Broward Commissioner's residency claims don't hold up

North Miami mayor sued over city's residency rule

SOUTH FLORIDA – It's a small run-down housing unit in Lauderhill stacked to the ceiling with furniture and boxes. A realtor's locked box hangs from the door knob. The refrigerator isn't plugged in and its door is wide open.

Yet Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness claims to live there.

"My home ... is at 2630," said Holness, referring to the unit 2630 NW 52nd Avenue, one of several homes Holness, a landlord, owns in the neighborhood.

"Nobody lives there," said Herbert Fray, a handyman who tends the yards there.

The county charter demands that all commissioners live inside their district.

"Well, sir, we went to that home and there's no way you live there. Do you live in your district?" asked Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman.

"I do," Holness replied before leaving without answering any more questions.

Holness is the latest of several politicians a Local 10 investigation has found to have serious residency issues, including Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, State Rep. Jared Moskowitz, and Rep. Hazelle Rogers. The Florida Constitution demands that they live in their districts.

Former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns claims in a lawsuit that recently elected Mayor Lucie Tondreau violated the city's one year residency rule. Tondreau said she lived with another family apart from her children at a home near Northwest 128th Terrace and 10th Avenue.

"We do not believe that she ever moved in there," said Burns.

Norman saw Tondreau last week at city hall.

"Have you lived in the city for a year before you were elected?" he asked her.

"Of course, that's why I was qualified to run for office," she answered. "Not one room. I have no time to listen to people that are crying because they have lost an election, all right?"

"This is rampant within the South Florida community," said Burns.

Part three of Local 10's investigation airs at 11 p.m. Wednesday.