Broward commissioner cashed in on land sales to Pompano CRA he recently led

The relocation of Pompano Beach’s 1926 McNab house on March 1 from its original site to McNab Park, five blocks away, where it’s slated to become a restaurant. A vocal group of activists tried to prevent the move.

By Noreen Marcus,

Broward County Commissioner Lamar Fisher and his partners reaped a $565,000 profit when they sold land to the Pompano Beach urban renewal agency that Fisher chaired for 11 years.

No one publicly begrudges a big payday for the former mayor, a popular figure whose family settled in the city three generations ago. The acreage Fisher and the others sold for more than $1.6 million adjoins McNab Park in eastern Pompano Beach.

But some residents are questioning why Fisher was able to buy the parcels and take steps as mayor that made them more valuable, then sell them, at a considerable mark-up, to the Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).

Broward Commissioner Lamar Fisher

Fisher was mayor from 2007 until his election to the county governing board in November 2018. The mayor and commissioners also serve as the CRA board, tasked with acquiring land, among other things, to eliminate blight.

“It looks like a conflict of interest,” said Kay McGinn, a former Pompano mayor and ally of Fisher’s on the city commission. “He never declared he owned those properties. Nobody knew he owned them until he sold them.”

The New Pelican newspaper first reported the Fisher connection, shortly before the CRA board approved the land purchases on Feb. 18. The sales closed on March 30.

‘Insider-trading scheme’?

Florida Bulldog told CRA consultant Frank Schnidman about the deals. Schnidman, a retired Florida Atlantic University professor who taught growth management, was sharply critical of Fisher.

“This is akin to an insider-trading scheme,” he said. “On its face, it leads to the mistrust the public has for public officials when it looks like an action is taken for personal gain.

Kay McGinn

“Fisher acquired property in an area they designated for redevelopment,” Schnidman said. “When you’re a government official and you buy and sell property with an advantage you’ve created to enhance the value, it’s a question for the inspector general.”

McGinn said she asked the Broward Inspector General, the county’s ethics watchdog, to take a preliminary look at Fisher’s deal with the CRA. She did not file a formal complaint.

Last week the office neither confirmed nor denied that McGinn’s call resulted in an investigation, which would be confidential until it’s over.

CRA came to us, not vice versa

Commissioner Fisher said he’s unaware of any investigation. He said he did nothing wrong and he doesn’t understand why McGinn is targeting him.

A real estate auctioneer, Fisher said he wanted to keep the property and develop it privately but his partners convinced him to sell when the CRA approached them. Exactly when that approach occurred is not known. Fisher said his partners are mainly his relatives and his friend Tom DiGiorgio, head of the Pompano Beach Economic Development Council, a public-private partnership.

“I wasn’t soliciting the CRA to buy the property at all. They came to us,” Commissioner Fisher said in an interview with Florida Bulldog.

Tom DiGiorgio

At the Feb. 18 CRA meeting, a staffer explained that buying the parcels near McNab Park, including two buildings with tenants, would achieve both short-term and long-term goals. The meeting was videotaped.

For now, the staffer said, the property will provide cash flow and be available for parking and construction staging during an overhaul of the city-owned park, located just east of Federal Highway and south of Atlantic Boulevard. Eventually, residential projects will fulfill the city’s master plan for the area surrounding McNab Park.

City commissioner welcomes ‘gift’

DiGiorgio stood up at the meeting and suggested his group was accepting less than the properties are worth, considering future appreciation. The partners agreed to the CRA’s offer of current fair market value as determined by the CRA’s chosen appraisers, he said.

“We took it because we are concerned about this community,” DiGiorgio told the city commission, sitting as the CRA board.

Pompano Beach City Commissioner Rhonda Eaton

“They’re in it for the city,” Commissioner Rhonda Eaton said. She called the transaction “a gift.”

The purchases were approved by three 5-1 votes, with Commissioner Beverly Perkins dissenting because, she said, her constituents oppose the redevelopment.

