDBROWARD exposed the roles Bolton and Happy Feet Advertising played in the election of North Lauderdale Commissioner Regina Martin. Campaign records show Happy Feet Advertising, LLC performed extensive campaign work for the newly-elected Martin.
Last month, REDBROWARD revealed State House candidate Elijah Manley paid Happy Feet Advertising LLC $2,800 for “monetary” work on his January campaign.
REDBROWARD exposed Marlon Bolton’s ties to Residents United PAC, a State of Florida political committee. Elections records show the committee was formed in April 2019 by chairman Carl Williams and treasurer Malucci Joseph. Both individuals are close associates of Marlon Bolton.
Carl Williams was a Bolton appointee to the City of Tamarac parks & recreation committee. REDBROWARD obtained videos showing Williams assisting Bolton during church services at the Praise Experience Worldwide Outreach Church in North Lauderdale.
On the very same day he created Residents United PAC, Carl Williams created the “Go Tamarac Go PAC.” The only money listed in the Go Tamarac Go reports is a $1,750 contribution by the PAC’s treasurer Malucci Joseph.
In addition to her roles in Go Tamarac Go PAC and Residents United PAC, Malucci Joseph is the chairperson and treasurer of the Tallahassee based Conservative Governance PAC. Joseph also formed the Federal “Our Blue Democracy” committee using the same Tallahassee address.
This week, REDBROWARD attempted to contact Malucci Joseph at the Tallahassee telephone number for the committees. Instead on Joseph, Marlon Bolton answered the telephone.
PLACKO “FOR A BETTER FLORIDA FOR ALL?”
In January 2018, REDBROWARD exposed the roles former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness and his campaign guru, Omar Smith played in Fort Lauderdale Mayoral race.
City of Fort Lauderdale campaign records from December 2017 show Dean Trantalis’ mayoral campaign hired Sophia Nelson, another consultant closely tied to Commissioner Dale Holness, and her SA Nelson And Associates firm for “marketing” purposes.
Florida Division Of Elections records show Sophia A. Nelson is the chairperson of the “A Better Florida For All” political committee. The address for this political committee is the same address found on a December pro-Trantalis email sent to Fort Lauderdale voters by “FlyerSmith,” a company owned by Omar Smith.
Division of Elections records show Omar Smith is the treasurer of the “A Better Florida For All” political committee.
In October 2018, Buddy Nevins of Broward Beat reported on four local judicial candidates appearing the endorsement card produced by A Better Florida For All. The card promoted Democrat candidates most notably Andrew Gillum. Nevins wrote, “Four Broward lawyers running for judge could end up in trouble for appearing to violate state Code of Ethics for judicial candidates. Partisan appeals judicial candidates’ ads are forbidden by the Florida Supreme Court Code of Judicial Conduct. Joint advertising by judicial candidates is also prohibited.”
Shortly thereafter, the State of Florida revoked the registration of A Better Florida For All. Smith failed to properly submit paper to the Florida Division Of Elections. Attempts to contact Smith failed.
Since the committee is no longer a legal entity, legal steps were made to keep the card from being distributed to voters. In Late October 2018, (now Judge) Corey Cawthon filed an emergency motion against A Better Florida All over its inappropriate endorsement card. A judge granted the motion and ordered the card removed from polling locations.
Omar Smith told to the Sun-Sentinel “that none of the candidates were picked because of financial ties to the political action committee or to any of Smith’s businesses, which perform campaign services.”
A copy of the A Better Florida For All card was included in Cawthon’s emergency lawsuit. One of the candidates prominently displayed is Tamarac Commissioner Debra Placko.
Placko is pictured alongside Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin and Elvin Villalobos. Both Gelin and Villalobos enjoyed the support of Marlon Bolton.
Is timing of Placko’s $4,000 payment to Resident United Advertising LLC and her inclusion on the For Better Florida For All endorsement card in October 2018 a mere coincidence?
Last year, REDBROWARD reported how a bombshell report commissioned by the City of Tamarac Human Resources Department in 2019 revealed a pattern of “bullying” of City employees by Commissioner Marlon Bolton. The report documents several instances of Bolton attacking political opponents by using their race, ethnicity and religion.
Fire Captain William Duesler told investigators Bolton told a voter Mayor Michelle Gomez was a “White Jew–Don’t vote for her.” Another complaint heard Marlon Bolton tell a voter, “Gomez can’t even speak Spanish…and that she is a White Jew.”
In the same report, Mayor Gomez told investigators, “that Commissioner Bolton misappropriated the City’s name and/or logo for purely political purposes. She asserts that he utilized the City’s name and/or logo in a political advertisement for Residents United…with its membership base being members of Commissioner Bolton’s church congregation.
Didn’t Commissioner Debra Placko recognize the “Residents United” name? Just a year earlier she paid $4,000 to Resident United Advertising LLC. That’s not chump change.
Did Debra Placko confirm Mayor Gomez’s allegations to investigators?
Why did Debra Placko pay $4,000 to Resident United Advertising LLC?
Why did Debra Placko say nothing as Happy Feet Advertising and The Tamarac Post were used to bash her fellow commissioners?
Some Tamarac residents have wondered why Debra Placko has not criticized Marlon Bolton’s behavior on the dais. Placko bemoans the rancor yet she stands by in silence as Bolton attacks Gomez and Villalobos.
Perhaps she’s afraid residents will learn about her alliance with Bolton’s team?
REDBROWARD reached out to Debra Placko for answers. She has not responded.