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Opa-locka to keep city attorney — for the moment

Opa-locka City Attorney Joseph Geller’s job is safe—at least for now.

Commissioner Timothy Holmes agreed to withdraw a resolution he presented at the Dec. 11 City Commission meeting calling for Geller to be removed from his position.

Geller said he would propose a plan to help mitigate some of the complaints about the timeliness of his service to the city. He plans to bring in someone to have daily office hours in city hall in addition to his hours working with the city.

“We can try it going forward, try it for a period of time, and see if it results in something that will satisfy the concerns that have been raised,” said Geller.

Holmes said that he will give Geller’s plan a chance, but will only change his stance if the service changes soon.

“I’m not basing this on how I feel. This is not personal, this is city business,” Holmes said. “If I don’t see any changes before the first meeting in January, I’m bringing this resolution back.”

Commissioner Dorothy Johnson said she will not co-sponsor the resolution if it is brought back, saying she felt disrespected by Holmes withdrawing the item.

“I don’t care about no co-sponsor, I brought the resolution,” said Holmes.

Commissioner Luis Santiago was supportive of Geller and his law firm, noting that the city avoided an injunction in a recent lawsuit against the city. He also felt like the timing was wrong for the potential removal.

“Let’s have some mercy in this time of the year. Let’s have some peace in the city of Opa-locka,” said Santiago.

Holmes originally called for Geller’s removal at a commission meeting in November and claimed that employees in the city clerk and city manager’s offices had to work overtime in order to prepare the agenda packets for commission meetings because Geller wasn’t providing documents soon enough.

The city’s charter states that the attorney reports to the commission and can be removed by a majority vote. Geller and his firm are paid about $16,700 monthly.

He was removed as Miami Lakes’ town attorney at a special meeting Oct. 30, with council members citing concerns about promptness and cost.

Geller has served as Opa-locka’s city attorney since 2009 when he was first hired on an interim basis. He also serves as village attorney for El Portal. He’s an attorney with the law firm Greenspoon Marder.

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