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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

No end in sight for Hallandale Beach's ethical problems with CRA funds: The Palms Community Action Coalition's lack of public transparency -and Murvin Wright's fingers in so many pies- are THE logical result of years of unethical dealings in Hallandale Beach, wherein taxpayer & CRA dollars routinely go out to pals of City Hall, and compliance with laws, common sense and real-world notions of oversight and conflict-of-interest take second place to personal/political gain

October 3rd, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Below is a copy of my overdue letter of Tuesday afternoon to Broward Inspector General John W. Scott and his staff about the troubling ethical problems in Hallandale Beach that continue to this day, especially the deceit and deception -and lack of prudent oversight by the city- that has routinely taken place place regarding the issuance of HB CRA funds to so-called community groups.

The only difference from what was sent and what I've got below are that I eliminated the two places where I accidentally repeated a word or two, and removed some excessive wordiness.

You should also know that my October 15th blog post of last year regarding Hallandale Beach's longstanding ethical problems continues to get eyeballs weeks and months later, largely because the facts and truthful accounts I gave here of unethical/criminal behavior by people with power and influence who should know better, resonates with readers in meaningful ways that local TV and print reporters who refuse to report on these matters continue to completely misunderstand and give short shrift to.

That post means something to people close to the scene of the crimes, or who live in towns where similar things occur under the media's nose without mention.
That's why this post has now been seen 23,771 times as of this morning:
Ethics? Not for us! Follow-up to my post re Hallandale Beach's unethical "business as usual" attitude, with "special rules for special people" if they are named Joy Cooper, Bill Julian and Anthony A. Sanders; What ethics? What rules? @MayorCooper, @SandersHB


February 19, 2013

Dear Mr. Scott:

My letter to you today formally requesting an investigation by your office into the following matters is broken into two parts.

I.  The Hallandale Beach CRA

The preponderance of evidence, via the City of Hallandale Beach's very own reports and documents clearly shows that the The Palms Community Action Coalition's lack of public transparency -and Murvin Wright's fingers in so many pies- are THE logical result of years of unethical dealings in Hallandale Beach, wherein taxpayer & CRA dollars routinely go out to pals of City Hall, and compliance with laws, common sense and real-world notions of oversight and conflict-of-interest take second place to personal/political gain.

Over-and-over, a hazardous even toxic trail of unprofessional and unethical behavior leads right to Hallandale Beach City Hall, with taxpayers and small business owners always paying the high price for City Hall's favoritism and crony capitalism in the form of not just continued incompetency, but wasted time and opportunities, and with little tangible to show for the money spent. 

Mr. Scott, have you seen the city's most recent evaluation report on the Palms Community Action Coalition's request for funding? 
That's a rhetorical question.
Taxpayers haven't, unlike the past two years when it at least appeared on the city's website..

I ask because the many deficiencies of the Palms Community Action CoalitionInc.'s request cited by the city in their 2011 analysis of their request for CRA funding, and the needs of the public for honesty, have NOT been resolved to taxpayers' satisfaction in their 2012 request in the most fundamental way -transparency.

A reasonable person can see that it was NOT because it is readily-apparent by the utter lack of transparency with the community on their own website.
The website advertises itself as the best way fro the community to keep informed about their activities, but they have no activities listed since June of 2011, a fact I have known for well over a year and which I told then-CRA Executive Director Dr. Jackson, Jr. about in a September 2012 email, which was also bcc'd to your office. (See bottom.)

And what has happened in the intervening five months, Mr. Scott, since I showed Dr. Jackson the true facts using the city's own documents?
Nothing has happened.
You and your team can see that for themselves.

Yes, despite there having been being two management people in the city's CRA office and three in the City Manager's office making over $100,000 a year, presumably a sign that they are in some way competent, NONE OF THEM seems to have had any ability or willingness to insist to Murvin Wright and Jessica Sanders that in exchange for the tens of thousands of CRA dollars they and their group have received in the past, to say nothing of getting their very own office on city property at the Hepburn Center -used by Comm. Anthony A. Sanders wife, Jessica- and the use of city personnel and resources, the only group in the city with that "right," the city's taxpayers and residents are entitled to at least some semblance of transparency from this group that explains what they actually do, see a measure of progress, and see just who the Directors and key personnel are, their qualifications, and the salary/fees they receive, if any, for their involvement.

Which is to say, the bare minimum.
But they and the City Commission can't manage that, Mr. Scott, despite my having mentioned it numerous times at City Commission meetings.
The folks at Palms Community Action Coalition, Inc., led by Murvin Wright, don't care about what the public thinks or wants or expects, they just want their money.

"Their money" not really being their money, of course, but they do act 100% entitled to it, and woe to anyone in this city who asks reasonable questions about their activities -or lack of them- at public meetings.
Then, the City commission sycophants jump into action to defend this!

Could you explain how the city's CRA Board of Directors, in the form of the City Commission, would STILL vote to give them funds last year despite the fact that this and other problems were still readily-apparent, and had this very obvious problem that has NEVER BEEN RESOLVED?

THAT should give you some sort of idea of the kind of non-existent oversight the CRA Board of Directors has provided on behalf of taxpayers for many years.
As long as their friends and political supporters received their funds, what the public thought didn't matter.

Can anyone -you perhaps- please explain to me how the person in charge of such a disorganized and unprofessional (so-called non-profit) group, Murvin Wrighta person who is also connected to other groups requesting money from the CRA/city, and with connections to CRA contractors, is able to remain in charge, given such obvious and grievous management and PR mistakes?

But then if you or anyone else could explain THAT, literally, the un-explainable, what would you then be forced to conclude by the preponderance of evidence when you discover that this very same person, Mr. Wright, was also appointed to the city's CRA Advisory Board, the very group that casts a preliminary vote in determining what community groups, if any, receive CRA funds?

And then, on top of that, you discover who the person is who appointed him in the first place, knowing full-well what his personal and business connections are to the groups, and knows that Mr. Wright is eager to be paid by contractors working for the CRA in at least one respect, with the park in NW Hallandale Beach?
Yes, as if the other already-known conflict-of-interest isn't bad enough and a bitter pill to swallow for the ethical and concerned citizens and residents of this city?

Well, the answer to that question, the very person in this city who is supposed to set the example here for upholding ethical standards, following the law, ensuring public accountability for taxpayers, residents and small business owners, and making sure nothing nefarious is taking place is the mayor, Joy Cooper.

Mayor Cooper is the person who already fully knew Murvin Wright's status as a walking/talking poster boy for conflict-of-interest, and yet went ahead and appointed him to the CRA Advisory Board anyway.

That simple fact should stop you cold, Mr. Scott, and give you and your investigators pause and make very clear how very different from you, me and most people in this city Mayor Cooper's understanding and notions of ethics and proper management is.
She doesn't want to have the highest ethical standards, she merely wants what she wants. 

Even if Mr. Wright recuses himself on votes regarding the Palms Community Action Coalition, logically, he still gets to vote AGAINST their competitors for CRA funds.
That is a self-evident conflict of interest that the City Manager, the City Attorney, the City Commission and the CRA employees have allowed to exist despite the fact that it is NOT in the best financial interests of this city's taxpayers and business owners.

(But then it was me, not them with all their resources, who first discovered the fact that the City of Hallandale Beach has for years been routinely awarding tens of thousands of dollars a year in CRA funds to so-called non-profit groups anyone from the city actually verifying the accuracy of the submitted documents.
For instance, a group that was no longer legally considered by the IRS to be a non-profit, yet they kept taking the city's money for years, anyhow, and had even submitted another for this year. The city acted on the honor system instead of providing the sort of oversight the public expected, with the result that lots of money that could have been better spent flowed-out for years with little to show or it, and with no plans by the groups for their own long-term sustainability.)

And again, it's not like that is the only group seeking CRA funds that Murvin Wright is associated with.
Do you even have a list of the other groups seeking HB CRA funds that Mr. Wright is connected to?
I can tell you that the public doesn't.
Good luck trying to anyone trying to get that information pried-out of the hands of City Hall!

And just so there's no confusion on this point, Mr. Scott, that would be the Murvin Wright who on one city document after another lists his address as the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.
A person who is not only supposed to know the difference between right and wrong but to live it, ends up being the mascot for so many things that are ethically and legally nefarious and which have been allowed to exist for many, many years.

I formally invite you and your staff to come to Hallandale Beach tonight and watch as Murvin Wright of the CRA Advisory Board waits to see if his so-called non-profit yet again is foolishly rewarded with tens of thousands of dollars from, yes, the CRA.

Agenda for Tuesday night's CRA meeting starting at 6:30 -lots of VERY questionable items!

II, Ethical and legal problems persist at HB City Hall, and include the following:

Mr. Scott, the proper and state-mandated public noticing of city meetings continues to be a a very serious problem at HB City Hall, despite many years of public complaints.

To cite but two examples from January, the CRA Advsiory Board and Visioning meeting.
The CRA Advisory Board meeting, one that was actually required by a vote of the City Commission at their last meeting in December was not listed on the city's own Meeting Board in the lobby of City Hall moments before the meeting started.
I know because I was going to the meeting and took a photo of the board and the missing notice.

And while many cities seem to be able to reliably get their own meeting notices on their own website without any problem, Hallandale Beach seems to have a major learning curve, as neither meetings were on the city's website, again, even moments before they started.

Even more troublesome ethically is the City Manager and City Commission's shrugged shoulders at being told about it and their cavalier attitude about complying with state law.

You and your staff can see that for yourself if you watch the video of that Visioning meeting, the same one where citizens were NOT allowed to speak for the duration of the eight hours or so it took place.
That is, IF there were any video of the elected City Commission talking about city policies and spending money for so very long.
But there isn't.

Instead, there's just the memory in everyone heads who attended of the City Manager indignantly insisting that the information was there and twice, the City Clerk checking the city's website on her computer at the dais and saying that it wasn't, and the elected City Commission -save one member, Comm. Michele Lazarow, who who brought the matter up- acting like it didn't matter at all to them, and that they almost resented it even being brought up.

That's the reality of living in this city, Mr. Scott, not at all like the lofty ideas on public participation and outreach in a book on public administration.

Another completely unacceptable situation is that the city's "Current List of Registered Lobbyists" is 48 weeks oldand has not been updated since March 16th of LAST YEAR, which is to say many months prior to the very controversial Beachwalk tower development project/city-giveaway was voted upon and approved while the majority of the residents in the neighborhood most directly-affected by it were out-of-town in August.
Yes, that's how they do things here, Mr. Scott

Tell me, does 48-week old information sound like the City of Hallandale Beach and its elected leaders and high-priced staff is following the letter and spirit of the law to you, Mr. Scott?
It doesn't to me and many people I know in this city.

Additionally, the Lobbyist/Visitor contact list on the city's website
http://www.cohb.org/index.aspx?NID=835 that is supposed to give Hallandale Beach citizens a reasonable degree of transparency regarding who is visiting whom at City Hall, does NOT currently work.
How many months has it not been there as legally required?

Elected Official Requirements

Section 3(c), to further promote full and complete transparency, Elected Officials must disclose any and all lobbying activity that knowingly occurs between themselves and individual lobbyits or their rprincipals or employers outside their governments offices/premises.  This shall include communicating by any form of telephonic or electronic media.

  1. The disclosure shall include the lobbyist's name; the name of the entity by which the lobbyist is employed; the name of the person or entity for whom or which he or she is lobbying; the date, time and location of the meeting; and the specific purpose and subject matter of the meeting. 
  2. The disclosure shall be made within ten (10) business days of the lobbying activity, but must, in any event, be made prior to
    any vote on a matter that was the subject of the lobbying activity.
  3. The dislclosue shall be filed for public inspection.  

Instead, when you go to http://www.cohb.org/DocumentCenter/View/2253 you get:

We're sorry, but there is not a web page matching your entry.
You entered: www.cohb.org/DocumentCenter/View/2253
Click here to go to the home page 
It is possible that you typed the address incorrectly, or that the page no longer exists. 

How many months has this been the case?
I can tell you that it has been several months, but it could even be MUCH further back than that.
Mr. Scott, does that sound anything at all like a city that is actively trying to do what is both legally required and what is in the best interests of its citizens to you?
It doesn't to me.
Not by a long shot.

The three key transparency tools that the public counts on to be able to have any degree of trust in the city, ones that are mandated by law, and yet all three are effectively broken in this city where citizens constantly take it on the chin when trying to simply get what they are legally entitled to: access to relevant public information in a timely fashion.

It looks to me like you and your investigators have a LOT more work ahead of you in Hallandale Beach, and that's just part of the iceberg.
There's a lot more...

At the Broward League of Women Voters luncheon meeting in Coconut Creek that you spoke at last month, which I and four very concerned friends and civic activists from Hallandale Beach attended, I was going to suggest to you in the strongest possible terms that for all your talk about public outreach at various places around the county, anything less than a public appearance by you, very soon, in this corrupt and poorly-managed city, to answer the reasonable questions of the people who are most effected by the dysfunctional culture of corruption here, is wholly unsatisfactory.
A field hearing.

Your talks to the LWV and other high-minded civic groups are fine, there's obviously a place for that, but you and your staff need to fully understand and appreciate that the beleaguered citizens of this community actually need to see you walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
And to do it here in-person in Hallandale Beach.

FYI: I filmed your remarks at the meeting and the subsequent Q&A and plan on uploading some of it to my YouTube Channel this weekend.


That letter to Dr. Jackson from last year

Some comments & questions about trustworthiness and transparency in the Hallandale Beach CRA budget - we require stricter reporting standards and more effort at openness

to AlvinReneeSheena
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

I've stated repeatedly at one public meeting after anothee 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
a 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 HB 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.

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 

Exhibit G-1


GROUP  DATE-  24,2011 



The 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 

Exhibit G-1

NAME OF ORGANIZATION  Lampkins Creative Arts 4 All 

GROUP  DATE  May 24,201 1 



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

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#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy

Thumbs up! What a night! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016

Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015

Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. �� In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue looks like, up close, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

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View of Rio De Janeiro from my room.

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