Friday, April 18, 2014

Deerfield Beach Politics

It is easy to deny something, but facts will win out.  In Mayor Robb’s latest bluster to the Observer Newspaper, she puts an interesting spin on some events. Here is the reality:

Joe Miller described Jean Robb’s phone call to him, he said she screamed at him in a loud, caustic voice, questioning his vote and voicing harsh criticism of his decision. I have been on the receiving end of Jean’s displeasure and her default setting is loud and condescending. 

Why would she call any commissioner to voice her displeasure with an appointment AFTER the vote was already taken. There was no upside to that phone call, just an opportunity to vent her displeasure and be nasty. 

As the matter will most probably be taken up by the commission, again and commissioners may not discuss matters that might come before them, she was skirting on the edge of violating the Sunshine Law.

She was upset because Chaz Stevens’ father was the appointee, a man who from his resume was quite qualified but his crime, being related to Chaz the blogger who has written about Jean in unflattering terms, made him, by association, a pariah to Jean. 

Ben Preston, our Commissioner in District 2, which is heavily African American has never to my memory, or anyone else’s that I have checked with, said anything about her husband Dr. Robb, being racist.   To accuse Commissioner Preston of this is outrageous, and seems to be a political move.  The mayor does not want Ben to be re-elected and she has made sure that everybody knows this.

Commissioner Richard Rosenzweig, of District 3 repeated what he heard about why Keven Klopp quit, and Jean does not deny that she wanted Klopp gone.  I didn’t hear the Commissioner say anything about Jerry Ferguson, Planning Director retiring because of Jean’s actions.  To accuse him of saying this is again revisionist history; Jean blaming the wrong person.  I have been told Jerry fast forwarded his retirement because of Jean, but I did not hear it from Ferguson or Commissioner Rosenzweig. 

After this same April 1st. commission meeting I saw Mayor Robb rush up to Commissioner Rosenzweig’s wife, shake her finger at her and viciously tell her that Jean did not like what her husband said. Jean screeched that Richard’s words hurt her more than any of the other commissioners. She loved Richard, but did not love him any longer.

I hope at a future meeting Commissioner Rosenzweig puts her in her place for daring to approach his wife in such a manner. That was offensive and wrong on many levels. It is unbelievable that an innocent person was confronted in such an unprofessional manner.  

The CRA has done wonders for our Cove and beach area. The pier restaurant and decks are delightful, and the pier was in desperate need of restoration after years of erosion and Hurricane Wilma.  To say, as Jean does, that it was a waste of money is ridiculous.

The mayor has been told over and over that the motels on the entry to the beach could be bought as the CRA funds are available for them.  In fact they are in the original CRA plan which she also should know. Any time the owners and the city can come to an agreement, they could be bought.   The buying of the hotels was NEVER put on the back burner because of Sullivan Park. Again Jean is dishing out false information. 

Whether the city should take tax paying properties off the rolls and add maintenance of a little park to our expenses is a discussion for another article.

Jean’s vendetta against Commissioner Ganz stems from his doing his homework and trying to keep the city from making some bad mistakes.  For example he questioned her wanting to jump the gun and award contracts without going to bid.

She wanted to give away city property to Habitat for Humanity to build homes for the needy, and in fact had gone ahead and contacted them on her own.  Both Bill Ganz and Keven Klopp spoke for going to bid on such a large project and making sure the city got the best deal.  In return for saving her from a costly mistake, Ganz was on the receiving end of her vocal displeasure.

Jean is whining that she can’t get her way, if she had good ideas, she could get the votes.  However, what she is asking for is bad for the city. If not, she could convince the other commissioners to vote her way, and she would not have a chamber full of residents speaking against her proposals. 

Jean continues her quest to rescind the referendum, which placed protection of the beach in the charter.  In spite of all 4 other commissioners and uncounted residents objecting, she continues.  This vendetta smacks of her favoring certain property owners on the beach who want massive development on an undersized lot. 

Why would a mayor Listen to a developer regarding beach codes instead of listening to the 75 percent of the citizens of Deerfield Beach who are her constituents and who voted in favor of protecting our beach from congestion and traffic? 

