Saturday, December 1, 2012
Senator Chris Smith
101 N.E. 40th Court
Oakland Park, FL 33334
MAOS / The Broward Post
1600 S. Dixie Highway #300
Boca Raton, FL 33432
RE: The Lauderdale Lakes CRA
Via email, USPS, and fax
According to a November 28, 2012 Sun-Sentinel article, a preliminary audit of Hollywood, requested by Senator Eleanor Sobel, slammed the city “for ineffective budget management, the way it runs some of its business and for some expenditures that appear to be against the law.”
The state’s Auditor General noted:
- Numerous expenditures were made contrary to Florida law.
- The CRA was treated like an ATM machine.
- $1.68M was illegally diverted to the city’s general fund.
Unfortunately for the Lauderdale Lakes taxpayer, this is all too familiar ground.
To wit, in 2011, an audit of the Lauderdale Lakes’ CRA, performed by Kessler International, found:
- Questionable expenditures and troubling payments made to Broward Black Elected Officials, and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators.
- Trips to Las Vegas with zero expenditure oversight.
- Improper funding of Gospel Fest and Unifest.
Kessler also documented the illegal transfer of $2.5M to the city’s General Fund. In 2012, the city’s leaders brazenly authorized a 20-year repayment term.
Also in 2012, the Broward Office of Inspector General found City Manager Jonathan Allen “engaging in intentional bid splitting and other misconduct.”
From my results of my yearlong investigation, I filed a criminal complaint with the Broward State Attorney’s Office holding Allen accountable in reference to a $100,000 no-bid CRA library parking lot pavement contract. I also believe Allen has engaged in the willful destruction of public records as a means to cover up his illegal actions. 
Highlights from Commissioner Eric Haynes’ abysmal track record as CRA Chair (2004-2012) include:
- Incurring nearly $20M in debt.
- Using the CRA like a cash register (similar to Hollywood).
- Many CRA expenditures ran contrary to Florida law (similar to Hollywood).
- Transferred/diverted CRA money to city’s general fund (similar to Hollywood).
- Dramatically overpaid on the Ireland property.
- The Lakes Mall – gave away CRA money for private development and gain.
- Broward Meat and Fish – gave away CRA money for private development and gain.
- Bella Vista – gave away CRA money, incurred huge debt, even though the project went belly-up.
- Huge debt incurred from the library’s construction.
In the end, there’s a common theme running between Hollywood and Lauderdale Lakes — gross mismanagement, illegal misuse of funds, a careless attitude, and utterly blistering incompetence — all of which has left the taxpayer holding a big steaming bag of debt.
Though, in Lauderdale Lakes, the residents can be proud of their $1.6M community tomato garden.
Deceit, deception, and duplicity rule the day.
Given this, and in light of Sobel’s actions, I believe it is imperative the Florida Auditor General’s Office thoroughly audits the Lauderdale Lakes CRA.
As such, I respectfully ask for your assistance.
When you have a spare moment, I’d appreciate a call.
Timothy “Chaz” Stevens
CC: Timothy Donnelly, Broward SAO
John Scott, Broward OIG
 For the record, my investigative work has led to the arrest of three public officials (Al Capellini, Steve Gonot, and Sylvia Poitier).