The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 5, 1997 · Page 23
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 23

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Friday, December 5, 1997
Page 23
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The Palm Beach Post c SECTION B.- GUILTY PLEAS A Palm Beach couple pleads guilty to keeping a gambling parlor on Worth Avenue. STORY, 8B PLANTING HOMES A poinsettia farm in suburban Delray Beach is being replaced by homes after 58 years. BUSINESS, ID FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1997 LOCAL NEWS Workers: Housing director juggled books f . Employees also say Sam needs only to answer to the Almighty not to the board or federal regulators, employees said. But they go on to describe a workplace that's out of control, one where procedures are not followed ' where expenditures are hidden and , where favored employees go behind their supervisors' backs to deal directly with Simmons. ; Allegations contained in the 400-page document, released this week, could cost Simmons his job, a board spokesperson said Thursday. Simmons denies any wrongdoing and defends his faith. "While I readily acknowledge my relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, it is inconceivable that one would perceive such a relationship as threatening," Simmons declared in a written statement Thursday. The Rev. 'Richard Scott, chairman of the investigative committee and the board's elected spokesperson, responded: "I know Mr. Simmons is very devout in his religious beliefs, and I don't have a problem with that, as long as it doesn't overflow into the business of the housing authority." Though most employees asked not to be identified, a signed memo recorded. Simmons says the accounting practices were in place when he joined the authority six years ago, Scott said members will discuss the possibility of firing Simmons at a special meeting Monday. The board has to interpret all that they've read in this (report) and ask itself several questions," Scott , said. "Did what I read surprise me or shock me, and does the administration have the capability, considering TT Please see SIMMONS65 from Alisa Jlolmes, the authority's second-in-command, says the agency spent $140,000 in grant money that hasn't received final approval. The memo also confirms previous allegations that Simmons ordered staffers to juggle financial statements to hide deficits from the board and the federal government : Last month, a memo from departing accountant Jack mouse said Simmons hid deficits by'telling staffers to delay recording expenses. Holmes' memo goes further, alleging for the first time that Simmons demanded the staff to delete expenditures that had already been Simmons told them his authority comes directly from God. ; : By Lisa Ocker Palm Beach Post Stuff Writer WEST PALM BEACH - The housing authority's executive director repeatedly told employees his authority comes directly from God, according to an investigative report compiled by board members.; Executive Director Sam Simmons claims to be in charge, refers to himself as "the boss" and says he UNDER FIRE: . Allegations by workers could cost; West Palm Beach Housing Authority Executive Director Sam Simmons his job. Brabham, T .1 False alarm at Columbia Hospital ' S - ! i J iflL: S 1 i i - : ! : : ' 1 I i i ' r i Butler cases get new judge Edward Garrison, under challenge from the defendants, removes himself. Judge Howard Berman gets the campaign fraud trial. By Christine Stapleton Palm Beach Post Staff Writer WEST PALM BEACH In the state's case against attorneys V. Ted Brabham and Philip Butler, the judges have changed but Monday's scheduled trial date remains the same for now. 1,11 p i Butler, a former Republican state attorney candidate accused of accepting illegal campaign contributions, filed court papers on Thursday accusing Judge Edward Garrison of improperly discussing the case with other judges, refusing to set hearings on Butler's motions and showing "favoritism toward the state." Butler also filed a com Frank Cerabino Ag Reserve says bye-bye, buffer, hello, duffer I've always said that what we need in Palm Beach County are more golf courses. Golf courses as far as the eye can see. That's because golf is our sport. It's a sport that gives grown-ups an excuse to hide out from their spouses and kids for long stretches of the day without having to actually do anything productive. . It's expensive and time-consuming, frustrating and tiresome. And it's one of the few sports that offers nearly no cardiovascular benefits, allowing your heart attack to arrive right on schedule. : You can smoke, drink beer and even heed the call of nature while you play, and when you're done, you feel the same kind of weariness you'd have felt if you had spent the four hours trudging through the mall. There's almost nothing socially redeeming about golf. In golf, you bounce around in a silly cart, looking for your silly ball, while waiting for the silly group of people ahead of you to quit taking their silly time, so you can hit your silly ball again, hop back in your silly cart and begin another search. " In other words, it's the perfect sport for the leisurely, over-the-hill, paunchy, money-to-burn, time-to-waste populace of Palm Beach County. ; Which is why we need more golf courses. ' , We've been slipping in our national golf course rankings lately. "Palm Beach County used to be right at the top," said Judy Thompson with the National Golf Foundation, a Jupiter-based trade association. "Now, Maricopa County in Arizona has the most" We're golf-course deprived - ; Palm Beach County has only a measly 150 golf courses spread out among 109 golf facilities, Garrison i M.i ' ' : i : j , '"' 1 .1 jj ii M J 1 ; i 1 1'.: f :vr -l -J j j I" (- : N U . '51 rVT ', aj - , .! J - ' , ! 