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Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Broward Coalition is pushing back against Broward municipal officials & cronies efforts to enact looser ethics laws for themselves

Over the weekend my friend Charlotte Greenbarg, President of the Broward Coalition, sent out a pointed email to civic and community activists all over Broward County giving them the latest head's up regarding a recent series of moves by Broward municipal officials -and their deep-pocketed cronies at local law firms, consulting firms and lobbying shops- to bypass the strict ethics rules that the Broward County Commission FINALLY voted for, and instead, enshrine a separate series of ethics laws for Broward municipal elected officials and city employees that amount to nothing less than Swiss cheese.

In light of the overwhelming referendum vote by Broward voters in November of 2008 to instruct the commission to do what they did -or else- we simply aren't going to stand for it.

I, personally, along with lots of people I know here will publicly call out those who attempt to lead that revanchist effort, starting with the Broward League of Cities, an anti-democratic, pro-bureaucracy non-profit group that wields far too much power in this county.

If you didn't know, the new President of the Broward League of Cities is anti-democratic Cooper City mayor Debby Eisinger, whom as I've noted here many times in the past, as a member of the county's Charter Review Comm. in 2008, voted AGAINST allowing Broward County citizens from voting in the November 2008 general election on whether they wanted to have an elected county-wide mayor, one voted upon directly by the voters instead of continuing the failed and ridiculous template in Broward of the title of 'mayor' being given to one of the nine elected County Commissioners by a vote among themselves.

The League's last complete (Action) Minutes for their Board of Directors was Sept. 2nd, 2010

Hmm.. has anything of interest happened with the Broward School Board the past nine months?
Oh, that's right, the statewide grand jury bemoaned the fact that they did not have the power to actually abolish the Broward School Board due to its longstanding lack of leadership, lack of accountability and general culture of corruption.
LOL!

Since municipal taxpayers actually pay for the dues their cities pay the League, IF as they claim, they're all about educating the public, why won't they join the 21st Century and maintain accurate, transparent and TIMELY information on their public website?
Just wondering.
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Pressure's being put on the Commission to allow "ethics lite" for the cities. We need to do a full court press to tell the Commission to hold the cities to the same standards as the County is and the VOTERS approved. EMAIL THE COMMISSION NOW!

The League of Cities doesn’t like the strong ethics requirements that an overwhelming majority of Broward voters approved. One commissioner actually said that he couldn’t even accept a bottle of water. That’s right. That’s exactly what we meant when we voted to approve the requirements. Don’t ask, don’t take.
Follow the admirable example of Oakland Park Mayor Suzanne Boisvenue, who wants no part of what I’m going to label “ethics lite.”
Get on with it, County Commissioners, and accept it, municipal elected officials. We’ve had quite enough of the fun and games that have gone on far too long in Broward County.

One of our members, Orval Pintuff, expressed our position so well. This is what he wrote:

“Dear Madam Mayor and fellow County Commissioners:
There should be no tweaking for allowing a current city commissioner/politician to work as a lobbyist for issues that may come before the commission or their city government. If these elected officials believe that their lobbying would be more profitable then they need to move on and let someone else get on with the job of running the city government.

If they must resign to pursue a better income, so be it. There is too much potential and tendency to help a bill or law to pass for the benefit of a favored son or friend.
If accepting a bottle of water or soda at a fund raiser or implied political/business event, would appear as conduct unbecoming, then bring your own drinks. This goes for the offer of a lunch or dinner from a person who may or does business with the city or county government. If you cannot afford the lunch ticket, don't go.
There is no excuse for not saying no to a lunch or dinner offer, as well as tickets to a concert or sporting events.

It is time for our elected leaders to lead and quit using their positions for self-adulation. It is time to make honest men and women of our elected leaders and give them an ethics code to work by.
I find it disgusting that we really have to tell someone what is ethical and what is not. There is always the adage "When in Doubt, Don't Do It."
These elected city and county jobs do not always pay a lot, but there are other options, get another job.
It is time to stand up and be counted, please don't wait any longer to get this law started.

Thank you

Orval Pintuff
Margate FL”
Member Broward Coalition

The Broward Coalition has been in the forefront of reform for years. It’s part of our mission; to work for the best interests of our members on the local, state and national levels.
We sat through the Ethics Commission meetings, gave our input, encouraged the members to stand strong for strong ethics, and advocated for a “yes” vote.
We’ve come too far to be betrayed by timidity or political connections, and we’re urging our County Commissioners to get it done now.

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Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and Aventura.

If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect. But seldom if ever see...

This is particularly true in the Broward County city I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, north of Aventura and south of Hollywood and right on the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent. Sadly for its beleaguered residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with tremendous potential because of its terrific location and well-educated populace, yet its citizens have almost become numb to HB City Hall's frequent outrages and screw-ups, the result of YEARS of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, residents and Small Business owners wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road for others to solve in the future.

I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog of my own that could try to do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable-but-skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time with fresh eyes, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.

Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change in public policy and goivernment engagement. If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY of Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials, elected and otherwise. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru shining some well-needed public scrutiny on the issue or pol, or requires a higher degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of the incompetency, cronyism or negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.
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