Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Now I'm Conflicted Over City of Deerfield Beach Mayor Peggy Noland's Lack of Conflict with the BSO Merger and the Tale of the Form 8B

I just left the office of Ada Graham-Johnson, Deerfield Beach City Clerk, and as I mentioned in a previous updated post, which can be read here, I had requested the Form 8B's from Mayor Peggy NOland from August 16, 2011 with regard to her abstaining from voting on City Commission Agenda Items 23 and 24 with regard to measures concerning the City's Fire Department to which her husband, Howard, and son, Thomas, belong.

You might remember the term "Form 8B" from the Sylvia Poitier case, which the State Attorney filed misdemeanor charges against then Commissioner Poitier for filing the Form 8b's but not indicating the true reason for the submission, which according to the charges filed by the State was because she was trying to hide the fact that her brother loaned the group money and these measures before the Commission would have inured to him a special private benefit.  Elected or appointed officials must file the Form 8b if  a measure that is being presented before their board or commission that would inure the official, a relative, or business relationship.  They must publicly declare the reason their voting would be considered a conflict of interest and then w/i 15 days file the form.

Sylvia was later found guilty in her jury trial, even though all the States witnesses and evidence pointed to the fact that her brother would not have gained a single dime or benefit from any of the measures that the charges were filed on.

But hey that is the legal system for you...

Anyway, if you read the post then you have recently become aware, as many of us in the public, that with the City's move to pawn off our Homerule Fire Department to the mass conglomerate BSO, it opened up a window of opportunity for those individuals in the City's retirement plan.  The City left a clause in the merger which allowed the firemen an option to remain in the City's plan or move over to BSO's plan with the State.  This creates another opportunity for a small and select few members of the City's retirement plan who were enrolled in the D.R.O.P., which is basically a high payout at a forced retirement plan usually within 5 years or 60 months, to continue enrollment with the D.R.O.P. and at the forced retirement date continue on under the new agency and retirement system with BSO.  Essentially, a double dipping effect for those select few members of the Fire Department who would benefit tremendously from the creation of this new option through the BSO merger.

Now, you might be asking what does this have to do with the Form 8B's that I previously mentioned for Mayor Peggy NOland.  

Well, Peggy did abstain from voting on the measures related to the Fire Department indicating that  both her husband and her son were employed by the City's Fire Department.  What she did not mention was the fact that this merger would create an opportunity for her husband to double-dip into the City's and then into the States retirement pool.  The public had no knowledge of the clause and was not even allowed to speak on the measures because the City under Mayor Peggy NOland's guiding hands  decided to do this as a management decision and leave the public out.  The public did not see the contract and was not privy to any of the discussions about it until August 16, 2011 when Peggy NOland herself pulled the two items about her precious Fire Department and made the Commission vote on the items hurriedly without real discussion or even input from the public.  In previous months Peggy NOland had influenced the situation by indicating to the people that this was needed, so it is safe to assume that she did the same thing with the Commissioners through City Manager, Burgess Hanson.  Which I don't believe is illegal???  Or is it???  Can the City Manager act as the go between to count votes and lobby with the City Commissioners, I don't know that is something for Michael Satz's Office at the SAO to determine.

Okay, so I received the requested copy of the Form 8B from the City Clerk's office.
Let me just interject here:  I emailed them a request yesterday and after speaking with Ada Graham Johnson, City Clerk, I became a little worried so I rushed down to the Clerk's office just to make the request in person and get it right away, which I shouldn't have had to do because by law it should have been included with the approved minutes from the August 16, 2011 meeting and been available for public inspection on the City's website. Go Figure, eh!!  Suffice it to say that Ada Graham Johnson was not to happy to see me because she harshly insisted that I come back for the request because they had been out for 4 days and had other things to do.  I advised her that since I was standing in the office they might as well fulfill my request, especially since it should have been on the website with the minutes, by law.  Quintella, seeing the conflict that was about to arise between myself and Ada because Ada didn't do her job and didn't seem to want to do her job now, advised me to take a seat and she would fulfill my request while I waited, which she did.  So thank you Quintella for being a great City Clerk the residents of the City really appreciate YOU!!!  
 Aftereviewing the forms provided me by the Clerk's Office as being the filed Form 8B's for Mayor Peggy NOland's "appearance of a conflict" declaration on and her "in abundance of caution" declaration from August 16, 2011 the document indicates that Mayor Peggy Noland filled out the form and signed and dated them with the reason being "husband and son employee".  That's all it indicates.  

Now as Mayor, I think it is safe to assume that she would and should have known that through this mergethe firefighters would be allowed to continue on the Deerfield plan or move onto the States retirement system under BSO, especially since by the dais's on admission that the City is getting out of the pension business.  That being the main reason we were looking into BSO anyway becasue of the sky-rocketing cost of the lavish pensions that the Deerfield Beach Fire Department was afforded, ironically, by the Mayor herself while a Commissioner and she didn't declare a conflict back then either.  Funny???

Seeing that the NOland Administration was trying to the sell the public on this merger with the information that the pensions were costing the City to much and would be ever increasing, unless we went through with the merger.  So, the question becomes why did the administration not advise the public that this double-dipping affect would be created for the small percentage of City of Deerfield Beach Fire Department employees who were enrolled in the City's D.R.O.P. retirement plan.  It is very likely that they knew that if and when this information got out people would be concerned at the ramifications and the implications against NOland herself would not be so legally favorable, but because she wanted to ensure that the merger went through they concealed it from us.  We already know from the whole FEMA debacle, which can be read herethat City doesn't mind playing free and loose with the facts and withholding the facts is not beyond them when it suits their purposes.

I know some of you out there have already joined me in filing complaints about this with the SAO's office and Broward Office of Inspector General and applaud you for taking the necessary steps to get our City back and out of the grip of corruption.  I encourage more people to take this stand with us and research this issue with me and file the appropriate complaints for each and every possibly illegal action taken by our City.  It's time we show them that they work for us and if they will not act ethically in our best interest we will report them, serve them up to the laws of the land and if the individuals elected to enforce the law won't act, then we do our best to vote them out, too.  

We the People are tired of being neglected, mistreated, used, and abused by those in elected and appointed offices.  Our tax dollars are not for use as your personal piggy banks and our interests (such as public safety) should not be used to increase your gains.

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