Before the votes, residents called the deals “fishy” and “extremely shady.” They alluded to Fisher’s ownership interest—revealed by New Pelican, not the CRA.

“It’s hard to believe that people are doing things on the up and up,” said an African-American woman wearing a “Black History Matters” T-shirt. She asked the CRA board to “give us all the information up front so that we don’t have to think this is a Martha Stewart type of saga,” referring to a famous insider-trading case.

Mayor: deal was ‘open and public’

Mayor Rex Hardin, the CRA board chairman, did not respond to the protests. He just thanked residents for their input and moved on to the next agenda item.

Last week Hardin defended the acquisition in written answers to emailed questions from Florida Bulldog. He said CRA staffers contacted owners of other property near the Fisher parcels and only the Fisher group would agree to the offered terms.

Pompano Beach Mayor Rex Hardin

Asked if he was concerned the purchase doesn’t look like an arms-length transaction, Hardin wrote, “The transaction was conducted via an open and public process.”

Still, the timeline of Fisher’s purchases and approval of the land-use plan that increased their value raise questions about his actions and intentions.

In 2013, Fisher had been mayor for six years when his group’s LLC paid $290,000 for property at 23 SE 22nd Ave., according to county property records. The next year his group used a different limited liability company to acquire 110 S. Federal Highway for $275,000. In 2018, right before Fisher’s election to the county commission, a third LLC spent $515,000 for three vacant lots at 24 NE 24th Ave.

On March 30, the parcels sold for $625,000 (up from $290,000), $400,000 (up from $275,000) and $620,000 (up from $515,000), for a total increase of $565,000 over the previous sales figures.

Fisher obtained no-conflict opinions

Over several years, the CRA chaired by then-Mayor Fisher formulated an ambitious rezoning and land-use plan for the east side of Pompano, along Atlantic Boulevard from downtown to the Intracoastal Waterway, with mixed-use projects, restaurants and other amenities. The vehicle for this was a 280-acre district called the East Transit Oriented Corridor (ETOC).

Since he owned land within the ETOC, Fisher said, he had attorney Jacob Horowitz research whether he should abstain from voting on “matters which may have an incidental effect on the Properties.” Horowitz saw no potential conflict.

Jacob Horowitz

Then Fisher retained Horowitz to pose the same question to the Florida Commission on Ethics and received its blessing as well. Fisher supplied copies of both opinions, dated December 2017 and January 2018, to Florida Bulldog.

The city commission had to apply to the county commission to approve the ETOC. The city sent over its application in July 2016 and the Broward commission amended the county land-use plan to include the ETOC on April 25, 2017.
In March 2019, Fisher had Horowitz write to the state ethics commission and ask about “leasing” his Pompano property to the CRA. Would Fisher have to abstain from voting on related matters that reached the county commission? 

No, that wouldn’t create a prohibited conflict, the ethics commission responded in an email to Horowitz. Florida Bulldog asked Fisher about selling — as opposed to leasing— property to the CRA and he said the same reasoning applied.

Activists decry privatizing park

Schnidman, the CRA expert, dismissed the no-conflict letters as mere cover for Fisher. “He hid behind ethics opinions and that’s not right,” Schnidman said. “It may be legal, but it’s not right.”

Frank Schnidman

Not all Pompano residents welcome the planned redevelopment. A vocal group of activists tried to prevent the CRA from moving the 1926 McNab House five blocks from its original site to McNab Park, where it’s supposed to be turned into a restaurant.

The activists are concerned the March 1 McNab House relocation was meant to legitimize the private takeover of a neighborhood park to benefit well-connected people like Fisher. They value McNab as the last city-owned park east of Federal Highway.

These critics fear that big projects beside the park and incursions for a restaurant, parking and other add-ons will fill its 2.5 acres until there’s no public space left. When the dust settles, they predict, McNab Park, named like the house for a pioneering Pompano family, will be a park in name only.

