Nov 272015

canvassing board dean vote

by Dennis Reeves Cooper



I am drafting a potential opinion piece concerning the concept that the City Attorney is the most powerful person in city government. Before you read the rest of this email, know that I consider you one of the best city attorneys in the city’s history and your longevity in the job speaks to that. One reason I feel this way is that I know you have gone out of your way to help me with big stories in the past– the Mauldin scandal, for example. So bear with me here.

Actually, what I have in mind would be an update of a commentary I have written several times over the years– the thesis being that a legal opinion by the City Attorney can literally change a vote by the City Commission. This is not necessarily a bad thing– assuming a competent, honest City Attorney. But what if the City Attorney has an agenda? The best (or worst) example of this is the construction of the “Big Steel Building” on Duval at Front a number of years ago. I’m sure you will recall that, for years, that little piece of property next to Two Friends Restaurant was vacant and was sort of a little park. But with progress comes change. Somebody bought or leased the property and planned to build a big building there. Attorney Halpern was hired to represent the project. The size of the building required an impact study before a building permit could be issued– but Halpern represented to the City Commission that the building was smaller than that and, apparently, no city staffer bothered to check it out. At one time, Commissioner Joe Pais demanded that staff be able to document the actual size of the building at the next meeting, but he was ignored. Months later, staff was finally forced to reveal that the building had indeed required an impact statement– but by that time, the building permit had been issued and construction was underway. Pais demanded that an impact statement be required after the fact– and the majority of the members of the Commission, who now were aware that they had been duped, seemed ready to support Pais. But the City Attorney, who had been quiet about the need for an impact statement throughout the process, now pontificated something like, “If you require an impact statement now, the owner of the building will sue and he will win.” And that was the end of that. Strangely, as far as I recall, no city staff member was fired or disciplined.

Recently, you appeared before the Canvassing Board by telephone to advise them on the role of the board in the Bob Dean case. You should have been there in person if, for no other reason than to see the show. Cheri Smith already had her mind made up. But poor Clayton and Jimmy gave new meaning to the term “hapless”– trying to figure out how to do the wrong thing while a roomful of people were watching. So they desperately appealed to you, asking if “intent” could be a factor in their decision. I don’t know if that question was pre-arranged, but you basically answered it with a one-word answer: “Yes.” No advice concerning the massive amount of evidence that proves beyond the shadow of a doubt where the man actually lives!

Help me out here with the law behind your advice to the canvassing board– because I know that you absolutely know that Bob Dean actually lives in that big house in Key Haven and not in that little apartment on Bahama Street.

Dennis Reeves Cooper

The Blue Paper



On the day of the Canvassing Board meeting I was traveling to Gainesville so my daughter could attend a softball camp hosted by the University that we scheduled long ago. I certainly would have preferred to be there in person. However given some recent health issues, I’ve committed to not let this job rob me of opportunities like that with my family.

The questions asked by members of the Board were not scripted in any fashion. In fact, I think I even said at one point that I didn’t understand what Commissioner Weekley was asking me. From the legal standpoint, intent is one of the primary factors for consideration as the case law points out.

However, I informed them the decision was based upon the concurrence of intent (subjective) and facts (objective). I informed them that they had to make their decision on the documents presented to them and weigh that like any other evidence. My role is not to argue one side or the other, but to apprise them of the legal standards upon which their decision should be based. Once I advocate for one position or another in any setting like that I believe I lose my effectiveness as an adviser on the law. Long ago my late friend and long-time government attorney Richard Collins advised me the only way to do this work is to give your Board the best legal advice possible and recognize that what they do with it is up to them.

I hope this helps clarify my role in the Dean matter.

Shawn Smith

City Attorney


See exclusive video and commentary about the Canvassing Board’s well-attended meeting… in case you missed it.  Commissioners Jimmy Weekley and Clayton Lopez, along with City Clerk Cheryl Smith took the now infamous decision.


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 November 27, 2015  Posted by at 12:46 am * Featured Story *  Add comments

  14 Responses to “How Influential Was the City Attorney in Canvassing Board’s Bob Dean Decision?”

  1. Your city attorney is saying to you that the board must make it’s decisions using the paperwork before them . What a crock!
    So if the board has paperwork presented to them that borders on “criminal in nature” it must make it’s decisions using that paperwork.

    • This old former practicing attorney doesn’t grok your logic, nyminuteman. Looks to me Shawn Smith gave them good advice, and they ignored it and made a decision in total disregard of the overwhelming facts glaring in their faces. Look in the blue paper’s excerpt of the video at the three canvassing board members’ body language and faces. Hear their words. It was rigged. Get used to it. This is Key West. Nothing like that ever happens in the Big Apple (laugh, laugh). I suspect what might be the backstory, more, maybe many more people, who do not live in Key West, vote in Key West, for the same reason Bob Dean was allowed to continue doing that: they work in Key West. .

