Thursday, January 28, 2010

Deerfield Beach Commission, Lesson Learned? Not.

While at the commission meeting on Tuesday I was struck with how quickly the rigors of the budget process wore off our commissioners.

While reviewing the budget, every line item was looked at and many shaved. Those who wanted budget additions were treated as if they had a contagious disease.

But now Commissioner Popelsky wants to use public tax money, which was not put in as a budget item, for placing $4,000 to $5,000 worth of city purchased defibrillators in Century Village.

CV is a private concern, and they have a budget and assessment money, if the residents think defibrillators are important, they should put them in the CV budget. If the commissioners think that defibrillators are necessary in various spots around the city, (certain places must have them by law) it should be in the budget.

The commissioners didn’t even know that there was a defibrillator in City Hall.

Another agenda item, which was tabled, had money, $85.773, (again a not budgeted for item) being pulled out of the West Wellfield Project for sidewalks along the Military Trail from the CV gate to 10th Street.

The well field project is short of money and they want to use eighty five grand for sidewalks!!!!! Good thing they came to their senses and pulled that one. In addition to not passing the smell test, is it legal to do that?

This would be a sidewalk that goes nowhere, there is no inside CV sidewalk to get to Military Trail, and no sidewalk, yet, on 10th.

Commissioner Poitier's head perked up like a bird dog on point when she heard grant money and energy savings in one sentence. She wanted to know if it was for private residences. It was not, only for city buildings, which she would have known if she had read her backup material.

And the coup de budget is the Commission voting to hire a headhunter to find a city manager; another $20,000 plus down the toilet.

There is no magic to a head hunter. Place an ad in the city manager journal and voila, you will be inundated with resumes. All the HH does is provide CVs and resumes, the commission still has to review them and interview the final few.

Although one might wonder who would want to come to Deerfield Beach. Last go-around, the first choice said no thanks. This should be a do it yourself project. Enough money has been wasted on this.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

FHD at Deerfield Beach Woman's Club Flea Market


Pam Militello and Marge Hilton at the Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment 4 table at the Flea Market.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Deerfield Beach Commissioners could learn a lesson from this:

From: http://www.pnj.com/article/20100123/NEWS01/1230320/1039
Reginald T. Dogan • January 23, 2010

…elected officials don't always make the best decisions when they receive power from the people to govern and lead.

I'm not so sure if political power is intoxicating or if some people elected in politics are just intoxicated.

For those bold enough to sip from the political cup and get a taste of its power, elected public service can be an addictive occupation.

Besides having the opportunity to engage in decisions that can improve a community and mold its future, serving in office also brings a heavy dose of flattery and boot-licking that can create a false sense of entitlement.

Like the person who has had too many shots of whiskey and gets behind the wheel of an automobile, public servants, who fall under the intoxicating nature of their job's many perks and favors, make poor decisions.

A member of city council or a county commission has power, commands respect and demands attention…

The power helps or hurts those who come before them with wants and needs. They can help friends flourish and make enemies suffer.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White thought his position in county government gave him power to take advantage of and make sexual advances toward a young woman who worked in his office.

His actions cost him nearly half a million dollars, his reputation and possibly the seat that gave him the intoxicating power he misused and abused.

…here's something to ponder from a man who wielded a lot of power and used it wisely:

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

Friday, January 22, 2010

Corrupt Florida Politicians



Click for larger image.

Suspended Deerfield Beach City Commissioner Sylvia Poitier was sentenced to one year of probation, community service and a $1000 fine for falsifying records.  She was gound guilty on four misdemeanor charges of falsifying documents after a Broward judge denied her defense attorney’s motion to acquit Poitier and reverse a jury’s guilty verdict reached Nov. 16.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/11/30/2525066/judge-upholds-jurys-guilty-verdict.html#ixzz1gcBBL8xR


Former South Daytona Mayor Ron Clifton and former special magistrate Jerome Mitchell were sentenced to two and three years in federal prison, respectively, this afternoon, after a federal judge heard testimony that shed light on the bribery scandal that sunk both men and ended their public careers. U.S. District Judge Mary Scrivens showed no leniency toward Mitchell, giving him them the high end of the sentence recommended in the sentencing guidelines.


