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 and Europe, especially the UK 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.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Because #Ethics still matter to some of us in Broward County; re upcoming December 4th meeting of the Oversight Committee for Office of the Broward Inspector General

"Laws and Constitutions go for nothing where the general sentiment is corrupt."
-New York Times editorial, September 22, 1851

"Why do they need that in the Broward County charter?"

-Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper at April 2, 2008 HB City Commission meeting, in discussing possible inclusion of Broward County Charter Review Commission's proposal for Ethics Commission to deal with Broward County Commission,on November 2008 ballot.
Six YEARS after the county's voters had overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the County charter requiring its adoption, the Broward County Commission had yet to live up to its legal responsibility. 
That's why!

Below is a long-overdue email that I finally remembered to send out Monday afternoon to Broward County Government HQ in Fort Lauderdale, via Kevin Kelleher, the County's Director of Human Resources

November 17, 2014

Dear Mr. Kelleher:

I'm writing to you today in your capacity as liaison to the Oversight Committee for the Office of Broward Inspector General.

I would like to know when and where this year's meeting will take place so that I can make sure that my voice, as well as the voices of other concerned residents of Broward County, have the opportunity to continue to push-back and call-out the stealthy, frequently anti-democratic and very antagonistic actions taken by so many elected public officials, who for some reason persist in thinking that they are beyond the reach of both the law and society's norms.

At last year's annual meeting of the Broward IG Oversight Committee, I spoke in some detail about some of the matters that I was most concerned with involving the evolving structure, operations and public outreach responsibilities of the Broward IG's office. 
I noted specific areas that I believed the office was deficient in and called for much-needed improvement in those areas IF it wanted to truly satisfy Broward County's much-beleaguered citizenry's very strong interest in seeing unethical behavior investigated, pulled-out by the roots and 

I said that in my opinion, IF the Broward IG's Office wanted to continue 
to maintain the public's trust, the area that most-needed tangible improvement was the allocation of adequate resources and personnel to public outreach in cities that were being formally investigated, so that the public would 
know with certainty just what WAS and was NOT being investigated, and how the public could best assist the office with respect to perhaps gathering additional relevant facts and evidence, to say nothing of context.

The latter was something that, to my astonishment, was NEVER done in Hallandale Beach in 2012 and 2013 when the Broward IG was investigating the longstanding Hallandale Beach CRA scandal involving tens of millions of dollars, since in my opinion, it would have produced a LOT more useful information and context for the IG's Office to peruse and consider.
In my opinion, they barely saw the the tip of the iceberg.

As someone who was frequently the only member of the public attending those early morning meetings years ago of the appointed Broward County Ethics Committee, someone who actually videotaped many of them so that I could later describe in accurate detail what had transpired in those 
meetings, esp. with respect to which appointed member was consistently voting FOR meaningful ethical standards and thresholds and which appointed members had consistently tried to obfuscate, misdirect or otherwise water-down any serious effort to hold people with power, influence and 
opportunity to account, I take what happens with the Office of Broward IG very seriously.

I don't think I or others need to apologize for wanting to make sure that the will and best interests of the Broward citizenry is represented as often as possible, NOT pushed to the side of the road by self-interested politicans, government employees and outside groups, esp. ones with zero public oversight like the Broward League of Cities, a group that STILL clearly wants its member cities and officials to have as low a threshold as possible, to meet and carve-out exceptions to common sense -as if common sense was something that we'd been enjoying too much of over the years, instead of its opposite. 

Obviously, many of these individuals and groups would very much like to keep their perks and the trappings of the pay-to-play culture that had long flourished in Broward, and want to un-do the very small, positive things that have FINALLY taken place.
Sorry, that ship has sailed! 

Despite my fact-filled warnings and anecdotes last year to the IG Oversight 
Committe and the public attending that meeting about the reality on-the-ground at Hallandale Beach City Hall, that same corrosive attitude and anti-citizen culture I described then persists from top-to-bottom at HB City Hall.

There has been no let-up by Mayor Joy Cooper and City Manager Renee Miller since either the April 2013 issuance of the IG's damning report on the Hallandale Beach CRA scandal that involved tens of millions of dollars, or, even since Mr. Scott and the Chief Counsel's own descriptions last year of the sorts of foolish and entirely self-serving gambits and attempts at misrepresentations engaged in by those women and the city.
Right down to Mayor Cooper intentionally sending her inaccurate letter and account of the facts to everyone scheduled to attend last year's IG Oversight Comm. meeting 
That is, everyone BUT the IG's Office itself.

Yes, it was hard not to see that desperate and pathetic effort for precisely what it was.
A shameful effort to obfuscate and blame others for their own unethical behavior and lack of proper governance, due diligence and meaningful oversight for SO MANY YEARS, which is just how I described it last year since that's precisely how the majority of Hallandale Beach's best-informed residents and Small Business owners see it

I look forward to hearing from you soon about that upcoming meeting.
Mr. Smith,   

The next Inspector General Selection and Oversight Committee Meeting is currently scheduled for Thursday, December 4 at 2:00pm in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, 115 South Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale Florida 33301.   
Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.   


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#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy

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Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. �� In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue looks like, up close, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

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