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Thursday, June 21, 2012

What's the difference between clean and Broward taxpayers 'being taken to the cleaners'? Bob Norman & Brittany Wallman on firm charging Broward taxpayers a million dollars a month to clean-up Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

Above, looking NW at the Broward County Government HQ at 115 S. Andrews Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. January 3, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier.

What's the difference between clean and Broward taxpayers 'being taken to the cleaners'? Bob Norman & Brittany Wallman on the firm charging Broward taxpayers a million dollars a month to clean-up Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport; 

WPLG-TV, Channel 10, Miami, FL
Broward Commission tosses low bid
By Bob Norman
Published On: May 02 2012 08:45:27 AM EDT  
Updated On: Jun 11 2012 11:58:07 AM EDT
Be sure read the reader comments!

Meanwhile, as the 13-month old Sun-Sentinel article below proves, just like the above, over a year ago, Seth Platt, supercilious flack-for-hire, and a living-and-breathing reminder of much of what currently ails the Broward Democratic Party with moderate voters, was trying to throw his light-weight around and kill the messenger.

In 2011, his target was Broward County Auditor Evan Lukic and in 2012 it's Bob Norman of Channel 10 who pops Platt Junior's balloon full of hot air, bombast and self-importance.

(This blog post today is one of the ones that got delayed by my bad service from AT&T last month, due to their server.) 

South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Broward overpaid almost $1 million to clean airport, audit says
By Brittany Wallman, Sun Sentinel
May 10, 2011

FORT LAUDERDALE — Broward visitors overpaid almost $1 million to clean the airport over the 2008-09 budget years, and the county still pays more than other Florida airport authorities for janitorial work, the county auditor says.

The new audit raises an alarm about a $63 million cleaning contract the county has with Sunshine Cleaning Systems Inc. Its 280 workers wash windows, clean toilets, vacuum carpets, and clean parking garages and sidewalks at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

At about $7.56 of cleaning per square foot, Broward's airport is paying more than twice what Miami's airport pays for similar work, county auditor Evan Lukic says in the just-released audit.

Relatively little in Lukic's audit -- about $15,500 worth -- is tied to alleged overbillings by Sunshine Cleaning. Rather, the mistakes he points to, totaling $950,000, were the county's. And county officials, including Airport Director Kent George, say they'll accept responsibility.

"Our aviation personnel did not do a great job in administrating this contract,'' George said on Monday. "Changes have been made. And it won't happen again.''

County Administrator Bertha Henry wrote to commissioners in a memo Thursday that "the underlying cause for this problem is a combination of staff insufficiency and to a lesser extent, competency.''

County commissioners are scheduled to talk about the audit on Tuesday, though the company has asked for a postponement. They will also consider extending Sunshine's contracts to clean the library and the South Regional Courthouse.

The scope of the problem with the airport spreads beyond George's turf. Sunshine's contract was vetted by county purchasing director Brenda Billingsley, placed on the September 2008 county agenda for Lukic, Henry, county attorneys and others to review at the time, and then approved by county commissioners.

George said the audit didn't shake his support for Sunshine.

"The company's performance at the airport has been very, very acceptable,'' he said on Monday. "They have done a good job with an aging facility and a growing passenger base.''

The contract included annual 4.1 percent raises for the cleaners that were higher than they should have been, Lukic says.

Just a few weeks after the cleaning contract was approved, the county changed its Living Wage Ordinance in a way that could have saved taxpayers $950,000 on the cleaning contract. On top of that, Sunshine paid its employees the lower wage but got to keep the extra that the county paid, Lukic says in his audit.

Lobbyist-attorney George Platt, who represented Sunshine in the contract negotiations, said the county insisted on creating the deal the way it was. He said the extra money was spent on employee benefits.

"It's just wonderful you can have a Monday-morning quarterback who was on the field and is now finding fault with a process he was part of,'' Platt said.

In the Thursday memo to commissioners, Henry says, "gaps still remain'' in county staff's ability to watch over contracts.

She asked staff to review the way the contracts are negotiated and said she will report their findings in 90 days. She also said she agrees with Lukic that the airport cleaning contract must be put back out for competitive bids.

Here's what happened, according to those involved: Inflation was so high when the cleaning contract was in the works, at 5.8 percent, that the county was afraid to pay for a contract that used the Living Wage Ordinance as its basis. The county's Living Wage was tied directly to increases in inflation.

So Sunshine agreed to pay $13.24 an hour in wages the first year, with a flat 4.1 percent raise each of the next four years. The contract was approved on Sept. 16, 2008.

Weeks later, on Oct. 7, the county voted to change its Living Wage to limit annual increases.

Lukic says purchasing director Billingsley knew the Living Wage law was about to be changed and asked George's aviation staff to reflect it in the contract. Yet no one followed up to make sure the contract was changed during negotiations, according to the auditor.

Henry said in her memo that after lots of explanations to her from staff about what happened and why, she heard "none that is acceptable to me and it will be addressed accordingly.''

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