“I don’t get how the city commissioners could just take a city park and commercialize it. I don’t see how they have the power,” Tom Drum, a resident who questioned the Fisher deal at the Feb. 18 meeting, said in an interview. “They have no right to take that park away from us.”

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Latest comments

  • Business as usual in South Florida…

  • Greedy, dishonest politicians – prejudiced, self-serving corrupt judges – crooked, lying lawyers…AND THEY ALL GET AWAY WITH IT because the agencies who are supposed to monitor and regulate them, like the so-called “Disciplinary” branch of The Florida Bar and the Judicial Qualifications Commission are JUST AS CROOKED, DISHONEST AND CORRUPT as the rest of them! Has anybody stopped to consider that MANY of these local and state politicians; e.g. city and county Mayors, city and county Commissioners, etc….are also FLORIDA LAWYERS! !!??? Well, that pretty much explains it – right? That goes for Broward County Judges too! EVERYONE IS “FOR SALE”!!! The political AND legal system in Broward County is INFESTED with those who have BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST for the sake of furthering their own career and for their own personal gain! As far as what’s going on in Pompano – why should those politicians AND THEIR LAWYERS, be any different from the rest? Keep up the good work, Florida Bulldog!

  • that is why Pompano landmark had its name changed to Fisher Family …

  • This sounds like a bunch of whining. All of a sudden McNab park is the most important/heavily used park in broward county? Those same people who are complaining would oppose almost anything that would improve the area or show progress. Would they have been ok if the group sold the property at a loss?, I dont think so! Perkins votes no on everything so, nothing new there. Why would her constituents oppose the move/purchase/repurpose of the house and park? Truth is, McNab park was not being used properly. It had just become a place where a few people would play tennis, a few would seasonally use the shuffleboard court and the vagrants would use it as a place to drink beer and do drugs all day and cause all kinds of trouble, is that what you want? Come on people, we’re not the sleepy town we used to be, it’s call growth, get used to it and enjoy the “new” McNab park!

  • Thank you Florida Bulldog for honest reporting.
    J. Smith. Very good question. That sign cost us over $250K and usually when naming occurs, the dedication is done Posthumously or a huge donation is received from the Family/person. Neither applies.

    Concerning McNab Park, when it was initially presented by the CRA well over 18 months ago, the community questioned why the CRA couldn’t purchase other lots around the park to relocate the house to. The CRA knew about these lots and were negligent. The goal to commercialize Robert T. McNab Memorial Park has been supposedly planned during Commissioner Lamar Fisher’s time in office as Mayor. How can the Parks and Recreation lands be taken away from the citizens without a vote? Why have a city charter if there is no accountability?

  • Well said Rodney wright. This was not hidden. Some just won’t have change.

  • Only respond to what you know stop protecting thieves and support your own community They are crooks and it’s in black and white Maybe try attending more meetings and you will know who’s really against the process in the NW district. But sometimes we don’t see nothing wrong with a little stealing or cheating cause what we’ve done

  • Not to debate anyone here, I just feel what they’re pulling should be decided by the voters and not unilaterally by the Commission members.

  • Rodney, what progress has to do with scamming/profiting using inside information? …

  • Another Ponzi Scheme

  • An interesting article!

    By the way, that’s the “million-dollar” Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) building in the background of the’s McNab House photo (the photo of the house being moved onto McNab Park). RMA currently has a consulting contract with the City of Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). The RMA relationship with the Pompano Beach CRA goes back to mid-2009, and from 2007 to 2018 then-mayor Lamar Fisher chaired this CRA.

    The Fisher properties mentioned in the Bulldog article are on the west side of the park and the RMA building is on the east side of the park.

    According to, the lighthouse building in the above photo was sold to East Village 2300 LLC for $975,000 in May of 2015. The LLC is named for the planned East Village project that includes McNab Park and environs. According to, the RMA principals are the managers of the East Village 2300 LLC.

    Why hasn’t Pompano Beach had a Parks and Recreation Director since 2009? Why have we lost several acres of public park land to development and commercialization since 2013?

    There are many questions. Is there something more to this story?

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