FloridaBulldog by Dan Chrstensen
March 8, 2019
Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry was supposed to testify Thursday afternoon in a high-profile civil lawsuit that pits Davie recycling businessman Ron Bergeron against trash disposal giant Waste Management. But Henry’s video-taped deposition was abruptly canceled when Waste Management’s lawyers walked out after objecting to the presence of a reporter for Florida Bulldog.
Henry was subpoenaed last month by Bergeron’s Fort Lauderdale attorney, Mitchell Berger. The Waste Management attorneys later indicated they, too, would question Henry, who as Broward’s top executive oversaw garbage disposal contracts and planning for the county’s future role in solid waste.
By law, Broward County has “the responsibility and power for the operation of solid waste disposal facilities to meet the needs of all incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county.” Broward also has the declared goal of achieving 75 percent countywide recycling.
What questions would have been asked of Henry are not known. But because the deposition of a public official about a public contract was to be taken in a public building – County Hall – the public seemed entitled to have a media representative attend.
It was not to be. “The reporter refuses to leave the room,” said Waste Management attorney Brian K. Hole, before he and his colleagues picked up their boxes and briefcases and departed. Hole is a partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Holland & Knight.
Last August, the court issued an unusual order granting Waste Management’s request to keep confidential transcripts of depositions taken of public officials. The company sought the order during the May 11 deposition of Southwest Ranches City Attorney Keith Poliakoff.