The situation regarding the financial management of the City of Lauderdale Lakes is a complicated one. But while two reports from the Broward Office of the Inspector General have yet to be finalized, there's one thing that's clear: There are no good vibes coming out of that city.
The OIG delivered two reports to the city last week -- the first, which was leaked to blogger Chaz Stevens and later written about here
, documented the ridiculous ways the inspector general found that Lauderdale Lakes was messing with budget numbers
-- allegedly inflating estimates, inventing fictional funds, stealing from other agencies, and, in one case, bouncing a $1.2 million check
to the Broward Sheriff's Office.
got hold of the second report early this week
; moving on from the alleged transgressions of former Finance Director Larry Tibbs, this report focuses on current Lauderdale Lakes City Manager Jonathan Allen, who, with a letter dated one day after the second
report, threatened to sue Stevens. The
letter threatened Stevens with action for a laundry list of offenses if
he did not "cease, desist, and stop your collective efforts." That's as
specific as it got; it's presumably a reference to Stevens blogging
about the city.
So, of course, Stevens used the information in the OIG report (and more) to file a criminal complaint against Allen yesterday
The last I'll say about that particular tussle is that it's the first letter
to the State Attorney's Office I've seen that uses the term "booyah"
and the phrase "(golden) shower of ineptness."
The other criminal complaint in this whole mess was filed by the city against Tibbs, according to the Sun-Sentinel,
for extortion relating to emails that Tibbs reportedly sent threatening to
expose damaging information if he's not paid money he's owed.
Now that you're all up to speed, here's what the Broward inspector general says Allen has been up to.
all about contracts -- Allen, the report says, "engaged in intentional
bid splitting and other misconduct to undermine procurement controls,
and to improperly authorize a contract for the management services of a
former city employee."
That former employee was
former Lauderdale Lakes Public Works Director Manny Diez, currently an
employee of ADA Engineering, which has contracts with the city.
bid-splitting was to get around a city ordinance that prevented Allen
from awarding contracts for more than $25,000 without approval from the City Commission. Diez's quote to act as temporary director of public
works was $61,000 for 17 weeks -- working part-time. To get around the restriction, Allen told Diez to essentially break up the work into bills that were less than $25 grand.
first bill ended up being for about six weeks of work; when the OIG
interviewed Allen, he said that "he was not aware that the contract would
exceed $25,000," according to the report, "despite the existence of the
original proposal and without reason to believe the timeline had
changed." In an OIG interview, he said the initial $61,000 bid was
"merely a draft."
The other factor standing in
Allen's way when it came to hiring Diez was the competitive bidding
process -- Allen said the city was in "dire circumstances," and to avoid
it, the OIG says, Allen framed the deal as an extension of an
engineering contract from 2006 for drainage services. The OIG found that
stormwater runoff was not really all that related to being director of
Allen told the Sun-Sentinel that he
got approval for the deal and "was following appropriate city purchasing
policies and procedures." The report says he totally wasn't, and an
email to Allen, Diez, and others from Lauderdale Lakes Purchasing &
Contracts Manager Diane LeRay makes it clear that "the total amount
of the proposal exceeds that of the City Manager's authority." (The
email is on page 7 of the report, included below.)
commission did eventually approve a separate $42,000 payment to Diez
last August, but that didn't include money Allen had already dished out.
In all, it cost Lauderdale Lakes $64,700.52 to have a part-time
director of public works through the end of September -- that's almost
$159 per hour from a city that, if the previous OIG report is any
indication, doesn't even have enough money to pay its police.
$159 per hour sounds high to you, it's because it is -- for comparison,
when Diez was the salaried director of public works between 2005 and
2007, he made about $45 per hour.
Diez in charge of Lauderdale Lakes public works also meant putting him
in charge of contracts that his own engineering firm has with the city
-- and with recommending what future city projects might be needed. It
doesn't take an investigation to see the "both real and apparent
conflicts of interest... In contracting with his favored vendor
instead of conducting a competitive solicitation, Mr. Allen violated not
only the [city] Code, but also basic tenets of good public policy."
this conflict was one of practically immediate concern -- according to
the report, "one of Mr. Diez's first orders of business" was to
renegotiate city contracts, including those with ADA "or that ADA might
be interested in acquiring."
When the OIG
interviewed LeRay, she "initially stated that she did not know how the
partial amount of the proposal for $22,835" -- the original payment
pushed through by Allen -- "was approved." She said she did approve a
second partial payment, but only because "she had no other choice" and
was told that Allen was going to submit the entire amount to the City Commission for retroactive approval. Then she was fired.
for Diez, he threw Allen right under the bus -- he "admitted that the
initial proposal for Public Works management services was $61,000 and
that the proposal was revised to an amount within Allen's award
authority... He stated 'everyone knew why the proposal was split' and
that he was only doing what was requested of him in order to 'get the
The OIG report, just like the last one, is still technically a draft -- it will be finalized after those named in it have a chance to respond, which Allen told the Sun-Sentinel he planned to do. Trying to track down Diez for comment.