By Selene Raj
As elections close to, politics can turn out to be much more intense and private. Such is the case within the mayoral race for Parkland—whereby one resident has accused a candidate of utilizing her place for inappropriate private acquire — even accusing the Broward County Property Appraiser’s workplace particular favors.
The topic of the accusations is Parkland Metropolis Commissioner Stacy Kagan, who’s working towards fellow Commissioner Wealthy Walker.
On Friday, a resident named David Mejia (David Meijas on Fb) penned a prolonged publish in a number of Fb teams about Kagan’s alleged wrongdoings.
“I understand most people are tired of politics,” he wrote, “but this information should be a very serious concern to the taxpayers, property owners, and voters of Parkland.”
He clarified that the difficulty at hand was not political, however a vital matter of city-wide significance—accusing Kagan of mendacity about having harm to her house, then utilizing her political connections to defraud her insurance coverage firm and decrease her property taxes.
Utilizing information from the Nationwide Water Service, he shared that Parkland sustained most winds of 48 mph to 82 mph and that almost all properties had been solely minimally impacted by Hurricane Irma, which occurred in September of 2017.
He joined a Heron Bay Householders group to inquire about how a lot harm others sustained within the space, below the guise of a possible homebuyer doing analysis—however later clarified that he did this as a result of he was afraid the publish can be deleted in any other case. Thus far, it’s nonetheless lively.
Mejia stated he was shocked to study that regardless of the shortage of a direct hit from Irma, a “politically connected couple” managed to get a substantial discount of their property taxes and acquired a $775,000 settlement from their house insurance coverage service, which was initially rejected.
He speculated that the one approach her house may maintain this a lot harm can be if an unreported twister blew by way of and hit solely her house, to clarify why she was disproportionately hit.
That being unlikely, he instructed that she manipulated the system and exploited loopholes, profiting from political connections for private acquire.
He later stated that this was opinion, and inspired readers to make their very own minds up.
Mejia didn’t embody in his claims and presumably was unaware of on the time, that Kagan’s house was destroyed by black mould as a consequence of water harm after Hurricane Irma. This incident is well-recorded, ensuing within the lack of all her possessions and being displaced for a lot of the following 12 months.
Kagan recounted the expertise to Parkland Discuss and described the incidents that led to the insurance coverage payout and the briefly lowered property taxes.
Throughout Hurricane Irma, Kagan’s house was hit with water harm that was extreme mould harm.
“The water started coming in in the morning, early, around 8:30 a.m. and our house was basically destroyed—first and the second story,” she stated.
The water was coming by way of the partitions, she stated and on to the ground, and wouldn’t cease.
Quickly, the water on the ground and the partitions began altering coloration because the black mould started to type. The exact same day, she filed an insurance coverage declare that was later denied.
“They said it was from rising water due to flooding, even though our second story was soaking wet,” she stated.
The scent in her home worsened because the mould unfold all through all the home, and the Kagans needed to rent corporations to determine what was happening, and if it was harmful.
Inside a number of days, she needed to depart all of it behind.
“A mold inspector came in and said it was not safe to be here,” she stated.
So, together with her two pets and husband together with the garments on her again, she left—and wouldn’t return for not less than eight months.
“I lost almost everything. I would say about 99.99 percent of our possessions, our pictures, our mementos, my wedding dress. We lost everything. There was nothing that wasn’t compromised by mold,” Kagan stated.
Along with each little bit of furnishings and clothes and expertise misplaced to the mould, sentimental gadgets of nice private significance had been irretrievable.
“It’s hard to even describe. I lost my parents at a very young age, and I had very little things from them—a few pictures and a tape of my Dad’s voice—and they were all destroyed,” she stated.
Together with their pets, each Stacy and her husband Richard moved right into a single room a the Marriot lodge whereas the home was being fully ripped aside after which rebuilt after the destruction.
“[During that time] we never missed a mortgage payment, or an HOA payment, on top of paying property taxes and hotel fees,” she stated.
Richard is a CPA, and he or she had an insurance coverage enterprise and The College of Rock enterprise in Boca Raton. Their joint revenue saved them afloat on the time — however nonetheless, it was an incredible monetary pressure. With the insurance coverage cash tied up in litigation, they needed to pay for every thing out of pocket.
