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Here’s The Scoop … Bye-Bye Bunker Mentality …..


April 26, 2010…

“Broward Sheriff Lt. Angelo Cedeno reopens Lauderdale-by-the-Sea town hall Monday at 11:45 a.m. for Interim Town Manager Connie Hoffmann, immediately after the commission hired her. Town hall was locked up over the weekend “ to make sure no employees had access to Town Hall and computers,” Mayor Roseann Minnet said. The commission was reacting to a rapid severance payment for Esther Colon, the former town manager who was fired April 20. Officials say no criminal investigation is happening but wanted more control.”

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Interim Town Manager Connie Hoffmann didn’t waste any time, Linda Trischitta reports.
Hoffmann was hired April 26 after the commission fired its town manager last week and the interim town manager yesterday.

Hoffmann hired Bud Bentley today, which was also his first day on the job!

Bentley was among 10 applicants who had sought the position that Hoffmann won, that pays her $10,000 a month.

Hoffmann wouldn’t say what she’s paying Bentley yet.

“I need to tell the commission first,” she said.

Both managers served in similar jobs in Fort Lauderdale but not at the same time: Hoffmann was city manager there during most of the 1980s. Bentley was Venice of America’s assistant city manager, from 1993 to 2004.

After they hired Hoffmann, the commission said they wanted someone in place for when she goes out of town.

“It’s not just that,” Hoffmann said. “I think they all know we need the help. There is too much going on here for just one person to absorb all of this so quickly, with the town manager and assistant town manager gone in a matter of days. There are a million things to address.”

Hoffmann said Bentley’s other experience around the 954 includes: director of Oakland Park’s director of Parks and Recreation, and serving as assistant to former Broward County Administrator Pam Brangaccio.

Bentley left the county staff in 2008 and has consulted for the Broward Partnership for the Homeless and other organizations, Hoffmann said.

Town Hall has had a bit of a bunker mentality in the recent past and that may change with this new regime, something Hoffmann acknowledged.

“Bud is extremely knowledgeable in municipal government, has good analysis skills and temperamentally is very well suited to the town,” Hoffmann said. “He’s calm and very respectful and believes in transparency in government, as much as I do and as much as the commission does.”


BC- Among the “million things to address”…in store for the “Bunker Busting Duo” to possibly look into … as the Town Commission directed inquiry moves on…were there any updates made in recent months to the Employment Agreements for any Town Employees made by the former Town Manager…This writer checked some months back when the ousted (but still on the job) Fort Lauderdale Town Manager made some changes for his loyal employees to collect some very big bucks if they too were shown the exit door…The response at that time…no changes were made…But between that time and April 20th …who knows?…

We have been told there is a Personnel Policy Manual  ( Rules and Regulations)  that the Town Clerk is in charge of that has the signatures of every employee going all the way back within the first pages of the manual …That signature, it is said, operates as verification that the employee has read, understands and will abide by what is contained within it…  It is said the former Town Manger and her predecessor having signed it, knew they were only entitled to the cap and the percentage (25%) of  Sick/Holiday Leave payouts …For Colon it is in accordance with 10.0 …sections- 10.2/10.3  of the May 2007 contract (prev. post)  … So that along with there being nothing that states a payout in full for insurance as it seems to show in the payout add up to some questions about the accuracy of the payout made by JohnO and Kathy O’Brien, in this writer’s opinion…

JohnO…Town Clerk June White and Kathy O’Brien among other employees are considered “AT WILL” employees who receive no severance and are allowed to be terminated by the Town Manager… Did the former TM cut out even more than the severance?…This writer previously posted the agreements for Olinzock (both Asst. to & Asst. TM) and White …and they were pretty standard fare…or so I thought…A little background…when I originally made PRR I was told by a rather rude Asst. Town Clerk Nikki Smith that there were no “contracts” for the employees…After a rather unpleasant game of “cart and mouse” in the reception area of Town Hall Ms. Smith was asked by this writer to find out what they were called…She entered went through the door to the north side of the building and returned to say they were called “Employment Agreements”…and I needed to re-request them as such…I did…and they were turned over…

Town Clerk White was hired in 2007 was hired at a salary of $56,057.90 …(3 yrs later and COLA + ? salary increases) and just as Olinzock ($75,154.22 in 2008 w/ COLA + salary increases and?) she too received health benefits after 31 days or a full month …She too received 3.08 hours of vacation per 80 hours per pay period and 3.70 sick leave hours per 80 hours worked per pay period…She, like JohnO “may be terminated unilaterally, at any time by the Town Manager and need not reflect performance-related reasons…If terminated by the TM unilaterally she is only entitled to “base salary earned through the date of termination”.. Hmmm… No Vacation/Sick leave with cap …not even 25%!… Add to that the following inclusion…

“This appointment letter contains the entire employment agreement between the Town and you. All prior agreements and understandings, whether written or oral, pertaining to the Town’s appointment of you are fully abrogated and of no force and effect from and after the date of this appointment letter.”

