Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good Idea Angelo!

Pembroke Pines’ Vice Mayor Angelo Castillo wrote (about the school board, but it applies to all government) in the Sun Sentinel:

“ …let's take elected officials out of the procurement process. Nobody elects School Board members based on their procurement prowess; they are not qualified to carry out that function, which is best handled by staff. The job of elected officials is to safeguard the fairness of the procurement process not to meddle in who gets what contracts. Make it clean. Open the doors to competition. Get elected school board members out of the contract selection business.These steps will go a long way toward improving education in our community and restoring public trust in the Broward County School District.”

What a great idea Vice Mayor Castillo, if your suggestion was in effect in Deerfield Beach we would not be anticipating a lawsuit about the selection of the Pier Restaurant contract.

Let’s change all contract awarding, city and county and school board, to that method. Who better to know what group should run a restaurant, or redesign a pier entrance then the professionals we hire to run our departments.

Let the commissioners have the final vote, yes or no, on the choice, but let the pros do the selection. Who would you want to pick a contractor, Charlie DaBrusco or Sylvia Poitier? George Edmonds or Peggy Noland?

Can you see Charlie saying, Oops, I got the names of the restaurants mixed up! I want Handleman, which one is his? As Sylvia did, or, I thought we were going with the 1-8 numbering, I didn’t know about the 35% - 35% - 30% weighting thing!, as did Peggy, the first week which pushed the selection off to the next meeting, resulting in the closing the restaurant and losing money.

The weighting was clearly spelled out in the selection criteria of the RFP. Staff wouldn't have missed that. They would have done the correct weighting for the various sections, financial, insurability, experience, etc. They would not have chosen based on who they like personally. They are the pros; they should be the ones to choose, the commission sets the criteria in the RFP, the staff carries out the selection. Let's make that happen.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hear! Hear! — Kudos to Jeff Sayles from a reader

Reaction to: Back In Business, Idiots, and Ethics - 10/23/09)
(http://www.deerfieldbeachusa.com/

Hear! Hear! — Kudos to Jeff Sayles from a reader
Some members of the ad hoc committee to review the ethics code of Deerfield Beach sagely nodded agreement when one member quoted the Model Code of Conduct for Court Professionals which begins with a preamble:
“SERVICE TO THE JUDICIAL BRANCH IS A PUBLIC TRUST. THE FOUNDATION OF OUR SOCIETY RESTS, IN PART, ON THE ABILITY OF THE CITIZENS TO WISELY JUDGE THE VALUE OF OUR COURTS AND TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE INTEGRITY OF THE JUDICIARY . . . .

CANON 1: AVOIDING IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL ACTIVITIES . . . “

It is interesting to note that those committee members who cited this canon stressed more than once ONLY the second clause of this statement. One of them also spoke of modifying our ethics legislation so that it is good for the commissioners. Another member drew reference to her manner conducting of her business as a justification for lowering the barriers in this code.
Are there different acceptable ethical standards between entertaining clients of a business for profit and those standards that must be maintained in a position of trust by elected representatives of taxpayers? This committee seems to say PERHAPS so. I suggest that they say DEFINITELY so.

The commission and this committee should be exclusively focused beyond the vague “…avoidance of APPEARANCE of impropriety in all activities. . . “? Avoiding ANY impropriety — real or suspect — is surely what’s best for the entire city — including those elected and employed to conduct its business.
Those who work hard and make sacrifices of time are to be commended for their public service NOT rewarded beyond the contracted stipend or salary. They are elected or employed NOT anointed! Their sacrifices in fulfilling the duties to SERVE for which they sought election or employment do NOT entitle them to privilege.
The Ethics Code section discussed notes all possible relationships to any person elected or hired to do business for the city and refers ONLY to certain aspects of that business. One member feels that personal rights are being abrogated by such barriers. This certainly may be the case in some instances — we cannot legislate against greed. The reality of that greed as we see it manifested today day after day is strong proof that a more stringent warning with strict enforcement is a necessity as a deterrent.
Such restriction should and MUST be considered part of the job description for our elected and employed officials.
Rather than taking a stand on ethics that will be best for the city, this committee seems to be slowly but surely moving toward mutual conciliation that will result in lowering the barriers to possible misconduct — a disservice to seeking the highest standards as well as a disregard for realities from what is happening now, and to times in our past.
One committee member, when addressed after a meeting as an able negotiator, demurred and referred to himself rather as a mediator. This was countered by underscoring the difference between the two. It is a meaningful differentiation and either course is premature with this untried legislation, is it not?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

So sad

Sad, pathetic, that is the description of last night’s (Tuesday) commission meeting. The commissioners spent $15,000 on a retreat to come up with a “vision” that amounted to an agreement that the commission meetings were not run well and people didn’t respect one another. I could have told them that for free. Nothing has changed, I present exhibit #1 to support that finding:

On Agenda Item - General Item #20 except for Bill Ganz they would have included the entire list of legislative priorities from the League of Cities with our Deerfield Beach list, sight unseen.

