Recall effort against Atkins-Grad gains momentum

Patricia Atkins-Grad acquitted of accepting bribes from developers

TAMARAC, Fla. - A group of people living in Tamarac are trying to recall Commissioner Patricia "Patte" Atkins-Grad, who was acquitted of accepting bribes from two developers in Dec. 2012.

The group needs the signatures of 10 percent of the voters in Atkins-Grad's district, or about 1200 names. They're already over 900 and have until February 15 to get the job done.

I recently went along with recall volunteers Sharon Aron Baron and Doreen Abrams who knocked on doors to collect signatures. They were met mostly with willing signers, though a couple of residents said they were friends with Atkins-Grad and still supported her.

Atkins-Grad is owed $120,000 in back pay and other costs related to her suspension while she faced charges. The city is also responsible for her defense attorney fees, which have yet to be determined, but are expected to be well in the six figures.

"This takes money away from every resident in Tamarac," said Baron, a leader of recall volunteers.

"I think it's terrible. It's really atrocious that she did that," said Carolyn Gallo, a resident who signed the petition. "We don't need people like that, taking bribes."

Vice Mayor Harry Dressler has also called for her to resign.

"Commissioner Atkins-Grad may have escaped criminal conviction, but she should not escape the consequences of her clearly unethical and negligent behavior," he said at a meeting last month.

Atkins-Grad said at recent commission meeting she planned on staying.

"It's great to be back," she said at her first meeting back. "... I feel vindicated that an impartial group of men and women who heard all the evidence against me found no wrongdoing on my part. ... It is now a closed chapter in my life and I am ready to move forward and resume serving my constituents."

Resident Peter Rios supported Atkins-Grad during her campaign.

"Yes, I did support her. She has to do the right thing and resign," said Rios.

If the group gets the required signatures, Atkins-Grad will receive a chance to respond before a recall election.

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