“It was very difficult financially,” she stated.
The excellent news was they had been in a position to repay the mortgage after promoting Kagan’s insurance coverage enterprise.
Despite the fact that their house was solely half-way completed, they moved again after roughly eight months, as a result of paying each the lodge and residential bills was unsustainable.
“We moved into the second story and had a makeshift kitchen,” she stated.
On high of the monetary pressure, the months and years following the hurricane introduced a heavy emotional burden to the Kagans—who misplaced each their pets, a dad or mum, sustained accidents. They tried to place private hardships apart to assist lead whereas all of Parkland grieved through the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas taking pictures.
Kagan stated she was dedicated to placing the town’s wants first and didn’t let her struggles overshadow these of the neighborhood—however nonetheless, day-after-day appeared like a battle.
“It was a very humbling, scary thing to know that everything you’ve worked for your whole life, you’ve lost,” she stated.
For the whole thing of their time within the lodge, the couple was additionally in litigation with their insurance coverage firm, who initially denied their declare.
“We chose to challenge our insurance company, and we won because they were wrong,” stated Kagan.
It took them greater than a 12 months to lastly get their settlement—and it was executed after submitting in depth proof of the harm and leaping by way of hoops to be paid for the damages they sustained.
Whereas their house was uninhabitable, the Kagans additionally utilized with the Broward County Property Appraisers workplace to briefly decrease their property taxes and had been accredited.
Mejia took challenge with this, expressing concern over the perceived impropriety of Marty Kiar overseeing the workplace that handles house value determinations, which lowered Kagan’s property taxes for 2 years, then not too long ago endorsing her.
Each Kiar and Kagan deny any impropriety.
“Marty is a wonderful person, and we have a professional relationship,” Kagan stated.
However their working relationship didn’t account for the discount in her taxes, she stated—it was a part of a program out there to all Broward County residents.
“Everything was done correctly, and all the rules were followed,” she stated.
Mejia shared a picture from the Parkland Buildings Division, of a allow with Kiar’s emblem on it, that was up to date to incorporate a handwritten notice, “Vice Mayor of Parkland, ASAP.”
He stated this was proof that she used her energy to leap the road—nevertheless it turned out to be unrelated to the decreasing of taxes.
Kiar stated the handwritten notice wasn’t from his workplace, however inside the metropolis of Parkland itself, and he doesn’t know the place it got here from or who wrote it—and he reaffirmed that there was completely no wrongdoing or favoritism.
Kagan additionally confirmed there was no conspiring and instructed that whoever wrote the notice inside the metropolis in all probability understood what a nightmare she and her household had been going by way of after they wrote the notice—nothing malicious.
“Nobody got any preferential treatment,” stated Kiar.
He stated he felt horrible for Kagan, who was now having to relive a horrific time in her life as a result of it was clearly authorized and uncomplicated.
“The legislature passed a law that if your house had suffered catastrophic damage from Hurricane Irma, you’d be entitled to a property tax abatement,” he stated.
Like dozens of different residents in Broward County, Kagan utilized and certified.
“Stacy provided an extensive amount of information, and she clearly qualified for it under the law,” Kiar stated.
The appliance course of requires verification and proof of property harm from the house owner, and if accredited, their property taxes would briefly be lowered.
“There were 48 Broward County property owners who all qualified for the property tax abatement,” stated Kiar.
Kiar didn’t work immediately on Kagan’s case, Supervisor Maureen Morrison and different workers members did—they usually affirm that Kagan’s harm and declare that led to lowered property taxes was official.
Morrison dealt with many instances, however she distinctly remembers pictures of Kagan’s kitchen being flooded.
“They showed us photos and videos of water intrusion in their house—they showed us significant, catastrophic damage, [so bad that] they had to move out,” she stated.
Morrison stated Kagan supplied a lot proof and equipped the required paperwork, and for her, it’s so simple as that.
“I can guarantee we don’t care who the person is. We care [about] what happened to their property. We treat everyone honestly and fairly,” she stated.
