Palmetto Bay Councilman David Singer readily admits he has a bit of a temper. In fact, the newly elected politician is suing a former opponent who posted audio of an expletive-packed tirade he left in a voicemail message.
But Singer, who was elected to the council last year, also says he has a hard-and-fast rule when it comes to violence: "I never hit anybody first."
So he claims a Monroe County Sheriff's Office report that names him the aggressor in a recent tussle at Key Largo's Gilbert's Resort is inaccurate. The report, first obtained by Eye on Miami, alleges Singer grabbed a man around the neck and was then punched in the face.
"It was 30 seconds of stupidity on everybody's part," Singer says.
There's no dispute over what led to the July 15 fracas. The councilman was trying to dock his boat at the popular dive that Saturday afternoon but grew upset about children jumping off the docks and swimming in the boat slips. Singer, a father, says he was worried about the kids, whose parents were ignoring the situation.
"You've got parents who apparently were not watching their kids, and the kids were in danger where they were swimming," he says. "And then when you try to tell the parents, they jump down your throat."
Singer and the other parents began arguing. The councilman stepped off his boat and told them: "If you're going to talk shit, do it while I'm on land." After that, the accounts diverge.
Vivian Guadarrama, who identified herself as an off-duty Coral Gables Police officer, told Monroe County Sheriff's deputies that Singer grabbed her husband William by the neck and that William then hit Singer to defend himself. She added that there were so many people involved it was difficult to tell exactly who did what.
Singer told the deputies that William Guadarrama hit him first. He said that he was the one who acted in self-defense and that his son stepped in after the councilman was attacked by multiple people.
The Monroe deputies let Singer go but wrote in the report that he was suspected of simple battery. Monroe County court records do not show any charges filed against him. Singer says he didn't know about the report until someone sent it to him and that five friends who were with him that day can vouch for his version of events.
The snafu was posted on Gilbert's Facebook page, and Singer and another commenter wrote that the establishment should stop people from swimming in the dock area and direct them to the beach. The bar's Facebook account responded that it doesn't condone jumping from the docks but that "parental supervision is a must," at one point asking sarcastically if it should "ban children."
But Singer says that by last weekend, Gilbert's had put up signs and fences.
"I wish it didn't happen," he says, "but I'm glad it happened if I know that the outcome will be that nobody gets hurt in the future."
As Eye on Miami first noted, Singer's temper has been caught on camera, such as the time he blew up at a man filming a Halloween celebration in his neighborhood:
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In December, Singer sued David Zisman, who'd run against him for village council, after Zisman uploaded a YouTube clip of an obscenity-filled phone call. Singer alleged Zisman had recorded the call without his consent and had conspired to slander him in a series of emails.
A judge signed an order dismissing the case July 12 but gave Singer 30 days to amend his case.