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.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Latest on the Curious Case of AT&T, the City of Hallandale Beach, the Hallandale Beach CRA, and AT&T's Non-compliance with Florida's Sunshine Laws -Why is the City of Hallandale Beach renewing a contract with AT&T, a firm that does NOT COMPLY with state law?; the mysterious text messages to/from Mayor Joy Cooper, City Manager Renee C. Miller and lobbyist Judy Stern to prevent the Broward County Commission from authorizing an independent audit of the HB CRA so HB residents could know where all the million$ went


Above, my photo of Hallandale Beach City Hall Complex, August 7, 2011. Back when the lights on the city's monument sign actually came on at night.

My blog post of this afternoon is a follow-up to several blog posts of the past few several months on several important and related matters, including:

a.) the issue of the current and past financial state of the Hallandale Beach CRA, but especially since its creation, given the millions of dollars that can not seem to be accounted for and the Broward inspector General's scathing report on it earlier this year alleging "gross mismanagement" of it by the HB CRA Board of Directors (City Commission) and high-ranking city officials; 



Above, the sort of headlines you can get and expect when, despite great citizen opposition, you use your position on the CRA Board to force the HB CRA to give the publishers -who make $200k a year in salary- a $50,000 CRA loan every year, despite the fact that they DON'T actually cover any legitimate news going on in the city, not even at City Hall.
But they do give you, the real head of the HB CRA Board, Mayor Joy Cooper, a "column" for you to spread your ill-considered nonsense and propaganda. Yes, that's right, The South Florida Sun-Times, the faux newspaper that DOESN'T even do Letters to the Editor.
So how exactly does that eliminate blight in this city?

b.) the effort by concerned Hallandale Beach residents, taxpayers and small business owners to get an honest and independent audit of the HB CRA by the Broward County Auditor, and then by the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee in Tallahassee;

c.) the way that Public Records Requests are dealt with in this city and specifically, my request of a few months ago for text messages between Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper, City Manager Renee C. Miller and Cooper pal and Broward lobbyist, Judy Stern, and their collective efforts to lobby and cajole Broward County Manager Bertha Henry and the elected nine-member Broward County Commission to prevent an audit from taking place as Hallandale Beach taxpayers wanted, so they can finally know where the millions of dollars really went for years with no real oversight or accountability;

d.) the city's longstanding anti-democratic and anti-taxpayer attitude and past track record of consistently attempting to hide relevant and germane public records from its citizens as long as they could, however they could, and the pernicious and negative effect that continues to have on the city and its citizens, as in this case, it appears on the face of it that the city is attempting to use AT&T as defensive bulwark against having to turn over public records that may prove embarrassing or difficult to justify if made public by Cooper, Miller & Stern.

For those of you who are new to this issue -that would be Channel 4/CBS4, Channel 6/NBC6, Channel 7/7 News and Channel 10/Local10, the Miami Herald, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, et al- or who've forgotten some of the pertinent details, you may want to re-read Tom Lauder's spot-on piece about this very matter from July,  

Media Trackers Florida
Hallandale Beach Mayor Fails to Report Texts to Lobbyist During Meeting
By: Tom Lauder 
July 31, 2013
http://mediatrackers.org/florida/2013/07/31/hallandale-beach-mayor-fails-to-report-texts-to-lobbyist-during-meeting

the many stories that have appeared on this at the Broward Bulldog
as well as some emails about these matters that I wrote and sent out previously, which appear below the agenda for tonight's HB City Commission meeting.

So, after all that, here's my email to Hallandale Beach City Clerk Sheena James this morning about these matters.
A lot of information to absorb be sure, but much of it familiar to many of you and it has the added advantage of connecting-the-dots that nearly everyone in a position to help this community's citizens have consciously refused to do, despite all the years of accumulated evidence all around us in this city, and what is -and isn't- over at HB City Hall.
They merely have to open their eyes.

-----


October 16th, 2013

Dear Ms. James:

Since according to the agenda for tonight's City of Hallandale Beach Commission meeting, as it appears on the city's own website, below, the city seems intent on extending their contract with AT&T, as well as purchasing more IT equipment, software and services from other vendors, I'm formally requesting public records today.

