Delray mayor attacks Abruzzo, Clemens over CRA audit

Delray mayor cary glickstein 246x300TALLAHASSEE  — A planned state audit of the Delray Beach Community
Redevelopment Agency has become a war of words between the mayor and a
state senator from Palm Beach County.

Calling the timing of the CRA audit — approved Monday in Tallahassee —
“suspect and politically motivated,” Delray Beach Mayor Cary
Glickstein fought back at a City Commission meeting Tuesday.

Glickstein asked the city attorney to formally seek public records
related to the audit, which was requested by state Sen. Jeff Clemens,
D-Lake Worth, and pushed by state Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington.

Glickstein said the records are needed  to “discern definitively why
Sens. Abruzzo and Clemens are now interested in our CRA.”

On Monday, the state Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved the
audit request after Abruzzo expressed “multiple concerns”
regarding the use of CRA funds for the nonprofit Arts Garage, as well
as potential “conflicts of interest” between CRA board members and
contractors for the organization.

At Tuesday’s commission meeting, Glickstein cited what he called a potential
“conflict of interest”  between the city and the law firm of Weiss,
Handler and Cornwell, which employs Abruzzo.

“I am uncomfortable with our relationship with that firm,” Glickstein
said, maintaining the city is paying a “lobbyist, who is also a
regulator, who is now auditing our CRA.”Arts garage, Delray Beach

Though clearly angry at news of the audit, Glickstein – along with the
other commissioners – pledged full cooperation with the inquiry.

“I believe the Arts Garage to be a worthy addition to our nonprofit
economic drivers,” he said.

In Tallahassee late Wednesday, Abruzzo responded with a lengthy
statement, noting that the firm he works for is legally
separate from the city’s lobbying firm, which he identified as All Florida
Solutions. According to the Florida Secretary of State’s Office, the
registered agent for All Florida Solutions is Henry Handler, a founding partner of Weiss, Handler and Cornwell.

“I welcome all public records requests from Mayor Glickstein,” Abruzzo
said. “Any legislator can request an audit of any governmental entity
for any reason. The passage of the Delray CRA request was unanimous by
all legislators present.

“The mayor’s comments regarding the law firm Weiss, Handler and
Cornwell and my lobbying activity are wrong and inaccurate.

“I have never been at any time a lobbyist for the city of Delray
Beach. I am also prohibited by my job as senator to lobby for any city
to the state.

“In addition, the law firm Weiss, Handler and 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 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.”

Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

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