Hallandale City Attorney Signed Off on Controversial Contract to Realtor | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Hallandale City Attorney Signed Off on Controversial Contract to Realtor

Hallandale Beach City Manager Mike Good has already been shown the door, but the purge of the ethically dubious may have just begun. Now the leading reformer, Commissioner Keith London, is going after Good's enabler, City Attorney David Jove. And he's got ammo.

Based on records that London provided to Juice, Jove gave legal approval for Good to forge a contract with realtor Joe Kessel -- a contract that appears to violate city law.

As Juice reported Tuesday, Kessel inked a consultant's contract with Hallandale Beach in July 2008 after Kessel explained in an all-caps "URGENT" email that he needed cash to make his mortgage payment. The 12-month contract called for Kessel to be paid up to $3,000 per month -- giving it a value of $36,000. All professional contracts in excess of $25,000 are supposed to be approved by the city commission.

The Hallandale Beach City Clerk was aware of this. Dent McGough, who is no longer working as clerk, even made a copy of the city ordinance, then jotted in the margin that the contract should not exceed $25,000. He initialed it, then placed in the file with the other Kessel materials, as if to say, "I'm not taking the fall for this one."

In a July 14, 2008 memo McGough tells Jove: "As understood by reading the agreement (between the city and Kessel), the compensation could exceed $25,000." He then asks several questions about whether this contract was put out to bid (it was not, Jove replied), who had authorized it (the city manager, Good), and why it wasn't processed according to administrative policy (because the city manager said so).

The city attorney may work with the city manager, but his real loyalty must lie with the commissioners, who depend on the city attorney for legal advice. In this case, Jove not only signed the contract (along with Good), he advised Good on drawing up the contract, judging an email correspondence between Jove's office and Kessel.

"His job has to be to represent the commissioners and to protect the city," says London, who adds that Jove has a habit of "counting votes" to keep his job, leading to his doing the bidding of the commission majority led by Mayor Joy Cooper, who backed Good until just recently, when his faults finally became politically unmanageable.

Jove did not return a phone message seeking comment for this article.

In his note responding to the city clerk, Jove said that the "contract gives CM (city manager) the flexibility to request services on an 'as needed' basis." And It's important to note that city records show Kessel was paid just $4,200 through his consultant's agreement.

But the point is that the contract still had a value in excess of $25,000, meaning that it should have gone to the commission.