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Here’s The Scoop…More Than Getting From Point A To Point B

November 15, 2008 by Barbara

TO KNOW WHAT YOUR COMMISSIONERS KNOW….

BROWARD METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATION

Photo Not Available
LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA

Representative: Commissioner Birute Ann Clottey
Town of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
4501 Ocean Drive
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida 33308
954-776-0576

‘Mission and Purpose

Transportation is not just being able to get from point A to point B. It involves a comprehensive planning process. Transportation Planning includes important components such as air quality, alternative modes of transportation, improvements to current roadways, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities. But most importantly, it involves the public.

The MPO oversees the expenditure of federal transit funds and works closely with the State and municipalities that make up Broward County. Each year, the MPO evaluates and approves proposed surface transportation improvement projects, while providing a forum for interagency cooperation and public input into transportation funding and prioritized decision.

As Broward County continues to experience rapid growth, the MPO plays a critical role in the community as the board that empowers interested persons to speak in a unified manner to their state and federal legislators about transportation needs and concerns.
To do so, the MPO places special emphasis on providing equal access to transportation planning choices through outreach public initiatives.’

Agendas…and meeting minutes…on link…

http://www.broward.org/mpo/about.htm

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Hers’s The Scoop…Finishing Up…LBTS Commission Meeting 10/14/08…

October 24, 2008 by Barbara

THE REST OF THE STORY….SOME HIGHLIGHTS..

New member was added for the Master Plan Steering Committee…a resident named Holly Virgis…a real “applicant”…voted in 5-0….BUT…did the Town let Holly in on her new unanimous appointment?….For new member Virgis was a no-show…on  Tuesday night….YIKES!…

QUASI JUDICIAL PUBLIC HEARINGS….

More grandstanding and more BULL….from the Vice Mayor ….first he stood to take the oath to testify on the matter….on the dais…when the Town Atty. questioned if the Vice Mayor intended to vote on the matter also…he said yes…the Atty. said he was not “comfortable” with that…and McIntee replied he would decide later…proceeding to take the oath….

The presentation was made…previous post…Board of Adjustment….and the Vice Mayor asked his question…as a Commissioner..about the height…staying at 33 feet…his new Furth assisted mantra…revisionist CIC history of 33 feet…for LBTS height limits…(more on this to come)….this was obviously the reason for the oath he took…and that being answered he proceeded to vote….but not before another heavy- handed…grandstanding…McIntee dose of revising the past…by asking the Ocean Terrace residents to come to the podium…telling them we were all told they did not exist…they would not rebuild…at 33 feet…despite the FACT….it never happened!…The residents we were told…they did not rebuild sooner…due to consensus required from the owners to move ahead…and insurance issues…seen by many hit by Wilma…MORE Mc-DRAMATIC LICENSE….

It’s become sadly apparent…which Commissioners do their homework and who is flying by the seat of their pants…when questions are asked…that has been supplied to them…prior to taking their seats….and then rather than be embarrassed by such apparent  deficiencies… lashing out at those who are fully prepared…giving “commentary” on other’s proposals…and stance…A Mc-SORRY SIGHT….

Another change that needs addressing…stop shooting the messenger…the Mayor or any other elected official should be welcomed with putting forth their ideas…their suggestions for the Town…to explore all avenues…for this writer does agree with the Mayor…”if you don’t ask”…you don’t get…whether it is a resolution…or a letter for funds…for lifeguards…for inclusion of our Town beyond the town limits…opening doors and possibly opportunities….that might be otherwise missed….keep it coming…

The Mayor’s salary…it was appropriate to question the disparity…despite the fact that it is common in most municipalities…due to talk of cutbacks and forgoing the yearly 5% increase …..coming to the commission….also because the Mayor’s opponent Peanuts Wick…stated when he was elected he would turn down the added pay…making the salary the same as his fellow dais members..

