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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More tough questions for Hallandale Beach taxpayers to ponder as voting draws near on 2013 budget for controversial CRA; Why can't the city provide real oversight and criticize Jessica Sanders' continued inability to properly manage the Palms Community Action Coalition, which gets CRA funds? Because her husband is a commissioner, the same man who hides from savvy taxpayers rather than answer their questions about his land sale to the city in 2009 -for MORE than property was worth!; @MayorCooper, @SandersHB, @AlexLewy


Above, the property formerly owned by Comm. Anthony A. Sanders, which was bought by the city without any plan for its use. Now it is rented to a non-profit for $10 a year and Sanders can still use for FREE, courtesy of a motion made in 2009 by then-Comm. William "Bill" Julian, who was defeated in 2010 and who is a candidate again in November -as if we had forgotten all the damage he has done to this city. You won't be surprised to hear that Comm. Sanders, a Pastor, ignored the city's conflict-of-interests laws and voted YES on the motion.
As I've written here so many times, as has been the case since the city purchased the property in early 2009, and since he filed papers to run for re-election in June, Comm. Sanders has adamantly refused to speak publicly and candidly with HB taxpayers and answer questions about that 2009 land sale of his and his wife's to the city for more than the property was worth -and with no plan by the city for its use after purchase.
The two local newspaper reporters who have Hallandale Beach as part of their beat, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Tonya Alanez and the Herald's Carli Terproff, abet this pathetic and longstanding insult by refusing to write ANYTHING about Sanders, his wife Jessica, or the whole ethical cloud surrounding them, to say nothing about how they have personally profited from city spending decisions. The very things that residents care about. Why? 
May 22, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Below, my email of last Wednesday to Dr. Alvin B. Jackson, Jr., the Director of the Hallandale Beach CRA, sharing some well-founded concerns about what is and has been taking place with the CRA in this city.

You should know that as of 5:00 p.m. on September 19th, 2012, the calendar of the Palms Community Action Coalition, the shadowy group headed by Comm. Sanders' wife, Jessica Sanders, is still showing its most recent activities as being June 2011, 15 months ago.
Really.

That's the public's only way to judge what this politically-charged group is actually doing with the money they are given, sice the reports they file are worse than vague.

Does a group that has consistently shown that it is unable to do something simple, competently, for 15 months, deserve CRA funds?
No, it doesn't.

I understand the final CRA budget will be voted upon next week, and you can count on hearing more about that in the days before the vote, with particular notice paid to some of the groups who receive funding and who still can't coherently explain what they do or how HB taxpayers benefit, since the CRA is supposed to end "blight," not be a social welfare agency for supporters of the mayor and the city commission.

-----

September 12, 2012

Dear Dr. Jackson:

I have some questions and comments on my mind the day the CRA's 2013 budget goes final, one way or the other, which I hope you will be able to address tonight, if possible.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Northwest Hallandale Beach, that is, the area of the city west of Dixie Highway and north of Hallandale Beach Blvd., comprises only 13% of the city's entire population, albeit, a larger percentage of the population of the CRA itself.

Does your office have the numbers that indicate what the percentage of the CRA's total (non-personnel) budget that goes to NW Hallandale Beach and what are the percentages of the other parts of the city served by the CRA and their respective percentages?

I've stated repeatedly at one public meeting after another for the past few years -including one this past Spring when I asked you some questions- that with the costs of a website are well within everyone's budget, or even free, why is it that in the year 2012, there are Hallandale Beach groups and organizations that currently receive loans, grants or funds from the HB CRA unable or unwilling to create website that could more accurately depict the activities they engage in, who runs it on a daily basis, who comprises the Board of Directors, when and where are their public meetings, and with copies of or links to updated docs re their
non-profit status from the IRS or the state of Florida  Secretary of State, like Form 990's, available to Hallandale Beach taxpayers and the concerned public?

Are you or your assistants in a position to publicly explain to taxpayers why they should trust organizations that refuse to be transparent and refuse to create a website despite years of receiving public funds via grants, loans or CRA dollars?

Are you or your assistants in a position to publicly name any parties that have specifically told you that they will NOT create a website to accomplish this goal of openness?

Do you believe that it is appropriate or a good policy for a small city like Hallandale Beach to allow so many of the same names and faces to be involved in either a management or Board of Directors position on multiple organizations receiving taxpayer or CRA funds, esp. ones that have no tangible long-term funding sources other than the city?

That does NOT seem like a good idea to me.
I think it'd be better that those groups try to aggressively recruit retired business execs in this city who actually have a track record than to continue placing people, however well-meaning, who have no business experience whatsoever.
Decisions need to be based on reality, not hopes.

Where, exactly, are all the owners of HB businesses that already exist, whether successful or middling, located in and around Dixie Highway at CRA meetings?
I never see any of them -EVER.

Why aren't you and your staff doing everything in your power to get them to attend the CRA meetings to add their perspective, since shouldn't they have as much say in what is going on -or isn't- in their own neighborhood as people or groups who are asking for a handout from the city?

Most people in this city would say that those particular business owners should probably have MORE say-so, not less, than groups without a long-term financial sustainability plan.

Especially since they at least have some skin in the game and have actually expended their own money and energy to try to make a go of it, not the CRA's money.

And speaking of the business community, where, exactly, is the taxpayer-subsidized
HB Chamber of Commerce and Patricia Genetti in all of this?
Why isn't she helping you try to get these current business owners on Dixie or 1st Avenue
more involved?
Why isn't she helping you lead an effort to get all the businesses located on Pembroke
Road from I-95 to U.S.-1 -esp. the car dealerships- on the Internet? 

Especially since Google is offering free websites for a year to Florida businesses?

(By the way, personally, I don't think it helps the reputation of the Hallandale Beach Chamber one bit that its number-one employee, Genetti,  and its elected President, both live outside of the city. That's not something worth bragging about.)

In all the years that I have been going to public meetings in HB and which Genetti had been on the scene, maybe I'm wrong, but I have NO recollection of her ever being present at a CRA meeting and recognizing that it has a role it ought to be playing but is, instead, sitting on the sidelines.
Why?

In my opinion, we simply don't have enough resources to be in the position of wasting them

To me and many other observers, Dr. Jackson, after all these years, it's hard to shake the notion that there exists a small handful of myopic people in NW HB who are intent on trying to get a disproportionate share of the CRA budget, recreate/control the area in their own image(s), and trying to decide who gets money and who doesn't, when the question might be better asked, what should it get, if anything, and why is placing something -money or resources- there necessarily better than placing it somewhere else within the CRA zone that has more geographical or physical road advantages that would get more actual paying customers and make it successful?

Below is a slightly-modified excerpt from an email I sent two weeks ago that also gets to some concerns that many people I know have:

re the Palms Community Action Coalition, the group that is apparently so important that of all the non-profits in the city, Mayor Cooper and the majority of the City Commission said they must have an office at the city's Hepburn Center.

So, can you tell me what they do they do, who its Board Members are, and what do they do, exactly, that's different than what the city or another non-profit is already doing?
They can't really say.

Check out their scatter-brained website, and specifically, their website says under their 
"About us" menu. It reveals nothing.
About Us
If you have not already done so, please join our mailing list so that you are the first to now about upcoming events, new projects and all the ways that you and your family can benefit from our organization. Our Calendar will have the latest events so please be sure to check the calendar often, as well as your inbox.
The Palms Community Action Coalition is currently teamed with over 60 companies and organizations to help bring a change to our community that will help make each and everyday brighter. Feel free to visit them on our site or their individual sites for more information about what they can do for you.

But what do you find when you go to their calendar?

Well, as of midnight August 28, 2012, it's chock full of info about what they were 
doing -supposedly- in June of 2011.

(Dr. Jackson: It still says the same thing today on September 12th June 2011.
How could your staff be completely unaware of this, since it indicates not only bad management at the group, itself, but their inability to do the one thing it promises -that the calendar will indeed be their the public face to the public? How can anyone have any trust in them now?)

Don't believe me?
Look for yourself at the screen-grab I just did of their website's calendar page.
It speaks volumes!



