Posted on

FLCGA: An Investigative Series Gets Results

Over the past year, FLCGA news director and journalist Bob Norman doggedly pursued a fascinating story of greed and self-dealing at the North Springs Improvement District, a public agency that provides water and sewer services to 40,000 residents in Broward County. Norman’s reporting on the district and its manager, Rod Colon, has been hard-hitting and unflinching and recently sparked action in the state legislature. 

The first installment of the investigative series revealed that a company Colon formed in his own home had raked in $16 million in contracts from NSID, his own agency. When Norman attempted to question the district’s elected board president about his findings, Colon intervened and demanded that Norman either leave the public building or be arrested for trespassing.

Norman didn’t stop. His subsequent reporting has revealed bidding irregularities, multiple conflicts of interest, and more profiteering by Colon at the district he runs. One of Norman’s more outrageous findings was that Colon listed himself as the Realtor on the sale of an NSID-owned piece of property and personally pocketed $240,000 in commissions on the public land sale (“Water official pockets $240,000 on public land sale, cities ethics “loophole”). 

In December, the continuing investigation revealed the board president, who had enabled Colon to greatly profit from the agency’s coffers, had himself received business from the district. That story also exposed highly questionable hiring practices at NSID (“Rampant cronyism, nepotism plague Broward County water utility”). 

In direct response to Norman’s reporting, Florida House Representative Dan Daley on January 12 publicly called for an investigation of NSID by the Florida Auditor General. Daley will make his case to the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee at its January 26 meeting.

Also in response to the investigative series, state Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland) this month filed legislation, HB 199, to close what is now being referred to as the “Colon loophole” in state ethics laws that Colon used as a predicate for his profiteering. Representative Daley has filed similar legislation, HB 241, that in addition to closing the loophole would also require annual ethics training for elected local officers of independent special districts like NSID.

Caroline Klancke, founder and executive director of the Florida Ethics Institute, wrote in an email to FLCGA that the action taken so far in Tallahassee “is further evidence of the great work that the FLCGA is doing! Kudos and thank you! This is all excellent progress fomenting real, meaningful, beneficial change!”

Here’s the link to Norman’s piece about HB 199 titled “Following FLCGA investigation, lawmakers take action on Broward special district.”” 

As you can see, FLCGA is in the news and makes the news, for good cause.  Keep your eye on as we continue to follow this story.

FLCGA is a donor-supported organization and we urge you to support FLCGA with a donation today. Help us continue to hold Florida government and government officials accountable. Good things happen when we work together and together we are indefatigable! 

Thank you.

The FLCGA Team