Waterview Towers Part 3

The city of West Palm Beach continues to cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees due to the continual lawsuits filed on behalf of homeowners.

This story is an update on the recent lawsuit filed in behalf of the Waterview Towers.

Petitioner: Waterview Tower
Respondent: City of West Palm Beach
Writ of Certiorari: A decision by a court to hear an appeal from a lower court.

On October 9,2015 the 15th Judicial Circuit Court issued an Administrative Order in relation to the Petitioner’s “Petition for Writ of Certiorari” from City Commissioners for the city of West Palm Beach. Their petition sought to review the City’s approval and development orders related to the proposed hotel being built next-door.

The three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled unanimously in favor of the Waterview that the city departed from the essential requirements of the law by denying the petitioner procedural due process by depriving them of a meaningful opportunity to more fully participate in the approval process of the development orders.

The court released a 9 page ruling which served to strengthen Waterview Towers other lawsuits against the city, with another new lawsuit to be added this month.

The court issued an Administrative Order stating “As a result of the amended lease, and subsequent official acts, West Palm Beach Marina, the Developer and Petitioner’s are co-lessees of the entire parcel”

The court also issued a legal conclusion stating:
“We conclude the Petitioners likewise should have been permitted to participate as”parties” to the quasi- judicial zoning proceeding below as a result of their property interest in the parcel,including the vacant sub-parcel. Indeed, contrary to the Respondents argument. Petitioners here are more than mere “adjoining landowners” or “interested participants.” Instead they have an active property interest in the parcel of land which is a result of their status as co-lessees.”

The court also made the legal conclusion “We find this process afforded to the Petitioners was insufficient, and thus procedural due process requires that they be given the opportunity to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses in support of the project before the vote of the City Commission.”
“Accordingly, the petition for Writ of Certiorari is Granted and the Development Orders are Quashed .”

Oct.13,2015 I attended the City Commission meeting where two items, number 19 & 20 were discussed,and Waterview Towers has an interest in both items.

#19: Public Hearing and Second Reading of Ordinance number 4594-15: Regarding a request by Sam E. Poole of Berger Singerman, on behalf of Leisure Resorts, LLC, to amend various sections of the Zoning and Land Development Regulations to permit the Commercial Marina use within the City Center Lakefront Zoning district.

#20:Public Hearing and Second Reading of Ordinance 4595-15. A request by Sam E. Poole of Berger Singerman, on behalf of Leisure Resorts, LLC, to amend Table XV-6 “City-wide Parking Requirements” in section 94-486 of the Zoning and Land Development Regulations relating to the parking requirements for Commercial Marina’s.

The magic word in both Ordinance’s is amend. Webster’s dictionary defines amend as “To change some of the words and often the meaning of (a law, document, etc.”

The Director of Development Services Dept; Rick Greene, (not to be confused with City Administrator Jeff Green) never met a developer he didn’t like, and once again proved it by stating “Staff Recommended Motion” “Approve” and just like that the City Commissioner approved both Ordinance’s.

I question why when the Waterview’s Attorney John Eubanks brought to the City Commission facts that may not have been known to them, why they didn’t take the time to allow the Commission attorney, which they placed $10,000.00 in the city budget, for an opinion that may have differed from recently appointed City Attorney Kimberly Rothenburg.
Let’s keep in mind she worked and trained under retired City Attorney Claudia McKenna, who in my opinion was the queen of lawsuits.

Commissioner James did ask Ms. Rothenburg if she was confident in her answer’s, and she responded “yes.” What was she going to say, I’m not sure. The court issued it’s finding on 10/9/15 and the City Commission meeting was held 4 day’s later. Mayor Muoio and City Attorney knew of the courts decision. Did either of them advise the commissioners, if not why?

How would you like to be a resident of Waterview Towers and support a lawsuit in an attempt to receive justice from the city, and realize the taxes you pay the city are supporting the city’s opinion which the court’s continue to find in favor of the Waterview.

In the audience was the attorney for Waterview Towers and Mr. Jerry Waldman, President, of the Board of Directors. Both spoke on the issue to no avail, and the motion passed, but without the help of City Commissioner Paula Ryan.
Commissioner Ryan recused herself from the vote as she stated she missed the presentation and wasn’t familiar with this particular issue.

Commissioner Ryan dismissed the “Staff Recommends” and instead choose to study the matter further to insure she understood what she was voting for or against. What a concept.

Why didn’t the remainder of the commissioners postpone the vote in order to study both items and confer with their attorney? I don’t expect an answer, and neither should you.

Who is Hazeline Carson?

Cast of character’s.

