Chaz Stevens Postscript - 08/12/11
It's easy to play the race card these days in our current political environment. I, myself, have fallen victim to PC when I used the "N-word" in a discussion, sarcastically, but to make a serious point.
Most white people probably harbor deep-seated prejudices against African-Americans that go back to their parents or grandparents or places where they were raised. No one of any race is immune to such biases. Racism is a worldwide problem; it's a human issue, not just an American issue. The important question is if we can admit our feelings (at least to ourselves) and try to deal with them if they are irrational and baseless.
It's the same thing with integrity. Finger-point all you want at the moral imperfections of other people, but have you ever lied to cover a mistake or pretended to like someone you really don't? Think about it.
Or how about making stupid remarks like the one Chaz Stevens made about the DBHA director, Pam Davis — then denying that it might have had racist overtones to the ears of some people? Not one iota of racism, he wrote.
There was no reason in the world for Stevens to suggest that Ms. Davis, who is black, could not read a report because it was not written in Ebonics, when she is highly educated, in fact more so than he. Idiotic statements like this are bound to play on the sensitivities of people, especially black people, and provoke angry responses.
Chaz Stevens spews out epithets and profane labels which are intended to be demeaning and hurtful, aimed at people whom, for often unclear reasons, he doesn't like. In that context, the Ebonics remark is not all that unusual for him. Stevens is mean, spiteful, abusive, and hateful. He's that old joke: "I don't hate black people. I hate everybody." Now he's getting a taste of his own medicine.
Even more problematical in the larger picture is why the mayor and city commission want this guy on the DBHA. Racist or not, there are many reasons why Stevens should not be appointed to this or any other official position, some of which I summarized in the previous article.
As it turns out, Stevens' appointment at the Aug. 2 city commission meeting was legally deficient. Chaz Stevens is not yet a commissioner of the DBHA or even a commissioner-elect. The mayor and city commission get a chance to reconsider and essentially undo this mistake if and when they take up the question again. But will they?
In a Sun-Sentinel interview reported today (Aug. 12), Mayor Noland says, "I take things with a grain of salt." She indicates she still wants Stevens on the DBHA board, noting, of course, that she is not, herself, a racist.
"He sends us five emails a day. He doesn’t go away… he is relentless," Joe Miller told Judy Wilson of the Pelican after the vote. "My thought is he’s worth a shot even though he’s got a big ego. We’re influenced by his emails. He’s made a case for himself." Not a word about integrity or competence or professionalism, but implying only that Mr. Stevens is a pest.
Bill Ganz, who voted to make Stevens a DBHA commissioner, told Wilson: "I hope whatever we’re doing, the intent is not a personal vendetta." Yet, Stevens admitted in a blog post (in response, incidentally, to a statement I made on this website) that he has a personal vendetta against Ms. Davis.
Vice Mayor Marty Popelsky was the only commissioner to vote against Stevens' appointment. "I was surprised Peggy brought him up," he said.
In fact, some people believe the mayor and some of the commissioners gave in to fear of Mr. Stevens, that the "case for himself" was that he would continue to attack and intimidate the officials who denied him this appointment. This theory has been borne out to an extent.
After Popelsky's no vote on Aug. 2, Stevens posted this on his blog: "[Popelsky] is at the top of my shit list."
Conclusion: Only what I wrote before: "Chaz Stevens should not sit on the DBHA board."
A "Corrupt Bargain"? - 08/09/11
Mayor Noland and the city commission made a terrible mistake when they re-appointed Chaz Stevens to the DBHA board. Mr. Stevens may be correct that all is not right at the housing authority, but that does not mean he is the person to make it right.
Mr. Stevens readily questions the honesty of others. Yet he himself has no apparent qualms about using the words and works of others without permission or acknowledgment.
Some people question Mr. Stevens' mental stability. Every time he writes for his blog or posts a comment to another blog, Stevens says more about his mental state than all the amateur psychologists combined. He regularly calls public officials shitbirds, fucktards, and douche-nozzles. He labeled Mayor Noland with a word which is universally recognized as one of the most offensive things to call a women of any status.
In a recent post on his blog, he used a picture of me from this website without permission and labeled it a "turd-burglar." This is a slang term which denotes a homosexual, especially one with a fetish for excrement.
It is this sort of copyright infringement and reckless disregard of the truth that questions Mr. Stevens' own integrity and sense of right and wrong.
Mr. Stevens responded to an article I wrote about Mayor Noland's intention to remove the DBHA board of commissioners with another slang expression, "STFU." Will he tell colleagues on the DBHA and others who dare challenge him also to "shut to f--- up"?
The citizens of Deerfield Beach have a right to expect that public officials, including board members and commissioners of the housing authority, to be honest, competent, and decent people committed to open, frank discussion. Stevens has no special competence for this position. He shows little respect to others who disagree with him. Many are confounded by this appointment in light of his history and his own words.
Are the mayor and city commissioners who consented to this that afraid of Chaz Stevens? Or is this the result of — to use a term coined by John Randolph a long time ago — a "corrupt bargain"?
