Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Deerfield Beach Commissioners and Manager Answer Questions About FEMA OIG AUDIT...Or Did they create more??????????????????????????????????????????Updated*

The City Handler, Burgess Hanson, advised the residents that Homeland Security is investigating FEMA and it really has nothing to do with the City of Deerfield Beach.  He even indicated that the City did nothing wrong and that a previous FEMA audit in 2008 concluded the City did everything right.  The Mayor even jumped in to say that FEMA employees were onsight verifying everything.

So to that all I say is...

read the OIG FEMA Audit report for yourself and you get a wholely different interpretation of what is happenening here.

Since I posted links to the report in hopes that people would read it for themselves...I guess I have to post the report itself. 

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Now, does this sound like the OIG was not looking into mismanagement by the City of Deerfield Beach.

Well, in this report some of the questioned charges that the City, not FEMA, submitted foreimbursement was for...well you can read it for yourself below and see if Sophie Henderson's explanation, at the behest of Burgess Hanson, holds any water.  I guess this is the information that Chaz Stevens has the inside track on...

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The City submitted for excessive contract charges for debris removal services, which may have to be paid back in the amount of $463,875, which were duplicated cha

A possible payback of $2,857,732 for debris removal on private property, which is not allowed by FEMA except in cases where the public health is at risk.  

$416,700 of ineligible charges were submitted by the City for beach re-nourishment on North Beach, which is a "natural beach", and reimbursement is only allowed fore-nourishment on an "improved  beach" according to the report.  So the investigators are questioning this payment as well, which if they are right would result in the $416,700 being a part of the possible payback.  

The City Staff also submitted charges in the amount of $119,974 for contract charges and engineering services fore-nourishment of South Beach which was not authorized under the project, which per the report City Officials agreed with this particular finding.
So, when Burgess, Peggy, and Sophie indicated that FEMA approved everything prior to work commencing, this portion of the report tends to disagree with that statement and proves that somethings may have been overlooked by FEMA which is why the OIG is basically going over what FEMA allowed the City and other City's to get away with which has basically lead to that organization claiming possible bankruptcy.

I am going to take this time to interject here.  Burgess Hanson has basically stated that FEMA approved the work and so the City did nothing wrong because the FEMA agents approved it.  Well, FEMA may have approved it, but they are mandated to recoup all improper disasterelief funds and have begun such according to this report, nationwide.
The newspaper(s) have been littered since well before 2005 with reports of individuals being arrested, jailed, convicted, and sentenced for FEMA fraud.  Charges arrising because the individuals received "FEMA approved" disaster relief payments, which eventually turned out to be fraudulent or, as Burgess Hanson and City Staff will have us believe, erroneously submitted and then payment spent. (A google list of articles can be found here)
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The City's claim included $39,839 for unreasonable overtime.  Which were not allowed because they did not comply with FEMA's established guidelines for "Forced Labor Cost".

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Now, this is the kicker which really throws a wrench into Burgess Hanson's empassioned speech about the City not doing anything wrong so they should have nothing to fear from this OIG FEMA Audit, (and this is taken directly fom the report:

"The City overstated its claim for generator usage under Projects 8122 and 8125 by $10,000 because of an error made in recording the type of generator actually used. The City applied the FEMA Schedule of Equipment rate of $40.50 per hour for a 125 kilowatt (kw) generator when the rate should have been for a 25 kw generator (a difference of $32.05 per hour). Using the equipment rate difference, we question the $10,000 of excessive costs as shown in the table below."

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This paragraph is taken directly from the report indicating that this OIG FEMA Audit results is the final report and the OIG is waiting to hear from FEMA to see if they will be implementing the recommendations found in the report.
" Please advise me by Jul 12, 2011, of the actions taken or planned to implement the recommendations contained in this report, including target completion dates for any planned actions. To promote transparency, this final report and your response to this report, including your corrective actions planned, will be posted to our website, with exception of sensitive information identified by your office. Should you have any questions concerning this report, please contact me at (404) 832-6702. Key contributors to this report were Modupe Akinsika, Helen White and Amos Dienye." 

So tonight, when the City Commissioners who obviously thought they had defended themselves adequately against answering the publics questions about why this information was not released to the public,   were dead wrong.  All they did was give us more fodder to question and create more implications with regards to why they are trying so desperately to avoid just telling the public the truth about what is going on and admitting that mistakes were made so we can all move forward.  Their fraudulent statements have just opened up another can of worms.

We even had Marty Popelsky prefacing the public comment period with a statement advising the audience to basically disregard comments made by the public.

WOW!!! The audacity of these people.
They even broke from their usually "last to speak" format by speaking before the public comment period.  Which if you have attended any City Commission meeting in the last year will know that that is highly unusual and most have been planned beforehand.  Come on Bill Ganz, not wanting the last word.  

"What a circus you have elected and employed here in Deerfield Beach."
I don't remember buying a ticket to this show, but I want my money back.  

There is no major difference between the OIG FEMA Audit and the OIG HUD Audit because they both indicate that the City did something wrong.  The HUD audit doesn't point fingers at individuals it stated fairly clearly that:

We audited the Community Development Block Grant program (program) 
administered by the City of Deerfield Beach, FL (City).  The objective of the 
audit was to determine whether the City administered its program in accordance 
with applicable U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
requirements.  We selected the City for review because it had come under 
increased scrutiny when various newspaper articles and reviews highlighted City 
problems.  In addition, HUD’s 2010 risk assessment indicated that the City had
demonstrated a record of poor performance with the program.

Now, Burgess indicated that the City asked OIG HUD to come and perform these audits, but HUD indicates in their report, as listed above, that they came because of the scrutiny from various newspaper articles and reviews highlighting the City's mismanagement of those funds.

This is what they found

The City did not administer its program in accordance with applicable HUD
. It did not request exception to HUD’s conflict-of-interest provision
before the awarding of funds. This condition occurred because the City lacked
effective management controls to ensure compliance with HUD’s conflict-ofinterest regulation
.  As a result, HUD had no assurance that the City did not
practice favoritism in the awarding of funds and may have placed HUD’s funds at

So to that all i have to say is..."What you talkin bout, Burgess?" (in my Gary Coleman voice)

Chaz Stevens in his post entitled Obfuscation would have us believe that HUD pointed the finger at Sylvia Poitier, but for some reason after reading the HUD guidelines and the Audit report it would seem that HUD pointed a finger directly at the City of Deerfield Beach management and internal controls or lack thereof.  It was the City initiated and paid for Kessler report that pointed fingers, a report that if the City found irregularities shoudl have just asked HUD to do its investigation, instead of wasting taxpayer money on its witchhunt conducted by Kessler.  Which didn't even investigate all of the City's Department only the handpicked few by Burgess Hanson, Peggy Noland, Bill Ganz, and Popelsky, and Stevens.  After this FEMA audit it is clear that the City has had and still has many areas that guilty of the same mismanagement that the City Officials and Chaz Stevens is throwing around at the DBHA, which is the whole point.  Stop wasting our time, money, and resources on these witchhunts and just obtain a full, thorough investigation of the entire City's operations because the one thing that these three audits have highlighted is that this corruption, mismanagement, etc...extends far beyond the DBHA and the Community Development Department, it's rooted within the City and it's Officials, past and present, and should be weeded out and exterminated so our City can have better future, which is all any of us want.

Now, even if all of this FEMA audit is about nothing...the simple fact that the City has gone to great lengths to keep it under wraps (according to Burgess until it's finalized) is all to they think the citizens and residents here do not deserve to be informed of this matter.  

Burgess even went so far as to say that they even did this in the HUD audit, which the OIG audit result, comparable to the OIG FEMA audit result above, was issued on September 29, 2010 with the recommendation that the

 ...Director of the Miami Office of Community Planning and Development require the City to (1) reimburse $224,742 in HUD funds from non-Federal funds for ineligible costs, (2) provide supporting documentation or reimburse its program $142,248 from non-Federal funds for unsupported salary expenditures, and (3) provide supporting documentation or reimburse its program $28,298 from non-Federal funds for an activity in which the national objective was unsupported.
And the Miami Office of Community Planning and Development didn't finalize the HUD audit report until February 22, 2011, if you will take into account that is when Burgess Hanson announced the decision to the Commissioners and the City at the Commission Meeting.  Sowhen he says nobody knew until it was finalized why is there a plethora of newspaper articles, comments by the Commission, accusations and blog post related to this matter appear all the way back to the beginning of Feb 2010 and continued until it's completion.  Feb 2010 is when the City opened this can of worms and it has squirmed its way to other parts of the City, that more likely than not they didn't expect, when they were trying to brandish blame on certain departments and individuals.  Now that other agencies have gotten involved to ensure their funds were spent properly and accordingly, the City hides the results.  Heck, the FEMA OIG audit even goes a step further and indicates that it will be posting this information on their website to promote transparency, but obviously Deerfield Beach City Officials and Chaz Stevens have been dead set against "transparency" from the very beginning.  If this was not the case they would have informed the residents of this audit and investigation and it's possible ramifications to the City and it's taxpayers.

The main thing that has caused this information to create such a stir at City Hall and amongst the news media is because, regardless of the show the City Officials puts on, the residents are not stupid and we know when we are being hosed and then railroaded...and in this case Burgess Hanson and cohorts have tried to intentionally hide this information, when it should have from the very beginning informed all of us of its potential, just as they did with Kessler and the HUD audits, instead they are now hiding behind arranged speeches and ambushes, changeing the formats of commission meetings in their failed attempts to sidetvack and curtail the publics right to information.

Last night Burgess asked me to put a request in writing...well if you saw my post 

City of Deerfield Beach Taxpayers May Be "On the Hook" for Over 3 and Half Million in Penalties to FEMA...

Then you already know that I did that and still have yet to hear from any City Official or Burgess Hanson.  So last nights planned ambush, which by the way was predicted, well not predicted but forecast from inside information apparently, by Chaz Stevens in his post "Ebony and Ivory"  failed.  The general public still wants and deserves answers, just as we did when the City paid Kessler to come to town to investigate the handpicked departments of the Community Development, the City's CHDO, and then Sylvia Poitier.  

The City and it's taxpayers may be on the line with FEMA for over 3.9 Million Dollars and you think that we should wait to even find out about it until you decide it's okay.  How very Larry Deetjen of you, Burgess.  I guess you did learn something while you were his assistant and that is how to get around the residents and cover your own arse.

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