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.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"High Noon" in Hallandale Beach on Wednesday night? After so many months of HB City Hall intentionally stonewalling the public, the city's long-running CRA scandal and the Broward IG's damning report of the HB CRA Board, alleging "gross mismanagement" of millions of dollars, will FINALLY get a public airing on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at HB City Hall; Is the Florida Joint Legislative Auditing Comm. poised to come to the rescue of long-suffering HB residents who've longed for a complete audit of the entire CRA for many years, and want to see some punishment after years of ZERO accountability and little tangible to show for the MILLIONS that went out the door?

Above, looking north on U.S.-1/S. Federal Highway at the scene of so much of the toxic public policy problems in our small ocean-side city the past ten years, where logic, reason and integrity rarely if ever intersected, with residents, taxpayers and small business owners always taking it on the chin and the powers-that-be doing whatever they wanted with no fear of punishment: the Hallandale Beach Municipal complex, 400 S. Federal Highway. January 29, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. ©  2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved
"High Noon" in Hallandale Beach on Wednesday night? After so many months of HB City Hall intentionally stonewalling the public, the city's long-running CRA scandal and the Broward IG's damning report of the HB CRA Board, alleging "gross mismanagement" of millions of dollars, will FINALLY get a public airing on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at HB City Hall; Is the Florida Joint Legislative Auditing Comm. poised to come to the rescue of long-suffering HB residents who've longed for a complete audit of the entire CRA for many years, and want to see some punishment after years of ZERO accountability and little tangible to show for the MILLIONS that went out the door?

Today's important blog post consists of two parts. The first is a group email that I sent out this morning around 8:45 a.m. to a much larger than usual number of people in South Florida and around the state, after having noticed a new and interesting post over at Broward Bulldog regarding the never-ending scandal that is the Hallandale Beach CRA, and the efforts of the powers-that-be at HB City Hall to cover-up all the financial facts for as long as possible and avoid a thorough audit by credible third-parties. It's pretty self-explanatory.

I also have something from somebody for you to peruse the insightful email that was sent out last week by former HB Commissioner Keith London regarding Wednesday night's important HB CRA Board of Director's meeting at City Hall, the very first opportunity the public has had to discuss this matter, despite the Broward Inspector General's report on the city's "gross mismanagement" having come out months ago.

Besides the usual assortment of well-informed Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and Broward residents, activists and bloggers, and the handful of reliable news media members I trust, I also sent it to Florida Governor Rick Scott, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi,  Florida CFO Jeff Atwater, Florida state Senators Don Gaetz, Jack Latvala, Joseph Abruzzo and Jeremy Ring, state Rep.Lake Ray, Broward Inspector General John W. Scott and Broward County Commissioners Sue Gunzburger and Barbara Sharief, both of whom represent parts of Hallandale Beach in their district.

Sen. Gaetz is the Florida Senate President, Sen. Latvala is the Chairman of the Ethics and Elections Comm., while Rep. Ray and Sen. Abruzzo are the Co-chairmen of the important Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, which Sen. Ring is a member of.
Sen. Ring is the only state legislator receiving my email today who is actually from Broward County. 
You more regular readers of the blog who pay attention and who connect-the-dots quicker than the news media know perfectly well why contacting state Senator Eleanor Sobel and or state Rep. Joe Gibbons would've been a waste of time, reasons which I explained in a recent post about this matter.

I have previously discussed the work of the JLAC a few times before here on the blog and the important role they might have if the Broward County Commission didn't do anything last month, which is exactly what happened

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Local10 video: Hallandale Beach CRA accused of misspending $2.1 Million
Broward County Commission takes no action on audit request.
Reported by investigative reporter Bob Norman
Published On: Jun 04 2013 07:11:25 PM EDT, Updated On: Jun 05 2013 11:01:19 AM EDT
http://www.local10.com/news/cra-accused-of-misspending-21m/-/1717324/20425002/-/3mpae4z/-/index.html

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Broward Bulldog
Hallandale may seek Attorney General opinion on CRA spending; statewide impact seen
By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org 
July 9, 2013 AT 5:56 AM

Hallandale Beach city commissioners on Wednesday will consider asking the Florida Attorney General for a ruling on how community redevelopment funds can be spent, a decision that could have a far-reaching impact.

“This is an opinion that would affect every CRA in the state of Florida,” Hallandale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) attorney Steven Zelkowitz cautioned city commissioners at a recent meeting.
Read the rest of the post at:

Until I saw this article an hour ago, I was planning on sending out an email later this afternoon that I thought you'd find of great interest 

In it I'd cordially invite everyone to attend this "High Noon in Hallandale Beachre the HB CRA scandal on Wednesday at 6 pm at HB City Hall, and come watch in awe as the city once again tried their best to obfuscate, lie and spin its way out of a hornet's nest while denying any culpability at all.

And, of course, I'd have implores you of the great importance in attending this meeting so that you, too, can bear witness to what some of us concerned HB residents have been watching in plain sight for years while responsible parties did nothing but avert their eyes.

I call it "High Noon in HB" because of what's truly at stake tomorrow night:
HB City Hall's longstanding lack of ethical integrity and the CRA Board's desire to "Win friends and influence people" thru old-fashioned crony capitalism  and dollars not their own, with little-to-no public accountability, despite  lots of high-paid staff that never inspired confidence among the public and who never evinced much-if-any concern with such picayune matters as laws, norms and ethics, to say nothing of the community's long-term best interests.