Specifically, I would like to have copies of documents relating to your efforts as City Clerk, as well as those of the City Attorney and CRA Attorney, to bring the city into compliance with the state's Sunshine Laws and the the 21st Century.

What exactly are your collective efforts the past two months to make public records available to the public who already pays the bill for them, under the state's Sunshine Laws?
How exactly is the city preserving text messages of elected officials and city administrators regarding official city business?
According to you, they aren't doing anything.

I'm asking specifically because you failed to provided certain documents to me relative to my Public Records Request for copies of the text messages between Mayor Cooper and City Manager Miller and lobbyist Judy Stern and to others in their efforts to lobby and prevent the Broward County Commission from authorizing the County Auditor to do an audit of the HB CRA.

The verbal and written reason you gave me at the time for the city's failure to comply was to blame AT&T, but you never provided a copy to me of the email or letter sent by you, Mayor Cooper, City Manager Miller and possibly City Attorney Whitfield and CRA Attorney Zelkowitz, asking AT&T for those requested public documents, and their official response.

You'll recall that at the HB CRA meeting where I spoke and brought this matter up, they all said from the dais that they'd "love" to be able to comply but that their hands were tied.

Okay, well I'm interested in finding out specifically how the city and those individuals have actually worked in the past two months, in a tangible way, to untie themselves and the city.
Have tried to change things for the better so that the public CAN finally access public
records in a timely fashion, using a phone service that HB taxpayers have and continue
to pay for.

Again, you never provided a copy of the correspondence to and from AT&T when the 
city failed to honor my request, and the agenda for tonight's meeting reminded me of this fact and failure.

I and many other HB residents seriously wonder why the city is renewing a contract with a company that according to you, the mayor and the city and CRA attorneys, will NOT comply with Florida's Sunshine Laws without the specific request of a court order.
Despite the fact that the records are clearly public records and they're being 
requested by the person with the account, a public official under state law?

I don't see how continuing this bad arrangement where citizens are intentionally left in the dark regarding public policy matters affecting the city is in the public's best interest.

I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.



-----
REGULAR AGENDA
CITY COMMISSION, CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2013 6:30 PM

1.    CALL TO ORDER

2.    ROLL CALL

3.    PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

4.    PRESENTATIONS

5.    PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - (To be heard at 6:45 P.M.)(Speakers must sign-in with the City Clerk)

6.    COMMISSIONER COMMUNICATIONS - Items not on the Agenda

A.    COMMISSIONER JULIAN

B.    COMMISSIONER LAZAROW

C.   COMMISSIONER SANDERS

D.   VICE MAYOR LEWY

E.    MAYOR COOPER

7.    CITY ATTORNEY COMMUNICATIONS  - Items not on the Agenda

8.    CITY MANAGER COMMUNICATIONS - Items not on the Agenda

9.    APPROVAL OF DRAFT MINUTES

A.    OCTOBER 2, 2013 REGULAR CITY COMMISSION MEETING (Supporting Docs)

10.  CONSENT AGENDA

A.    A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO EXPEND THE ANNUALLY BUDGETED FUNDS FOR TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES FROM AT&T BUSINESS NETWORK (AT&T) FOR THE DURATION OF THE PREVIOUSLY APPROVED AND EXECUTED CONTRACT; AND AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO EXECUTE ALL NECESSARY DOCUMENTS TO EFFECTUATE THE PURCHASES IN THE APPLICABLE FISCAL YEARS; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.(STAFF: CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

B.    A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO EXPEND AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED NINETY ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED SIXTY FOUR ($91,864.00) DOLLARS FOR HARDWARE MODULES, SOFTWARE LICENSES, MAINTENANCE, AND CONSULTING SERVICE FROM SUNGARD PUBLIC SECTOR AKA H.T.E., INC. PURSUANT TO AN EXISTING CONTRACT, AND AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO EXECUTE ALL RELATED DOCUMENTS TO EFFECTUATE THE PURCHASE AS NEEDED; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE. (STAFF: CHIEF INCORMATION OFFICER) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