It all seems so full of vague terms and generalities about them and their activities 
throughout the website.
It also calls into serious question why they are getting ANY money from the city if they are so mismanaged under Jessica Sanders that they/she can't so much as keep an updated calendar of their own activities.
Kids in junior high school can do it for their after-school clubs/sports team
practices, so why can't she?  

And tell me again why she needs to have an office on city property and the 
ability to use city personnel and city resources?
It's all very, very curious.

Eagle’s Wings Development Center requested $70,000 but received $35,000
Lampkin’s Creative Arts 4 All requested $58,300 but received $10,000

All information below is verbatim from city documents with cited URLs.
Warning, the city's URL loads slowly, so be patient!
---------------------

Eagle’s Wings Development Center 
416 N.W. 4th Avenue
Hallandale Beach, FL 33008 

From CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH FY 2012 COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMS GRANT REVIEW PACKAGE
Exhibit G-1


NAME OF ORGANIZATION  Eaqles Wings 

GROUP  DATE-  24,2011 

TOTAL COMBINED SCORE  396/500  

RECOMMENDED FUNDING  $35,000 

GROUP COMMENTS 
T h e applicant submitted an application, however it lacked some of the required attachment documentation (i.e certificate of insurance, letters of support or MOU) and detail. The applicant requested funding for an employment program to train individuals to become Certified Nurses Assistants (CNA) as the priority area.
There was confusion regarding the increase of requested funds for a smaller number of people to be served versus the amount of funding given by the City previously. The new request is for $55,000 more dollars to serve 90% less people  The thought is this may be due to the new CNA program. The reviewers agreed there is a need for employment  in the identified area; however the application did not provide enough detail on the implementation strategies. It was difficult to determine what portion of personnel would be providing the training program (CNA). It was also unclear who would actually provide the services. The applicant did not identify vendor, agency, or entity that would provide training, and there were no letters of support except Weed and Seed for the project. The applicant Sustainability Plan only indicated the loss of funds from Weed and Seed, therefore if not funded the organization could no longer  provide support for their programs. The reviewers felt this organization had not demonstrated a plan for sustainability. The committee recommended, in review of the budget, that items related to training and support for clients should be funded; thereby reducing request to $35,000 to cover those costs.

-----

Lampkin’s Creative Arts 4 All 
222 S. Dixie Highway 
Hallandale Bch, FL 33009 

From CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH FY 2012 COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMS GRANT REVIEW PACKAGE
Exhibit G-1

NAME OF ORGANIZATION  Lampkins Creative Arts 4 All 

GROUP  DATE  May 24,201 1 

TOTAL COMBINED SCORE  293/500  

RECOMMENDED FUNDING  $ 10,000 

GROUP COMMENTS 
The applicant has been known for providing free music and cultural arts programs for other 
community groups in Hallandale Beach. The request is to expand services; however the 
committee's assessment is that this organization appears to be new and should acquire 
assistance with program development. 
The applicant did not provide background information or description of current services. The 
application was confusing because the program description and the implementation strategy did not coincide. It was difficult for reviewers to determine how the program would be implemented and survive. The applicant did not provide a clear referral or recruitment strategy. The applicant was very broad with scope of who would be served and reviewers felt that given a program of this nature, the organization needs to be more specific about the target population. The evaluation plan is vague and does not provide any type of plan to ensure the desired outcomes. It should be noted that this applicant was provided an opportunity to resubmit the application. 
The committee feels this is more recommend $10,000 in grant funding to be used for basic
operating costs (facility, consultant, equipment, supplies).


I have also copied the following for you to peruse and review. I think it is exactly what we should have here in Hallandale Beach.

------------------
The Washington Post
Prince William changes how it will fund nonprofit groups
By Jeremy Borden, Published: August 26, 2012
Prince William County officials unveiled a process for funding community nonprofit groups and requiring stricter reporting standards.
Also, for the first time, budget officials streamed the session Thursday online.
Budget director Michelle Casciato outlined a process for funding nonprofit groups that observers said is more transparent and holds organizations more accountable. Casciato said budget officials have been working on the standards over the past two years.

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