Mayor and City Commission:
Those of us who are familiar with the despicable and unethical events that have been unfolding in the City of Lauderdale Lakes over the last several years actually consider it a blessing that the recession occurred. Without the unexpected decline in property tax revenue, the City would have continued to cover up its dirty practices. What has become a cesspool of incompetence, arrogance, corruption, cronyism and yes, racism, would never have been revealed if the City were still free to spend on anything and everything. We are thankful that this ongoing corruption is finally being brought to light and that the public will finally be made fully aware of the unethical behavior that has transpired and that continues to transpire under Jonathan Allen. Between the efforts of various State agencies, the County (eventually), the public (City and County taxpayers) and the media (especially the Broward Post [MAOS]) the time of reckoning will be coming soon.
As County Mayor Rodstrom has stated on numerous occasions, he does not trust the management of Lauderdale Lakes. He correctly reminds us that you have done everything wrong. It’s just now that things are catching up with you. You have continued to make one bad decision after another, you’re overseeing an organization that simply ignores or violates human resource and public records policies that are complied with everywhere else and most critically you are abrogating your responsibilities as fiscal stewards while playing fund transfer games and spending down restricted funds that belong to the taxpayers to cover general operations. This is the tactic that is ultimately going to destroy your organization. Everyone is on to you now and the complaints, letters and e-mails to State agencies (Division of Auditing, Legislative Auditing Committee, State Attorney’s Office), the County Commission, the Broward Inspector General and the media will not cease until you and your bogus management team are removed from office. You had every chance to do things right when you discovered your true financial condition about two years ago but as the County Mayor said, you have done just the opposite.
Most cities in a similar position would have replaced their senior management when they discovered that their General Fund and CRA budgets had been overspent, raided and depleted. You rewarded the person most responsible for the City’s problems, did not even take into account his track record and problematic personnel file and gave him a raise and promotion. You never advertised the City Manager position to see if you could attract a credible candidate with better qualifications (wouldn’t have been hard). Most city managers have direct budget experience. Allen has none. Considering the City’s desperate state, the proper action would have been to outsource the City’s management and fiscal operations. You would have immediately demonstrated objectivity, credibility and integrity, saved the City money and helped to restore its reputation, but once again you chose to do the opposite. Other cities like Weston and West Park have outsourced their operations and they aren’t suffering a fiscal meltdown like Lauderdale Lakes. Why wasn’t this option used until you were able to get back on your feet?
The option wasn’t considered because Allen and a few of his ardent supporters on the Commission (you know who you are) were adamant about doing things their way. Champagne tastes on a beer pocketbook. Your continued ignorance, arrogance and unwillingness to “clean house” has left you with a corrupt City Manager who is manipulating the books, hiring and promoting unqualified employees, and lavishly spending the City’s (taxpayer) funds on irrelevant conferences sponsored by the National Forum of Black Public Administrators. Allen also orchestrated the City’s layoffs, protecting his friends and lackeys, regardless of their qualifications and education. Are you proud of the fact that seventeen out of the twenty-one layoffs were white employees? Is this what “Life in full color” means? Thankfully, The Broward Post has further enlightened us as to the shenanigans of Mr. Allen. Not only did his non-job related conferences take him out of State (Oakland, CA & Washington D.C.) but he made sure to take along female staff for companionship, all with City funds. The BP [MAOS] has obtained numerous e-mails sent by City employees (including Allen) concerning NFBPA activities during City work hours. You can easily see what Mr. Allen’s priorities were. So important was membership in the NFBPA to Allen that he chose his new Finance Director based solely on the association. This employee, who was forced out of the City of Oakland Park, does not possess a Certified Financial Manager (CFM) certification, is not a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and has never worked as an Assistant Finance Director, much less a Finance Director. What a find? That’s the kind of expertise you want to lead you out of the City’s worst fiscal crisis, ever! Why wasn’t this position advertised and why won’t Allen release requested public records, including the Finance Director’s resume? What is he hiding?
Have you wondered why the Building Official responsibilities have been outsourced but not any other city services? Has it dawned on you that Allen, once again is playing games and favorites as far as who remains a City employee and who is let go? Most cities outsource their landscaping duties to save money. Weston and Coconut Creek come to mind and they are not facing insolvency. In Lauderdale Lakes, the Landscaping Superintendent’s position is protected while the Building Official (who is white) is forced to become a paid contractor. To complete the sham, the Landscape Superintendent was given the Stormwater Superintendent responsibilities with no prior stormwater experience. This was done by Allen to give his friend and confidante, who possesses only a high school diploma, job security. This individual’s stormwater knowledge is so pathetic that Allen had to bring in a former LL Public Works Director (now a contractor) at a $3,800 per week cost to the City to calculate your new stormwater fees. Fees, by the way, that were not necessary and probably illegal, since your stormwater fund has been flush with cash for the last few years. It is evident that Allen is planning on using (and has already used) dedicated stormwater money to help the City pay its bills. This is the plan that he hatched with your attorney, James Brady, to create a “pooled-cash account” for the City’s use…and you in your infinite wisdom passed the resolution permitting this misuse of special assessment funds. Like I said earlier, everyone now knows what is going on and your troubles are just beginning.
For the last two years you have been the object of much ridicule and embarrassment but now due to the continued unethical and illegal practices of your deceitful and corrupt City Manager, the lawsuits, headaches and sleazy revelations are just going to escalate. I have full faith that you will continue to do the wrong thing. Citizens are fed up with corruption in government and your City has become the “poster child” for what not to do. County Commissioner Holeness said there was no need to “humiliate” Lauderdale Lakes at the last County Commission Meeting. For spending the City into bankruptcy, continuing to cook the books and supporting a corrupt and totally unethical management team, I would say that’s the least you deserve!
When you first went before the County Commission begging for a handout to pay BSO, two of you were quick to pin the blame on your former City Manager for perpetrating a “Ponzi Scheme.” Well, congratulations…under the scheming Allen and his unqualified Finance Director you have greatly expanded the Ponzi Scheme, knowingly raided other dedicated funds, presented false cash flow reports and continued to defraud the County Commission in your quest for more bailout money.
By the way, the State and County have also been alerted to your ongoing violations and improper practices concerning your procurement policy (or lack thereof) and procedures. Most citizens, amazingly, have been unaware that you did not go out to bid for your solid waste and recycling services when your last contract was expiring and simply rolled over a new contract with Waste Management. Your residents received no concessions, no competitive rates, no increase in the City’s franchise fee, no recycling carts, etc. Guess who single-handedly negotiated the new contract with WM. None other than your chosen City Manager, Jonathan Allen, who according to the Mayor has demonstrated great leadership skills. Look around at other cities like Miramar and Oakland Park and you’ll see that because they followed proper procurement procedures and implemented a competitive bid process were able to get lower solid waste rates for their residents. Once again you did the wrong thing and your residents are paying the price. Even worse, WM has now become your banker, since you were forced to defer payments to them for six months due to your financial condition. One can only assume that WM will expect another automatic renewal of its contract for keeping you afloat.
The sooner you and your pathetic management team are gone, the sooner the poor City of Lauderdale Lakes can begin to try and recover from years of abuse.