DID SHE SUBMIT THE “CUBAN” QUESTION?….
Dear Readers…in the previous post this writer wrote about the fear-mongering that was introduced at the Feb. 16, 2010 Meet The Candidates Night meeting when a a question asked by the moderator from the League of Women Voters…As I awaited her response (see below) …little did I expect that the person who submitted that inflammatory question may have been the Town Manager herself!…
I saw today a memo Town Manager Esther Colon sent to the Commissioners dated on the very day of the MTCNight meeting …Feb 16, 2010…The verbage used in this memo which was a response to an “Open Letter” Commissioner Dodd sent to his fellow Commissioners and the Town Manager on Feb. 9, 2010 was identical!…WOW!…How was that possible? You can judge for yourselves…
Also included was a diatribe …yep another one…that feeds into the belief from many “insiders” in Town Hall that the Manager wants to be fired… She is still in this writer’s opinion trying to justify actions made by her that cannot be justified…Again you be the judge (as one Yellow- paper wrote in their last edition)…
While you are reading this..know this….today we hear the Town Manager hot on the heels of Commissioner Jim “He’s NOT a nice guy” Silverstone’s false statements last night concerning wrongdoing by the Director of the Senior Center has tried to “strong-arm” him with going to Broward County to do an audit he will not be allowed to participate in…and stopping any payment to him at this time without the knowledge of all the Commissioners!… This rings true to me, due to the FACT that this very same “Public Servant” who states in her memo (below) “In my immediate family, there are four Public Servants and my family’s combined years of public service are in excess of 80 years.” has repeatedly gone after the former Town Fire Marshal to first stop his unemployment benefits (he was entitled to them)…She appealed them…She lost and is trying to appeal them again…OUCH!…
The question now…When and if this stops…with a new commission in March?…
“Letter to all Commissioners, Mayor, Vice Mayor and Town Manager
February 10, 2010
DO NOT REPLY BECAUSE OF SUNSHINE
I was appalled by the lack of respect and decorum shown by various members on the Dias including the town manager. I would respectfully suggest that the manager carefully reads the ICMA ( International City/Council Manager’s Association) tenets and code of ethics in full. Pay particular attention to tenets 5, 6 and 7. How can you claim that you were not getting involved in politics and then carry out a full scale attack on one of the local newspapers with whom you have a difference of opinion?
Secondly: I wish to point out that the commission voted on the rules of decorum and it was to be only one warning and the vice mayor brought to our attention that this also applied to members of the dais. After only one warning then anyone in the audience or on the dais including the manager can be removed.
Thirdly – I want you all to pay close attention to the difference between a “personal attack” and a “personal opinion”. We have laid down very broad parameters that allow members of the audience the right to address us by name and then criticize the way we carry out our duties as elected officials. It is unpleasant to have to sit through comments such as “Commissioner Dodd you are clueless and have no idea how to conduct the town’s business – why don’t you pack up and go back to England”. This is a personal opinion nothing more. The reference to another country such as England or Cuba is allowed and can not be considered as a “personal attack”. If someone calls you a “liar” or a “thief” or “of doubtful parentage” then these definitions come within the realms of “personal attacks” and the speaker should receive an immediate warning. At last nights meeting in my opinion there were no public comments that were “personal attacks” within our very broad guidelines. The mayor was elected to be the one with the gavel – let her decide whether the speaker crossed the line.
I hope our last two meetings can be conducted with some vestiges of respect towards each other and an understanding of our roles within the municipality and the reasons why we were elected. We are there to serve the people and the manager is there to guide and assist us in every aspect of carrying out our duties (tenets 8, 9 and 10).
A full copy of all tenets can be found on the ICMA web site” http://icma.org/main/bc.asp?bcid=40&t=0
“Town Of Lauderdale-By-The -Sea
OFFICE OF THE TOWN MANAGER
February 16, 2010
To: Mayor Roseann Minnet
Vice Mayor Jerry McIntee
Commissioner Birute Clottey
Commissioner Stuart Dodd
Commissioner Jim Silverstone
From: Esther Colon, Town Manager
Subject: February 9, 2010 Commission Meeting
This memorandum is in direct response to a letter dated 02/10/2010, authored by the Honorable Commissioner Stuart Dodd, Town of Lauderdale by the Sea, and addressed to “All Commissioners, Mayor, Vice Mayor and Town Manager.”
Since this letter is addressed to me. I see it as only fitting and proper I respond.
We are currently in the midst of a very nasty political campaign that sees to bring out the worst in peple resulting in unsubstantiated, misguided and uniformed expressions that are publicly reported as facts, when the truth remains untold.
I need not remind you that I am not a politician running for office. I am not participating in any political campaign, and I have not publicly endorsed anyone running for office,
I am a professional contractual employee of the Town of Lauderdale by the Sea. I was contracted as the Town Manager, and pursuant to Florida Law and the Town’s Charter, I am obliged to comply and insure compliance with existing laws and ordinances. My actions are not guided or motivated by any underlying political motive, as I am not an elected official, nor do I want to be. I am an appointed employee of the Town. I was appointed by a majority of a sitting commission, made up of five elected officials.
