Dale Holness with CSC tax "expert" Audrey Ljung

In an effort to “Promote efforts to increase economic self-sufficiency and food security for families,” the Children’s Services Council Of Broward County (CSC) wants to give $295,000 of taxpayers dollars to a local affiliate of the radical LaRaza organization and a shadowy non-profit tied to Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness. Back in June 2014, the CSC “approved a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to procure external Volunteer Income Tax Assistance services.” Just two organizations responded to the RFQ: Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF), the local affiliate of LaRaza and Community Access Center (CAC) of Miramar. Commissioner Dale Holness serves on the CAC board of directors.

A panel of “experts” scored the proposals from HUF and CAC. The experts were Jay Fanning, a former IRS agent, Giovanni Moss, the Town of Davie Housing Director, Kamalah Fletcher, a Community Prosperity Director with the left-wing group “Catalyst Miami,” Audrey Ljung of the Community Action Partnership and CSC Chief Communications Officer Sandra Bernard-Bastien. Last May, REDBROWARD revealed Bernard-Bastien authored a pro-Obama book.

The panel gave its highest scores to Hispanic Unity of Florida. It received 408 points while Community Access Center received just 196. Surely, that means HUF gets the contract and CAC gets left with nothing, right?

Wrong.

In the September meeting agenda, staff urged the CSC Board of Directors to give up to $40,000 to Community Access Center. The agenda reads:

HUF is recommended for funding under this procurement based on their strong proposal and their
extensive experience with the Council’s EITC and VITA initiatives. However, the Committee expressed
concerns about the need for targeted outreach efforts to reach the Creole speaking population, which is
the focus of the work of CAC. While HUF included funding for a subcontract with HandsOn Broward
within their proposal, a similar subcontract with CAC would strengthen the overall proposal and ensure a
culturally diverse outreach and service continuum. Therefore, subject to contract and subcontract
negotiations, it is recommended that HUF include both HandsOnBroward and CAC as subcontracted
partners at an amount not to exceed $40,000 within the total award of $295,000.

In June, REDBROWARD exposed how Sandra Bernard-Bastien helped steer money from CSC’s media budget to CAC. REDBROWARD obtained an audio recording of the February 2014 meeting where Bernard-Bastien said, “Community Access Center is a Haitian TV station.” REDBROWARD exposed the Children’s Services Council media plan included a $5,000 payment to the Community Access Center (CAC). Bernard-Bastien told board members this “small amount of dollars” was a wise investment. She said, “What we found is that, for particularly Caribbean media, we spend $5,000 they give us $50,000.”

WHAT DOES THE COMMUNITY ACCESS CENTER ACTUALLY DO?

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 such as Medicaid, food stamps, free HIV testing, free pregnancy tests and services, voter registration, and immigration services. Federal records, State records and the CAC letterhead show Commissioner Dale Holness as a member of its board of directors.

In April 2013, Holness asked  fellow commissioners to approve a $15,000 payment to Community Access Center. Commissioner Stacy Ritter called the request “pork.” Holness said the money would be spent on Haitian Cultural Month activities. The Commission, including Republican Chip LaMarca, approved his request.

Bernard-Bastien tried convince board members that Community Access Center was a “Haitian TV station,” but CSC President Cindy Arenberg Seltzer should have known better.

In March 2014, an episode of “Future First: Focus On Broward’s Children” was posted on the CSC’s YouTube channel. The program is hosted by Cindy Arenberg Seltzer. Sandra Bernard-Bastien is the executive producer. REDBROWARD revealed the Children’s Services Council spends more than $31,000 a year to produce the program which airs on the BECON channel.

This episode of “Future First” featured a panel discussion of the Affordable Healthcare Act, better known as Obamacare. One of the panelists was Magaly Prezeau, CEO of Community Access Center. Arenberg Seltzer asked Prezeau about confused first-time insurance buyers. Prezeau said Caribbean immigrants were confused about the difference between “free” insurance and “affordable” insurance. She mentioned confusion surrounding immigration status, Medicaid and undocumented immigrants.

