This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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Thank you City Council Member O’Rourke for your insightful recap (linked below) of the important issues carrying over from 2017 and setting the stage for 2018’s resident concerns.
Click here: HAPPY NEW YEAR…Looking Back – Looking Forward
Perhaps the most important concern raised is that of ‘Good Governance’; to wit: assurances that Boca Raton’s government is transparent and trustworthy. Reference to Ordinance 5431 and the Council’s new ‘transparency’ objective for ethics concerns in a ‘go forward’ manner is commendable but reactionary. Ordinance 5431 does nothing to address the issues raised in Mayor Susan Haynie’s long standing relationship with Batmasian business interests; issues and circumstances that are, at best, a breach of the public trust, and, at worst, a corruption hidden from public view for many years.
Reference here is to Mayor Haynie’s previously ‘undisclosed’ financial relationship with the Batmasians. There is no need to revisit the issues reported in the Palm Beach Post but, what is of significant import is the City Council’s failure to take corrective action; the Council’s continuing to allow unchallenged Ms. Haynie’s participation in business and policy matters having direct and ongoing impacts to the Batmasian Empire. Determining the veracity of the facts and circumstances uncovered in the Post’s reports is imperative and legal process is available.
In the BocaWatch commentary of November 27, “Not My Job”, Council members Rodgers and Singer stated, in error, that the CRA/Council has no legal process available to ‘police’ the actions of one of its own. That is absolutely incorrect! (See commentary below). Not addressing these ethical issues is, arguably, a dereliction of the duties owed by elected representatives to the residents they represent.
Click here: “Not Our Job” Really? – City Council ‘Skirts’ the Hard Ethical Decision
Punting responsibility to outside third party agency(s), i.e.: the Palm Beach County and/or the State of Florida Ethics Commissions, is irresponsible and does nothing to insure the residents’ right to ‘Good Governance’.
Since neither the City Council, collectively, nor any of its individual members have initiated a formal ethics complaint, there is no reason to believe corrective action will ever take place. Hence, without further investigatory action, Ms. Haynie’s activities will remain unaddressed while she continues to participate in public debate and decision making that has direct impact on Batmasian financial interests. Two examples of this direct impact can be seen in the proposed redevelopment of Royal Palm Plaza and with other Batmasian property interests adjacent to the Midtown redevelopment proposal.
More than a rhetorical question…
Should Ms. Haynie recuse herself from participating in any such business or policy questions involving Batmasian interests pending the outcome of the local and state ethics investigations currently underway?
I think so! What say you???
The CRA/City Council’s failure to act demonstrates directly on the ‘feckless’ leadership, or lack thereof, of the entire Council, generally, but, specifically, on the continuing issue denial by CRA Chair Scott Singer and Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers. Feckless is being kind…fearful is a better description. This lack of leadership is a clear avoidance of the responsibilities owed to the residents.
Good Governance is not an option; it is a right; an entitlement!!!
By not acting, these elected leaders are condoning the uncovered behavioral breaches as acceptable practices. To go without consequence, without accountability, is simply unacceptable.
As indicated in the BocaWatch November 27th commentary, legal process is available for both the CRA and City Council to act; to conduct an inquiry while protecting Ms. Haynie’s ‘due process’ rights. Provision in Florida Statute Chapter 163, the enabling statute of the CRA, allows for such ‘policing’ action. Sections of the City Charter also allows for an investigative process to bring resolution to the ethics issues in the public arena.
It will take leadership however, bold leadership, leadership prepared to retain a ‘special prosecutor’, an independent factfinder, engaged by the CRA/City Council to investigate and uncover the underlying facts. After all, if, as Ms. Haynie claims, there is no reason for public concern, there should be no reason not to initiate such a process.
Kudos is extended to Council Member O’Rourke for pressing forward with this ‘Good Governance’ issue. Council Members Rodgers, Singer, and Weinroth have been aware of these transgressions from as far back as March, 2017. These elected officials have chosen to take no corrective action. ‘But for’ the Post’s investigative journalism, these issues would never have surfaced and the Council would not have taken any corrective action whatsoever; reactive or investigatory.
As the 2018 elections approach, these ethical concerns remain unresolved…. ‘Good Governance’ demands more!
So too our concerned residents, remember…
Your vote is your voice; let your voice be heard loudly at the ballot box.
‘Good Governance’ is your right and their responsibility.
Until these ethical issues are resolved, ‘Good Governance’ does not exist in the city of Boca Raton!
Al Zucaro, Publisher
I had hoped that Mr. Singer would find it felt good to act like a leader. He showed us a little ethical behavior when he condemned the recent “garbage” mailing. But nope… same old Scott.. ethically challenged! Leadership challenged!
Rogers… Rogers who… does he do anything? His seat is empty even when he is in it!
Mr. Zucaro, you are being too easy. The Mayor betrayed a deep and important trust.
Did she colluded with the City Attorney to hide her identities from The County Ethics Commission not once but three times? YES
Did she lie on her State, County and City required forms regarding her relationship with the Batmasian’s and the income she earned? YES
Did she vote on Batmasian sensitive issues over the 7 years she had her hidden relationship? YES
Just the known facts show this betrayal. How can she conduct herself as Mayor without having to recuse herself for all but housekeeping Council chores?
