Political Witch Hunt Update

 keith london city commisioner logo
 
Friends and Neighbors,

First of all, I'd like to thank you for your support over the past year. You may have heard that I have been the victim of a politically-motivated witch hunt, led by our Mayor and her special interest allies.

In case you missed it, here's what took place:

  • About a year ago, I was seeking to have the Commission terminate our City Attorney after I lost faith in her ability to be impartial with the Commissioners.
  • After word got around that I was seeking her termination, she quickly began falsely accusing me of racial and gender discrimination --allegations which were deeply hurtful and completely untrue.

Fortunately, the truth won the day. A year later, I was completely exonerated of those allegations.

But here's the bigger problem. Between then and now, over $133,000 of YOUR tax dollars were spent on high priced attorneys at the behest of our Mayor to pursue this despicable witch hunt against me. 

I can deal with being called names, and I can handle these ridiculous and offensive allegations, but I can't standing watching my neighbors' tax dollars being spent to fund Mayor Cooper's political agenda.

I hope you'll take the time today to read over some of the recent Sun Sentinel articles that have covered this saga and educate yourself on the facts. While I'm happy to put this episode behind me, I think it's critically important that I share with residents exactly what has transpired. Hopefully we can prevent this massive waste in taxpayer dollars from happening ever again.

Keeping you informed,

Commissioner, 

Keith S. London

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Hallandale's London not sexist or racist, report says

The yearlong investigation that cleared Commissioner Keith London of allegations of discrimination should have been capped in both price and scope, his attorney saidMonday during a special meeting called by the mayor.
 
City Attorney Lynn Whitfeld, who is black, accused London of gender and racial discrimination a year ago after learning he planned to push for her termination. At the time, London told the Sun Sentinel he had lost confidence in her ability to provide unbiased advice to the commission.
 
On Monday, Mayor Joy Cooper commended the city attorney for having the courage to lodge a complaint against London.
 
While the report cleared London of the bias claims, it admonished him for being aggressive and rude. But Monday, several residents came to London's defense, saying he helped people regardless of race.
 
Commissioner Michele Lazarow lauded London for being a watchdog and denounced the report as "character assassination."
"I think we should let this go and call it a day and not continue on with this witch hunt," she said.
 
Commissioner Bill Julian agreed.
 
"As far as I'm concerned the case is closed," Julian said. "The man has been cleared of all charges. I think we should move forward as a commission and try to get along a little bit better than we do. We have city business that is more important than this."
 
City officials tapped the Bryant Miller Olive law firm to handle the investigation. The report, released in mid-February, cost around $100,000.
 
London's legal bills were capped at $3,200 while the city-hired law firm's were not, said Dana Gallup, attorney for London.
 
The investigation "mushroomed into these other issues that had nothing to do with the initial scope," Gallup said. "It seems as though this investigation was used as a political vehicle to find reasons to embarrass or censure or punish Commissioner London."
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Commissioner Keith London this week was cleared by an outside law firm of accusations of racial and gender discrimination.
 
City Attorney Lynn Whitfeld, who is black, leveled the allegations in February 2015, after learning London planned to push for her termination. At the time, London said he had lost confidence in Whitfeld's ability to give impartial advice to her commission bosses.
 
London declined comment Tuesday, saying he had not yet read the report.
 
"I'm happy he's been vindicated," Commissioner Michele Lazarow said. "I expected him to be. I have never heard an accusation like that before about Commissioner London."
 
The year-long investigation, released Tuesday and handled by the Bryant Miller Olive law firm, cost taxpayers more than $100,000, city records show.
 
"There is no factual support to find that Commission London's action in wanting to place Ms. Whitfield's contract on the commission agenda was motivated by race or gender," the report said. Investigators also found London had no reason to terminate Whitfield for cause.
 
Keith London cleared of bias claim
Hallandale Beach Commissioner Keith London has been cleared of bias claims leveled by the city attorney. (Sun Sentinel)
Whitfield, who had also accused London of creating a hostile workplace, declined comment. She has been Hallandale's city attorney since December 2011.
 
While investigators cleared London, they took him to task for rubbing people the wrong way. They quoted his critics, who accused him of being aggressive, intimidating and rude.
 
The report urges London to express his opinions in a professional manner.
 
Mayor Joy Cooper says she plans to hold a special meeting Feb. 29 at 6 p.m. to discuss the report.
 
"The report does not find discrimination based on gender or race," Cooper said. "But it does show a pattern of breaching our city charter."
 
In Hallandale, the commission hires and fires the city manager and city attorney, but is forbidden by the charter from giving direction to their staff.
 
In the report, former City Manager Renee Miller alleges London spoke directly with staff rather than coming to her – a claim denied by London.
 
"We can not remove a commissioner," said Cooper, a longtime rival of London's. "We can censure a commissioner. That is something we will have to discuss.''
 
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From February 29, 2016 Special meeting City Attorney
 
First I want to address the findings of the report itself. From the moment this report was commissioned, it was a witch hunt, not by the city attorney, but by the Mayor who elevated the severity of a meritless complaint beyond reason.
 
