The Coastal Star

South Palm Beach: Millar to face hearing on ethics complaint

Correction: In the following sentence the proposed height of the building is incorrect. The current proposed height is 10-stories. Our apologies for the error.

Millar said in January he filed complaints against Planning Board members Michael Nevard, Dee Robinson and Pat Festino, accusing them of bias against a proposal to build a
19-story condominium hotel by the owners of the inn.

By Tim O’Meilia

South Palm Beach Mayor Martin Millar’s late night trip to Rachel’s strip club and steakhouse in West Palm Beach last year has landed him in trouble with the state Commission on Ethics.

Ethics commissioners found probable cause Oct. 27 that Millar violated state law by trying to use his influence as mayor to obtain “a special privilege, benefit or exemption.” According to ethics investigators, Millar tried to use his position to return to the club after he was thrown out, avoid arrest, avoid a police report, contact an officer’s supervisor and obtain rides to and from a hospital.

A hearing will be set for Millar or he can seek a settlement with the commission, said commission spokeswoman Kerrie Stillman. Millar said he would wait for a hearing. If he is found guilty, the penalties can range from a reprimand to removal from office and fines of up to $10,000. The violation is not a criminal offense.

“I can’t deny I was at a place I shouldn’t have been,” Millar said, but denied that he tried to use his position to influence West Palm Beach police officers who responded to a call from Rachel’s management Aug. 17, 2009.

Managers told police that Millar was strong-armed out of the club after shining a flashlight on the dancers and refusing to stop. They called police because someone said Millar had a gun. A police search found no gun.

Police wrote in their reports that Millar repeatedly said he was the mayor of South Palm Beach, a former police officer and that he was friends with West Palm Beach Police Chief Delsa Bush and a member of the Palm Beach County’s advisory Criminal Justice Commission.

Millar returned home that night with the tow truck driver who towed his car.

Later, when South Palm Beach officer Swed Savage saw him standing outside his condominium, Millar asked for a ride to the hospital because his neck hurt, according to the reports. The mayor’s request was denied. He was driven to the hospital by paramedics after police called them.

He later phoned police for a ride home and was denied again, the reports said. He called Police Chief Roger Crane, who told Savage he could drive Millar home during his break and in his own vehicle.

“I never did call them and I have a statement that says that (the police officer) suggested he drive me and he called the captain and was told no,” Millar said.
“It’s all documented that I did not call for a ride.”

John Taft, the South Palm Beach resident who filed the complaint, died Oct. 18 before the probable cause finding was made public. Ethics complaints are secret until they are dismissed or probable cause is found, as in Millar’s case.

The ethics complaint is the first to be dealt with of at least six complaints made against South Palm Beach officials by residents battling over the future of the Palm Beach Oceanfront Inn.

Millar said in January he filed complaints against Planning Board members Michael Nevard, Dee Robinson and Pat Festino, accusing them of bias against a proposal to build a 19-story condominium hotel by the owners of the inn.

Inn co-owner Pjeter Paloka has filed complaints against Councilwoman Stella Jordan and Susan Lillybeck, Jordan confirmed. The five complaints remain unresolved.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s retaliation for filing ethics complaints against Nevard, Robinson and Festino,” Millar said. “My incident happened more than a year ago.”

Jordan said in a statement that Millar continues to embarrass the town. “I called for the mayor to resign shortly after the Rachel’s incident during the Sept. 22, 2009, council meeting. I was not an elected official at the time and was surprised that a censure, at a minimum, was not proposed. My thoughts have not changed.”

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Comment by Isabella Ralston-Charnley on November 9, 2010 at 12:08pm
At no time was a 19 story building requested to replace the Palm Beach OceanFront Inn. The last request was for 97.8 feet which is the same height as the tallest building in South Palm Beach. This is just more misinformation that is being given the our residents.

I find it interesting that while Ms. Stella Jordan gives her thoughts on Mayor Millar she omits to inform the residents of South Palm Beach that she was fined $1,000 by the Department of Elections for putting false information on a Petition that she presented to residents to sign.

I would also like to invite Mr. O’Meilia to investigate how Mike Nevard, Dee Robinson and Pat Festino were put on our towns Planning Board. I have tried, without luck, since August to try and find out from our Town Manager Rex Taylor how 3 such biased self interested people were voted onto the Planning Board without going through the Towns Advisory Board.

Mr. Nevard the Chairman of the Planning Board has a million dollar view that will be gone if any improvements are made to the Oceanfront Inn, and Dee Robinson and Pat Festino’s mother live next door to the Inn and that condominium will also lose some views.

Council Members Jordon and Lillybeck and Planning Board Members Nevard, Robinson and Festino are not looking out for what is best for the Town , they are simply taking care of their own self interests.

Isabella Ralston-Charnley
SPB Residents

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