Anyone who thinks the public has changed on this issue should gather petitions and prove to the commission that they can get enough signatures to get it on the ballot. 

The sober house problem is not unique to Deerfield Beach, Delray, Boynton and other cities are in the same fix, it is not the codes that are to blame. 

Moving the election to November is something some cities have done and most have not.  It puts the local issues way at the bottom of an overlong ballot and forces the commissioners to run at the same time that dozens of other seats are vying for the voters’ attention.  The local issues are important and should not take a back seat in a general vote.

Jean says that the sale of the Hillsboro and Federal fire station is going nowhere, that is incorrect as usual, and jumping the gun again.  There is a study in the works by the City Manager who is looking at the cost of moving the station versus the cost of the many repairs and upgrades are needed.  No decision has been made, but it is being looked at. 

Going out to bid on contracts is seen as unnecessary by Jean.  Even if the city is not required to go to bid for a project, why would a fiscally careful commission not want the best offer?  Requirement or not, it is the only way to make sure that politics are left out of the process and fiscal responsibility is paramount.

Jean is fond of saying the mayoral candidate supported by people, like me who stand up at commission meetings, lost the election.  Not true.  I had no “candidate” as I often said that that election was for the lesser of 2 bad choices. 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Letter to the Deerfield Beach Observer

Dear Observer News Editor:

 Mr. Jolivet’s April 10 letter was so full of misinformation it is hard to know where to begin to refute him, but here goes:

 Using the 460 South Ocean project to falsely blame the “Save Our Beach referendum” shows Mr. Jolivet did not do his research. 

 The 460 South Ocean project was unanimously approved by the City Commission with all requested variances on May 2, 2006.  The property owner received exactly what it requested from the City Commission. 

 From the minutes of the commission meeting: “Vice Mayor Militello said…, she supports the project.  She said that this would allow the applicant to keep the design of the project and give some uniqueness on the beach.”

 Why they turned it into a drug rehab facility has nothing to do with the building codes. To blame the 2002 Referendum for problems in the Beach area is ridiculous.

The 2002 Referendum was approved by 75% vote of the voters to assist in preventing the increasing congestion in the beach area and difficulty in beach access.  Responsible development is what our residents voted for.

Mr. Jolivet’s suggestion of metering the Cove Shopping Center parking lot is a bad idea. The 780+ parking meters in the beach area generate $1.2 million.  He says that metering the 500+ parking spaces in the Cove will bring in $3 million a year.  That is so not true. 

 The surest way to kill businesses at the Cove is to put in metered parking at the Cove, something that no other shopping center in the City has.  If you kill the business in the Cove, you will not generate any parking revenue from the meters.

These bad ideas and lack of logic advocated by Mr. Jolivet seems to have the ear of Mayor Robb, but fortunately very few others. If this is Mr. Jolivet’s logic on generating revenue for the city, I have to question why Mayor Robb asked him to present his ideas for economic development to the commission at their December 3, 2013 meeting.

 Mr. Jolivet paints a false picture of Deerfield Beach. We can solve our problems with sound decision-making that is based on facts and not misrepresentations, blame, and demagoguery.

Marge Hilton

Monday, April 7, 2014

This article and editorial are courtesy of the Pelican Newspaper

PAC aims to recall Ganz; Commission, supporters rally round him

By Judy Wilson

Deerfield Beach – The news that a recall movement is being aimed at Dist. 4 City Commission Bill Ganz drew remarks critical of Mayor Jean Robb from commissioners Joe Miller and Richard Rosenzweig, a plea for decorum from Vice Mayor Ben Preston and words of support for Ganz from his constituents.

Paperwork for a political action committee [PAC] chaired by former city employee Jack Disher and community activist Sandra Jackson was filed March 26 at city hall. The committee has been named Recall 2014 and its stated purpose is the recall of Ganz.

Tuesday night, about seven people attended the city commission meeting wearing t-shirts that read “Recall and Remove Bill Ganz.” Several said they did not live in Ganz’s district. Speaking for the committee was Steve Krevoy, Mayor Jean Robb’s campaign manager, who is also not in the district.

