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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper and HB City Hall fights blogger seeking mayor's e-mail list -using taxpayer dollars to do so

I've known about this article for a few days and will have more to say about it later tonight and tomorrow morning, with more pertinent information.

As you may recall me having mentioned here a few times in the past, I've been on the receiving end of one of Mayor Cooper's crazy letters, full of mis-spelled words, venom, pique and utter nonsense, emailed after midnight.

Received the email response below from Comm. Keith London this afternoon.

Just a reminder, the monthly constituent Resident Forums hosted by Comm. London will be held tonight from 6-8 p.m. at the new location, Room 107 of the HB Cultural Center behind City Hall.

That's because the City Commission recently voted to make him pay to meet with city residents and taxpayers.

As is usually the case, the HB Cultural Center sign on S.E. 3rd Street will probably NOT be working tonight!

As you know, he is the only Hallandale beach Commissioner that has ever held regularly scheduled meetings with HB citizens, taxpayers and business owners.
The others could, of course, but they've made the conscious decision NOT to.

Actions speak louder than words.

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South Florida Sun Sentinel
Hallandale fights blogger seeking mayor's e-mail list


By Ihosvani Rodriguez
April 20, 2009

HALLANDALE BEACH - City officials are trying to block an Internet blogger's request for information about an e-mail Mayor Joy Cooper sent from her personal e-mail account that discusses city issues.

A private attorney hired by the city filed a civil lawsuit in Broward Circuit Court Friday against Michael Butler, a Hallandale Beach resident who runs the ChangeHallandale.com blog. Butler wants to know who received Cooper's e-mail.

In the suit, the city asks a judge to decide if the e-mail's distribution list is a public document. No hearing date has been scheduled.

Commissioners voted 4-1 last week to hire Jamie Cole, a former Hollywood city attorney, to handle the case for $185 an hour.

According to court documents, Cooper sent an e-mail to undisclosed recipients in February. Cooper's short e-mail pointed readers to separate columns she wrote in the South Florida Sun-Times weekly newspaper. The columns discussed Cooper's State of the City address and a report that compares the tax rates and fees of all Broward county cities
Cooper signed the e-mail "Mayor Joy Cooper" and included her City Hall address and phone listing.

Days later, Butler filed a public records request. He says the e-mail list, which did not appear on the message's header, should be made public.

"How is that not a public record?" he asked last week. "This is a matter of transparency and open government. Now the city is using my tax dollars to find a way to deny public records requests."

Butler noted Cooper routinely sends residents e-mails from her America Online account, including a response to one of his recent blog items.

Last year, Butler sought all of Cooper's city e-mails, but dropped the request after the city tried to charge him about $3,000 for the records.

Cooper has accused Butler of being an operative of her political nemesis, Commissioner Keith London, who has had his own bouts with the city over public records. She was out of the country today and could not be reached for comment on the suit despite messages left at City Hall, on her cell phone, with her brother, and at her e-mail addresses, both personal and public.

In the suit filed last week, Cole argues Cooper wrote the e-mail as a private citizen and she wasn't conducting any official city business. Also, he argues the e-mail recipients' privacy interests "outweigh Butler's interests in identifying them."

Ihosvani Rodriguez can be reached at ijrodriguez@SunSentinel.com or 954-385-7908.

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Everyone,


Here is my comment to today’s article about the City of Hallandale Beach.


Transparency, accountability, and open government in the Sunshine are all that is desired by the residents of Hallandale Beach and by me. Anyone who seeks accountably in the City of Hallandale Beach is considered out of line according to the Mayor and the City Manager. If it were not for all of us requesting information regarding where our tax dollars are being spent, the public would never know about these expenditures such as:


· City Manager Good’s compensation $424,000 in 2008
· Sun Times payments from City $20,000
· Commissioner Sanders selling property to City for $235,000, $35,000 more than the last appraisal (which does not even reflect the current downturn in the real estate market according to the Broward County Property Appraiser)
· The provision of $125,000 of CRA money to people in the pornography business
· Vice Mayor Julian asking to increase Commissioner’s salaries to $75,000


There seems to be a lack of organizational structure, oversight and transparency when the following happens:

· Commission Meeting Minutes being approved 4-6 months subsequent to the meeting
· Regularly pass important issues and measures under “other” on agenda
· One of only three cites in Broward that hold their Commission meetings during working hours
· City Manager has the authority to spend $200,000 per unit on acquiring as many properties as he pleases under the auspices of affordable housing
· Limiting debate and my ability (or anyone else who opposed their thought process) to ask questions
· Regularly taking months to answer Public Records Requests


According to the Mayor and City Manager anyone who asks questions or wants information is on my payroll. That would include Mike Mayo, Ihosvani Rodriquez, Jennifer Gollan, Jasmine Kripalani, Fred Grimm, Dr. Judy Selz, Dr. Bob Selz, David Smith, Mike Butler, Csaba Kulin, Arturo O' Neill, Bob Lee, Jeanne Roonoe, Hinda Smith, Dr. Joseph Valbrun, and others. How I can do this all on a salary of less than $25,000 must be mind boggling to City that hired the attorney for this lawsuit at $185 per hour!


Commissioner Keith S. London

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