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Details emerge about Broward IG’s Hallandale probe; payments to commissioner’s wife eyed

By William Gjebre, BrowardBulldog.org 

Broward Inspector General John Scott Photo: CBS4 Miami

A Hallandale Beach program that funneled hundreds of thousands of dollar in grants and contributions to community groups is a key focus of the Broward Inspector General’s widespread investigation of city management practices.

Documents obtained by Broward Bulldog show the Inspector General obtained city files on eight community-based organizations, several linked to City Commissioner Anthony Sanders or his wife, Jessica. The documents include information about city payments to Jessica Sanders and others associated with the groups.

Those disclosures, and others about the probe, are contained in a 15-page letter sent to Inspector General John Scott on April 23 from City Manager Mark Antonio.  The letter was the city’s formal response to Scott’s request two weeks earlier for dozens of city records.

Among the records turned over to county investigators are thousands of pages of city memos, reports, minutes, email, budgets, policies, programs, audits, grant reviews and program files. The records sought are for the fiscal years 2010-2012. Antonio also referred investigators to additional public documents on the city’s website.

Some requested information was not supplied. For example, investigators asked for all city records that would show attendance by nonprofit grant recipients at quarterly workshops, as required by grant agreements. Antonio said, however, that there were no sign-in sheets to verify attendance

Antonio, who retires next week, said, “The city has diligently fulfilled the request for records to the best of our ability.’

Scott does not comment on pending investigations.

Antonio’s letter says investigators also sought information about the leasing and rental of city property to local groups; plans and loan programs operated by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency; and expenditure reports involving the CRA, the city’s general fund and the Law Enforcement Trust fund.

County investigators are also reviewing whether non-profit groups receiving city funds followed procedures, assessments, and commitments.

Broward Bulldog reported last week that the City Manager’s Office has not been fully cooperative with investigators by declining to set up interviews between city commissioners and county investigators who want to speak with them. Those commissioners also sit at the CRA’s board of directors.

The refusal was cited in a June 13 letter from the City Attorney’s Office, which also sought the identities of commissioners who might be targets.

INVESTIGATORS VISIT CITY HALL

The Inspector General’s office began its probe on April 10 with a visit to city hall where investigators met city with Antonio and CRA Executive Director Alvin Jackson. Jackson started in January 2011.

Investigators revisited City Hall in recent weeks, meeting with Jackson for several hours. Documents state that IG special agent William Cates and senior auditor Susan Friend also met with other city officials, including Jennifer Frastai, an administrator in the City Manager’s Office, and Marian McCann-Colliee, the city’s Human Resources Director.

The probe appears to be limited to the past three years, but some requests for records have resulted in the city providing documents going back to 2000.

In March, an outside audit was critical of city management and the tracking of CRA loans and property acquisitions. Broward Bulldog also reported then that the audit, which raised questions about the city’s loan practices, did not review more than $20 million in contracts with city vendors because the city failed to provide the information and limitations on the scope of the audit.

In several of the loan deals involving taxpayer property tax dollars, recipients did not have to pay back the amount as much as half of the value of the loan.

COUNTY FOCUSING ON GIVEAWAYS

While records indicate that the Inspector General’s probe is multi-faceted, investigators appear to be strongly focused on city grants and charitable contributions made through its Community Partnership Grants program.

City records show that such giveaways increased 60 percent in the past three years – from $400,000 in fiscal year 2009-2010 to $647,000 this year.

“As economic times worsened the city saw a greater need for services in the community which directly corresponded with the increase in the amount of requests to the city,” Antonio said in his letter. He added that for 2012 “two teams of professional who were non-city employees” reviewed 29 applications.

Available city documents show that in 2010 and 2011, city grants and donations did not specify where the money came from: the general fund, CRA or the Law Enforcement Trust fund. But this year, after a CRA management makeover, they were shown as follows: general fund, $256,130; CRA, $274,600; and Law Enforcement Trust Fund, $116,654.

The Inspector General asked for the files on these program recipients:

  • Eagles Wings Development Center Inc., job training and social services program, $50,000 in the past two years.
  • Greater Mt. Everett Resources and Learning Center, a work force training program for construction trades, $61,000 this year.
  • Lampkin’s Creative Arts for All LLC, including Dizzy Fingers School of Excellence, Inc., training youth in how to advance in the arts, $50,000 this year.
  • Palms Center for the Arts, Inc., a youth arts and job preparation program, $107,000 past three years.
  • Palm Community Action Coalition, community based program assistance, $26,000 over two years.
  • Palms of Hallandale Beach Weed and Seed, a crime prevention and community development program associated with the Department of Justice, $143,000 past three years.
  • Phileo Outreach Ministries Inc., a program for rehabilitation of youth, $45,000 past two years.
  • Zamar School of Performing Arts, Inc., $25,000 two years ago.

