Thursday, November 30, 2006
Local Miami Television News Poll Shows Vast Majority Agree With Tancredo Miami "Third World Country" Comments
Florida elected officials and business leaders predictably reacted to these comments with righteous indignation and passionate defenses of Miami as a vibrant, multi-ethnic, diverse, but nevertheless "All-American," community.
The local NBC affiliate conducted a non-scientific poll in which it asked viewers what they thought of Tancredo's comments. In what appears to be a remarkable disconnect between the expressed views of the politicians and business leaders and the views of ordinary citizens, 78% of those responding to the poll said they agree with Tancredo, 14% said Tancredo's comments are ridiculous, and 8% allowed that Tancredo is entitled to his opinion.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Politicians Behaving Badly: Cooper City Commissioner Bart Roper
Imagine, if you will, you are an elected city commissioner. Within the past month, a scandal has erupted concerning allegations of you and your fellow commissioners meeting for dinners, just prior to commission meetings, at which the commissioners order as many as twenty (20) alcoholic drinks during a 45-minute period, bill their dinners and drinks to the taxpayers, and perhaps, in violation of the state's open meetings law, discuss matters that may foreseeably come before the commission. Your state's governor has recently ordered a law enforcement investigation into these troubling allegations.
What do you do? Well, if you're Cooper City Commissioner Bart Roper, one of the things you do is you go out and get so inebriated from drinking mass quantities of alcohol that, according to the police report, you pass out behind the wheel of your truck in the middle of a turn lane on a busy public roadway, and when police officers and paramedics come to see if you're alright, you wake up and give them the finger. After the police officers smell you reeking of alcohol and hear you slurring your speech, you admit "you had a few drinks in Cooper City," you are repeatedly unable to produce your driver's license, which was found by the police in your front pocket, you stumble and fall into the police officer, you fail roadside sobriety tests, and you refuse to take a breathalyzer test. After you are arrested on charges of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and you bond out of jail the next morning, you look at the throng of local reporters and the television cameras, and you give them the finger as you are driven away.
Mr. Roper, you are a class act! I'm sure your eight (8) grandchildren: Crystal, Dustin, Christopher, Katie Lyn, Cody, Meaghan, Samantha, and Emily Grace are very proud of you. What a wonderful role model you are for them!
As a resident of Cooper City, I would like to thank you for preserving jobs for bartenders and servers by patronizing drinking establishments in Cooper City. After all, if you had gotten drunk in Davie or Pembroke Pines, that would really have added insult to injury.
In addition, I would like to praise you for the excellent judgment you showed, especially during the pendency of a law enforcement investigation into the current scandal involving City Commissioners' drinking alcohol before Commission meetings, in going out and getting all liquored up and driving while intoxicated. Among other things, this shows you get drunk on nights when there is no Commission meeting, instead of only on nights when there is a Commission meeting. So you can't blame the City's taxpayers for buying you all those drinks and making you into a boozehound. In my opinion, any doubts as to the source of your dull, glassy-eyed stare from the commission dais, as shown in the CBS4 reports, have now been resolved.
Perhaps you will find a way to blame your drunken carousing on those pesky citizen-activists, just like Mayor Eisinger blamed them for exposing your taxpayer-funded pre-commission meeting soirees. It is likely you will look to blame anyone other than yourself for your conduct.
Thank you, again, Mr. Roper, for being such a credit to Cooper City.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Doublespeak Alert: Bush Administration Redefines "Hunger" as "Low Food Security"
From Wikipedia: Doublespeak is language deliberately constructed to disguise or distort its actual meaning, often resulting in a communication bypass. Such language is often associated with governmental, military, and corporate institutions and its deliberate use by these is what distinguishes it from other euphemisms. Doublespeak may be in the form of bald euphemisms ("downsizing" for "firing of many employees") or deliberately ambiguous phrases ("wet work" for "assassination", "take out" for "destroy").
The word doublespeak was coined in the early 1950s. It is often incorrectly attributed to George Orwell and his 1945 dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The word actually never appears in that novel; Orwell did, however, coin newspeak, oldspeak, and doublethink, and his novel made fashionable composite nouns with speak as the second element, which were previously unknown in English. It was therefore just a matter of time before someone came up with doublespeak.
