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Hallandale Beach investigated for possible corruption

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Keith S. London Submitting his Candidate Petitions to the Supervisor of Elections to be placed on the ballot running for Mayor of Hallandale Beach
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Broward County Planning Council 2/2012

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Legislature asks Hallandale for answers about CRA spending; Subpoenas land at city hall

By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org

The Florida Legislature’s joint auditing committee is wading into Hallandale Beach’s questionable spending of local redevelopment funds, demanding that city officials explain the use and handling of those funds. See letter here (attached above)
Legislators who head the committee also are urging the city commission to ask Florida’s Attorney General for a new opinion to clarify how Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) funds can be spent. City leaders have challenged a previous opinion.
In a separate but related development, the Broward State Attorney’s Office issued subpoenas last week to Hallandale Beach officials in connection with a criminal investigation into the alleged misuse of city funds by a nonprofit group, the Palm Center for the Arts.

BrowardBulldog.org obtained one subpoena served on the city clerk asking her to produce the transcribed minutes and tape recordings of a March 17, 2010 commission meeting, a copy of a $5,000 check issued by the city to the Palm Center and any correspondence between the nonprofit group “and/or founder Dr. Deborah Brown” regarding that check.

City Clerk Sheena James is to appear at the State Attorney’s Office with the records and to testify on June 24 at 9 a.m. The subpoena is signed by Assistant State Attorney Deborah Zimet.

A YEARLONG INVESTIGATION
The subpoena and the audit committee’s inquiry stem from a yearlong investigation by the Broward Inspector General’s Office that found city officials had “grossly mismanaged” millions of dollars in CRA funds.

The CRA is funding by a portion of the property taxes collected within its boundaries.
Inspector General John Scott’s office said it found “probable cause” that Brown, the Palm Center’s founder and director, had engaged in criminal misconduct and asked the State Attorney’s Office to investigate.

Hallandale Beach officials have denied any misspending of CRA funds and defended how those funds were handled. They have also challenged many of the Inspector General’s findings, including criticism that the city wrongfully funded nonprofit groups, paid for fireworks displays and provided loans to businesses.

A delegation of city officials, led by Mayor Joy Cooper, went to County Hall last week in the wake of talk about a possible county audit of CRA tax funds it had sent to the city to inform Broward commissioners they don’t have the authority to do that.

County officials acknowledged that only the state has the authority to review CRA actions.

The Legislature now appears interested.

Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, a Palm Beach County Democrat who is chair of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, and Rep. Lake Ray, a Duval County Republican who is the vice chair, began asking questions on Thursday after being contacted by “a concerned citizen.”

Abruzzo and Ray sent a certified letter to Mayor Cooper. Copies were sent to Florida Auditor General David Martin, Broward’s commissioners, county Inspector General John Scott and City Manager Renee C. Miller.

Read the full article here.

Sincerely,

Keith

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