Conclusion: Chaz Stevens should not sit on the DBHA board. What the heck were they thinking?
West Wants HUD Audit of DBHA - 07/09/11
Why didn't the city do what Allen West did if the mayor and city manager are so darned concerned that something is awry at the DBHA? Instead, the city spent beaucoup local taxpayer bucks for its contracted auditor, Kessler, to audit the housing agency, which is not part of the city government, which costs city taxpayers nary a dime, and about which most residents could hardly care less. I'd bet that if we surveyed 100 randomly-selected local residents, we would be lucky to find one or two who even heard of DBHA or have a clue what it does. And while city officials investigate DBHA at taxpayer expense, they complain how fiscally distressed the city is, justifying, among other things, imposition of a new — and unpopular — utility tax.
The surveyed residents, when fully informed of the DBHA affair, might be darkly amused also, not only by the misuse of city funds, but by the cruel irony that one of the charges leveled at the DBHA is nepotism — this from a city whose public officials and employees could almost fit into a single family tree — or, to be fair, two families — the Nolands and the Poitiers.
What Congressman West did is ask HUD to look into issues raised about the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority. DBHA is, for most practical purposes, more a branch of the federal government than an extension of city government. DBHA's mission is to "provide quality affordable housing and self-sufficiency programs that improve the quality of life for individuals and families in Deerfield Beach" using mostly federal funds channeled through HUD. About the only thing the city has to do with DBHA is that the mayor appoints and can remove the agency's board of commissioners with the consent of the city commission. But it's an important connection, as we are now finding out, because the mayor can use her power to remove the board to force the DBHA to serve her will. In the instant case, her will is for the board to fire the agency director and force the agency to turn over records to Kessler that the DBHA allegedly failed to do.
There is a difference of opinion whether the DBHA complied with the records request, based on the public statements of the DBHA director and the mayor, who is apparently getting her information from outside sources. Aside from this factual dispute, there has been no legal determination that records were improperly withheld. It is not within the mayor's or the city's authority to make such a determination. The state public records law sets out how such disputes are resolved.
HUD will have access to all records it needs for its own investigation. Better, also, that the audit will be impartial, not serve special interests or further personal vendettas.
Conclusion: Let's take the DBHA matter out of the hands of the city and make it a federal case, which it should have been from the git-go.
Noland's "War" on the DBHA - 06/27/11
War is what the Sun-Sentinel calls Mayor Peggy Noland's latest proposal for the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority. She wants to remove the whole DBHA governing board, bing bang boom.
Noland claims the DBHA has been uncooperative in turning over records requested by Kessler International, a firm hired by the city to do an audit of the agency. The DBHA is an independent agency — not part of city government — but the members of its board of commissioners are appointed by the mayor and city commission.
This is the official explanation. Not everybody is going to buy it. There's good reason not to.
Those following this story since Chaz Stevens fired the first shots a year or so ago know there's a lot more to it than a squabble over public records. After all, there could be legitimate disagreements over which records must be turned over to the auditor or other requester and what information may be protected from public disclosure. If this were the whole case, then the city, or Kessler, could sue. If there is a wholesale canning of the board instead to force compliance with Kessler's records requests (or for other unannounced reasons), it's a completely different matter.
The real reason, of course, is Noland wants to fire the board so that a new board will fire the agency's director and legal counsel. This is something she can't do herself.
It's not clear why the mayor would want to take such drastic action when there are other alternatives to placing the DBHA in such peril. To remove the board all at once would cripple the agency, leaving it without a board. It's been difficult enough as is to find people who want to serve on the DBHA or on any city board. Who would want to serve now in such a thankless and boring position with a possible outcome like this? Are we to believe that there are many people waiting in the wings chomping at the bit to be a housing commissioner? If this were the case, it's hard to explain why close to half the seats on the board are currently vacant or expired.
If Noland's proposal is an attempt to intimidate or scare the commissioners into compliance, or for that matter, to get them to make staff changes, it could also have larger consequences. I don't know about you, but if I were Caryl Berner or Chairman Keith Emery, who's served on the board for nearly 20 years, I'd just leave. To hell with it; there's no good ending, especially for Berner. Why be brought down and disgraced by a dispute over public records requests which is only the cover story for the real reason for the move? It appears from the Sun-Sentinel article that at least one commissioner, Richard Sales, is ready to walk away.
Or is it that Noland has herself been bullied or intimidated into making such a unusual and dangerous move? It's not beyond the realm of possibility. An official inquiry would be justified if for no other reason to clear the air of any such suspicion.
In fact, why not an official investigation of the whole DBHA matter if there is really good reason to believe misconduct or mismanagement of the agency? Take it out of the hands of the auditor whose standing in the public eye isn't all that high. Then the relevant public records could be subpoenaed and the matter resolved.
Conclusion: Intimidation — "war" — is not the way. It's time for a more sensible approach and for the mayor to back off.