Former Deerfield Beach Commissioner Steve Gonot was convicted  of stealing campaign funds, falsifying his campaign treasurer's report and official misconduct.  The three-woman, three-man jury took just under an hour before returning the guilty verdicts, following a one-week trial.

* Commissioner Mary McCarty U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks sentenced former County Commissioner Mary McCarty to three-and-a-half years in prison for misusing her office and illegally benefiting by $300,000. She also was fined $100,000.

Former County Commissioner Warren Newell was sentenced to five years for lining his pockets through secret payments and benefits. He is still in the Palm Beach County Main Jail.

Former County Commissioner Tony Masilotti, began serving a five-year sentence in August 2007 for engaging in secret land deals that netted him nearly $10 million in illicit profits…Investigators uncovered a six-year conspiracy … persistently used his power to advance land deals that enriched him and his family.

Former West Palm Beach City Commissioner Ray Liberti was released from prison in May after serving 18 months. Prosecutors said he used his influence to cite a West Palm Beach nightclub and massage parlor for code violations to intimidate the owners into selling their businesses at a below-market price to buyers he had chosen. In return, the buyers gave Liberti an expensive watch and paid him $66,000, most of it in cash delivered in a shaving kit.

Former West Palm Beach Commissioner Jim Exline was released in February after serving a 10-month prison sentence. Exline failed to report on his tax return a $50,000 payment from a developer who prosecutors said wanted the commissioner's help securing city approvals for a restaurant.

Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion’s, 20-year career in politics ended in tears and disgrace as the Broward commissioner became the first county official to plead guilty in a wide-ranging federal corruption investigation and resigned. Eggelletion, who admitted taking part in a plan to launder what he thought was dirty money, faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Two suspended Levy County commissioners were found guilty Friday evening of conspiracy and soliciting bribes in return for approval of what they believed was a new development project. The jury deliberated for about five hours at the federal courthouse in Gainesville before arriving at the decision against William Samuel "Sammy" Yearty, 63, and Robert Anthony "Tony" Parker, 49.

Two Dixie County men were convicted as part of a federal undercover investigation into corruption by public officials. Former Cross City police chief and suspended town council member Marcellus Dawson and the city's public works superintendent, Johnny Miller Greene, were found guilty as charged. Both men were convicted of conspiracy and of accepting bribes. Greene was also convicted of lying to the FBI about the $600 he was convicted of taking.

Willie Dewey "Billy" Keen Jr. a former Dixie County zoning official, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in federal prison and three years of probation for his convictions on charges of conspiracy, soliciting bribes and two counts of lying to federal agents.

Two former Dixie county commissioners, John Lee "Big John" Driggers, 61, and Alton James Land, 68, are scheduled to be sentenced on similar charges in January. During an August trial, witnesses detailed how the men accepted money in exchange for promising favorable decisions by the Dixie County Commission on specific development issues.

Former Senate President W.D. Childers, who served in the Senate from 1970 to 2000 walked out of a prison work-release center Wednesday, ending nearly three years of confinement on a bribery conviction.

Suspended St. Johns County Commission Chairman Tom Manuel pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing in U.S. District Court on an official corruption charge of accepting $60,000 in bribes

A former Miami City Commissioner, Humberto E. Hernandez, pleaded guilty to a Federal charge of conspiracy to commit bank, wire and mail fraud.

Former Tamarac Mayor Says developer offered him a $200,000 cash payoff if he would agree to remove his wife from the mayor's race.



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Change in Deerfield Beach

About Mahaney’s dismissal: Only time will tell if the city is better off with a new city manager. However, I see no point in Monday morning quarterbacking the decision. Bill Ganz, in my opinion, is doing his best for our city. He had solid reasons for his vote to dismiss.

