Saturday, August 29, 2009

The DFB Commission will vote to eliminate the Ethics Code.

This is what is being undone by Mayor Peggy; these are the provisions that are making it difficult to conduct city business.

HERE THEY ARE FOLKS, THE PROVISIONS THAT ARE CAUSING TROUBLE FOR THE CURRENT COMMISSIONERS, READ THEM AND PLEASE TELL ME WHICH OF THEM SHOULD BE ELIMINATED AND WHY.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that:
Commissioners May not use their office for personal financial benefit.
Do you think Miller, Poitier and Noland thought: Wow, that is something we should get rid of, let’s rescind this provision.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that:
Commissioners May not use their office to influence compensation or benefits such as pension. Hmmm, now we can vote on some juicy pensions and raises for ourselves and our friends and relatives.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: Commissioners Shall not have any interest or business which is in conflict with duties.
OK, get rid of this and you are free to have interests that conflict with setting policy in the city.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: Commissioners Shall not solicit or accept anything of value from anyone coming before or doing business with the city.
Oops, there go the free lunches, let’s get rid of this provision.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: Commissioners Shall not use their position to gain privileges, advantages or exemptions not generally available to the public.
Wow, guys, what good is being a commissioner if we can’t get stuff that is not available to the unwashed masses.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: Commissioners Shall not sexually harass, date, have sexual relations, or a romantic relationship with an employee of the city.
Wonder what inspired this one? Certainly don’t want to crimp anyone’s hitting on the working folk. Get rid of this rule fast, some of those workers are hotties!

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: They or a partner shall not represent any other person or entity before the city, except without compensation or for themselves.
What? Work for free? No way Jose, my buds will have to pay me to use my influence before the commission.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: Commissioners When appearing before any public body, must disclose if as a private citizen or an officer of the city.
What’s the problem here? I am doing this on my own, or I am doing this for the city. No brainer. Oh, right, I forgot who we are talking about.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: Commissioners Shall not promise an appointment as a reward for political support etc.
Not even the State allows this, but it obviously interferes with doing city business so Peggy says it goes!

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: Commissioners For 2 years after serving shall not represent others before the city except as a volunteer.
Again, here is that little problem, what, me work for free? I can make a bundle knowing what I know. Get rid of this one.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: Commissioners Must file a form if there is a conflict of interest, even if not voting.
Get rid of this little item and we are back to leaving the room for a bathroom break before the embarrassing vote.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: Applicants seeking a City contract or currently doing business with the city include a listing of all campaign contributions to sitting City Commissioners.
Here it is, this is the onerous provision that J.B.s “forgot” to do. It was spelled out in detail in the RFP, but they forgot. So let's get rid of the whole ethics code.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: All regulated offices (City manager and Commissioners) shall file an Annual General Disclosure.
This is required by the State anyway, what’s the big deal. No, you can’t hide that you have an interest in a company that wants to do business with the city, get over it.

The Deerfield Beach Ethics Code states that: Before any item or action is considered by the
Commission at a meeting, the City Clerk shall announce the disclosures made on that particular item by the Regulated Officer and Applicant.
Yup, in public.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Out, Damn Ethics, Out I Say!

At tonight’s budget meeting Vice Mayor Poitier let slip that on the next commission meeting agenda there would be an item to remove the Deerfield Beach Ethics Code. She was positively gleeful about it. The Ethics Code removal item was requested by Mayor Peggy Noland. Can you believe it, a city mayor recinding an ethics code!!!

I guess I am only surprised that it took this commission so long. But, I never expected them to repeal the whole thing. It will be a 3 to 2 vote, with Miller, Noland and Poitier voting to remove it, and Ganz and Popelsky to retain it.

Why, you ask would they do such a thing, not sure about Miller’s reasons, he says it is cumbersome, but it has very little in it that is not in the County’s or other town’s codes, not sure why he would think we should have less open government, or why lobbyists and contractors would not have to be up front about contributions.