    • You should follow the money – Key West Saying!
      1 Big money in your district?
      2 Family member works for the board Dean controls
      I was at the meeting and the Lawyers (many of them) before the
      hearing where talking out loud of how he was gong to get out of
      this one and as though it was a done deal. I feel sorry for Weekly
      and Clayton but now they can get rid of the any I.O.U.
      The Key West adventure continues and in a month all is forgotten,
      next years election no one will remember…the KW saga continues!
      Is anyone tire of? “Do it and ask for forgiveness Later if caught?”

  2. Oh, And I forgot to mention that if the members of your public (and not so public) boards have the balls and mental capacity of a mouse it is time for the people to walk these board members to the front doors of the Board Buildings and throw their a____s out. Do not allow an attorney to become the hidden leader in government. Elected attorneys do a horrible job as it is. Just look at DC.

    • NY minuteman, these are our crooked officials, we don’t cotton to foreigners telling us how to deal with them. We have ways you might not ever have heard of, or don’t want to hear of. Google-image walking the plank, keel-hauling,tar-and-feathering :-). And not reelecting them. But then, I’m not holding my breath on any of that happening, so maybe you should not either :-).

  3. Shawn I believe gave perfectly accurate advice (I was there), and I thank him for his thoughtful answer to Dennis’ email.

    Jimmy and Clayton suffered mightily until Jimmy jumped the shark for them both by going ‘way back to Harry Sawyer’s ruling, ignoring the reams of other evidence. All on the board simply love and respect Bob Dean and would forgive him anything, especially what they think of as a technicality.

    The flaw is having a board consist of members so emotionally connected to their subject.

    • Yes, a technicality, which reminds me of Descartes: “I think, therefore I am.” Ergo, “I intended (intend) to live in my home in Bahama Village, therefore I live there” (“Even though you, me and everyone else knows I don’t live there.”)

      I have a feeling, besides people who work in Key West but live outside it and driving in each day, or several days a week, there might be plenty of voters who live here on a little part of each year, and are absent landlords the rest of the time; or just are absent, because it’s saving them money in taxes to call Key West their residence, But this ain’t really their home, or even close to it.

      Then there are the folks living on boats moored like next to Wisteria Island and Sigsbee and bayside of Stock Island, who work daily in the city and, I have heard, if they get found out, are told they cannot vote in city elections, even if they have been voting in city elections for years, and even longer.

      I look forward to seeing how the candidate forums, newspapers and US 1 Radio go on Mayor Cates and any city commissioner(s) running for reelection in 2016, re why come they did not raise a ruckus about the canvassing board decision during the city commission next following said decision, er, rigging, and I ain’t thinking something having to do with sailing, other than the mayor and the city commissioners let the canvassing board decision sail quietly into the night.

      It remains to be seen, holding my breath not hardly, if the voters really gave a dead mullet how the canvassing board decided Dean’s residency. If the huge citizen protests not occuring citizen comments at city commission meetings are any indication of voter sentiments about the Dean Machine Rig, then there you have it.

  4. Jimmy Weekly and Bob Dean are business neighbors. Obviously Commissioners Weekley and Lopez were suffering from a bad case of back-scratch fever. Bubba still has lots of fleas and ticks,; ahem.. pleas and fixes.

  5. Well, the way I see it, Mr. Dean has owned the Bahama Street address for years, Why should his vote NOT count? Why should he NOT have say so in whats happening in his neighborhood?!
    Mr. Dean is in NO way a criminal, He is an asset to our community! He has help many people and doesn’t go looking for the “Thank You”.

    • Are you serious ? He does not live in KW and that is why he can not legally vote. The law is clear as it can be on this. And Dean still can and should be put behind bars. VOTER FRAUD is a crime.

  6. YEP. I am serious, He DOES live in KW, he is the property owner, his son lives downstairs and he stays upstairs.
    Did you see the voters using the Court house address? Why not investigate those people? Dean owns that property and his vote should count. 🙂

    • Then why did he suddenly change the address on his drivers license ? Only a fool would believe he is living in that apartment.

      Owning property does not mean you live at it.

  7. Goodness, with all that’s going on in this world, you are really worried about one… voter….seem like your just on the I hate Bob Dean compaign.
    Worry about the missing money from our schools AGAIN…
    Bob lives in the back of the Bahama Street address. I’ve been there. Soooo sorry he didn’t change his address early…he is a very busy man.

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