COMMISSIONER SANDERS AND WIFE

State corporate records for Eagles Wing listed Hallandale Beach Commissioner Anthony Sanders as president and his wife, Jessica, director, in 2009. In 2010 and 2011, Jessica was listed as director, but Anthony Sanders was not listed. He was appointed to the city commission on Sept. 8, 2008 to fill a vacancy.

Commissioner Anthony Sanders

Jessica Sanders also has ties to two other non-profits on the Inspector General’s list, according to public records.

She is a contact for the Palms Community Action Coalition, which until April 2011 was known as the Palms Community Development Corporation. Jessica Sanders, as “interim site coordinator” for Palms of Hallandale Beach Weed and Seed, appeared at a July 14, 2011 Hallandale Beach commission meeting before a vote to award a $45,000 grant to her group.  “Vice Mayor Sanders excused himself from the dais during the presentation and recused himself from voting,” city minutes say.

In an interview this week, Commissioner Sanders indicated that he is perplexed about the county’s inquiry.

“I can’t answer why they are asking for the records,” he said. “They are looking at nonprofits. I don’t mind that they are looking at Eagles Wings. It is a service to the community and always has been…food programs, job training and other services.”

Sanders indicated he may meet with IG investigators soon.

Jessica Sanders said, “I’m not concerned about the probe.” She said there has been no wrongdoing and noted that she has provided some records to IG investigators. She said that she and her husband “stayed here to make a difference. We do good work.”

Her income from the Weed and Seed program was not from city funds, she said, but came from the Department of Justice, which backed the program. She said that on several occasions she was asked by the Weed and Seed governing board to operate the program when the group’s administrators failed to perform.

OTHERS SCRUTINIZED

The county investigators also sought information payments made by the city to Nellie Bacon, Clara Brown, Deborah Brown, Selinda Washington-Jackson and Jacquelyn Rosenau.

According to state corporation records Rosenau is director at Eagles Wing. Clara Brown is corporate secretary for Palms Community Action Coalition. Deborah Brown was president of Palm Center for the Arts in 2011, and a principal and director of Zamar School in 2011. Washington-Jackson works for Weed and Seed. Rosenau used to work for the agency.

The city supplied copies of its lease and rental agreements with non-profits to investigators.

Those agreements are with: Hallandale Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Zamar School of Performing Arts, and the Palm Center for the Arts.

The chamber, which received $25,000 from the city in 2010, has an office in City Hall, next to the commission chambers. The rental fee for approximately 400 square feet of space is $1 a month.

The Palm Center for the Arts, 501 NW 1st Ave., sits on land the city purchased with CRA funds in 2009 from Anthony Sanders’ nonprofit Higher Vision Ministries; a commissioner at the time, Sanders did not vote on the sale.

Sanders bought the property in 2001 for $45,000 and sold it to the city for $235,000 after receiving a $46,000 property improvement loan. The city initially agreed to forgive $7,500 of the loan. When the city bought Sanders’ property, however, it forgave an additional $7,500 when at the time the sale was finalized. City officials have said it was an error by the city.

In August 2009, the city leased Sanders’ former property to the Palm Center for the Arts for a one- time fee of $10, on the condition it provide community art and music training programs. While the lease states the center is not allowed to sublet or rent the facility, the city modified the agreement to permit the Zamar School for Performing Arts to operate a summer camp at the center in the summer in 2009.

A provision in the Palm Center lease allowed for a summer camp music program. The city helped Zamar with $25,000 to operate the camp.

The IG’s office has also requested information about additional money given to various groups that was more than initially authorized.

William Gjebre can be reached at wgjebre@browardbulldog.org

 

 

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Latest comments

  • It’s time for Commissioner Sanders to resign from the Commission.

    His and his wife’s dealings with the City have never been at arms length. Their persistent shoving of their snout into the City’s coffers has begun to appear as Pay for Play for political support in the NW quadrant of Hallandale. Is Mayor Cooper buying votes in the North West Quadrant with Taxpayer monies? Is she using the Sanders as her conduit? In Hallandale Beach and with this Mayor one sure has to probe the issue. It’s time to follow the money.

    And while Commissioner Lewy claims these troubling transactions predated his election to the Commission. he has dirt some of the same dirt on his hands during his tenure. Commissioner Lewy moves in lock step with the mayor in all dealings of Mayor Cooper and Sanders. Example: he can not escape his recent attempt to funnel $200,000.00 to Sander’s wife’s training business in the NW Quadrant. $200 grand!!! Commissioner Lewy, was brazen in the attempt undertaken at 2AM, but gutless in his not stating clearly who he was seeking to designate the money too. Typical Hallandale cronie politics as practiced by Mayor Cooper and her merry band of ….

