LAUDERDALE LAKESThis town is broke, but that didn't stop Commissioner Gloria Lewis from spending $1,440 in taxpayer funds in February for 140 T-shirts for fifth graders at Oriole Elementary School's spirit-boosting event coinciding with the FCAT exams.It was hardly an exception. Since January 2010, city records show, the mayor and the six city commissioners have used thousands of dollars from their city-funded expense accounts for charitable donations to which their names often are attached.Early this year, for example, Mayor Barrington Russell Sr. dipped into his expense account to buy a $75 ad featuring his photo in the program for Merrell United Methodist Church's Pre-Valentine's Day Banquet.The funds may serve a noble purpose. Few would deny they also may buy voter goodwill.From city to city, amounts vary. Davie has a Community Endowment Fund from which it will dole out $390,365 this year. Upscale Boca Raton's charitable outlay totals about $450,000 annually, and is part of the public budget-writing process. Hollywood allocated $191,500 in this year's budget to 17 community groups that assist children, the elderly, the disabled, battered women and the homeless. But next year's proposed budget recommends eliminating the grants. Hollywood, too, is in dire financial shapeThe charitable expenditures appear to be perfectly legal. But in an era of diminishing public resources, taxpayer-funded donations are open to question, as is every other government expense. Why does this charity benefit, and not another? Why this much?"I give to anything that benefits the kids. I give to the children,'' Lewis told the Sun Sentinel.In Lauderdale Lakes, officials are grappling with a $9 million deficit for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The city has cut jobs and salaries and unsuccessfully sought a county bailout.Since 2010, the mayor and six commissioners have spent more than $19,000 from accounts set up to pay their on-the-job expenses. A review of the receipts shows that about 75 percent of the outlays are not ordinary job-related out-of-pocket expenses, but donations –in the elected official's name -- to churches, clubs, schools and other organizations.In August after this financially strapped municipality had run out of money to pay the Broward Sheriff's Office for police and fire protection, Commissioner Patricia Hawkins-Williams used $700 from her expense account to pay for 200 T-shirts for a city youth football program. At the time, Hawkins-Williams said, she and other commissioners were unaware of the fiscal hardships the city was facing.Along with such out-of-pocket donations of public funds by individual commissioners, Lauderdale Lakes in recent years has allocated roughly $25,000 from its annual budget to about 10 community organizations, such as the Kiwanis Club and Meals on Wheels.Groups requesting such assistance are required to show how many residents they serve. In 2011, the city scaled back, reserving nearly all the funds for one group: the Area Agency on Aging, which helps the city's Alzheimer Care Center.The use of elected officials' expense accounts to aid charities differs from community to community, the Sun Sentinel found.In Hollywood, Delray Beach and Boca Raton, local leaders aren't provided with expense accounts.In Lauderhill, the city manager has proposed that the city not make its customary annual contribution in fiscal 2012 to the Area Agency on Aging or to Family Central, which provides day care and other services for low-income families. The city commission must make the final decision.Like in Lauderdale Lakes, however, Lauderhill's mayor and four commissioners do occasionally dip into their administrative expense accounts to purchase tickets to local fundraisers or to help aid groups that have modest requests. "We're basically micro-gifting," Mayor Richard Kaplan said.In Lauderdale Lakes, the mayor and commissioners have been provided with non-vouchered accounts that they can spend any way they like, without needing to provide receipts, usually to compensate for wear and tear on their personal cars. The mayor received $10,200 and the commissioners $9,600 annually. Those amounts were reduced by 10 percent this year because of the budget crisis.The mayor and commissioners also have vouchered expense accounts of up to $5,000 yearly, for which they must provide receipts to show how the money was spent. These accounts also were reduced 10 percent.The Sun Sentinel reviewed about a year's worth of these expense authorizations, and found most went to pay for donations to schools, clubs and churches for events or specific projects.Money spent by commissioners included $500 for an elementary school teachers award; two $50 half-page souvenir program ads for the inauguration of the new pastor at the First Baptist Church Piney Grove; $100 for the Caribbean Bar Association's scholarship and awards gala; $300 for a half-page ad and five tickets for a Caribbean American Democratic Club's awards luncheon; $300 to help buy "audio books, Kindles, and padded headsets" for Boyd Anderson High School, and $50 to a women's club for a senior citizens' prom.SOS Children's Village, a Coconut Creek facility for foster children, asked Russell, the mayor, by letter in August to earmark $1,000 for it in the city's annual budget.In November, Russell gave the group $1,000 from his expense account. He is on the facility's board of directors.In September, then-commissioner David Shomers donated $500 apiece to the Lauderdale Lakes Basketball Association, Lauderdale Lakes Sports Club, and Wheels of Excellence, a charity that repairs abandoned bicycles recovered by the Broward Sheriff's Department and gives them to needy children.State corporation records show Shomers and six others formed Wheels of Excellence about 15 years ago.Shomers, who lost a re-election bid in November, said he never sought or received publicity for his charitable gifts. "I can't think of any way it would have helped politically," he said.Susannah Bryan contributed to this report.Reader comments at:----------
Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. 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.
@FLGovScott #RemoveHer #HallandaleBeach mayor & town bully #JoyCooper
@FLGovScott #RemoveHer - What's Past is Prologue: Freud & Jung together could NOT possibly plumb the entirety of depths of thin-skinned, ethically-challenged #HallandaleBeach mayor & town bully #JoyCooper's super-size ego and sense of entitlement. 🌴🏖️🌊https://t.co/0vsCiDLa0h— HallandaleBeachBlog (@hbbtruth) November 19, 2017
Monday, August 8, 2011
When cities use taxpayers' money to pick winners & losers; Follow-up to my Public Records Request of July 22, 2011 to the City of Hallandale Beach
#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy
Thumbs up! What a night we had! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016
Last night at #election2016 #party in #hollywood #city. Congratulations #joshlevy #newmayor #hollywoodcity. Privileged to be with the #sunsentinel #sunsentinelnewspaper #photographer #makeamericagreatagain #neverforget #anighttoremember #life #liberty #pursuitofhappiness #blessed #yourphotographer #miamiphotography #photography #proudtobeamerican ����
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Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015
Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. �� In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue looks like, up close, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.
Today is the day. Today is a celebration. Today is my day. Today, I hiked, I photographed, and I explored. Today I choose to love. Today I'm happy. Today I'm blessed. Today is my birthday. Today is a special day for you and me. #birthdaygirl #birthday #birthdaymonth #brazil #braziltrip #rio #theview #livingthelife #lifeisgood #morro #rio #praia #travel #miami #miamigirl #luckygirl #loveisintheair #justdoit #artist #photographer #photography #taiwan #beautiful #vacation #viajar #instagood #smile #dreambig #wishes #true
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Forbes estimates Gisele Bundchen will make $15.2M this year. Tom Brady will make $15M ($1 salary, $14M bonus) + likely another $8M off field for a couple total of $38.2M. pic.twitter.com/tWiVv8kpTH— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) November 23, 2017