The Town of Southwest Ranches, Corrections Corporation of American (CCA), and DHS / ICE want to build one of the largest immigration detention centers in the nation within walking distance of thousands of homes; thus, reducing the quality of our life and our community.
We do not believe spending federal tax dollars through a federal per diem payment to CCA and SWR is a valid use of tax dollars considering we are deficit spending with reckless abandon.
CCA has a history of lawsuits and grotesque human rights violations. Further, we do not believe our corporations should play any role in the immigration problems we face as a nation. Their involvement exacerbates the issue, builds in a monetary incentive to destroy the lives of families, and is not a constructive addition to any immigration reform solution.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011Friend or Foe? You be the Judge!
In 1998 Ronald Bergeron sold Prison Inc. the land for the proposed prison. Since that time Prison, Inc has been biding their time, waiting for the right client. Prison, Inc. now has a potential client; the Federal Government via their contract for the ICE Detention Center. Prison, Inc. has been diligently working on this silently for 13 years while unsuspecting families bought homes and Broward County built schools in the immediate area adjacent to the prison site.
In this article, we expose the different players who have been working behind the scenes for their own interests, instead of those they represent. These politicians and “leaders” should be protecting the men, women, and children they were elected to serve. They should consider the safety threat of having a prison so close to residential housing, to say nothing of the affect the prison would have on property values. This leaves us no choice but to call these people and entities out.
Mr. Ronald Bergeron, developer extraordinaire, is the owner/operator of Bergeron Land Development. Mr. Bergeron has made quite the name for himself since he has developed quite a bit of Broward County and beyond. He knows where the loopholes are and was a “Founding Father” of Southwest Ranches along with Gary Poliakoff. According to the Broward County appraisers office Mr. Bergeron sold the property for the prison to Prison, Inc. for approx. $14.8 million back in 1998 with an attached deal for Bergeron Development to get the contract to build the prison. According to the Broward County Tax Appraisers office, the property is currently assessed at $2.6 million. Do you notice the big inconsistency here? Why would CCA pay $14.8 million when it’s only worth $2.6?
Mr. Bergeron stands to make $100 – 200 Million Plus dollars from building the immigrant prison. Bergeron Development is the developer on all of the Plat Note changes filed with Broward County. He is also allowed an unlimited amount of time in front of any commission meeting. No one has ever seen him have to fill out a card like the rest of us nor has he had the clock started when he begins to speak. Since he has so generously donated so much money to both the City and to many of the Commissioner’s and Councilmen campaign fundraisers he should be granted so much free time during the commission meetings right? Do you think they show him any favor? As they discuss the color of his hat he is wearing does this relationship seem to be a bit overly friendly? Watch the November 16th Commission meeting. In addition, Mr. Lonnie Bergeron, Ron’s son lives in The Trails of Pembroke Pines. Do you think that he would let anyone know about this sleeping giant?
The now bankrupt development firm TransEastern had purchased the property from Bergeron that Laguna Isles was built on. TransEastern had control of the first board in place when Prison, Inc. supposedly held these “private” meetings with the HOA boards in Laguna Isles in the 2000‐2001 timeframe. This was in complete violation of Florida Public Meeting Laws.(FS 286). In addition, TransEastern never informed the resident led HOA of these discussions as they were taking the checks to the bank for the 500 homes they sold in Laguna Isles. Was this full disclosure? Does anyone know if they developed communities anywhere else nearby?
The Prestigious Law Firm of Becker & Poliakoff served as Chapel Trail HOA counsel since they were built. Do you think they would have told the HOAs that they knew about the prison? Is this putting their client as a priority? Could Chapel Trail have a lawsuit against the prestigious Becker & Poliakoff law firm for conflict of interest while representing Chapel Trail?
Over the Years, Century Management (Now NextGen Management) has been the property management firm for Laguna Isles and Chapel Trail. There may be other properties they manage, but these are all that are confirmed at this time. One of the interesting partners in this Property Management firm is Ryan Poliakoff. He is the son of Southwest Ranches Founding Father Attorney Gary Poliakoff and the Brother of the Southwest Ranches Town Attorney and Becker & Poliakoff partner, Keith Poliakoff. Could the communities out west who were managed by the Poliakoff gang be trusted to let the people know there was a prison on the horizon?
Through the years when this prison did get brought up it was only with certain people. One of those people could have been Todd Nelson who has served on the Chapel Trail Master Association for many years until he dropped off the planet during the recent months when he’s never before missed any board elections and no one can reach him. Incidentally he is also a Captain with the Pembroke Pines Fire Department and the brother of Southwest Ranches Mayor Jeff Nelson. Todd Nelson attempted to hush any discussion on the detention center stating it was political but was later called out as being Southwest Ranches Mayor Jeff Nelson’s brother. Was he furthering the Pines agenda for the 14 Fire Fighter jobs that would be servicing the Detention Center? Incidentally, in 2002 he was selected to be the Semi‐annual Fire‐Fighter of the year by the City of Pembroke Pines Commission where he received a plaque and a $500 U.S. Savings Bond.
