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Here’s The Scoop … The Town Manager Sends Her Own Letter To FL. AG McCollum …

A NEED TO “COVER” HERSELF?….

Dear Readers … Town Manager Esther Colon must have been “irked” that Town Attorney Susan Trevarthern used the word “fired” in her letter to Fl. Attorney General Bill McCollum on March 31, 2010…when asking his opinion on the use of the Law Enforcement Trust Fund (LETF) funds…(prev. post)… So in her infinite wisdom …and her style of prioritization of Town staff time …TM Colon sent her own letter to the Fl. AG yesterday…

THE LETTER….

“April 7, 2010

Attorney General Bill McCollum

Florida Department of Legal Affairs

The Capitol PL01

Tallahasse, Florida 32399-1050

RE; Clarification of March 31, 2010 letter sent to Attorney General Bill McCollum by Town Attorney Susan Trevarthen

Dear General McCollum,

I would like to clarify the second sentence in paragraph three of the first page of the above letter. The previous chief was not fired by the Town Manager. Below is the verbatim request I made to Sheriff Alfred Lamberti on June 26, 2009.

“Pursuant to Article XV, Section 15.3 of the police services contract, I am requesting that Chief Scott Gooding be “transferred” out of the Town-of Layderdale-By-The Sea, District 13.” (See attached).

Public safety is my prime concern not only to the employees, citizens and visitors of our Town, but also the welfare and human respect of the detainee. Attached are photos of before and after holding cell.

Please contact me if you should have any questions concerning this inquiry.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Very truly yours,

Esther Colon, Town Manager

cc Mayor and Town Commission

Susan L. Trevarthern, Town Attorney”

BC-The first issue of importance for Colon was the word “fire” rather than “transfer”…and the second was her stance as a protector of the welfare and human respect for detainees …and her insinuation that the BSO was negligent in both by including that and photos of the chair and “shackle” used prior to the new holding cell purchased with the LETF funds in question….

There are some real “red flags” that come with this unilateral action taken by the Town Manager …and they must be addressed by the Commission, the Town Attorney and the BSO …

The Town Manager, in this writer’s opinion should have sent any “clarification” to the Town Attorney to send to AG McCollum… It seem that would be the normal course of action, rather than to usurp the Town Attorney in the way she has with this letter…

The Town Manager conveniently leaves out some important points in her letter to AG McCollum…While she includes a copy (or is it? It states at the bottom “faxed and confirmed receipt (Marta) to Sheriff Lamberti Original sent via US Mail”)…) of a letter to Sheriff Lamberti dated June 26, 2010 stating…

“Dear Sheriff Lamberti:

Pursuant to Article XV, Section 15.3 of the police services contract, I am requesting that Chief Scott Gooding be transferred out of the Town -of-Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, District 13.”

Sincerely, Esther Colon Town Manager”

BC-Also included to the AG was that Article XV, Section 15.3…with an arrow pointing to it…….and what she conveniently left out …

“15.3 In the event the Town Manager becomes dissatisfied with the performance of District Commander/ Chief, the Town Manager shall provide notification to BSO. Thereafter, representatives of BSO and the Town Manager shall meet to discuss possible remedies of the problems experienced by the Town Manager. BSO agrees to act in good faith in resolving any problems experienced by the Town Manager. The Town Manager may remove the District Commander/Chief at any time without cause.”

BC- What was conveniently left out were the facts brought to light by the BSO Colonel who came to speak at the June 30, 2009 Special Meeting on behalf or the BSO and Chief Gooding …He brought to light that the Town Manager did not fulfill the contract’s provision after that notification on June 26, 2009….. TM Colon did not follow through with….”Thereafter, representatives of BSO and the Town Manager shall meet to discuss possible remedies of the problems experienced by the Town Manager.”….The same Colonel stood at the podium and told the overflowing crowd in Jarvis Hall about the longtime close relationship this Town Manager had with Chief Gooding as he held up two fingers together to demonstrate …This Colonel told the crowd and  the Commissioners not privy to the Town Manager’s actions how the BSO informed the Town Manager of the unsuitability of the motel for their uses before it was purchased and the BSO’s  desire to remain where they were … He went on to state the Town Manager informed the BSO the Commission wanted them to move (they did not)…and the Colonel spoke in detail of the long process of the Town Manager /BSO meetings to spend well over a half million dollars for renovating the BSO portion of the building using LETF funds and Town funds…He spoke of the Town Manager’s encouraging the BSO to go forward on architectural drawings even after the BSO said it was beyond their scope to do so… Town Manager Colon it is said, guaranteed them often not be concerned about any excess funding..stating the Town had it and it was not a problem……The Colonel finished his time at the podium by calling it like it was …The Town Manager had sullied the career of a fine officer with this action….The Town Manager did find “cause” in her dismissal of Chief Gooding and let it be known in a press release made through the Town PIO D’Oliveira…It was for “being fiscally irresponsible”…That trumped up “cause” didn’t pass the smell test on any level!…