Doublespeak may be considered, in Orwell's lexicography, as the B vocabulary of Newspeak, words "deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them."
Doublespeak is most reminiscent of Orwell's "newspeak" when it is used by a government agency to cover up something unpleasant. The government may find the need to talk about something that has negative connotations to large portions of the public, and avoids backlash by replacing the term with a new one that most people will not recognize as the same thing.
Doublespeak was very common in the Third Reich. Goebbels' Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (Ministry of the Reich for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda) coined thousands of new German words. Other examples include "concentration camp" (labor/death camp, or "joycamp" in Newspeak), "protective custody" (imprisonment without due process of law), "Heim ins Reich" (occupation of Austria), and particular new meanings for "Volk" (people) and "Rasse" (race). The "Final Solution", i.e. Extermination of all Jews is probably the most well-known of such words.
A prominent example of doublespeak in the corporate world is the number of different phrases that all describe the action of "firing lots of employees", usually obliquely. These phrases include "layoffs," "downsizing," "right-sizing," "headcount adjustment," "RIF" (reduction in force), and "realignment." The Dilbert comic strip satirizes this in one strip in which an employee understands none of these terms and is unable to figure out that he has been fired. Corporate doublespeak can also involve downplaying problems, such as calling a fix for a software bug a "reliability enhancement."
Doublespeak Alert: The Bush Administration has ended the crisis of hunger by redefining it as “low food security.” According to the Washington Post, in a November 16, 2006 article:
The USDA said that 12 percent of Americans -- 35 million people -- could not put
food on the table at least part of last year. Eleven million of them reported
going hungry at times. Beginning this year, the USDA has determined "very low
food security" to be a more scientifically palatable description for that group.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Cooper City Mayor Debby Eisinger and Commissioner Elliot Kleiman: Deceptive Pieces of Excrement
During my tenure as Mayor, and previously as a City Commissioner, I have neverFrom Commissioner Elliot Kleiman's website:
participated in and have never observed any unlawful discussion of City business
at any of the dinners prior to Commission meetings.
TRUTH: There has never been a violation of the Sunshine law by any member of
this Cooper City Commission at any time anywhere!
However, according to a November 16, 2006 article in the Miami Herald:
[A]t one dinner last year, the commissioners, in a group, discussed possible
school sites to ease crowding in Cooper City elementary schools and earmarked
county Open Space Bond funds for Cooper City, according to County Commissioner
Lois Wexler, who attended one March 2005 dinner.
Florida's Government-in-the-Sunshine law applies to any gathering of two or more members of the same board to discuss some matter which will foreseeably come before that board for action. Whether the matters discussed are actually scheduled to be brought up on an upcoming board agenda is irrelevant.
There can be no doubt that the issues of possible school sites to ease crowding in Cooper City elementary schools and the earmarking of Open Space Bond funds for Cooper City are issues that, in one form or another, could foreseeably come before the Cooper City Commission for action. Any gathering of two or more Cooper City Commissioners at which these issues were discussed, which was not open to the public, of which reasonable public notice was not given, and of which minutes were not taken, would constitute a violation of the Sunshine law.
The dinner described by County Commissioner Wexler, as reported in the November 16, 2006 Miami Herald article, demonstrates that, contrary to Mayor Eisinger's statement, there was at least one “unlawful discussion of City business” during at least one of “the dinners prior to Commission meetings,” and, contrary to Commissioner Kleiman's statement, there was at least one violation of the Sunshine law by members of the Cooper City Commission.