She lied to us, the voters. Do we want this dishonest person to continue in her position? I think not. In corporate and military life, when you have an employee working under cover and against the mission you make sure they are out of the decision making process. Her due Process? Yes and all she is doing is prolonging the inevitable. Were she ethical in heart, she would leave now.
Mr Zucaro, these are serious allegations and you and I both know that the county and state boards are investigating/researching and will come forward with a finding, or lack of finding. I know you prefer to be judge, jury, and executioner all on your own personal political action blog, non-profit, or whatever we’re calling BocaWatch these days. To many, this looks like you and a few supporters have sour grapes after you lost. The Florida and County ethics boards are clearly established as the right place to handle this, and the residents have trusted them with the power of oversight. Our attorney has explained this. I’ve quoted the ethics commissions pages for you (I’ll quote it again below), in case you forgot. Please let the ethics commissions perform their role; they are impartial, they have investigative power, and they have been granted the power to do so. We’re not. If there’s an issue there, we’ll find out; if it ends up being baseless like your previous ethics complaints, then we’ll find that out also. The facts continue to matter; please stop playing fast and loose with them while interjecting your own personal vendettas.
While we’re talking, can you explain the current state of BocaWatch and if it is a PAC, non-profit, for profit paper, or something else? I find it highly strange that you are still accepting political donations from a donate page, while claiming not to be a PAC? Many residents have asked me, and honestly, I’m finding it hard to tell.
***BEGIN PREVIOUSLY POST, for reference regarding not taking action
The Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics
“The mission of the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics is to foster integrity in public services, to promote the public’s trust and confidence in that service, and to prevent conflicts between private interests and public duties.
We strive to accomplish this mission by conducting ongoing educational programs, community outreach, providing clear and timely advice, and fairly and impartially interpreting and enforcing the conflict of interest and financial disclosure laws.”
Source – http://www.palmbeachcountyethics.com/
.. I, personally, am not independent or without conflict of interest of this process; I’d become Mayor. The other three council members are not independent of this process; one has already announced for Mayor. You (Al Zucaro) are not independent of this process; you ran for the seat, and many think you want to run again. The right thing to do is to send this issue to the independent board, whose sole purpose focuses on this areas; it’s our job to make sure it gets there, and that’s what I did — and it took three attempts on my part.
Good governing is ensuring that Boca Raton is the best place to live, the best place to work or start a business, and the best place to raise a family. It’s following the rules. It’s not getting mired down in politics or trying to make up the rules as we go along.
***END PREVIOUS POST
You protest too much!!!
I gladly invite you to engage in an open discussion on some or all of the issues you raise. Here, however, I make only two points:
1) Ethics complaints are in process but in the meantime Ms. Haynie is still participating in city business and policy discussions having direct impacts on Basmasian interests. She should recuse herself or be made to recuse herself from these discussions until the pending ethics complaints are resolved. As a reminder, neither you nor the City Council collectively are the complainant in these ethics matters and without these complaints there would be no reason to believe that the facts and circumstances uncovered in the Post’s investigative report would ever be addressed by the Council.
Why does it takes a private citizen to seek a ‘good governance’ resolution for the residents? What I said stands, the City Council has taken no action to protect the residents’ interests. Clearly a dereliction of duty owed to residents of Boca Raton.
2) Relying on the advice of the City Attorney is like allowing the fox to watch the chicken coupe. The City Attorney, arguably, is complicit in creating and/or facilitating this entire controversy. Dating back to 2011 when she sat quiet and did not require Ms. Haynie to provide a full explanation for the only recusal on record involving a Batmasian application. Fast forward to 2013 where the City Attorney engaged in, without the knowledge of the City Council, crafting a misleading/vague fact pattern that resulted in an Ethics Commission decision allowing Haynie to vote in only that one instance, if and only if the applicant was neither the investor or developer. Fast forward again where, over the years since, the City Attorney, on 12 separate occasions, sat silent while Haynie voted on applications where the applicant was the investor and/or developer.
In all these instances, the City Attorney did not counsel Ms. Haynie to disclose her ‘undisclosed’ financial relationship with Batmasian interests; did not advise City Council of possible ethics matter; and, never informed the City Council of her own participation in this matter.
For all these reasons, the City Attorney’s advice should be viewed with skepticism. Hence the call for an independent special council to pursue the legal process allowed for in F.S. Chapter 163 and the City Charter stands.
You proudly insist on the use of the title of Deputy Mayor. You are the Deputy Mayor. Act like it!!!! Al Zucaro
Also, while we are talking good governance, let’s make sure we have MAXIMUM resident involvement and input in the $42M that beach and parks wants to spend. I personally pushed very strongly to open up these meetings, that were planned to be *closed meetings*. Open meetings, resident input BEFORE the RFP and before major decisions with tax-payer dollars and tax-payer land. I’m happy to hear the meetings and selection process has been made open as a result. This is a big deal for Boca; we need the whole city involved. Please help get the word out!
Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers