By: Anne Geggis
She said “good job, mayor,” but a police report indicates Margate Mayor Anthony Caggiano took it as anything but a compliment.
Former Margate commissioner Lesa “Le” Peerman said she made a point to the city’s current mayor — and patted him on the chest as she did it — and now he’s filed a battery charge against her.
Mayor Anthony Caggiano’s name is blacked out on the incident report filed Tuesday, and he declined to confirm that he is the complainant, but former city Commissioner Lesa “Le” Peerman said she’s “100 percent” sure the report filed on Tuesday, is from when she patted Caggiano just below his shoulder saying, “Good job, mayor.” It was filed a few hours after their exchange.
The investigation is open, and a decision hasn’t been made about forwarding charges to the state attorney’s office, according to Margate police.
The victim invoked Marsy’s Law, the new law that keeps victim’s name out of crime reports, but the account in the police report matches Peerman’s description of her encounter with Caggiano — to a degree.
They were both attending a City College session at the public works building, 102 N. Rock Island Road, Tuesday night, wherein residents can learn more about how the city works.
Peerman says she was offended that Caggiano claimed the public works department was understaffed because previous commissions — presumably when Peerman was on it — had irresponsibly lowered the city’s tax rate.
At about 7:30 p.m., as the session was ending, she approached him with her sarcastic compliment for his speech, she said.
According to the police report, though, her dose of sarcasm came with more than a pat. “(The victim) stated he was struck three times against his chest with enough force that it caused him to move backward.”
She, however, adamantly insists it was three pats “right below the shoulder, above the boob area.”
Peerman also disagreed with the process to hire Coral Springs City Commissioner Larry Vignola as Margate’s new assistant city manager and said at the workshop they told the residents applications were only requested to make hiring Vignola “legal.”
“They had the votes for Larry before the applications were taken….it is the whole process that stinks,” she said and added that her only hope is that Vignola teaches the commission how they are supposed to behave.
After the incident, Caggiano refused fire and rescue transport, the report says. Photos were taken of the affected area.
The mayor would not comment on whether he is the victim in the report, other than to acknowledge an incident occurred, “that doesn’t reflect the greatness of our city.”
“I didn’t provoke anyone,” he said.
On whether he blamed Peerman for the city’s current fiscal situation, he said, “Ms. Peerman gets the same representation as any other taxpayer in this city and the same respect as any other citizen in this city.”
Peerman said the two have a history, however. She served on the commission from 2011 until 2018.
“Before he was elected he would beat me up from the podium, and after he got elected he would beat me up from the dais,” she said.
- Anne Geggis has been a newspaper reporter for 30 years, most recently at the Sun Sentinel. She graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., with a double major in journalism and sociology.
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