Commissioner Bogen Co-sponsors “Ban the Box” Ordinance to Help People Get Jobs​​

People applying for a job in Broward County government will no longer be initially asked if they’ve been arrested or have a criminal background.

Commissioners unanimously voted to “ban the box,” a phrase that refers to the check box on employment applications that asks about a person’s past criminal wrong doing.

“I think we are leading the way here by setting an example that we ought to ensure everyone has an opportunity to provide for themselves. We’re talking about people who have paid their dues, are back into society and want to provide for themselves and their families,” said Broward Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness, who first brought the ordinance to the Board for approval. Mayor Marty Kiar and Commissioner Mark Bogen also sponsored the ordinance.

The new law means that a person wouldn’t be asked about a prior criminal record or authorization for a background check until they’re among a pool of potential finalists for a particular job.

“What we want to do is ensure that opportunities are open for all,” said Commissioner Mark Bogen.

“The fair thing to do is to give anybody who is looking for a job, the opportunity to apply for a job. There has to be a fair and consistent process,” said Commissioner Chip LaMarca.

“I’m fine with banning the box, but it may be delaying the inevitable. As long as we narrow the list down to a pool of qualified applicants first and then do a background check, I’m good with this,” said Vice Mayor Barbara Sharief.

“If you do the background check and substantiation of all of the information on an application then you are making it fair on numerous levels. You have a pool of people, everybody gets a background check and then you go from there,” said Commissioner Beam Furr.

If an applicant is among those considered a potential finalist for a position and a background check reveals a criminal history, the person would be given a copy of the findings (as allowed by law) and an opportunity to respond and offer mitigating circumstances.

The “Ban the Box” ordinance does not apply if in conflict with federal or state law. Some jobs are exempt from the new ordinance including positions at the airport, seaport or those that involve working with children and other vulnerable populations.

Sun Sentinel: ‘Consumer Bogen’ launching fraud protection program

By Brittany Wallman

Read original article here.

Marjory Lyons is a former educator who writes books. She’s 87. She’s smart, and accomplished.

But for a few moments one recent afternoon when scam artists came calling, she said, “I was stupid.”

Her story and others like it are the inspiration for a new fraud protection program one Broward commissioner is launching next week.

Commissioner Mark Bogen, an attorney, said he wants to fashion himself as the “consumer commissioner,” a version of what Public Defender Howard Finkelstein famously does with his “Help Me Howard” persona.

The program is a bit unorthodox in that it’s going to be operated out of a commissioner office — rather than in the non-political bureaucratic arena — and some may see it as a political ploy.

Bogen said he’ll help anyone, even those who can’t vote for him when he’s on the ballot next, in 2018.

“I don’t think government is doing enough for the consumer,” Bogen said. “We have numerous resources to protect people from losing their life savings, property, identity. If they call my office, I can help them.”

South Florida has been called the organized fraud capital of America, with scams about fake lottery winnings, bogus IRS liens and phony credit card alerts like the one Lyons was targeted with.

Lyons believed the caller who claimed to be from her bank and told her that her credit card had been used by a stranger. The caller mentioned Lyons’ son, Michael, though she got his last name wrong.

Had Lyons charged $1,200 at Home Depot? Had she charged $600 at Macy’s? What was her credit card number? Could she hand her credit card over to a bank representative who was on the way over? A suspect was trying to use her card “right now,” and police were holding him, she was told.

“I was frantic. I was responding,” Lyons said. ” … I was crazy. My dog needed to go out. Everything was happening.”

She called her son, who rushed over. But not before a woman appeared at the door and took her credit card. By the time her son reported the crime, $4,000 had been swiped from her bank accounts. Eventually she got the money back, but she tried to warn others.

Bogen is sending out a mailing next week about his program. Those who need help because they’ve been scammed or suspect someone is trying to defraud them can call 954-357-7002.

Broward Beat: “Mt. Trashmore Landfill Deal Rejected In Rare Defeat for Leading Lobbyist”

By Buddy Nevins

Read the original article here.

A deal involving the fetid Mount Trashmore collapsed Tuesday when county commissioners dealt a rare defeat to one of Broward’s über lobbyists.

Sometimes the good guys win.

Commissioner Mark Bogen: Tuesday’s hero

Broward Commissioners rejected the waste deal after hearing from critics, who argued that it would result in environmental problems and could conceivably result in higher disposal costs for residents.

The deal’s defeat was a thrashing for Mike Moskowitz, a leading Broward Government Center lobbyist. In addition to the landfill, Moskowitz currently represents the Florida Panthers, airport leasees and a firm doing paratransit, among others.

It was Moskowitz who proposed the deal to county officials.

Moskowitz’s client was Mount Trashmore owners Waste Management, which paid beaucoup bucks in fines due to the landfill’s environmental problems. Neighboring communities complained about the smell for years.

The deal would have shut down one of two Broward incinerators. And it would have also allowed construction of a trash transfer station at the landfill.

Commissioners objected to both closing the incinerator, which some critics say could eventually add waste to the landfill.

A Waste Management competitor’s take on the now-dead deal:

Disposing of waste in a landfill cost less than burning it in an incinerator. Closing the incinerator would add to Waste Management’s bottom line.

Opponents to the deal included:

* Coconut Creek, whose residents are plagued with the landfill’s smell. They objected loudly to commissioners and vehemently oppose any expansion of the landfill.

“The city has been frozen out of the negotiations,” complained an attorney for Coconut Creek. The deal “doesn’t pass the smell test,” quipped Jack Shifrel, a long-time Democratic activist in the city.

* Various garbage collection competitors to Waste Management, such as Sun-Bergeron.

Competitors feared the new agreement would allow Waste Management to use a new pricing scheme wedged into the agreement to push them out of business.

A Sun-Bergeron representative said the new pricing scheme could have made it unprofitable for Waste Management competitors to dispose of waste. Once competitors left the county, Waste Management would have Broward waste to itself and could charge anything it wanted.

Sun-Bergeron hired its own lobbyist Bernard “Bernie” Friedman and former County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman, who along with the firm’s General Counsel Aleida “Ali” Waldman urged commissioners to stop the deal.

* Other cities in Broward. City officials also questioned whether shutting down the incinerator and expanding the landfill would affect future disposal costs.

The hero at Tuesday’s meeting was newly seated Commissioner Mark Bogen.

Tackling his first highly controversial issue since taking office in January, Bogen, a lawyer, prepared for the debate like he was entering a courtroom.

Bogen’s research turned up two audio tapes. They were the Smoking Guns.

On the tapes, the disembodied voice of a Waste Management lawyer made promises to two different government bodies a few years ago – Coconut Creek and a county regulatory agency. The lawyer appeared to pledge that the landfill would not increase the amount of waste it accepted.

Contrary to that promise, Waste Management has been increasing the amount of trash being funneled to Mount Trashmore.

Bogen drilled Moskowitz relentlessly, focusing on the promises made on the tapes.

Moskowitz defended himself. He insisted that the promises were worthless because they were not contained in a legal document.

To emphasize the point, Moskowitz made what I consider a major political faux pas.

He said something like, “They (Waste Management) are bound by the document they signed, not the statements they said.”

He seemed to be telling commissioners:

Don’t believe what I say. Just believe what I put in writing.

Ouch.

Based on that statement, can commissioners rely on any promise Moskowitz made during Tuesday’s meeting?

Maybe that’s what commissioners were thinking when they rejected the Moskowitz deal and sent negotiators back to the table to decide the future of waste disposal in Broward County.