Attention residents of Loxahatchee Groves: Are we at the tipping point?
The Charter of the Town of Loxahatchee Groves prohibits anyone who has committed a felony from sitting on the town council. After the March election, Ryan Liang’s 2001 criminal record, a burglary he committed in Monroe County, surfaced. Liang plead “no contest,” adjudication was withheld, yet the crime remains on his record. At the Tuesday, July 7 council meeting, a vote will be held to determine if Florida law, i.e., the town charter, will be upheld and Liang will forfeit his council seat.
In addition, Councilman Jim Rockett is under investigation by the state’s Commission on Ethics, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and civil litigation for his role in the election fraud and his failure to recuse himself from the town’s canvassing board. Rockett could recuse himself from the forfeiture vote, thereby complying with his ethics training and demonstrating his ethical intentions to the town and other agencies. However, Mr. Rockett is in denial of any wrongdoing, and I do not believe he will recuse himself, which, in the end, could foster additional scrutiny.
On July 7, the council will determine if the town’s charter will be upheld. Follow the law, and the council will vote to remove Liang from office, or ignore the law and vote to allow a felon to hold his council seat. Since Liang is the subject of the forfeiture, he cannot vote. Councilmen Rockett and Ron Jarriel are both Liang supporters. If Rockett does not recuse himself, there will probably be a tie vote, no action will be taken, and, for the time being, Liang keeps his seat. If this scenario plays out, Liang will still be subjected to the FDLE investigation for voter fraud and a civil suit.
Residents of the town who are following this saga must come to grips with the potential consequences. The cabal of Rockett, Liang and Jarriel, and their handlers, control the town. For example, as recently as last month, without regard to peripheral details, they voted to dismiss the town management company over the objections of Mayor Dave Browning, Councilman Tom Goltzené and the majority of those residents who spoke during public comment.
The survival of our rural town is dependent on achieving some stability in our town management and a majority on the council that works for the betterment of the town and not themselves and those who control them. Come to Town Hall at 155 F Road on Tuesday, July 7 at 7 p.m.
Dennis Lipp, Loxahatchee Groves