After Boca Raton mayor‘s arrest, city begins looking forward

Just days after Mayor Susan Haynie was arrested and suspended from office, the city began planning its next steps.

“We’re looking forward to how we move forward as a city,” Scott Singer, who has since been appointed as mayor, told the public in his opening remarks Monday.

More than 200 residents showed up to a public-comment session presented by the city.

Boca will have a ceremonial swearing-in of Singer as mayor at the city’s next workshop meeting Monday.

The city also plans to appoint a council member to fill in until the Aug. 28 special election. Residents were asked to send recommendations to the City Council by calls and emails.

Singer and three other candidates were already running for what would have been the mayor’s unexpired term. Singer “can sit as mayor while he’s running in the special election,” said City Attorney Diana Grub Frieser.

By piggybacking on the county primary election, the city saves thousands of dollars, said City Clerk Susan Saxton.

Haynie was suspended from public office Friday by Gov. Rick Scott after she turned herself in to the jail last week. Scott’s executive order said the alleged offenses violated Florida statutes.

Haynie, 62, was charged with official misconduct, perjury in an official proceeding, misuse of public office, corrupt misuse of public office and failure to disclose a voting conflict. Her attorney, Leonard Feurer, said she was innocent of the charges and would be vindicated.

After her arrest, Haynie backed out of the Palm Beach County Commission race.

On Monday, there were few questions after the city attorney explained how the state and city laws work, including the difference between an elected official’s suspension and removal.

An elected official can only be suspended or removed from office by the governor, Frieser said. Haynie only can be permanently removed by the governor if she’s convicted, Frieser added.

“If Haynie resigns, that’s the same as a removal,” she said.

Haynie has not resigned, even though three of the four council members have called for her resignation.

Boca Councilman Jeremy Rodgers told the audience that there’s no pay or benefits while an elected official is suspended. But if Haynie is acquitted, she’s entitled to back pay.

She would be eligible to return as mayor but only through her regular term ending March 2020, Frieser said.

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