Is This A Cover-up And Whitewash Of Financial Improprieties That Spans a Decade?

More Port Orange Wheeling & Dealings

. Dear Mayor, City Council and City Manager,. The purpose of this letter is to urge you in the strongest possible terms NOT to approve the Amendment of Agreement with Halifax Paving for excavation and stockpiling of fill material at the City wellfields as it appears on tonight’s Council agenda.  To do so would be, at best, a gross dereliction of your duties as representatives of the best interests of the public and, in reality, could be seen by outside observers as a cover-up and whitewash financial improprieties that spans a decade. .
The Amendment of Agreement is but the latest modification in a series of Change Orders to a Contract that the City has had with Halifax Paving since 2003 or 2004.  In no instance has Halifax Paving met its financial or contractual obligations to the City within the terms of these agreements.  Yet the City now, by proposing the current settlement with Halifax, would have taxpayers believe that they will be made whole if Halifax or its surety simply pays us $1,050,000 cash or an amount of fill dirt of equal value. This is far from the truth.  Consider the facts:

  1. In 2005 Halifax already owed the City $1,050,000 for 500,000 cubic yards of fill it contracted to purchase from the excavation of the first reclaim lake.
  2. Rather than seek payment in 2005, the City broadened Halifax’s existing dirt-hauling contract to include construction of the second lake and extended the time for completion (and payment of the $1,050,000) another two years to 2007.  Halifax, at this time, did not have a lake-construction contract but a Change Order to their dirt-hauling contract was nevertheless used to award them the contract without competitive bidding.  Halifax was to construct the second lake for the value of the fill it excavated from the site.
  3. The second lake was not completed by the 12/31/2007 deadline, and the City extended the time for completion another year to 2008 with Change Order No 2.
  4. The second lake was not completed by the 12/31/2008 deadline, and the City extended the time for completion another two years to 2010 with Change Order No 3.  Change Order No 3 also specified the excavation of an additional one million cubic yards of fill, of which the City was to receive 250,000 cy, and provided for incentives and penalties of up to $350,000 for early or late completion of the second lake.
  5. The second lake was not completed by the 12/31/2010 deadline and is not complete today.  In fact, the Saint Johns River Water Management District estimated in December of 2013 that it was only about 70% complete.

On 12/10/2013 the City extended its agreement with Halifax until 12/31/2014 and now seems prepared to accept much less than what it is owed to simply make the mess go away.  At the very least, the taxpayers of Port Orange have a right to expect:

  1. $1,050,000 cash from Halifax for their original purchase of 500,000 cubic yards of dirt.  (I suppose interest for ten years is out of the question?)
  2. 250,000 cubic yards of fill from Halifax for Change Order 3.
  3. $350,000 cash from Halifax, as agreed, for failure to complete the lake on time.
  4. $60,000 cash or an equal value of fill dirt as Halifax’s part of the Coraci Park Settlement Agreement of 2009.
  5. A completed second lake with all the other considerations involved in the original Contract.

If the Council approves the current Amendment, however, it appears Halifax can abandon the reclaim lake project by simply delivering to the City 300,000 cubic yards of fill dirt.  That’s less than they owed us in 2005!  Halifax Paving, Inc is an established and well-known construction company in this area and its connections with members of the business and political communities run wide and deep.  What appears to have started out as a sweetheart deal for them in 2005 appears even sweeter now. Council should use extreme caution to ensure it has all the facts before making a decision that might seem unethical or biased, especially at taxpayer expense.
Best regards,
Mike Gardner
618 Ruth St
Port Orange, FL  32127

11 thoughts on “Is This A Cover-up And Whitewash Of Financial Improprieties That Spans a Decade?