My guess is that if J.B.s had followed the directions in the RFP for their bid on the contract for running the pier restaurant, they would not be taking this vote. Ah, well, it probably doesn’t matter anyway, this commission is not going to adhere to its provisions anyway, witness their quick 3 to 2 vote to overlook the violation of J.B.s proposal.


18)
Ordinance 2009/ - AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COMMISSION OF THE CITY OF DEERFIELD BEACH, FLORIDA, REPEALING ORDINANCE NO. 2009/06 WHICH ESTABLISHED A CODE OF ETHICS; REPEALING THE CITY OF DEERFIELD BEACH CODE OF ETHICS; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE CITY CODE; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE (Requested by Mayor Noland)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Commission Muddled

When the smoke cleared the fire was burning...

Linda Trischitta’s article in today’s paper, Local section pg. 3 titled “Deerfield Beach: Campaign donations muddle winning pier restaurant bid” starts out -

DEERFIELD BEACH - The winning bidder for a restaurant lease on the city-owned pier did not declare that he had given campaign contributions to the mayor and a commissioner, which could prompt the city to throw out the bids and start over. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/deerfield/sfl-deerfield-pier-bids-082409,0,5545371.story

The commission was told at last night’s budget hearing that they have 3 choices, they can start all over putting out for new bids, they can toss out J.B.s and award the contract to the second choice, or they can let J.B.s fix their bid.

Not too hard to guess what they are going to do as Sylvia quickly asked, “What do we have to do to pick the third choice”?

Trischitta ends her article with a quote from the current restaurant manager -

"If politics ran the way it was supposed to, their application should have been thrown out because it wasn't complete, but we all know that's not how the political machine works," Weinstein said".

The contract will be discussed at the next commission meeting.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Where There's Smoke, There's Usually Fire

The Deerfield Beach Commission voted to award the temporary contract to run the little pier restaurant to J.B.s. Strangely, none of the commissioners, before voting, thought it necessary to announce their ties to the owner of J.B.s restaurant.

Under the ethics code, both State and Local I believe that a commissioner has to disclose contacts, campaign donations and ex parte discussions. I’m pretty sure that both Commissioner Noland, who mumbled that she doesn’t work for J.B.s anymore, and Commissioner Miller have associations that they must disclose. I find it hard to believe that Peggy did not discuss this project with Sue.

The vote should be cancelled and another vote should be taken.

I heard another suspicious thing; I was told that Oceans 234 and Amonte’s Italian Restaurant only received the application for the contract two days before the deadline. Not enough time to submit a proposal. Maybe the other restaurants in the area should be asked when they received the paperwork.

Favoritism, I think so. Friends like to take care of friends, especially friends who donate big bucks to campaign chests. Where there is smoke there is usually fire, but if, in this case, there are no flames, there is a stink.

Time for a do over.

Tom Francis, hot stuff

The Deerfield Beach Commission should be ashamed of this pissant investigation.

A while back, I wrote I was surprised at the mild tone New Times reporter Tom Francis took when he first reported on the Firefighters unethical behavior during the last election campaign. He tells me that he was just getting warmed up and now here is the heat:


Documents Show Deerfield Firefighters Short-Armed Internal Investigation
By Thomas Francis in Broward, Politics

Friday, Aug. 21 2009 @ 1:29PM

​It wasn't exactly Watergate, but for Deerfield Beach it had the makings of a defining moment in its scandal-plagued history: Firefighters accused by residents of engaging in improper political activities during the final, frenzied week of the city's municipal elections in March. With a new mayor and two new commissioners, would the city dare to demand accountability from the powerful Deerfield Beach Department of Fire and Rescue? FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE, CLICK HERE: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/juice/2009/08/deerfield_beach_fire_investigation_campaigning_noland.php

Thursday, August 20, 2009

No Probable Cause, They Got it Right.

The Elections Commission and its investigators have issued a finding of no probable cause in the complaint by Chaz Stevens against ROC and Gerry Brown.