Krevoy said the PAC was legally formed and an attorney is drafting the charges. “There is a justification for recall,” he said.  “I guarantee you this recall will be successful.”

Joe Miller [Dist. 1] led off the commission remarks bringing up an article in the Century Village East Reporter where Robb wrote city commissioners are not approving her suggestions, a situation that will not change until the March 2015 election in districts 1 and 2.

“It appears that when we disagree, we disrespect . . . You come often with incorrect information,” Miller told the mayor. He referred to the final night of budget discussions when Robb presented her version of the document. “We have a system,” Miller reminded her.  “I have one more year to be around you. I’ll work with you as best I can.”

Vice Mayor Preston said his colleagues should set the example and should “demand change, show decorum. The public deserves more. . . There is so much intelligence here. All these gifts are doing nobody any good.”

Richard Rosenzweig, the newest member of the commission said, “I have tried to be supportive of you but people have left [the city] because of their inability to be respected by you.  All we are looking for is civil debate.”

 “I don’t think the mayor respects the entire process,” Ganz said. He called the recall “pure politics” and charged the mayor with not being “as white glove as you say.”

Earlier in the evening, Robb said she had no involvement in the recall movement.

Ganz has been critical of the mayor’s changes in her positions, pointing up articles and comments made in the past that seem contradictory now.

“My biggest issue is I get vilified because I bring up old articles . . I don’t think it is a  coincidence that this arises when I start pushing back. . . just because you don’t get your way, you can’t  manipulate the system,” Ganz told Robb.

Of the recallers, Ganz said, “They had better have the facts. They will see exactly who they are messing with.”

Ganz was elected in 2009 to a four year term and ran unopposed in 2013. For a time he was the city’s representative on the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Earlier in the evening, aware the recall was afoot, Syl Melone, spokesperson for Independence Bay said, “Bill Ganz comes to our aid. He has accomplished much. He serves honorably and with integrity. I hold him in high esteem.”

Barbara Conway called Ganz a “well informed, conscientious individual. We are fortunate to have a man of his caliber,” she said.  To the commissioner she said, “Please do not let fools on this April Fool’s Day dissuade you from your good work.”

Another speaker, Joan Maurice said, ”Dist. 4 will not allow this to happen. You will not recall our district commissioner. You will not accomplish this.”

Kathy Richards, a resident of Century Village East and not in the district said, “Because he doesn’t give everyone what they want, you want to remove him?”

And former commissioner Pam Militello addressed Robb directly saying, “A lot of disrespect comes from your seat, mayor.”

Setting the recall election in motion requires the signatures of 10 percent of the voters registered in District 4 at the time of the last election, 2013.  It also requires proof of one or more conditions: malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, inability  to perform duties, conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude. If the complaint and the initial signatures are deemed valid by the County Supervisor of Elections, then a petition calling for the recall election must be signed by 15 percent of District 4 voters.

If that is accomplished, and the person being recalled does not resign, an election must be held within 60 days stating the question for the voters: remove; not remove from office.

The Broward County Registrar’s website shows there are 11,025 registered voters in District 4.

