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Here’s The Scoop … Commissioner Jim Silverstone’s $3 Million Dollar Election Time “Whopper”….. Of An Ex Parte Communication Violation?…

CARRYING ON FOR THE “BIG MAC”….

Dear Readers…at the Jan. 26 2010 Commission meeting while addressing the “Oriana Million”…Commissioner “You all know what goes here” Silverstone made the following statements …(prev. post)…

Comm Silverstone -” I just want to give a little history of this whole, how we got the million dollars um, when the , when the, when the Oriana built out five feet too much I actually did a calculation based upon the current prices that, that actually had an increase of five million dollars on a piece of property. In my old office on Commercial before I moved into next door into my new office ah, two of the owners came in and they said Jim what’s going on? Are you going to tear it down? Cause one of the first things we were gonna do thought about doing was tearing down the whole thing down which we had the right to do. And I said to them well it looks like you got a benefit here of about five million bucks and he, the person, the owner said that’s a little heavy. He said how about three million? I said great! I’m thinkin’ to myself ok I’m gonna go back to the dais til I found out that the former Mayor made a deal already for a million dollars which is unfortunate. So we coulda got three million dollars out of that thing, but we have a million dollars and um,….”

Let’s take a look back at 2007 and the “Oriana Million”… from the minutes of March 13, March 27, April 10 and April 24 2007 along with some articles written by “Staff Writers” and this Writer…

“Town Commission Regular Meeting March 13, 2007”- Overview and Excerpts

“I. Discussion and/or action regarding a reconsideration of motion that passed on Oriana site plan amendment application (Town Attorney James Cherof ) (Tabled from Feb 27, 2007)”

“It was agreed by Commission consensus to consider items I and L jointly at this time.”

“L. Discussion and/or action regarding the development order for Pier Point/Oriana project (Town Planner Walter Keller)”

This was to reconsider and it involved attorneys for Oriana including “item s one(1) and two (2) involved the encroachment.”…

The Attorney hired by the Town  Mr Coker “updated the Commission concerning discussions held since the last meeting.” He went on to speak of discussions he had with council for Oriana “to discuss possible grounds for rehearing and possible settlement discussions on how to resolve the issue.””Staff had already approved this project and the Commission had denied it in part because the pedestrian environment was not preserved on the original plan.”…There was discussion on utilities being buried, easements, right of ways…

“It has been determined there is nothing the developer could do to provide some overall comprehensive improvement to El Mar Drive other than provide the Town with a fund that the Town could use to make improvements to create a pedestrian environment.”… Mr Coker said the Atty. for the developer would present the proposal…

Commissioner McIntee was not happy with Atty. Coker and asked “which side he was working for “….Mr Coker responded and said “Over the past two weeks discussions took place concerning the proposal that is being offered tonight.”…Commissioner McIntee wanted to know specifically about the illegal encroachments …Mayor Parker “reminded” the commission “they were there to decide what they were going to dio with the the site plan, the Commission could not consider the issue of whether the encroachments were illegal or not”..

The Atty. for Oriana spoke of “a proposal to further enhance the pedestrian friendly environment”…It included “Additionally, deliver by check or wire transfer the amount of one million dollars to the trust account of the law firm of Goren, Cherof, Doody and Ezrol, PA to be deposited into an interest bearing account which will be held in escrow until dispersed upon the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy.  These funds are to be earmarked and dedicated solely for use by the Town to design, install or construct improvements to enhance the pedestrian environment of El Mar Drive, which lies within the Hospitality Zoning Overlay District.”

After some back and forth over specific conditions the Oriana Atty. proposed “the issuance of a certificate of occupancy that cannot be appealed or eighteen(18) months from the issuance of the development order, whichever occurs first.”…It was included that if the CO was challenged and became invalid the funds in escrow would be returned to the developer…It was addressed by Atty. Coker who felt the chance of that was slim… Comm. McIntee asked if tha challenge could come from “any citizen” and Atty. Coker replied “no”…The Town Atty. concurred…

Comm. McIntee then asked the Oriana Atty. “if at any time, prior to this meeting, during the last two (2) weeks or three (3) weeks she or any of her associates had discussions with any independent Commissioner regarding options and offers.”

“Ms Delegal answered she had not.” She explained one conversation with Mr Coker and another Oriana atty. said he also spoke to Mr. Coker “but never spoke to any member of the Commission.”…

“Commissioner  McIntee asked Attorney Coker if he had talked to any of the Commissioners.”

He responded he spoke to the Mayor

“Commissioner McIntee expressed shock and told Attorney Coker that he worked for the entire Commission and he should have called each Commissioner. Commissioner McIntee mentioned that he would be contacting the bar tomorrow….He then motioned to table the matter until March 27, 2007…it was “seconded by Commissioner Silverstone and passed unanimously.”…

………………………………

From a “BTSTimes Editorial”…after the meeting in March 2007…

“At the start of the Oriana site-plan amendment hearings on ON JANUARY 30, CHEROF HAD TOLD THE COMMISSION MEMBERS THEY MUST DISCLOSE ANY EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS THEY MIGHT HAVE HAD: “COMMUNICATIONS THE REST OF THE COMMISSION MAY NOT UNDERSTAND OR KNOW YOU HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN”  relating to the on site-plan amendment”Cherof explained further “THE PURPOSE OF DISCLOSING EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS IS SO THE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDS INPUT MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION RECEIVED THAT WOULD WEIGH ON YOU IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE SITE- PLAN AMENDMENT APPLICATION BEFORE YOU, ENCOURAGING YOU TO VOTE FOR OR AGAINST IT.”

“HE REPEATED THOSE INSTRUCTIONS AT RECESSED SESSIONS OF THE JANUARY 30 MEETING, WITH SPECIFIC REGARD TO EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS MEMBERS MIGHT HAVE RECEIVED BETWEEN MEETINGS. The shock of other commissioners and the public was thus when they learned Mayor Parker had been NEGOTIATING between meetings with attorneys for Oriana through special counsel Dick Coker.”….

The article went on to point out the exchange between Mayor Parker and the Atty. for Oriana and how disjointed it was in what appeared to be a way to cover for the between meeting discussions…

“WHAT DEAL ARE YOU REFERRING TO?” COMMISSIONER SILVERSTONE IMMEDIATELY ASKED.”…  the rest of the paragraph exposed the exchange between Parker and Coker…

“SHOCKED AS WERE SILVERSTONE AND MANY IN THE AUDIENCE BY THE REVELATION OF THE UNDISCLOSED, INDIRECT EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN THE ORIANA ATTORNEYS AND THE MAYOR”…Commissioner McIntee motioned to table and Commissioner Silverstone seconded as stated in the March 13, 2007 minutes…

…………………………

“Parker Worried, Out of Sorts” ..”Barbara Cole”… March 2007…

The article is the same content as the above minutes and the Editorial…including these excerpts…

after learning of the exchange that took place by the Atty. for Oriana and the Mayor between the meetings…

“Commissioner McIntee then took to the microphone and proceeded to take down this unbelievable travesty committed against the Town!”

“Grilled aggressively by Commissioner McIntee, Mr. Coker became a hostile witness and essentially spilled the beans! He had called Mayor Parker, he had negotiated with Mayor Parker and he asked Mayor Parker what the Mayor wanted as a settlement!”

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!…

…………………

Just a reminder …Jan 26, 2010…Comm. Silverstone” In my old office on Commercial before I moved into next door into my new office ah, two of the owners came in and they said Jim what’s going on? Are you going to tear it down? Cause one of the first things we were gonna do thought about doing was tearing down the whole thing down which we had the right to do. And I said to them well it looks like you got a benefit here of about five million bucks and he, the person, the owner said that’s a little heavy. He said how about three million? I said great! I’m thinkin’ to myself ok I’m gonna go back to the dais til I found out that the former Mayor made a deal already for a million dollars which is unfortunate. So we coulda got three million dollars out of that thing, but we have a million dollars and um,….”

……………………………..

“Town Commission Regular Meeting Agenda March 27, 2007″…

Old Business C. “Discussion and /or action regarding a reconsideration of motion that passed on Oriana site planm amendment application (Town Attorney Jim Cherof- tabled  from March 13, 2007)

The Town Atty. explained where they were…Mr Coker stepped forward…and stated he received a copy of the proposed settlement, reviewed it and forwarded it with his comments to both side counsel…and the Town Manager…to distribute to all the Commissioners… Comm. McIntee asked when they were faxed…and was told it was that morning…Asst. TM Colon advised “agendas went out last week and anything faxed this morning would be impossible to have been included in the back-up documentation. Ms Colon added that this fax would be in the Commissioner’s mailbox.”…

Comm. McIntee said it “would be impossible for him to respond to a proposal that he had not even read yet. Commissioner McIntee asked if it was a new proposal.”

The Atty said it was the same as presented on the 22nd …after some back and forth McIntee wanted it tabled until april 10th to review it…Comm. Silverstone seconded it. ..The Mayor hoped it would not pass…

BC  FUNNY STUFF- “Commissioner McIntee stated that the Mayor was verbalizing a personal opinion in an attempt to direct other members of the Commission on how to vote. Commissioner McIntee stated he believed this was absolutely unethical, unprofessional and should not have been said.”..

The roll was called and the table failed 3-2 (McIntee and Silverstone-no)…

They went over the proposal…same as before and McIntee picked up where he left off on discussions prior to the last meeting…along with discussion of bankruptcy  and protection of the million…

“Commissioner Silverstone asked Mr Coker if he had done any kind of financial impact analysis concerning the additional square footage that had been obtained and how much it was worth.”

“Mr Coker responded he had no way of doing that he was an attorney.”

“Commissioner Silverstone asked Mr Coker if had inquired as to how the developer arrived at the one million dollar amount.”

“Mr Coker said initially the number was lower, but a lot of discussion ensued that was disclosed in the previously mentioned five-page (5) letter. Mr Coker said that issue was closed and tonight the Commission had a proposal before them.”

Some discussion ensued between McIntee and the Atty. concerning why it was closed…and McIntee “insinuated that the one million dollar deal had been a product of his conversations with Mayor Parker.”…Mayor Parker told McIntee he had no way of knowing what was discussed…

“Commissioner Silverstone asked if the one million dollars is a fine.”

“Mr. Coker responded it is a one million donation to the Town to create improvements to El Mar Drive and to address pedestrian friendly issues that were raised by this Commission.”

“Commissioner Silverstone asked Mr. Coker, in his best guess, why is the developer giving the Town a donation in the amount of one million dollars.”

“Mr. Coker replied he is not guessing anything. This proposal is before the Commission to accept or reject.”

“Mayor Parker said he was the other party to the negotiation and said Commissioner Silverstone should ask him.”

“Commissioner Silverstone then posed the question to Mayor Parker.”

“Mayor Parker responded he made a determination as to what he thought would be the minimum amount necessary to offset the pedestrian unfriendliness of the changes to the site plan”

“Commissioner Silverstone asked Mayor Parker if he had studied the added value due to the additional square footage.”

“Mayor Parker said that would not have been proper based on the instructions given to the Commission by both the developer’s attorneys or our own attorneys. The only thing the Commission was to consider was whether or not the amendment to the site plan met the criteria of our statutes. ….”

“A discussion ensued between Commissioner Silverstone and Mayor Parker as to whether or not a deal had been made.”

……………………..

Just a reminder …Jan 26, 2010…Comm. Silverstone “In my old office on Commercial before I moved into next door into my new office ah, two of the owners came in and they said Jim what’s going on? Are you going to tear it down? Cause one of the first things we were gonna do thought about doing was tearing down the whole thing down which we had the right to do. And I said to them well it looks like you got a benefit here of about five million bucks and he, the person, the owner said that’s a little heavy. He said how about three million? I said great! I’m thinkin’ to myself ok I’m gonna go back to the dais til I found out that the former Mayor made a deal already for a million dollars which is unfortunate. So we coulda got three million dollars out of that thing, but we have a million dollars and um,….”

………………………

Comm.McIntee wanted “the ENTIRE Commission to sit down and negotiate with the developers in an effort to solve the dilemma.”

The attorney for Oriana spoke about the project…opponents to the project…and what was considered “pedestrian friendly”…Some exchange took place over Broward County and their building services…and details that would be addressed if accepted…

“Commissioner Silverstone asked Town Attorney Cherof if the Commission had denied this site plan.”

“Town Attorney Cherof responded that some parts of the site plan had been approved and some parts denied.”

“Commissioner Silverstone asked Town Attorney Cherof if the proposal being made tonight was normal business.”

“Town Attorney Cherof answered yes, that is normal business.”

“Commissioner Silverstone said he had a real problem how this matter transpired.”

Discussion continued about the agreement and the funds use..