C.   A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, AUTHORIZING THE UTILIZATION OF FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES AND GSA CONTRACTS AS LISTED IN EXHIBIT "2" FOR THE CITY'S INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY HARDWARE, SOFTWARE, SERVICE AND MAINTENANCE  PURCHASES FOR A TOTAL AMOUNT OF TWO HUNDRED NINETY THOUSAND ($290,000.00) DOLLARS; AND AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO EXECUTE ALL RELATED DOCUMENTS TO EFFECTUATE THE PURCHASES FOR FISCAL YEAR 2013 - 2014; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE. (STAFF: CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

D.   A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO EXPEND THE AMOUNT OF FIFTY SEVEN THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX ($57,186.00) DOLLARS TO PURCHASE TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES, FROM SPRINT, INC., UTILIZING THE U.S. GENERAL SERVICE ADMINISTRATION CONTRACT #GS-35F-0329L; AND AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO EXECUTE ALL NECESSARY DOCUMENTS TO EFFECTUATE THE PURCHASE FOR FY 2013-2014; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.(STAFF: CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

E.    A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO RENEW AN AGREEEMENT WITH AWARE DIGITAL FOR SUPPORT AND SERVICES OF CITY SECURITY CAMERA SYSTEM IN FY 2013-2014 IN AN AMOUNT OF FIFTY FIVE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX DOLLARS AND EIGHTY TWO CENTS ($55,486.82), AND AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO EXECUTE ALL RELATED DOCUMENTS TO EFFECTUATE THE PROJECT; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE. (STAFF:CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

F.    A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO RENEW THE ANNUAL CONTRACT FOR SCHOOL CROSSING GUARD SERVICES FROM STAFFING CONNECTION/ACTION LABOR MANAGEMENT, LLC IN THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF ONE HUNDRED THIRTY THOUSAND ($130,000.00) DOLLARS; AND AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO EXECUTE ALL NECESSARY DOCUMENTS TO EFFECTUATE THE RENEWAL FOR FISCAL YEAR 2013-2014; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE. (STAFF: POLICE CHIEF) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

G.   A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, AUTHORIZING THE PIGGY-BACKING OF THE CITY OF PEMBROKE PINES RFP # PD-08-08 FOR THE RENEWAL OF CAR RENTAL SERVICES FOR FY2013-2014 FROM BUDGET RENT-A-CAR IN THE AMOUNT OF ONE HUNDRED FOURTEEN THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY ($114,440.00) DOLLARS; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE. (STAFF: POLICE CHIEF) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

11.  ORDINANCES ON FIRST READING

A.    AN ORDINANCE OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, AMENDING CHAPTER 2, ADMINISTRATION, ARTICLE I, IN GENERAL, SECTION 2-3, LOBBYIST REGISTRATION AND DISCLOSURE; ENFORCEMENT BY AMENDING REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE REGISTRATION AND ACTIVITIES OF LOBBYISTS; PROVIDING FOR CONFLICT; PROVIDING FOR CODIFICATION; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE. (FIRST READING) (STAFF: CITY CLERK) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

12.  ORDINANCES ON SECOND READING/PUBLIC HEARING

NONE

13.  RESOLUTIONS/PUBLIC HEARING

NONE

14.  RESOLUTIONS/CITY BUSINESS

A.    A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, APPROVING THE NOMINATION OF LORRAINE JOHNSON FOR THE 2014 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. HUMANITARIAN AWARD; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE. (STAFF: DIRECTOR OF HUMAN SERVICES) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

ITEM#14.B. & #14.C. WILL BE HEARD IN CONJUNCTION

B.    A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, APPROVING A COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP GRANT AWARD TO SOUTH FLORIDA EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT CENTER, INC.; AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO EXECUTE AN AGREEMENT TO EFFECTUATE AWARD OF FUNDING; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE. (STAFF: DIRECTOR OF HUMAN SERVICES) (SEE BACKUP & BACKUP FOR ITEM #14.C.) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

C.   A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, APPROVING A COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP GRANT AWARD TO HALLANDALE FOOD PANTRY; AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO EXECUTE AN AGREEMENT TO EFFECTUATE AWARD OF FUNDING; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE. (STAFF: DIRECTOR OF HUMAN SERVICES) (SEE BACKUP & BACKUP FOR ITEM #14.B.) (Supporting Docs)

