Hallandale Mayor Still Tiptoeing Around Controversial Consultant's Deal

It's been awfully hard to get Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper to talk about the consulting contract that her city manager gave to real estate agent Joe Kessel in 2008.

When I reached her last week, she first told me that it wasn't newsworthy. (I think otherwise.) Then she told me that she didn't know much, that I should talk to City Manager Mike Good. But Good wasn't calling me back. Ultimately, she could remember only one instance in which Kessel played a valuable consulting role. She waffled on the question of why she was aware of Kessel's contract while at least one other commissioner, Keith London, was not.

And she simply refused to answer a question about whether it was appropriate for Kessel to make public remarks during hearings about controversial city projects without disclosing his consultant's deal. See for yourself in this post. While you're at it, scroll to the bottom and read the comment that Cooper appears to have posted this morning.

As you can see, the mayor's memory problems appear to have cleared up. She wrote:

Joe Kessel was contracted on an "as needed basis". He was not hired nor paid $3,000 a month. He worked on two projects for the City Manager since 2008; tennis complex designs and Sunset Park land purchase. He has only received 4,200 in compensation.

The July 2008 contract, however, states specifically, "For work performed in any one month, [Kessel will receive] a $3,000 payment."

If in fact Kessel received only $4,200, then the next question is why the city staff hasn't responded to the records requests made by Commissioner London seeking this very information. (Cooper's comment challenges London's claim.) And while we're at it, the mayor should offer a few more specifics about how exactly Kessel helped the city on those two issues, given the possibility that a real estate agent like Kessel had a conflict of interest when it came to the city's purchase of land.

Finally, Cooper still doesn't offer an explanation for why neither she nor the city manager bothered to tell the commissioners and the audience that Kessel was speaking at meetings not merely as a former president of the Chamber of Commerce but as a paid consultant to the city.

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