Sylvia, said in addition to our ten items we should include the L of C’s list also as they always have a good one, Peggy asked the city attorney if they could include it. Bill put a stop to that, saying he would not vote to include anything he had not read. Good going Bill. Joe Miller agreed they should read it first. Duh!

(WRONG, Sylvia, the League of Cities is not always our good buddy, for example they were trying to repeal the County Charter and eliminate County oversight of the cities. So if one city wanted to build something the next city didn’t want near them there would be nowhere to appeal. Who knows what else they want that would not be good for Deerfield Beach?)

Then came the discussion about what to do with the area of the city around the Dixie Flyover which is slated to break ground in late January. That is what was supposed to be discussed, but Sylvia went off on a tirade about hiring local contractors and would not believe that the city has NO control over the project as it is completely run by the MOP. Bill explained it very carefully to her but no dice. Marty Popelsky volunteered to go with her to the MOP, but said that the local contractors to be used for the flyover are local to Florida, not Deerfield Beach. All the commissioners understood this but Sylvia. Watch the video at the city website, reality TV doesn’t get much better than this.

Then the vote to decide on the pier restaurant was messed up, see Tom Francis’ take on it in his New Times post http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/juice/2009/10/deerfield_beach_pier_lease_poitier.php
During the meeting Mayor Peggy Noland made sure the whole city knew she was ready this time, unlike two weeks ago, she had the bidders ranked 2 ways and was ready to choose either way they decided to go, she did her homework. Unlike Sylvia Poitier, shown in the video post on Francis’ blog. In spite of having had 4 weeks to review she was not ready and messed up her choices which were done on the spot while everyone waited.

It ended up with her changing her vote after the restaurant was picked. She was seriously confused and was unable to grasp the difference between two similarly named “Pier Grills”. I would not be surprised if the losing bidder takes legal action. At this point Peggy loses her temper and says enough, stop it, we look like a bunch of idiots, the vote was called, and Sylvia kept interrupting and Peggy kept saying “Excuse me Sylvia you don‘t have the floor!” over and over. Sylvia then asks the city attorney if the mayor can stop her from talking at a commission meeting and is told, “Yes”. Sylvia then left the room.

All during the retreat veiled references to Sylvia’s behavior at meetings was discussed, then at the end they finally named the problem and said she was the problem. Two weeks ago during the commission meeting Sylvia seemed especially foggy, she, at one point, asked is Crystal Lake in Deerfield Beach? Huh? Last night she acted very confused also, and not too sure what was being discussed. Perhaps her blood sugar is off; perhaps she is not sleeping well, perhaps …. Well whatever, she is no longer an asset to the commission and should take time off and get help or resign, now, at once.

Up until last night the commissioners humored her, that seems to have ended. Perhaps they will take action.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Disturbing Complaints from City Hall

I am more and more disturbed by what I hear from City Hall these days. The Commissioners, especially the Mayor, do not seem to realize that the City Manager is the one who deals with the employees, not them. They set policy, but the manager carries it out.

Which means that when Mayor Noland calls up a department head and directs him/her to do something, or yells out from the dais that a department head in the audience should do such and such as soon as possible, SHE IS VIOLATING THE CITY CHARTER!!

Why does she do this? She says she is impatient and doesn't want to wait. Then she says she doesn't want to step on any toes, but she is walking all over the charter with hob nailed boots. Unless it is a safety emergency, in which case the police should be notified, she should learn patience.

There is a reason for chain of command, and commissioners who order employees around and/or yell at them are setting a very bad example, creating what might be called a hostile workplace and they should STOP IT NOW!!

I hear from inside city hall that the Mayor is on the employees cases frequently. If an employee gets mad and files a grievance it could cost the city a bundle.

Have it out with the city manager if you have a problem, but stay away from the employees. Wouldn't it be embarrasing if they wind up in front of Crist's new grand jury, perhaps he should base it in Deerfield Beach.

Joe Miller, at the Embassy Suits "retreat" said that perhaps they should have a workshop to learn what is in the charter, good idea Joe. Here's a little preview:

PART I CHARTER OF THE CITY OF DEERFIELD BEACH, FLORIDA

ARTICLE III. LEGISLATIVE

Section 3.06. Mayor and vice mayor.

(a) Mayor. The mayor shall preside at meetings of the commission and shall be recognized as head of the city government for all ceremonial purposes; by the governor for purposes of military law and civil disaster; for execution of contracts, deeds and other documents except as otherwise provided in article IV; for service of process; and as the city official designated to represent the city in all agreements with other governmental entities or certifications to other governmental entities, but shall have no administrative duties except as required to carry out the responsibilities herein.