Pelican Newspaper Commentary:
Robb’s brash example inspires uncivil
dissent - and now a recall
This mayor, Deerfield’s Jean Robb, has no filters. It is a quality that might sound refreshing in a politician, but it is not.  Government should not be wielded like a sledge hammer.
In this country, from the grassroots upward, governing is not done by one, but by many. Ideally, it is the result of reasoned decisions made by following certain procedures. These procedures can be annoyingly slow, even to the point of being obstructive, but they are in place to insure that decisions made are proper and legal.
The preemptory decision- making favored by the mayor only leads to confusion and error. It also encourages chaos.
When leadership does not set an example of propriety for others to follow, those who would rather create controversy take the floor. They do it repeatedly following the example of dictators around the world who come to power by saying untruths so often and so loudly that they become beliefs.
It’s true she does not have the commission support to pass any of her initiatives, those things she promised when she was running: repeal of the Utility Tax, rehires of the workers laid off two years ago, City Charter amendments, budget cuts.
Her frustration is understandable. How she deals with it is not – angry expressions, sharp remarks, personal attacks, resentment when she is opposed and verbal jousts directed at her fellow commissioners.
And her comment Tuesday that when she was mayor before [20 years ago] she had more power, was also not appropriate. Asked to explain, she said, “Those guys were more amenable ….”
Meaning what? Everyone on the dais should follow her lead?
 She is now openly advocating the removal of two commissioners in 2015, the next municipal election. She explained to readers of the Century Village East Reporter that she could not get her initiatives passed until after that election, when she supposes candidates favoring her views will be elected.
Her suggestion in the Reporter was subtle compared to remarks she has made  in public about removing  Dist. 1 Commissioner Joe Miller.
Now her supporters announce they will attempt a recall of Commissioner Bill Ganz. Robb said Tuesday, “my hands are clean on this.” Perhaps. But it has the mark of her campaign manager and supporters of hers from across the city. It’s a small band to be sure, but a loud one.
Ganz came to politics via the grass roots, taking a leadership role in District 4 communities.  Since being elected six years ago,he has done his homework, voted his conscience. Lately, he has been critical of the mayor’s attitude – and, he says, her changes in attitude. It appears this, and the fact he is in office until 2016, makes him the best target for recall.
It would be serendipitous for the residents of Deerfield Beach if this recall fizzles. If indeed the Political Action Committee can present grounds to hold a legal recall [and that is far from certain] the process is divisive, time consuming, hideous PR and because it is somewhat complicated, rarely succeeds.
And there can be lots of collateral damage. Already good people are leaving the city’s employ.
Better for all if the mayor could learn the art of conciliation, patience and respect.
If she truly loves this city as she claims, she’ll put her ego on hold and let Democracy proceed without her derogatory comments when things don’t go her way.
And if, in 2015, the incumbents are challenged by candidates who can win at the ballot box, then so be it.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Interruptions Not New

Some seem to think that Jean Robb disrupting commission meetings is a new thing, and that it is in reaction to the current commissioners' actions. 
Nothing could be further from the truth.  If you read the minutes below you will see that in 1991 Robb was saying that the commissioners were out to get her, and that she was causing so many problems with her interruptions that the commission had to pass a resolution to stop her.
(Editor: Emphasis mine)

 Here are excerpts from the minutes of the November 5, 1991 Deerfield Beach Commission meeting:


 Commissioner Benjamin Budd

Commissioner Albert R Capellini

Commissioner Joseph Tractenberg

Vice Mayor Carl Nixon

Mayor Jean M Robb


 Mayor Robb read a prepared statement about the proposed resolution on this agenda concerning interruptions during Commission meetings. 

She said it was time to acknowledge the Commission found the subject a very serious matter that had to be considered.

She said she apologized for all the times she interrupted she added her interruptions were not intended to be mean spirited but due to her becoming passionately involved in the discussions.

 She said she would make every effort to do better.   She added she did not wish to be faulted for writing too many memos doing her homework or looking into too many facets of government.


 Mayor Robb said she objected to a proposed resolution to amend the rules of procedure for Commission meetings. She said she did not really object to the section about not interrupting but did object to requiring a motion to add any item individually to the agenda.

City Attorney Maurodis said it would not apply to comments and discussion items only to items that would constitute Commission action.   Mayor Robb asked who requested the change.   Commissioner Capellini said he requested it. He said several times items were added without the Commission having an opportunity to study the material. He cited an example of Mayor Robb handing out material at the meeting.   Mayor Robb said she had done that and would again in this meeting hand out information. She objected to the Commission not voting on her material just because they did not have time to read it. She called it stupidity to require a motion to add items for a vote. Vice Mayor Nixon called the resolution a power structure.  

Mayor Robb said it was an effort to get her.

Vice Mayor Nixon said if the majority of the Commission voted for the resolution he would abide by it. Commissioner Tractenberg said the resolution would only require a statement to be made by the one bringing up an item to be added describing its content and getting a motion approved to discuss it. He said the single family homeowners had often complained they did not like items added to the agenda without notice to them.  Mayor Robb said the Commission was ganging up on her.   She said it was absurd.  She asked what the penalty was for an interruption.

 City Attorney Maurodis read a proposed resolution in written form by title only as follows:




 Which was introduced by Commissioner Tractenberg- Roll call showed:

YEAS - Commissioners Budd Capellini and Tractenberg  

NAYS - Vice Mayor Nixon and Mayor Robb

 Wording of the Resolution:

WHEREAS the City Commission of the City of Deerfield Beach wishes to ensure orderly conduct of its meetings - NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF DEERFIELD BEACH FLORIDA AS FOLLOWS:

INTERRUPTION - Any Commissioner recognized to speak by the chair shall be permitted to continue speaking without interruption from any other Commissioner until said Commissioner yields the floor. 

 The order of business of each meeting shall be as contained in the agenda prepared under the direction of the City Manager.   The agenda shall be a listing by topic of subjects to be considered by the Commission and shall be delivered to members of the Commission each Friday preceding the meeting to which it pertains.  

No item may be added to the agenda except after a specific statement as to the nature of the item and the necessity for prompt action and after a majority vote in favor of adding that specific item to the agenda



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Recall Who???

At last night’s meeting (4/1/2014) I learned that the mayor can hear over and over again how her behavior is affecting the staff, the running of the commission meeting and the residents of Deerfield Beach and still be in denial. 

 After all she heard, she continued to interrupt and take over the conversation all the way to the end of the meeting.  Even after being reminded that her 1980-90s commission passed a resolution forbidding her to interrupt. She heard the same thing from the residents and from her fellow commissioners. How sad.

One person said to me that it is as though she has a learning disability or a mental problem. 

It is very plain that the other commissioners will have to continue to halt her excesses and continue to keep her in line meeting after meeting as she continues to take every difference of opinion as a personal criticism, and launches attacks against anyone who disagrees with her.

Commissioner Miller said she actually phoned him (Sunshine Law?) and screamed at him for voting for an appointment that she disagreed with. 

I was told that many of the staff she deals with are, in self-defense, documenting the rude things she says and does, and the times she violates the law by having them do her bidding instead of going through the city manager.

Commissioner Rosenzweig said that Keven Klopp and others have left their jobs due, not in a small part, to her behavior toward them I suspect Jerry Ferguson retired early due to her, also. 

Her arrogant, entitled, demanding, and belittling attitude toward everyone she encounters makes the workplace at city hall a hostile work environment.  She professes not to believe this, she feels that because she gives gifts to her underlings, it excuses her behavior.  

A staff member told me that the way she behaves at commission meetings is not half as bad as she behaves in city hall. 

She participated in the ethics training workshops which taught her very clearly that the city manager runs the city and the commission sets policy, however, she continues to violate the provisos of the charter by working directly with staff and bypassing Burgess Hanson. 

The rumor going around is that she will not be mayor much longer as many people have filed complaints against her with the Ethics Commission and the Inspector General of Broward County because of her actions and behavior it is expected she will soon be removed from office. 

What everyone in the commission chamber learned last night was that she will not change.  She and her small band of supporters are headed down a very dangerous path.  Another resident said that the divisive act of starting a recall movement and constantly, unjustifiably using the racial card could polarize this city to a point that will turn into, their words: “a race war”. 

To view the meeting:  click on the Public To Be Heard and the Comments by Mayor and Commissioners sections.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Letter to the Deerfield Beach Commission (New comments beow letter)

From David Cohen, Deerfield Beach:
In a practical sense regarding interpersonal relations, our mother advised kindhearted diplomacy expressed with a Yiddish aphorism, "a vort iz vi a fail , beyde hobn groise ail."

"A word is like an arrow, both can be delivered with speedy aim."    “And,” she would caution in her own words, "once launched, neither can be withdrawn."

We do not take this to mean that we should not defend ourselves but rather to carefully choose the methods of defense when peaceful measures are fruitless.

So it must be with elected officials who assume powers —overstep their roles and make ill-founded judgments that affect us all and also with citizens who are imprudent in their conduct at civic gatherings.