This writer was surprised that the Mayor did not openly accept the suggestion…as has been her style…but the points she made of the cost comparison…were well taken….and respected…

The follow-up…GOTCHA….on her Republican recorded calls …pertaining to the Green Fest….by the Vice Mayor…PLEASE….was it questionable?…yes…did it have to be done on the dais?…NO…and Sen Atwater…Gov. Crist…take note…of your local Republican BFF..McIntee…although with his spending habits lately…many question his party affiliation…these days….spend…spend…spend…

The iguanas…where and when to start…the monies were too little…and the trapper was MIA…now the additional $$$$ are coming from the “reserves”…those “reserves”…that seem to open and close depending on who’s asking for what….

We hear the nasty “scorched earth” has now raised its head…in Bel Air…with a certain elected official’s spouse badmouthing a fellow elected official…in exchanges to the constituents….to that Bel Air resident…welcome to the club!….

The Entryways….STOP…we do not need easements…we do not need flags…the commission never voted on the 2nd flag pole installed on Commercial Blvd…or the bases…NEVER!…previous posts…they voted down the pelicans…voted for 1 flag pole…with an American/Town flag…and 1 sign..to be chosen solely by the Town Manager for Commercial entryway…only…and then if happy with her choice the other entryways would follow after another vote!….

SAVE THE $$$$…no more flag poles…the ones installed add nothing to the entry…with the flags way too small for the poles….and the signage….KEEP THE LBTS ENTRYWAY SIGNS…is the overwhelming response from the residents….STRAW POLL ON THE ENTRY SIGNS…is required….and put the funds saved into the Capital improvement fund…

more to come…

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Here’s The Scoop Commission Meeting….Day 2…”WHITEWASH” OR EPIPHANY?

October 21, 2008 by Barbara

LBTS Regular Commission Meeting …follow-up…10/20/08…

TAKING THE HIT….FOR THE GREATER GOOD?….

This writer took the hit for former Battalion Chief Patrick Pointu Monday evening…..as the Vice Mayor read Patrick’s response letter…previous post…unfortunately….leaving out the beginning of the response…before the letter…what Patrick said to this writer and the Pelican….that the only problem within the VFD is one guy…Jerry McIntee…

The rest of the resignation was “whitewashed” by the Vice Mayor…giving out info on the VFD calls …which seem to be constant…(5 calls to the Mayor’s building over the weekend)… he stated ” the month from hell”…going from 11 members to 80….(thought we were told forever how the membership was equal to the number that was there before they were thrown out?)….He “stroked” Comm. Dodd…calling him an “honest man” …relaying how Dodd had watched and observed the VFD at the Hyperbaric building call on Saturday…previous post…he said Patrick wrote his letter in haste… that may be so…and then he read the Pointu response letter….as his wife made noises from behind in the hall…no biggie…the “hit” will be  worth it…and Patrick might just feel the same…if the members and the Manager get to the bottom of the “tyranny” within the department…going into the future….no “whitewash” can overlook that…not even the ridiculous assertion McIntee made about his own response letter “holding back”…….where he accuses Patrick of assault and ignores how his Mc-Gang spent the weekend making sure all elected officials got a copy of a previous resignation letter and response from his former boss…in ways that show the Mc-Gang’s usual retaliatory tactics…same old…same old….

Unbelievably sad to watch …. McIntee pal VFD- Comm.Silverstone.. calling newspaper reports and other sources…(this site)… “unfounded”…”ridiculous”…”nothing positive”…”slanderous”…and asserting the VFD was “an open book”….”run by members…each member has a voice and a vote”….YIKES!…Really now…time to stop “palling around” …WAKE UP!….

Commissioner Dodd……initiated the topic…showed he spent the time….to get to the bottom of these serious charges…asking the hard questions on every sane person’s mind….why this resignation letter was not brought to the Town Manager by the Vice Mayor and Comm. Silverstone upon receiving as sitting Commissioners wearing that “hat”…first and foremost…….Asking for an in -depth inquiry…of all parties…to make sure all is in order…and either remedy or dispel the content…the charges…as would have been the case if it were BSO….he had reached out and had spoken both to Patrick Pointu and to Scot Fowler…well aware of their accounts…any bets….no “whitewash”……came along with their stories…to him…

The Vice Mayor was unhappy with Dodd…. that Dodd had written out what he had to say…saying it was unfair…HUH?…

The Mayor …called again for an oversight committee…and talked of the safety of the residents…while saying it is the Commission’s responsibility to ask the hard questions…to obtain the truth…”3 kinds of truth…to every story”…she told the Vice Mayor…”yours…mine and the truth!”….TOUCHE’….