From these facts, it can only be concluded that Mayor Eisinger and Commissioner Kleiman were not telling the truth, which means that it is now established, in my opinion, that Mayor Eisinger and Commissioner Kleiman are deceptive pieces of excrement.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Schwinging It With Keith Wasserstrom
Uncle Albert explains he has been hired as a lobbyist for a company called Schwind that has a unique, environmentally-friendly process for treating wastewater sludge. (You already know this, by the way, because the only reason Schwind hired Uncle Albert, who had no previous experience as a lobbyist and is certainly not a sludge expert, was to curry your favor by giving a job to someone close to you). Uncle Albert has a business proposition for you. Uncle Albert wants to retain you as his lawyer to assist him in getting sludge treatment contracts for Schwind from municipalities and other governmental entities, starting with the City of which you are an elected Commissioner. (You already knew about this also, as Uncle Albert's role in this was largely scripted in advance by you and Schwind). Uncle Albert emphasizes that if you, as his lawyer, assist him in getting sludge treatment contracts for Schwind, he will be able to make a lot of money and, more importantly, you and your law firm will stand to reap handsome financial rewards.
Of course, being the great guy you are, you want to help Uncle Albert and you want to help the environment by propagating Schwind's process in as many municipalities as possible, including the City of which you are an elected Commissioner. In addition, you think of your law partner, your law firm's employees, and your wife and children, and how much all concerned would benefit from the handsome financial rewards to be gained if you are able to assist Uncle Albert.
But then it occurs to you: Wait just a minute! Yes, I am a lawyer and I could assist Uncle Albert, but I am also an elected City Commissioner. Might it not present an ethical problem for me to be a lawyer whose job it is to help Schwind get a contract from my City, regardless of whether Schwind getting the contract is in the best interests of the City, and, at the same time, to be a City Commissioner who is supposed to decide fairly and objectively whether awarding a contract to Schwind is truly in the City's best interest and gets to participate and vote in the decision whether to award a contract to Schwind?
Realizing this potential ethical dilemma, do you:
A. Tell Uncle Albert you're very sorry but, because you are concerned to avoid even the appearance of impropriety as both a lawyer and as an elected official, you will not be able to represent him as a lawyer to help Schwind get a contract from the City of which you are an elected Commissioner, and, because of your personal relationship and the conversations you have had concerning this matter, you are now going to abstain from participating in any way in the City's decision whether to award a contract to Schwind; or,
B. Make a deal with Uncle Albert that you will represent him as a lawyer to help Schwind get a contract from the City of which you are an elected Commissioner, but, instead having Uncle Albert agree to pay you for helping Schwind get a contract from your City, have Uncle Albert agree to pay you for Schwind getting contracts from other cities or counties that will be able to “piggyback” on your City's contract with Schwind, and, while you will abstain from actually voting for your City to award the contract to Schwind, you will, as Uncle Albert's lawyer, pull every possible string and exert maximum pressure behind the scenes and utilize all the power, contacts, and access to crucial decision-makers you have as a City Commissioner to ensure that the City awards the contract to Schwind, except you won't tell anyone at the City that you are actually acting as Uncle Albert's lawyer in helping Schwind get a contract from your City, and you won't tell anyone at the City about the huge financial rewards you and your law firm stand to reap down the road once the City awards the contract to Schwind.
If you are Hollywood City Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom, and we're talking about Keith's Uncle Arnold and Schwing, you chose B.
In my opinion, in order to have chosen B, Keith must have followed a line of thought that went something like this: Yes, I am a lawyer and I am a City Commissioner. If I was just a lawyer and not a City Commissioner, there would be no problem with me representing Uncle Arnold to help Schwing get a contract from the City of Hollywood. But I'm such a wonderful person and I perform a wonderful public service giving of my time above and beyond to the citizens of the City of Hollywood as a City Commissioner. So how is it fair that I, as a lawyer, should be penalized and not be able to make this money, just because I also happen to be a City Commissioner? There must be a way I can circumnavigate the ethical problems here so that I can make the money as a lawyer and still be a City Commissioner! I know! I'll talk to the City Attorney! He's a credulous flunkie and he'll believe anything I tell him about all this and he'll give me a clean bill of ethical health! And then later, if anyone questions my conduct, I can say the City Attorney told me it was ok! Excellent plan!
So where did Keith go wrong? Why is Keith now suspended from public office, facing felony corruption charges and a possible 25-year prison sentence? In my opinion, among the flaws in Keith's thinking, as I have imagined it, were the following:
- Keith pretended that Schwing hired Uncle Arnold for his vast lobbying and sludge expertise, and Keith pretended that Uncle Arnold would have been interested in hiring Keith as his lawyer to help Schwing get a contract from the City of Hollywood even if Keith was not a Hollywood City Commissioner.
