MIAMI – Former North Miami Beach City Commissioner Michael Joseph asked a judge Friday morning to reinstate him.
He was voted out during the city’s last meeting for missing countless meetings which caused the city’s business to halt.
This month, several North Miami Beach commissioners voted to vacate Joseph’s seat because they say he violated the city charter because he missed commission meetings within a 120-day period.
Joseph was removed from office by his peers during Tuesday night’s commission meeting, triggering a special election that is expected to occur within 35 to 90 days.
The city has not been able to conduct business for months because of the absence of that commissioner, along with a few other commissioners who were not appearing at commission meetings.
Commissioners voted 3-to-1 to vacate Joseph’s seat.
Joseph was not at Tuesday’s meeting due to a medical issue.
A judge eventually ordered those missing commissioners to appear, however, both sides of the argument seem to have different interpretations of what the charter entails.
City of North Miami Beach Commissioner McKenzie Fleurimond gave the first testimony in court Friday morning.
“If any commissioner has failed to attend of the meeting of the city commission for a period of 120 days, the seat of the commission will automatically become vacant. The undisputed evidence is that Commissioner Joseph did not fail to attend a meeting for 120 days.”
Joseph’s attorney Ben Brodsky asked a judge to reinstate him because by their calculation, he’s only missed 91 days.
“We would ask you please exercise your discretion to enjoin the illegal vote and reinstate them,” said Brodsky.
The Vice Mayor’s attorney disagrees.
“Mr. Joseph did not show up at commission meetings for five months and he made that decision. He didn’t show up between Oct. 18 and March 21,” said the plaintiff’s attorney Michael A. Pizzy.
Pizzy asked the judge Friday if he would uphold the city commission and vacate the seat to call a special election.
“My opinion is the last meeting attended which would be in October,” he said.
Brodsky said that city commissioners were trying to “squeeze out” Joseph during his closing statement in court on Friday.
“If the voters don’t like it, they can vote him out. Commission blew past three city attorney opinions and record shows why there was a political struggle with commissioners about who had power and Joseph was on the wrong side, so they decided to put their thumb on him and squeeze him out.”
“To get up here to suggest that they are doing something wrong when his client doesn’t show up to meetings-- he didn’t come for 120 days,” Pizzi said in his closing statement.
The judge told all parties that he will take what he heard under advisement and plans to issue a written order at a later date.