ROC (Reunite Our City, Inc.) was formed in 2005 by Gerry Brown after the editor of the Deerfield Beach Observer Newspaper refused to print letters to the Editor with points of view different from hers (sound familiar?). There was a need for another forum, and a need to bring the polarized city together.

ROC established a website, published newsletters both on-line, and printed and held meet and greet parties for residents of all districts.

As part of its philosophy was informing the public, ROC saw a need to help right an injustice and donated money to Commissioner Steve Gonot’s recall-fighting effort for flyers and postage.

For some reason, Chaz Stevens thought that was improper and sent in a complaint to the Florida Elections Commission.

ROC had no evil scheme to launder money, if they wanted to do some hanky-panky with funds, depositing them into a traceable bank account and then writing a traceable check would not have been the way to go.

But, there was a need to counter the charges in public, a need to get the truth out and ROC decided to help. It was as simple as that, and finally, after thousands of dollars spend in defending the allegation, the Elections Commission agreed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kristin Jacobs plans town hall forums

http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/2009/08/kristin_jacobs_plans_town_hall.html

> Posted by Scott Wyman on August 19, 2009 01:35 PM

County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs has scheduled a series of town hall forums in her district to take public input on everything from county budget cuts to local plans to protect the environment.

Jacobs will hold a forum at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15 at the Emma Lou Olson Civic Center at 1801 N.E. 6th St. in Pompano Beach. That will be followed at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 15 with a forum at the School House at the City of Deerfield Beach, 150. N.E. 2nd Ave. in Deerfield Beach. The third forum will be at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Northwest Focal Point Center, 6009 N.W. 10th St. in Margate.

Jacobs, a Democrat, has represented the northeast District 2 area on the commission since 1998. For more information, call 954-357-7002 or e-mail kjacobs@broward.org.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Why We Need Florida Hometown Democracy’s Amendment 4

In his book "Better Not Bigger," Eben Fodor cites study after study showing how growth raises taxes.

There are dozens of these studies. They all come to the same conclusion. New developments reach into the pockets of established residents to finance additional schools and services, and the traffic and pollution they generate reduce nearby property values.

Given all the evidence to the contrary, it's amazing how many still believe the myth that growth reduces taxes. But then, every myth springs from a seed of truth. Municipal growth does benefit some people.

Real estate agents get sales,

Construction companies get jobs,

Banks get more depositors and borrowers,

Stores get more business (though they also get more competition).

Landowners who sell to developers can make big money;

Developers can make even bigger money.

Fodor quotes Oregon environmentalist Andy Kerr, who calls urban growth, "a pyramid scheme in which a relatively few make a killing, some others make a living, but most [of us] pay for it."

As long as there is a killing to be made, no environmentally concerned tree huggers are going to stop over development.

The developers make the money. They're playing the game according to the rules, which rewards whoever is clever enough to put any cost of doing business they can onto someone else.

They get the profits,

We build the roads.

They hire the workers (paying as little as they can get away with,

We sit in traffic jams and breathe the exhaust.

They get jobs building the subdivision,

We lose open lands, clean water, and wildlife.

Then we subsidize them with our taxes.

Do not believe the myth that all growth is good. Ask hard questions. Who will benefit and who will pay?

How much growth can our roads, our land, our waters and air, our neighborhoods, schools and community support?

Recently the Governor signed into law a bill that eliminates the need for developers to pay for roads in their projects. If you ask yourself why, the only answer possible is - he is looking for campaign money from developers.

Shame on our city officials for allowing this, but, sadly, local legislatures are controlled by political contributions from the growth machine, because ordinary residents don’t have the time or financial resources to spend years, time after time, addressing the same applications for ill-advised development, we have a fiasco whose results are indelibly etched in the built-out landscape of Florida.Because growth does not pay its own way, cities wind up with unfunded infrastructure needs, something that elected officials won’t talk about and newspapers don’t print.But every day Florida residents experience infrastructure problems through gummed-up roadways, classrooms for children in air-conditioned trailers, unkempt and inadequate parks and playing fields, pollution, degraded wetlands and a declining quality of life.This isn’t a “gloomy point of view”. This is reality.