- Keith apparently saw nothing wrong with using his position as an elected official to line his own pockets. In fact, Keith's enormously high opinion of himself as morally above-reproach and infallible made him feel entitled to do so.
- Keith convinced himself that what was in his client's best interest (having the City award a contract to Schwing), which would also eventually result in money in his pocket, was also in the City's best interest. In Keith's tortured analysis, everyone would win! Yay!
- Keith's opinion of his own cleverness and craftiness was so out-of-proportion to reality that he thought he would be able get away with using his position as an elected official to line his pockets by "structuring" the arrangement and "gaming the system" so as to avoid breaking the law.
- The City Attorney's ethical blessing is a GIGO issue: garbage-in, garbage-out. It only works if you fully disclose all pertinent facts to the City Attorney.
- Reliance on the City Attorney's flawed judgment is not a defense if you broke the law.
UPDATE: September 10, 2007 - Excellent news for Keith Wasserstrom:
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Broward Circuit Judge Joel T. Lazarus today dismissed a felony corruption charge against suspended Hollywood Commissioner Keith Wasserstrom, saying he is "presumed innocent" of obtaining unlawful compensation. That means the jury will consider only the four remaining felony charges, that Wasserstrom lied on his conflict of interest statements and that he misled the mayor into lying on hers. The maximum penalty for each of those counts is five years in prison. Lazarus agreed with the defense that the state had failed to prove its case on the main corruption count.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Mayor's Sister Defends Mayor
I have been a Cooper City resident for 24 years, and I think it's a
disgrace how WFOR-CBS4 focused its investigation on the negative complaints of a
few residents. Only a handful of residents complained about the raises voted by
our City Commission.
Has anyone bothered to compare our commissioners' salaries to those in
neighboring cities? Our commissioners and mayor have not had a raise since 1994.
When I moved here, Cooper City had a population of 12,000. Today it is nearly
30,000. Has it occurred to our residents that maybe the responsibilities of the
commission also have grown?
Since Debby Eisinger has been elected mayor, she has promoted ''City
Government Week'' in the five schools throughout Cooper City. She also organized
an essay contest for the students of the middle school. The celebration of these
events at a recent City Commission meeting drew a crowd with standing room only.
Where was Channel 4 then?
WENDY ROSENBERG, Cooper City
The Miami Herald, however, did not disclose (perhaps it simply did not know) that Wendy Rosenberg is Mayor Debby Eisinger's sister! At least the Mayor's sister would still vote for her.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Cooper City: Mayor's Letter Fails to Persuade Governor Not To Order Investigation
Imagine, if you will, you are the mayor of a city. Local media have recently reported that you and the entire city commission, as well as the city manager and staff, have engaged in conduct that, at the very least, appears to be improper.
In the wake of the media reports and resulting pubic outcry, the governor of your state sends you a letter expressing concern about serious allegations of misconduct and asking you to respond with detailed information that he will consider in deciding whether to request a formal law enforcement investigation into the matter.
As the mayor, your mission is now to try to persuade the governor that there is no need for him to request a formal law enforcement investigation. How do you respond? Do you:
A. take responsibility for what happened, express your sincere regret over the situation, apologize for engaging in conduct that even appeared to be improper, and demonstrate that you are taking action to correct and make amends for past mistakes; or,
B. sanctimoniously and viciously attack the news organizations, reporters, and citizens who were involved in bringing the conduct to the public's attention, unconvincingly deny you engaged in the alleged conduct, and arrogantly and self-righteously boast of your public service and excellent personal reputation.
If you are Mayor Debby Eisinger of Cooper City, you chose B.
The Mayor's November 8, 2006 letter to Governor Bush was ill-conceived and completely ineffective. The tone of Mayor Eisinger's letter is combative and is suffused with a sense of the Mayor's overbearing self-importance.
