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, December 16, 2012

Public corruption & incompetency hiding in plain sight - The Hallandale Beach CRA and its Exec. Director, Alvin Jackson, along with CRA "Directors" like Alexander Lewy, show their true colors -yet again! One thinks he's above the law and the other one wants to ignore the law on how CRAs operate; Broward Bulldog: Broward IG says Hallandale made “immense” gaffe in overseeing $12.7 million in city bonds; @AlexLewy, @SandersHB

The following information and anecdotes about some of the the inner-workings of the Hallandale Beach CRA comes mostly from an email of mine that went out over the transom on November 23rd to about 250-300 interested parties in the area.
I've been keeping it in cold storage until an opportune time like today came to post it on the blog, given that the city's final CRA meeting of the year is coming up Monday night at 6 p.m., including the final determination over how much certain groups will receive from the city.

After first reading this bit of news when it first came out a few days ago, I consciously decided NOT to ruin everyone's Thanksgiving Day mood by sharing it then.
But today's another day, so I'm sharing it now so that you're aware of what's really been happening here in Hallandale Beach with city-controlled funds that are supposed to be used to eliminate blight and create jobs, but instead are being used to... well, there's the problem in a nutshell.

Broward Bulldog: Broward IG says Hallandale made “immense” gaffe in overseeing $12.7 million in city bonds

As dumbfounding as it may sound to all of us who closely follow what happens in this city, it looks like the Hallandale Beach CRA and its Director, Alvin Jackson, have once again shown their true colors -yet again!
Another black eye for Hallandale Beach -to add to the growing collection.

At some point, after all the highly questionable things that Dr. Jackson has said and done and approved the past two years to make clear that he will only give lip service to the notions of genuine transparency and honesty in govt. that we all want in this city -for instance, Dr. Jackson illegally giving himself bonus that was NOT legally authorized by the elected City Commission, and then, them finding out about it after-the-fact!- those of you who naively cling to the faint hope that he will prove to be a reformer, and wants only what is best for this city's residents, taxpayers and small business owners, will have to accept the fact that by any reasonable and objective measure, the preponderance of evidence to date suggests  that he's NOT a reformer.

That evidence shows that he will do little to stop the CRA from continuing to be used as a handy ATM by the Hallandale Beach City Commission to siphon away funds for the use of their connected friends and pals via crony capitalism.

That is to say, their well-connected friends and associates in the community, who then produce few tangible results with those funds for the community's benefit or which reduce blight.
And yet unsatisfactory performance doesn't seem to prevent them from being given funds all over again, does it? 

As I've stated for many months, including via letters to Dr. Jackson himself, letters that I've shared with many of you and have posted onto my blog for all  to see, the reality for us here in Hallandale Beach is that we continue to see groups receive the city's CRA money with few positive results to point to, and just as bad, with little in the way of either genuine transparency or public explanation from these groups to the citizens of this community about how that money is really being spent.

Furthermore, as I stated to Dr. Jackson in those letters then and re-state to you now via this email, the best example of this continues to be The Palms Community Action Coalition, run by Jessica Sanders, wife of Comm. Anthony A. Sanders, wherein she is the only non city employee with an office anywhere in the city, over at the Hepburn Center.
And yet month after month the city's CRA's officials seem to be unable to summon the honesty or courage to tell her that she is NOT performing up to standards when it comes to keeping the public informed about what is happening with their dollards once she gets her hands on them. 

This particular group asks us as Hallandale Beach residents, taxpayers and small business owners to take them seriously, though nowhere on their own  website do they actually state with any specificity what they actually do.
Shouldn't we actually know what that is by now?

The sad truth is that if you read the city's own documents, as I have, it seems that group's main function is to be a public cheerleading squad for HB City Hall.
How exactly does that reduce blight? 

We are told on the Coalition's website that the best way to keep up with them is to look at their website's calendar of activities, but what do you see when you do just that?
Yes, you see the very same thing I told you about many months ago during the summer.
Their own website's calendar of activities is for June of 2011 -almost exactly 18 months ago.

The Broward Bulldog article I link to below only proves how very true and sordid our reality continues to STILL be with respect to both Dr. Jackson ignoring what is right in front of him -and all of us- and the behavior and conduct of the HB City Commission in their separate role as the CRA's Board of Directors.

That said, don't think that people who matter haven't already picked up on the fact that the HB City Commission is unrepentant for its past illegal actions and sins while wearing those Director hats at the CRA.
That message is sort of hard to miss when we've witnessed the City Commission collectively, and via individual members, directly challenge the legal authority of the Broward County Inspector General.