Those of you who think you will hear an even semi-plausible or reasonable explanation from Mayor Joy Cooper, Comm. Alexander Lewy and City Manager Renee Miller for why they have fought so hard to prevent a public meeting on the facts of this matter of great public importance, down to them publicly haranguing members of the public -and publicly haranguing other members the elected City Commission- who DID want to talk publicly
and candidly about it, and the millions of CRA dollars that have flown out the door with so little tangible to show for it, are, I'm afraid, in for a great deal of disappointment.

This is not Japan, so they will NOT apologize for their longstanding stonewalling, nor will they oblige you in trying to explain their stealthy actions and words of the past several months, just as they believe they never needed to publicly explain to you why they have fought so hard and for so long to prevent a public audit of the entire HB CRA from ever taking place.

And no, to answer another question I anticipate, you will also NOT hear any reasonable explanation tomorrow night, years-after-the-fact, for why Comm. Lewy, after midnight at a HB CRA meeting with few if any residents still in attendance, tried to funnel over $200,000 in CRA funds to a group controlled entirely by Comm. Anthony A. Sanders  and his wife, Jessica.

And to do so without ever mentioning the actual name of the group publicly, but instead, by erroneously referring to their so-called stellar track record.
A "track record" that the facts show is anything but stellar and a non-profit group which is and has been anything but transparent and accountable to the public for the money they've received for so many years from the city.
In other words, don't hold your breath waiting for battlefield conversions.

Below is the simple and common sense email from Keith London that he sent out last week to give the area an idea of what was really going on, and which I forwarded to many of you here in South Florida and around the state who are not on his email distribution list.

By the way, as of this morning, I've still NOT received all the public documents I formally requested weeks ago via a Public Records Request about Mayor Cooper, City Manager Miller and lobbyist Judy Stern and their intense lobbying efforts to prevent the Broward County Commission from voting for an audit of the HB CRA via the Broward County Auditor's office.
Surprise!!!

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NOT in my email but posted here on the blog for your information and education:

The reference above to Comm. Lewy refers to his actions and words at the public meeting of July 19, 2011, mentioned in my blog post of August 1, 2011
While you were sleeping: Comm. Alexander Lewy's budget chicanery & Liberal Guilt just cost you another $200,000-plus. For what and for whom, exactly?

See also:

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

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Keith London
Date: Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 10:30 AM
Subject: Finally- Hallandale's First Public Meeting to Discuss the Response to the OIG Report




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Everyone,
This is a reminder there is a meeting scheduled for next Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 6:00PM of the City Commission in conjunction with the Hallandale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (HBCRA) Board of Directors to review and discuss the City's/HBCRA's Final Draft Response to the Broward County Office of the Inspector General's Investigative Report.
The response to the OIG and Florida Legislature is due on 7-16-13, two weeks from today.
There is NO back up material at this time.
This meeting would not be taking place if not for Commissioner Lazarow making a motion seconded by Commissioner Julian and majority voted by Commissioner Sanders. Copper and Lewy voted NO to a public meeting and would still like everyone to believe nothing happened.
The following are the links to the documents from the Broward OIGs office for your review:
Broward County Office of the Inspector General, “Regarding Gross Mismanagement of Public Funds by the City of Hallandale Beach and the Hallandale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency:
  • The Inspector General made various recommendations on report page 56 related to ensuring the independence of the CRA and requested a status report by July 16, 2013. We are interested in the policies and procedures that City and CRA management intend to implement to ensure compliance with the requirements of Chapter 163, Part III, F.S.

Letter from the Florida Legislature Joint Legislative Auditing Committee requesting the following:
  • Please provide documentation to support how the initial amount was determined. If any estimates were used in determining this amount, please provide an explanation of the basis for using such estimate and how the estimated amount was calculated. Also, please provide the detailed spreadsheet that Ms. Ladolcetta references in her response.  
  • Please provide the specific authority upon which the City relied to use CRA monies for the above-noted expenditures. Absent specific authority to support the use of CRA monies for expenditures not authorized by Chapter 163, Part III, F.S., or not included in the CRA Plan, it appears that the CRA monies should be restored to the CRA Fund.
  • In addition, to resolve the disagreement, we request that the City Council, sitting as the governing board of the CRA, request an opinion from the Attorney General regarding the specific expenditures in question. The City Council should ask the Attorney General the following question(s): (1) Is the use of the CRA funds for such expenditures allowable under Ch. 163, F.S.? and (2) if not, should the City restore the funds to the CRA? In addition, we suggest that the City Council agree to abide by the Attorney General’s Opinion.
  • Please provide a copy of the status report to the Committee at the time it is sent to the Inspector General.

Hallandale’s Staff Response to the preliminary OIG report.
This is referred to as “staff’s response” because the meeting next week is the first time the OIG report is an official agenda item. To date, there has never been an official motion, resolution, vote or action by the city commission or CRA board of directors related to this important issue.
The lack response and oversight of this issue by Cooper has cost the taxpayers an additional $40,000 for the CRA attorney because of the additional work necessary to appropriately respond to the OIG Report and the Joint Legislative Committee Letter.
In Cooper’s and Lewy’s opinion, this issue is being appropriately handled by the City and CRA attorneys and requires no further discussion or explanation to the public; hence no transparency.  Please clickhere to listen and watch the June 17, 2013 CRA meeting:
But Cooper and Lewy refuse to respect the opinion of The State of Florida Attorney General the highest attorney in the great State of Florida. Please read the opinion here.
Please plan on attending this meeting and supporting open transparent government.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need additional material.
Regards,
Keith
Keith S. London
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Cell: 954-494-3182
email: keith@keithlondon.comwww.keithlondon.com
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