Joanne Sharp:  Former City Clerk
Lakisha Burch: Interim City Clerk
Dorritt Miller:  Deputy City Administrator
Hazeline Carson: City Clerk


Joanna Sharp, Former WPB City Clerk, was as her name suggest, sharp. She was very careful about doing what she was supposed to do and concerned with doing it right. In other words she was extremely conscientious, and expected nothing less from the people who reported to her. She trained them well.
If you were to talk to employees who knew and worked with her they recall her fondly, and she was missed when she moved on. Ms Sharp resigned in May 2012.

Lakisha Burch, who worked and trained under Ms. Sharp was appointed as interim City Clerk. Ms Burch had the same work ethics as her former boss, and I always found her knowledgeable, courteous, and extremely helpful. If you placed a PRR (Public Records Request) with her she always responded within a day or two.

Hazeline Carson was at one time employed by the city of WPB as a legal assistant where she formed a friendship with Dorritt Miller before she left for a position as City Clerk in Lauderdale Lakes, Fl; and she was eventually fired from that position. You see a pattern here?

Ms Carson re-applied to the city for employment in the City Clerks office, and was denied a position. It appears someone did their homework in vetting her.

Right about this time Ms. Sharp resigned her position, and Ms. Burch appointed interim.

Here is how the story was told to me by a city insider:

Ms. Miller called Ms. Carson and told her to apply for the position of City Clerk.

Ms. Carson said she had already been denied a position with the city clerks office.

Ms. Miller told her not to be concerned, and just re-apply. She did. Guess what? She got the job, and was hired in Sept. 2012 as WPB City Clerk, 4 months after Ms. Sharps resignation.

Ms. Burch, who had done an outstanding job in the short amount of time she held the position returned to her former job as clerk.

A few weeks later I was walking into city hall and saw Ms. Burch holding a tissue to her face and running into the ladies room. I followed and asked what was wrong. She told me Ms. Carson had written her up again for some supposed infraction. It seems Ms. Carson was writing Ms. Burch up on a regular basis.

My advice to her was don’t let her force you out.
Her response to me was she would not allow her reputation to be damaged. She resigned.
In my opinion the city lost a good employee due to a bad one.

It is absolutely exhausting for a resident to receive a PRR since Ms Carson took office.

Ms. Barbara Peterson, President of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation, where she works exclusively on PRR has stated many of the complaints filed with her office come from WPB. When a complaint is filed she writes the city, the city complies only to revert back to their old way’s. I am enclosing a recent e-mail as an example of how the city tries to hide information from residents.
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
CC: [email protected]
Sent: 10/1/2015 9:57:50 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: 9/28/15 CC meeting

Dear Ms. Carson,

I have sat at my computer for the last 11/2 hrs trying to view the commission meeting held on 9/28/15. I was particularly interested in Item # 16. I tried to hear residents and commissioners comment’s and the meeting shut off before Resident #1 (William Crouse) finished his comment. He was followed by at least 6 more speakers.

I am requesting to visit city hall and be allowed to listen to the rest of the comments, commissioner’s comments, and how they voted.

Please let me know a convenient time to visit and hear the remainder of the meeting.

Please verify this request received.

In a message dated 10/2/2015 10:57:51 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, [email protected] writes:

Ms. Matkivich,

This is to acknowledge receipt of your request. I checked with TV18 and they were able to view and hear the meeting on the website. I also checked the website and was able to view and hear the meeting.

TV18 staff has informed me that there is no public computer available for viewing of City Commission meetings. The September 28th meeting will be rebroadcast on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. and again on Sunday, October 4, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.
Hazeline F. Carson, CMC
City Clerk
City of West Palm Beach
401 Clematis Street
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
[email protected]
561-822-1210 (office)
561-822-1214 (fax)

In a message dated 10/2/2015 11:18:23 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
[email protected] writes:
Ms. Carson
What are you talking about the city has “no public computers for viewing” I am pleased you and the TV 18 people were able to view the entire meeting. I watched the entire thing until resident Crouse (unsure of spelling) was making his statement and it ended. Where will the TV 18 be rebroadcast.on the dates you mentioned below? Did you and the channel 18 folks watch the entire 3 hour meeting? If yes, I think it’s wonderful you are having a slow day at the office.
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Sent: 10/5/2015 11:30:56 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Re: 9/28/15 CC meeting

Ms. Carson,
I sent the original e-mail on 10/1/15. I am requesting a PRR on all city employees and elected officials you have forwarded my request to. When you forward this e-mail please CC me a copy. Verify request received.
Sandy Matkivich.
Please verify this request received.

