I am writing in response to Michael K. Schwerin’s [Letter to the Editor] attack on the city attorney, Ms. Christi Hogin in [the Aug. 13 edition of the The Surfside News]. This will be the first in a two-letter response as I wish to set forth facts rather than just allegations, as was the case in Mr. Schwerin’s correspondence to the paper.
I would first like to address the mobile home lawsuits. The actions brought by the two mobile home park owners against the city arose directly out of the actions of Walt Keller, Carolyn Van Horn and Missy Zeitsoff, Mr. Keller’s and Ms. Van Horn’s then current partner on the City Council. At the time the Mobile Home Rent Stabilization Ordinance was passed, I was a resident at Paradise Cove Mobile Home Park (the “Park”) and the attorney for the park’s homeowners association attempting to purchase the park from the Kissel Company. The week prior to the City Council hearing, the Board of Directors of the homeowners association circulated a petition specifically requesting that the rent stabilization ordinance not include a rent rollback provision. In fact, the association submitted to the City Council on the night of the hearing a petition signed by a majority of the Paradise Cove residents specifically making that request. In addition, the then city attorney Michael Jenkins, with Christi Hogin present as the assistant city attorney, specifically told the City Council that the entire ordinance, with the exception of the rent rollback provisions, were legally defensible. Mr. Schwerin neglected to point out this exception. Both mobile home park owners testified that if the rent rollback provision were not included, they would not sue the city. Nevertheless, by a vote of 4 to 1, including Walt Keller, Carolyn Van Horn and Missy Zeitsoff, the City Council passed an ordinance which had a seven-year rent rollback provision.
It was the rent rollback provision that led to the city being sued and it was the rent rollback provision which was thrown out by the courts, as predicted by both Mr. Jenkins and Ms. Hogin. I am sure Mr. Schwerin is one of the “usual suspects” out to attack anybody who would question the Keller/Van Horn no-growth majority. It would be refreshing if just once, Mr. Keller and Ms. Van Horn would step up to the plate and admit that they and Ms. Zeitsoff were the ones responsible for passing the ordinance which cost the city in excess of $2 million in lawsuit and settlement costs. Ms. Hogin has nothing to do with advocating that portion of the ordinance which led to the lawsuits and, based on clear constitution law, “lost” the case.
Richard N. Scott