The Commissioner Angelo Castillo comes across as a pretty nice guy right? Always says he tells the truth? And the Mayor, He says he’s working in the best interest of the City, right? The truth may be better interpreted with their actions. The November 16th, 2011 Pembroke Pines Commission agenda was set to discuss the “9 month canceling for convenience clause” in the Fire/EMS agreement between Pines and Southwest Ranches. This includes Water for the prison. We were set up to believe that all of these issues would be pushed together into a workshop based on Angelo Castillo’s motion to defer. Seconded by Commissioner McClusky. The Commission then expeditiously voted on the motion. Ortis, Yes. Castillo, Yes. McCluskey, Yes. Schechter, Yes. Siple, No. This motion to defer shut down all public comment so there was no way for the People to get up in support of cancelling the contract for convenience.
Incidentally, that pushed the agenda item to a workshop scheduled for December 14th, which is past the deadline for anyone to file papers to run against Mayor Ortis.
Delaying to a workshop would back off potential opponents to his mayoral race and give the appearance that the Mayor and Commissioners are working in the best interests of the City on the issues surrounding the prison. It appeared as though it was a staged event. Staged to preserve Mayor Ortis’ seat so no one would feel compelled to run against him even though the FBI is now investigating him for his relationship with ELAN, a landscaping firm that has conveniently been awarded the contract for the City.
Another one of Castillo’s underhanded actions was putting the water items on the agenda for the December 7th Commission Meeting. Wait, weren’t we supposed to be discussing these in the Workshop that was supposed to be scheduled December 14th? What is the rush? This workshop is a scam, just like the Advisory Council that he is talking everyone into. He has been lobbying for the past 6 months through emails to the Pembroke Pines HOA’s to get involved with this advisory council over the prison.
What is this advisory council? It’s something straight out of the CCA bible on siting prisons: the National Institute of Corrections (DOJ) publication entitled An Information Brief Issues in Siting Correctional Facilities published in 1992 which states:
Formulation early in the planning process of a community advisory committee with broad-based membership from significant segments of the community;
Use of “field visits” whereby community leaders make in-person or video tours of existing facilities, comparable to the one proposed for their area;
Opportunities for community and neighborliness leaders to meet with their counterparts from an area where public participation options have been used successfully to site facilities.
We believe this whole time Angelo has been working with Prison, Inc. and Southwest Ranches Town Attorney Keith Poliakoff to push their agenda, disregarding what is in the best interest of City, Town and most importantly of the People he works for and who pay the taxes.
Charles Dodge‐ City Manager of Pembroke Pines. As the City Manager he is in charge of the day‐to‐day management of both the City and the City Charter Schools. In 2005 Mr. Dodge was instructed by the City Commission to write an objection to the plat note change for the prison stating that they objected to the change since there was nothing in it for the city and it would use Pembroke Pines roads. In late 2004 SW 199th road was closed and then in June 2005 both SW 202 and SW 205 were closed, both by the Town of Southwest Ranches.
On November 3rd, 2010, the Town of Southwest Ranches passed a resolution to cancel the Roadways and Other Matters agreement with the City of Pembroke Pines. This Roadways Agreement introduces the “non‐interference” clause so that Pembroke Pines is now unable to defend itself while Southwest Ranches is trying tobuild a jail so close to thousands of homes and over a dozen schools within the area, not one of them being a City Charter school. Currently there are approximately 15,000 school children in the area.
In a memo dated November 19, 2010 the Southwest Ranches Town Manager, the late Charlie Lynn addresses the Pembroke Pines Management Charles Dodge requesting the termination of the Roadways ILA. Charlie Lynn wasn’t managing the town when this agreement was put into place. John Canada was the Town Manager in place at the time of the road closures and then Roadways ILA so he would not be able to understand the importance of such an agreement to be in effect.
This prison could cause a huge drop in home values, and puts our kids dangerously close to a prison population. And to make matters worse, Prison, Inc. has a history of hiring employees who have in some cases been accused of committing worse crimes than some of the detainees. Why wouldn’t Pines want this ILA to be reversed so they could protect the constituents and children? When Mr. Dodge was presented with this opportunity to cancel this Roadways 2005 ILA, the Pines Commissioners and Management looked at it and decided not to act because it would “close roads”. What possible reason could they have not to cancel the contract? People would rather have the roads closed than to have a big prison near their kids and have their property devalued. Southwest Ranches was handing them the opt‐out clause on a silver platter. I find myself asking, “Why would Pines not want to reverse this agreement, unless they had in fact placed it on themselves?”