  • July 17, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Here is an anecdotal tale of the history of Allen Green. Back in the mid nineteen nineties a public utilities crew did some work running about 40 feet of 3/4 inch flexible tubing off a water main on Jackson Street running adjacent to the canal in the front of mayor Allen Green’s property. This was to supply water to the mayor’s property. The public utility personnel needed to replace about a dozen pieces of sod along the canal where they trenched down to insert the tubing.
    While the public utilities employees were performing this work numerous public works crews that were under the direction of Warren Pike were dispatched to the mayor’s property to raze an entrance bridge that crossed the canal to his property and replaced it with a brand new pressure treated pine bridge with railing that spanned approximately 20 feet. In addition to this they re-sodded his entire front lawn, planted trees, and landscaped the front yard. This took numerous public works crews several days.
    Now I am not insinuating that the mayor did anything wrong. What I am saying is that this had to cost well over 10 thousand dollars and could be done much cheaper by a private landscaper and carpentry subcontractor. Inter city chargebacks are much more expensive and city labor costs to the taxpayer would double the cost of having this work done by a private company. The question is why would city crews be dispatched to the mayor’s property to perform this kind of work? Presupposing that mayor Green is an impeccably honest man then obviously the materials and labor for the improvements on the mayor’s property would be accounted for in the public works budget for that period as a chargeback.
    Seeing that this work could cost well over 40% more by public utility workers compared to the private sector, did mayor Allen Green order and pay for this work as an altruistic act to generate additional revenue for the city and justify the retention of city employees?
    Well in the parlance of the city’s civil service rules employees need to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Does this also apply to elected officials? The anecdote I just described certainly does appears on the surface to be extremely improper. It is abundantly clear that mayor Allen Green reads this blog with regularity, so I am asking the mayor to dispel any doubts regarding this apparent impropriety and provide full budgetary disclosure relative to the city’s accounting of this work that all materials and labor have been paid for by the mayor. Also explain why you would dispatch multiple crews of public employees to do improvements on your personal real property.
    Finally, understand that if you do not respond to this post with a legitimate explanation and prima facia evidence that there has been no conversion of city material and labor on your part than the public will get the picture. Remember there are current city employees that have witnessed this incident first and were there when this transpired. Why not clear this up now if you are an honest man. This situation only makes people speculate where all that dirt that Halifax Paving excavated disappeared to. There will be more anecdotal accounts of the infamous exploits of mayor Allen Green to follow.

  • July 18, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Dear Mr. Indomitable Witness. Please do not hold your breath waiting for a response. I can assure you that Mayor Green never reads the blogs on this website. And why should he? They are mostly comments made by people like yourself that have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. It is laughable for you to think the mayor will respond to a threat. Would you? If you have evidence that something was done illegally bring forth the evidence. Otherwise it is not fair to cast aspersions simply because you have jumped on the “down with the mayor and city manager” bandwagon.

    • July 23, 2014 at 10:32 am

      Ragnar II I have some difficulty with your issue with IW. I can agree that probably IW is on the bandwagon of “down with the mayor” but his suspicion has some merit because it is based in a tangible act or work project. At least by making his concern public the mayor has the opportunity to respond or even yourself if you have any facts to clear up IW’s concerns. Many of the anti city hall crowd are trying to get at the real facts about their suspicions and speculation. What I discern in your approach is that you are not interested to dispel these suspicions but merely want them to stop because there are no publicly known facts to support them. If there were such facts they would of course not be suspicions or speculations.
      Because of the nation’s experience in past political practices, it is proper and beneficial that citizens keep a watchful eye on all events that may be of a political nature, and to follow a line of inquiry which starts with “what if?” The citizens who want all the “what ifs” to stop I think are being less prudent or perhaps protective. I understand their predicament. Like the anti city hall people the pro city hall people do not easily have access to facts which would prove or dispel suspicions, speculations and allegations. But the targets of such speculation can dispel such perspectives by merely communicating the facts to the public in what ever media they choose. When they do not respond, it only adds to the proliferation of more what if’s whenever new negative facts are discovered. If there were not real negative facts discovered, perhaps the perspective of doubting many circumstances would lessen. But for the good of all, even for the good of those who are targets of speculation, it is time to participate in the social discussion of Port Orange city hall. If the targets do not want to join in blogs, they have ample resources to clear the air about some of the negative perceptions going around. If they do not participate in defensive communication they are part of the problem which is growing larger by each day. The targets can use any formal communication media they wish which could be a press release, memo to the city manager, or letter to the news journal. But the idea that these negative suspicions and speculations should be stopped, and are not appropriate, is in my opinion avoiding the reality of the mess in city hall. All is not right in city hall right now. And compounding the problem is that it seems no one is capable of making things all right in city operations. Which leads to implications of a deep, serious cancer within city government which perhaps only surgery might cure.

