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, November 5, 2013

On Wednesday night, Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper has to defend her freelancing, breaking of city's rules in order to help her friends at Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino with bldg. code fines they EARNED. Again! Her campaign contributors, Gulfstream Park, must really love her "Special Rules for Special People" form of advocacy, but why does she save her energy & love for a multi-million dollar company instead of insisting they follow the law and finally fix up their appearance problems?

Do you recognize this "temporary" facility at Gulfstream Park's south parking lot. No, it's not the Hindenburg 2.0's new air hangar. What you're looking at above, looking east, is the "temporary" horse barn being constructed on the south side of the Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino, below, and to the southeast of the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex off U.S.-1/South Federal Highway, that is the center of an ethics controversy surrounding the rogue activities of a mayor in a city that has seen plenty of those -Hallandale Beach. September 27, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. (c) 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.


Local10: Mayor wants $52K fine against Gulfstream Park waived
No vote taken on waiving fine at Hallandale Beach budget meeting
By Bob Norman, Reporter, bnorman@Local10.com, and Ben Candea, Senior Web Producer, bcandea@local10.com
Published On: Oct 04 2013 06:13:16 PM EDT   
Updated On: Oct 04 2013 11:51:10 PM EDT
http://www.local10.com/news/mayor-wants-52k-fine-against-gulfstream-park-waived/-/1717324/22282006/-/p0vivbz/-/index.html

Agenda for Wednesday night's Hallandale Beach City Commission meeting at 6:30 p.m.

Agenda item # 14E under City Business
E.    CONSIDERATION OF GULFSTREAM PARK PERMIT FINES FOR PERMIT #13-2881, GULFSTREAM TEMPORARY BARNS. (STAFF: DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT SERVICES) (SEE BACKUP) (Staff ReportSupporting Docs)

Consider this helpful Local10 video a helpful predicate for better understanding this blog post for those readers trying to make sense of it far from Hallandale Beach. 
Just a reminder, Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino is directly across the street from HB City Hall.



Local10 video: Mayor wants $52K fine against Gulfstream Park waived
No vote taken on waiving fine at Hallandale Beach budget meeting
By Bob Norman, Reporter, bnorman@Local10.com, and Ben Candea, Senior Web Producer, bcandea@local10.com
Published On: Oct 04 2013 06:13:16 PM EDT   
Updated On: Oct 04 2013 11:51:10 PM EDT
http://www.local10.com/news/mayor-wants-52k-fine-against-gulfstream-park-waived/-/1717324/22282006/-/p0vivbz/-/index.html


On Wednesday night at 6:30, Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper has to defend her track record of having broken the city's own written rules of operation in order to help her friends at Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino in their attempts to get out of paying legitimate building code fines they were guilty of. Again!

The fact is that when it comes to building code violations, especially of the egregious kind,
Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino is a serial offender. They have been cited many times by the city and state and are currently paying fines everyday because of previous violations they are trying to avoid paying, despite lots of evidence gathered by both city and state officials. (Some of which is in the staff backup info above.)

But this is who the mayor is trying to defend while defending herself, and she still wants to stiff the citizens of this community and have them just swallow the fine, like it was an after-dinner dessert. 
But why should they?
Especially given that Gulfstream Park is a serial offender?

Mayor Cooper is legally and morally supposed to represent the citizens, taxpayers and small business owners of this community and put their best interests above all other interests, including her own. 

She actually takes an oath of office that requires her to faithfully obey the Florida Constitution and the laws of this state, swearing NOT to break its laws. 
She also is obliged to obey the laws, rules and ordinances of this rather imperfect city and one of them specifically concerns "Interference with Administration."

Mayor Cooper is NOT legally allowed to decide on her own personal or political whims to wear multiple hats, to abrogate her duties to the city and this community and then take sides against it by taking it upon herself to represent the financial interests of the city's largest employer in a matter -AGAINST the people of this very community who have
Gulfstream Park dead-to-rights and a reasonable expectation that the mayor of the city is NOT actively working against THEM

In this city with its current City Manger form of government, as opposed to a Strong  Mayor form that exists in many Northern cities, Mayor Cooper clearly broke the city's own written administrative code on interfering with the day-to-day operations when she began inquiring and asking questions and making demands of city employees.
The specific rules involved are located at the bottom of this email.

Mayor Cooper has no legal authority to help a third-party, Gulfstream Park, get out of
paying a fine from the city and the state and yet she tried to do both, even trying to have the  state's fine waived too until the city attorney told her that night that the city did not have the legal authority to do so.
Frankly, it was embarrassing that this even had to be said out loud.

There's a carefully-proscribed and written process for city commissioners interacting with city employees and it's one she did NOT follow.
But then she also did NOT follow common sense and did NOT show a commitment to integrity and transparency when she tried to have the HB City Commission waive the fine GP owes within mere minutes of her having told them about it at the end of a long September 25th night meeting, with no information for the confused members to read or think about, just Cooper's words and public admission of what she'd done.

That this matter was not on the agenda or opened up to the public to discuss was immaterial to Mayor Cooper-she wanted the fine removed ASAP.
But she was defeated in her attempts to circumvent the public's right -and city commission'sto know more about this matter in advance and in some detail that did 
NOT rely solely on her word alone.

Can you imagine such a preposterous thing as her thinking they'd vote on a matter involving tens of thousands of dollars AND that would set a very bad precedent based solely on what she said, with no facts or supporting evidence?

It's clear that Joy Cooper, quite literally, sees herself as indispensable.
But she is the mayor of a small city with a city manger form of government, not the mayor of a large urban city with a strong-mayor form of government, yet despite this difference and the well-understood written rules about what is and is not acceptable, she just keeps doing whatever she wants and dares anyone in a position of authority to stop her.

