#HouseGenius. Oh, Joe. Say it isn’t so!

Photo: Trevor Bach, Broward/Palm Beach New Times

Photo: Trevor Bach, Broward/Palm Beach New Times

Attorney Joseph S. Geller wants to be the City Attorney for North Miami.

Florida State Representative Joseph S. Geller can’t even figure out how to vote on the House floor.

The Miami Herald Naked Politics reported that on Wednesday State Representative Joe Geller accidentally voted “yes” on the very bill he “railed against” the night before.

He also cast a “yes” vote for his seatmate, Orlando Democrat Randolph Bracy, on a bill that will allow open carry on college campuses.  The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House, but is expected to be voted down in the Senate.

According to the Miami Herald, casting a vote for another representative is “frowned upon” but  “allowed under House rules” as long as he has the other member’s “specific request and direction,” and as long as that member is present in the chamber during the vote.

Representatives have a nine second window in which to cast their votes.  Once the window closes, it’s a done deal.

Geller’s excuse – this time – was that he was distracted and accidentally pushed the wrong button.  Bracy was “on the other side of the House chamber” when the board opened the vote.

Joe Geller says he’s “mortified” by his mistake.  As well he should be.

Accidental or not, by voting for a bill that most Democrats are opposed to, Geller’s constituents are understandably upset.

Then again, they got exactly what they voted for.

Joe Geller is always full of excuses for never following through.

This is a lawyer who was fined by the Florida Elections Commission FOUR TIMES for filing his Campaign Treasurers Reports late when he ran for office in 2014, one of which resulted in a $500.00 fine after he lost his appeal, saying the dog ate his homework.  (Actually, he claimed “computer software difficulties,” an excuse which the FEC didn’t buy.)

This is a lawyer who abused his official position as a state rep as an excuse for not handling a simple civil lawsuit (Joseph V. Smith).

This is a lawyer who lied to a Circuit Court Judge using the excuse that he had to attend a special session in Tallahassee, yet never showed up.

This is a lawyer who was allegedly  hired by Frantz Pierre crony, Marie Eleazard, to represent her against conflict of interest, appropriation of of “non-profit” funding for personal use, and possible money laundering charges by the Commission on Ethics, yet completely ignored a request to meet with investigators.  He never even bothered to make up an excuse for that one.

And this is a lawyer who desperately wants to be the City Attorney for North Miami.

Joe Geller tries to worm his way into city attorney positions all over South Florida, and causes problems wherever he goes.

In 2011, Geller applied to be the attorney for the City of Sunrise.  At a Special Meeting of the Sunrise City Commission on May 31, 2011, which was called to discuss the position of city attorney, the commission ultimately hired in-house lawyer as opposed to an outside firm.  During discussions, Commissioner Sheila Alu “felt strongly that the firm should not be a lobbyist or represented a contiguous city.  Specifically, Joseph Geller’s brother was a lobbyist.”  And that was that.

In 2013, Geller was fired from the Town of Miami Lakes “in a cost-cutting move.”  The Miami Laker reported that “Geller’s law firm billed the town about $18,500 a month and additional charges” and that “Geller earned about $300,000 a year.”  The mayor at the time, Wayne Slaton, also wanted a law firm that was local and more accessible, one who “can be here in five minutes under any circumstance when the town manager calls for him.”

Ironically, however, Mayor Slaton’s desire to fire Joe Geller had  more to do with Geller’s “allowing the town to award a working contract to a bogus company” that was used as a front for an FBI sting that led to the arrest of Slaton’s predecessor, Michael Pizzi.

According to the article, Slaton “said the law firm should’ve raised a red flag before a resolution to hire the phony business was placed on the meeting agenda, a measure that was part of an alleged kick-back scheme for Pizzi to pocket grant money in exchange for a working contract.”

Even though Pizzi’s arrest and subsequent ouster from office helped Slaton become the mayor in a special election, he still felt that Joe Geller failed to protect Miami Lakes from the fiasco.  “At the heart of the scandal involved a bogus program and nothing was said on the dais or no legal advice on the issue.”