Bill believes that the city should be run on a sound fiscal basis and people should do a day’s work for a day’s pay. I like that. He is an idealist and I like that too. He wants to hold the line on the firefighter’s excesses, and I really like that. And he is that rare commissioner who comes to commission meetings thoroughly prepared as to the items on the agenda. He is not confused by how to take a vote, and he does not vote for something he doesn’t understand. He is to be forgiven for the times he shows his frustration at the unprofessional antics, lack of perception and off topic ramblings of others on the dais.

Bill has no personal agenda or ax to grind, he ran for commissioner because he wanted to make the city better. He brought an energizing breath of fresh air to the city.

He doesn’t have any relatives who work for the city; he isn’t the commissioner who was reluctantly drafted to run against another commissioner who in a spirit of conciliation, suggested a moment of silence instead of a sectarian prayer, and set off a storm of protest by Christians. And, he isn’t in it for the paycheck. Bill has no delusions of grandeur thinking that being a commissioner or mayor makes him better than others.

Rather than be criticized, Bill should be praised for his caring, his guts and his tolerance. Was he right? I hope so. Am I worried about the transition, the union negotiations, who the next city manager will be, where he or she will come from? Sure, change is difficult. But sometimes it is for the better.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Scam Warning for Deerfield Beach

Hi Bett,
On Saturday afternoon an young man came to me while I was doing yard work in the Cove neighborhood and told me a great story about how he was a PBCC student trying to raise money for a humanities department trip to Greece by selling magazines and cutlery.

He told me he lived on 7th Avenue and had already hit up his family and neighbors but still needed more money for the trip. He even mentioned his experiences selling Boy Scout popcorn. He even said he will buy Girl Scout cookies from me at Publix next weekend.

I was hooked. Anyway he scammed me for a 2-year renewal on Motor Trend Magazine for $42. I called the phone number on the receipt he gave me and it was no good.

I also went online, and discovered someone in Miami was complaining about the same company, "World Class Circulation/Diamond Sales." So I stopped payment on my check before it was cashed. Feel free to put this in your blog. I'm not embarassed, he was that good.

Donna

Friday, January 15, 2010

Deerfield Beach Commissioners Fire City Manager Mahaney

The Deerfield Beach Commissioners fired City Manager Mike Mahaney tonight. Breaking a 2 – 2 tie, Marty Popelsky cast the deciding vote to dismiss him.

Who was right?

Mike was right that Peggy was too interfering, Joe Miller was right when he said everyone should be able to get along and put aside differences for the sake of the city, Bill was right when he said that he tried and tried to get Mahaney to communicate better and stop his gossiping but couldn’t, Marty was right when he said that Peggy wouldn’t be able to deal with Mike if he stayed on for a trial period. Were they right to fire Mike, only time will tell. It was probably right for Mike; he can start over somewhere else. Was it right for the city? Only time will tell.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Original Save Our Beach comments on Mahaney and the Commission

The Deerfield Beach Original Save Our Beach Committee (OSOB) is disappointed that there is serious discord among some of the Deerfield Beach Commissioners and the City Manager. We believe that it is in the best interests of the City that those Commissioners who are dissatisfied with Mr. Mahaney try to work out their differences with him.

Replacing the city manager will be a financially costly and disruptive process for the city, and should not be done unless absolutely necessary. It is not too late to attempt to resolve the differences and no harm done if it takes some time as there is no urgency in replacing Mr. Mahaney.

The communication issues between the City Manager and some of the Commission obviously need to be improved, but people of good faith can and should make that happen. There are areas of performance in which Mr. Mahaney can improve, however, Mr. Mahaney has shown himself to be honest, has kept our city on sound financial footing, even during these very difficult economic times, and has the overall best interest of the Deerfield Beach taxpayers in mind when making decisions.

For the good of the City, we urge the Commission and the City Manager to make a serious attempt to resolve their differences and strive to do what is truly in the best interest of the citizens of Deerfield Beach.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Take Good Care, Mike.

The Deerfield Beach Commission fired City Manager Mike Mahaney last evening. That is a sad thing. Mike is a good person but three commissioners couldn’t/wouldn’t work with him. Having a majority of your bosses against you makes a job impossible to do.

The commissioners are supposed to set policy, and the manager is supposed to implement it. But having two or three micro managers on the dais second guessing your every move makes it very hard to operate.

Mike was a huge improvement over the last city manager; he kept the city solvent and was frugal with city money. Many past abuses were corrected. I am sorry to see him go. I can’t imagine what manager candidate would want to work with this commission; they are setting a new record for discord in Deerfield Beach.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009 - Good, Bad, and Ugly

2009
January:

Deerfield parks director Vince Hendricks gets long-awaited kidney transplant.

The City election campaigns were underway with Deerfield Beach politics as usual, stolen signs, indicted candidates, partisan “news” articles in the local throwaway paper, unopposed candidate in District 2.

Appointments for commissioners to serve until the March election were made: Vice Mayor Sylvia Poitier was appointed mayor because Al Capellini was suspended by Governor Crist, Gloria Battle was appointed to fill in for Poitier’s District 2 seat and Colleen DiDonato was appointed to fill, resigned Commissioner, Steve Gonot’s seat for District 4.

The public was astonished that the city would consider paying Pete Boinis $600,000 to buy the Melrose Property, (the small piece of under and next to the toilets by the pier) after he only paid $200,000 for it.

Deerfield Beach Ethics Code was introduced by Commissioner Militello.

An ordinance that was developed by the City’s Telecommunication Towers Committee, was tabled after a very long discussion, the committee was formed after residents stormed the commission irate about a cell tower in a small west Deerfield park.

Deerfield Palms Condominium owed back water bills and there was a discussion as to whether to turn the water off to the entire complex.


February:

Residents were either amused or angry about Pete Boinis’ signs; he ringed his piece of beach sand with no trespassing signs. He was rubbing the city’s nose in the fact that HE owned the property.

As one South Florida politician after another became embroiled in scandal, Florida Atlantic University decided it was time to devote more attention to the study of ethics. So the university's School of Public Administration in Fort Lauderdale created a new Public Ethics Academy, intended to research ethics and provide training for local government agencies.

The Ethics Code was passed by the commission 4 to 1, public hearing to be held in March.

The Ordinance about cell towers, tabled from the last meeting, was passed.

The Key West look for the Cove Shopping Center was adopted.

This blog was started in reaction to the Observer Newspaper’s biased election reporting.

The Observer held a candidates forum that was so biased that people walked out, candidates walked out, and bloggers had a field day ridiculing Eller and his lawyer. Refresh your memory here: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/juice/2009/02/deerfield_beach_mayor_election.php#more Part of what was written: “But even the understandably jaded followers of city politics were appalled by what they witnessed Tuesday evening at a candidates’ forum held by the Observer, the community newspaper. The word I heard most: "Disgrace."”

Al Capellini had to tape over Mayor on his election signs and was told to stop calling himself “Mayor”.

The County MPO recommended that the Dixie Flyover project receive stimulus dollars, the estimate for the project was $56 million.

The Original Save Our Beach mayoral candidate forum was a standing room only success. The format where all candidates were asked the same questions in rotating order went over very well with the crowd. Unlike the Observer show, the audience was encouraged to submit questions, and asked some tough ones.



March:

The Deerfield Beach Commission Ethics Code public hearing was long and spirited but the code passed, 3-2.

State grant money to buy the Boinis property was applied for in addition to the $350,000 from the County. Boinis is standing firm on his asking price of $600,000!!

The Deerfield Beach firefighters were found electioneering on city time and storing campaign materials in the firehouse. They received counseling as their punishment.

Buddy Nevins, in a foreshadowing of things to come posted this:
Broward County commissioners have been warned: Be honest. Or the feds might throw you in jail for up to 20 years! In a startling three-page memo from County Attorney Jeff Newton, commissioners were told in writing how to avoid being snared by a wide ranging federal corruption law. It has come to this, folks. Broward government is so shady that commissioners need advice on how to be ethical....” (Little did he know)

Thomas Noland (the Mayor’s son) was pulled in for stealing campaign signs.

