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Here’s The Scoop … This Town Manager’s Answer … Should Start The Dominoe Effect ….

FROM THE BIG CORNER OFFICE IN TOWN HALL … RIGHT ON DOWN THE HALL ….


“The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change, and so on in linear sequence. The term is best known as a mechanical effect, and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes.”

Dear Readers… From the Daily Pulp online…

Excerpts …

“City manager at work

“Payton able to unilaterally award the contract legally because Miramar permits construction jobs under $50,000 to be awarded without public bids and votes. “….

“The reason Payton was in the clear was that even though he facilitated the corrupt deal, he didn’t take money for it. You see, a city manager can do the wrong thing, like hand out insider contracts to dubious companies for selfish and political reasons, but he can never ever take money.”

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2010/03/paytons_place.php

………………….

In Lauderdale-By- The-Sea Town Manager Esther Colon has been digging her heels in for quite some time now during her “reign” .. Her way of managing the town could also be called “weak and ineffectual”…Over the last 2 + years this writer posted questions and concerns over purchases that fall below the threshold of needing Commission approval…from the end of the year “unencumbered” funds to the  latest one to purchase a metal Chamber roof …I posted when she did a 180 with her requirement of the Town owning all public safety apparatus….I posted when vendors were no longer read RFPs aloud and when new vendors who came to town to pursue a contract were treated with disdain…In one case one bidder was publicly humiliated by the Town Manager and her past majority on the dais as they sat back and repeatedly allowed her to have whomever she wanted …no matter if the cost was higher or the services were inferior or antiquated in comparison…

Many Readers might have been around when the Beach Pavilion was in its early stages in 2007 and the Master Plan Steering Committee was asked to come up with their recommendations for an architect…(prev. posts)…The MPSC did so…but the then-acting Town Manager Colon asked that Commission to hold off for someone she had who could do the job for less…They agreed and so it began…in this writer’s opinion, …the beginning of this Manager’s unilateral control over the Pavilion project…and the debacle this writer uncovered (with plenty of tips from “Avid Readers”)….when we suddenly found out at the 11th hour we would have a Commercial Blvd. Beach Pavilion with no walls!… It took months and multiple lame attempts by the Town Manager and staff to divert attention away from the changes she alone made without input from the Commission until the facts came to light that she had indeed made changes …She was had “cover” from the majority on the dais at the time (McIntee/Silverstone/Clottey) and never did take any heat for how wrong this was or how this went down ….and still there were no ramifications for not only the unilateral decisions made…or the important details hidden…but the ongoing major problems that have resulted in the project…and continue to this day… Same goes for her $300,000 pre-penalty payment on the loans when she made absolutely no attempt to inform the Commission that she would be taking that fiscally responsible action with our longtime bank….. instead she stuck to her “standard” reply of having no direction from the dais to do so!…

It is this writer’s opinion that Town Manager Colon’s ” Power”…her “adrenalin rush” come from wheeling and dealing with her chosen vendors…And just as the article from Bob Norman states …”You see, a city manager can do the wrong thing, like hand out insider contracts to dubious companies for selfish and political reasons, but he can never ever take money.” … While the companies our Town Manager is doing business with are not “dubious” to my knowledge….. When it comes to who gets a contract in LBTS …… and who gets thrown under the bus….with all I have seen from Town Manager Colon…to quote her longtime “protector” former VM McIntee…”If it walks like a duck…… Quack…quack…

We have als0 seen in the last few years an increase in consultants…which in itself is mind blowing…due to the the old “Broom Boys” campaign in 2006 that they were getting rid of that practice…It was a holdover they insisted from the “Old Guard” practices …It became a real shell game…again in this writer’s opinion…much like how certain Town employees such as the Asst. Town Manager were no longer listed under the Administration but under “Community Standards” therefore taking his salary and others out of the limelight… thus allowing certain Commissioner/candidates to make erroneous claims that Administration salaries had been cut substantially over the years…

