By Tim O’Meilia
Come March, South Palm Beach residents won’t have Martin Millar to kick around anymore.
The embattled mayor said he is bowing out of town politics when his term ends in the spring.
“I’m finished. I’m done. Politics is not my forte,” Millar said before the Nov. 23 Town Council meeting.
His retirement decision comes after he agreed to pay a $3,000 fine levied by the Florida Commission on Ethics for his behavior during a visit to a West Palm Beach strip club and steakhouse in August 2009.
“There are other things in life I’d rather do. It’s time to move on,” said Millar, who served four years as a councilman before his election as mayor in 2009. “If you count my six years here along with all my civil service time as a police officer and firefighter, I’ve been a public servant for 32 years.”
“Let other people take their part,” he said.
Millar signed a consent agreement with the state ethics officials in early November, agreeing to a civil penalty of a $3,000 fine and censure and a public reprimand. The commission will consider the agreement at his Dec. 3 meeting, but such consent agreements typically are approved.
The mayor could have demanded a public hearing and fought the charges.
“It’s what they offered me,” Millar said of the fine. “I felt I should take my punishment and move on.”
In the agreement, Millar admitted he violated state law “by attempting to intimidate or impress a club manager and police officers to secure special privilege and benefit or exemption for himself.”
Investigators found that Millar was tossed out of the club after he refused to stop shining a flashlight on the dancers. Millar flashed his badge and told West Palm Beach police that he knew various high-ranking law enforcement officials and he should be allowed back into the club.
Later, after riding home with a tow truck driver, Millar asked a South Palm Beach police officer for a ride to the emergency room for his aching neck. He was refused, paramedics were called and transported him.
He also sought a ride home from the hospital from police, but Police Chief Roger Crane said an officer could pick him up on his break, using the officer’s own car.
Last month, Millar said the evening at Rachel’s was a mistake. Resident John Taft, who has since died, filed the ethics complaint in November 2009.
The mayor also paid two fines totaling $450 in 2009 for circulating campaign material without the proper paid political advertisement disclaimer.
Five ethics complaints and one elections complaint against other South Palm Beach officials remain unresolved. All six were filed by Pjeter Paloka, a co-owner of the Palm Beach Oceanfront Inn.
Paloka alleged that council members Stella Jordan and Susan Lillybeck benefited from campaigning against the expansion of the inn from two stories to 10 stories before they sought office. He also claimed that Planning Board members Michael Nevard, Dee Robinson and Pat Festino were biased against the inn’s proposal.
Paloka complained to elections officials that Jordan used the name of a defunct political committee without permission on petitions in which she sought signatures to change the town charter.
Millar, who opposed an earlier plan to expand the inn to 14 stories but backed the later 10-story proposal, said he won’t disappear from the scene.
“I’ll still come to meetings,” he said. “I’ll be gone but I
won’t be forgotten.”