From: http://eyeonmiami.blogspot.com :“…The proposed (Miami Dade) County Budget is dismal, but the news is yet worse: there are some $20 billion in unfunded infrastructure deficits: a fact that mocks claims by developers and the Growth Machine that the rabid, speculative fever during the housing boom benefited taxpayers. We now get to see the true nature of their Ponzi schemes.Growth does not pay its own way: what lead to this point in time is nothing less than disaster capitalism in practice. I predict a severe backlash against the unreformable majority of the county commission for 2010 elections. But that too may be wishful thinking: all around us perpetrators of economic fraud are being rewarded. None are being held accountable.”

The building and development industry--its greed and excesses, coupled with go along tactics by state and local officials contributed greatly to the housing bubble and the disaster the bubble's burst has imposed on Florida taxpayers.

Over development costs us more than lost green space and nightmarish daily commutes. It costs us dollars. That’s dollars straight out of our pockets, in the form of higher local taxes. Municipal growth consistently costs more in public services than it pays in taxes.

Who is objecting to the Florida Hometown Democracy’s Amendment 4? The very people who, in a fiscally irresponsible frenzy of overdevelopment, brought you the current recession.
The reasons to support Florida Hometown Democracy are all around us: the highest foreclosure rates in history, housing inventories so saturated that it will take years to absorb, degraded wetlands and public corruption.

Lesley Blackner, an attorney, president of Florida Hometown Democracy, the Amendment 4 sponsor says, “The first thing I suggest you do when you read a letter, column or blog in opposition to Amendment 4 is to Google the name of the author. Chances are, the author makes his living off sprawl or works in government (which is often the same thing.) The "say-anything campaign" is desperate to preserve a rotten status quo. Immunize yourself now.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Which is it, top or bottom?

Florida's education rankings difficult to fathom

Want to know how Florida measures up against other states, education-wise? Good luck trying to figure it all out.

BY PATRICIA MAZZEI
pmazzei@MiamiHerald.com

Everyone knows that Florida ranks at the bottom when it comes to education. Except when it ranks near the top.

Depending on whom you ask, where you look and what year it is, Florida's standing compared to the rest of the nation is all over the map.

Read the whole article here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/miami-dade/v-fullstory/story/1181951.html

Education rankings: Placing Florida A sampling of where Florida stands in national education rankings:

Rank Category Source
10th overall quality of education; 2009 `Education Week' Quality Counts report
12th beginning teacher pay; 2007 American Federation of Teachers survey
22nd fourth-grade reading; 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress
24th average teacher pay; 2007 American Federation of Teachers
36th per-student spending; 2007 U.S. Census Public Education Finances report
50th income to public schools; 2007 U.S. Census Public Education Finances report

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Have they no sense of shame?

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/juice/

Despite Massive Losses, Related Wants to Keep Building in West Palm

By Lisa Rab

Monday, Aug. 10 2009 @ 11:54AM​

Miami-based real estate giant The Related Group has struggled to weather the housing bust, watching its massive Icon Brickell condo project on Biscayne Bay sit largely empty, while its CityPlace South Tower in West Palm Beach goes into "friendly foreclosure."

But that hasn't stopped Related's thirst to keep building. According to the Palm Beach Post, Related Companies is one of five development teams now vying to build a hotel to serve the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The delicious irony in this scenario is that the convention center is next door to the nearly empty, foreclosed CityPlace South Tower.

Just a few months ago, local real estate agent Christian Morrison Pearce, actually proposed converting the condo tower into a hotel to support the convention center, but county leaders shot down the idea.Now here comes Related wanting to build a whole new hotel.

Just to be clear, The Related Group and Related Companies, which is based in New York, are not the same firm. But Related Companies CEO Stephen Ross is a partner, with Jorge Perez, in The Related Group. So the two development giants are thorougly entwined.

Ross surely has noticed that his Florida venture is saddled with debt and losing money by the boatload due to the condo market collapse. But hey, building one more hotel couldn't hurt, could it?

Monday, August 10, 2009

OMG 19,400 Results!

This written by an Attorney, wonder how many results he would get if he added in Deerfield Beach Commission:

I found of interest the Florida Times-Union’s reporting on former St. Johns County Commission Chairman Thomas G. Manuel’s guilty plea to a $10,000 bribe from a developer and his admitting to taking another $50,000, all to influence his big land use decisions.

It is also interesting to see that there are fully 19,400 results if you Google the words, “Florida ‘County Commissioner’ indictment” in the Internet search engine.

Apparently this is not an unusual event. In fact it has been going on for years, all over Florida. At one point, a majority of the Hillsborough County Commission (in the Tampa area) was indicted for developer bribes.

If so many County Commissioners in our state get caught and indicted for illegal bribery by developers, it’s not hard to imagine how prolific the legal bribery is – the implicit trading of development favors for campaign contributions.

On the 2010 ballot, voters will have a chance to pass Amendment 4 to the state Constitution, the Florida Hometown Democracy amendment, to require voter approval of Comprehensive Plan amendments

Seems to me we need that safeguard of citizens voting on the biggest land use decisions, after they pass a Commission vote.

It’s pretty hard to bribe that many people.
-- Dan Lobeck
Attorney

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Deerfield Beach is not Alone: More and More and More and.......

Manuel pleads guilty to taking bribe
Former St. Johns County commissioner faces 10 years in federal prison
By Paul Pinkham
Story updated at 2:10 AM on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009

Former St. Johns County Commission Chairman Thomas G. Manuel admitted in court Friday he solicited and received $60,000 in bribes from a developer and his lawyer.

Manuel, 64, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery involving $10,000 he demanded be paid to charity and his political action committee in exchange for his support for projects by The Falcone Group. READ THE REST HERE:
http://jacksonville.com/community/my_st_johns_sun/2009-07-31/story/manuel_pleads_guilty_to_taking_bribe

It's the Impact, Stupid!

What do I think people in Deerfield Beach should do when they know or suspect that there are public employees or elected officials acting improperly?

Not, certainly, ignore the behavior. One commentator thought I was a hypocrite and just pointing fingers and doing nothing. He/she had no way of knowing that I have submitted complaints to the State’s Attorney and the Election Board, and they are investigating. I mention this now only to counter the impression that I do nothing. I will say what I think; I will report what I see, sometimes publically and loudly, sometimes not so much.

In fact, doing nothing is not what I or the OSOBs are about. Because right now there are no issues affecting the quality of life in Deerfield Beach does not mean that the OSOBs are “resting on their laurels” merely that they, thankfully, have no large issues just now.

No, I cannot separate the message from the messenger. I happen to believe that using words such as fuck and shit, in a blog can start to become routine, so much so that sentences without those words seem to be bland and lack impact. Ignoring that some people think such words are offensive, which will not matter to the writer, they do become just a boring habit. Being thought rude and vulgar hardly matters, but making people who read the blog yawn with boredom while slogging through irrelevant vulgarity to get at the “message” hidden in what the blogger thinks is outrageous or truthful and honest is simply tiresome. Getting personally ticked off at someone and taking cheap shots is also indefensible.

Also, I do think that such language is a sign of inadequate self discipline and lack of sophistication; they often mask an inadequate vocabulary. It is much more difficult it is to come up with definitive adjectives than using a curse word. Mostly others will not care what I think, but there is a larger dangerous impact:

The result of this name calling.

Not the result that the guilty get punished, I have no problem with that, and welcome all who are trying to keep our government honest. But the result of using the indiscriminate tar brush on everyone, no exceptions. The frustration a person, trying to do a good job who comes into the sights of a playful blogger having “fun” and gets excoriated, for doing nothing more than being human, is scary enough for many to prevent them from even considering running for office. THAT IS MY POINT.

I do not think that if you don’t have anything to hide you will be fine, as that is not proving to be anywhere near true.