Supposedly, the intent of this report was to determine whether or not the city attorney’s allegations of race and gender discrimination against me were founded.
 
As we all knew, and as the report ultimately confirmed, I am not a racist or sexist and, even if the allegations were true, which they were not, there would have been no violation of any employment law anyway!
 
See, the accusation of race discrimination was meritless coming out of the gate for the simple reason I was on the commission when Ms. Whitfield was hired on a 5:0 vote. If I wasn’t a racist in casting my vote to hire her, I did not somehow become a racist when I wanted to fire her.
 
Ms. Whitfield not doing her job, doesn’t make me a racist.
 
If you were to take the time to read the entire report and sworn statements ,which by the way are conveniently not on the city’s website, you would quickly learn that even those who dislike me know  I am not a racist or sexist.
 
After months of interviewing current city staff, two retired majors from  our police department, elected officials from the tri – county area, members of the clergy, white people, black people, Hispanic, Armenian, Caribbean people , retired people, working people, including myself, the investigation resulted in a finding that there is no evidence to support the false allegations leveled against me by Ms. Whitfield.
 
And for all that, our taxpayers absorbed the burden to the tune of more than $100,000. But I’ll touch more on that later.
 
After concluding that Ms. Whitfield’s allegations of racism and sexism were untrue and a desperate attempt to distract from her shortcomings and failures as our city attorney, this entire process should have come to an end. But a witch hunt must find something, so now we move on to the “other” findings of this report.
 
To paraphrase, the report makes clear that I am not always the friendliest and most soft-spoken person around, but without question, there is one characteristic described in the report that is absolutely accurate. I am aggressive! And you know what? You’re damn right I’m aggressive.
 
I’m aggressive about doing the job that I was elected to do.
 
I’m aggressive about stopping the waste of our taxpayers’ money on mandates that are not properly planned.
 
I’m aggressive about representing the best interests of all the people of Hallandale Beach.
 
I’m aggressive about demanding that our government be transparent.
 
I’m aggressive about getting things done the right way.
 
And, I’m aggressive about making sure that we don’t waste six figures of taxpayers’ money on a witch hunt.
 
That money could’ve put another cop on our streets.
 
That money could’ve provided funding for an afterschool program for children.
 
That money could’ve provided additional funding for Commissioner Lazarow’s body camera initiative.
 
That money could’ve been used to fund a campaign to educate Hallandale Beach residents on the damage that Styrofoam is doing to our environment and the impact it has on our beaches.
 
The money could’ve been used to purchase better equipment for our parks.
 
The money could’ve been better spent by rebating each of our residents $2.50 and using the remainder to purchase extra toilet paper for park bathrooms.
 
The Mayor and this commission wasted over $100,000 of money that doesn’t belong to them. The money belongs to the taxpayers of this city. And they should be as disgusted as I am that the money was used to fund a political agenda that was based on lies, deceit and selfishness.
 
We are elected to serve the public, not to serve ourselves. And our staff was hired to implement policy, not to play politics.
 
As a representative of the people of Hallandale Beach, I am offended. As a taxpayer of Hallandale Beach, I am disgusted.
 
Mayor, it’s no secret that you and I don’t like each other. But as a representative of the people of Hallandale Beach, I would never use an employee’s false and legally deficient allegations against you or against any of my colleagues up here.
 
But the Mayor wanted an investigation, and she got one. Now, after wasting more than $100,000 of our taxpayer’s money and the allegations to have been found without merit, legitimate concerns as to the city attorney’s competency remain.
 
Where do we go from here: This entire debacle began after I gave the city attorney the courtesy of letting her know I intended to discuss her employment contract at a upcoming commission meeting, which is a an open public forum. At the time, she was failing to live up to the standards I believe we as a city deserve, and she has continued to fail to meet those standards.
 
Ms. Whitfield’s contract allows for this commission to terminate her for cause. From what I have observed Ms. Whitfield, has committed the following: acts:  misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance.
 
My initial concerns are still valid. They include her inability to keep any of us acting legally out of jail.
 
I certainly do not trust her legal advice, she has allowed the Mayor to start a meeting prior to the scheduled time, that evening she had three opportunities to correct her mistake; (1) before the meeting started (2) when I brought it to the attention of Commissioner Lazarow who was not in the room and who the Mayor was once again acting childish towards, (3) or when the clerk was questioned and he stated that the meeting started prior to the 6:30PM published time. Ms. Whitfield also allowed the city commission to move the meeting date and time of CRA meetings, for which she is not the attorney nor participant. Ms. Whitfield also made unsubstantiated bar complaints against Attorney Tony Alfero, who is the chief legal defense counsel for the FPBA of Broward County. Lastly for well over a year. She’s been looking for another job, she was going to leave the City of Hallandale Beach anyway.
 
Now we get to see who on this commission wants to play politics and who wants to act in the best interest of the people who elected us to protect their hard earned tax dollars.

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