Deerfield Beach Mayor Engaged in "Ethical Misconduct," OIG Report Says
This item was contributed by Deerfield Beach blogger/activist Chaz Stevens.
New Times obtained an exclusive copy of the Broward Inspector General's Office (OIG 14-01) Preliminary Report: Misconduct by Deerfield Beach Mayor Jean Robb. This 22-page document "established probable cause to believe that Mayor Robb engaged in acts of ethical misconduct," and the OIG will refer "this matter to the Florida Commission on Ethics and the City" for its independent assessment.
A 53-year resident of Deerfield Beach, Robb served as mayor from 1980 to 1993 and was elected again in March 2013 to serve another four-year term. In the '13 election, Robb beat incumbent Mayor Peggy Noland by a mere 27 votes.
Robb, no stranger to New Times, has also appeared on my personal blog for many years. In fact, several of the misconduct allegations investigated by the OIG were from complaints I filed during the past six months.
In one complaint, I alleged Robb improperly solicited charitable contributions from a local exotic car dealer. [[[Editor's note: The author. Chaz Stevens, has test-driven and published reviews of the car dealer's vehicles on his website, myactsofsedition.com]]] While the OIG deemed that allegation "unfounded," it did determine Robb used her official position to obstruct the city's code enforcement efforts when she told a Deerfield Code Enforcement officer, "I want you to leave Domani Motors alone. He just gave me two $500 checks."
To compound that problem, Robb attempted to unring the gong by calling BSO Deerfield Beach Capt. Robert Schnackenberg, "asking him to tell the deputy to disregard what I said."
Another allegation focused on Robb's demand that the city provide a free Parks and Recreation sticker and parking lot cleaning services to her church, St. Ambrose of Deerfield Beach. Until then, this sticker, which allowed nearly unlimited free parking anywhere in the city, was strictly issued to employees only.
According to the OIG, "the PRD [Parks and Recreation Director] believed Robb was implying she would be in trouble if she did not issue the PRS sticker to the Pastor."
The sticker was quickly issued, and only after I raised holy hell (pun!) was it returned to the city.
Continuing from the report, "Robb engaged in further misconduct when she improperly attempted to influence the Purchasing Manager to exclude a vendor from the selection for a pending contract, in violation of the City Ethics Code and Charter." Per the OIG, Robb "personally disfavored" the vendor.
Investigators also dinged Robb for "unilaterally committing the City" to pay for a little league trip to Tampa and held her accountable for repeatedly violating the city's charter, which prevents an elected official from directing the activities of staffers.
Allegations that Robb accepted gifts in excess of $50 and violated the Sunshine Law when she "sought to avoid reading the emails of two city residents" were found without merit. I was one of those residents Robb looked to avoid.
When it's all said and done, the OIG report narrowly focused on ethical matters, studiously avoiding any criminal issues.
Get the Things to Do Newsletter
Find out about upcoming events and special offers happening in South Florida.