“Mayor Parker asked if the developer would have any problems with the funds being turned over to the new Community Redevelopment Agency once it had been created to make improvements to El Mar Drive.”

“Town Attorney Cherof said once the project is finished and the funds are turned over to the Town, he did not believe there should be anything in the agreement that would restrict the Town’s uswe of the funds. This is of no matter of concern to the developer.”

Comm. McIntee said he had contacted the State’s Attorney’s office …and spoke of a denial and the result of that denial on the opposition…McIntee went on to ask  questions the attorney said were privileged…McIntee wanted another sit down…and VM Yanni said the million “is a good sum of money”…There was a roll call on the motion to reconsider and the vote was 3-2 (McIntee-Silverstone-no)… Then it was on to the site plan amendment and the written March 22, 2007 offer…

“Commissioner Silverstone motioned to amend Mayor Parker’s motion to increase the funds to two million dollars. Commissioner McIntee seconded that motion.”

“COMMISSIONER MCINTEE SAID HE WAS ABSOLUTELY INFURIATED THAT PARKER HAD BEEN INVOLVED IN THIS INSIDE DEAL. ….”

Some discussion arose of an additional $200,000 for a performing arts center…and it as said it was not permissible…

A roll call was made for Comm. Silverstone’s 2 million and it failed 3-2 (Silverstone-McIntee -yes)

Comm. McIntee made an a motion to amend it to $1.5 million…Commissioner Silverstone seconded it…

The roll was called and it failed 3-2 (Silverstone-McIntee-no)…

“Town Attorney Cherof reminded Commissioner McIntee that the condition of this approval is that the agreement that is drafted and prepared will come before this Commission for approvsal.”

“The motion carried with Commissioner McIntee, Vice-Mayor Yanni, Mayor Pro Tem Clark voting yes and Commissioner Silverstone voting no”

BC- McIntee voted yes to be on the prevailing side….

“McIntee directed the Deputy Town Clerk to include reconsideration of the Oriana project on the agenda…April 10, 2007.”

Later on in the same meeting Comm. McIntee tried to terminate the Town’s Atty. for the Oriana case…although the Town Atty. informed him the Town did not have a contract with him…

“Commissioner Silverstone said he did have a problem that all the Commissioners were not equally informed.”

The motion was defeated 3-2 (Silverstone-Mcintee-yes)…

……………………………………………

BC- at no time according to the minutes did Commissioner Silverstone at either meeting disclose his communications according to the minutes!…YIKES!…

………………………………….

“OLD -GUARD COMMISSIONERS PASS COKER-BROKERED PARKER -ORIANA DEAL OVER MINORITY AND BROAD PUBLIC PROTESTS; CRA REAFFIRMED”

The article by “Staff Writer ” was in the 4-6-2007 BTSTimes…

It covered the above and included these excerpts…

“After nearly 90 minutes of heated debate on a $1-million dollar deal struck by Mayor Oliver Parker during ex parte communications through special counsel Dick Coker with Oriana –initially concealed by Parker from the other commissioners….”

“Parker referred to an offer of $700,000 from the Oriana attorney, through Coker, to mitigate the pedestrian-unfriendly impact of their setback infringement through other streetscape improvements to be chosen by the commission. The mayor admitted he had unilaterally decided that $1 million was the minimum amount the Town should accept as a “donation” from the Oriana  group, but denied that it constituted a “deal” between Oriana and himself.”

” BOTH COMMISSIONER SILVERSTONE AND COMMISSIONER MCINTEE PROTESTED VIGOROUSLY THAT IT WAS HIGHLY IMPROPER-EVEN UNETHICAL UNDER THE GOVERNING RULES OF EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS-FOR THE MAYOR TO HAVE ENGAGED UNILATERALLY IN SUCH NEGOTIATIONS WITH ORIANA AND THEN TO HAVE CONCEALED THAT FACT FROM THE OTHER COMMISSIONERS UNTIL THEY DRAGGED IT OUT OF HIM AT THE PREVIOUS MEETING.”INSIDE DEALING WITH ONE COMMISSIONER IS OUTRAGEOUS,” MCINTEE CHARGED “IT SHOULD HAVE GONE TO ALL, AND MR. COKER SHAM,E ON YOU!” ….

…………………………….