She attempts to portray herself as the victim of "cunning videography" wherein she is repeatedly shown holding a full glass of wine in her hand, but "Nowhere within the extensive secret filming over this extensive period of time is there portrayal of me even drinking a sip of wine or any alcoholic beverage."
This, to me, is reminiscent of when Bill Clinton was asked if he ever tried marijuana and he said he tried it, "but I didn't inhale." Are we supposed to believe the Mayor orders a full glass of wine to carry around with her in bars as a prop? If the Mayor is charging the glass of wine to the taxpayers, the least she could do is drink it and not waste it. Perhaps the Mayor just brought the same full glass of wine to each of these events so she could look like she was fitting in with her fellow commissioners who were actually drinking their drinks? Who does Mayor Eisinger think she is kidding?
One would think that Mayor Eisinger, who earned a Master's Degree in Physical Education from the University of Florida with a 3.91 GPA, and who spent eight years working as a word processor for WC Publishing Company, would have been able to do a better job of persuading the Governor that there was no wrongdoing.
Having received this ridiculous letter from Mayor Eisinger, it is no wonder Governor Bush ordered a formal law enforcement investigation into the matter.
It should also be noted that Judicial Watch, a national, conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promoting transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law, has a blog entitled Corruption Chronicles, which did a post on November 9, 2006 about the Cooper City situation that concludes as follows:
Residents of Cooper City should be outraged that their public officials are
dining and drinking on their dime.
I am a resident of Cooper City, and I am outraged that my public officials are dining and drinking on my dime.
I agree with Miami Herald columnist Wingate Payne, who, in a November 7, 2006 op-ed piece made the following comments:
Seems that the City Commission was taking itself out to dine on the
taxpayers' tab before commission meetings, with some commissioners liking a lot
Why on Earth would anyone think that this is an appropriate use of public
money? A clear case of feeling entitled to just desserts for their work.
It's one thing to expect the public to pay for some entertainment required as
part of the job, such as dinners at conventions, but regular feedings at the
public trough just go too far.
If they're talking public business at these dinners, they're violating the
open-meetings law. If they aren't, then these are social occasions and don't
qualify for public dollars. Building fellow feeling over meatballs and red wine
isn't a public purpose, either.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Cooper City Commission - Very Thirsty Folks
According to a November 7, 2006 article in the Miami Herald reported by Breanne Gilpatrick, on August 22, 2006, six Cooper City officials were at Landlubbers Raw Bar & Grill in Cooper City where, between 5:15 and 6:00 p.m., they ordered twenty (20) drinks, including ten (10) vodka drinks, two Manhattans, two glasses of wine, two beers and a Bloody Mary.
Of the twenty drinks, City Commissioner Elliot Kleiman admits to having only one. Assuming that to be true, let's do the math: 19 drinks divided by 5 Cooper City commissioners or staff in 45 minutes. According to my calculations, that means each of the 5 commissioners or staff consumed an average of 3.8 drinks at the rate of one drink every 11.84 minutes.
According to the minutes, the August 22, 2006 Cooper City Commission meeting began at 7:32 p.m. I'm no expert, but I believe that magnitude of alcohol consumption within that amount of time means someone was still intoxicated at 7:32 p.m. when Mayor Eisinger gaveled the City Commission meeting to order. If these people managed to consume that much alcohol in that short a time without becoming intoxicated, then they must have that extraordinary tolerance to alcohol that only comes from drinking mass quantities of alcohol on a very frequent basis.
On the plus side, the Commissioners and staff should be commended for patronizing an establishment in Cooper City, thus contributing to the economy of, and helping to keep jobs for bartenders and servers in, Cooper City. In addition, they should be commended for their thrift in saving the taxpayers' money by ordering the drinks during the 2 for 1 Happy Hour special.
Update: On November 7, 2006, after I e-mailed a copy of the above post, Commissioner Kleiman was nice enough to send me an e-mail with his take on the report:
I am making the following guess and assumption. Being happy hour
the server must have served up a second round without being asked ( or
consumed) or there were more than 6 people present, I can't attest to either
assumption but if these people did drink all that, they wouldn't have been able
to walk next door for dinner at Vita's. Further, the public both present and
watching the commission meeting on Comcast would have observed the effects. They did not. Why, because they were all very sober.
I stand by the statements on my website. http://www.goodguy2005.com/ I can sleep very
well because what I have said is true.
Feel free to forward this to those to whom you copied your email. I would be happy to discuss this or any other issue by phone of email with any or all.. (954) 392-6792
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Cooper City: Crisis Mismanagement
In addition, some Cooper City residents are circulating a petition. I have not seen this petition yet, so I am unclear as to exactly what it asks for.
In my opinion, the City Commission and the City Manager are taking exactly the wrong approach to managing this crisis. I believe, in general, people are very understanding and forgiving. If you make a mistake, telling the truth, apologizing, and making amends are the most effective way to put the mistake behind you.
History has shown this is true when mistakes are made at the highest levels of government. For example, if President Clinton had simply admitted what he did with Monica Lewinsky and apologized right away, it is unlikely there would have been nearly as much momentum as there was for impeaching him.
The City Manager's public response of denial and righteous indignation at "innuendos" that City Commissioners were intoxicated before City Commission meetings is very similar to President Clinton's angry denial that "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky." No one believed President Clinton then. No one believes the City Manager now.
Moreover, in my opinion, the City Manager's public statement misses the point. I feel it is none of my business if City Commissioners and the City Manager feel the need to fortify themselves with steak or pasta dinners and a few glasses of wine just prior to Commission meetings. But when they do so at taxpayer expense, that is when it becomes my business.
In theory, you don't serve on a city commission to make money or for any kind of financial rewards. Even with the hefty pay raises the Cooper City Commissioners voted themselves, they still don't make what anyone would consider a living wage. It is supposed to be a part-time job for people who want to "give something back" to the community in which they live. In my opinion, the essence of the problem is as follows: wining and dining at taxpayer expense shows the City Commissioners taking, not giving back. (This is especially true to the extent that some of the establishments at which they wined and dined were not even in Cooper City.)
The City Commissioners and the City Manager have reacted to the public disclosure of their activities with arrogance, anger, and self-righteous indignation. Their attitude seems to be "how dare anyone question our activities?" The way they are handling this crisis is only making it worse, for them and for the City. Personally, I am embarrassed for the City Commissioners, the City Manager, and their families, that they seem unable or unwilling to face this crisis in a more intelligent and politically less disastrous manner.
Here is CBS 4 Miami's latest report on the situation:
(CBS4) COOPER CITY Governor Bush is asking Cooper City’s mayor to respond
to allegations that several commissioners met in private and drank alcoholic
beverages at various bars and restaurants before conducting public meetings.
Cooper City residents are rallying for these officials to be kicked off their
posts for their actions.
General Counsel for Gov. Jeb Bush, Raquel Rodriguez, wrote to Cooper City
Mayor Debbie Eisinger on Friday, asking for information to examine if any open
records laws were violated by any private meetings. It also requested the mayor
to explain whether staff drove city vehicles while under the influence of
The letter also asked the city to respond within three business days. Bush
will then decide whether to request a law enforcement investigation or take
CBS4 I-Team Investigator, Mike Kirsch reported that the mayor, four other
city commissioners, the city manager and other senior staff members representing
Cooper City allegedly met in restaurants and bars before meetings. Some were
seen holding wine glasses in the television report.
City leaders said the dinners are considered a tradition meant as a
relationship builder with other political leaders. The city also has rejected
claims that anyone at the dinners was intoxicated or discussed matters related
to city business.
Florida's open records or "sunshine" laws call for commissioners, board
members or other officials to make their governmental meetings open to the
CBS4's Dave Malkoff reported that the residents of Cooper City are outraged
at these allegations and are writing, circulating petitions and coming together,
demanding that local leaders be removed from office after they saw them
allegedly drinking on the job. Kirsch attempted to contact City Hall, but
received only one email saying that his report on the allegations was insulting.
