October 20, 2015
Dear Mr. Atwater:
Per the enclosed story from this morning's newest expose in the Florida Bulldog,
'Fort Lauderdale to use “poor people’s money” to subsidize transit for affluent?,'
I had some quick thoughts to share with you.
I do so because your record in public service shows that more than seems true with
99% of the elected officials in this state, you've proven to be someone who shows
via word and deed that you believe in both the spirit and letter of Florida's laws
governing public accountability and spending, not just the abstract idea of them.
Given my experience in Hallandale Beach, which I have recounted to you previously,
where over a period of years, tens of millions of HB CRA dollars were mis-spent with
no genuine accountability and no meaningful oversight, -where the Broward Inspector
General's damning report showed high-ranking, highly-paid city/CRA staff
essentially went on the 'honor system' with recipients who were friends of HB
City Hall, including NOT even requiring CRA fund recipients to show any evidence
they were actually doing or making progress towards what they claimed they'd
accomplish with the CRA funds- I keep waiting for the Florida Legislature to do what
they keep saying they want to do, namely, tighten-up CRA rules so that clearly-understood
rules are set so that both the public and the cities will know in advance what city CRA
Boards can and can NOT do with CRA funds.
And chief among these is NOT continue to use them as slush funds and "found money"
to pay for the things involving public policy that those in charge DON'T want the public
either to get wind of or have any real input on, regardless of how many people it might
This continuing misbehavior by local government corrodes public trust and alienates
people who do believe that CRAs can serve a very useful purpose.
After all, how can I trust someone in government who will do whatever they want
whenever I'm not looking?
I appreciate that you're no longer in the legislature and are sensitive to the limits of your
own office's authority and official duties, but if the legislature is going to keep punting,
why not consider launching a public campaign to bring some of these excesses to light,
and create some momentum for more pressure to be exerted to make the needed reforms
that Florida residents deserve?
The current system, and the repeated reluctance of city/CRA attorneys to tell their
bosses to rein-in their worst instincts, puts the honest public officials in Florida who DO
believe in transparency and genuine publi
c engagement in difficult positions, especially
when their bosses or their colleagues who don't believe in openness, want to continue
to keep their thumbs on the scale to get their way and keep the public thoroughly
disadvantaged -and in the dark.
Given all the spending horror stories that have taken place throughout the state with
respect to CRAs, why is the effort to finally enact meaningful CRA reforms in Florida
NOT being pushed seriously NOW in Tallahassee?Just wondering, since the public knows that it's LONG OVERDUE
I just posted this letter to my blog.
In the near future, I'll be happy to post any response that you and your office or any of
the state legislators receiving this email as a cc choose to respond with.
end of letter
Here's the article and the tweet about it that I encourage all of my blog's readers to share.
Fort Lauderdale to use “poor people’s money” to subsidize transit for affluent? https://t.co/0O6jtyVTUv— Florida Bulldog (@Florida_Bulldog) October 20, 2015
OCTOBER 20, 2015 AT 5:41 AM
Fort Lauderdale to use “poor people’s money” to subsidize transit for affluent?
By William Gjebre, FloridaBulldog.org
OCTOBER 20, 2015 AT 5:41 AM
Fort Lauderdale’s recent approval of a no-bid contract to update the plan for the troubled Northwest-Progresso-Flagler Heights Community Redevelopment Agency has raised concerns about a lack of public input amid a rush to add projects not in the current plan at the expense of community needs.
Scott Strawbridge, who serves on the CRA’s 14-member advisory board, has called for outside review of the agency after he and his colleagues were informed that City Manager Lee Feldman signed a $24,500 contract with a private firm in August to amend the current CRA plan, last updated in 2001.Read the rest of the article at: