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Here’s The Scoop … THE LBTS “Go Away” Center …

PULLING THE “MAT” OUT FROM UNDER THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ……

Dear Readers… The Town Manager does not like what she cannot control….and she cannot control the Chamber…So she retaliates…we’ve seen it before …over and over again in the last 2 years …All done with no regard  to protocol or the commission-manager form of government spelled out in the Town Charter…Why should she care…she knows the current majority on the dais Comms. Silverstone-Clottey and VM McIntee will have her back no matter what unilateral action she takes…And if at anytime the majority changes and the “party” is over …TM Colon knows she has her ace in the hole …The Silverstone-McIntee 2007 contract they kept under wraps for 2 years that gives her $250,000+ if she is terminated!….

The Manager held off in giving the Chamber their budgeted $28,000 dollars until the 20th of January and then went ahead without consulting the Commission and chose to pay out $19,081.23 to bring them back to a 0 balance according to the Chamber’s profit and loss statement…After the fact she put it on the Jan. 26, 2010 agenda under Manager’s report…Needless to say, once again her unilateral actions brought forth a flurry of upset from the Chamber, their supporters, businesses and the minority Commissioners on the dais in the days in between… UGH!…

Before we cover the meeting…let’s go back over a few important points…

On July 28, 2009 the Town Commision had a Special Hearing on the 2009-2010 budget…from the minutes… http://www.lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov/town/spc-meetings-09.htm

“Commissioner Clottey believed that if ANOTHER $20,000 donation by Broward County Vice Mayor Ken Keechl was received for the Chamber, that amount should come off the budget.”

“Mayor Minnet reviewed the items discussed”..

“10) SHOULD the Chamber receive a $20,000 donation from the County for the Visitor Center that amount should be reduced out of the budget.”

“It was the consensus of the Commission that SHOULD the Chamber receive the $20,000 donation from Vice Mayor Ken Keechl, the Chamber would only receive $8,000 from the Town”

BC- The Commission was in consensus only if the Chamber received a 2nd $20,000 from the County there would be a deduction of the $28,000 budgeted to them!…

On page 47 of the 2009-2010 LBTS Adopted Annual Budget ” Municipal Building- Chamber Of Commerce”

“Funding of contractual service for the Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center. Maintenance, operating, building supplies, and repairs. Funded allocation of maintenance worker for maintenance of grounds and building.”

On Page 49-“Cultural & Recreation”

” Funding of contractual services for the concert series . Funded equipment maintenance and service agreements. Provided funding for special event activities for Easter, Halloween, Christmas By The Sea, July 4th and other special events sponsored by the Town.”

On Page 64- “Municipal Building -Chamber Of Commerce”

“GOAL: To act as host to visitors while providing a wide range of information to residents and visitors.”

“DEPARTMENTAL OBJECTIVES: To assist in their transportation needs to assist visitors during their vacation to provide tour information to major attractions and restaurants in South Florida, and to provide assistance to visitors in finding accommodations.”

“ACHIEVEMENTS: The Chamber provided assistance to over 7,845 residents and visitors that walked in as of 04/30/09, made 1,440 Visitor’s guides as of 04/30/09,. The web-site has recorded 43,318 as of 04/30/09.

On page 65 General Fund -Chamber of Commerce… the adopted budget under “maintenance materials” jumped from 2,750 to 18,601.00…Hmmm….

In the justification sheets it was 33,251.00of which 30,000 was for a new roof …it was addressed prior to the special hearing by Comm. Dodd after he was informed the Chamber did not need a 30,000 new roof…somehow the amt. is now approx. half… If the Chamber is still not in need of a new roof…the $15,000 plus the 9,000 …will go into what many refer to as the Town “slush fund” that begins in June of every year…Those “unencumbered” funds are then used for all kinds of things…left to the Town Manger’s discretion…in the last 3 months of the budgeted year for items such as new vehicles for staff …. OUCH!…

We are told …The Chamber is open 7 days a week, 8 hours a day 52 weeks of the year…The employees make $11 per hour and that comes to 32,032.00…add in social security and the cost annually is 36,837.00…

To date the Chamber of Commerce has not received their new contract from the Town…

The Town Manager’s Report- The Manager said she sent the Commissioners a memo which included the Chambers profit and loss statement ending in Dec. 2009 …on the cover it stated that and  “Payment for the loss will be made accordingly.”…She went on to try and justify her unilateral actions by repeating that the Chamber is a non- profit organization.

The Mayor spoke and said that this was supposed to be an appropriation for the funding of the Chamber and questioned the Town Manager on changing that allocation to be based on the Chamber’s profit and loss. She asked about such changes being made at the discretion of the Town Manager.

The Manager shot back it was not at her discretion and then did what is now the Esther Colon M.O. of covering her actions…Readers…anytime TM Colon starts her response with “As you recall”…sit up and pay attention because it never fails to be something that never took place!… This time was no exception ” But if you recall the Chamber received $20,000 from Broward County so that would probably be my assumption of why their loss was only 18,000 dollars. But I don’t believe that this town can use private funds for private gain when they are clearly a non profit organization and that is why I remitted the funds in the amount of the loss.”

The Commission addressed the issue later in the evening when Comm. Dodd’s item came up  in New Business… Comm. Dodd added to the Mayor’s earlier comments about the Commission budgeting 28,000 for the Camber for the year and put forth the Town Manager should not have changed what was voted on for this year…He said it put the Chamber in a bind as they already budgeted for the amount the Town had advised them they would receive…

Comm. Silverstone who always has the Town Manger’s back …( a vote for Silverstone means 4 more years of having TM Colon)…answering the minority Commissioners about the money the Chamber was “shorted” by the Town Manager  Silverstone said ” Thank you, missing money? Nothing’s missing! It’s just that it’s not a profit organization. I don’t understand that! I don’t understand the logic in that! Why we, we’re in a sense giving them a profit then. We’re using taxpayers money to give them a profit. How do you justify that? “…

BC- Hmmm. The VFD is a non- profit that takes the excess funds and puts them in a fund in the bank…paid for by the taxpayers…

The Town Manger then reiterated the non profit status and held up their documents for effect…

Comm. Silverstone ” So, so if somebody can justify to me. I’ll vote for it. If you can justify to me why we should do this, why we should use taxpayers money to in effect give them a profit you got my vote.”

Commissioner “Clueless” Clottey tried to do a McIntee …wheel and deal on the dais with offering up that they already gave the Chamber $4,500 so they were actually closer to the 28,000 …Hmmm…problem is …the 5,000 was in ADDITION to the 28,000 per the budget!…Apparently Clottey forgot her statement in July 2009  when she brought up the 20,000 from the County and really crossed over into la la land with stating ” Ah, this is supposed to kinda be reimbursing the Town for what they have paid.”… HUH?…She also said “We’ve already given them way over the 20,000 this past year, we have!”…

The Town Manager or as she is now known Commissioner #6…went after Comm. Dodd saying she looked at her files from 2006 when Dodd asked about the Chamber and why they were making a profit… With zeal she wanted to do a “gotcha” …But what Comm. Dodd will tell you is he was unaware of all the Chamber did at that time, like so many of us drinking the Kool-aid of anti- Chamber of Commerce!…After he zingers she said meekly she would follow the direction of the commission… Cart before the horse…comes to mind…

Comm. Dodd again spoke of what was budgeted and that his was deja vue to the Town Manager’s actions with the Chamber’s Christmas By The Sea monies shorted by the Town Manger without consulting the commission…

The Town Manager did not back down on his past inquiry and tried mightily to use it to back up her unilateral actions…

Mayor Roseann Minnet asked about the dates of the profit and loss for the Chamber which are January to December  not coinciding with the Town’s budgeting time…She again spoke of the Town appropriating the money for projects throughout the year for the Chamber of Commerce and said ther were no stipulations attached….She said the Chamber should be funded the full amount and asked about the VFD and their non profit status…

Rudely, the Town Manager responded to the Mayor that the VFD had a different contract than the Chamber …adding “I’m sure you looked at that one!”…(insinuating the Mayor looked into the VFD contract)…

Diane Boutin Manager of the Windjammer Resort came to speak as a “loyal member” of the Chamber, not a board member…and addressed the role of the Chamber as “the sole marketing arm for the Town of Lauderdale By The Sea”…it brought LBTS to national attention 8 -9 years ago and spoke of the tax revenues …She spoke of the visiting center …being historic …for 45 years…and the A1A Scenic highway and supporting it just as supporting the Senior Center and the VFD and their new equipment…She said it was contractual work they do for the Town and it is not a donation…

The Vice Mayor (we are counting down the meetings until he’s history)… went after the Chamber spouting Furth-isms…of the Chamber being mostly outside businesses that diminishes their standing…He brought up the Green Market (that shut down thanks to his actions)…and his tirade from the past when he played his “David vs Goliath” due to a vendor being an out of town flower shop competing with local flower shops…Those shops are now gone…He tried to call for the vote on Comm. Dodd’s motion to give the Chamber the full 28,000

Comm. Clottey a tried to amend the motion to deduct the 4,500 (Christmas By The Sea budgeted funds-separate from the budgeted 28,000) Dodd accepted it but there was no 2nd…

Paul Novak President of the Chamber rose from the front row to speak and Vice Mayor McIntee (still having the gavel after taking it when Mayor Minnet 2nd Comm. Dodd’s motion) ..tried to stop him due to the late hour…Mr Novak said he wanted to respond to  McIntee… He said the Chamber cannot stand on its own “in our geographic location”…He said they Can’t make it, that’s why they go out of town and “there’s nothing wrong with it.”… He addressed McIntee’s comments about the flower shops and the farmer’s market …saying for $20 those shops could have participated…it was a success…He said they are  a welcome center and it costs a  lot of money to run it…that we are the only welcome center in Broward County …they expected 28,000 and the 20,000 was “a windfall” from Broward County …He said they look at the Town as sponsors of the Chamber …They are the only group that promotes this town “if you want to blow the Chamber away I don’t know who else is going to do what we do. It’s not that simple.”…He went on to speak of the change from 35,000 a few years back to 28,000 and said 28,000 was not “exorbitant”…Paul said 30% are out of town businesses and they have 280 members…He appealed to them for the 28,000 and asked for “some kind of clear path of knowing what is going to happen in the future”…

Comm. Silverstone (his insert foot in mouth finale)… ” Last bite of my apple here. I appreciate the Chamber Paul and appreciate what’s been done but I also know we have a contract with the Chamber (has Jimmy even seen it?) and I also understand that um, um I have politically, the smartest thing for me to do politically would be to give you money and vote for it and go that’s the thing to do but I have a higher responsibility to the citizens of this town and the people who pay taxes and unfortunately the reality is 90% of the tax money that comes in of all the money that comes in to support this town comes from residents and I’m probably being generous with that. (Shades of Oliver Parker!)… I cannot. I’m not doing my job by giving money to a non profit organization. I can’t justify it with the taxpayers money. Ah, you have a contract. If you need more that’s next year. Ah, this year you came under budget. But I, I can’t justify giving you ah, ah what in turn is a profit. It just does not make any sense to me. It’s not right to the citizens taxpayers of this town. Um I yield.”…

BC-4 more years…people..you really want 4 more years of this?…

Mayor Minnet” I look at this a whole different way. This is not looking at the whole picture of what the Chamber actually does for this community and how they offset what the residents have to do because id you took the mix of the businesses out of what they offer to this community as far as revenue is concerned taxes on the residential base would be considerably higher. These businesses and this Chamber is saving this town money by bringing revenues into this town by staying with us and continuing to service that visitors center.Even though I know it does serve quite a bit of Broward County, it’s still in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. It still is a name recognition for the Town Of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and that’s what the most important thing is. So I’m looking at the bigger picture here and the long term benefits of what it has for the residents of this town. You can look at it any other way you want, this was an appropriation fro the Chamber of Commerce and I will leave it at that.”

BC- This is who we need in the “center seat” on the dais for the next 2 years!…

Commissioner Clottey interrupted the vote to say she wanted to make a motion afterward…The vote was taken and it failed 3-2!

Commissioner Silverstone-Commissioner Clottey- Vice Mayor McIntee voted against the 28,000/ Mayor Minnet-Commissioner Dodd voted yes to honor the 2009-2010 budgeted amt. for the Chamber…

Comm. Clottey again tried for the 4,500..it died for lack of a 2nd…

The LBTS Chamber of Commerce was “shorted” by the Town Manager-Commissioner Silverstone-Commissioner Clottey- Vice Mayor McIntee $9,500 this year!…

The Commissioners receive approx. 10,ooo a year plus….perks and “pet” programs funded…

Commissioner Silverstone received in 2009-2010 from the Town  …insurance-cellphone allowance- his recreational programs 34,000/ Easter By The Sea 3,000/Halloween 4,000

Commissioner Clottey received in 2009-2010 from the Town …insurance- cell phone allowance – her concert series 7,500

VM McIntee received in 2009-2010 from the Town …. cell phone allowance- his recreational programs 34,000

Comm. Dodd received in 2009-2010 from the Town…cell phone allowance

Mayor Minnet received in 2009-20110 from the Town ……nothing…nada….zip!…

more to come……..

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