On September 10, 2015 one of the highly talented and incisive writers at the Sun-Sentinel reported:
“Lauderdale Mayor touts tax rate, ‘strong’ state of city”.
It’s true. Fort Lauderdale has maintained a low millage rate for the past few years. Property values have increased handsomely and the Mayor had little to do with that. Still, expenses have been cut in many areas in the City and he did have something to do with that. If you read the Sun-Sentinel, then you know how good things really are in our fair city – or do you?
Since City Manager Lee Feldman arrived, the City has claimed credit to no less than 49 awards and recognitions. This gives the Mayor plenty to brag about. But what’s going on behind the scenes?
How do we get to the 4.119?
City Manager Lee Feldman and Mayor Seiler’s Downtown cronies seem to have their hands full trying to keep the Mayor’s promises.
We decided to report on some of the background – things the Sun-Sentinel just won’t report. We know, we contacted them over and over again pointing out these pretty concerning issues. Quite possibly, the Publisher is one of those very cronies behind these antics we’ve decided to write about.
We’ve published over a dozen stories in the past ten days. We launched a Facebook page last week. Since then, we’ve had over 24,000 views on our page and over 1000 visits to our blog page.
We wrote a story about Lois Frankel’s incestuous relationship with the DDA and how her friend got a no-bid contract with the DDA while she got $11K in campaign contributions.
The story had over 5000 views on our Facebook page. We were honored to see this story picked up by the venerable Florida Bulldog.
We’ve noticed some other interesting things going on behind the scenes in Fort Lauderdale. For example: The DDA was trying to swap FTA grants worth over $800K to the City for $425K in cash to pay for Lobbying to expand the WAVE Streetcar and to build a new Federal Courthouse.
The deal fell apart in October. While Seiler and Feldman denied any involvement, we found memos implicating the Director of Transportation and Mobility and two high-ranking staff in this manipulation. Clearly either Seiler and Feldman knew about this, or they should have known. Either way, we are concerned.
The 4.119 Dream Team
We wrote about a City Audit that found Senior Management at the City’s Department of Sustainable Development involved in “misconduct” and “fraudulent billing”.
Among other things, they were caught illegally pilfering the Building Permit Funds to make intentional overpayments to their staffing vendors. Making this 4.119 dream a reality seems to take some pretty creative thinking.
We reported on high-level criminal mischief at the City’s Public Works Department. According to a City, the actions by the Director and Assistant Director may have violated Florida Statutes covering Official Misconduct, Bid Tampering, Unlawful Compensation, and Misuse of Confidential Information.
The Sun-Sentinel did not report on this. Neither did the three Officers of the Court that serve as our Leaders. Prosecution may be warranted in this case……or we can just sweep it under the rug.
In Fort Lauderdale it seems that upholding the law may not be considered as important as keeping up appearances.
We also reported on a year-long investigation on complaints of discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation in the Public Works.
The Investigator wrote:
Recognize that while my investigation was limited to Public Works there is indication of potential concerns in other areas of the City.
Fort Lauderdale DDA Tries to Swap Federal Streetscape Grants for Lobbying Cash
Fort Lauderdale DDA wants Northwest CRA Trust Funds to Stay “East of the Railroad Tracks”
Feldman & Seiler: “We’re not engaged in this transaction”
DDA Budget: “The Trend in Net Revenue Continues to be Negative”
Fort Lauderdale DDA Spends $264K on Federal Courthouse Lobbying
FRANKEL ANNOUNCES HOUSE COMMITTEE ACTION IN SUPPORT OF NEW FEDERAL COURTHOUSE IN FORT LAUDERDALE
Fort Lauderdale Senior Management Involved in “Fraudulent Billing”
Rapids Water Park Owner Sues Fort Lauderdale Over No-Bid Deal
DDA’s WAVE Two Years Late and $10 million over Budget
Report alleges Official Misconduct, Bid Tampering at City of Fort Lauderdale
33 Fort Lauderdale Employees Complain of Hostile Work Environment, Discrimination, & Retaliation