City Commission meetings are formal assemblies to transact city business by the commission which interacts with citizens for that purpose.  To behave discourteously during the proceedings — including interruptions of speakers on or from the dais or highly audible ongoing side-conversations in the audience — is truly DISRESPECTFUL toward all in attendance.  It is apparently necessary that we urge commissioners to assist the mayor in maintaining decorum during meetings.

Recently, a grandfatherly figure graphically described a foul violent act without regard to the sensitivities of others present let alone for the children in the commission chamber.  By citing the crime which occurred in Massachusetts in 1984, he seemed to be making a point that bystanders who took no action were culpable.  But he, himself, shows  extreme lack of respect for the venue both while at the podium and when seated in the audience at commission meetings. 

Grandpa's  point seemed to be about what he perceived as a lack of respect for the woman who had paid his way to attend a civic affair.

RESPECT MUST BE EARNED.  It is NOT achieved by demands or self-aggrandizing bombast. It is certainly not gained by distortion of facts or outright departure from truth or by demeaning staff members who are far better educated and more qualified for their jobs than she. 

When one commissioner, Richard Rosenzweig, tried to curtail Grandpa’s vulgar diatribe, our mayor over-reached her authority by dismissing his objection.  Mayor Jean Robb encouraged the rant to continue.  Well, no surprise — while seated on the dais, the madam herself has been heard to make insulting responses to citizens’ sincere expressions of points of view. 

Oh yes Madam, you may deny your words as you often do.  But we all heard what you said when one lady closed her remarks with, “Money talks.”  Recall your vulgar riposte about what it is that walks?   These, like decades of your abrasive and contentious insults to fellows on the dais along with citizens and staff, are recorded.  Public record, they are painfully embarrassing to our city.

“Words are like arrows . . .”   Sometimes, an apology can begin to alleviate the sting — if it is a sincere apology supported by courtesy and veracity.   How about it Madam Mayor and Grandpa?

Mayor Robb’s answer to David Cohen’s letter, below is David’s answer to Robb:

From Robb: Your obvious bias toward me makes whatever you have to say not be taken seriously. You are too prejudiced to speak. Sorry your candidate lost the election. Mayor Robb

From David Cohen:


 "Kicking the mirror will not improve the image."     Common sense identifies Benefield's role in this issue.  It is a symptom; it is NOT the main concern.   In the mayor’s brief confrontation (above), she has addressed neither — only evasive pettiness on her level.

 In this case, there are many mirrors.   To kick any one of them is a tactic that does not exculpate Madam Mayor’s reprehensible acts and attitudes which must be indefensible in the eyes of any principled individual.  Not even if the kicker deems the messenger to be unacceptable, should the message be ignored for it exposes palplable FACTS — clearly.

There has been no pre-judgment or bias in these reflections.  These are no more than unvarnished actualities.

All the same, is name-calling in any way equal to the corrosive negative impact of Bonnaino-Robb’s grossly ill-informed pronouncements, her encouraging her running dogs to snap and snarl at civic meetings, and her attempts at assumption of powers that are clearly beyond the mandate of her office?

A crony or two of the mayor have also taken pains to shoot the messenger while evading consideration of the message.

 Who will be the next mirror to be attacked for illuminating plain facts?



We Agree

We Agree.  The following is a comment from Chaz Stevens that he left after my last post.  What he says is important so I am reposting it here:


For nearly 30 years, I have been a part of Amnesty International, helping to raise awareness to issue of violence directed against women and children.

One-in-three women worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused during her lifetime, with rates reaching 70 percent in some countries.

Violence against women and children is one of the most pervasive of human rights abuses.

James Benefield's remarks, which were sanctioned by Jean Robb, offend not just those in the audience, but our town as a whole.

Said Machiavelli, "The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him."

Under Robb's pilotage, I keep imaginging we've hit rock bottom, only to find a trap door opening up beneath us, revealing a subterrean basement. And from that fresh hell, the likes of Benefield are belched forth.

On this matter, you and I are in total agreement.

Chaz Stevens