D.   A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, PROHIBITING THE ISSUANCE OF PERMITS FOR PREFABRICATED HOMES, MODULAR, CONTAINER, AND OTHER OFF-SITE BUILT STRUCTURES FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF SIX (6) MONTHS WHILE ZONING CHANGES ARE IN PROGRESS; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.(STAFF: DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT SERVICES) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

E.    A RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH, FLORIDA, SUPPORTING PROPOSED LEGISLATION AUTHORIZING THE DECOUPLING OF GREYHOUND RACING AND GAMBLING; DIRECTING THE CITY MANAGER TO DISTRIBUTE THIS RESOLUTION TO THE LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION AS ONE OF THE LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR THE 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE. (SPONSORED BY: COMMISSIONER MICHELE LAZAROW) (STAFF:CITY ATTORNEY/CITY CLERK) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

15.  ADJOURN

-----
Editor's Note: I never sent that email mentioned below to HB CRA Atorney Zelkowitz, for reasons that were borne out weeks later by his smarmy and dismissive remarks about HB citizens and taxpayers at a recent CRA meeting, where he stated that he implied that he di NOT have to answer questions from anyone not on the CRA Board of Directors, i.e. the elected City Commission, including mayor Joy Cooper, the person at the center of this story on ethics, finances and public policy. 
I also note for the record that the CRA Board never publicly voted to give approval to Miller and Zelkowitz to appear and speak at the Broward County Commission meeting of June 4th on behalf of a policy that disadvantages HB citizens, taxpayers and small business owners. 

Just wanted to give you all a head's up that next week I'll be sending
a pointed email to the Hallandale Beach CRA Attorney, Stephen Zelkowitz.
Specifically, asking him just what IS he doing to make sure that the
Hallandale Beach CRA IS complying with the state's Sunshine Laws?

Specifically asking him what, if anything, he's actually done to follow-up 
on his comments at the city's CRA Budget Workshop that he'd "look
into it" after I brought to light the fact that the City/CRA has adamantly
refused to comply with my legitimate Public Records Request for all
text messages between Hallandale Beach Mayor/CRA Director Joy
Cooper, HB City Manager/CRA Executive Director Renee Miller and
Cooper pal and Broward lobbyist Judy Stern, in the mayor's efforts
to prevent the Broward County Commission from approving a request
at their June 4th meeting to have the Broward County Auditor's office
provide a thorough audit of the Hallandale Beach CRA.

A County Commission meeting at which CRA Attorney Zelkowitz 
himself spoke at, along with Miller, and may've also received those
very text messages -public records- that I have requested.

In case you've forgotten, the damning report the Broward IG's Office
delivered months ago re the HB CRA's performance re millions of dollars
used the words "gross mismanagement" in its title.
The Broward OIG didn't label the HB CRA's years of work(?) with millions
of dollars, for the ostensible effort of eliminating blight, a troubled if
good-faith effort during difficult economic times, rather they labeled it
exactly what it was: "gross mismanagement."

And rightly so -millions were spent and there's no tangible sign
of those millions anywhere within the CRA district, which takes 
up a large part of this city, even while the majority of the current
CRA Board prefers to spend almost all of its budget within one
part of the overall CRA for largely political purposes, even while
other areas of the CRA suffer, despite having more economic 
potential because of better roads and public access.

The city has claimed in their email to me that their communications
provider, At&T, refuses to provide them -the client- the documents
they say they have requested to honor my PRR unless there is a
court order.
The problem, of course, is that it took the city well over over six weeks
to get that fishy and rather convenient answer, and in their last email
to me, they failed to show ANY proof whatsoever that they'd actually
even contacted AT&T.
Hmm-m...

At that HB CRA Budget Workshop of August 1st, where I had and any 
other HB resident who wanted to speak about the CRA and its budget
had to do so before the meeting started because the public wasn't 
allowed to ask questions about what was presented and discussed
by CRA employees, I publicly asked why they simply don't periodically
log those text  messages themselves, as some Florida cities and
counties do for public records purposes, since they are public
information.

They all acted like they didn't understand the concept of doing what is
both smart and prudent and saving themselves trouble down the line.
Clearly, given their dubious track record, not for the first time.

As I have previously discussed, the CRA's record has been noteworthy
almost entirely for its lack of success in its legally-mandated role, 
as well as its almost complete lack of prudent financial oversight, scrutiny
and verification, both by the CRA Board and the city's most-senior 
management.

BROWARD INSPECTOR GENERAL FINAL REPORT RE: GROSS MISMANAGEMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH AND THE HALLANDALE BEACH COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY

That completely unsatisfactory performance is the real reason that I and
many other concerned HB residents believe Mayor Cooper doesn't want
the public to know about her personal efforts to thwart the public's desire
to learn the whole truth, even while she and Miller use resources paid for
by HB taxpayers in doing so.

Mayor Cooper greatly prefers being able to publicly malign and bully the
Broward OIG and engage in self-serving rationalizations, revisionist histrionics
and misrepresentation of the facts, to having a full-and-thorough audit that
serves as a public accounting that'd remove the enormous mistrust and
grave doubt that the citizens of this community have had for years about
the HB CRA under her direction the past ten years.


-----
Speaking of public officials trying to evade their moral and legal obligations
and this,

The Washington Post EPA may have tried to evade Freedom of Information request, judge says By Lenny Bernstein
Published: 4 pm August 14, 2013
A federal judge said Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency may have tried to evade a Freedom of Information Act request and added that “numerous inconsistencies” in the agency’s court filings “undermine confidence in their truthfulness.”
As a result, Judge Royce C. Lamberth granted the conservative Landmark Legal Foundation, which filed the request for e-mails of current and former top EPA officials, the right to question them in person and in writing.
“The possibility that unsearched personal email accounts may have been used for official business raises the possibility that leaders in the EPA may have purposefully attempted to skirt disclosure under the FOIA,” Lamberth wrote.

Read the rest of the article at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/epa-may-have-tried-to-evade-freedom-of-information-request-judge-says/2013/08/14/d21f27d0-0522-11e3-88d6-d5795fab4637_story.html

------

My email of August 1st, the last many of you heard from me about the Hallandale Beach CRA.

My comments are after this very timely article.


*Editor's Note: This also had a link to the Tom lauder article cited above.

August 1, 2013

I wanted to let you all know today that since I sent a formal request to the
City of Hallandale Beach six weeks ago, it is refusing to fulfill my Public
Records Request and comply with Florida's Sunshine Laws in providing me
with all the text messages between Broward lobbyist Judy Stern and HB
Mayor  Joy Cooper and HB City Manager Renee C. Miller in their lengthy
efforts to prevent Hallandale Beach residents from getting the true facts.

This, even as the three of them lobbied Broward County Commissioners
and staff, including County Administrator Bertha Henry on this matter, to
prevent a thorough audit of the Hallandale Beach CRA via the Office of
Broward Auditor Evan Lukic.
A thorough audit that HB residents desperately want so they will
finally know precisely what really happened to millions of dollars.

I was told Wednesday in-person by HB City Clerk Sheena James, prior to
the city's CRA Budget Workshop, that the city would be unable to comply
with my request because, rather conveniently, they say their phone carrier
-that is, AT&T, the carrier who is paid tens of thousands of dollars
every year by Hallandale Beach taxpayers for telephone services
used by Hallandale Beach elected officials and staffers-DON'T have
to provide requested public records without a court order, even if the parties
'owning' the phones request them.

Personally, I think HB City Hall is laughing at the idea of their being able
to successfully thwart my honest efforts to get to the truth on this matter,
and get my hands on public records that I have strong reason to believe
contain some very incriminating comments by the three of them, possibly,
even about me.

When I brought this up during my three minutes to speak prior to the actual
meeting, I specifically mentioned that HB citizens would be very interested
in hearing from CRA Attorney Stephen Zelkowitz in the future on why the city
doesn't simply log those messages in a timely fashion, since it seems clear
to me that the city is using the carrier as a buffer to not comply with legitimate
Public Records Requests, and that in any event, there will be requests by
someone at some future point for text messages, since they are public records,
so the city better figure out what they were going to do to comply with the
law.