    Oh, and some one should explain why the citizens of Hallandale would even consider returning EX Commissioner Julian to office when it was he that signed the contract to give Sanders a windfall purchase of the property. Julian approved and bought the property at huge price over appraised values. Could Ex Commissioner Julian have shoved his snout in the coffers right along along with Sanders?

    Am I the only one that feels the need to shower the slime off, after learning more of the loathsome practices by Mayor Cooper and her cronies that are being foisted upon We the People of Hallandale?

  • We need to “weed and seed” most of Hallandale’s commissioners.

    The mayor needed to attend the taxpayer funded charm school. WTF?

    Why wouldn’t any city hand over information to a county investigator?

    Don’t give up on us Inspector Scott, Hallandale needs you to rid us of the stench.

  • The Broward County Inspector General should move as soon as possible to either indict or clear those people that proposed or voted for these giveaways. Mayor Cooper, Commissioner Sanders and former Vice Mayor Julian are on the November ballot and they may be a target of the investigation.

  • Jessica Sanders said, “We do good work.”

    We, the residents, would like to see proof of the good work being done.

    With all the “successes” they claim to have, the taxpayers of Hallandale Beach would like to see copies of IRS1099 and W2 forms the job recipients have received from the jobs their programs supposedly produced.

    Any documentation that is factual would be nice!

    While your attempting to locate these non-existent documents, will you provide a accounting for where the $50,000 in weed and seed money and the other $50,000 Hallandale provided you both last year.

  • Again Csaba Kulin and few more “people of Hallandale” There are another people of Hallandale who remember your negative activity in our City
    What positive London did for our City? He was elected to do some thing positive. What he did? How he plan to be a Mayor? To fight against businesses?

  • Oh, Leon, we realize you’re only the mouthpiece of the corrupt establishment, so we’ll consider the source.

    When the Inspector General gets involved, all of your inarticulate protestations are just whistling past the graveyard.

    Hallandale Beach voters need to remove the arrogant and corrupt commission members.

    Csaba Kulin and Keith London are telling the truth, and that’s a very positive thing!

  • It is critical that the Broward Inspector General be given COMPLETE ACCESS to all files and materials requested from the City of Hallandale Beach without further delay. It is essential that this be done as soon as possible since most residents are unaware of the extent of what appears to be, improper financial actions and a lack of transparancy in government in the City of Hallandale Beach. This must occur as soon as possible so that the voters will be aware of the Inspector General’s conclusions before the November election.

  • As a member of the community, I am shocked and outraged that this
    could happen in the City I hold so dear to my heart. All of this
    under the watchful eye of Mayor Cooper. She should be held
    accountable and I hope she goes to prison!

  • Charlotte and the rest of noisy group. Nobody likes to cover anything at all! I would like that inspector will stop corruptions and clean a house. But City commission is something different! It should work for a people, for businesses, not to shut up and fight to each other. London created not working environment in Hallandale. Nobody can do anything. My opinion: they all should go and London first. Scaba is good for City? for businesses? for jobs? He is the worst!. He organized boycotts of Diplomat Lending development, he blocked Jewish charter school, and he was against of new condo- hotel. All of you are bad for Hallandale
    To stop fraud and to build a nice working town are a two different thinks

  • City Manager Antonio said in his letter. That for 2012 “two teams of professional who were non-city employees” reviewed 29 applications for nonprofits.

    What Antonio did not say in his letter is that neither team recommended Eagles Wings only Antonio and his staff did that. Over riding the “two professional teams”.

    Hey, Mark Antonio did you conveniently forget that little detail?

    Can you produce the documents now? We would all love to read them.

  • This should be stop! You people are not a Hallandale! You just few noisy nothing to do old gays. Go and play bingo! Let new people open a businesses, build a new houses, create a new jobs.
    London things that he save us money. Wrong! Because of him we lost a lot of money. No businesses can be open, no rent, no traffic,
    If he likes to control spending let him apply for Inspector or IRS But as a City commissioner he does nothing

  • Public Announcement:
    Chad Lincoln,
    Community Activist
    Hallandale Beach Resident

    Friday., June 29th. 2012, at 1:54 P.M. I had a surprising yet welcome call from an unfamiliar number (954) 540-5200*. When I answered a tentative lady introduced herself as Jessica Sanders, wife of Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Sanders.

    After the quick introduction, Mrs Sanders launched in to a civil discussion where in she expressed objection to my recent public postings on the Broward Bulldog about the City Commissions expressed unwillingness to cooperate with the Broward County Inspector General’s (IG) investigation. She continued to insist the basis of the IG’s investigation is based upon half truths and lies. Mrs. Sanders wanted to know why I would make statements as I did to demand City officials stop avoiding the IG’s investigation? And yes, I did color those posts with questions being asked about their conduct. For which I do not apologize.