As the Village Attorney for El Portal, just last month Geller was smacked down by the Third District Court of Appeal for violating state laws in negotiating a deal to demolish a trailer park without conducting a relocation study for displaced residents.  Many of these residents have nowhere to go, and they are expected to be evicted by the end of this month.

On February 2, 2016, the Broward/Palm Beach New Times published in a MUST READ article, Little Farm Trailer Park Eviction Illustrate’s Miami’s Biggest Problem, the history of this “a decades-old mobile home community of several hundred low-income tenants” in El Portal.  The working class residents “raised their families there and had no intention of leaving — and nowhere else to go: For years, as Miami’s real-estate market has skyrocketed around it, Little Farm has existed among the city’s last nongovernmental, low-income communities. It’s a place where, until recently, working-class Hispanic and then Haitian immigrants could still afford to establish roots.”

Activist Marlein Bastien joined the battle to keep these families from being evicted.  Legal Services of Greater Miami lawyer Evian White also took up the cause and discovered that El Portal Village Attorney Joe Geller negotiated the entire deal.  He admitted he was involved in a coordinated battle to “clean up” (remove and abandon) the low-income and elderly families living in Little Farm.

The New Times reported, “There was a signed settlement agreement among the buyer, seller, and the village: Whoever owned the property, the agreement stated, would have to demolish the park within 14 months and pay the village $575,000. In exchange, the village would forgive about $8 million in code enforcement fines and liens.”

Evian White filed a lawsuit to prevent the evictions, but the judge dismissed the case.  On January 13, 2016, the Third District Court of Appeals reversed the judge’s decision and sent the case back to the lower court for another hearing.  Unless by some miracle, the judge can stop the evictions, Little Farm families will be out on the street.

And they’ll be able to thank a self-professed progressive liberal Democrat for their homeless state.

I wonder what excuse he’ll give when that happens.  Just saying.

In 2014, Joe Geller was nearly fired by the City of Opa-locka for allegedly  disrespecting a commissioner and “not providing services to the city in a timely manner.”  On March 5, 2015, however, he finally got the axe.

Despite his lackluster performance as a municipal attorney, Joseph Geller managed to get himself hired on August 19, 2014 as a Special Master for the City of South Miami for the term of one year to “adjudicating issues relating to code violations.”  For the privilege of having his name attached to yet another South Florida municipality, Geller only charged the city $150.00 per hour, which is at least half his typical hourly legal rate.

Then again, considering his history of incompetence with other cities, and considering that he can’t even figure out how to vote on a bill in the House of Representatives, $150.00 an hour is pretty much all he’s worth.

Like his sidekick, Boy Lobbyist Evan Ross, Joe Geller wants to have his finger in every municipal pie in South Florida.  Or, more accurately, the municipal treasury.

It’s not enough that Joe Geller has a private practice where he represents clients (albeit ineffectively) to the tune of approximately $120,500.00 per year (as reported on his 2014 Form 6).

It’s not enough that Joe Geller already has a taxpayer-funded salary in the amount of $29,697.00 per year as a State Representative.

It’s not enough that Joe Geller reported a net worth of $673,068.10 in 2014.

It’s not enough that Joe Geller continues sucking up even more tax dollars from the Village of El Portal and the City of South Miami.

(Interestingly, he did NOT report his El Portal, Opa-locka or Miami Lakes* income on his 2014 Form 6, as required by the Florida Commission on Ethics.  What else could he be hiding?  Just saying.)

And now Joe Geller is just dying to get his hands on an extremely lucrative six-figure (approximately $200k) contract with the City of North Miami.

How many government contracts (a/k/a “free” taxpayer money) does this clown need?

This is just plain greed.

And it’s just plain wrong!

There are so many excellent municipal attorneys in South Florida, any one of whom would be a great asset to the City of North Miami.

Joe Geller is not one of them!

North Miami residents deserve better.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

*Correction: Joe had no income to report from Miami Lakes in 2014 as he was fired in 2013.

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