(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
Friday, November 03, 2006
Politicians Behaving Badly: Cooper City Commission
According to this article in the November 3, 2006 Miami Herald, the elected Cooper City Commissioners (pictured above from left to right: Valenti, Roper, Kleiman, Eisinger, and Ferrara), along with City Manager Chris Farrell and staff, have been meeting at various local restaurants and pubs before Commission meetings to eat and to drink wine, beer, and liquor at taxpayer expense.
When confronted by a citizen at a recent Commission meeting about their pre-meeting soirees, City Manager Farrell said "I won't dignify myself by responding." He certainly did not dignify himself. His wits were so dulled by food and liquor that he couldn't even articulate his misgiven thought properly, which would have been that he won't dignify the question by giving a response.
As a Cooper City homeowner, I am appalled and outraged, more than anything else, by the Commissioners' self-righteous attitude that they are entitled to charge expensive meals and liquor to the City's taxpayers, and their arrogant and condescending attitude toward anyone who would have the audacity to question their activities.
If the Commissioners were discussing City business at these dinners, then they violated the Sunshine law. If they were not discussing City business, then how dare they bill their dinners to the City's taxpayers?
If the Commissioners have even one shred of decency, they will, at the very least, agree to reimburse the taxpayers for these illegitimate expenses, and issue a public apology.
''As with any type of PR activity, it gets expensed to taxpayers,'' Commissioner Elliot Kleiman said. ``The whole purpose was to develop our image.''
Is that their best defense?
In my opinion, the only image they have developed is the image of a bunch of greedy pigs gorging themselves from the public trough.
Update: After I posted the above, I had a telephone conversation with Commissioner Elliot Kleiman concerning this matter. Commissioner Kleiman made a number of interesting comments:
- Kleiman stuck to the story that "we've been doing this for fifteen (15) years" and these expenses were justifed because, he claims, they were used to entertain elected officials from other jurisdictions, such as state representatives, to "develop rapport" with them, which he claimed has resulted, for example, in state grant money being awarded to Cooper City.
- Kleiman also claimed that the expenses for these dinners are or were included in the City's budget for"public relations."
- He said that, at some point in the past, an attorney (he didn't say which one) had advised City Commissioners against having these dinners because it could create an appearance of impropriety, but the City Commissioners and/or the City Manager decided to go ahead and have the dinners anyway.
- Before the CBS 4 report aired, the City Manager suggested that the dinners should stop because of concerns that were being raised about similar activites in other cities.
- The City Commissioners never tried to "hide" the fact that these dinners were taking place, and, because no one ever objected in the past, the City Commissioners assumed that it was permissible and unobjectionable. Kleiman conceded, however, that neither did the City advertise or notify taxpayers that these dinners were taking place, or make it clear that the taxpayers were footing the bill for the food and drink.
- No public apology or reimbursement of taxpayer dollars spent on these dinners is likely to be forthcoming because neither the Commissioners nor the City Manager believes they did anything wrong.
Update: At 4:26 p.m., on November 3, 2006, City Manager Farrell's office sent the following e-mail:
The story broadcast by Channel 4 on November 2, 2006, contained insinuations
of wrong-doing by members of the Cooper City Commission and staff.
These innuendos have no basis and are false.
At no time have I ever witnessed a violation of the Sunshine Law or seen any member of the Commission or staff members consume an inappropriate amount of wine or any other alcoholic beverage, and no member of the City Commission or staff has ever been intoxicated while attending a City Commission meeting. Any allegation or insinuation to the contrary is without basis and is insulting to each member of the City Commission, City Staff and to the citizens of Cooper City. In
addition, each and every Regular Meeting of the Commission is broadcast live on
the local cable network, and is viewed regularly by numerous residents of the
community. Also, members of the press are in attendance at all meetings.
Each and every member of the Cooper City Commission is a dedicated and hard-working public servant who has and continues to serve our citizens with the highest level of professionalism and integrity.
Christopher J. Farrell
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Oleaginous Tony Snow In Full Effect
Isn't this a great photo of the unctuous prevaricator-in-chief a/k/a Bush Administration Propaganda Minister Tony Snow? Doesn't it perfectly capture his expression when he is confronted with some inconvenient truth that is unfavorable to the Bush Administration and has to quickly spin out some sincere-sounding lie?