Prezeau is currently a candidate for the Miramar City Commission.

LA RAZA & PARTISAN POLITICS

Last May, REDBROWARD reported the Children’s Services Council was one of the biggest contributors to Hispanic Unity of Florida. According to its website, Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF) is an affiliate of the National Council of La Raza, (NCLR), “the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.” While they claim to be non-partisan, La Raza has supported liberal politicians and causes such amnesty for illegal immigrants. In 2012, President Barack Obama appointed a La Raza official as the White House Director of Domestic Policy.

Founded by disgraced former Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman Rubin, Hispanic Unity of Florida claims its mission is, “Empowering Hispanics and other members of the community to become self-sufficient, civically engaged and to lead productive lives.” According to documents filed the Broward County Commission, the Children’s Services Council will give Hispanic Unity of Florida more than $1.27 million taxpayer dollars to help it achieve its mission.

One of La Raza’s major outreach programs is also known as LEAP. Created in 2001, La Raza considers the Latino Empowerment and Advocacy Program (LEAP), to be its “model for increasing Latino civic participation.” The notion of “civic participation” is  found throughout Hispanic Unity of Florida literature. In 2012, an official with La Raza explained the success of LEAP depended on local service providers like Hispanic Unity of Florida.

Clarissa Martinez, the Director of Civic Engagement and Immigration at the National Council of La Raza, detailed the theory behind LEAP. “Through its work with its national network of affiliates, NCLR started working with community-based organizations, mostly service providers, to identify effective ways to incorporate electoral participation into their operations.” In 2010, LEAP worked with 22 partners who registered nearly 20,000 voters.  Martinez said, “The potential to register and engage new voters through direct-service providers and community organizations normally outside the electoral realm is much greater.” Please note, Hispanic Unity of Florida clearly identifies itself as an affiliate of La Raza.

RED BROWARD obtained a May 2012 copy of LEAP: A Model For Increasing Latino Civic Participation which singles out Hispanic Unity of Florida.  La Raza boasts how government entities provide greater access to partners like Hispanic Unity of Florida. “The organizations are asked by educational and public institutions to collaborate on community events, further expanding their contact with the community. Staff of Hispanic Unity of Florida in Hollywood FL registered Latino hospital workers to vote while they were already on site making a health-related presentation and they sponsored voter registration drives at predominantly Latino senior citizen centers that they had previously worked with on other community projects.” La Raza makes it clear that voter registration is more important than the programs themselves.

This week, a published report shows La Raza is helping immigrants find out where they can vote without showing proper identification. Patrick Howley of The Daily Caller wrote, “The pro-amnesty Hispanic activist organization the National Council of La Raza helpfully promoted a Washington Post article explaining which states people can vote in without having to use a photo ID.” The information was shared across social media by progressive groups. “The Chicago chapter of Asian Americans Advancing Justice tweeted Blake’s article with the message, “Reminder — #Illinois does NOT require #voterID to cast a ballot,” along with the pro-Democrat hashtag #TurnOutForWhat. The tweet was helpfully retweeted by the National Council of La Raza.”

SAY NO TO CSC REAUTHORIZATION

This $295,000 tax giveaway is the latest reason to oppose the Children’s Services Council reauthorization on the November ballot. The CSC receives a dedicated percentage of Broward County property tax dollars every year. If the reauthorization is approved, the CSC would exist forever with little oversight. The only way to dismantle the CSC would require an act of the Florida legislature.

Why are radical progressive groups from Miami getting a say in how Broward tax dollars are spent? Why is the CSC propping up a local affiliate of partisan group like La Raza? Why is Sandra Bernard-Bastien guiding tax dollars to the Community Access Center after questions have been raised by the media? Why do groups tied to County Commissioner Dale Holness and Broward School Board Member Rosalind Osgood need public tax dollars?

Put a stop to this public welfare for well-connected non profits. Vote NO on the Broward County Question seeking reauthorization of the Children’s Services Council Of Broward County.