In an effort to boost public awareness, the Children’s Services Council of Broward County (CSC) used taxpayer dollars to purchase television advertising on CBS Miami, Univision and a local charity tied to Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness. In February 2014, the CSC board approved a $115,000 “low-cost, value added partnerships with mainstream and niche media in print, radio, television and internet.” The Children’s Services Council paid $55,000 to Bitner Goodman public relations firm to develop this “low-cost” plan. As part of its television media plan, the CSC agreed to pay $5000 to the Community Access Center in Miramar.
Just one problem, the Community Access Center is not a television station. According to its website, the mission of Community Access Center is “to assist individuals and families with access to culturally competent, cost effective social and clinical services to ensure their needs are met and improves their quality of life.” Community Access Center appears to be a clearinghouse for dozens of government programs and handouts. Among the services offered by the CACFL are Medicaid, food stamps, free HIV testing, free pregnancy tests and services, voter registration, and immigration services.
Last April, RED BROWARD exposed Dale Holness’ “pork project” which funneled $15,000 worth of taxpayer dollars to Community Access Center for cultural events. According to state records, Commissioner Holness is the vice president of Community Access Center, Inc. (CACFL). The taxpayers also provided $1,700 worth of mailing and web site design services. However, it appears the CACFL website has not been updated since 2013.
According to the media agreement obtained by RED BROWARD, Community Access Center would produce two taped interviews with officials of the Children’s Services Council. The interviews would “promote CSC Broward Aware Campaign and Summer Safety in the Haitian Community.” The agreement indicates these interviews would air on “CAC’s ‘Tele-Access Show’ in Creole (Island TV-Comcast Channel 578).” The Children’s Services paid $2,200 to have thirty minutes of airtime on the Comcast public access channel.
A review of the Island TV website and YouTube channel indicates as severe lack of viewers. Dubbed “your gateway to the Caribbean,” the Island TV website is a collection of old videos and a link to watch a “live” broadcast. When you click the link you’re taken to a three month old video. The Island TV YouTube channel has just 69 videos and only 139 subscribers. Most videos feature topics related to events in Haiti and Miami such as an interview with Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.
Children’s Services Council gave Community Access Center taxpayer dollars to purchase advertisements in a “Haitian Newspaper.” The agreement calls for two 1/2 page black & white advertisements in Le Floriden. According to its website, Le Floridien has been “an important part of the day for the haitian population’s most sophisticated readers” since 2001. The Children’s Services Council paid $1,000 for two ads. The first ad, touting the “Broward Aware” event, was to run in the March 16-31, 2014 edition. However, thatedition does not contain the half-page advertisement. The issue has advertisements for Community Access Center and Island TV, but nothing about “Broward Aware” or the Children’s Services Council.
The Community Access Center appears to be in the radio business as well. The Children’s Services Council paid Community Access Center $1,800 of taxpayer dollars for “Haitian AM Radio-Interviews.” The interviews were to be spread out among three radio stations: WSRF 1580, WLQY 1320 and WJCC 1700. The agreement called for ten minute “in-studio” live interviews regarding the Broward Aware event in March and again in June for “Summer Safety.” Each interview was priced at $300 each.
On February 5, 2014, Community Access Center submitted the $5000 invoice to the Children’s Services Council of Broward County. On the left hand side of the invoice, Commissioner Dale Holness is clearly listed as a member of the Community Access Center board of directors. Also listed was Magaly Prezeau, the CEO/Executive Director of Community Access Center. Prezeau is no stranger to Children’s Services Council officials.
In March 2014, Prezeau appeared on Future First, a Becon television show hosted by Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, the President/CEO of Children’s Services Council. Prezeau and other guests discussed Obamacare. Early this month, RED BROWARD revealed the CSC spends $31,600 on the television program hosted by Arenberg Seltzer. BECON TV is a public access type channel operated by the School Board of Broward County.
Prezeau recently announced her bid to win a seat on the Miramar city commission. In addition to her work at Community Access Center, her campaign website lists her political resume: Member of the Miramar Democratic Club, 2nd Vice-President, Haitian Democratic Club,and Member, Caribbean Democratic Club.
Some political insiders were already concerned with Children’s Services Council spending $31,600 on Arenberg Seltzer’s talk show. Now, these same insiders wonder why CSC would pay a non-profit organization for media advertising.
Do non-profit organizations usually broker media deals for private television and radio businesses? What exactly is the relationship between Community Access Center and Island TV, Le Floridien and the AM radio stations? Why didn’t CSC approach the television and radio stations on their own? Was this the plan submitted by Bitner Goodman? Was Cindy Arenberg Seltzer aware of the ties when the plan was presented to the CSC board?
These questions deserve answers before November 2014 when the reuathorization of the Children’s Services Council of Broward County appears on the ballot.