Delray Beach CRA audit sparks tensions between new mayor and Sen. Abruzzoby Dara Kam | April 4th, 2013
An audit into the Delray Beach CRA’s spending has erupted into a face-off between new Mayor Cary Glickstein and state Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington.
Abruzzo is chairman of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, which unanimously ordered the review on Monday after a request from Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. The request for the audit comes in part over concerns about more than $300,000 spent on the Arts Garage.
At his first city commission meeting the following day since being elected after a bitter battle against incumbent Tom Carney, Glickstein lashed back at Abruzzo.
“I find the timing of this audit suspect and politically motivated,” Glickstein said Tuesday night.
He accused Abruzzo, a lobbyist for the law firm of Weiss, Handler & Cornwell, of a conflict of interest because, he said, the law firm also represents the city.
“Further I find it curious that notwithstanding a $65 million no-bid contract to a trash hauler which ran directly counter to our county director inspector general’s directive to bid the contract there was silence from Sen. Abruzzo but when spurious e-mails rife with innuendo are sent, Sen. Abruzzo jumps into action,” he went on. “Perhaps Sen. Abruzzo’s audit committee should expand its audit to include the waste management debacle if it’s genuinely interested in how Delray Beach conducts business.”
Glickstein told City Attorney Brian Shutt he wants details on the contract with the law firm before the next commission meeting.
And he ordered a public records request of both Clemens and Abruzzo “so we can determine…why Abruzzo and Clemens are now so interested in our CRA.”
The commission backed Glickstein on the request after City Attorney Brian Shutt told Glickstein he could not independently seek the records without the support of the commission.
Abruzzo fired back at Glickstein Wednesday night, saying his law firm does not lobby for the city but a separate entity, All Florida Solutions, created by the law firm’s partners does.
“I welcome all public records requests from Mayor Glickstein. Any legislator at any time can request an audit of a governmental entity for any reason,” Abruzzo said in a telephone interview. “The mayor’s comments about the Weiss, Handler & Cornwell law firm and my lobbying and lawmaking activity are wrong and inaccurate. I have never been a lobbyist for the city of Delray Beach. I am also prohibited by my job as a senator to lobby for any city to the state. In addition, the law firm Weiss, Handler & Cornwell for which I am employed is not the lobbyist for Delray Beach. I will not be deterred from doing my job by comments aimed at hurting me financially even if they are false. I would resign my private sector work and reduce my income before I would let it be used as pressure. Mayor Glickstein needs to learn about checking information before making comments. I would prefer to attribute it to his lack of experience in holding public office rather than negative, willful intent. I look forward to the completion of the audit.”