Fort Lauderdale city commissioner Dean Trantalis is facing an ethics complaint over alleged double-dealing on a major hotel proposal.
The allegations surround Trantalis and the proposed Vintro Hotel project on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The project, controversial from the start, was originally opposed by many commissioners, including Trantalis.
Trantalis was planning to vote against the project during last week's commission meeting when Vintro's attorney Bill Scherer accused him of conflict of interest regarding his former domestic partner, Richard Smith.
"Mr. Trantalis has a voting conflict that he did not declare," said Scherer. "He did not declare... the numerous contacts that his domestic partner had with the project."
Scherer claims Trantalis and Smith used the power of his elected position to pressure the developer to sell the property to one of Smith's real estate clients while Trantalis publicly opposed the project.
"He (Trantalis) did not declare the numerous contacts that his domestic partner had with the project," said Scherer. "He is ineligible to vote."
Trantalis disagreed and didn't appreciate the tactics used by Vintro or Scherer. When faced with the charge at the commission meeting, Trantalis complained, "It's ambush politics and I don't think it's anything we should stand for in the city of Fort Lauderdale."
Trantalis did acknowledge that Smith was angling for the property, but said that he wasn't involved.
However, Scherer presented a document from Smith that listed Trantalis as the closing agent on the proposed deal. Trantalis said that he had never seen the document.
But when interviewed by Local 10's Bob Norman, Trantalis backtracked.
"As soon as I saw it, I said please take my name off of this, it's a conflict of interest," said Trantalis. "He immediately took my name off the document."
Trantalis recused himself from the project vote, although his fellow commissioners unanimously shot down the project.