Mayor Cooper Update
Hallandale Beach - Over the past three weeks, I have shared my State of the City Address...
By Mayor Joy Cooper
HALLANDALE BEACH - Over the past three weeks, I have shared my State of the City Address with you. I hope it shed some light on the great things that are in store for our city of Hallandale Beach. I know that some residents and other stakeholders have been asking what took place with the item that Commissioner London put on the agenda, to fire our city attorney. This agenda item came as a shock to everyone, since there have not been any issues raised by any Commissioner questioning her work as our attorney.
In response to his agenda item, Attorney Lynn Whitfield put the city on notice that she was being represented by her own council who on her behalf, filed a Hostile Work Environment and Discrimination claim against Commissioner London.
Once Commissioner London placed the item on the agenda, the Commission had to hire special council as we could not utilize in house council. When the claim for discrimination was made, it became an issue within federal labor regulations. This claim is very serious and could be very costly to our taxpayers.
An investigation was started that invokes very strict rules pertaining to retaliation. These rules protect any individual that files a report or participates in the investigation from further threats or retaliations in any form. It also makes the investigation private until it is completed by the special council.
The city Commission approved the hiring of special councilman Jim Crosland, Esq. from Bryant Miller Olive to conduct the investigation. The notice was sent to all individuals on-line, so if you are not registered to "Notify Me" on our web-site, you may not be aware that the investigation is taking place. I am not reproducing the notice, but if there are any individuals including employees, residents or vendors that have information to share in regards to hostile work environments or discriminations, they can reach out directly to the investigator for an interview at: (305) 374-7349. Interviews will remain confidential until the conclusion. We are not sure as to when the investigation will be concluded.
In other business related to this investigation, Commissioner London asked the city Commission to pay for his legal council since the case was brought against him during the course of his being a Commissioner. This request did raise some eyebrows, as we are not even certain of what will take place other than an interview, no one is certain as to what will be in the final report at this time.
The Commission has hired legal council that represents the Commission and the city. Obviously, Commissioner London cannot use Mr. Crosland as his council. It was suggested that he pay himself and be reimbursed by the city. It was also discussed that the Commission did not want to agree to a retainer for $9,500 or have it include “public relation and reputation management” as brought forth by Commissioner London’s request.
State law does allow that cities to provide an attorney to defend any civil action arising from a complaint for damages as a result of the action of its officials. It also goes on to say that, if the officer is found acting outside of the scope of their duties, these fees can be recovered from the commissioner.
After debate, I suggested a compromise to provide commission London the ability to have an attorney present during the interview. A cap was set a $3,200 only for the interview, nothing else. This amount was agreed as a base for 8 hours of interview time at $400 per hour.
On a much better note, we have received notice that the state has begun the inspections of the NE Drainage pumps. One pump has been inspected and calibrations have been sent to be analyzed. Staff has informed us that the inspection should be completed and signed off on, no later than 30 days.
This is great news as we are fast approaching hurricane season. There has been some confusion over why the city was flooding during the last storm and why the pumps were not working. The simple reason is that they are working, but we could not use them yet. It was extremely frustrating to everyone. The pumps would have prevented the flooding. This was explained at a recent meeting this past Tuesday night. The pumps can actually move enough water to fill two swimming pools in one minute.
The city is almost finished restoring all of the parking lots along 14th Avenue. The lots slated for resurfacing have been completed and there are 28 others that are being seal coated. The city is also preparing a design build requested for proposal to complete the landscaping and other street amenities. These will include: curbs, bulb outs for trees, sidewalks, crosswalks, bus shelters, benches trash receptacles and additional landscaping around the pump stations. Staff expects that the bids will go out within the next months. The funding will take place during our budget in October and until then, construction will commence between December – January.
Congratulations to Vice Mayor Bill Julian and The Hallandale Beach Kiwanis for another successful Pasta Dinner to benefit our local schools.
This weekend will be the first official special event at our new South City Beach Park, starting at 12 p.m. “Relay for Life” will take place. There will be food, live entertainment, arts and crafts and plenty of Fun-raising. The beach lot will be closed Saturday in the morning in order to prepare for the event and will reopen at 12 p.m. The event will conclude at 8 p.m. with a final lap and luminaire. You can find out more by visiting: www.RELAYFORLIFE.com/HallandaleBeachFL. We hope to see you there to help us continue the fight against Cancer!
As always, please feel free to contact me any time with your questions/concerns and ideas on how to make our city a better place at my office: (954) 457-1318. On my cell/text at: (954) 632-5700. Or visit my web-site at: www.mayorjoycooper.com. If you are heading out of town and want to stay connected to our city issues you can sign up for my weekly update.