Comm.Clottey…spoke of Pointu’s actions…feeling they were culturally different than what is usually encountered in this country when resigning from a job….she asked questions of Patrick…went to see the Town Manager…and reported the Manager was going “line by line” of the letter to get to the truth….what is fact and what may be the reason for such assertions…commending her …she said the VFD fire dept. is doing a good job …they want to get the answers…but an oversight committee should be done properly…reminding all she outlined her points in her commissioner comments…on Tuesday evening…and then she stepped up to the plate….

Comm. Clottey…said she had spoken of this with some and was now saying it to all….”Jerry is no longer the face of the VFD…they elected Chief Perkins”…”Please let him lead!”…. WOW!…YOU GO GIRL!….

MIA…the Town Manager….staying mum…a missed opportunity for all to see she was indeed investigating the matter…taking the responsibility….for sole oversight of the VFD……and putting all on notice…no stone would go unturned….TOO BAD…

One big OOPS….did McIntee…Misspeak?….caught on tape….he called himself a “Training Officer”…and according to the Ethics Commission…he may not be…a Vice Mayor….and …..an Officer in the VFD or the CIC….HMMMM…….. as far as “not taking a dime”…he did …$160 in “training funds”…in March and April 2008…(a second request for VFD public information …pertaining to Drill/in house training incentive/beach patrol incentive have not been received…despite assurances from chief Perkins they will be sent…still waiting…)

CEO 08-22 – September 10, 2008

CONFLICT OF INTEREST, VOTING CONFLICT OF INTEREST

MEMBER OF TOWN COMMISSION ALSO SERVING ON VOLUNTEER
FIRE DEPARTMENT AND POLITICAL COMMITTEE,
AND VOTING ON FIRE SERVICES ISSUES

To: Jerome S. McIntee, (Member, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Town Commission)

SUMMARY:

No conflict of interest would be created under Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, where a Town Commission member also serves as an uncompensated member of a volunteer fire department contracting with the Town. Nor would any voting conflict exist where the member, in addition to being uncompensated, is not an officer or director of the department, and the measure being voted on would not inure to his own special private gain or loss. No prohibited conflict of interest is created by the Commissioner’s membership in a political action committee, where he is not an officer or director of the organization, and there is no litigation or other relationship between the committee and the Town.

QUESTION 1:

Would a prohibited conflict of interest exist were a member of a Town Commission to simultaneously serve as an uncompensated member of the Town’s Volunteer Fire Department?

Your question is answered in the negative.

You write that you are a member of the Town Commission of the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea (“LBTS”), and advise that you also serve as a member of the LBTS Volunteer Fire Department (“VFD” or “Department”), a private, not-for-profit corporation. You state that you currently do not receive any compensation in from the VFD and inquire whether a conflict of interest is created by your simultaneous service on the Commission and the VFD.

As background, according to the Report of Investigation (“ROI”) in Complaint No. 07-094, filed against you in May 2007, fire suppression services for the Town have been provided by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (“BSO”) since June 2004.1 The Report of Investigation also revealed that the BSO sub-contracted with the VFD, and that while serving on the Town Commission, you also served as Deputy Chief of the VFD and were paid for this service.2 Lastly, the Report of Investigation revealed that while you served simultaneously on the Town Commission and the VFD, the VFD filed a lawsuit against the Town.3 Although we elected not to take further action, we found probable cause to believe your relationship with the VFD violated Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, the conflict of interest provision of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees, and that several of your votes inured to the special private gain of the VFD, in violation of Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes (the voting conflicts provision).4

