Residents concerned city officials may be violating Florida's Sunshine Law

Law prohibits elected officials from discussing public business in private

COOPER CITY, Fla. – A photograph taken at a South Florida Dunkin Donuts has some residents concerned that two of the city's elected leaders are meeting privately to conduct public business.

The picture shows a group of people sitting around the table at Dunkin Donuts on Sheridan Street near Flamingo road. Among the group is Cooper City Mayor Greg Ross, city commissioner Jeff Green and recently fired BSO fire chief Neal DeJesus, who was the topic of conversation at Tuesday night's city commission meeting.

"Private citizen DeJesus is trying to get back in to Cooper City politics by injecting himself into the BSO contract negotiations," said one woman who spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Commissioners are considering hiring someone to review the city's contract with the Broward Sheriff's Office, to make sure the agency is providing the services for which the city pays nearly $1 million per year.

It's no secret that DeJesus wants the job, but the photo of him meeting with the mayor and a commissioner in a personal setting, could be evidence of a violation of Florida's Sunshine law, which forbids elected officials from discussing public business in private.

From the dais Tuesday night, Mayor Ross and Green addressed allegations that DeJesus is a shoe-in for the job

"And let me just say for the record that no decision has been made about who will do the audit or the process," Green said.

"Nothing has been passed by the commission as to who will do the audit or how the audit will be done," Ross said.

The story behind the picture is just as intriguing. If DeJesus is hired to review the city's contract with BSO, it would put him in position to scrutinize the man who fired him last year, Sheriff Scott Israel.

Israel told Local 10 he's concerned the city is playing politics with public safety.

"If Cooper City decides this needs to be done, I hope they select someone who has total fairness and be unbiased and things like that," Israel said.

Neither Ross nor Green returned phone calls or messages left at their offices Wednesday.