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, May 3, 2013

Csaba Kulin asks Hallandale Beach City Attorney Whitfield THE question HB citizens have long wondered, esp. as the Broward IG's Office has been busy investigating the city and turning-up mountains of incriminating and jaw-dropping evidence: Who at HB City Hall is supposed to make sure that applicable laws, ordinances and rules, especially those regarding ethics and conflicts of interest, are followed and enforced fairly? Teaser Alert: You won't like her answer

Csaba Kulin in front of Hallandale Beach City Hall. January 7, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved
So, did you hear what Hallandale Beach City Attorney V. Lynn Whitfield said at last week's Hallandale Beach Planning & Zoning Advisory Board meeting about ethics and her role in the city, during yet another one of her so-called Ethics talks to them?
My trusted friend, Hallandale Beach and Broward County civic activist Csaba Kulin did.

He knows because he's the one person in this city to ask City Attorney Whitfield THE  important question that's long been needed to be asked, as HB citizens have woken-up to hear and read yet another jaw-dropping story about what Hallandale Beach's elected officials and highly-paid city employees have allowed to happen at City Hall while dodging their sworn and fiduciary responsibilities to Hallandale Beach citizens: oversight and accountability.

To wit, who at HB City Hall is supposed to make sure that applicable laws, ordinances and rules, especially those regarding ethics and conflicts of interest, are followed and enforced fairly?
Whitfield's answer will no doubt surprise you.

No matter how much you may wish it were not true, the reality is that Hallandale Beach City Attorney V. Lynn Whitfield DOESN'T seem to be getting any smarter about learning where she works, who she works with, who she really works FOR, or even what's really been going on in this city for years and adapting so that she remains firmly on the right side of the community's concerned and informed citizens.

We've already had a do-nothing City Attorney who didn't care about any of those things, and who excelled at ignoring all the routine corruption, incompetency and illegality going on all around him. 

His name was David Jove and he's currently laughing all the way to the bank on the ridiculous pension that HB citizens like you and I are paying for.
The pension that Jove "earned" from NOT saying anything or doing anything when he should have but consciously chose NOT to.

Whitfield certainly DOESN'T seem to appreciate the great harm that she's already done to herself or her reputation in this community, especially with its citizens, who gave her the benefit of the doubt after she was hired in 2011, vis-a-vis the corruption in this city and the pathetic excuses she's publicly made for why CRA money was allowed to go out the door for years to the CRA Board's friends and allies, with no tangible plan or intent by City Hall officials to EVER see whether it went to where it was supposed to go, even IF the idea that was approved had made sense, few of which ever did, of course.

Broward Bulldog
Broward Inspector General: Hallandale leaders don’t know what they’re talking about, By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org
April 23, 2013 AT 6:21 AM
The Broward Inspector General’s final report on the “gross mismanagement” of millions in tax dollars by Hallandale Beach is sharply critical of city leaders it says have shown a “basic misunderstanding” of what’s gone wrong.
Hallandale Beach city managers past and present, the city attorney, the mayor and other city officials defended the handling of funds of the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency in formal responses included in the 56-page report released last week.

You'd think the city's many highly-paid CRA employees and Assistant City Managers could've handled the straightforward task of double-checking and verifying submitted information by grant and loan applicants, wouldn't you, but you'd be dead wrong.

Year-after-year that job was always, apparently, someone else's job, but whose exactly?
Really, WHO was responsible for doing that?

Hallandale Beach City Hall and their flacks can't say and won't say, and neither will former City Managers Good or Antonio, who think that no harm can come to them despite all the harm they've done to this community's bottom line and Quality of Life, thru their neglect and lack of common sense and professionalism.

So what did City Attorney Whitfield say?
You can pretty well assume since I'm writing this that it was something that's NOT positive about cleaning-up HB City Hall and actually injecting a degree of normalcy or even professionalism, something that most people in town thought that she would at least try to do, at a bare minimum, given how obvious predecessor Jove was about hearing no evil, seeing no evil and speaking no evil.
Again, back when they were trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.