You advise that the Town’s contract with the BSO is set to end on October 1, 2008 and that as of that date the VFD will be the sole provider of fire suppression services to the Town. Minutes of the LTBS Town Commission meetings, available on the Town website5, indicate that in February 2008, the Town Commission voted to award $83,754 to the VFD for the training and administrative functions necessary to enable it to assume fire-suppression services on October 1, although no contractual agreement between the Town and the VFD was yet in place. You relate that on March 25, 2008, you voted to adopt a Transition Agreement covering the time period March 1 through September 30, 2008, and also voted on an agreement to lease vehicles and equipment to the VFD

According to your correspondence with this office, you received approximately $160 in “training funds” from the VFD in March and April 2008. You relate that on May 1, 2008, you provided a letter to the Fire Chief, stating that as of that date you would no longer accept compensation in any form from the Department, including “incentive pay for calls, drills, and teck hours.”6 You write that you are not an officer or director of the VFD, receive no reimbursement for mileage, uniforms, or other costs, do not have use of any vehicle (except in the performance of your duties), and that other than coverage by the VFD’s worker’s compensation policy for injury sustained in the performance of your duties, you receive no insurance or other benefits from your service. You inquire whether, under the present circumstances, there is any limitation on your belonging to the VFD while the VFD contracts with the Town.7

Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes states, in relevant part:

CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP.-

(a) No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he or she is an officer or employee, excluding those organizations and their officers who, when acting in their official capacity, enter into or negotiate a collective bargaining contract with the state or any municipality, county, or other political subdivision of the state; nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his or her private interests and the performance of his or her public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his or her public duties.

The first part of Section 112.313(7) prohibits a public officer or employee from having a contractual or employment relationship with any business entity regulated by or doing business with his agency. As the Transitional Agreement adopted by the Town Commission on March 25, 2008 covers the time period March 1-September 30, 2008, it appears that the VFD was “doing business” with the Town no later than March 1, 2008.

In CEO 76-109, we found that a city commissioner was prohibited from serving as a member of the city’s volunteer fire department where he received a yearly payment from the fire department of $250. In CEO 78-28, we found that a prohibited conflict existed where a city commissioner served as a volunteer firefighter receiving $5 per call, $2 of which went into a fund for the purpose of purchasing special equipment for the city fire department. Most recently, in CEO 00-23, we found a prohibited conflict where a commissioner of a fire district served as a “volunteer” firefighter of the district’s fire department, notwithstanding that the compensation received ($2 per fire run or call) was very small.

It must then be determined whether you have a “contractual or employment relationship” with the VFD, since in the absence of such a relationship, there can be no violation. Although you relate that you were paid $160 in “training funds” for the months of March and April, you state that as of May 1, you have specifically declined any compensation from the Department. In CEO 00-23 we stated our view that refusal to accept compensation, given in advance and in writing, coupled with actual refusal of said compensation, would negate the element of employment, and therefore the potential of a prohibited conflict. The fact that you receive worker’s compensation coverage for your service does not require a different result, as in CEO 00-23 we also pointed out that, “Under our precedent, the workers’ compensation coverage, life insurance, firefighting equipment, and any true reimbursement provided to District firefighters would not constitute compensation.” (citations omitted.)

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Accordingly, we find that your uncompensated service for the LBTS Volunteer Fire Department subsequent to May 1, 2008, does not create a prohibited conflict.

QUESTION 2:

Would a voting conflict of interest exist were you to vote on issues pertaining to the VFD?

Your correspondence states you voted on March 25, 2008, to approve the “VFD Transition Agreement,” and on April 8, to approve an expenditure of up to $20,000 for all-terrain vehicles for the VFD to use in beach patrols. However, as you have not identified any particular matter voted on after you stopped receiving compensation from the Department, all that can be offered is general guidance.

Section 112.3143(3)(a), Florida Statutes, states, in relevant part:

VOTING CONFLICTS.–No county, municipal, or other local public officer shall vote in an official capacity upon any measure which inures to his or her special private gain or loss; which he or she knows would inure to the special private gain or loss of any principal by whom the officer is retained or to the parent organization or subsidiary of a corporate principal by which he or she is retained, other than an agency as defined in s. 112.312(2); or which he or she knows would inure to the special private gain or loss of a relative or business associate of the public 1officer. Such public officer shall, prior to the vote being taken, publicly state to the assembly the nature of the officer’s interest in the matter from which he or she is abstaining from voting and, within 15 days after the vote occurs, disclose the nature of his or her interest as a public record in a memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting, who shall incorporate the memorandum in the minutes.