And we are given new evidence everyday, witness Comm. Alexander Lewy's continual denunciation of the independent auditor that the city hired to find out what really happened with over a million dollars that were to be spent on the Peter Deutsch land purchase on NE 8th Avenue for a city park, given that the city itself COULDN'T explain it (or why no one involved with the deal at City Hall was appropriately punished), as well as Comm. Lewy's repeated ridiculous public assertions that all funds from the city's CRA should be spent
ONLY in NW Hallandale Beach, not within the entire CRA district as legally proscribed, which encompasses several other parts of this city which are to receive funds to end blight and create jobs.

You don't have to be a legal expert to know that when the Florida legislature initially drew-up its enabling CRA legislation years ago that allowed communities to set up CRAs, it didn't intend for collected funds to be used only in one part of the CRA, nor for it to be used like a slush fund for the politically-favored.

Comm. Lewy's comments are both appalling and yet typical of the small-minded parochialism that he has repeatedly shown andn injected into the CRA -don't forget Lewy's post-Midnight attempt at a 2011 City Commission meeting to funnel over $200,000 to Comm. Sanders and his wife's Eagle's Wings organization, without Lewy saying the group's name publicly!- and deserve to receive the sort of public ridicule and contempt that such foolishness and contempt for taxpayers and common sense deserve.

(But Lewy is unconcerned about your indignant scorn, he's busy looking out for #1.
He does this by nakedly attempting to use his control over CRA funds to garner support for himself, and votes in NW HB for himself in 2014.)

Why should small businesses in other parts of the affected CRA not simply sue Lewy and the city and get court order requiring city to follow state law or risk losing control of the CRA entirely by naming trustees?

If we want genuine financial accountability and fidelity to the Florida constitution in this city, we are going to have to publicly stand up and ask for it from some law enforcement professionals who really want to enforce the laws, not continue to ignore them.
We already know who the latter are -they've long since proven their uselessness to the citizens of this community.

Next week, I'll be making that visit to the FBI field office in North Miami Beach that I originally mentioned to some of you recently, since it couldn't be clearer to me and so many of you that the Broward State's Attorney's office is NOT going to stop their longstanding and destructive sleepwalking routine.
A routine of indifference that has caused all of us years of unnecessary problems by allowing state, county and city laws to be broken with both regularity and impunity at Hallandale Beach City Hall.

I'll be posting this to my blog on Saturday morning, since at this point, it's important that everyone in the community who's the least bit curious, know full well that in Hallandale Beach, we STILL have highly-paid city employees as well as elected officials who are so disconnected from reality as to believe that they are above the law.
Me, I think they're NOT.

As it turns out, of course, I didn't post the email then, but I'm posting it now because Monday night is the Hallandale Beach CRA's annual shell game of ranking groups, per the CRA meeting at 6 pm. 
Talk about history repeating itself...
make sure you make plans to be here to watch this spectacle

6 pm Agenda at:

Item#9.A. - Community Grants Partnership Ranking & Recommended Funding from the HBCRA Citizens Advisory Committee

One of the usual targets of my ire on this blog, and for good and justified reasons, has been Zamar, Inc.
The leading Philanthropic oversight group Guidestar's page on Zamar states that their exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS in 2010 for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years, so why does the city still treat Zamar like it's tax exempt?

Here's the IRS doc report re Zamar and the Automatic Revocation of Exemption Information:

On the fourth page of this document, Document 11 - Exhibit 11 of the Zamar School of Performing Arts application to the city, they use a copy of the 2003 IRS form that is no longer valid about this organization.
And what, nobody at the CRA said anything about this????

Where does Dr. Deborah Brown get off thinking that she can fool taxpayers by including invalid docs from the IRS to try to scrounge up $50,000 from the city, yet again? 
Or by using docs from the Florida Dept. of State that appear to be seven years old and not current?

Where exactly is their current, properly filled-out 990 Form?

Why is that such a big mystery if they have nothing to hide?

There seems to be no end in sight for this woman getting tens of thousands of dollars from Hallandale Beach taxpayers every year despite consistently being less than honest or transparent with them.

And why, despite all the money involved is all this CRA loan information copied and managed
in such a consistently self-evident half-assed fashion that it can NOT be searched for on the
city's website?

Yes, it's hard to shake the impression that Dr. Jackson and Liza Torres of the CRA office want Hallandale Beach taxpayers, their real bosses, to be in the dark and NOT be able to simply look at easy to understand information so they can connect-the-dots and draw their own conclusions.

How can there be not one but two city employees at the CRA making over $100,000 a year -Jackson and Torresinvolved in this sorry spectacle of an effort, and yet this is what they present to HB taxpayers with a straight face, as if we should all be grateful?
With documents missing basic information?

Don't hold your breath thinking the beat reporters from the Herald or the Sun-Sentinel will look into any of this.
Like asking Dr. Brown for an interview so she can finally explain straight away just what taxpayers of this city have to show for all the money they've given her.

No, that sort of basic reporting is not their style, and answering questions is not Dr. Brown's, who last time I heard her name, was getting into a fight on Election Day over the polls at Ingalls Parks that required the Police to send a police car to break it up.

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