A look at the current monthly financial reports …from this years budget shows a big increase in “Professional Consultants” … and the bulk of it seems to be Chen & Assoc. and Ocampo…for a multitude of “studies”…and projects… The Town law firm has seen a substantial increase as well and that fact now wipes at out any prior claims of savings we were told we would have no longer employing  former Town Attorney Cherof’s firm on retainer…

One item recently came to light with the latest Town project to go south under this Manager’s watch…the El Mar Drive Beautification project…and how the million dollar job was acquired by the Manager’s chosen vendor with no RFP/RFQ going out…

It was a question first asked of this writer when we were faced with the Furth-led “McIntee Memorial Median Walkway” down the center of the new medians in the south end of El Mar Drive… Many asked if it had gone out to bid…I responded it had not…Those questions remained in the background as we dealt with Ms. Furth and her stand to get on with this unwanted project …She was backed by only those candidates she and her husband were managing in their campaigns for the commission… After her 3 candidates finally saw the “political” light …and realized they had no choice but to do an about face …(I would have loved to been a fly on the wall for that Town Hall East exchange guaranteed to have taken place long after the daily siesta)…. the question was still dormant …until…I received an e-mail asking about the lack of an RFP (Request for Proposal) or an RFQ (Request for Qualification)… I asked then Comm. Dodd if he was aware of any such bid…He was not…Comm. Dodd decided to put it on the February 23, 2010 agenda as one of his 6 question for the Town Manager under NB item 16C …This was in planned response to the deplorable display the Town Manager made during her Town Manager Report at the prior Commission Meeting on Feb 9, 2010 ..(prev. post)…Below is the question….asked that night …

Comm. Dodd-
“#6) While this town employs Chen and Associates as the engineer of record can I ask the town manager whether the town complied with all the requirements of the Florida statute

287.055 Acquisition of professional architectural, engineering, landscape architectural, or surveying and mapping services; definitions; procedures; contingent fees prohibited; penalties.—otherwise known as the Consultants Competitive Negotiation Act.

My question is simple – Should this town have gone out for an RFQ knowing the size of the project to be $1,000,000 in order to comply with the terms of the act.”

The Town Manager verbatim reply …as posted on Feb 26,2010 ….(prev. post)…along with former Comm. Silverstone’s  and Mayor Minnet’s responses to then-Comm. Dodd’s inquiry… (Again, Readers can see why there was a “landslide”on March 9th, 2010)….

TM Colon-“Um, as far as section 287.155. I know we’re abidin’ by it. I, I know the competitive act but I will respond to your memo and I will attach the same memos that I already supplied you and every Commission member. But I will respond to the inquiries.”

Commissioner Silverstone” I just want to say I’m disappointed. This is no way to ah, transact Town business. Um, these issues are important. I remember getting these memos. We discussed these. Um, why are we wasting time on this. I don’t know. It’s not the way we do things. To get the business done of the people and um, I just want to make sure that I stand cause it’s not the way we do business here. I yield.”

Mayor Minnet” Thank you Commissioner Dodd for bringing that up.”

The Manager decided to respond in a memo (yep, a memo..the TM’s M.O.)…on March 11, 2010… Why the delay?…Was she waiting for the election outcome to see if her status quo would continue and there would be no need to reply?…Was she trying to see how to get out yet another unilateral mess up?… In any event this writer knew there was something to this one…due to any delay from Ms. Colon…

The reply…was deja vu for me  (Beach pavilion) with the TM trying to squirm out it by adding a few memo pages with the time line… and putting the onus on the Commission and others for again dropping the ball…(Wait til you see who she blames!)..

“MEMORANDUM

Date: March 11,2010

To” Commissioner Dodd

From: Esther Colon, Town Manager

Subject: 2/23/2010-16-C Agenda Item-Question #6

Attached please find the chronology of Town Public meetings taking place for the project that is known as the El Mar Drive Streetscape Project.