Section 112.3143 prohibits a public officer from voting whenever the matter under consideration would work to his own special gain or loss, or to that of an employer, relative, or business associate. As you discontinued receiving funds from the VFD effective May 1, and advise that you are not an officer or director of that corporation, the VFD cannot currently be considered your “principal” for purposes of Section 112.3143.8 Therefore, you would only be prohibited from voting on an issue of import to the VFD if it also inured to your own “special private gain or loss.”

Your question is answered accordingly.

QUESTION 3:

Is a prohibited conflict of interest created by your membership in the Citizen’s Initiative Committee?

This question is answered in the negative.

You advise that the Citizen’s Initiative Committee (“CIC” or “Committee”) is a political action committee registered as such with the State of Florida. According to its by-laws, the purpose of the Committee is:

To support the right of LBTS citizens to initiate and petition for the enactment of amendments to the Town Charter, as provided in Section 163.031, Florida Statues [sic]. To support the right to initiate and petition for enactment, repeal, or amendment of municipal ordinances, as provided in Article IV of the Town Charter, reaffirmed by referendum in March 2004. To address any issues that deal with citizens [sic] rights and related political concerns.

In Complaint No. 07-094, we found probable cause to believe that you, as a member of the LBTS Town Commission, violated Section 112.313(7) by serving as Chair of the CIC while that organization was suing the Town, with you as a named Plaintiff. Again though, we elected to take no further action. You have asked why CEO 80-82 and CE0 81-39, which you believe would have “exonerated” you in Complaint No. 07-094, were not applied or provided to you.

CEO 80-82 and CEO 81-39 are not exonerative, because the facts of those opinions are materially different than the facts under consideration in the Complaint. CEO 80-82 spoke to a City Council member serving as chair of a local political committee of continuous existence and CEO 81-39 dealt with a planning commission member who belonged to a local political organization “formed to study and make recommendations concerning state and local taxation and local government” which did not regularly take a position on matters coming before the planning commission. No facts in either opinion indicated either that the organizations were doing business with or regulated by the official’s public agency, or that the official’s memberships in the organizations gave rise to a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest, defined in Section 112.312(8), Florida Statutes, as “a situation in which regard for a private interest tends to lead to disregard of a public duty or interest.”9

In contrast, the ROI in Complaint No. 07-094 revealed that not only did the CIC take positions on matters coming before the LBTS Town Commission, it was engaged in litigation against your own public agency, with you as a named Plaintiff.10 Our action in Complaint 07-094 is consistent with CEO 90-20, where we reiterated our past statements that public officials “could not represent parties with claims against their government entities,” and found no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a city council member to hold membership in a citizens’ group with a pending lawsuit against the city where the council member resigned as chairman of the group immediately after his election and removed his name as a plaintiff to the lawsuit.

You advise that you are no longer an officer or director of the organization, that you pay $10 annually for membership, and that there is no relationship between the Town and the CIC.

We have recognized that memberships in voluntary associations constitute contractual relationships, as the courts have stated that the constitution and by-laws of a voluntary association, when subscribed or assented to by the members, becomes a contract between each member and the association. See, CEO 06-12, citing Elbadramany v. Stanley, 490 So. 2d 964, 966 (Fla. 5th DCA 1986). However, we have also found that while service as an officer in such organizations would create a prohibited conflict, mere membership would not. CEO 90-18.

Accordingly we find that under the circumstances presented, Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, is not violated by your contemporaneous service on the LBTS Town Commission and membership in the Citizen’s Initiative Committee.

ORDERED by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in public session on September 5, 2008 and RENDERED this 10th day of September, 2008.

____________________________________

Cheryl Forchilli, Chair


http://www.ethics.state.fl.us/Opinions/08/CEO%2008-022.htm#_ftnref1

more to come….

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