Mejia identified that Kagan’s property taxes had been lowered for each 2018 and 2019, and Morrison confirmed that’s consistent with the method—in January of every 12 months, the property is reappraised, and if the repairs are nonetheless unfinished, the discount nonetheless stands.
Kagan’s home wasn’t absolutely repaired till the third quarter of 2019, so the property taxes had been lowered for 2018 and 2019, after which raised once more as soon as the house was reappraised in 2020.
This wasn’t all. To high issues off, in April of 2019, employees had 300 kilos of 30 x 30 tile leaning on a wall within the house that fell on her foot and broke it in 4 locations. Kagan couldn’t stroll, and it was too swollen to be in a solid. It will definitely took 5 months for her foot to heal.
A buddy of Kagan’s, and a fellow Heron Bay resident, Marci Alman Tromberg, who lives in Heron Cove, remembers every thing she went by way of and that Kagan had even referred to as her through the hurricane.
“It was a complete nightmare—they had water pouring into their house in a lot of different areas. Upstairs and downstairs,” she stated.
Tromberg stated that she and a few neighbors skilled comparable harm in Heron Cove, however to not Kagan’s extent. That doesn’t make Kagan’s expertise any much less actual, she stated.
Kagan herself doesn’t perceive why her harm was so unhealthy however did notice that she lives on an odd lot with little or no protection.
“Nobody would put themselves through this, and go through years of torture, nobody would do this,” Tromberg stated, refuting any implication that Kagan would have purposefully sought out hurricane damages.
She emphasised that even Kagan’s opponent, Walker, is aware of what she went by way of.
Tromberg recalled a time after Kagan’s father-in-law’s funeral, the place she sat in Kagan’s unfinished home, right down to the studs after being gutted due to the mould.
“He knows what she went through—I met [Walker] and his wife there that day,” she stated.
Whereas Mejia didn’t share who he helps for Mayor, Walker is the one different candidate certified within the run for mayor.
Parkland Discuss contacted Walker to see what his tackle this accusation was.
Walker, a colleague of Kagan’s, stated that he didn’t need to remark a lot on the story as he doesn’t consider it’s his place, however did attest to the truth that he witnessed the harm to Kagan’s home.
He confirmed Tromberg’s reminiscence of his presence that day and stated he did attend the gathering after the funeral.
“I knew she sustained damage to her home,” he stated, however stated he couldn’t communicate to its extent.
Walker stated he didn’t know Mejia in any capability, or who he was supporting within the mayoral race, however did say that he would by no means personally disparage anyone.
“My campaign is 100 percent about positivity. I live in this community, I’m raising my family here, and to me, this race is all about positivity and the community. That’s what I ask my supporters [to be about], as well,” he stated.
Mejia, who made the preliminary accusation, selected to not remark additional on the story.
Kagan’s most rapid objective, she stated, isn’t just to refute the unfaithful allegations towards her, however to remind residents to maintain excellent data of every thing they do of their properties, and to take images and movies of every thing they’ve.
She hopes residents are inspired to evaluation their insurance coverage paperwork.
“It’s hard to prove what you have,” she stated, “But I kept very good records.”
So far as the allegations go, she doesn’t perceive why Mejia didn’t come to her if he was involved that she acted inappropriately when she may have simply cleared it up.
“In my opinion, it’s a personal attack I don’t know the person or what their motivations were, and I would never personally attack someone like that—not having the facts or the information,” she stated.
Kagan stated that to begrudge somebody for being devastated in a hurricane is a horrible factor to do.
After volunteering to undergo any line of questioning and presenting a barrage of images, movies, and paperwork to clear her identify, Kagan is keen to maneuver on.
“It was a very emotional time in my life and my husband’s life, and it was extremely stressful, and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I would never want to go through this again.”
Ship your information to Parkland’s #1 Information Supply, Parkland Discuss.
- Selene Raj is a author and a Florida Worldwide College graduate. She’s accomplished her Grasp’s in Mass Communications in 2020 and has been residing in Coral Springs since 2004. She is passionate concerning the communities she lives and works in and loves reporting and sharing tales which are as advanced and significant because the individuals who stay in them.