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Sent: 10/14/2015 2:32:31 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: PRR Request

Ms Carson,
My e-mail sent to you on 10/1/15, I am requesting the names of all city employees and elected officials you have forwarded my e-mail’s too, and their response.
I sent a request on 10/5/15, I am requesting the names of all city employees and elected officials you have forwarded my e-mail’s too, and their response.
Please verify this request received.
Ms Carson responded to my 1st e-mail, and has not responded to the other 3. It has now been 13 day’s and counting.
What I am looking for are the names of the people Ms Carson forwarded my requests too.

My guess would be:

Dorritt Miller: Her good friend she reports too.

Kimberly Rothenburg City Attorney

Eliot Cohen     Disgraced Director of Communications for the City of WPB. He oversees
the city TV channel (18) (No love lost between us)
And possibly Mayor Muoio and City Administrator Jeff Green.

Your tax dollars support Ms. Carson in the position of City Clerk.

In closing let me share with you
The city clerks office has a computer that is not used by regular staff, and clerks have allowed me to use it on 2 different occasions.
The city has a “training room” where a minimum of 20 computers sit on tables, but she writes TV 18 (Cohen) states there are no public computers available for viewing.

Who Knows Where The Bodies Are Buried?

Residents have questioned Mayor Muoio choice of people she has placed in position to supposedly help her run the city. People such as City Administrator, Jeff Green, who she promoted from Finance Director to City Administrator, Development Services Director, Richard Greene, there is more to be written on Mr. Greene at a later date, and former City Spokesman and Director of Communications, Eliot Cohen. Mr. Cohen is no longer the City Spokesman but remains on the city payroll as the Communications Director.

After Mr. Cohen released names of Confidential Informers, Undercover Police Officers, and sensitive investigations by the FBI on the city web site, and with call from residents and the Police Benevolent Associations to remove Mr. Cohen, Mayor Muoio refuses to let him go.

This following story may help explain one of the possible reasons why.

In 2013 the city announced they would outsource their CRA Department and Kim Briesemeister,who ran the city’s CRA dept from 2004 until 2013 resigned in August which allowed her Broward County based firm, RMA Associates to participate in the bidding process. Word leaked to the press that Ms. Briesemeister expressed confidence to her CRA staff that the commissioners would choose her company but denied the accusations when confronted by the press.

The residents were upset with the city and especially Ms. Briesemeister company RMA due to her numerous decisions made while working for the city. For Instance:

City Center: A citizen’s alliance group sued the city over the building of the new city hall, library and garage. The alliance group sued for the right to allow residents to vote on the project. The courts agreed, but then Mayor Frankel, pushed to have the projected finished, while giving the residents the one finger salute. This cost the taxpayer’s $300,000,00.

Digital Domain: The city gave prime city land valued at $10 million, along with $2 million in cash to Digital Domain in a partnership with FSU for a digital animation college.It was reported in the PB Post that Kim Briesemeister approved the deal between the city and Digital Domain, and said CEO John Textor was fully vetted.

On Sept.10,2012 Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell, Kim Briesemeister, and City Attorney Claudia McKenna drove to John Textor’s home for a private meeting.

On Sept.11, 2012 Digital Domain filed for bankruptcy.

On Sept.13,2012 Ms. Briesemeister reported to police her home was burglarized, and two laptops were stolen along with two briefcases filled with paperwork. A week later another burglary and more computer equipment along with jewelry was stolen. Ms. Briesemeister stated it was a private matter and refused to discuss the situation. It leaves one to wonder if the computer’s and briefcase’s contained information on Digital Domain, lost forever.

Now enter Mr. Cohen:
If you have kept up with city politics you are aware of the power Mr. Cohen has been given by Mayor Muoio. If you haven’t kept up, please take my word for it, this man has power over city employees, reporters, residents, and possibly the mayor herself.

The information below was received by a PRR from the city of WPB and the dates are taken from Mr. Cohen’s employment application. Please note the dates.

Jan. 2005 to Sept. 2005:  Office of the mayor, city of WPB. (Employed for 7 months, and didn’t appear to give much notice upon his leaving)

Sept. 2005 to May 2008:  Broward Sheriff’s office and was allowed to “resign.” The date on his “Broward County Sheriff’s Office Resignation Form was signed by both John F. Curry, Sheriff of Broward County on 3/7/08 and Dee Gargotta /IA (internal affairs). on 2/20/08. It appears Mr. Cohen left the BSO on Feb.6,2005, and not May as his WPB application states.

Aug.2008 to Feb.2012: Health First, Inc. Mr. Cohen started his new job 6 months after “resigning” from the BSO.