  • July 18, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    First of all you are not Ragnar, You will never enter into the “Halls Of Valhalla” Where The Brave Are Not Forgotten. Only warriors with indomitable will enter into those gates..
    Secondly their are numerous current employees that witnessed what I described. If this historical event that in fact did take place was legitimate, than the city’s accounting for that year will reflect a chargeback which is a city accounting practice when an exception where city materials and labor are employed and provided to a private citizen or business in special circumstances.
    Since what I describe most certainly did occur, then there should be a legitimate and honest explanation that will be reflected in the city’s accounting for that period. That is what is referred to as internal controls, which the lack of has been the crux of the city’s present implosion.
    As far as the mayor not reading the blogs is concerned, I suppose that is why it has been indicated by others that he has been overheard by numerous employees that if he could prove that any city employee was blogging he would fire them and worry about the legal and civil rights violations afterward. This is not something that someone would say that did not read or was not effected by free speech and open governance.
    Nothing has been said defamatory about the mayor in this anecdotal account of a historical event. Some legitimate questions were posed that are consistent with transparency and open governance. The ball is in the mayor’s park if he is an honest man. The legitimate internal controls should be in place to reflect his honesty in the city’s accounting for that period if he is in fact honest.. Quit being an anonymous mayoral nut hugger and please don’t use the moniker Rangar II because you are the farthest thing from a Viking warrior and you know that.