1 ' ' ffl mm Mr:: -I- j i i j i . . A-'Mn ! plaint with the Judicial Qualifications Commission, accusing Garrison of violating "proper professional and judicial proce-: dure." '"' H 'Mr Garrison, who is barred by judicial rules from commenting on the accusations, removed himself from the case. Circuit Judge Howard Berman, randomly assigned by the clerk's office, took over , , .t - Assistant State Attorney Cass Castillo, a ; Bartow prosecutor assigned to the case, said he Please see BUTLER 12B Workers foil would-be heist at Boynton store i By Lyda Longa , Palm Beach Post Staff Writer : BOYNTON BEACH Annason Vilce got an unexpected greeting Thursday when he showed up for his first day of work at the Service, Mer- chandise on Congress Avenue. ;,',.;':; 4 ' ; From a robber on a rope. An armed robber on a rope. Boynton Beach police praised the 22-year-old Vilce on Thursday for sticking by a fellow employee when the wannabe robber pulled a gun on the pair as they arrived at work around 5 a.m. Vilce and the other Service Merchandise employee, Daniel Castranova, 34, walked in to find the intruder lowering himself into the store, Boynton Beach Detective Ray Schilke said. The man, armed with a small handgun and wearing a ski mask, a dark, long-sleeved sweat shirt and stained jeans, told Vilce and Castranova he was waiting for employees to arrive because he knew the store's alarm had motion detectors. Please see INTRUDER?? JENNIFER PODISStaff Photographer WEST PALM BEACH - Steve Fischer, a member of the West Palm Beach Fire Department's Hazardous Materials Team, gets a safety rinse Thursday with the help of colleague Julio DelRio. They were responding to the report of a chemical spill at Columbia Hospital, but no spill or leak was found. An alarm had sounded in a sterilization room where ethylene oxide was kept. Patients and staff were moved to safe areas of the hospital until the fire department issued the all-clear. The hazardous-materials team donned protective gear and removed a container of the ethylene oxide as a precaution. No one was hurt. according to the foundation. ' 'Sure, that's fourth in the nation behind Riverside and Los Angeles counties in California and Maricopa, which has 20 more golf facilities than we do. But we can do better. Fortunately, we have politicians who realize this, and know our need to saturate our community with sprawling tracts of strangely landscaped land, pocked with sand craters, pesticide-rich turf and restricted access to outsiders. Which is why the wheels already are grinding to turn the Agricultural Reserve into another excuse to build golf courses. I remember the dark ages when environmentalists had pictured the Agricultural Reserve, a 30square-mile tract stretching from west of Lantana to west of Boca Raton, as a sort of borderline for suburban sprawl. ':, But now, due in large part to golf, we've found a palatable excuse to make it part of that sprawl. It's simple, really. Just a matter of redefining what is meant by "undeveloped" land. Big tracts in the Agricultural Reserve were supposed to be spared from suburbia, because 60 percent of each tract had to be left undeveloped. But if you consider a golf course as undeveloped land, then you've taken the first step to converting farmland to high-priced housing developments with their own golf courses. "I have nothing against golf communities," Commissioner Burt Aaronson told me. ' . Aaronson, speaking mostly to seniors from suburban Delray Beach this week, told them that if the reserve gets developed, they could count on more golf. "I want that 60 percent of open land for golf," he said. Amen. Yes, we need more golf. "Let's talk about golf," I told Aaronson on Thursday. ' "Golf is a game to torture people," he said. "It's supposed to be relaxing, but when you're lousy like I am, it's not." Another selfless public servant. A man who t "omprehends the utter foolishness of golf, and yet is willing to do his best to bring us more of it. Look out, Maricopa County. Here we come. .. . Riviera councilwoman faces another Sunshine Law trial contended the law doesn't cover meetings with elected officials who haven't been sworn in, but Palm Beach County Judge Nelson Bailey disagreed. "It's clear . . . that the law does apply to councilmembers-elect," he said. Bailey ruled that the public's right to open government outweighed the possibility that Moffitt would be unfairly punished by a misinterpretation of the law. Moffitt could not be reached for comment Thursday. Lubin said he would appeal Bailey's ruling if Moffitt loses at trial. On Nov. 21, Bailey acquitted Moffitt and Councilwoman Marge Confrey of a criminal charge they intentionally broke the law. They were accused of plotting to fire the city manager and " 'f nwi-i.iliffmiwniirriiiir1riirm.iili,.iil1il.l-i..l,-i,1Wl ri. i r.nnn i i, J The question will be whether Marilyn Moffitt unintentionally broke the state law. By Ian Trontz Palm Beach Post Staff Writer RIVIERA BEACH Councilwoman Marilyn Moffitt will have to stand trial on a civil charge that she unintentionally broke the state Sunshine Law, a judge ruled Thursday. Moffitt, who was acquitted of a related criminal charge last month, is accused of talking privately on March 15 with Councilwoman-elect Lenora Hurley about whether to fire the city manager. No trial date was set. The law forbids elected officials from discussing public business in private. Moffitt's attorney, Richard Lubin, "t ALLEN EYESTONEStaff Photographer Justice for slain sister WEST PALM BEACH Lisa Hughes (right) reacts as the jury finds Mark Snyder guilty of manslaughter for speeding through a red light and killing Hughes' sister Regina Ann Cassera. STORY, 4B Please see $pmHU3B

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