The Broward Inspector General (OIG) has determined former Plantation Councilman Robert “Bob” Levy and two other City Of Pembroke Park employees, “engaged in gross mismanagement, misconduct, or both in the procurement of professional engineering services from Craig A. Smith and Associates, Inc. (CAS), the town’s interim town engineer, consultant engineering firm, and (for twelve years of that time) its lobbyist or grant specialist.” Until his retirement last month, Robert Levy was the longtime Pembroke Park town manager. The OIG found the City Of Pembroke Park violated Federal, State, County and City rules regarding the awarding of contracts. A review of contracts showed 66 of 67 engineering projects were never put up for bid. According to the OIG report, “The town paid CAS approximately $3,323,245 in public funds for those 22 projects between 1999 and 2015.”
Since some of the money used for the projects came from a Federal source, the Broward OIG has referred the matter to US Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD) Inspector General for further action.
Robert Levy lost his re-election bid to the Plantation City Council in November 2016.
In his interview with Broward OIG investigators, Robert Levy claimed he had no idea that rules were not being followed. He claimed to be powerless in his position as town manager. He stated he did not have final say in any matter.
Even though Levy was paid $250,000 a year (plus a car) to run Pembroke Park, he stated he was unaware of any procurement issues. Levy said, “He also did not see any reason to change anything and no one directed him to do so, saying it was probably a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind.'”
In interviews with the Broward Inspector General, other Pembroke Park officials and employees painted a different picture of Levy’s management style.
“THIS WAS HOW THE PROCESS WORKED”
Pembroke Park Mayor Ashira Mohammed told OIG investigators she wondered about CAS performing engineering work in the city. According to her statement, “Mr. Levy informed her that this was how the process worked.” Mayor Of Pembroke Park since 2003, Mohammed described Levy’s control of the City. The report states:
However, in actuality, the mayor has no administrative control over anything; Mr. Levy runs everything. The mayor recognized that the town has a number of issues but does not think commissioners are doing anything out of malice. Rather, the mayor believed that the commissioners merely ratify Mr. Levy’s decisions. In commission meetings, a number of commissioners do not understand the issues discussed and thus rely on Mr. Levy. Staff consistently produces supporting materials for agenda items just a few minutes before commission meetings are to start. This leaves commissioners with little or no time to read the documents and understand the issues scheduled for discussion. The mayor has repeatedly complained about this practice to no avail. Mr. Levy told the mayor that the distribution of supporting materials for the agenda just before the start of commission meetings was how things were supposed to be done.
Vice Mayor Howard Clark stated, “Mr. Levy’s job was to ensure that the project was appropriate for the town and to raise objections if something was not right.” He told the OIG, “The commission trusted Mr. Levy, the town attorney, and CAS to follow proper procedures when doing their work.”
In response to the OIG report, lawyers for Pembroke Park Public Works Director Todd Larson wrote, “[Levy] has significantly understated his role with respect to Larson’s position. He has likewise understated the role of the City Attorney in providing legal advice, guidance and approval to Larson for the CNA advertisements, which were never posted by Larson and never posted without approval by the City Attorney.”
In his response to the OIG report, Robert Levy claims the City is making him the “scapegoat.” He wrote, “In fact, it appears that the Town has attempted to mislead the BOIG as to my reason for my leaving the Town, from the reality of my voluntary retirement after almost thirty years of service, to one of resulting from the allegations in this Report. Nothing is further from the truth.”
Regarding how the City Of Pembroke Park operated, Robert Levy blamed the City for “employing the old adage, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”