It appears controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness sees the upcoming municipal elections as another opportunity to spread his influence throughout the county. At least four municipal candidates have close ties to Holness: Alexandra Davis of Miramar, Donna Guthrie of Fort Lauderdale, Jepatha “Jeff” Holness of Plantation, and Magaly Prezeau of Miramar. These city elections, to be held on March 10, 2015, are not Holness’ first foray into local politics. Several Holness-backed candidates, including Alexandra Davis, were soundly defeated last year.
Donna Guthrie, candidate for the Fort Lauderdale City Commission District 3, has the financial backing of Team Holness. Since March 2014, Guthrie received contributions from Holness, Broward Supervisor of Elections attorney Burnadette Norris Weeks, Congressman Alcee Hastings and his chief of staff Art Kennedy, and consultant Sheryl Dickey. As REDBROWARD reported, Norris Weeks and Dickey hosted fundraising events for Holness. They received lucrative Broward government contracts intended to help minority businesses.
Norris Weeks danced with Holness at Denver convention for minority owners of airport-related businesses. Norris Weeks secured a portion of the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport contract.
On January 9, 2015, Dale Holness, Art Kennedy and Burnadette Norris Weeks co-hosted a fundraiser for Donna Guthrie. Sources tell REDBROWARD Alcee Hastings is working hard to secure a Guthrie victory. Hastings’ chief of staff Art Kennedy is listed as the treasurer for Holness’ 2016 re-election campaign.
Dale Holness helped his cousin, Jepatha “Jeff” Holness, in his previous race for the Plantation city council. Last year, this reporter revealed organizations tied to the Florida Panthers hockey club were giving money to Jeff Holness. The hockey team, which operates the county-owned BB&T Center, wants Dale Holness and his fellow Broward County Commissioners to give a huge financial break to the team.
Two months after Jeff Holness lost a similar bid in the March 2013 City Council election, the Panthers and its related companies started contributing money to Holness’ third bid for a seat on the city council.
“He received a $500 contribution from the Florida Panthers on July 19, 2013. On that same day, he reported a $500 contribution from Arena Operating Company (AOC), which is owned by the team. AOC oversees the operations of the county-owned BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Florida Panthers play their home games at the BB&T Center.
In December of 2013, Jeff Holness received more maximum-allowed contributions from Panthers-affiliated entities. He received $500 from SSE Gaming and $500 from Saveology Iceplex, the team’s practice facility located in Coral Springs. As of February of 2014, Holness received just three other contributions. He received $500 from the Tripp Scott law firm and $500 from Sachs Sax Caplan law firm. Tripp Scott, which lobbies on behalf of Broward County, also supports Commissioner Chip LaMarca. Peter Sachs, of Sachs Sax Caplan, is the husband of State Sen. Maria Sachs (D-Fort Lauderdale).”
Last November, Dale Holness gave his cousin a $100 contribution.
REDBROWARD has extensively reported on the ties between Dale Holness and Miramar City Commission candidate Magaly Prezeau. Holness is listed as one of the officials for the Community Access Center (CAC) non-profit organization. Prezeau is the CEO/Executive Director of Community Access Center. The CAC repeatedly receives public dollars from government entities.
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.
Last 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.”
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.
One of Miramar Commissioner Alexandra Davis’ biggest supporters appears to be Prezeau. Davis is featured on numerous YouTube videos posted by the Community Access Center. Last year, Davis ran against Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief. Many insiders believed tHolness was the mastermind behind the Davis campaign. Sharief trounced Davis in the August 2014 primary.
This year, Sharief’s husband, Maxwell Chambers, filed to run against Davis. Hoping to avoid more punishment from Sharief, Davis decided to run for mayor.