Just a reminder …Jan 26, 2010…Comm. Silverstone” In my old office on Commercial before I moved into next door into my new office ah, two of the owners came in and they said Jim what’s going on? Are you going to tear it down? Cause one of the first things we were gonna do thought about doing was tearing down the whole thing down which we had the right to do. And I said to them well it looks like you got a benefit here of about five million bucks and he, the person, the owner said that’s a little heavy. He said how about three million? I said great! I’m thinkin’ to myself ok I’m gonna go back to the dais til I found out that the former Mayor made a deal already for a million dollars which is unfortunate. So we coulda got three million dollars out of that thing, but we have a million dollars and um,….”

…………………………………..

On April 10, 2007 Commissioner McIntee used his yes vote on the Oriana amended site plan to make a motion to reconsider…it was seconded by Comm. Silverstone and failed 3-2 (Silverstone-McIntee-yes)…

………………………….

On April 24, 2007 Comm. Silverstone did bring to light a legal bill double the amount of what was expected and after discussion it was voted on 5-0 to send a bill for the extra monies…$21,000

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The Florida Statues 120.66 Ex Parte Communications– Excerpts…

“(1) In any proceeding under ss 120.569 and 120.57, no ex parte communication relative to the merits, threat, or offer of reward shall be made to the agency head, after the agency head has received a recommended order, or to the presiding officer by:

(a) An agency head or member of the agency or any other public employee or official engaged in prosecution or advocacy in connection with the matter under consideration or a factual related matter.

(b) A party to the  preceding , the party’s authorized representative or counsel, or any person who, directly or indirectly, would have a substantial interest in the proposed agency action.”

(2) “A PRESIDING OFFICER, INCLUDING AN AGENCY HEAD OR DESIGNEE, WHO IS INVOLVED IN THE DECISIONAL PROCESS AND WHO RECEIVES AN EX PARTE COMMUNICATION IN VIOLATION OF SUBSECTION (1) SHALL PLACE ON THE RECORD OF THE PENDING MATTER all written communications received, all written responses to such communications, AND ALL MEMORANDUM STATING THE SUBSTANCE OF ALL ORAL COMMUNICATIONS RECEIVED AND ALL ORAL RESPONSES MADE AND SHALL ALSDO ADVISE ALL PARTIES THAT SUCH MATTERS HAVE BEEN PLACED ON THE RECORD. Any party desiring to rebut the ex parte communication shall be allowed to do so, if such party requests the opportunity for rebuttal within 10 days after notice of such communication…..”

(3) ANY PERSON WHO MAKES AN EX PARTE COMMUNICATION PROHIBITED BY SUBSECTION (1), AND ANY PRESIDING OFFICER, INCLUDING AN AGENCY HEAD OR DESIGNEE, WHO FAILS TO PLACE IN THE RECORD ANY SUCH COMMUNICATION, IS IN VIOLATION OF THIS ACT AND MAY BE ASSESSED A CIVIL PENALTY NOT TO EXCEED $500 OR BE SUBJECTED TO OTHER DISCIPLINARY ACTION.”

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Just a reminder …Jan 26, 2010…Comm. Silverstone” In my old office on Commercial before I moved into next door into my new office ah, two of the owners came in and they said Jim what’s going on? Are you going to tear it down? Cause one of the first things we were gonna do thought about doing was tearing down the whole thing down which we had the right to do. And I said to them well it looks like you got a benefit here of about five million bucks and he, the person, the owner said that’s a little heavy. He said how about three million? I said great! I’m thinkin’ to myself ok I’m gonna go back to the dais til I found out that the former Mayor made a deal already for a million dollars which is unfortunate. So we coulda got three million dollars out of that thing, but we have a million dollars and um,….”

…………………………………..

BC-Unless Commissioner Jim Silverstone who now states on Jan. 26, 2010 he met with” two of the owners”…”In my old office on Commercial” can produce that he disclosed his ex parte communications to his fellow commissioners and the Town before the commission meetings dealing with Oriana in 2007…he will have admitted he was “in violation of this act [ex parte communications] and may be assessed a civil penalty not to exceed $500 or be subjected to other disciplinary action…

For this writer…If Commissioner Silverstone cannot produce the record and did not inform his fellow commissioners of his ex parte communications as required in 2007…he should immediately withdraw from the March 9, 2010 LBTS Municipal election!…He should not be allowed another 4 years and his “unfinished business” should be in front of the Florida Ethics Commission yet again…without a slap on the wrist or a pass this time!….

More to come….

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