After I returned to my seat, Mayor Cooper then responded in a semi-sarcastic
manner that she only wishes she could get access to all those messages
(Of hers!)

I was not amused, chiefly because I know the truth is that she does NOT 
want those messages being made public.
In any case, Mayor Cooper then went on to say, rather tellingly, that those
text messages between herself, lobbyist Stern and HB City Manager Miller,
regarding their efforts to thwart an audit, were "private."

No, those text messages about the City of Hallandale Beach and its CRA
were and are public records that I'm legally entitled to see under Florida's
Sunshine Laws.
But that callous and condescending response of hers shows you the caliber
of the individual that the beleaguered citizens of this town are dealing with,
in that Mayor Cooper is someone who has repeatedly shown in the past
that she will use any means necessary to thwart both the spirit and the
letter of  Florida's Sunshine Laws -even to the point of suing a HB citizen-
and she she continues to do so today.

You may also be interested in knowing that Wednesday night at the HB
CRA Budget Workshop, where city management employees out-numbered 
actual residents in the room by a factor of 12:1, I told the assembled CRA 
Board of Directors and the CRA Executive Director (City Manager), along
with the city's various Dept. heads a fact I had already shared with some
Broward County Commissioners and well over a hundred other interested
parties before and after that June 4th meeting mentioned in the article
above.

To wit, despite the fact that the Broward Inspector General's final report was
issued months ago, the city has refused to place a link to the report or the
city's  own response to it on the city's website for residents, taxpayers and
small business owners to read for themselves.

But because HB City Manager Renee C. Miller and CRA Attorney Stephen
Zelkowitz were going to be speaking at that June 4th County Commission 
meeting against the request by HB Commissioner Michele Lazarow and 
former HB Comm. Keith London, and thought that it was important for the 
County Commission to be able to see and review them, they transmitted
both, so Broward County actually had links to both on their agenda for the
meeting.

So, Broward County was given the information that the city has refused 
to provide its own citizens on the city's website, even though the city's
taxpayers and the CRA paid the legal fees in the official city response,
as well as for Zelkowitz to appear at the Broward County Commission.
So we can pay for all of that but we can't see it on the website that
we're also paying for.
That's how things are done here, and it's not by accident.

Yes, the Broward OIG report that characterized as "gross mismanagement
the performance of the City of Hallandale Beach officials to describe what
they found when funds are given to people and groups in this city without
anyone actually EVER following-up and checking to see what actually happened
to the CRA funds, or even whether they were actually used for the purpose 
they'd been proposed for in the original application.
Yes, HB City Hall operated on the honor system with all that money.

People and groups that claimed to be non-profits but who weren't according 
to the IRS, and who didn't file required documents, and yet who were quite
content to not properly disclose all sorts of relevant basic information, even
while they strongly resisted almost all attempts at basic transparency to
the  citizens of this community, or to the public at large.

Now you know why the concerned residents of this city so desperately want
the Florida JLAC to perform a thorough audit that will tell us the truth, since
the very people at HB City Hall who are supposed to be providing responsible
oversight of the HB CRA are also the people almost entirely responsible for
the mess it's in, and the great loss of confidence the community has in City
Hall's ability to perform even simple tasks honestly, ethically and competently.

Yet these people, like Mayor Cooper, are also the one who are trying their
best to keep the public in the dark about the facts as long as possible thru
intentional obfuscation, needless finger-pointing and serial misrepresentation.
And the community saw another perfect example of that very thing 
last night, as if we needed another reminder.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and please DO
let me know when a decision is made regarding JLAC's future intentions
on this important public policy matter to Hallandale Beach's VERY frustrated
citizens.

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North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers
Before I was a Hoosier, I was an NMB Charger, Class of 1979.

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL
Entrance monument to Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and The Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex on U.S.-1 & SE 3rd St. Hallandale Beach, FL. October 5, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

City of Hollywood City Hall, September 2016, Hallandale Beach Blog

City of Hollywood City Hall, September 2016, Hallandale Beach Blog
Photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2016 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.
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