By The Sunny Isles Beach Reporter


Based on his mailers and presentations, it is clear that Lew Thaler does not understand how our local government is structured and is intended to run. We would like to help him out (as well as those voters he may have confused).

Our City Charter acts as our City’s constitution and clearly describes that we operate under a Commission-Manager form of government, very much like other  municipalities in South Florida. The City Commission is responsible for setting policy, approving budgets, determining tax rates, hiring and firing charter officers and the development of community land policies.  The Commission, which includes the Mayor, reviews and votes on the policies that define official parameters, including those within which the City Manager must perform his duties. The Commission works on a part-time basis, which allows our elected officials to serve our City in addition to having independent careers.   As with other municipalities, the part-time nature of the Commission’s role in Sunny Isles is reflected in the salaries our City currently offers: the Mayor receives an annual salary of $14,000, whereas the City Manager receives an annual salary of $212,000.

The City Manager, selected by the City Commission, is responsible for the administration of all departments and divisions of City government and for carrying out policies adopted by the City Commission. He is responsible for the appointment, supervision and removal of all City employees except our City attorney and his staff. He prepares and submits budgets to the Commission, an annual report on finances and administrative activities of the City. (More information can be found at ).  In short, the City Manager, a full-time well compensated professional, is the one who manages our City.

Lew Thaler is disingenuous when he states that he will be your “full time mayor” knowing that one is not required or needed.  Thaler wants voters to believe that he is more qualified than a business executive because he can offer quantity of time, while we prefer the idea of Bud Scholl offering  more than ample quality time.

What Lew Thaler also fails to mention is that Commissioner Scholl will keep regularly scheduled hours at City Hall. Furthermore, when not physically at City Hall, Bud Scholl will still be  readily accessible. In today’s world, individuals are no longer tied to a particular desk at a particular place, but rather execute in a more mobile, fluid manner through various technologies. Bud Scholl and most residents understand and prefer this. Perhaps Lew Thaler does not, and as such continues to push his antiquated notion.

Unlike Lew Thaler, informed voters understand that being a municipal leader can, and often does, go hand in hand with being a successful business person.  For example:

  • Aventura, our neighbor to the west, had Mayor Jeff Perlow who successfully combined being mayor and a partner in a law firm. Aventura with a population of 36,981 is much larger than Sunny Isles Beach (population 21,395). Their charter specifically states “the position of Mayor is considered to be part-time.” The annual salaries for the Mayor and City Manager positions reflect the different level of responsibility and are similar to those in Sunny Isles: Aventura’s part- time Mayor earns $10,000, while the full-time City Manager’s salary is $231,974.72.

  • Miami Beach, our neighbor to the south has Mayor Philip Levine, a successful businessman who is currently CEO of Royal Media Partners, the exclusive partner of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. Miami Beach’s population is 90,588.  The part-time mayor’s annual salary is $10,000, while the full-time City Manager’s annual salary is $255,000.

  • Let’s not forget that a little known place called New York City, with its population of over 8,000,000, had Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a high profile billionaire businessman who managed to run the Big Apple quite successfully while also handling his many business interests around the globe.

Of course, we could go on and on.  But we won’t.  You get the point.

The choice for this mayoral race is:  Bud Scholl, a successful businessman whose time management skills are so exceptional that he has been able to be a family man and grow various businesses while successfully serving as Commissioner in Sunny Isles Beach.  Or, Lew Thaler, a man who apparently, and by his own repeated admission,  needs to work full time hours to perform a part time job.


Quality or Quantity? It’s up to you Sunny Isles Beach voters!

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  1. max stappler says:

    thanks for you informative info. I will not be in SIB until nov 15. Can I vote with a mail in ballot both for mayor and in the general election? I need some info on how to vote with a mail in ballot. Thanks.

  2. Editor says:

    My pleasure! The deadline to request an Absentee Ballot is Wednesday, October 29th, however I would suggest doing so promptly. You can make your request by phone at (305) 499-8444 or online at The absentee ballot includes all local and national election candidates and ballot issues.

  3. adita vazquez says:

    Thank you for the tutorial on how the city is operated.I am a new resident here, so this info is very useful in making a decision.

  4. Bob Welsh says:

    I’m very impressed with your comparison of Sunny Isles Beach with our neighboring cities. You neglected to mention that we have more city owned parks than Aventura, Bal Harbor, Surfside, and Golden Beach combined because we had hands on daily involvement of ELECTED officials. We have more beach access points than Golden Beach, Bal Harbor, and Surfside combined because of active ELECTED officials participation. We have an “A” rated public school, built and paid for by the School Board, because of ELECTED officials working in tandem for a common goal. Those “other” cities are run by strong managers. Your selective comparison points are weak.

    • Editor says:

      You seem to be confusing policy with execution. Our article clearly stated that the Commission sets the policy. That is the case with every example you give; it is the Commission who sets the policy, but then it is the City Manager and staff who execute it to create the actual vision of that policy. This is what happens when everyone is doing their respective jobs. Any elected official hanging around City Hall all day had little to do with those projects getting completed. Our intention is to show our readers how our City really works and that the full-time issue your group has so vigorously raised is in fact a non-issue.

      You also state “Those ‘other’ cities are run by strong managers,” which seems to infer that the City Manager’s function in Sunny Isles Beach is a lesser one and not as important. That is not so. Our City Manager Chris Russo, has made invaluable contributions to our City through his excellent execution of policies set by our Commission. Attempting to marginalize the vital role he performs for our City simply to promote a candidate is inappropriate.

  5. Bob Welsh says:

    Isn’t it fantastic that our hands on, full time, elected officials have just voted to maintain a $19 million emergency reserve fund. This was accomplished without raising the property tax mil rate. You are the SIB REPORTER. Show us some journalism. Compare us to other cities by comparing the amount of reserves per capita. Let’s see if a full time hands on Mayor has any effect.

    • Lili says:

      Well, well, well, Mr. Welsh…. Do tell who are these full time elected officials you are referring to. . Do you mean Bud Scholl? Jennifer Levin? Isaac Aelion? Jeanette Gatto? None of these individuals have 40 hour weeks in City Hall, and most, if not all, have careers and businesses to run. So if not these part time commissioners, please tell us who cast these votes necessary for the emergency reserve fund. Enquiring minds want to know.

  6. Bob Welsh says:

    Except for Aventura which has a cash cow in the Mall, how about the mil rate in S.I.B. compared to those other STRONG MANAGER cities. You will see that full time involvement and hands on supervision by elected officials has positive consequences for the residents of the city.

    • Lili says:

      Well, well, well, Mr. Welsh… if what you and Thaler’s team really want is a full time mayor, Mr. Thaler, as chair of the Charter Revision Committee should have proposed it. The job description is the job description. He had his chance to change it and he did not. Now he is trying to sell the voters a fake issue, one that, apparently, you have bought wholesale.

  7. Warren Campbell says:

    I applaud the SIB Reporter for their succinct explanation of how our City is run. I can see no factual misrepresentation in their comparison of SIB to Aventura, Miami Beach or even Bloomberg’s NYC.
    I did see Mr.Welsh”s incomplete and inaccurate comparison of material facts in defense of Lew Thaler.
    To Wit:
    Bal Harbour, Golden Beach and Surfside are much older communities whose land use and public amenities were far more “developed” than our City which sprang up in a flurry of development that is still ongoing.

    ELECTED OFFICIALS seems to be Mr. Welsh’s mantra in support of Lew Thaler. Nothing more substantive or contradictory of the SIB Reporters article. I wonder why he submitted his rebuttal about municipalities that were not the subject of the SIB Reporters article?

    The positive notes about our City I agree with totally.

    What the voting public should know is that Bud Scholl was ACTIVELY INVOLVED in the formation of this City and it’s policies long before Lew Thaler was elected to the Commission.

    It’s my opinion that George “Bud” Scholl would make the finest Mayor that this City has ever seen.

    PS/ Bob, I think the SIB Reporter offers fine journalism. Just because you don’t like what they print doesn’t mean it isn”t TRUE.

  8. Warren Campbell says:

    PPS? I would take QUALITY over QUANTITY every time.

    Our City deserves that much!

  9. Bob Welsh says:

    I think your readers are smarter than you realize. My comparisons are quite clear. Our city, Sunny Isles Beach, had a full time, hands on, Mayor and Vice Mayor for nine years. The comparisons I made were with our neighboring cities that are organized the same way. We have exceeded each one in almost every category of measurement that I used as examples. Chris Russo is an outstanding City Manager, but he was not on board for all of that time period; this is not an indictment against Mr. Russo (which you have introduced) but a round of applause for Edelcup and Thaler who have been our de facto leaders.

    • Editor says:

      Since you seem fixated on SIB City Managers we will remind you that thanks to the diligence of our Full-Time Mayor and Vice Mayor, a prior City Manager remained in office although he had reportedly terrorized female employees at City Hall. It was only after the SIB Reporter published a scathing expose and included an investigation report that this person was fired….or did he retire? We’re unsure since the Full-Time Mayor and Vice Mayor remained tight-lipped about this whole sorry episode.

  10. Bob Welsh says:

    Lili, I love the way you start your comments with the lines from the song made popular by Mary Travis.

    • Lili says:

      Actually, it’s a reference to a vehicle that was driving around on election day in 2010. I thought you might have seen it.

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