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The Palm Beach Post c SECTION B. RENTAL DEALS Car rental prices are creeping Tower - if you're traveling here from the North. BUSINESS, 9B COLD, WET WINTER Meteorologists say El Nino will bring us frequent cold fronts accompanied by rain. STORY, 3B WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1997 LOCAL NEWS Mayor, commissioners to settle feud in court v y By Marcia Gelbart Palm Beach Post Staff Writer ; . WEST PALM BEACH - Mayor Nancy Graham is about to get sued by her own commissioners. -They say she has overstepped her authority by vetoing decisions that were theirs to make. Graham says she has not r And now both sides say they'll spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to hire lawyers and ask a judge to decide who's right ; "I think it's ludicrous," Graham said Tuesday. "But it's one of these red-herring things that need to be resolved." For over a month, Commissioners Joel Daves and Al Zucaro have been exploring the idea of suing Graham, spurred by her recent vetoes of an appointment to the golf commission and the award of a cleaning contract The second veto resulted in a lawsuit that also challenges Graham's veto authority. Daves has already interviewed three lawyers and said Monday he will speak with more. Commissioners will vote Dec. 15 on hiring an outside counsel. "My observation has been the mayor has been using her veto power more and more, and, as a commission, we have to clarify what her authority is," he said. The city attorney cannot represent commissioners, Daves and Zucaro have argued, because he serves at Graham's pleasure. They appear to have enough support on the commission to proceed, though they haven't yet said how much they are prepared to spend. Graham calls the pending lawsuit "a power attack." "It's an attack on the strong-mayor system more than anything else," she said. She has begun preparing for the suit asking Boca Raton attorney Robert Rivas for a written legal opinion. Graham, who said she intends to hire Rivas to represent her in court, said she paid less than $10,000 for his services out of the mayor's budget The city code allows the mayor to spend up to $10,000 of this money without commission approval. The mayor was given veto power in 1991, when the city switched to a strong-mayor system. Graham argues she has merely exercised those rights, which allow her to veto ordinances and resolutions. Any action that is not an ordinance such as an announcement, a repeal or a contract is automatically a resolution, Rivas wrote in a memo that Graham released. Commissioner Jeff Koons has said he supports hiring an outside counsel. Commissioner Mary Hooks is in Israel this week. Commissioner Howard Warshauer hasn't decided. This shouldn't be going to court, but back out to voters in a referendum," Warshauer said. ON THE HOT SEAT: Mayor Nancy Graham calls the lawsuit 'an attack on the strong-mayor system more than anything else.' Sprucing up Clematis Street U"1 U.I Frank Cerabino Good golly, Miss Molly, there's 26 in that aquarium 'm ix s 1 rHr"ki' "l t i' mmL v ! If you live in Palm Beach Gardens, you can't nave more than 25 fish in your household aquarium. Really. It's the law. "Not more than 25 fish may be kept or maintained in an aquarium," reads the city ordinance, which was passed a couple of weeks ago by a unanimous vote of the city council. : Imagine that A guppy-density law. A piece of gourami setback legislation. Bleeding-heart concern for bleeding-heart tetras. Help for domino damsels in distress. II didn't realize that fish zoning had come of age. Or that Palm Beach Gardens code enforcers could knock on doors to investigate fish-crowding complaints. f "Step back, ma'am," they might say while whipping out their SWAT Suburban Warfare Aquarium Team identification badges. "We just need to count your fish, ma'am. We've got a confidential informant who says you've got at least 30 hump-, back limias, sailfin mollies and coolie loaches in that tank next to the sofa." . lit case the neighbors rat on you : ! The ordinance was passed to deal with nuisance animal complaints in the city. if 1 1 -:-tr - - -4-- JENNIfER POOISStaft Prtotographer WEST PALM BEACH - Kevin Hallahan of Landscape Consulting Service Square on Clematis Street, where it will be the centerpiece of a tree-of Boynton Beach was part of the crew that set up a 45-foot Norway lighting ceremony Saturday as part of the city's Kaleidoscope '97, 'a spruce tree downtown Tuesday. The tree was set up at Centennial celebration of many cultures,' city officials say. Fixing 1-95 cloverleaf barely draws ho-hum Okeechobee Blvd ,, ,, I, its .jf. Belvedere Rd. !' j A Palm Beach wi International i '-.Airport HjpHnpMMWMMn ; f fxver 'Southern Blvd. ,. , (X j Bint, jQ-" Cloverleaf LJr parking lot reserved for the event at Palm Beach Atlantic College was nearly empty. Plans show the removal of all but one of the interchange's existing cloverleaf-style ramps. Only the on-ramp from eastbound Okeechobee to northbound 1-95 would remain. A new bridge over the interstate would be wider and taller. And a ramp soaring above that would connect cars from westbound Okeechobee to the southbound lanes of 1-95. "My main concern is the cost of the flyover," said Donn Brammer, a pastor at First Christian Church on Congress Avenue, northwest of the interchange. "If the cloverleaf could handle the traffic and we could save $2 million, then do we really need it?" The proposed interchange would The state's plans for a radically new Okeechobee Boulevard interchange prompted little discussion. By Matt Reed Palm Beach Post Staff Writer WEST PALM BEACH - City leaders have griped for years about a proposed interchange at Interstate 95 and Okeechobee Boulevard, but the public seemed to react with a yawn to plans presented Tuesday. About a dozen residents showed up to look over maps and drawings at a state Department of Transportation workshop. There were no demonstrations by residents or city officials, as there have been at other 1-95 hearings. A UNA LAWSONStaff Artist transform the appearance of the primary entrance to downtown West Palm Beach while easing congestion foreseen by traffic planners. Mease see INTERCHANGE75 "That's weird," said Jeanne Mango, who manages Petland of Palm