Palm Beach County
Former Congressman Mark Foley says he has not made a final decision about running for mayor of West Palm Beach but don’t buy it. Foley is acting like a candidate and he says he will wait until the last day of qualifying on Dec. 27 to decide. It would be a major comeback for Foley, who was thought to be a respected conservative, family-values member of Congress in 2006 when scandal erupted around him. Foley, who had been rumored to be gay, was caught sending explicit text messages to an underage male Congressional page. He was forced to resign and then was targeted in investigations conducted by the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement over his conduct. No charges were brought.
Palm Beach Gardens police officer Withfield Merrick, 35, was charged with sexual battery for alleged inappropriate touching of a woman during a search for drugs. According to the arrest affidavit, Merrick arrested the woman on an outstanding warrant and, while transporting her to jail, he asked her if she had any weapons or drugs. When woman stated she had Xanax pills and marijuana, he pulled into a dark area and began to conduct a body cavity search. Department policy requires that a female officer be called in such situations. He threw the drugs away and never charged her or documented them. As a result, he was also charged with official misconduct and tampering with evidence.
WHAT A MESS!
The long awaited audit of three events — the Founder’s [Cracker] Day, Mango and Brazilian festivals — is finally completed and its findings are scary. Deerfield Beach city commissioners approved the audit at the urging of blogger and city hall monitor Chaz Stevens, who has been vigilantly watching over the dysfunctional City Hall. The audit findings detail unaccounted for funds in all three events, particularly the Brazilian and Mango festivals. It raises questions as to the role several politicians and department heads played in the missing cash and even the destruction of financial records. For example, during questioning about the whereabouts of certain records, former Parks Department Director George Edmunds responded by asking whether he should “get a lawyer.” The audit also shows that Deerfield Beach has suffered years of lax control over its finances, mismanagement and incompetent political leadership. No doubt the State Attorney’s Office will begin an investigation – and it won’t be a minute too soon.
COMMISSIONERS, WE’RE BROKE
The city of Lauderdale Lakes is broke and may be on a path to insolvency, according to several City Hall insiders. The city’s reserves are said to be depleted and more layoffs are planned. Some are pointing the finger at City Manager Anita Fain-Taylor, who has not responded to questions about the issue. However, blaming Fain-Taylor alone won’t cut it because commissioners share some of the responsibility. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but any resolution will not be pretty.
Deerfield Beach City Manager Burgess Hanson continues to ignore employee grievances filed over the manner by which dozens of layoffs were handled, according to the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT). The union contends Hanson failed to give proper notice and sprung the layoffs on employees as they arrived at work without regard for seniority or labor contract procedures. City commissioners have been derelict in their duty by failing to address concerns raised by workers about Hanson and the process he used and that’s regrettable. The rules of the Florida Commission on Public Employees (PERC) mandate employers to process grievances and abide by collective bargaining agreements. IUPAT has proven to be a weak union and this has undoubtedly led city officials to disregard their contract without fear of repercussions.
Several years ago, Plantation city officials considered erecting a wall along the east side of State Road 7 to keep out residents from the predominantly black Melrose Park neighborhood, due to increasing crime along the corridor. That was a callous notion and the city suffered a backlash as a result. Now, this same city has banned Goodwill Industries from setting up temporary locations where the charitable organization can continue collecting donated clothes, household goods and other items for the needy and disabled. City officials cited the Goodwill donation trailer for several code violations, forcing it to shut down, and reportedly told them they were not wanted in the city.
CHANGE IS GONNA COME
By the time you read this, Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra will likely be fired. The much ballyhooed Heat was expected to contend for an NBA championship but, instead, the players are being out coached to the point where they are barely winning half their games. With talent like LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade the Heat should perform better. Spoeltra, pack your things, you’re leaving.
HOME INVASION ARRESTS
Devonn Tillman, 22, and Albert Amador, 27, were arrested in connection with a violent home invasion at Northwest 14th Street in Florida City on Friday, Nov. 26. The men were involved in a fight at the home earlier that day and returned later with guns drawn. One man was shot multiple times and another who went to help the homeowner was shot and killed as he entered the house. None of the children who were home at the time were harmed.
LET IT GO
After a convincing win over several contenders in the Democratic primary, Frederica Wilson handily defeated an independant candidate to win election to Congress on Nov. 2. She is now completing orientation for new members of the 112th Congress. There are a number of serious issues that will come before this Congress; but Wilson made national news not over any of them but over her hats. Members of Congress have been banned from wearing hats during session since 1837. Wilson says she is researching ways for incoming House Speaker John Boehner to change the rules to allow her to wear hats. She and the people of her district would be better served if she let it go, and prepare for the contentious fights ahead over critical issues.