    In this 23 minute discussion, Mrs. Sanders repeatedly requested I sit down with her and Vice Mayor Sanders to hear the truth (as they believe it). I was gratified with the offer, but had stipulations where: the meeting would be an open meeting to include myself, other Hallandale residents, and interested community activists and leaders; and the content of the meeting must be factual and honest. She verbally accepted the idea and we agreed a meeting was long past due for them to air out the financial dealings she and her husband have had with the City Commission and the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) which involved material sums of tax payer money and benefits.

    In the service of this offer and to accelerate the possibility of such a open forum, of facts and figures supported by documentation and minutes and notes of meetings, I am attempting to reserve a room at the Hallandale Cultural Center (behind city hall) large enough to hold a large number of attendees. I will publish date as soon as the meeting date is set and approved by Mr. & Mrs. Sanders.

    This notice will be sent via the same online news pages/blogd, plus HB residents with email addresses, additionally by Hallandale Beach “code red” telephone robo calls where residents are not on the DNC list, and notice to the media in the hopes they will publish the event as well as attend and report. Of course representatives of the Broward County IG’s office will be notified of the public meeting.

    I agree with Mrs. Sanders, this dark cloud hanging over the City Commissioners’ conduct deserves to be aired and answered to the peoples benefit, and to protect the names of the Commissioners and ex member Julian in the community. Such a meeting potentially benefits all.

    I thank Mrs. Sanders and Vice Mayor Sanders for coming forward and proposing this opportunity for the community.

    *Note: Telephone number (954) 540-5200, is published in association with the following organizations, represented by Mrs. Sanders:
    • Palms Community Action Coalition – Cell Phone
    • Broward County Health Department – Alternate contact
    • Eagles Wings, HB Contact phone

  • UPDATE on VM Sanders’s Public Meeting:

    On Friday July 6th, I went to the HB Cultural Center and contracted for rental of the main meeting room capable of holding 100+ attendees for a Public Forum where Vice Mayor Sanders and his wife could address the citizens interested in their disclosure of their dealings with the city of HB. That date set was July 24th. 2012 from 6:30PM to 8:30PM on Approved Permit # 3033.

    In booking the room I made it clear to “Louise” who was booking the room that I had to confirm Vice Mayor Sanders and his wife’s schedule, and an alternate date for July 23rd. was available if needed.

    Louise stated she was uncertain if the rental would be free of charge or not, and that was to be determined when she checked with her supervisor. I told her if by policy it would not be free, I would write the City Manager to request a waiver of the fees as is the established policy under prior CM San Antonio. It was clear that as soon as I confirmed the Sander’s attendance we would settle the charges if any.

    Friday evening, before I reached the Sanders’ about t 6:00PM A voice message was left for me by a woman from City Hall that Vice Mayor was not going to attend a Non City Forum on the 24th, and that even though the City Hall was closed over the week end, I had to call and confirm I still wanted the date and my willingness to pay (a $450 fee) before Monday morning or they would cancel the date at the open of business. So the date was cancelled by “book club” tactics at the doings of Vice Mayor Sanders and the squeeze out of the contract date.

    The recording did state that I was welcome to attend Vice Mayor Sanders “regular” citizen forum to be held in the near future. That tidbit was interesting as I nor anyone else I can find this side of the Dias knows anything about Vice Mayor Sanders Holding regular forums for Hallandale Beach Residents. We all seemed to know about those held by Commissioner Lewy and Commissioner London, but Vice Mayor Sanders town halls, are a best kept secret of Hallandale Beach.

    Subsequently, I spoke directly to Vice Mayor Sanders after the Special meeting of the Commission held to award Tommy Lopez, ex lifeguard, the Key to the City on July 9th. 2012. aI spoke to him in chambers over the dais in a public discussion which was looked on by Commissioner Lewy. Vice Mayor Sanders wanted to impress upon me that his wife did not run his calendar and had no authority to make appointments for him. He again stated I was welcome to attend his meetings where he would discuss matter important to the community. He seemed unsettled by my response in asking why he had Jessica call me to establish just such a meeting. (And further I impressed upon him that he made no effort to inform the public of his meetings as did Lewy and London.) My understanding with Jessica Sanders was I would get a meeting room as quickly as possible and get back to her to square things up on her end for attendance. That was the deal and I had every reason to expect Vice Mayor Sanders and his wife actually were talking with one another.

    The public meeting was frustrated by Mayor Sanders. The People were close to establishing a venue for Vice Mayor and Jessica Sanders to hold a public forum about their financial dealings with the City of Hallandale. (That meeting was at their request.) Such a meeting is very much to their mutual benefit if they expect to have the support of the citizens in the future. So what we have learned is that there is to be a meeting held by Vice Mayor Sanders where in he and maybe Jessica Sanders will discuss their financial dealings with the City of Hallandale Beach.

    I’m not going to hold my breath, don’t you either.

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