Boy do those schleppers in Surfside know how to cut a deal.
For example, after getting hit with a federal lawsuit over a refusal to make some zoning changes to accommodate an expanded synagogue, the town attorney allegedly recommended they hire a federal lawsuit “specialist” who she — according to this New Times article — also just happens to be “dating,” none other than dashing Gerry Houlihan:
This past December, Young Israel of Bal Harbour — a Jewish congregation that is actually based in Surfside — filed a lawsuit against the town after the town commission voted no to make zoning amendments that would have allowed the group to establish a new synagogue on an 8,000-square-foot lot it had purchased for $1.5 million. Young Israel claimed this was a violation of its members’ religious rights, and demanded $5 million in punitive damages.
This sounds like a job for that town attorney. Except Dannheisser opined that the case required a specialist in federal lawsuits. She “looked around for the most experienced litigator,” she explained at a recent commission meeting. She officially recommended that the town hire Gerald Houlihan. The Coral Gables attorney and Dannheisser are, by her own public admission, “dating.” Houlihan’s firm agreed to represent Surfside in the battle against the Jewish congregation for the low, low price of $750 an hour.
What’s the problem? Isn’t that the whole point of being a town attorney — steering business to friends, lovers and former colleagues? Seriously, why else do it?
(I guess there’s also all the free tickets!)
I also think Lynn cut a great deal getting Gerry at a bargain basement rate — the dude’s practically doing this pro bono as a public service — just listen to Lynn explain it:
Dannheisser’s somewhat mind-blowing defense: that Surfside has already obtained the services of another law firm — Weiss, Serota & Helfman — and that she was once a law partner with Joe Serota. Dannheisser boasted that “because of those personal relationships, I have been able to request that the attorneys cut their legal fees from $500 an hour to $250 per hour.” That, she claimed, is “the benefit of those relationships.”
(Psst — don’t tell anyone about what Michael Pizzi is charging the town of Medley, it might make Gerry seem a little pricey).