Activist Launches Coup of Deerfield Housing Board | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Activist Launches Coup of Deerfield Housing Board

The last time the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority's board met, the topic of conversation was Acts of Sedition blogger Chaz Stevens -- specifically, whether his blog posts alleging corruption in the housing agency's contracting process amounted to libel.

Yet there's a good chance that at the next meeting of that board, Stevens himself will be sworn in as a member, along with his father and another reform-minded ally whose name he won't yet disclose.

Mayor Peggy Noland, who appoints the housing board, told Juice this afternoon that she's been disappointed by the truancy of current board members and that she wants to replace five of the seven.

But Noland has her own history of clashing with Stevens. Would she dare give him more power?

"Yeah," says the mayor in answer to that question. "There's a lot of people who agree and don't agree, but if (Stevens) is willing to volunteer his time and sit on the board, he's welcome."

That may come as a surprise to at least one interested party -- attorney William G. Crawford, who has a contract to serve the housing authority board at a rate $225 per hour. In an email he sent Wednesday, Crawford told Stevens, "You are so obsessed over whether I am going to sue you, you can hardly sleep at night."

Responding to a note in which Stevens predicted he would be appointed to the housing board, Crawford wrote, "I can't believe a serious public official would appoint you to anything, especially given what you have written about the Mayor and the Commission."

I asked Stevens whether he could work with Crawford. "Sure," he said. But the activist has become wary of Crawford and what he calls a "cabal" of housing authority officials who are part of the agency's problem. "Why are they taking such an adversarial tone with me?" he asks. "Why am I the bad guy? I made some allegations -- and Crawford calls me 'nasty and vile'?"

That phrase came from another email exchange between the two.

As for the reforms to the agency that Stevens would pursue? "As I understand it, the procurement process was questionable, if not downright illegal," he says, citing conflicts of interest in at least two contracts, one to Best-Tec Abatement and one to Ridge Construction.

Mayor Noland says that she's been frustrated by the lack of applicants to the housing authority board -- she would also like to appoint two alternate board members, too. She asked that I make a pitch to Juice readers in hopes that she'll get plenty of applications to choose from.

This being Deerfield Beach, don't discount a surge in applications from the droves of enemies that Stevens has made during his scorched-earth blogging campaign. I asked Stevens if he's nervous that the mayor will pass him over.

"She needs help; I offered," he said. "She needs to put aside her personal or political feelings about me and realize I'm out to do what's best for Deerfield Beach."