Cooper continues to show that she wants to make as many important decisions for the city (and everyone else) as possible, without adequate vetting and public disclosure.
As she tried to do on September 25th.

Her erratic and unprofessional behavior suggest to me that she is putting herself and the city on very thin ethical and legal ice thru her conduct and behavior, which would not be taking place with a competent City Manager at the helm.

But as little as I and most of the people I know think of mediocre and mendacious City Manager Renee C. Miller, whom we gave plenty of chances to actually be the reform person she claimed to be last summer in speaking to her in-person, but who has failed to be that person by even the slimmest of standards, even we don't think she'd allow Cooper to do all this if she was around.
So while the not-so-effective cat was away on maternity leave, the erratic, unethical mouse does whatever she wants to do and laughs.

Did you know that Mayor Cooper was actually dumb enough to claim at that very same City Commission meeting that some of the info discussed at these meetings she attended was "proprietary."

First, I doubt that was the case because the others involved can't be dumb enough to not know that Cooper can't keep a secret, and would feel the need to share the info ASAP just so she could pump her own thin-skinned and fragile ego.
Second, if the info was "proprietary" info, by placing herself there, anyone, like me or a TV reporter or another developer, could legally make a public records request for all the documents she was given and any notes she made, and Mayor Cooper would be on her own and have no ability to use the taxpayers wallets to defend herself.

It would be up to Gulfstream  to get their attorneys involved, not the city's problem.
Which is to say, taxpayers like you and me.
Absent a legal motion, the city would have no choice but to turn over the documents.

It's hard to believe but it's true that even after all these years, Mayor Cooper seems unable to grasp the fact that in her position, she is NOT entitled to be involved in any internal discussion among parties who will have business before the city and be in opposition to the city or other businesses in the area who would necessarily be disadvantaged by certain things being done for the first company.

She is NOT legally in a position to say what the city would or would not do, and yet she seems to keep doing just that, doesn't she?

And in the process, keeping the four other elected members of the five-member City Commission completely in the dark on important matters in this city.
That's NOT how a well-run city runs.
Not that the city is or ever has been anything close to a well-run city, but do the standards here have to continue to be this low?


-----
CHARTER OF THE CITY OF HALLANDALE BEACH

ARTICLE III. - CITY COMMISSION

DIVISION 1: - ELECTION AND QUALIFICATIONS

DIVISION 2: - POWERS AND DUTIES

DIVISION 3: - VACANCIES  

DIVISION 2: - POWERS AND DUTIES

Sec. 3.05: - City commission; powers; composition.

Sec. 3.06: - General powers and duties.

Sec: 3.07: - Prohibitions.

Sec. 3.08: - Investigations.

Sec: 3.07: - Prohibitions.

 (2)   Appointments and removals. Neither the commission nor any of its members shall in any manner dictate the appointment or removal of any city administrative officers or employees whom the manager or any of his subordinates are empowered to appoint, but the commission may express its views and fully and freely discuss with the manager anything pertaining to appointment and removal of such officers and employees.

(3)    Interference with administration. Except for the purpose of inquiries and investigations, the commission or its members shall deal with city officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the manager solely through the manager, and neither the commission nor its members shall give orders to any such officer or employee, either publicly or privately. Nothing in the foregoing is to be construed to prohibit individual members of the commission from closely scrutinizing by questions and personal observation all aspects of city government operations so as to obtain independent information to assist the members in the formulation of policies to be considered by the commission and assure the implementation of such policies as have been adopted. It is the express intent of this provision, however, that such inquiry shall not interfere directly with the ordinary municipal operations of the city and that recommendations for change or improvement in city government operations be made to and through the city manager.

(Ord. No. 1999-15, § 1, 8-17-1999; Ord. No. 2003-28, § 2, 11-18-2003; Ord. No. 2008-04, § 2 (3.08), 3-5-2008)

Sec. 3.08: - Investigations.

The commission may make investigations into the affairs of the city and the conduct of any city department, election, office, or agency, and for this purpose may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony, and require the production of evidence. Any person who fails or refuses to obey a lawful order issued in the exercise of these powers by the commission shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) or by imprisonment for not more than thirty (30) days, or both.

(Ord. No. 2003-28, § 2, 11-18-2003)

ARTICLE VII. - OFFICIAL CONDUCT

Sec. 7.01: - Standards of ethics.

Sec. 7.02: - Personal financial interest.

Sec. 7.03: - Penalties.



Sec. 7.01: - Standards of ethics.

All elected officials and employees of the city shall be subject to the standards of conduct for public officers and employees set by general law and this Charter. In addition, the commission may, by ordinance, establish a code of ethics for officials and employees of the city.

(Ord. No. 2003-28, § 2, 11-18-2003)

State law reference—  Code of ethics for public employees, F.S. § 112.311 et seq.

Sec. 7.03: - Penalties.

Violations of ordinances or this Charter shall be punishable in accordance with the uniform fines and penalties set by general law.

(Ord. No. 2003-28, § 2, 11-18-2003)

State law reference—  Penalty for violations, F.S. § 162.21.

 I was going in a clock-wise direction as I shot these photos, which can be enlarged by right-clicking with your mouse while hovering over the individual photo.
All original photos on this page are by me and from September 27, 2013. (c) 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.


These photos are all looking east at the "temporary" horse barn with condos in background actually over on State Road A1A and the beach.










Looking southeast from the same spot towards the City of Aventura park on the other side of the fence on NE 213th Street, where the kids and parents have absolutely no idea what's in store for them for the next entire year.
The photos below are all looking due north at the main grandstand, casino and  restaurants.





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