  • July 18, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Why Are Politicians So Corrupt These Days?
    Everybody likes to rail on about corrupt politicians these days. They sling mud at their opponents, do sleazy things and try to get away with it, hang out with lobbyists, and give special favors to their political friends. Come election time, challengers from the outside always promise to end the corruption that’s inside and bring a fresh start. Then the same thing happens a few years later. Why are our politicians so corrupt?
    It’s tempting to think that today’s politicians in Washington, D.C. are corrupt in an unprecedented manner, and to try to find reasons to explain it. Maybe it’s the result of social moral decay. Maybe it’s because the population of the United States has more than tripled since the number of House Representatives was fixed at 435, so representatives can no longer be as close to the people.
    Maybe there are specific factors contributing to modern corruption, but I just want to point out for the sake of perspective that this is nothing new. Bill Clinton lied in the 90′s. Nixon had his Watergate scandal in the 70′s. And that’s just very recent history. The ever-helpful Wikipedia has a fantastically long list of federal political scandals going all the way back to the time of George Washington, when a senator was “expelled from the Senate for trying to aid the British in a takeover of West Florida.” One of Andrew Jackson’s appointees embezzled over a million dollars (in the 1830′s) and “fled to Europe to avoid prosecution.” Ulysses S. Grant’s administration had an infamous Whiskey Ring full of bribes and kickbacks that resulted in “110 convictions.” The list is full of suspicious behavior, unsightly cover-ups, and outright fraud. It’s true that the list gets notably longer for more recent administrations – but it’s hard to know if that’s because politicians are more corrupt or if it’s just easier to keep track of them these days. Regardless, the U.S. federal government certainly has a long history of corruption.
    Furthermore, the federal government is not the only level at which corruption exists in the U.S. political system. Just look at Illinois, formerly governed by Rod Blagojevich. That’s nothing new either – Wikipedia’s list of state and local political scandals is even longer. And don’t forget about the corruption in tiny municipalities that escapes national news. Just last week I learned about a friend in the lawn care business who was asked for a bribe by a local official to ensure that he would win a contract. He refused and won the contract anyway, but how many local officials in my city alone are padding their pockets with a few hundred dollars apiece from local businessmen who aren’t so scrupulous? Then multiply that by thousands of cities across the United States.
    But not only is corruption in politics not limited to any level of United States government or any period of United States history, it is most certainly not limited to the United States. A simple Google search of “why are politicians so corrupt” reveals pages of people asking “why are Israeli politicians so corrupt,” “why are African politicians so brutally corrupt,” and “why is India so dirty and corrupt,” in addition to your run-of-the-mill questions about Chicago and New Jersey. The thorough Wikipedia article about general political corruption includes a World Map Index of perception of coruption, and the United States is actually one of the better countries on the map, perceived as less corrupt than almost the entire continents of Africa, Asia, and South America, as well as large swaths of the Middle East, Indonesia, Central America, and even parts of Europe. It’s not like we have to worry about paying bribes to drug lords or policemen to keep them off our property.
    Now it’s entirely possible that US federal politicians are more corrupt than ever before. Congressional approval ratings are at new all-time lows, and the lobbying connections of big business to government can seem incredibly fierce. I’m not saying that it’s not worse, but it’s definitely been bad for a long time. It’s been bad at all layers of US government for a long time. It’s been bad across the entire world for a long time, and it’s much worse in many other places in the world.
    It’s almost as if there’s a universal principle that humans in power discover they like power and begin to do shocking things to try to maintain that power. I believe that’s evidence of man’s innate sinful nature, but even if you don’t share my theology, I challenge you to at least think hard about the notion that man is inherently good. Sure, there are benevolent kings in our history books, but the world largely rid itself of monarchs in the last few centuries because most of them weren’t.
    That’s why our government system has its formalities of checks and balances. Even if the new leaders always seem to get as corrupt as the old ones, they can’t do whatever they want, and at least we can replace them every few years. We still have the ability to root out corruption – even when politicians are convicted of fraudulent activities, well, at least we convicted them. And every once in awhile we even stumble upon electing integrity-filled citizens who work very hard to suppress those dangerous attractions of power.
    But that is not the norm, and it never will be. That is why we must be ever skeptical about granting more power to elected – or worse, appointed – officials. Well-intentioned people often think governments need more power to fix certain problems, but they also should think about what problems they might be able to create. Who watches the watchmen, and all of that. Man is not inherently good, and power will always corrupt. So let us always keep that in mind when we talk about today’s corrupt politicians and what to do about them.

    • July 23, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Eddie, I think that is an excellent editorial by you.
      I agree with everything you wrote with one qualification.
      I approve of giving government the power and authority to do things that are needed, but only if the proper checks and controls are in place to monitor that use of power and to make accountable those who misuse that power.
      The new aspect about the abuses of power and governments in our era is that it is harder to cover them up and hide them. This is due to the fantastic instant relay of information and speculation through the digital news media and the internet.
      In this nation, the most damaging perspective to the integrity of politicians is the constitutional right to free speech by way of the legalize bribery carried out by lobbyists.
      By law it is permitted, but by reason and rationality it does not have to be approved of, and it is the right of all citizens to protest this law and practice. Just because it is law does not make it right, especially when it is damaging the democratic process in America. A citizen’s opinion does not have the same weight of merit in a politician’s office as does a lobbyist or in the case of Port Orange, a fellow business acquaintance of a city council person.

