Search and Categories

Here’s The Scoop … Hot Potato …

QUICK….PASS IT ON!….

Dear Readers….The Town Attorney sent the letter requested by Vice Mayor Dodd to the Florida Attorney General in order to get an opinion on the use of the LETF Funds for the Public Safety Complex for the LBTS-BSO in 2009-10… Vice Mayor Dodd made the motion which passed 3-2 for that letter to be sent…  Included in the March 31, 201o letter were quite a few points of interest (and amusement) to point out…and comment on…

1. “The Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea purchased a property adjacent to Town Hall to convert it into a public safety complex for fire, ambulance and police use. The renovations for the ambulance service and the Volunteer Fire Department were relatively minor, but the Town required a considerable sum for the conversion into a police station, it was necessary to carry out extensive renovations to provide a holding cell, sally port, interview room and specialized video equipment.”

BC- The police station “required a considerable sum for the conversion”…”it was necessary to carry out extensive renovations”…What is not mentioned is how the Town Manager kept this all from the Commission and the Taxpayers when championing this purchase with the “Mc-Furth-Silverstone “Gang”… Quite the opposite as Readers can look at the videos…minutes and prev. posts to see the Manager said the costs be $250,000 or less…all the while “stringing” the BSO along with offering up double that amount with a combination of the LETF Funds and town funds…We only found this out from the BSO Colonel when he stood at the podium at the Special Meeting called for the “firing” of Scott Gooding….

2..”The Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) serves as the Town’s police department by contract, and assigns personnel to serve as the Town’s Police Chief. The previous Police Chief was fired by the Town Manage, as was allowed under the contract between the the BSO and the Town, and transferred to another community.”

BC- Despite the continued attempt of the last “Mc-Furth Gang” member left on the dais…Comm. “Clueless” Clottey  to whitewash what Town Manager Colon did to former LBTS-BSO Chief Scott Gooding …when she asked for the word “fired” to be omitted at the March 23, 2010 Commission meeting…Atty. Trevarthern included it as fact…which it was! …… Also of note a non-factual inclusion appears in the sentence that followed that one…Chief Gooding was not transferred to another community..

3. “The new Police Chief was asked by the Town Manager to write a memorandum within a week of this appointment requesting the Town Commission to grant authorization for the use of the Law Enforcement Trust Funds in accordance with Section 932.7055(5)(b), Florida Statues, to go towards the cost of providing the renovations and paying for the improvements.”

BC- Yes, the Town Manager did ask for this, which is customary per the BSO …BUT… it appeared and was previously posted as putting the onus on the BSO for the use of the funds thereby taking that onus off the Town Manager …

The letter went on to describe Vice Mayor Dodd’s contention of the use of the LETF Funds…

4. “A member of the Town Commission contends that action was in contravention of Section 932.7055, since use of the Law Enforcement Trust Funds was previously rejected in Attorney General Opinions for a horse stable and, on another occasion, for an evidence room. The Commissioner contends that Subsection 5(b) should not be interpreted that, if the Police Chief writes a request to the municipality, it can then use the funds for converting an old motel into a police facility. It is the Commissioner’s position that the memorandum from the Police Chief should not be used as a means to avoid the clear intention of the wording of the statute. In both AGO-86-48 and AGO- 97-31, the Commissioner notes it was clearly judged that the municipality’s responsibility was to provide the correct facilities for the police to do their job. The Commissioner contends that the Town Manager’s actions were not in accordance with the law already covered by the statute and analyzed  by the Attorney General’s opinions. He therefor advocates that the money used by the Town to provide the facility should be returned to the Law Enforcement Trust Funds, and the renovations should be paid from the Town’s capital improvements budget instead, because only the specialized video equipment would be covered under the statute as a legitimate use of Law Enforcement Trust Funds.”

The Town Attorney gave some additional background…

5. “The Town Commission reviewed the above form of inquiry, along with the memo from the Police Chief to the Town Manager described above, a memo that I prepared at the request of the Town Commission regarding this issue, and the relevant section of the Town’s Purchasing Manual. These are attached for your reference. At its March 23, 2010 regular meeting, the Town Commission approved the Commissioner’s request to seek an opinion from you in this form.”

BC- The Purchasing Manual states …on page 33..

“F. Law Enforcement Trust Fund (LETF) Expenditures

All purchases to be paid for by the LETF must comply with Florida Statutes Section 932.7055 and must be approved in advance by the BSO/LBTS Police Chief and the Town Commission.”

Page 34-

“A copy of the Town Commission approval must be maintained by the Purchasing Administrator. LETF expenditures are restricted by Florida Statutes Section 932.7055, to school resource officer, crime prevention, safe neighborhood, drug abuse education, drug prevention, drug treatment, complex/protracted investigation cost, additional police equipment/expertise, or federal grant matching purposes.”

BC-The Town’s Purchasing Manual clearly states the uses and normal required components such as a holding cell, sally port, and an interview room” are not listed…As Vice Mayor Dodd contends the “specialized video equipment” is included in the LBTS Purchasing Manual……

The 08/28/09 Memo from the new Chief… stated the “letter will serve as a formal appropriation request for the sum of $150,320.46 from the LETF trust fund for the following facilities and equipment:a holding cell, sally port, interview room and specialized video equipment.

Construction of these facilities is not a normal operating expense. These facilities do not currently exist in the Lauderdale by the Sea Public Safety Complex. The requested funding will not be used for daily maintenance cost.

This will be a non-recurring expenditure for law enforcement purpose.

The appropriation approval of the $150,320.46 by the Town Commission would enhance the Broward Sheriff’s Office Lauderdale by the Sea District’s ability to conduct investigations and crime prevention efforts for the Town of Lauderdale by the Sea.

This memorandum will serve as written certification that the above request of $150,320.46 from the LETF fund for the above complies with provisions 932.7055 (5)”

BC- I must respectfully disagree with the new Chief’s memo and agree with then- Comm. Dodd…The Town should be providing the correct environment for the police which includes everything in his request except the “specialized video equipment” …

6. The Town Attorney also included the minutes from the Sept. 10, 2009 Regular Commission Meeting when this was approved 3-2 (Silverstone/Clottey/Mcintee voted yes-Minnet/Dodd voted no) …At that meeting then-Comm. Dodd on page 11 item n. made the same assertions he made on March 23, 2010…He asked for the Town Attorney’s opinion on the use…and in his comments he stated (pg. 12) “the Town Attorney’s opinion was that the the Commission could probably approve the request if the police chief requested it per the Florida Statute 932.7055(5)…..(see #7 below)….

“The Town Attorney stated that her opinion stated the Chief followed the method in the statute for certification. She added that the Attorney General stated that as a governing body they could give deference to the Chief’s request but the determination rested with the Commission. Vice Mayor McIntee clarified that the Police Chief requested the funds, the state said ok, and the final say was the Commission. Attorney Trevarthen agreed the final decision was with the Commission.”

“Manager Colon stated the LETF Funds were approved last year when Chief Gooding requested surveillance cameras and at the previous meeting in the same manner. She agreed with the Chief and with the Town Attorney; it was not a recurring expense and not a non-existing facility. Manager Colon said this was the same thing they did every year and asked why all of the sudden it was not ok.”

7. Attorney Trevarthen’s “package” included the Memo she sent to the Commission on Aug 28, 2009…It stated the question asked by then-Comm. Dodd…The discussion…and her conclusion…

“The Town’s chief has properly requested an appropriation from the LETF to pay for the improvements to the BSO space in the public safety building, and certified that it meets the requirements of Section 932.7055(5), Florida Statues. The Town Commission should give deference to the chief’s request. Ultimately the decision of whether to use the LETF funds as requested by the chief must be made by the Town Commission.”

It ends with “the Statute is recognized in the Town’s Purchasing manual, which provides in relevant part that “all purchases to be paid for by the LETF must comply with the Fl. Statutes Section 932.7055 and must be approved in advance by BSO/LBTS Police Chief and the Town Commission.”…

BC- This was a political “Hot Potato” …on so many levels… to make the end justify the means ….

A.-it still appeared that the new Chief was used (Comm. to give deference) to put forth this request…and he may not have been privy to the LBTS Purchasing Manual…There was nothing in the manual that said anything about the police facility “existing” or “non-existing”… (A look at the minutes shows either a mistake in the minutes or another disconnect with the TM and the Chief on the complex being non-existing or existing)…

B.- There is nothing in the Town Purchasing Manual concerning a non-recurring expense as a criteria for LETF use…

C.-The Town Manager herself made the distinction between the prior use by Gooding and this one by the new Chief….She answered her own question….” this was the same thing they did every year and asked why all of the sudden it was not ok.” by stating the following…. “Manager Colon stated the LETF Funds were approved last year when Chief Gooding requested surveillance cameras”…. Bingo!… It was ok because the funds approved for Gooding were for an approved LETF expenditure according the Town Purchasing Manual….

Vice Mayor Dodd correctly contends, in 2010 as he did in 2009, in this writer’s opinion …as written by the Town Atty. on March 31, 2010…”He therefore advocates that the money used by the Town to provide the facility should be returned to the Law Enforcement Trust Funds, and the renovations should be paid from the Town’s capital improvements budget instead, because only the specialized video equipment would be covered under the statute as a legitimate use of Law Enforcement Trust Funds.”

Will the Attorney General have the same contention?…Will the Attorney General answer quickly or take his time?….This is a different Attorney General (McCollum) …and his reply will be worth the exercise, no matter what his opinion is, just to see where this Atty. General stands on the Statute and whether he too will play “Hot Potato” with the intended use of the Law Enforcement Trust Funds according to that Statute….

Note to Readers….In taking a look at the Town Purchasing Manual for this post…I found something else quite stunning….and will post that  next…

more to come…..

Tags: , , ,

Post Division