Former Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter took to the Chicago airwaves to promote Broward County. As the president/CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ritter appeared on WGN Radio to promote the upcoming “Taste Of Fort Lauderdale” event which is part of the South Beach Wine and Food Fest.
Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness owns websites for an International Trade and Cultural Expo he hoped would be funded with taxpayer dollars. In June 2014, Holness asked the County Commission to support the Florida International Trade and Cultural Expo (FITCE) with funding used to celebrate the County’s Centennial celebration. Holness needed his fellow Commissioners’ approval for funding and use of the Broward County Convention Center.
Holness told Commissioners the expo attendees would, “learn directly from community leaders how to establish and grow their business in South Florida. The overall goal is to educate, promote and welcome international businesses to Broward County.” Holness claimed his expo would costs at least $250,000 to plan.
His fellow Commissioners scoffed at his plan. Commissioner Lois Wexler accused Holness of “going rogue.” She said, ” I support the concept, but I — I — I really object to a Commissioner going out rogue. I really do.” She objected to Holness’ partners in the expo.
Wexler said, “And the names that I see on this list, some of them I’m absolutely appalled, particularly since some of them are lobbyists. And — and — and — and I just don’t get it. I just don’t get it.”
Commissioner Stacy Ritter was appalled by Holness’ budget. She said, “the budget is — is staggering. It’s a huge investment from Broward County. And we have limited funds. I’m not sure that we should be the ones to facilitate this, be the sponsor.” Ritter even questioned the need for the expo, stating, “If there’s a need for this, I wonder why it hasn’t percolated from the private sector.”
Holness agreed to have County staff review the proposal and bring it before the board at a later date. Holness put the the FITCE event on the December 2014 agenda.
“APPEARS NOT TO BE FEASIBLE”
Holness submitted the same proposal at the December 9, 2014 County Commission meeting with a few minor changes. He moved the event from May 2015 to October 2015. Commissioner Lois Wexler still was not buying it. She wondered why Holness did not include an October 2014 letter from County Staff regarding the expo. She said, “Well, this was a critical piece that wasn’t part of your packet, Commissioner Holness, because this really doesn’t recommend that we should move forward on this.” Wexler referred to an October 2014 review by the County Administrator’s office which said FITCE “appears not to be feasible.”
Wexler said the letter stated,” that there are many, many events. It actually gives the number, fourteen conferences, that are similar and three that are scheduled that are almost identical in nature.”
Holness claimed the changing of the date made the expo more feasible. He claimed the expo would simply fall under the umbrella of the County while individual groups would plan the events. Holness stated he needed the approval to secure the convention center venue as well as help attract sponsors for the event.
Despite the serious misgivings, the County Commission approved Holness’ proposal.
HOLNESS OWNS FITCE WEBSITE DOMAINS
REDBROWARD found the domain name for the Florida International Trade and Cultural Expo (FITCEXPO.COM) is owned by County Commissioner Dale Holness. The domain name was purchased on February 14, 2015 from GoDaddy.com. Visitors to the website are given scant details of the event. A detailed list of sponsorship packages can be downloaded.
Sponsorship packages start at $5,000 and go up to $30,000 for the “Title Sponsor.”
REDBROWARD has uncovered at least seven other Holness-owned websites which redirect to the FITCE main site. Also purchased in February 2015, these domains include: FITCE.BIZ, FLORIDATRADEEXPO.COM, FLORIDATRADE.NET, FLORIDATRADEEXPO.NET, FLORIDATRADE.ORG, FITCEEXPO.BIZ, FLORIDAINTERNATIONALTRADE.BIZ and FLORIDAINTERNATIONALTRADE.COM.
Why is Commissioner Holness, a real estate agent, gobbling up international trade domain names?
Domain names are not free. Did Holness pay for these domain names out of his own pocket?
Was Holness paid for the use of these domain names?
Is Commissioner Holness running the FITCE website?
Is Commissioner Holness being paid to run the FITCE website?
Is Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C Holness making a single dime off an event held at a taxpayer-owned facility?
Broward voters deserve answers from Commissioner Dale Holness.
It’s been a busy week for Broward Supervisor Of Elections private lawyer Burnadette Norris Weeks. First, she attempted to quash all questions regarding her partisan political activities as “awful and racist.” She sent out a mass email urging community support for her plan to keep Broward County Commissioners from asking her boss, Dr. Brenda Snipes to be the “leader” of ethics.
Later this week, Broward County will play host for the 2015 Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) conference at the Marriott Harbor Beach Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Last October, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport honchos wanted nearly one million dollars of public funds to pay for the event. The mission of the Airport Minority Advisory Council is “to promote the inclusion of minorities and women in employment and contracting opportunities throughout the aviation industry.” One woman with big contracting opportunities in the aviation industry is Burnadette Norris Weeks.
Last year, REDBROWARD exposed Norris Weeks’ lucrative contract with Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport through the Paradies company.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) programis supposed to increase opportunities for minority and women-owned small businesses to operate as concessionaires in airports around the country. Locally, Broward County Office of Economic and Small Business Development (OESBD) “works to certify local firms as ACDBEs and to establish annual ACDBE participation goals for the County’s airport projects.” In order to retain its food and concession contracts at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, TheParadies Shops needed to comply with the ACDBE guidelines. In 2006, Paradies formed Paradies-Broward LLC. According to State of Florida corporate records, Paradies-Broward LLC was comprised of four members: The Paradies Shops, JD Ruffin Associates Inc., Maria Soldani Consulting LLC and Right Consulting LLC. Burnadette Norris-Weeks is listed as a member of Paradies-Broward LLC.
REDBROWARD obtained photographs of Norris Weeks attending the June 2014 AMAC conference in Denver. Norris Weeks and Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness were pictured dancing at the AMAC conference.
One month later, Norris Weeks fought a lawsuit seeking to remove the boyfriend of Dale Holness’ daughter from the County Commission District 2 ballot. Write-in candidate Tyron Francois admitted he did not live in the district. Still, REDBROWARD witnessed Norris Weeks take the lead role in the courtroom to keep Francois in the race.
County Commissioner Mark Bogen won the District 2 race. Last week, Snipes admitted to Bogen she was unaware Norris Weeks has supported Lisa Aronson, one of his opponents.
Bogen wants Snipes to keep employees to support candidates from playing an active role in those races.
Instead, Snipes and Norris Weeks went on the attack. Snipes called Bogen a bully. Norris Weeks labeled the ethics proposals as “racist.”
In a nasty email to Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan, Norris Weeks admitted to filing Florida Bar complaints over his attempts to speak with Dr. Snipes.
Last week, Bogen told Snipes that Norris Weeks threatened to do the same to him.
Is Norris Weeks above questioning? Can anybody dare to speak to Dr. Snipes directly?