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, Europe 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.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My letter -and invitation- to Broward Inspector General John W. Scott and his team re the longstanding corruption and mismanagement at the City of Hallandale Beach


Below is a copy of the email that I sent on Friday to Broward County Inspector General John W. Scott and his team asking for an opportunity to tell what I know about how things are really done in this mis-managed and unethical town, and inviting him and his team of investigators -and anyone else- to come to the final Town Hall meeting at Hallandale Beach City Hall on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m.

It should be a very interesting night as lots of perplexing questions that City Manager Antonio, Mayor Joy Cooper, Comm. Anthony A. Sanders and other public officials have done their best to avoid will be be asked again before a crowd of concerned citizens. 
 ------

May 18, 2012

John W. Scott
Office of the Inspector General
One North University Drive, Suite 111
Plantation, FL 33324

Dear Mr. Scott:

Please have your staff make arrangements to contact me within the next week so that arrangements can be made for me to speak with them and you in-person regarding the City of Hallandale Beach.

I'd like to discuss what I know and have personally witnessed with regard to multiple instances of broken state laws, corruption, mismanagement, self-evident violations of the State of Florida's Sunshine Laws, and still yet another matter.

I want to talk to you and your staff about the City of Hallandale Beach's outright copyright theft of some of my intellectual property, which has been going on since last year, a self-evident fact that can be seen by anyone going to the city's official website, where roughly one-third of all the images shown are, in fact, mine, and the city also use other images of mine on official city budget documents.

Someone taking something that belongs to you without your express consent and permission, taking it without paying you for its use, and appropriating it for their own commercial purposes, all of which the City of Hallandale Beach has done, is illegal and punishable by law.
Copyright theft by a municipal government is NOT the highest form of flattery.

Trust me, Mr. Scott, seeing is believing and there's a lot that I can not only tell you, but show you and your staff when you come to Hallandale Beach with open eyes and an open mind. 
I'm formally inviting you and your staff to attend the city's Town Hall meeting next Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at HB City Hall.

I can absolutely guarantee you and your staff that there, City Manager Mark A. Antonio will once again knowingly and illegally use my copyrighted photo images in his public presentation as he has done at every HB Town Hall meeting since the first one in February, when I told him publicly before other citizens at the Hallandale Beach Community Center that I would simply not accept the city knowingly and illegally using those copyrighted images of mine, which they neither have legal permission to use or have paid to use.

City Manager Mark A. Antonio and his staff's official response to me since then? 
Complete apathetic disdain.

City Manager Antonio, his staff and the rest of Hallandale Beach City Hall have done nothing to rectify the situation, and have instead, continued doing whatever they wanted to do, almost daring someone to stop them.

Mr. Scott, I not only have multiple photos and video of various HB Town Hall meetings around the city showing City Manager Antonio and his staff illegally using my images there -and at other city meetings after I specifically told to desist and do the right thing- I have, literally, hundreds of witnesses, including the HB City Commission itself, as well as the HB Police Chief, the HB Fire Chief and dozens of city Dept. heads, policeman and city employees.

I look forward to hearing from you and sharing what I know about what's been going on for years in this corrupt, unethical and mismanaged city.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

What I didn't include in that letter to Mr. Scott but could've is that for far too many years under the current mayor and the current and previous city manger, the concerned citizens of this community have had to watch -sometimes, almost helplessly- as the same handful of people at Hallandale Beach City Hall have consistently maligned their own citizens publicly; have actively thwarted citizen's efforts to use the Florida state constitution's Sunshine Laws to access PUBLIC information and actually hold the city and the people who run it publicly accountable for their illogical, illegal and anti-democratic policies and ordinances, and questionable if-not-outright craven crony capitalism.
Spending that seemed to almost intentionally operate in a stealthy fashion with no oversight, no accountability and little-to-no effort to recapture funds.

