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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More on the $20 Million of Hallandale Beach city contracts that went unchecked -Csaba Kulin re Marcum LLP's limited audit of "Exceptional" Hallandale Beach City Hall and its longstanding dysfunctional practices that insult HB taxpayers

More on the $20 Million of Hallandale Beach city contracts that went unchecked -Csaba Kulin re Marcum LLP's limited audit of "Exceptional" Hallandale Beach City Hall and its longstanding dysfunctional practices that insult HB taxpayers
Below, some insightful comments from Monday from my friend and fellow Hallandale Beach/Broward County civic activist Csaba Kulin concerning the subject du jour in this poorly-run ocean-side city with so much untapped potential -the auditing 'smoking gun' that not only proves how bad things really have been for years under Mayor Joy Cooper, but also illustrates the city's feeble response to the problems consisted of little more than waving a magic wand and changing the rules after-the-fact.

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Dear Friends and Neighbors:


The results of the Marcum LLP limited audit of the city are finally out, but before you begin to review it, a quick overview of how we got to this point is necessary.

Exactly two years ago, concerned residents of Hallandale Beach, myself included, greatly unhappy with years of having witnessed curious policies and inconsistent practices at Hallandale Beach City Hall that seemed designed more to hide financial information from the public than reveal it, began the push to force the City to hire an auditor to perform a special audit. 


Exactly two years ago, concerned residents of Hallandale Beach, myself included, greatly unhappy with years of having witnessed curious policies and inconsistent practices at Hallandale Beach City Hall that seemed designed more to hide financial information from the public than reveal it, began the push to force the City to hire an auditor to perform a special audit.

Over time, with great reluctance and skepticism from some elected City Commissioners, the public finally prevailed upon the City Commission to agree to hire an auditor to perform something called “Agreed-Upon Procedures”.

This was NOT a full-blown "special audit" as you may have come to know the term, but rather something quite short of that, wherein the City was willing to “agree” to have some aspects of their practices audited, but not all of them.
That's why only certain areas were examined in the report that's now on the city's website, but others remain unremarked upon. 

The preliminary report of August 2011 noted 515 “exceptions” to the City’s own written rules and procedures.
The just-released report noted 255 “exceptions” to the City’s procedures.
That is a large number of exceptions, but actually represents a 50% reduction from last summer. 

While some of the reduction in the number of "exceptions' is due to requested city records that were initially "missing" finally being found, and given to the auditor, most of the eliminated "exceptions" were due to what can only be called a very curious sense of after-the-fact rationalization.

It's an after-the-fact rationalization of a sort that most Hallandale Beach residents would find completely unacceptable where they work or do business, since it literally raises more questions than it answers. 
That rationalization consists of simply stamping “subject to City Manager’s review, which has the authority to change the procedure” and in some cases, “subsequently approved by the City Commission” on those "exceptions." 

I am surprised that any “exceptions” were noted in the new report if the City Manager or the City Commission has so much latitude that they can both change or ignore written procedures before or after the fact.

What is the reason for instituting and codifying a series of City Commission-approved city "procedures” if the City Commission, its professional staff and employees does not follow its own written rules, and has the ability to declare anything and everything an exception, after-the-fact, if they so choose? 

Even in its limited scope, the Marcum LLP report we now have been given is a very damning portrait of the last ten years of the city’s operation. No matter how much lipstick the City applies to it, it is still not pretty.
If you are a Hallandale Beach resident who cares about your city's future and Quality of Life, it should be required reading prior to next November’s elections. 
Especially since we still have only seen part of the looming financial iceberg, not all of it.

Today both the Broward Bulldog and the Miami Herald had published an excellent article about the Hallandale Beach audit. I have submitted the above comments after each article. I have below the link to the Broward Bulldog article for your convenience.
I intend to write about the details in the audit report sometime prior to Wednesday evening’s City Commission Meeting. I have also included the February 2012 and the August 2011 report for you to read prior to Wednesday. I hope to see you all with questions ready to be asked at the City Commission meeting. 

Sincerely, 
Csaba Kulin 
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