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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

An open letter to Florida CFO Jeff Atwater about the long overdue need for CRA reform in Florida. Today's Florida Bulldog expose by William Gjebre is a perfect example of why these spending/ethical reforms were needed... YESTERDAY: @Florida_Bulldog: Fort Lauderdale to use “poor people’s money” to subsidize transit for affluent?

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 fundsI 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 
ultimately affect.
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 publiengagement 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. 



Florida Bulldog
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:
http://www.floridabulldog.org/2015/10/fort-lauderdale-to-use-poor-peoples-money-to-subsidize-transit-for-affluent/

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