This year, the Town of Juno Beach, Florida organized a CDC-compliant holiday parade for community members to lift spirits following a year of unprecedented challenges. The Ocean Drive Holiday Parade took place on December 4 where city officials drove from Town Center southbound toward Celestial Way greeting residents along the way.
City officials drove their vehicles decorated with festive holiday lights, wreaths, and bows to warmly greet bystanders bringing holiday cheer. Officials decorated and drove their own vehicles; however, councilmember Stuart Katz presented himself by way of a chariot with a hired driver in a BMW convertible 8 series.
To several residents who have grappled with the challenges of the past year, the chariot-style presentation was deemed a pompous gesture made in poor taste.
In the correspondence between Katz and the Town Clerk, Katz was uninterested in modest decor for his own vehicle. Therefore, he called upon a local dealership, Braman Motorcars to fulfill a larger request. The communication between Braman and Katz surfaced to reveal that Katz in fact pressured Braman to provide an “Alpine White” 8 series convertible with bow and chauffeur for the parade.
Following the parade, Katz coordinated with the Ethics Officer to write off the convertible and driver as a gift to the town as opposed to paying for the car and service himself.
The correspondence between Katz and Gina Levesque, Intake and Compliance Manager of PBC Commission on Ethics read, “Have you decided if you are going to claim this gift as a personal gift or if it was a gift to the Town as I suggested?”
Where Katz replied, “Yes, I did take your interpretation that the gift of the automobile for our holiday parade was a gift to the town and not a gift to me personally. Using your interpretation there is no need for me to submit a formal gift form.”
Katz’s glamorous parade showing and selfish write-off are alarming for the city of Juno Beach. While many continue to struggle due to the onset of economic issues presented by COVID-19, Katz remains self-consumed with his own stature as an elected official in this seaside town.
The issue brings up multiple ethics issues in a county known for politicians seeking favor from wealthy supporters. While local reporters have not questioned Katz, our review of this issue brings up serious questions about Katz’s approach to government and who he is supposed to represent – the people or himself.