May 2012 to present: City of WPB. Back where he started.

About now you are asking what the CRA has to do with Mr. Cohen. Well they have history. When Mr. Cohen applied to the BSO he gave Ms. Briesemeister as a reference. So they go back at least 10 years. Coincidence, I don’t believe in them.

How much influence did Mr. Cohen have with Mayor Muoio in order to eliminate all applicants for the city’s CRA outsourcing and insure Ms. Briesemeister received the contract which has a budget of 28 Million dollars, and not much oversite.
See Mr. Cohen’s BSO application below.

Development of Significant Impact

The City helped name this story.

I start this story well aware that many who receive it will not be interested in reading it due to the fact it is not located in their neighborhood or surrounding area. I promise you it will be a matter of time before a developer comes snaking through your hood with the idea this would be a great place to make a few million dollars, and move on. Then you will care when your small piece of paradise is invaded with the full support of the mayor and city commissioners of WPB. Here is the story of one new development just approved by the Lords & Ladies, better known as city commissioners.

I attended the City Commission Meeting held on 9/28/15 and commission chambers had more residents than usual. They were there for Item # 16 on the agenda which was to change the Future Land Use designation of approximately 12.29 acres from Commercial to Multifamily.

Commissioners in attendance were: James, Moffett, Materio and Neering. Commissioner Ryan was out of town and therefore absent.

I listened as a dozen residents living in High Sierra, a community consisting of 32 homes addressed the commission. The speakers were professional, knowledgeable and respectful with their allotted 3 minutes to make their case. At no time did a resident ask that the development not be built. They asked that it be built with consideration of area residents and the traffic that would come with the new development.

The meeting started with the mayor and commission’s Quasi-Judicial (Disclosure of Ex Parte Communication) swearing in of witnesses, and this is where I became concerned.

All 4 commissioner disclosed they had received e-mails from residents.
Commissioner James disclosed he made a site visit which is located in his district.
Commissioners Moffett, Materio and Neering did not make site visits. These 3 commissioners were going to make a decision affecting people’s lives and they weren’t concerned enough to drive to the area to have a better idea of the situation they were about to vote on.

City Commissioners voted themselves, the mayor, along with other city hall royals $500.00/ month for car allowance which the taxpayer so generously supply. Mayor Muoio passes the area on her way home to Ibis, and she declared she didn’t make a site visit. You good with that?

I took a drive to Skees Rd (which is 1 mi. west of the turnpike) to visit High Sierra, which is the first development on Skees Rd; and spoke to a gentlemen named William Crouse who was the first speaker at the commission meeting.

I wanted to verify what was said at the commission meeting and Mr. Crouse showed me documentation and I had a tour of the small well maintained development. I saw Adonel Concrete, the second commercial business south of Okeechobee on the east side of Skees where they are producing and shipping concrete daily.

The developer of the new project is CMSJR Development Group (Mr. Scardina) who previously built Casa Brera in Lake Worth. The residents requested Mr. Scardina build the same size development on Skees as in Lake Worth.

Here is the comparison between Casa Brera and the yet to be named development, but for the sake of clarification let’s call it Skees Folly.

Casa Brera:    92 rental units on 12.2 acres or 7.7 units per acre.
Skees Folly:   245 rental units on 12.29 acres or 20 units per acre.

Casa Brera was built in 2013 and sold in 2015.
Skees Folly will consist of 5 buildings 4 stories high.
245 rental apartment and let’s figure 2 cars per household for an additional 490 cars traveling on Okeechobee Blvd. Some families will have 1 car-some will have 2 or 3 depending how many kids still live at home.

At the end of the commission meeting Commissioner Materio basically told the residents to suck it up and be good neighbor’s. She mentioned a development in her neighborhood that she didn’t particularly like, but there it was. What ever development she spoke about may have been approved before she was appointed to the commission. Just like the Walmart fiasco she didn’t want built in her district and with the help of her BFF former Commissioner Mitchell the city spent 2.9 million to purchase the land and insure Walmart didn’t build.

Q: Why did the Mayor and Commissioner’s vote to approve this massive development?
A: Because they can.

Q: Why does city government favor developer’s over residents?
A: Because they can.

Q: What can residents do?
A: Election March 2016 up for re-election Materio and Moffett, pray for challengers.
Payback has always been a bitch.

It would be nice if intelligent, honest candidates who are truly more interested in approving issues, and new developments that help, and are supported by the citizens and less interested in helping big money make more money. Unfortunately in the world of politics today it is nearly impossible to find a politician who will stand up for the common people and possibly lose their big money supporters.