Candidate Claims Opponent Running Illegally
By MEG WALKER, Staff Writer
This article was first published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel in February 1991.
LAUDERDALE LAKES – Glenn Greenwald, a City Council candidate, has charged that his opponent`s candidacy is illegal and has asked a Broward Circuit Court judge to wipe his name off the March ballot.
Abraham Hassing, who is competing with Greenwald for a one-year seat, is not eligible to be a candidate, the court filing says, because he violated an election law.
The law, known as the resign-to-run law, says a candidate who is a member of a city committee or board and receives a salary for his work must resign from the committee before filing for political office.
“My client does not feel his opponent is an unworthy one, but simply that his candidacy is technically illegal. It`s improper for him to be a candidate”, said C. Edward McGee, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who filed the court action on behalf of Greenwald.
The action, which will be heard on Friday by Judge Lawrence Korda, asks that the judge prevent Hassing`s name from being on the ballot in one of two ways: either by preventing the city from giving approval for his name to go on the ballot, or by preventing Supervisor of Elections Jane Carroll from including the name on the March 12 ballot.
“This is just out of left field,” said Hassing, 71, a retiree. “My candidacy is absolutely not illegal, otherwise I never would have filed.”
Hassing`s candidacy is illegal, the filing says, because he receives compensation for being on the Consumer Affairs Committee, a city committee that helps residents who have complaints about bills.
Hassing, who was appointed by the council to the committee in June of 1989, receives $75 a month in expenses for serving on the board.
City codes say his position is voluntary and that he receives no salary.
McGee said he will argue that the travel expenses are the equivalent of salary because Hassing receives the same amount monthly regardless of how much his expenses are each month.
“If you’re given money on a scheduled basis without rhyme or reason, that’s a salary,” McGee said.
Greenwald, 23, who works in an accounting office, said he is not taking the action simply to put Hassing out of the race, but because he feels the resign- to-run law has been unfairly applied by the city.
“I’m confident of my chances for success given my opposition,” said Greenwald. “I’m doing it for only one reason and that`s because I think the city has unfairly violated the law.”
Greenwald first started scrutinizing the resign-to-run law when Michael Sims, a candidate for one of the three two-year seats open on the council, was told he would have to resign from the Code Enforcement Board to run for office.
City Attorney Jim Brady wrote a letter on Jan. 11 to City Clerk Audrey Tolle saying that a member of the Code Enforcement Board would have to resign in order to run for public office because the board had sovereign power, or quasi-judicial powers that allow the board to impose fines for violations.
Sims, 37, who works as a manager for a gas station, resigned from the board.
On Jan. 18, Greenwald wrote a letter to Tolle, questioning why only Sims, and not Hassing, had to resign from the city committee he was sitting on.
“There was an unfair and unethical attempt to apply this law when it came to excluding a candidate they wanted to exclude, and quite simply the law should be followed equitably,” Greenwald said.
The question became moot on Jan. 28 when Brady wrote a second letter saying that he had made a mistake in his first letter.
Members of the Code Enforcement Board are not paid a salary, and under state election law, a board member who serves without salary is exempt from the resign-to-run rule.
Brady said he had no intention of excluding any one particular candidate.
“Why would I want to single Mr. Sims out?”
Sims was not aware of Brady`s second letter.
“I guess Hassing is the one they want,” Sims said. “But I`m not going to argue their points. Right now I just want to beat” my opponents.