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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Just the latest questionable ethical circumstance re Hallandale Beach Comm. Anthony A. Sanders in his uninspiring 43-month reign of obliviousness that's seen so many of them already

Above, a copy of a 2011 letter -exactly as it appeared when given to me- to Hallandale Beach City Manager Mark A. Antonio and the HB City Commission from The Palms Coalition civic group of northwest Hallandale Beach, just one of many issues they've expressed their great concern and frustration with as it regards getting straight answers to some basic questions regarding matters involving Comm. Anthony A. Sanders and his wife, JessicaThere were no newspaper articles following-up on this issue and Comm. Sanders has never answered these questions from the dais he sits on, preferring, as always, to ignore them, like he has so many other issues and problems in this city that he consciously seems to want to remain oblivious to. But just because Comm. Sanders wishes they'd disappear doesn't mean the questions this group and the ones that are raised by other concerned citizens in this town will simply blow away. Instead, they linger and hover over him -omnipresent..

My own comments today follow South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist and blogger Michael Mayo's column from last Monday, which I suspect is the first of many to come from him and others.

Just so you know, unlike so much of what I have personally witnessed over the past eight years in Broward County and South Florida, where local TV/print reporters or columnists come to public policy or city/county govt. meetings just long enough to be recognized by some of the participants and write down a few things in their notepad, or have their cameraman shoot enough B-roll to make it seem like they actually were witnesses to something or another, despite leaving before any votes are cast, Mayo actually stayed the entire length of that torturous March 7th Hallandale Beach City Commission meeting, which went well over five hours and ended well after midnight, just so that he could speak with Hallandale Beach City Comm. Anthony A. Sanders in-person.
His reason for the self-inflicted torture?

To have Sanders try to explain away the circumstances surrounding this very curious loan forgiveness by the city to the tune of $7.500, and what the perpetually-indulged and sense-of-entitled commissioner intends to do to remedy it to taxpayers satisfaction, if anything, given that he is running for re-election in November, and already had a lot of curious things to come clean on, including money his wife gets from city loans or grants.

Given how (rightly) critical I tend to be in this space of the South Florida press corps, I just wanted to let you all know that some people in it, such as it is, DO still try to do the right thing.
You have to acknowledge when someone does that.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Hallandale Beach City Commissioner Anthony Sanders benefits from sloppy city management
City willing to drop $7,500 loan mistake, but Sanders might repay
Michael Mayo, Sun Sentinel Columnist
7:44 PM EDT, March 26, 2012

How many times has this happened to you: a lender makes a $7,500 error in your favor, and when the mistake is discovered the lender says, "No sweat, forget about it."

Banks aren't that forgiving. But the city of Hallandale Beach has been, at least in the case of a borrower who's also a city commissioner.

City officials now admit commissioner Anthony Sanders and the church he runs got an unwarranted extra $7,500 forgiveness on a city loan repaid in early 2009, during his first year on the commission. The loan was for improvements to a property Sanders and his church eventually sold to the city for a big profit in February 2009.

Because the error was rolled into the legal sale documents, the city isn't attempting to recover the money, Hallandale Beach spokesman Peter Dobens said.

"The city made a mistake, we admit the mistake, but we'll move forward," Dobens said. He said it's no different than if a bank realized it used wrong figures in a real estate closing three years after the fact.

Sanders told me Monday that he might repay the $7,500 if the city gives him and his church members a letter of apology and a detailed explanation. Considering Sanders is running for re-election this year, that's probably a wise political move.

"The error is frustrating and disappointing," Sanders said. "Everybody who had a part in this is gone, and now it falls on me."

Nobody is sure how or why the extra $7,500 forgiveness was credited to the payoff in early 2009. "There was no justification for it," Dobens said.

A recent report by an accounting firm faulted city administrators for sloppy recordkeeping, disorganization and poor oversight. Longtime City Manager Mike Good was fired by the commission in 2010. Hallandale is now searching for a new city manager, with Good's replacement, Mark Antonio, set to retire.

"There was a good-faith effort by [Sanders] to pay off the loan correctly three years ago," Dobens said. "This has nothing to do with him or Higher Visions," the commisioner's church.

Earlier this month, before the city confirmed the mistake, when I asked Sanders if he got a special break because of his commission position, he bristled and said, "Absolutely not."

All told, Sanders and Higher Vision Ministries didn't have to repay $15,000 of the $46,000 loan. The original loan terms from 2002 (when Sanders wasn't on the commission) called for $7,500 forgiveness if he made timely payments for five years. That was standard for city Community Redevelopment Agency loans.

Sanders' Higher Vision Ministries bought the property, 501 NW First Ave., for $45,000 in 2001. It was sold to the city's CRA for $235,000 in February 2009. Sanders abstained from the vote approving the sale, which triggered controversy because the price exceeded two city appraisals and came during the real-estate meltdown.

Let me begin by repeating a query that I've made more than a few times in emails over the past few years to well-informed people who pay close attention to things in SE Broward, some of whom are elected officials and others of whom are quite knowledgeable about government ethics:

How is it that, 
a.) despite all the money that Mayor Cooper and the HB City Commission and the two most recent City Manager(s) have tried to funnel to both groups completely under the control of Comm. Sanders and his wife, JessicaEagle's Wings Development Center and Higher Vision Ministryand,
b.) despite the effort thru a motion by Comm. Alexander Lewy to steer over $2000,000 to them last year at a City Commission meeting well after Midnight, NOT on an advertised agenda item and with hardly anyone but city staff present -where Lewy deliberately wrote his motion so as to NOT have to publicly identify the party who was getting the money, but instead, described them citing their so-called job-creating/placing success, even though those so-called achievements have NEVER been independently-verified by anyone, and are NOT believed by anyone in this city NOT named Sanders or working for the city- neither one of the two groups has a working website that you can find on the Internet, no matter how long and hard you search.

That's more than a little curious, don't you think?

It's the year 2012, folks, and you can now create a decent website for almost nothing at all, cost-wise, and yet, all these years later, they have NOTHING about either entity on the Internet with their basic contact information, a description of what they actually do, an organization chart, or even a list of the Board of Directors and list of meetings when they meet.

Not even a link to or copy of their IRS 990 Form.

Seriously, a non-profit in the year 2012 without a website that has glowing testimonials to anything they've ever actually done?
You'd think they'd want to talk about what they've done for the community and city if they had actually done something worthwhile, at least something that the public and foundations could check out.

But instead, there is NOTHING.

In short, the two Sanders really have nothing tangible to show HB residents and others where all those HB tax dollars they've received over the years have gone.

Me, I find that MORE than a little curious, and I know from my conversations with many if not most of you, that you suspect something NOT quite kosher about these financial matters either.

By the way, good luck finding another property near the one the Sanders sold to the city for a ridiculous profit -and which the city I believe now rents to some group for, yes, $1- that was valued at anywhere near the same price as the appraisal the Sanders received.

In the days ahead, I hope to have some more news for you about yet another semi-stealthy figure in the city who has been the lucky recipient of a lot of taxpayer dollars under some very questionable circumstances, whom I recently discovered has NOT been an IRS-accredited non-profit after all, even though I think that they claimed they were in order to get some taxpayer's dinero.

I've written a variation of the above a few times in those emails of mine, and every time before I sent it out, I double-checked for at least 15 minutes to try to find those imaginary websites.
Each time, nothing had changed, and what I'd written was 100% true.
It's still true today, now that I'm finally posting it online and sharing it with you.

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