By Dan Moffett
It should surprise no one in Gulf Stream that Mayor Scott Morgan and the town’s two litigious residents, Martin O’Boyle and Chris O’Hare, look back on 2015 with radically different opinions about their dueling court cases.
O’Boyle and O’Hare have dozens of lawsuits pending against the town, most dealing with hundreds of public records requests. In recent months the two men have publicly trumpeted their successes.
Most notable is a federal judge’s dismissal of the town’s RICO conspiracy suit against them in June, a decision the town is appealing. Then in November, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Richard Oftedal made a similar ruling, and dismissed the town’s request for an injunction that would have prevented the two men from making more requests for public records.
O’Boyle and O’Hare have criticized Gulf Stream’s legal counterattacks against them and the resulting bill for taxpayers of about $1 million in attorneys’ fees over the past year.
But Morgan believes that, despite the setbacks, the fight-back legal strategy is paying off. The mayor cites several successes.
“One is the O’Boyle Law Firm, which everyone knows was started by Mr. O’Boyle and run by his son, and which really was the scourge of the state of Florida, across municipalities in every county of the state,” Morgan said during the Dec. 11 town meeting. “Most of its lawyers have fled and the couple left are handling the existing cases they have. But its effectiveness is really in question.”
The O’Boyle firm is “essentially denuded,” the mayor said, and he cited the reported demise of Citizens Awareness Foundation, Inc., a group affiliated with O’Boyle, as another positive sign.
“That sham nonprofit organization set up by Mr. O’Boyle to be essentially the bank of money that would come in from all those public records cases, it would be tax-free as well,” Morgan said, “that company is essentially shut down.”
The mayor said that Joel Chandler, the former executive director of CAFI, has “turned whistleblower and he will shortly be testifying on behalf of the town of Gulf Stream” against O’Boyle and O’Hare.
“So with that in mind, I think we’ve had a pretty good year,” Morgan said. “Keep things in perspective, and stay the course.”
O’Hare used expletives to characterize the mayor’s assessment.
“A bunch of lies, sir,” he told Morgan. “You are full of bull.”
Oftedal made two more rulings in December that went in favor of O’Hare and O’Boyle. The judge denied the town’s request to consolidate dozens of the cases, and he rejected a motion for a rehearing on the November ruling.
O’Boyle told the commission that he is willing to sit down and negotiate a settlement. He blamed the town’s attorneys for refusing to come to the table, and commissioners for “squandering dollars” of taxpayers on legal defenses. Morgan has said repeatedly that the town is willing to enter negotiations as soon as the two men drop their lawsuits.
“You’re using our money,” O’Boyle told the commission. “There is no accountability with you folks, and that I find to be outrageous. … The town in my opinion has forgotten many of the basic tenets of honor and integrity, and it’s my belief they’re out of control.”