  • July 18, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Sorry to burst your bubble but I am as much a Viking warrior as you claim to be. Only thing different is that we have opposing opinions, and that is the Viking, I mean, American way.
    Let the accusers step forward with the facts, not rumors. If the mayor is guilty of any illegalities prove it. If it is the truth we have a judicial system that will handle it in a court of law. After all, even the Vikings had laws and the majority ruled. I am not a mayoral nut hugger, only a fair hugger. How about you, would you want to be accused of an untruth? Jarl Borg and King Horik got what they deserved. Mayor Green is not Jarl Borg or King Horik.
    Finally, just to set the record straight, I have Viking blood running through my veins. My heritage goes directly to Scandinavia. Both grandparents from the old country. Can you make that claim? The Halls of Valhalla await me but I’m not ready to enter yet. I hope you aren’t either.
    I’m not mad at you for your claim about me and don’t be so insulting. I know my history and can assure you I have grown up a Viking and have lived a Viking life. Honest, trustworthy, and willing to take risks. After all, Vikings are independent thinkers. We ruled the world for 200 years and traveled to America over a thousand years ago. There were many Vikings, you are not the only one. “Oh Lord, deliver us from the wrath of the Northmen”.

    • July 18, 2014 at 10:27 pm


  • July 18, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Public Corruption
    Why It’s Our #1 Criminal Priority
    public corruption is a breach of trust by federal, state, or local officials—often with the help of private sector accomplices. It’s also the FBI’s top criminal investigative priority. To explain why the Bureau takes public corruption so seriously and how we investigate, we talked with Special Agent Patrick Bohrer, assistant section chief of our Public Corruption/Civil Rights program at FBI Headquarters.
    Question: Why is public corruption so high on the FBI’s list of investigative priorities?
    Answer: Because of its impact. Corrupt public officials undermine our country’s national security, our overall safety, the public trust, and confidence in the U.S. government, wasting billions of dollars along the way. This corruption can tarnish virtually every aspect of society. For example, a border official might take a bribe, knowingly or unknowingly letting in a truck containing weapons of mass destruction. Or corrupt state legislators could cast deciding votes on a bill providing funding or other benefits to a company for the wrong reasons. Or at the local level, a building inspector might be paid to overlook some bad wiring, which could cause a deadly fire down the road.
    Q: Can you describe the kinds of public corruption that the FBI investigates?
    A: It really runs the gamut. Bribery is the most common. But there’s also extortion, embezzlement, racketeering, kickbacks, and money laundering, as well as wire, mail, bank, and tax fraud. Right now, based on our intelligence on emerging trends, we are focused specifically on several major issues: corruption along our national borders; corrupt officials who take advantage of natural disasters or economic crises to divert some of the government’s aid into their own pockets; and a myriad of officials who may personally benefit from the economic stimulus funding.
    Q: Where do you find this corruption?
    A: Just about everywhere—at the federal, state, and local levels throughout the country. And I should point out, the vast majority of our country’s public officials are honest and work hard to improve the lives of the American people. But a small number make decisions for the wrong reasons—usually, to line their own pockets or those of friends and family. These people can be found—and have been found—in legislatures, courts, city halls, law enforcement departments, school and zoning boards, government agencies of all kinds (including those that regulate elections and transportation), and even companies that do business with government.
    Q: How does the FBI investigate public corruption?
    A: We’re in a unique position to investigate allegations of public corruption. Our lawful use of sophisticated investigative tools and methods—like undercover operations, court-authorized electronic surveillance, and informants—often gives us a front-row seat to witness the actual exchange of bribe money or a backroom handshake that seals an illegal deal…and enough evidence to send the culprits to prison. But we have plenty of help. We often work in conjunction with the inspector general offices from various federal agencies, as well as with our state and local partners. And we depend greatly on assistance from the public. So let me end by saying, if anyone out there has any information about potential wrongdoing by a public official, please submit a tip online or contact your local FBI field office. Your help really makes a difference.

  • July 28, 2014 at 6:12 am

    TRR I think you are missing the point. This is not about your Viking bloodline, it’s about the city’s loss of internal control and possible corruption.


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