Lately, an item contention has been the claim that I have an employment contract for life. That could not be further from the truth. The truth is that I serve art the pleasure of the five sitting member commission. If you do the math, it takes one swing vote on the commission to terminate my lifetime contract. If at any time, three sitting commissioners decide that my services are no longer needed or desired you need only to speak up and vote your conscience.
Having said that, after more than 30 years of public service and countless accomplishments and recognitions, I refuse to apologize for a contract that I negotiated in god faith,in a public forum that was approved by five elected officials. If you disapprove of my performance, all it takes is that one swing vote. In the meantime I intend to carry out and fulfill my duties as Town Manager until otherwise decided by a majority of the Town’s Commission.
Now, I would like to address the issue of freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. I do understand that publications in this country have the absolute constitutional right to express and print their opinions. This is an immense power that can be used to mislead the public into believing information as factual when in reality it is information expressing one biased political viewpoint. Let me remind you that every story has three sides, two opposing opinions and the truth somewhere in the middle. It is also my constitutional right and responsibility when it relates to facts I know not to be true.
Freedom of speech does not give a person license to be disrespectful and or discriminatory. Although commissioner Dodd opines otherwise, a comment “Why don’t you pack up and go back to England” when directed at a person of English ethnicity, or a comment such as the one recently made at the February 09, 2010 Commission meeting. “Cuba, get out of this country, get back in your boat, go find your paddles, go back to you dictator”, is very much offensive, insulting,disrespectful, unprofessional, disgusting, demeaning, annoying, discriminatory…. need I say more? No, this is not an expression of an opinion; far from it. In fact, it is foul conduct that constitutes disorderly conduct. I can not more strongly express my disagreement with Commissioner Dodd’s opinion that these comments are not personal attacks. If they were not personal, please explaining to whom these comments were directed to?
As for going back to Cuba. I should not dignify the comment with a response, but let me say my father was born in the US and served honorably in the US Navy and my mother was Cuban born and worked her entire life in New York retiring from her job and realizing the American dream of owning her own home with a white picket fence. In my immediate family, there are four Public Servants and my family’s combined years of public service are in excess of 80 years. And last but not least, I was born in the State of New York, in the United States of America. The Cuban comment was not an opinion; it was an utterance of complete disrespect. It goes without saying that even though I am not one myself, we are a country of immigrants, a fact that I am proud of.
The biggest insult though is Commissioner Dodd’s admonition of my conduct as it I were his direct subordinate (God forbid). Commissioner Dodd, not only are your opinions misguided, but I for one, am not certainly bound by them. What in heaven’s name wee you trying to accomplish with your letter?
Respectfully submitted Esther Colon, Town Manager”
QUESTION READ FEB 16, 2010 LOWV MEET THE CANDIDATES NIGHT…
Moderator Carol Smith- “This is a question on decorum on the dais. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the Unite States Constitution and by many State Constitutions etc.considering our protection on freedom of speech.
However, being educated enough to know when racism is being brought into Town meetings, how do you view the issue of recent public comments made in Town meetings such as Banana Republic. get out of this country, get back in your boat, go, I’m reading this, go find your paddles, go back to your Dictator. As a member of the Town council will you continue to allow this type of speech as freedom of speech or do you think it should be considered proper.”
MEMO SENT BY TOWN MANAGER ESTHER COLON FEBRUARY 16, 2010…
“Freedom of speech does not give a person license to be disrespectful and or discriminatory. Although commissioner Dodd opines otherwise, a comment “Why don’t you pack up and go back to England” when directed at a person of English ethnicity, or a comment such as the one recently made at the February 09, 2010 Commission meeting. “Cuba, get out of this country, get back in yout boat, go find your paddles, go back to you dictator, is very much offensive, insulting,disrespectful, unprofessional, disgusting, demeaning, annoying, discriminatory…. need I say more? No, this is not an expression of an opinion; far from it. In fact, it is foul conduct that constitutes disorderly conduct. I can not more strongly express my disagreement with Commissioner Dodd’s opinion that these comments are not personal attacks. If they were not personal, please explaining to whom these comments were directed to?”
THE FACTS AND PUBLIC COMMENTS MADE FEBRUARY 9, 2010…(prev. post)
This writer wrote a post on Commissioner Jim Silverstones “Whopper” of a $3 million dollar deal (prev. posts) that included an excerpt from a story I wrote for the BTSTimes in 2007…
“BC-FUNNY STUFF- “The audience was incensed and one resident screamed out in disgust, accusing the Mayor, the attorneys and the developers of being thieves! ( This resident is from Cuba and could not contain his anger towards this happening in his country.)… Yep, it’s him…Mayoral candidate Joe Couriel!…”
At public comments resident Bob Schuyler spoke about that article and included the following statement “Then a local resident from Cuba called all involved thieves. How about the one dealing from his personal office?” Meaning Comm. Silverstone and his statement on Jan. 26, 2010 that he made a deal in his office on Commercial Blvd…
Joe Couriel the Furth-CIC-endorsed candidate for Mayor came to speak and he said this as he ended his comments…” Um, thank you very much and ah, by the way I did call out thief. I was pro, very proudly removed from the audience at that time because those that made that deal gave away two million dollars of our money and ah, we could’ve had more. But what happened to that other two million who knows? Maybe one day we’ll find out. Thank you.”