Ordinance 2005-005, adopted by the Town provided for a streetscape plan for El Mar Drive from Palm Avenue to Pine Avenue, requiring conformity as a condition of any future site plan approvals for the adjacent private properties. In 2008, the Commission canceled the El Mar Streetscape Ordinance. This altered the course of development of streetscapes on this particular Town Street considered an important asset of the Town Future changes to Town Right-of-Way adjacent to private properties on El Mar Drive are inevitable. It is important to realize that after the cancellation of the ordinance, reestablishing and maintaining a policy for a streetscape design has been paramount to the current Administration, and it assumed that it is the same for the Town.Commission. An adopted streetscape provides for the continuity of design, allows cost estimates and time schedules to be established, budgets to be determined, grant applications submitted, presentations made to the elected officials and the public, and finally allows for reviews by regulatory agencies, if applicable.

In response to your question, the Town Commission at a properly noticed public meeting on 08 December 2010 with the Town Attorney present, voted on moving forward with the project design and its expenditures., and gave authorization for the Town Manager to proceed with the project. Only the Town Commission can waive purchasing requirements established by the Town expending Town funds.

I am aware that if the Town Commission had utilized the services of the Town Engineer, Chen and Associates, the services would be exempt from the statute because a continuing contract being in place between the Town and Chen. This is one of the reasons for having an ongoing agreement in place.

If the Town Commission had authorized Town Administration with providing management of the the project from conceptual design to construction, the Commission would have been assured that all the regulations would have been adhered to due to departmental reviews of the process.

The workshops, roundtable, public meetings, have all been processes to empower the advisory committees , the public and the Town Commission as to direction to take for the streetscape design. Town Administration is not a voice in any part of the mentioned process, and does not vote, but merely takes direction from the Town Commission in implement the desired project.

Town Commission may have been exempt from probably should have sought RFQ for the consultant design component, as Statute 287.055 requires when design fees exceed $25,000.00 or construction costs exceed $250,000.00.

Respectfully submitted EC/mi”

BC- In other words the Town Manager and her staff should have gone out for bid…..First be aware that in her response the Town Manager has rewritten history…The Town Manager was definitely involved in the process and it was she that circumvented and included designs on her own with no direction from the Commission or the MPSC after the AI students designs were done from her chosen vendors Chen and Ocampo…. Both vendors were right alongside a very invested Town Administration in this process with the MPSC/ P&Z and the Commission….

This one is a new low even for Town Manager Colon…She not only blames the Commission …but this time blames the Advisory Boards…She “uses” their involvement to get he and her staff off the hook!…YIKES…Her assertion that the El Mar Streetscape Ordinance was canceled due to the repeal of the Overlay Districts…is a new one…It’s a stretch at best and needs further investigation…Not that it has anything to do with the present project or the question being asked about the statute required bids for a project this size in this price range……Any authorization that was given from the Commission was done with the information provided by Administration, staff and the Town Atty…The Commission is not supposed to know all the statute requirements…….Even the vendors …Chen and Ocampo, who received the contracts should have pointed out the statute requirements to staff and the Commission….It was their duty to inform the Commission of the statute …not the other way around… Give me a break!…..

This Town Manager has really gone off the deep end with this one… big time! ….If the Town Attorney had any input in it…she too has proven it time to go out for new representation … and as for the vendors…they would be crossed off my list if I was looking at the bidders for any future projects after this March 11th, 2010 memo!….

Bottom line…read again the Manager’s reply on the dais Feb 23, 2010….”Um, as far as section 287.155. I know we’re abidin’ by it. I, I know the competitive act but I will respond to your memo and I will attach the same memos that I already supplied you and every Commission member. But I will respond to the inquiries.”

We now know she was not “abidin’ by it”….. and if she knew the “competitive act” as she claimed…..she certainly kept it to herself!…

Time for dominoes….

more to come…

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