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Is Money No Object Here?

Please review the article regarding the City of Hallandale beach from the Miami Herald’s Editorial Department from Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Miami Herald >  Opinion >  Editorials

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Local perspectives

You would think city commissioners and Mayor Joy Cooper would know better by now. In 2007 the commission and Mayor Cooper gave themselves a whopping $55,000 pay raise without bothering to notify the public first.

As a result, a hailstorm of outrage from local residents rained down on City Hall, and the chastised officials rescinded the raises.
But now city officials are up to the same old game: Hastily and secretly spending taxpayers' money like it grows on trees. First, they were so desperate to get rid of former City Manager Mike Good that they agreed to pay him an overly generous severance package worth $366,653 in total.

Now, the mayor and commission majority want to reward interim City Manager Mark Antonio with a $15,000 bonus on top of his $145,000 annual salary. And, if it hadn't been for Commissioner Keith London, they would have signed the bonus check without benefit of public notice or input.

The talk of a bonus for Mr. Antonio came at the end of long budget workshop session that lasted past midnight last week. Residents had left, and while a video camera was recording the session, the broadcast of the meeting had gone off the air.

The commission turned to an evaluation of Mr. Antonio and generally praised his work. That prompted the interim manager to ask for a $25,000 bonus. Mayor Cooper countered with an offer of $10,000. Eventually the $15,000 figure was negotiated.

That's when Mr. London blew the whistle for a timeout, saying a vote on the award of the bonus should happen in a public meeting for residents to observe and comment on. So, eager for some reason to ensure that Mr. Antonio gets his bonus sooner rather than later, the commission set a special meeting for 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall for the bonus vote. Mysteriously, they just couldn't wait for the next scheduled commission meeting.

Commissioners and Mayor Cooper had better be prepared to justify why Mr. Antonio deserves a bonus simply for doing what he was hired to do. And to explain why they're so willing to be fast and loose with taxpayers' dollars.

Keith S. London
City Commissioner
Hallandale Beach

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