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.

Friday, March 8, 2013

My open letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott about the longstanding corruption and incompetency at Hallandale Beach City Hall and environs re the HB CRA: More shocking proof of what I've written you several times in the past: Serial malfeasance and millions of dollars squandered by public officials as State laws/ethics were ignored, and with little genuine public oversight or transparency. Broward Inspector General Scott assails Hallandale Beach for past and continuing "gross mismanagement" -possible "criminal misconduct"; @MayorCooper, @SandersHB, @AlexLewy


Above, the center of the unethical storm, where malfeasance has a homestead:  Hallandale Beach City Hall. January 29, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved



More shocking proof of what I've written you several times in the past: Serial malfeasance and millions of dollars squandered by public officials as State laws/ethics were ignored, and with little genuine public oversight or transparency. Broward Inspector General Scott assails City of Hallandale Beach for past and
continuing "gross mismanagement" -possible "criminal misconduct"

Broward Bulldog
Broward Inspector General slams Hallandale for “gross mismanagement”; CRAs elsewhere eyed
By William Gjebre and Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org 
March 6, 2013 AT 6:10 AM


March 7, 2013

Dear Governor Scott:

I'm writing to you today because I and many other concerned citizens of this community believe it's long past time for you and your staff to start paying  some serious attention to what's been allowed to go on in Hallandale Beach for YEARS, with nary a move by people legally in a position to both inquire into and prevent this sort of pervasive public corruption from continuing apace, to the detriment of the entire community.

Years of opportunities for this community to move forward and actually solve some problems were wasted thru corruption, incompetency and outright dereliction of duty by elected officials who were supposed to follow the law, not ignore it.

And yet even now as an IG investigation is underway, with damning news, current and former elected officials, administrators and city employees who engaged in this illegal and incompetent behavior continue to act like they are "untouchables."
This simply can not be allowed to stand.

For the record, I should state that I was the individual who blew the whistle to the Broward Office of the Inspector General (OIG) regarding certain specific failures that I had been able to uncover and prove regarding the Hallandale Beach City Commission, acting as the Hallandale Beach CRA Board of Directors, along with their highly-paid city staffers, including the then-City Managers Mike Good and Mark A. Antonio and City Attorney David Jove, failure to perform appropriate oversight and enforcement of applicable state laws and city rules/ordinances, with common sense ethical rules routinely violated all along the way.
For YEARS.

Specifically, I provided the OIG with information showing 
a.) that even in years where they were no longer legally considered non-profits by the IRS -for the YEARS of the group(s) failing to provide the IRS the required documentationgroups eager to receive HB CRA funds continued claiming that non-profit status to the Hallandale Beach CRA in their applications, knowing that the city's elected officials and staff weren't verifying the information. 
This all-too-true fact was borne out by the Broward OIG report, and,

b.) that purported non-profit groups routinely turned in incomplete documents, including the sort of relevant information that the public should reasonably expect the city to have in their possession and know in advance BEFORE awarding any funds -who are the administrators, what are they being paid in salaries or fees, etc.or, turned in documentation that was no longer valid, knowing the CRA Board of Directors and city staff would never make reasonable attempts to verify any of it.
Again, another fact corroborated by the Inspector General's report.

Recently the Hallandale Beach City Commission, acting as the HB CRA Board of Directors, despite all the facts, again voted to award precious CRA funds to a group, Palms Community Action Coalition, Inc.that claims on its own website that the best way for the taxpayers of this city and the general public to keep informed on its activities was to check their online Calendar.

That this was just a sop is perfectly clear from my 2012 email below to the well-meaning and new-ish then-head of the city's CRA, Dr. Jackson, which physically showed that the Calendar had not been changed one iota since June -of 2011.
It still hasn't been.
But despite this fact, tens of thousands of dollars have continued to flow freely to them...

All of this despite this particular group's having so little to point to in the way of tangible accomplishment that's consistent with the state's original purpose years ago in creating enabling CRA legislation -fighting blight.

This is yet another point the Broward OIG report makes clear -the City of Hallandale Beach DOESN'T check whether any group's stated goals are actually accomplished.

Tell me, without an objective and accurate measurement, what's the purpose of listing goals on an application?
Exactly, Governor Scott!
It's done merely for the sake of appearances, like so many other things in this city the past ten years.

But without an objective measurement of whether the purported non-profit groups have actually done anything positive, how do you know whether they are deserving of being funded the following year?
Perhaps that's why the City of Hallandale Beach doesn't believe in THAT.

You see, an objective measurement would no doubt hurt the feelings of the group's leaders and Board of Directors, to say nothing of their supporters in the HB community -other stealthy non-profits who want to keep the gravy train running.

Of course, a common sense move like an objective measurement would also necessarily blow-the-cover on what's been going on in this city for many, many years with respect to the non-profit groups NEVER actually being expected to show they're making any progress towards a defined goal.

So instead, guess what the folks at City Hall and the shadowy figures behind these groups have done, rather than correct the process, the policies and their own behavior?
Correct!