Section 3.09. Prohibitions.
(3) Oversight of administration. Except for the purpose of inquiries and investigations, the commission or its members shall deal with city officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the city manager solely through the city manager, and neither the commission nor its members shall give orders to any such officer or employee, either publicly or privately. Nothing in the foregoing is to be construed to prohibit individual members of the commission from examining by question and personal observation all aspects of city government operations so as to obtain independent information to assist the members in the formulation of policies to be considered by the commission and assure the implementation of such policies as have been adopted.

It is the express intent of this provision, however, that such inquiry shall not interfere directly with the regular municipal operations of the city and that recommendations for change or improvement in city government operations be made to and through the city manager.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm tellin' you why.....

http://southflorida.bizjournals.com/southflorida/stories/2009/10/12/daily34.html?s=du&ed=2009-10-14&ana=e_du_pap

Modified: Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 1:40pm

Crist calls for grand jury to investigate public corruption


Citing a recent rash of crime involving public officials, Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to empanel a statewide grand jury to investigate the matter.

In his petition, Crist said that after consulting with local law enforcement agencies as well as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there is “good and sufficient reason” to investigate criminal activity “among local and state officials acting in their official capacity.”

Such an investigation would run the gamut from bribery and prostitution to crimes involving drugs.

And while the investigation would not be limited to any particular part of the state, Crist requested in his petition that a judge from one of several circuits, including Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach County, be appointed to oversee the grand jury.

Crist’s announcement follows recent indictments of Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion, Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher, and Alan Mendelsohn, a prominent Hollywood eye surgeon on public corruption charges.

"Power corrupts" It just keeps coming...

It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power. David Brin

In case you wonder if Florida needs teeth in its ethics codes, and better vetting of our elected (but, then again, if you live in Florida, you don't wonder, you know!) check out the reaction of Sansom's fellow lawmakers!!!!


Editorial: Legal but despicable

Published: Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 6:01 a.m. Last Modified: Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 5:20 p.m.

Former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom used his influence to steer tens of millions of dollars to a Panhandle community college that later gave him a $110,000 a year job. He got the college $6 million to build an airplane hanger it didn't need but could lease to a developer buddy of Sansom.

A grand jury was so outraged over Sansom's dealings that it indicted him for official misconduct. Some of Sansom's fellow lawmakers were outraged by the indictment because, they said, that's just the way things are done in the Legislature.

Apparently they were right.

Read the rest of the article: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20091011/OPINION01/910111000/1076/OPINION?Title=Editorial-Legal-but-despicable

With this level of corruption ("that's just the way things are done") we need more than Florida Hometown Democracy's Amendment 4, but A4 is a start!

For centuries people have recognized the effect on people of having power over others:


The greater a man is in power above others, the more he ought to excel them in virtue. None ought to govern who is not better than the governed. Publius Syrus

It is an observation no less just than common, that there is no stronger test of a man's real character than power and authority, exciting, as they do, every passion, and discovering every latent vice. Plutarch

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. Abraham Lincoln

The real test of character is how you treat someone who has no possibility of doing you any good. George Orwell

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Flea Market Sat. Oct. 17th, Woman's Club



Click on picture to enlarge.

Vote YES for Amendment 4



The new Hometown Democracy website is up, supporting a vote in favor of Amendment 4 which is on the November, 2010 ballot.

www.floridahometowndemocracy.com

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Retreat: Wasted Day

I had some of what puzzled me about the commissioners’ responses (my wondering where the city’s issues were, and why they were not addressed) somewhat cleared up by Bill Ganz.
His interpretation of the question asked was that they were to identify a process for addressing issues, not identify the issues themselves. Then after that he assumed the facilitator would come back to the issues.

While the facilitator, David Long, was taking responses about “what should be done” about city issues, needs and opportunities, Bill was waiting for him to get to what was covered in the individual private interviews Long conducted with the staff and commissioners.

Ganz was convinced that the issues from the interviews would come up later and the brainstorming session was for process.

After lunch he looked for, as was on the agenda, the results and identification of themes. Nothing happened, no issues from the interview were incorporated and his fellow commissioners stopped listening to Long and decided to do nothing but rant about others' shortcomings. At that point, Bill was as disgusted as I by their behavior and decided to give up.

I did not interpret the question the way Bill did; my take on it was that they should identify the “issues, the needs and the opportunities” during the brainstorming, and how to deal with them. He thought they had already identified the issues beforehand and the facilitator wanted to know the things that could be done.

But we both came to the same conclusion, that the day was a waste of time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Commission "Retreat" Visioning Meeting

Today, Wednesday, was the day the commissioners were to work with David Long, a strategic planner and facilitator who was hired to help the commission create a vision for Deerfield Beach.


