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. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of North Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Csaba Kulin continues connecting-the-dots on Marcum LLP's devastating audit of Hallandale Beach, revealing how city's own rules were routinely broken and leaving taxpayers on the hook

Csaba Kulin continues connecting-the-dots on Marcum LLP's devastating  audit of Hallandale Beach, revealing how city's own rules were routinely broken and leaving taxpayers on the hook
Below is Part 2 of my friend and fellow Hallandale Beach and Broward County civic activist Csaba Kulin's take on the just released audit by Marcum LLP on the longstanding not-so-humorous 'funny business' at Hallandale Beach City Hall while Joy Cooper has been mayor.

Since he was actually there, like me, unlike the South Florida news media that has shown no interest in covering what was taking place here, and was one of the persons fighting hardest to get the audit, even while some of the commissioners clearly resented it, Csaba's understanding and take on it is far superior to what is being written about the audit, including this article that largely misses the larger picture:

Hallandale CRA audit shows incomplete files, mishandled paperwork
By Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel
6:28 p.m. EST, March 6, 2012

Ask yourself a simple question after you read what Csaba has written: 
Why have none of the city employees responsible for the YEARS of incompetency and unprofessional conduct not been punished or fired?

And why is nobody from the South Florida press corps even asking that obvious question?

Why is nobody from the press corps sticking a microphone or tape recorder in front of Joy Cooper and asking her why for so many years as mayor, she failed to provide prudent oversight over the CRA, given that the elected City Commission was the CRA's Board of Directors, so she could've called for toughening up reporting rules or made sensible changes for more accountability and transparency any time she wanted?
She never did, and all we get now from the news media is silence.

And as a result of their knowing full well that the press corps is asleep, all Hallandale Beach taxpayers get on this issue from Mayor Cooper and City Manager Mark A. Antonio and his highly-paid staff is a whitewash.

A whitewash may fly with Cooper's pals and cronies since as I've shown on this blog over the years, Cooper's pals and cronies have shown that they are largely oblivious to what goes on in this city outside of their own well-maintained neighborhoods, but it most certainly will NOT fly with the majority of HB taxpayers who will be voting in November.
Yes, consider that a Teaser Alert!


Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As I promised Monday, I've got a more-detailed analysis of the “Agreed-Upon Procedures” report produced by Marcum LLC, and I think that some of my comments below may help you better understand the attached report.
The five types of records that the City of Hallandale Beach (COHB) “agreed” to have examined were:
1.      Developer Agreements
 2.     Vendor Contracts
 3.     Real Estate Acquisition and Disposition Policies
 4.     CRA Commercial Loan Programs
 5.     CRA Expenditures.
COHB also decided the extent to which those records were examined.
In a disclaimer, on page 2, Marcum LLC tells us THE most important fact about this report.
“We were not engaged to, and did NOT, conduct an audit, the objective of which would be the expression of an opinion on the records. Accordingly, we do not express such an opinion. Had we performed additional procedures, other matters might have come to our attention that would have been reported to you”.
In the area of DEVELOPER AGREEMENTS, one exception that's particularly emblematic of COHB's past and present “modus operandi” is how payments due from developers were handled.
The original agreement called for The Cornerstone/Harbour Cove developer to donate $40,000 for improvements to the Hepburn Center and $10,000 to the Hallandale Sports Complex Foundation.
But unknown to most Hallandale Beach taxpayers, then-City Manager Mike Good decided that he'd approve this $50,000 amount being forgiven in exchange for Harbour Cove offering active COHB employees a $50 per month discount on their rent for a period of one year after move-in.
This was NOT considered an exception.
Also NOT mentioned -how many COHB employees actually participated in this program and what that amount was, so taxpayers would know how much of that $50,000 was actually used for that purpose.
 As of today, we simply do NOT know.
The VENDOR CONTRACTS is the area where COHB originally gave $8,931,000 worth of contracts to be examined instead of the $29,174,000, i.e. all the contracts between 2007 and 2010.
Based on the terms of the agreed-upon procedures engagement letter, Marcum’s procedures were simply limited to reviewing the vendor contracts that were included on the original listing provided by COHB.
During this period the City Manager’s $50,000 spending authority was increased and if the contract went over the authority, the City Commission gave additional approval. Based on the limited number of contracts, no exceptions were noted.
The REAL ESTATE ACQUISITION AND DISPOSITION area is yet another black hole of problems, and it starts from the simple fact that COHB originally only provided 54 out of the 84 acquired property files.
The additional 30 files were subsequently provided, but Marcum did not review the additional 30 purchase files based on the same reason given above.
Of the 84 properties purchased by COHB, 13 were eventually sold.
Unfortunately, the City was “unable to locate supporting documentation”, so Marcum was unable to review the “unavailable files”.
The official guidelines require the gathering of information prior to the purchase on a new property, including assessed value, lot size, legal description, owner of record, lien search, etc.
In other words, perform common sense “due diligence” just as you would have to do if you were purchasing property, except here, COHB is supposedly doing the buying on behalf of Hallandale Beach taxpayers.
Of the 40 acquired properties, Marcum LLC discovered that 39 of them had missing information (See page 10).
COHB acquired 8 properties thru foreclosures, and COHB's written policy requires both the City Attorney and the City Clerk to review the transactions.
Surprise, surprise!
NONE of the 8 had proof of review.
Of the 40 purchased properties, 30 did NOT contain title searches as required by the official guidelines.
COHB guidelines state that the Central Services Director must review all information and write a summary report for the City Manager, either supporting or declining acquisition of the referenced property.
 Only 2 out of the 40 purchased properties contained summary reports.
Further, would you believe that 27 of the 40 purchased properties did NOT contain a purchase authorization from either the City Manager or the City Commission?
Well, believe it, because that's what Marcum said in their report.
In order to confirm that the acquisitions were executed, three documents are required:
(a) purchase contract,
(b) HUD1 closing statement, and
(c) warranty deed.
Approximately 10 of the 54 files did NOT include a copy of the HUD1 closing statement.
CRA COMMERCIAL LOAN PROGRAM had its own fair share of problems with the three types of loan programs it offers.
The Commercial Code Compliance Loan Program has 31 loans outstanding.
The maximum loan value is up to $100,000 per business.
There is an exception made to one unnamed establishment and the loan amount was increased to $150,000 by the authority of City Manager Mike Good (See page 16).
It seems clear from all the available evidence that this was changed for the benefit of The Flashback Diner on U.S.-1.
Of the 31 loan files, insufficient documentation existed in all 31 loan files as to whether application fees were paid.
Another 9 had miscellaneous other deficiencies.
“All loan terms may be subject to City Manager’s review for approval under special circumstances to ensure the protection of the property owner, the City and the objectives of the City’s loan programs”.
This one statement above explains why loan forgiveness actions, interest rate charges, code compliance requirements and default actions are on an informal basis.
If someone is 3 months behind in making payments, the loan is in default.
COHB, if a loan is 6-to-9 months delinquent, will write a letter or call the borrower to remind them of the oversight. Marcum noted that one file (The Mess A Round) indicated that the borrower was in default. In that instance “forbearance” was granted by the appropriate “levels of authority” and therefore this has NOT been noted as an exception.
The Business Incentive/Enticement Loan Program has 6 loans to 5 borrowers.
The maximum loan amount is $200,000, the borrower must be able to repay and 15% of the loan will be waived.
Again, problems with the records!
One loan was for a property that was not owned by the borrower.
Missing proof of lien searches, paid property tax payments, 5 year budgets, proof of mortgage payments and copy of bank statements.
Again, 3 of the loans were of the result of the owner meeting with the City Manager, Mike Good (See page 23).
There is no system in place to regularly confirm code compliance on loans, and penalties were actually waived on 2 loans.
If someone is 3 months behind in making payments, the loan is considered in default.
Again, according to COHB policy, if a loan is 6-to-9 months delinquent, COHB will write a letter or make a call to the listed borrower(s).
One of the loans that was delinquent belonged to Digital Outhernet, Inc.
You remember them, don't you?
There is NO mention of how long they've been delinquent and what the current status of it is.
The Small Business Retention and Expansion Loan Program is designed to loan up to $50,000, may waive 50% to 80% based on need.
Three such loans were provided to Marcum. (See pages 26-28 describe the details.).
The business must be in compliance with city codes, but NONE of them are.
The City does NOT check to see if the borrower performs all the terms of the loan.
Only one of the applicants owned the property on which the business was located, and two did not own the property and hadNO collateral.
COHB guidelines state that real property must be owned by the borrower, but despite this policy, the City Manager granted one waiver and the City Commission granted the other exception.
Bi-Annual Performance Reviews were NOT performed or documented.
Default is similar to the other loans, with a call or a letter to the borrower after 6-to-9 months.
I hope this report connecting-the-dots will help you get a sense of what will be discussed Wednesday night at the City Commission meeting, and may give some of you an idea of areas of questions to pursue yourself.
I have attached the entire report for your information.
Csaba Kulin

Hallandale AUP DRAFT 02-03-2012.pdfHallandale AUP DRAFT 02-03-2012.pdf
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#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang

#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy
Thumbs up! What a night! #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 now-closed ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016 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 atop Mount Corcovado way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. To the right is the world famous beach of Ipanema and to the left is the equally famous beach of Copacabana. In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio looks like, up close, plus the Amazon area of Brazil that Esther grew up near in Manaus, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

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A floresta Amazônica tem um papel fundamental no equilíbrio do clima na Terra e, portanto, na vida de cada um de nós. Nos últimos anos a proteção diminuiu e o desmatamento aumentou drasticamente. E o que já era ruim, pode ficar ainda pior. Se as medidas que o governo vem tomando não forem vetadas, nosso futuro estará ameaçado. Diga NÃO à diminuição da proteção da Floresta do Jamanxim! Diga NÃO à exploração de minério no coração da floresta! #TodosPelaAmazônia #342Amazonia #TodosPelaAmazonia Assine a petição: link na bio. ������✨���� The Amazon Rainforest plays a key role in balancing the climate on the Earth and therefore in each of our lives. In recent years, protection has decreased and deforestation has increased sharply. And what was already bad can get even worse. If the measures that the government has been taking are not vetoed, our future will be threatened. Say NO to the reduction of the Jamanxim Forest´s protection! Say NO to ore mining in the heart of the Forest! #togetherfortheAmazon

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