Where does North Miami Beach Mayor Anthony DeFillipo dwell?
Is he shacking up in a cozy condominium on NE 170th Street in the city he's supposed to represent or lurking within the expanse of a stately two-story house in the town of Davie in Broward County?
This question has been top of mind for town commissioners and many city residents for the past two months, ever since DeFillipo was first publicly accused of living in Davie, about 15 miles from North Miami Beach, in violation of the city's charter. In December, a resident filed a complaint against the mayor with the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, alleging that he lives in the Broward County municipality, which would disqualify him from remaining in office.
DeFillipo repeatedly has denied the accusations, saying the claims against him are politically motivated. He says he's a bona fide North Miami Beach resident but owns investment properties across South Florida.
"This is my livelihood. It’s what I live from... I buy, sell, and invest," the mayor said at a December 20 commission meeting, during which the issue of his residency came up.
Facing calls to step down, a revolt on the city commission, and mounting allegations that he made Davie his new abode, DeFillipo insisted he wasn't going anywhere. The city government has since been brought to a standstill.
It's been a labyrinthine saga, with bad blood bubbling between DeFillipo on the one hand and Commissioner McKenzie Fleurimond and Vice Mayor Michael Joseph on the other.
For those who need a quick refresher on the fiasco, here's a chronological look back at how we got here:
December 2021: After more than a decade of owning his family home near Greynolds Park Elementary School in North Miami Beach, DeFillipo sold the homestead residence.
July 2022: According to Broward County property records, DeFillipo bought a home in the newly constructed Sierra Ranches neighborhood of Davie for $1.2 million.
December 17, 2022: A resident files a complaint with the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust against DeFillipo, alleging that he resides in Davie.
December 20, 2022: The ethics complaint against DeFillipo falls front and center at the North Miami Beach city commission meeting. Commissioner Fleurimond questions DeFillipo's status as mayor and refuses to vote on DeFillipo's motion to terminate city attorney Hans Ottinot. Lacking a quorum, DeFillipo's attempt to fire Ottinot fails.
January 13, 2023: Ottinot receives and concurs with a legal opinion from a third-party lawyer who determined that DeFillipo has forfeited his seat as mayor by moving outside the city limits. The opinion cites a private investigation by a community group, which found DeFillipo's name registered in the access box to the Davie home and turned up photos and video allegedly showing that the mayor lives primarily at that residence.
January 17, 2023: Michael Pizzi, DeFillipo's attorney, files a lawsuit asking a Miami-Dade County Circuit Court judge to allow North Miami Beach to govern with four commissioners instead of a five-person quorum as required by the city charter.
During a city commission meeting later that evening, Ottinot declares the meeting illegal and leaves after refusing to recognize DeFillipo as mayor. Commissioner McKenzie Fleurimond and Michael Joseph chose not to attend, questioning whether DeFillipo had the authority to preside over the meeting; Commissioner Daniela Jean is also absent. With only three of the six city commissioners present — and thus no quorum — nearly two hours of public comment from residents ensues, during which many called out the city for being dysfunctional.
January 23, 2023: DeFillipo confirms through his attorney to the Miami Herald that he sat on the board of the Sierra Ranches Community Association, the homeowners association for the Davie home he purchased last July.
January 31, 2023: A Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge rules that North Miami Beach cannot reduce the number of commissioners required for a quorum to get business done at meetings. Judge Valerie Manno Schurr says she cannot change the city charter, which requires commissioners to operate with a five-person quorum.