Boca Raton mayor Scott Singer

Boca Raton Stopped Key COVID Report Just Before Presidential Election

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Mayor Scott Singer Is Republican. Detailed COVID Enforcement Report Ended In Late September.

Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer

BY: ANDREW COLTON | EDITOR AND PUBLISHER
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BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The City of Boca Raton stopped producing a key COVID enforcement report just weeks before the presidential election. It is unclear if Mayor Scott Singer, a Republican, was involved in the decision to stop recording COVID complaints and dispositions in the city.

Mayor Singer, City Manager Leif Ahnell, an assistant city manager, and the city’s spokeswoman continue to dodge questions about COVID-19 enforcement. The unprecedented silence comes as Palm Beach County — and the State of Florida — teeter on record setting COVID death rates.

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BocaNewsNow.com asked the City of Boca Raton — more than two weeks ago — for comment and explanation after several readers provided photos of area establishments violating COVID-19 rules and restrictions. Those establishments included Biergarten and Aloha Food Shack. But City of Boca Raton Spokeswoman Chrissy Gibson wouldn’t answer — only telling BocaNewsNow.com to tell readers to contact Boca Raton’s Code Enforcement division if they’re concerned.

biergarten boca raton
Biergarten Boca Raton on January 9, 2021.

That led us to ask for a list of everything City of Boca Raton Code Enforcement Officers are doing to enforce social distancing and masking in restaurants. More than a week later, we received a spreadsheet with no key and no detailed information. The spreadsheet does not report the nature of the complaint. It does not report what code enforcement officers found. It does not report what officers did. Of the hundreds of entries, only a few are labeled COVID or “Emergency.” The spreadsheet can be downloaded at the end of this report.

Months earlier, the City of Boca Raton provided BocaNewsNow.com with an extensive, detailed document highlighting everything Code Enforcement officers were doing to prevent COVID within city limits. But creation of the document, according to records clerk Phil Daly and assistant City Manager Michael Woika, ended in September — just 6 weeks before Election Day.

“The creation of this document was discontinued on September 21, 2020,” wrote Boca Raton records clerk Phil Daly in an email to BocaNewsNow.com.

You can view that document below. [If the document does not appear in your news app, click here for our official report on the web].

CodeEnforcementv1

Mayor Singer, a Republican, did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the City’s current enforcement policies. We asked him several times about Biergarten and Aloha Food Shack. While he responded on other issues, he ignored COVID enforcement questions relating to those restaurants.

Biergarten is part of a restaurant group that includes Trattoria Romano and Cannoli Kitchen. The restaurants employ many in Boca Raton.

Aloha Restaurant
Aloha Food Shack in Boca Raton in Early December 2020. Packed, Few Masks.

While the Palm Beach County COVID Education and Compliance Team is responsible for unannounced inspections and business citations, officials tell BocaNewsNow.com that a city such as Boca Raton — with its own code enforcement division — is expected to enforce COVID rules day-to-day. While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has prohibited fines against individuals, businesses are required to follow executive orders, maintain social distancing and mask compliance.

We posed compliance questions to Boca Raton City Manager Leif Ahnell. He did not respond. Assistant City Manager Michael Woika, while assuring BocaNewsNow.com that restaurants like Biergarten and Aloha Food Shack are not being given preferential treatment, also did not answer questions about enforcement. Spokeswoman Chrissy Gibson has not provided comment on COVID enforcement in weeks.

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