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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Csaba Kulin on Monday night's citizen 'blackout' at Hallandale Beach City Hall re first of two meetings re 2013 budget, courtesy of the Usual Suspects -Joy Cooper's Rubber Stamp Crew; Today's meeting is at 4 p.m.

Before reading what Csaba wrote and sent around town around Noon, I remind you of the earlier email I received from Hallandale Beach Comm. Keith London about the two 2013 budget meetings -the first of which was last night, the second of which starts at 4 p.m. today- since it concerns the obstacles being deliberately placed in residents way to attend these meetings, placed there by people at HB City Hall whose salaries you pay for:

Your Tax Dollars at Work
Hallandale's $100 Million Budget Discussion Held Upstairs in Room 257 instead of Commission Chambers
Weeks after posting the agenda that Budget Workshops will be held in Commission Chambers, staff moved the meeting to room 257, upstairs and difficult for the public to access.
City Hall closes its doors at 5:00 PM.
In order to attend the meeting, if you arrive after 5pm, you must go through the Police Department and be escorted upstairs.
To make access to the public easier:
  • Commissioner London motioned to hold the second budget meeting in Commission Chambers, on Tuesday August 14, 2012
  • These meetings are two of the most important meetings of the year. They should be in Commission Chambers
  • Commissioner London was not informed prior to the meeting
  • Commissioner Lewy seconded the motion for discussion
  • Commissioner Lewy stated "comfort of staff is not his priority"
  • Mayor Cooper stated "this is ridiculous and political and total BS" but also "the budget meeting worked fine last year in city commission chambers"
  • So which one is it Mayor Cooper? "BS" or "access and ease for the public"

The final vote was 3:2 London and Lewy for the public ease of access.
Cooper, Sanders, and Ross to hide upstairs away from those pesky members of the public.

Commissioner Keith S. London

August 14, 2012
Dear Residents of Hallandale Beach,
A couple of days ago I sent you a three page narrative about most important meetings of the year for residents of Hallandale Beach. The meeting was supposed to take place August 13 and 14, 2012 at 4:00 P.M. in the City Commission Chambers. At the last moment it was moved to room 257 of City Hall. City Hall closes at 5:00 P.M. and you can only enter trough the police station with an escort. I do NOT know how many of you tried but only one or two residents braved to come upstairs to room 257. Commissioners London and Lewy tried to move today’s meeting but Mayor Cooper, VM Sanders and Commissioner Ross voted to have today’s meeting upstairs away from those pesky residents. So much for encouraging public attendance.  
I was very disappointed that I did not see more of you at the meeting. The City is going to spend a $100 million of your dollars, 11.4% more than last year, hire 53 additional employees and issue bonds of $56.7 million dollars for a number of projects. You have to pay for 20-30 years the bonds and have millions of other increases to operate these projects. I hope you will find the time to come to today’s meeting and speak up.
There were about 5-6 topics the City Manager presented and the Commissioners discussed. I spent many, many hours to prepare myself to ask questions. After each topic the residents were supposed to be able ask questions prior to moving on to the next item. The Mayor did not ask the residents, there were only 2 or 3 of us, if we had any questions.
I was able to ask one question after the item was passed and everyone stood up started to go to have dinner. The Mayor did NOT ask if “anyone in the audience have questions?”
Do I have to whistle or knock a chair over to make some noise to be recognized? The person in charge of the meeting has to ask the audience. How difficult is that?
I did not have a chance to ask the City Manager a number of very important questions.
·         Why did she skip over the Staffing Changes on page 47? The City is adding 53 FTE additional employees costing $3.4 million dollars.
·         Why did the General Fund expenses increase $5.9 million dollars or 11.4%?
·         Why did personnel expense increase $6.4 million dollars or 15.4%?
·         Why did our personnel expenses increase 81.83% in the last 10 years? The rate of inflation was only 24.86%.
·         Why does it cost the City an average of $104,861 dollars per employee?
·         Why does the City want to issue $56.7 million bonds when about $10.0 million is already funded by the City or paid by a developer?
I had many other questions, more than most commissioners, but the Mayor did not want to hear them or just “forgot” to ask for them.
The question asked “why we NOT have more public participation?” The reason is, it is not encouraged by the Mayor. Sitting there for six (6) hours listening to obvious misstatements and omissions and not being able say a word?
Commissioner Lewy told me after the meeting “candidates are there to learn not to ask questions”. It may be so, but I was there as a resident, not a candidate. What are the residents at the meeting, potted flowers or decorations, seen but not heard?
I am not going tell you about the decisions made by the City Commission for a few days but I can tell you last night was a very discouraging evening for me.
I will try to gather enough strength to expose myself to another night of frustration.
I hope you will be there tonight at 4:00 P.M. and speak up.
It is your CITY and YOUR money, spend it the way you like to.
Csaba Kulin

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