As stated above JohnO’s was the same… So why would he be so quick to payout to his former boss after business hours and despite 4-5 Commissioners and at least 2 Town Attys. telling him to hold off?… Loyal to a fault or what?…

Also, as previously posted it was JohnO for his former boss, that signed the agreement with O’campo for the El Mar Drive Project that did not go out for  the required consultant’s competitive bid…(prev. posts)…. How many other contracts over the past years did the former Manager have JohnO or others sign on the dotted line for her?…. This needs to be at the top of the “Millions of things”…. for sure!…

In the goes around..comes around arena of life it’s unlikely the outgoing “Colon-loyalists” will have to contend with the same treatment that former Fire Marshal Alex Stevenson did when the former Town Manager and Human Resource/Risk Manager Kathy O’Brien tried unsuccessfully over and over to stop him from receiving unemployment benefits..

In a PRR recently acquired …it was found that despite the fact that Stevenson was entitled to his benefits the former TM thought otherwise… and appealed it over and over again on the Town’s time and dime… from Sept 2009- Mar. 2010….Was the Town Atty. informed of the ongoing “vendetta”? (in this writer’s opinion)…Did we taxpayers incur legal fees for this ongoing appeals fight ?…… As previously posted, Stevenson was asked to come to be our Fire Marshal and the Town waited for him using Steve Paine (the VFD Fire Inspector and replacement for Stevenson as Fire Marshal)… Once here he stated he was not allowed to perform his job duties…and it is said that came from the combo of Colon-McIntee … Just short of a year in his position he was told (as was the Commission after the fact) that there was not enough building going on to justify the full-time position salary of $100,000 and Stevenson was offered an on-call position ….. We were told early on there was no follow-up to that offer … According to the ongoing attempts to stop him in receiving his benefits…Ms. O’Brien (surely at the behest of TM Colon) contended that he should not receive unemployment due to an offer of employment…and also due to the non-response the Town received before he left on the position offered…”This separation was due to lack of work as stated by the Notice of Determination- it was due to Mr. Stevenson not accepting anything that was offered to him and he chose to leave employment of the Town.”….The PRR indicates he was also offered a code position..with no description …20 hours at the  Fire Marshall’s salary and 10 hrs at the Code Enforcement Salary… and after getting no response from Stevenson then he was offered the on-call position…I do not recall until reading the Nov. 3, 2009 letter O’Brien submitted to appeal Mr. Stevenson’s Unemployment Compensation this first offer being brought forward by Stevenson, the TM on and off the dais or anyone else privy to the offers… In fact in the attachments Ms. O’Brien sent to appeal she included an Aug. 28,2009 letter to Stevenson from Town Manager Colon stating the following…

“Dear Alex,

As per previous conversations with the Director of Development Services there continues to be a significant decrease in plan and document review, permitting and redevelopment in Town and the need for a thirty hour Fire Marshall on a weekly basis is not justified therefore, the Fire Marshall  position will be an on-call hourly position which you may be  able to occupy if you desire.

As Town Manager, I hereby inform you that your appointment as a thirty hour Fire Marshall is hereby terminated, effective September 14, 2009. This action is taken with accordance with the terms of your appointment letter of September 02,2008, which provides that you are an at will employee of the Town. As an at will employee, your appointment can be terminated by unilateral action. This letter constitutes that unilateral action.

Please return your keys and any other property, including but not limited to manuals in your possession on or prior to your last date of employment.

Thank you for your service to the Town.

Very Truly Yours,

Esther Colon

Town Manager ”

The Town Manager on Aug. 28, 2009 offered up nothing but an hourly on-call position… to Mr. Stevenson….

The case was addressed on Dec.22, 2009 and the Town wanted it postponed because “three individuals will be on annual leave from December 21-25, 2009″…It was sent in on Dec. 17, 2009 by TM Colon… Colon’s request was turned down on Dec. 18, 2009 with the following “The hearing will proceed as scheduled. Failure to appear at the scheduled hearing may result in an unfavorable decision…The decision came from the “Appeals Referee”… The “Referee” looked at the claims made by the Town and found they did not meet the burden of proof”…”The determination dated October 27,2009, is affirmed”… The Town of LBTS appealed yet again on Jan 6, 2010 by sending in yet again the same claims… and added the following “The pay rate for Code Enforcement Officer was negotiable, but due to the fact that Mr. Stevenson did not indicate that he was interested in retaining employment with the Town and “official” proofer  (Ms. O’Brien meant proffer)was not made. It is the Town Manager position not to negotiate an offer unless the individual/ employee is interested in the proofer made, which by Mr. Stevenson’s actions and lack of communication not to discuss any offers made to him the Town was unable to negotiate with him and therefore could not give a direct answer during unemployment hearing as to what the salary would be.”… The Unemployment Appeals Commission sent a notice of docketing on Jan. 25, 2010 and stated the Commission would review only the recordings made by the referee…”The UAV will NOT to hold a hearing or consider evidence being presented for the first time which could have been presented to the referee by an exercise of due diligence. Additionally, the UAC will not reweigh the evidence or substitute its factual findings for those of the referee, nor will it overturn a decision supported by substantial competent evidence which complies with the law.”…It was also stated the other party may respond to the Request for Review..but it was not required…On March 23, 201 a “Notice of Order” was sent in which it said “The referee’s decision is affirmed”…”It is so ordered”… Former Fire Marshal Alex. Stevenson was to receive his unemployment… and what did the Town receive …..nothing …. just more insight to 3 years of Colon- style “payback”… (in this writer’s opinion)….

more to come…..

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