The result of the latter was that individuals and groups favored by HB City Hall were and are routinely rewarded with grants and loans despite NOT meeting the city's existing lax requirements, as requirements were and are routinely waived as long as there was at least one person in the group requesting funds who was a public supporter of Hallandale Beach City Hall, no matter how preposterous the request or its purpose.
If everyone who is "connected" receives an exception, then what is the purpose of requirements?

For years Hallandale Beach City Hall has actively tried to prevent Hallandale Beach citizens from getting access to public information they were legally entitled to -and have even been personally sued by the city in the process.

For years Hallandale Beach City Hall has purposefully held onto important public information about controversial land development proposals prior to votes by the City Commission, and have NOT made the information public as soon as was reasonable, but rather barely more than 24 hours before a publicly-scheduled vote, yet repeatedly -and rather pathetically- lying to HB citizens complaining about the problem by claiming they'd actually posted it online to the city's website the previous week.

These intentional lies and anti-democratic treatment of its own citizens continued despite the fact that the city's own online time stamps showed precisely when the documents were placed online.
That's the caliber of the people Mr. Scott will be dealing with.

This decision to place the interests of developers and their hired help above those of the public they're supposed to serve, allowed the people who run Hallandale Beach City Hall to keep the developer, attorneys, lobbyists and shills in the community apprised of all aspects of any requested changes, offers, counter-offers and negotiations, while keeping the public completely in the dark until the last possible moment.

The people who run HB City Hall have intentionally and physically prevented a Hallandale Beach taxpayer -mefrom accessing a publicly-noticed meeting in a room on the second-floor of two-story Hallandale Beach City Hall that I have been to dozens and dozens of times, by suddenly saying that the rules had changed and that I needed to wait for someone at the meeting to come downstairs and escort me up.
Why?
And why was there nothing written about any supposed new rule posted near the lobby desk or near the elevator?

Despite the fact that the meeting was public and the female city employee manning the lobby counter had a key that would've opened the elevator and allowed me to attend the meeting on time, they intentionally forced me to stay in the downstairs City Hall lobby for over 15 minutes while nobody ever came down; the rule didn't exist, they just didn't want citizens to attend.

This we know because when I finally was able to get upstairs, thanks to the efforts of Comm. Keith London, guess what?
Just as the one-and-only HB citizen who'd actually be present at the meeting was about ready to walk into the room full of city employees -me- the meeting was suddenly and mysteriously postponed, while the city employees scurried away,

Then-Assistant City Manager Mark A. Antonio raced into his office to hide and refused to explain to me or Comm. London why the public meeting was abruptly shut-down.
Though to be fair, Antonio did mange to yell in our direction before shutting the door, but it had nothing to do with why he allowed what happened to me to happen.

No, not exactly the way it appears in civics textbooks or the Florida Constitution.

At a publicly-noticed HB Planning & Zoning meeting a few years ago, one that was being televised LIVE throughout the city and City Hall from the HB Cultural Center, before a grand total of citizens at a meeting where about a dozen city officials, employees or representatives sat around a table in the middle of the room, a Hallandale Beach resident was threatened by the head of the Board with eviction from the meeting, and then threatened with arrest for lawfully filming the public proceedings from their seat, about 75 feet away.

Then, as if that wasn't enough, Board member Sheryl Natelson stated that she didn't want to have her comments recorded, and said that she would not speak until the camera was turned off.
As if she was the one who decided what was and was not public at a public meeting.

As more regular readers of the blog would know, that HB citizen attending a public meeting was me, and it was my camera, from 75 feet away, that was recording what was a public representative was saying at a public meeting.

Mr. Scott and his team would be smart to know before he arrives on Wednesday that that's the mentality of the powers-that-be in this city, and that's how they do things here.

Thru obfuscation, intimidation and stealthiness, and even a willingness to threaten to arrest you for doing what you are legally able to do under the Florida state Constitution. 

Wednesday night looks to be quite a night. 

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