The Pines Commissioners state there was a significant public safety hazard placed on residents in the area by Southwest Ranches land locking residents and cut off access to the nearest hospital at the time, the Cleveland Clinic. Using public safety as an excuse is dishonest, since it no longer applies. We now have the Memorial Hospital Miramar to the south. Could this have all been a staged event? Could they have had this road blockage put in place in order for the City and Town to enter into such an ILA? Is it possible that instead of protecting their constituents, those commissioners have effectively tied the hands of any current or future city commissioners from having any ability to interfere or oppose the implementation of this prison.
Why would they sign this “Non‐interference” clause? There had to be something in it for Pines. The Fire/EMS Contract and Water Sold to Prison, Inc. With the budget shortfalls in the recent years from declining home values and economic slump, they had to get money for their projects and inflated City Management salaries somewhere. Mr. Dodge has recently come under scrutiny for getting both an income from the city and retirement pension that tops $700,000. Gross Mismanagement?
Since 2005, Prison, Inc. has courted the Southwest Ranches Town Councilors and the “HOA” Presidents, sending them up to Tennessee to look at their potemkin village all paid for by Prison, Inc. These Prison, Inc. guys are really nice right?? They are so nice to these Town Councilmen that they may even have been promised positions at the prison when their tenure is over with the council.
“The mayors of many cities, including Appleton, MN, Eloy, AZ and California City, CA, have found themselves with jobs at the CCA prisons they host.”
It’s not like the current council will be re‐elected once the people in the town figure out that this prison holds nothing but problems, and causes yet another drain on the town’s delicate revenue stream.
It has been proven that this contract will not bring in the dough like it was promised to them in 2005. The Town and Prison, Inc. had to since bring down the per‐diem rate in order to attract the Federal ICE Detention Center placement. Southwest Ranches will now only bring in about half of the originally promised amount. When you add all the fees that Prison, Inc. will most likely stick the town with for any environmental permitting that comes up that wasn’t included in the contract, at full capacity it may only generate a mere $100,000 for the town, if that! Which could be diminished further if the town home values plummet and less tax revenue is brought in.
Look at examples of other failed prison sites and you tell me how this would benefit this area? If the town isn’t going to benefit, they why sign the contracts?
A legislative panel in Rhode Island is looking into the reasons why a for‐profit prison hasn’t been making its payments to the cash‐strapped city of Central Falls.
Taken from Why I Hate CCA Blog:
“Back in 2004, researchers at Washington State University came out with a report
debunking many of these claims. Their report found ‘no evidence that prison expansion has stimulated economic growth,’ and that bringing private prisons to town actually impedes economic growth. They followed up this report with another that came out late last year, reaffirming the findings of the original report. The researchers found that not only is economic growth hindered by bringing a private prison to town, but ‘a negative relationship [exists] between the growth of new prisons and growth in private employment.'”
Another example of Private Prisons not working out, taken from Why I Hate CCA Blog:
“The town of Littlefield, Texas is suffering the repercussions of funding a private prison on a bond venture. The GEO Group cancelled its contract to run the facility in January of last year, and the town has not been able to secure a new contract to bring prisoners in. Because the facility there has sat empty for so long, the bonds used to finance it have dropped in value. So now Littlfield becomes a higher investment risk, meaning future bonds investments will likely cost more. This is another unforeseen consequence of bringing a private prison to town; people get so excited by the prospects of new jobs that they fail to think about what might happen when the private prison company leaves town. So the next time you hear about all the economic benefits that come with a private prison, take that advice with more than a grain of salt.”
Specific quotes regarding several for profit prison projects
Additionally, in March 2010 the Southwest Ranches Town Council continues to give themselves away in page 13 of the Miami IGA Proposal where they state they have the “agreement with neighboring municipality”. Whatever could they be referring to? They didn’t have the Fire/EMS agreement with Pembroke Pines settled until June. The only conclusion is that the neighboring municipality, Pembroke Pines is complicit in these plans to tie the cities hands to interfere with the progression of the jail from a size standpoint as well as protect it’s citizens from it being built so close to their homes and the 15,000 school children nearby.
Friend or Foe? You Decide. Who can we trust in all of this?? Ourselves and Neighbors. We can trust that something in this just isn’t right and our drive to keep on fighting this injustice!! Why is our Town and City doing this to the People out in Western Broward? The answer is plain and simple. Money. As you can see the pieces of the puzzle fit quite nicely together that the City and Town are not looking out for the People they were elected to serve. Special interests and developers will be the only ones who will benefit from this project. Bergeron who stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars and Prison Inc who will make billions of dollars from our Federal Tax Dollars