I can tell you that It was NOT something that you as a citizen taxpayer would appreciate as either her boss and the person who is ultimately paying her salary, with the idea that she is making an honest attempt to look after YOUR best long-term interests, not Mayor Joy Cooper's.

To say nothing of you and I and everyone else in this city paying CRA Attorney Steven W. Zelkowitz of Gray-Robinson over $200 an hour to say and write preposterous things in the city's official response to the Broward IG Report.

Things that are not only NOT true or believable -and I'd be willing to bet, not believable to a grand jury that ought to hear the evidence!- but which, frankly, read like an Introductory college fiction writing assignment.
You'd almost think Whitfield and Zelkowitz were talking about some other city, not the one we live and work in.

Hallandale Beach turns tables, accuses Broward Inspector General of “factual inaccuracies”
By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org 
April 11, 2013 at 6:30 AM

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, 

So, what did Whitfield say?
I can tell you it was NOT something that's going to endear her to you or help her one bit in creating any degree of space between her and unpopular and increasingly belligerent City Manager Renee C. Miller on the larger issue of whether either deserves to keep their jobs.

Yes, whatever good will Whitfield may or may not have earned up until now, or even any latent sympathy you may've had for her last year because of her brain surgery, has been erased the past few weeks by her own inexplicable actions and words.

And that includes the troubling and perhaps even haunting words that she uttered at last Wednesday's P&Z meeting, when she was asked a direct question, which shows she really HASN'T learned anything at all about how things have been here, and how they (largely) still are with her around.

HallandaleBeachBlog YouTube Channel video: Csaba Kulin re Hallandale Beach City Attorney Whitfield's comments re her role on ethics. Uploaded May 3, 2013. 
*That's real thunder you hear in the background, not SFX! The audio will be better next time.

Hallandale Beach civic activist Csaba Kulin speaks about the comments of Hallandale Beach City Attorney V. Lynn Whitfield on her role at HB City Hall re ethics enforcement, conflicts of interest and making sure that state laws and city ordinances are properly followed, including laws that protect citizen's rights, via Florida's Sunshine Laws in the state constitution.

Kulin is a member of the city's Planning & Zoning Advisory Board and Whitfield's very curious comments that she is "not the ethics police" and that her role as HB City Attorney does not make her responsible for making sure that the City Commission, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) or various Advisory Board members are actually complying with applicable laws and rules, came in response to Kulin's question to her during the April P&Z meeting, when she was giving another one of her occasional primers on ethics to the Board.

Very troubling questions about a lack of ethics and competency at HB City Hall, self-evident crony capitalism, and conflicts of interest have hovered over Hallandale Beach for many, many years, with its reputation among its own citizens and the rest of South Florida getting only worse by the year, as one embarrassing example after another has emerged of the city engaging in highly questionable behavior, and perhaps even illegal conduct.

In April of 2013, the City of Hallandale Beach was the subject of a scathing final report by the Broward County Inspector General's Office that specifically used the term "gross mismanagement" to describe the city's non-existent oversight and public accountability over millions of dollars in its CRA, which is comprised of the five members of the elected City Commission, including the mayor. Example after example is cited of near-invisible oversight of the CRA's activities by the elected City Commission, and the employees of the CRA and City Manager's office, with ZERO follow-up to see whether funds were spent for the purposes for which they were intended, or even whether various projects given funding were ever actually accomplished. 

This comes as no surprise to Hallandale Beach's most-concerned and involved citizens, including Kulin and myself, most of whom have viewed the CRA -as it has operated in this city- as little more than a city slush fund to reward the City Commission's favored social and non-profit groups and political allies, a fact that is bolstered by the IG Report, with lots of often incomplete or completely missing files and documents for grants or loans, and no apparent effort to double-check and see whether so-called "non-profits" really qualified for that designation.


*Due to exhibits, the IG Report takes almost a minute to download.

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