Noland, Miller, Popelsky, Poitier (unopposed) and Ganz won the election.

More than 300,000 empty houses and condos in Florida. Big box stores like Circuit City -- the nation's second-largest consumer electronics retailer -- closed for good. Linens 'n Things, Home Depot's Expo Design Centers? All goners. Empty homes, empty stores, growing unemployment, people looking for someone to blame. Hmmm, how about sub-prime lenders and greedy developers.


April:

Keith Associates group presented the Cove Shopping Center proposal to the CRA Board aka the Commission. The audience was awed by the well thought out design.

The annexed areas still cannot get the commission meetings on Comcast, they had it for about a year, but now cannot get it.

Simon Cowell stunned by Susan Boyle’s singing.

Hillsboro streetscape is well underway, FPL is causing problems.

The CRA meeting vote to approve the design work on the Cove Shopping Center sidewalk design assured the businesses and residents that work would go ahead on the parking lot renovation.

The Code Enforcement Board was eliminated in favor of a Special Master.

Commissioner Bill Ganz was the only no vote for allowing a parking deviation for a Pain Clinic. (Good going Bill)

Commissioner Miller suggested that the City Manager approach Mr. Boinis with the proposition of purchasing the beach property for $510,000 using $200,000 of city money plus the county grant money.

May:

Resolution 2009/ - A Resolution of the City Commission of the City of Deerfield Beach, Florida, authorizing a contract for the purchase of certain property, Lot 1, Block 4, Page 45, in the City of Deerfield Beach for the purchase price of $510,000 from PPB Ocean, LLC.
Motion failed 1-4 (Miller the only yes vote)
“Commissioner Ganz said that we are about to spend a $500,000; $200,000 is coming from the City’s contingency account for a piece of property that is essentially unsellable. This gentleman is going to be able to make a profit when everyone else in the City of Deerfield Beach is losing money on their properties…”

HUD bails out Palms condos, helping with the water bill and mortgage modifications.

Request for reconsideration of Resolution 2009/ – A Resolution of the City Commission of the City of Deerfield Beach, Florida, authorizing a contract for the purchase of certain property, Lot 1, Block 4, Page 45, in the City of Deerfield Beach for the purchase price of $510,000 from PPB Ocean, LLC. (Requested by Mayor Peggy Noland) ACTION: Commission to vote on Resolution - Passed 3-2. Ganz and Popelsky voting no. Commissioner Popelsky thought it would be a nice thing for Boinis to donate the property to the city. Commissioner Ganz said that “we have no way of knowing what is going to happen this year, where funds will be needed. Our contingency fund is extremely low; using half of it to pay for this is risky and boarder line foolish”.

A lobbyist registration ordinance was proposed by Commissioner Ganz and passed by the commission.

Plans for LaPlace Du Soleil, a 17 room guest hotel to be built on the beach in the long empty lot were approved.

June:

City Manager Mahaney says he will present the 2010 budget to the commission on August 4th.

State officials presented the flyover project at a public meeting from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday. (perfect timing if you want to get home in time for dinner and not have any pesky residents show up).

Jim Jai Kong, Official Ninja for the Acts of Sedition was refused the right to show his DVD, and the commission decided to ban AV presentations without prior approval by the city staff. Pam Militello, next up for a presentation was also denied showing power point presentation on Cove Shopping Center Parking Lot. The ban was later rescinded after the commission, I assume, reread the constitution of the USA.

Residents near the west wellfield project requested that their properties be protected from the noise of the pump control building by relocating it.

The commission voted to raise the fire assessment fee from $99 to $149, Ganz and Poitier voted no.

Vice Mayor Sylvia Poitier said she was no longer going to use the name Poitier, she was going back to her maiden name of Ferguson.


July:

A quick Google search in July, ’09 brought up 17 articles about corrupt public officials; the tip of the iceberg.