The Town Manager did not choose to include in her letter to the AG, the background of when the Town Manager called the Chief into her office to inform him that the Commission did not want to spend the money on the renovations …When called on it by the Chief, we are told, the Town Manager insisted she had spoken to the Commission… (This was never brought before the Commission as a whole prior to this meeting in her office ….and “polling” the Commission is not allowed…So her statement, if made, was false!)… Chief Gooding came to the June 23, 2009 Regular Commission meeting where this was addressed the situation after the meeting with the Manager under Old Business c. and spoke of his concerns…He stood up for the department but offered to work with the Town…At that Commission meeting the Town Manager countered those alleged statements made of the Commission not wanting to move forward with the expense when she said this  (contained in the minutes”)… Manager Colon said the BSO improvements cost over $420,000 She added that current funds available were $284,000. Manager Colon felt it was irresponsible for her to go ahead in this economic climate and make the improvements when the improvements that were already made met the needs of the Fire Department Police Department and Emergency Medical Services.”…. Also conveniently left out was the following (also in the 6/23/09 minutes) “Mayor Minnet wanted clarification that the $284,000 had to be used for training. Manager Colon stated that it had to be used for non-recurring operating expenses of the police department such as surveillance cameras, ATV’s and bicycles. She explained further that most of the equipment that the police department received came out of the Law Enforcement Trust Fund and became Town property.”…There is no statement on LETF funds being a non-recurring operating expense in the Town Purchasing Manual…and a look into prior Town uses of LETF funds should be done…. especially now that the Fl. AG is involved….

June 23 Regular Commission Meeting  and video links below…

http://www.lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov/town/arc-meetings-2009.htm

http://lbts.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=238

June 30, 2009 Scott Gooding Special Meeting minutes and video links below…

http://www.lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov/town/spc-meetings-09.htm

http://lbts.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=239

In the letter the Town Manager made a statement “Public Safety is my prime concern not only to the employees, citizens and visitors of our Town, but also the welfare and human respect of a detainee. Attached are photos of the before and after holding cell.”…This writer sent a Public Records Request into the LBTS-BSO Police Chief to address this statement…

THE PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST ….

……………………….

Public Record Request
Thursday, April 8, 2010 1:18 PM
From:
“Barbara Cole”
To:
[email protected]
Cc:
[email protected]
Dear Chief Llerena;
It has come to my attention that the Town Manager sent a letter to Attorney General Bill McCollum yesterday (4/7/10) to clarify her actions in the termination of Chief Scott Gooding.
Included in her letter to AG McCollum was the following statement by Manager Colon-“Public Safety is my prime concern not only to the employees, citizens and visitors of our Town, but also the welfare and human respect of a detainee. Attached are photos of the before and after holding cell.”
It was my understanding in visiting the BSO office shortly after the termination of Chief Gooding that the chair and the “shackle” were not in any violation and BSO was operating within the laws of “welfare and human respect for a detainee”.
Please verify this for me along with any documentation stating this as factual.
While in the BSO office that day I also saw the old holding cell. Can you tell me why the Town never upgraded that cell if the Town Manager was so concerned about the “welfare and human respect for a detainee”?
I feel that if the BSO was acting within the proper guidelines, the BSO might also want to contact AG McCollum to clear up any misrepresentation of improper actions being done by the BSO in LBTS over the years in using the chair in question and possibly leaving the BSO and the Town open to litigation by any former detainees after reading the Town Manager’s statement sent to the AG.
If this is done, I also request a copy of that letter and any correspondence to and from the Town Manager on this subject.
I await your response, Thank you Barbara Cole

…………………………….

In conclusion….The letter had  absolutely nothing to do with the opinion being asked for by the Attorney General  and it looks to this writer like the Town Manager is only interested in one thing as her days are surely numbered …any and all ways to use the Town staff to “cover” herself for all she has done as Town Manager over the last (almost) 3 years…..

It speaks volumes about her track record…. and what is still to be uncovered concerning Esther Colon, Town Manager …

more to come………

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