The session started at 9:00 this morning and ended at 4:00 this afternoon. What started with high minded idealistic planning soon devolved into a gripe session and finger pointing fest, and a refusal to set any positive plan for helping improve anything.


In answer to the posed question: “What should be done to address the most important needs and opportunities facing the City of Deerfield Beach?” The commissioners, except Joe Miller for a little, couldn’t get away from themselves to attend to the task.



After some introduction and rule setting, the instruction was to brainstorm and write down as many answers to the above question as possible in, I think, 20 minutes. Then they were to rank them in importance and choose the key items.



Keep in mind the answers are what the commissioners think are the MOST IMPORTANT NEEDS and OPPORTUNITIES facing the city. See below this comment for the chart of answers.


Joe Miller, was the only one who even partially answered the question as stated. He touched on things he thought the city had problems with, such as the sewer main and the Dixie Flyover.
The rest of the commissioners let the session devolve into a gripe session. It was all about them and their tough time being a commissioner.



Mayor Noland constantly made note of how hard it is as a moderator to keep order. She said it is hard to conduct a meeting when others jump in when others are talking. She said we need to respect others, but some take over, and “This belittles the rest of my commission”.



Commissioner Popelsky noted that arguing with each other is a problem, communication is a problem, he said he criticizes and he shouldn’t, he should respect others’ positions. “I hold back because some things are so bad I don’t say them”.


Commissioner Ganz seems so frustrated by the process of being a commissioner he can’t get to seeing that it is about the city and residents. It seems he feels out of control of things.


David Long noted that the fact they said these things make them the most important. Then he asked for them to come up with “the big idea”. He was greeted with silence, so he suggested how about the need to get on the same page, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.


Noland jumped in and said that, I usually call Charlie (Debrusco) if, say, we have a pot hole, I am so impatient so I just do it, or I might have to wait for Monday and as a mayor I just have to do it, I won’t wait for Monday, so I get it done, I am not a threat, not to step on anyone’s toes, why should I take three hours trying to get the right person when I can just call the person who can do it, the right person. We as a group see a problem we all want taken care of, and a week later it is not done.


Long asked what is a creative way to get that done, be pro-active, and create a culture of change which is results oriented?


The group didn’t seem interested, kept whining about how tough it is to get anything they want. All gave lip service to wanting to work as a team, but the strong message I got was fine, but as long as “it is my way”.



I believe the entire commission is forgetting their mission, SET POLICY and let the staff carry it out, one of the comments in the list said department heads should be more responsive to the commissioners. DEPARTMENT HEADS SHOULD NOT BE INTERACTING WITH THE COMMISSIONERS, telling department heads what to do is not their job, in fact it is against the charter.


Very possibly there are charter violations admitted to by the commissioners during this meeting, Marty flat out said he was micro-managing, a big no-no, and Mayor Noland is directing employees to help out residents which is seriously against the charter, which makes it, I believe, illegal, and subject to sanction.


THEN: After ranking the topics and going through a process to identify the THREE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS FACING THE CITY, the group came up with:


1. Communication
2. Commissioners respect of one another and the conduct of meetings
3. Accountability and transparency.



Not the budget, not the economy, and saving money, not how to pay for infrastructure repairs, not taxes, not firefighters pensions, not Century Village backflow meters and water rates, nope, none of those things.


Like little kids in a school yard, they think the way they behave is the most important thing in the city.


OMG!!!


This group also finally got to talking about Vice Mayor Poitier, who was out ill, and all day was treated like the “elephant in the living room”.


(a saying based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there might be concerning themselves with relatively small and even irrelevant matters, compared to the looming big one.)


They tip toed around the problem of how to tell her what was said today and who should tell her. She is the one frequently mentioned as the one who interrupts others and goes on and on, “filibustering” as Noland put it. Finally it was agreed to leave it up to David Long, after all he is getting the big bucks ($15,000 of them). Noland acknowledged that Poitier was not likely to change her ways anyway.


When asked to come up with a group of people who could sit at a round table and have a discussion on problems of communication they said there should be the department heads, the City Manager, the Asst. Manager, the Attorney and perhaps the commissioners.


When Long asked who else might be there they couldn’t think of anyone else, he asked twice, and got no answer, then he said we will get back to it and he would leave 2 blank spots.


DUH!!!


HOW ABOUT THE RESIDENTS AND BUSINESS PEOPLE.


Again they didn’t even acknowledge the existence of anyone outside of city hall as being important, or contributing. There are such problems with their interpersonal relationships they have no energy left.


OMG!!!


I saw a lot of finger pointing and blame and frustration, but no taking of responsibility themselves. If they need information they should ask for it, again and again if need be. If you see a problem, ask for it to be corrected, in proper channels. This is a runaway commission and they have to rein themselves in.


CLICK ON CHART TO READ - CHART IS IN 3 PARTS: