HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Hallandale Beach residents didn't pull any punches Wednesday in the first regular commission meeting since a Local 10 News report about how Vice Mayor Bill Julian admitted that he agreed to accept secret favors from a developer prior to a vote on a $450 million project at the Diplomat Golf & Tennis Club.
"The public's trust has been violated, and the right thing to do is for him to either step down or be removed," resident Cynthia Cabrera told the commission during public comments at the meeting.
An overflow crowd of Hallandale Beach residents packed City Hall to talk about Julian.
Resident Etty Sims, who has served on multiple city boards, had a similar message.
"I urge you to take the necessary steps to remove Vice Mayor Julian from the commission if he doesn't do the right thing and resign," she said.
The state attorney's office is now investigating the case, which involves a secret audiotape in which Julian discusses the favors, a van for his pet charity in the city and 300 campaign workers for his campaign.
But Wednesday, in his first opportunity to address the public about the scandal, Julian didn't even show up to the meeting. Instead he's literally phoning it in.
"You accepted offers you voted for the diplomat and you must take your medicine like a man," resident Chuck Kulin said.
Kulin, a city activist, was addressing an empty chair when he made his comments during a time-certain agenda item regarding the controversy, during which the public and commissioners spoke.
"Apparently, he has no interest in what we have to say and is a coward for not being here tonight," resident Pam Lebouef said.
While many called for Julian to be brought for justice, a group of vocal supporters staunchly defended him and praised his altruistic acts.
"Without Bill Julian, a lot of things wouldn't get done," Sabrina Adams said. "Food for the needy, the Thanksgiving turkeys, taking needy children Christmas shopping."
Julian did have a prepared statement read for him.
"Let me be absolutely clear: I have never sought to use my public office for personal gain of any kind ever, and I am completely confident that any independent investigation of my work or deeds will bear that to be true," the statement said.
"Taking bribes, which is what it appears to be, is illegal, and the citizens deserve better than that, so we need to speak up," Cabrera said.
"I'm amazed that we're still discussing this," she said. "Open and shut. A reporter has a recording. He doesn't deny that it's him on the recording."
Julian stressed that he never actually received either the van, despite his "begging" for it, nor the 300 campaign workers, which he said were promised by development attorney Debbie Orshefsky.
Orshefsky denies the allegations, and Julian said he never really expected the favors to be delivered to him.
Gov. Rick Scott is reviewing the matter after Commissioner Keith London asked that Julian be removed from office.
"If the city commission can't or won't take action then I think, yes, the governor should do something," Cabrera said. "This is corruption, apparently, on tape. Not good."
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