BC- First, Comm. Silverstone take note… Joe Couriel acknowledges this writer wrote the truth in 2007…Take note readers- Joe Couriel candidate for Mayor says ” I was pro, very proudly removed from the audience at that time”…and Take note voters- Joe Couriel candidate for Mayor says “because those that made that deal gave away two million dollars of our money and ah, we could’ve had more. But what happened to that other two million who knows? Maybe one day we’ll find out.”…either he is buying the “Whopper” Commissioner Silverstone was selling on Jan. 26th…or perhaps he too needs to visit the Fl. Ethics Commission to explain any knowledge of an ex parte communication violation Comm. Silverstone was a party to?… OOPS!…
Right after Joe Couriel, resident Chuck Gress was called to the podium to make his public comments which ended with this ” We’re a democracy and not a dictatorship. You want your like run by a Dictator move to Cuba. Ask yourself this, ask this, how many people are on the nightly news with stories being reported about them making rafts out of coconuts and plywood trying to paddle to Cuba?”
BC- again, Readers can see the comments came from an article written by this writer in the By The Sea Times in 2007 …
First LBTS Resident Bob Schuylar referenced it in his comments directed to Comm. Jim Silverstone and not to Town Manager Colon …
Second Mayor Candidate Mr Couriel said the 2007 article was truthful…and he did yell out and was removed from the hall…and was proud of it…
Third LBTS Resident Mr. Gress made his comments that have been said often by politicians and immigrants from Cuba and those comments in this writers opinion were “used” by the Town Manager, the Vice Mayor and several backers of Candidates Silverstone, Evans and Couriel to rile up the hall!….
Perhaps the Town Manager should revisit the video and see what was actually said… http://lbts.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=287
As far as the contract the Town Manager speaks up “Lifetime contract” she knows full well is used due to the FACTS that she has no term in her contract, something this writer is told was in her initial contract agreement…and if she is terminated she walks away with one full years salary to the tune of $160,000 + …and no matter how many times this Town Manager, Commissioner Silverstone, Vice Mayor McIntee or her backers try to make the taxpayers look elsewhere …this “truth” is contained in her own words…the words of Commissioner Silverstone and Vice Mayor McIntee from 2007 to 2009 when all three repeatedly told the taxpayers her contract was the “SAME” as her predecessor with the exception of not having 10 weeks paid leave…It was this writer who found she had put in a one years salary that former Town Manager Bodb Baldwin never had…also found by this writer!…
Here’s the kicker, Madam Manager.. I recall and Readers can see for themselves the video of the two meetings in May of 2007 when you were hired and your contract approved…If at that time you asked publicly for a years salary to be included…judging from the Commission, who were falling all over themselves to give you this “permanent” (Then-Comm. McIntee’s motion)…no on would have said “BOO!”…It’s the 2 years of continuing to assert a falsehood that is thew root of the problem…truth can always be found when armed with the contract, the former TM contract…the minutes and the video!…
As for the Town Manager not being political…and not wanting to be an elected official…I ask the Commission on February 23, 2010 to ask the Town Manager to leave the center seat of the dais and sit with her staff in the hall. She should come to the podium when the Commission needs her report or her input as is the precedent in many municipalities and will surely comply with her desire not to be perceived as a commissioner!…
And finally, I did receive a reply from Ms. Smith the moderator from the LOWV…it was even more disturbing and gives this writer pause in my opinion of the Broward LOWV and their method of conducting such forums… I replied and that is below as well….
THE E-MAILS LOWV…Feb. 17, 2010….
Re: Questions for LBTS Meet The Candidate Nights
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 11:20 AM
Dear Ms. Cole,
I did not write the questions–I merely read what was submitted. Even the Sun Sentinel in its article on Lauderdale by the Sea identified the rude behavior during some Town meetings. Where the problem lies, I do not know. It is up to the candidates to address the question as presented. That particular question will not be asked on the 25th–it’s already been answered. It is not up to me to check the facts in the question. Someone thought the question important enough to be asked.
The voters will make their choices on March 9.
Thank you for your interest.
Re: Questions for LBTS Meet The Candidate Nights
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 12:42 PM
Ms. Smith, I am disturbed by your response. The Sentinel article was also the recipient of many responses from some of the candidates and LBTS citizens for false statements made.
I feel you inflamed a situation by using that “Cuban” question. I also think the writer of that letter needs to be made public.
I say this due to a memo I have posted this afternoon from our Town Manager to the LBTS Commissioners that contains the very same verbage used in your question. The memo was distributed on Feb 16, 2010.
How is it possible that the verbage was identical?
Either the question was submitted by the Town Manager, or the Town Manager was in possession of it and used the letter submitted for this meeting prior to the meeting.
Both scenarios are cause for concern.
I still feel the LOWV owes the voters and residents of LBTS an apology at the Feb 25, 2010 meeting.
This is another LBTS Rorschach test…..
more to come….