From Tom Francis’ blog: The Deerfield Beach Commission should be ashamed of this pissant (firefighters’ campaign violations) investigation. http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/juice/2009/08/deerfield_beach_fire_investigation_campaigning_noland.php


August:

Michael Mahaney, City Manager, presented the Fiscal Year 2009/2010 Budget Highlights and scheduled commission workshops for budget review.

A Deerfield Beach city employee, Cassandra Moye, was suspended from work for failing to say hello to the mayor.

Commissioner Ganz proposed an ordinance giving local businesses permission for extra signs, on a temporary basis, during these hard economic times.

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.

The Deerfield Beach Commission voted to award the temporary contract to run the little pier restaurant to J.B.s. Oops, nope can’t do that, the redo (took months) saw J.B.s withdraw and The Pier Grill get the nod.

Kathi Maggi stated to the commission that Quiet Waters, Lyons Creek Middle, and Monarch High School are the schools that the west Deerfield kids go to but none of their academics or athletic achievements are ever spoken of or mentioned in the local media.


September:

An ordinance which would spell out that the city would have to notify surrounding residents for city projects was tabled to provide clearer language. Bill Ganz asked for this ordinance in reaction to the Wellfield project for which there was no notification, as the city doesn’t require city projects to notify neighbors, and neighbors were irate about the plan.

Mayor Noland placed an item on the commission agenda to repeal the newly enacted Deerfield Beach Ethics Code. The audience was filled with people who held up signs saying Ethics Yes, and Ganz, Popelsky and Miller all said it would be a mistake to repeal it. Noland then said she just put it on for discussion; she didn’t really want it repealed. An ad hoc committee was formed to give recommendations about the code.

Budget discussions continued. After 7 budget workshops the commission felt that very little had been accomplished. It was disclosed that various festivals cost the city a lot. One year the Mango Festival received over $400,000, the Founder’s Day $115,000. For 2010 Festivals were cut down to a total of $60,000 which some thought too much.

An ordinance prohibiting fishing from the beach was proposed.

Commissioner Ganz proposed banning pain clinics (pill mills) from Deerfield Beach.


October:

The Commission met at the Embassy Suites hotel for a “Retreat”, led by a paid Strategic Planner, to come up with a vision for Deerfield Beach. This cost the city $15,000 and resulted in the discovery that the three most important things facing the city, in the opinion of our elected officials, are Communication, Commissioners respect of each other, and accountability and transparency.

Crist calls for grand jury to investigate public corruption

Michael Brewer was doused a rubbing alcohol and set on fire by school mates.

County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs held a well attended town hall meeting at City Hall.



November:

Christopher Chisholm received a certificate of recognition for putting out a fire in a city truck.

A group of fisherman gave impassioned pleas to the Commission arguing against a ban on beach fishing, including Chris Kristophe, 14 year old, who stated that due to the poor economy, he and his family would be sad if they were not able to fish from the beaches. The ordinance was voted down, fishing remains on the beach.

State Road A1A was designated a Scenic Highway Corridor by the State of Florida.

Pine View Cemetery fees were raised, discussion about restricting the cemetery to residents only will continue.

Red light cameras were put on hold; they could bring in $500,000 to the city but may not be legal.

The Deerfield Chamber of Commerce is struggling; Mahaney explained some of the issues that they are dealing with. He said that the Chamber of Commerce is behind approximately $3,000 on their water bill and they paid $500.00+ on the account a few weeks ago.

Greg Stewart of MPO said that it looks like it will be a long time if ever that the 10th street project will happen, it is still on the books, but not funded, and way down on the list of projects.

The city is working on a comprehensive plan for dealing with abandoned properties.


December:

Thanks to John and Patricia Blossom for donating a large parcel of beach property to the city. (Attention Pete Boinis!!)

A redevelopment plan for the bait shop, restaurant, beginning of the pier and the restrooms was approved.

Thanks to Bill Ganz proposing a new ordinance, the City now will be able to take remedial action on abandoned properties and levy a special assessment against the building so the city will get their money back. The City will also create a nuisance abatement trust fund and have a nuisance inspector, the aim is to maintain properties, prevent blight and vandalism.