They publicly lash out and malign concerned citizens in the community who show enough gumption to publicly ask basic questions like, "What happened to the money?"
Yes, inconvenient questions that the powers-that-be at HB City Hall and their cronies prefer NOT be asked or answered.

Concerned citizens like, well, me for instance, and many of my friends here, all of whom desperately want to see this city be so very much better than it has been allowed to be, and as you might imagine, we are both frustrated and resentful that elected officials and the hired help continue to use the CRA funds like their own personal piggy bank, as if we couldn't see exactly
what they were doing -or do anything to stop them.

The Hallandale Beach's CRA Board of Directors' oversight of millions of CRA dollars has been a complete pretense for years, as funds were routinely co-mingled, allowing the City Commission and the City Manager ttreat CRA funds like they were 'found money' under a sofa cushion, or taken from their own personal piggy bank, with those funds carefully funneled to a select group of people in the community who have been and would be supportive (politically) of the members of the Board of Directors.
But, of course, it WASN'T their money to play Santa with, was it?

In fact, to give you some sense of how truly out-of-kilter things have been here for many, many years, until recently, Palms Community Action Coalition, Inc. was led on a day-to-day basis by the wife of HB City Commissioner Anthony A. SandersJessica Sanders.
Unlike any other real or imaginary non-profit group in this city, Mrs. Sanders was specifically given the use of a furnished office on city property, as well as the use  of city resources and city personnel.
All to very little genuine accomplishment. 

Which is why for years, Comm. Sanders has always been so very consistent when speaking at City Commission meetings with real estate developers with applications before the Commission, not so much job creation, which would be reasonable and predictable given his position, but rather about "job training," which is less reasonable, given what one of the stated goals of his wife's group was supposed to be.

Are you sitting down?
You guessed it: job training.
What are the odds?

And trust me, Governor Scott, the attorneys for the real estate developers speaking at the meetings know this fact, too, and carefully tailored their public comments towards him onto this subject almost exclusively.
Hmm-m...

I hope this fact-filled email of mine will have the effect of getting your attention and causing some wheels to start getting in-motion that will cause some real world consequences for the current and former elected officials and management at Hallandale Beach City Hall, people who were entrusted with responsibility and power to perform their jobs with fidelity to both the
law and common sense -and who were loyal to neither.

People who for years routinely abused their power and authority in order to use city funds like their own personal trust fund, to reward their various politically-supportive friends and cronies in the community, all while the Broward State Attorney's office did nothing but snooze.
That latter fact no doubt only emboldened them in their thievery and malfeasance..

Trust me, Governor Scott, this beleaguered community will be closely watching your response to what's gone on here.
It simply can't be allowed to stand, with no real-world consequences for both the perpetrators and those who consciously chose to look the other way.
Unethical behavior and illegal actions in the performance of the people's business should have genuine consequences that serve to remind others why they shouldn't be repeated.

--------

At this point in my letter to Governor Scott, I had a copy of my February 19, 2013 email to Broward Inspector General John. W. Scott, which was my blog post of February 20, 2013, titled, 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
http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/no-end-in-sight-for-hallandale-beachs.html

Below that I had and a copy of my September 12, 2012 email to then-Hallandale Beach CRA Executive Director Alvin Jackson, Jr. 

I posted that email to him here most recently on September 19, 2012 under the title, 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

In my opinion, Dr. Jackson, while not without some fault for some things the past year that I strongly disagreed with him on, was largely forced out of his position by Mayor Joy Cooper so she could make him the fall guy for the scandalous, unethical and illegal culture of corruption and incompetency that has been the very hallmark of the HB CRA while Joy Cooper has been mayor for the past ten years, always eager to throw her weight around and try to take credit for things, even when she had nothing to do with them.


Cooper has had innumerable chances over the years to change course and do the right thing by taxpayers and residents and move the CRA towards more openness and transparency in their dealings, so that taxpayers could be satisfied -but she consciously chose NOT to. 


Year-after-year she did what she does best, bullied and hectored others into letting her get her way and get what she wanted, even when that was not in the best short-term or long-term interests of this community, and the results -or rather the lack of them- are readily-apparent when you drive within the CRA district, especially within NW Hallandale Beach.


And all the while she made excuses for the dismal performances of former City Managers Mike Good and Mark A. Antonio, both of whose own egos, myopia and tone deafness on these matters made the IG report largely predictable, because there was so very much for those investigators to choose from, given Good and Antonio's years of bad judgment and willingness to look the other way so the mayor and her cronies could do what they wanted to do.


And speaking of looking the other way, hardly anyone has perfected that quite like former City Attorney David Jove, who was present all these years when one curious and unethical thing after another happened.

As it concerns the HB CRA, instead of doing his job professionally and genuinely earning his salary by stepping in when appropriate to prevent the commissioners/directors from engaging in their unconscionable behavior and approving documents that had never been verified, Jove just sat like a bump on a log earning his very nice salary and working on a very nice pension.


But there was a real cost to Jove's dithering and inaction and it's one that has been and will be borne by Hallandale Beach taxpayers, residents and small business owners for years to come -squandered money and wasted opportunities.

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