DANIA BEACH, Fla. - The vice mayor in Dania Beach could be removed from office if she misses another commission meeting, and some say what's happening is not fair.
Vice Mayor Chickie Brandimarte has been at Memorial Regional Hospital for 17 days and Friday she was in the Intensive Care Unit.
A fellow commissioner and the mayor refuse to excuse her absence for the last meeting. Now the vice mayor feels some of her colleagues are using her illness against her. Political insiders told Local 10 investigative reporter Jess Weinsier, if this is true, it's the lowest of low.
"Are you surprised that your colleagues did not excuse your absence from the dais?" Weinsier asked Brandimarte.
"I am very surprised, because it was beyond my control," said Brandimarte.
Commissioner Albert Jones made the motion to excuse the vice mayor, but it was not seconded by Mayor Walter Duke or Commissioner Bobbie Grace, and it died.
"This is abominable for them to not excuse her when they know she is flat on her back," said Jones.
According to the Dania Beach city charter, if a commissioner has two unexcused absences back to back, they can be removed from office. Insiders claim Duke and Grace are allies and are using this to get her out.
"Do you think they are using this to try to get you off the dais?" asked Weinsier.
"Yes I do," said Brandimarte. "I didn't do anything wrong. That is what keeps going on in my head. I'd rather be there than here."
"I feel so bad. I fought so hard for that seat, and someone can take advantage to try to get you out of that."
Jones claims absences are always excused.
"It is unconscionable that this happened, and happened in this city," said Jones. "And these are the type of things that happen in Dania Beach."
Grace, who is a cancer survivor told Weinsier by phone it was no big deal and not vindictive.
Mayor Duke refused an on-camera interview and said in an email, "Neither the city nor my office has been notified of Commissioner Brandimarte's reason for recent absences, and an excused absence from official duties should not be automatic."
Jones said he was aware of her illness and he had mentioned it at a couple of meetings and events.
"What do you say to your colleagues today?" asked Weinsier.
"I forgive them I guess," said Brandimarte. "I wouldn't do it back to anyone to get even. I would not do that."
The next meeting is July 22, and the vice mayor doesn't know if she will be well enough to attend. Jones said he will make a motion to reverse the unexcused absence.
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