Beach, which sells aquariums and fish in Palm Beach Gardens. "I never thought of aquarium fish as being a nuisance to neighbors. About the only bothersome thing fish do is eat each other." I Mango said the fish-density guideline for aquariums is 1 inch of fish for every gallon of water; which means it's not uncommon for the popular 55-gallon tanks to have more than 25 fish in them. 1 "They're crazy," said Todd Bailey, the owner of East Coast Aquarium Service in Riviera Beach, when he heard of the new ordinance. "We've got some residences that have 1,000-gallon tanks." Even Palm Beach, which limits the total number of household cats and dogs to 10, has specifically exempted any limits on aquarium fish. The Palm Beach Gardens regulation of aquarium fish is not modeled after any other city's laws, said Carole Wallace, one of the city attorneys in Palm Beach Gardens. It happened because city officials inadvertently repealed pet regulations while updating city codes, and a recent cat problem made council members want to put tough, new animal nuisance laws on the books. , - In the rewrite, council members decided that no Gardens resident should be allowed to have more than four pets in any species. You could have five pets (say three dogs, and two cats) as long as each weighs no more than 10 pounds, according to the new law. And you could have more than 10 household pets (say six mice, five gerbils, and a canary) as long as they weigh no more than 1 pound each. It's a strange bit of lawmaking. For example, you could have three 100-pound dogs and you're OK. But if you have two turtles, a hamster, a parrot and a 12-pound dachshund, you've got an animal nuisance on your hands because your five pets don't each weigh 10 pounds or less. , Discussion on regulating the weightier pets led to a question about fish. . , "The staff thought we should include fish to keep people from breeding them," Mayor Joe Rus-so said. How can you tell who's the gill-ty party? But the law doesn't say how many aquariums a person can have in a home. So, it really doesn't limit anything but fish density in any given aquarium. I pointed this out to Mayor Russo. " , "I felt we should have taken the fish out" he said. "I mean, who cares how many fish people have? If you have 40 dogs, that could affect people, but 40 fish? We don't feel that this ordinance is perfect." So the city won't be going out of its way to reel in gill-ty aquarium owners. ' "Well only go to follow up on complaints," attorney Wallace said. Couple to give $1.3 million to United Way By Tim O'Meilia Palm Beach Post Staff Writer BOYNTON BEACH - The founder of a national shoe chain and his wife will donate $1.3 million to the Palm Beach County United Way at a luncheon today. Arthur J. and Sara Jo Kobacker, winter residents of Boca Raton for eight years, will contribute the money over several years to help promote the education of poor children. Details have yet to be worked out The gift is one of the largest ever to the United Way by a single donor or couple. "Reduction in poverty, in my opinion, is best accomplished in developing children through good health care, excellent teaching and in strong parenting skills," said Kobacker, 73. A native of Columbus, Ohio, he founded Kobacker Co. in 1960. By the time he sold it to Payless in 1995, he operated 674 stores in 31 states under the names Picway, Shoe Works, Gussini and Patrini. The United Way is more than one agency. It's 60. It's the best organization to get the greatest bang for the buck," Kobacker said. The couple gave $49,000 to the United Way of Palm Beach County last year. Kobacker is well-known for his philanthropy in Ohio. Last year he was one of the winners of the Ohio Governor's Awards and in 1992 he was given the Martin Luther King Jr. Award by the Columbus Eduction Association. The Kobackers contributed $500,000 to create the "I Know I Can" achievement program in Columbus public schools and $500,000 in 1991 to establish a United Way endowment there. The couple also gave a $50,000 endowment to a hospice in Columbus and helped establish an endowment for the Columbus Jewish Foundation. B Staff researcher Barbara Gellis Sha-tiro contributed to this story. Russian millionaire held on immigration charge : v j . convicted of criminal conspiracy and fraud and was sentenced to four years in a detention center. In the 1982 case, he received a 6-year sentence at a maximum security detention center for "misappropriation of another's property by way of deception or breach of trust," Cook reported. State Department agents arrested Tarantsev on Nov. 24. Two days later, U.S. Magistrate Ann Vitunac agreed to release him on a $250,000 cash bond on condition that he not travel outside the South Florida area, but Immigration and Naturalization Service officials detained him for being in the United States illegally. Tarantsev, who wears an 11-carat diamond pinky ring, is known as one of Russia's most flamboyant new millionaires. He has been traveling in and out of the United States and the Caribbean since Oct. 21, Wilfredo Fer- Please see TARANTSFV77? INS officials say Alexander Tarantsev hid convictions when applying for a visa. ByValEllicott Palm Beach Post Staff Writer ' WEST PALM BEACH A Russian citizen who runs a Moscow-based business empire was arrested in Palm Beach last week on charges of concealing his criminal record from U.S. immigration authorities. Alexander Tarantsev, 40, obtained two 3-year U.S. visas one in May and another in October, according to court papers. In completing the application forms for each visa, he said he never had been arrested or convicted of a crime. In fact, Tarantsev was convicted of crimes in September 1979 and June 1982 in Russia, Brian Cook, a special agent with the U.S. State Department, said n a Nov. 4 affidavit. in the first case, Tarmtsev was 1 UNNIS WATERSStaff Photographer No charges yet WEST PALM BEACH Eddie Stafford appears at the Gun Club Road courthouse at the jail Tuesday. Stafford has said he helped plot the Oct. 14 drive-by shooting of John and Heather Grossman in traffic. He has not been charged. STORY, 3B So here's my advice: If you're a Gardens resident with too many fish in your tank, keep them quiet. No loud splashing. If your goldfish wake the neighbors, I'm afraid the law s against you.