A matter of public record

Public RecordSo check this out.

On February 19, 2015 at 11:19 AM, I sent an email to the Clerk of the City of Lauderhill asking for a copy of the personnel file of former Police Officer Jodlyn Antoine.  At 12:42 PM, I received a return email from Bernadette Pelliccia, the Records Coordinator in the Clerk’s Office, acknowledging my request and asking me if I knew approximately when he worked there.  I explained that it was sometime before 2001.  She called me a short time later to find out exactly what information I needed.  At 2:51 PM, she wrote back to let me know that Antoine’s personnel file was off-site but that she will get it as quickly as possible.  She also advised that she would be on the lookout for “disciplinary actions or reprimands,” per our conversation, and that she would also contact the Police Department to check for any Internal Affairs investigations.

Imagine my surprise that the Clerk responded so quickly!  I was beyond impressed by her willingness  to fulfill my request as thoroughly and as quickly as possible.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune!

This morning I received an email from Ms. Pelliccia, advising me that “there is no IA Record, disciplinary or reprimands” for Officer Antoine and that he only worked for the City of Lauderhill for three months.  Attached to the email was his personnel file, in .pdf format.  Unbelievably, there was no charge for this request.  I was so grateful, I even offered – practically begged – to pay staff research time and she refused to take my money.

As an added bonus, the Clerk also attached a copy of City of Lauderhill Ordinance No. 100-07-143, which explains city’s law regarding public records.

Obviously, the City of Lauderhill takes public records requests – and the law – seriously!

Little wonder Jodlyn Antoine only lasted three months there.

According to his personnel record, “Jodlyn (Bobby) Antoine was hired on September 20, 1999.”  He resigned December 13, 1999.  The fourth document in the file was his resignation letter:

Jodlyn Antoine Resignation LauderhillI thought it a bit odd that he wrote, “I did not feel too comfortable working for this department due to the differences between Dade and Broward Counties.”

Maybe the “difference” is that the City of Lauderhill doesn’t put up with any crap from its employees, especially a Police Officer.

If that’s the case, how refreshing!

I also had no problem getting public records from the Village of Biscayne Park.  I emailed the Village Clerk on Thursday, February 19, 2015 requesting Officer Antoine’s records.  I received an email of acknowledgement the next day.  The Clerk advised me that those records were also stored off-site, and said she would retrieve them by Monday, February 23, 2015.  As promised, my request was ready for pick-up on Monday afternoon.

The most amazing part of my experience with both the City of Lauderhill and the Village of Biscayne Park is that I got exactly the documents I asked for, I only had to ask once, and I didn’t have to follow up to check on the status of my requests.  That wasn’t necessary because I received the documents from both cities within three business days of requesting them.

It is totally ridiculous what we have to go through to get copies of public records from the City of North Miami.

The term “public records” means exactly that … they are records that are supposed to be made available to the public.  We should not have to grit our teeth and jump through hoops to get something we are legally entitled to receive.

We should also not have to wait over two weeks to get public records that should be  available at the click of a mouse.

For all intents and purposes, we are now a paperless society.  There is absolutely no excuse for not being able to receive a scanned document by email.

Officer Jodlyn Antoine is a PUBLIC EMPLOYEE.  As such, his entire personnel file, including Internal Affairs investigations, recommendations and disciplines, should already have been scanned and filed in the computer system of the City of North Miami.  There is no reason why his complete employment records should not be immediately available to anyone asking for copies.  There is also no reason why his records could not be emailed in a .pdf format.

The employees who work in the North Miami Clerk’s office are not to blame.  In fact, they really are awesome.  They do everything within their power to help the public with their records requests.  They are NOT the problem.

I have no doubt that somewhere in North Miami’s checkered past, a corrupt politician managed to institute a public records procedure specifically designed to hide as much information from the public as humanly possible.

I am also convinced that the reason I didn’t receive Officer Antoine’s disciplinary record, despite the fact my request was very specific, had everything  to do with Chief Leonard Burgess trying to stall my progress.

I wonder if Channel 10’s Ross Palombo has been having similar problems with his public records requests.

Maybe I should give him a call and compare notes.

Yeah, I think I’ll do that.

At this point, the fate of North Miami Police Officer Jodlyn Antoine is almost a moot point.

This is a shame because obviously this cop has behavioral problems.  He has already proven that he cannot be trusted with a police database which gives him access to personal information on anyone – especially women.  He has already proven that he is a stalker and a bully.  Chances are Jodlyn Antoine will do it again.

But the bigger problem is that this Chief has already proven he has no intention of weeding out bad cops from the Police Department.  He has already proven that currying political favor is more important than serving and protecting the public.

The good news is that when  (not if, but when) Jodlyn Antoine commits his next offense, it will be on Police Chief Leonard Burgess’ watch.  The blood will be on his hands.

Figuratively speaking, of course!

And, frankly, I can’t think of a more deserving person.

Meanwhile, after I received my incomplete public records request, yesterday at 3:41 PM I sent the following email to Rafael Pedron at the Clerk’s office:

Dear Rafael,
I am in receipt of PART OF my public records request as described in the below email.
While I did receive the two Internal Affairs Reports for Case Number 2011-04 and Case Number 2012-02, I DID NOT RECEIVE the following items:
1. Disciplinary recommendations by the disposition panels; or
2. Disciplinary actions taken.
Both Internal Affairs Reports specifically state that each file is being referred to the Disposition Panel.
It appears quite obvious to me that someone at the Police Department purposely did not provide you with the disciplinary recommendations from the Disposition Panels for each of the above two Internal Affairs Cases.
By copy of this email to City Manager Aleem Ghany, I am alerting him to this problem and asking him to question Chief Burgess about this omission.
Rafael, I am again asking that the City of North Miami Police Department provide me with the items I requested and did not receive.
In addition, since I already paid for five pages of documents that I did NOT request (i.e., Disposition Panel recommendation and disciplinary action letter for the Internal Affairs Case Number 2014-02, which I had previously received and did not need again), and am requesting that you provide me with the remainder of my request in .pdf format so I do not have to make arrangements to again pick up documents in relation to this public records request.
Also, since this is the fault of the Police Department, and not yours or mine, I wish to have these documents expedited. I expect for the PD to provide these documents to me within 24 hours via email.
Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Stephanie Kienzle
VotersOpinion.com

Rafael Pedron replied to let me know he received my email and “forwarded it to the appropriate individuals.”

Since none of the “appropriate individuals” have even acknowledged my email, much less complied with my request, apparently the Chief is still  not taking me seriously.

Big mistake.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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11 Comments

  1. Ellen says:

    Enough already! Why are Officer Antonie and Chief of Police Burgess still employed by the City of North Miami? They should bother be terminated immediately! How much more crap are the residents of North Miami supposed to put up with?

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    1. joe says:

      send them a copy of the “florida sunshine law”

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  2. Guest says:

    Ex City Manager/chief/flunkie Stephen Johnson was a master of stall tactics. If Johnson did not want to meet with someone he would avoid them by letting them wait, at times for hours, until they simply got tired and left. It was embarrassing to see people in the lobby or the vestibule to his offices sitting for so long and knowing Johnson was not going to show up. He avoided phone calls and held back information on public record requests as a course. Delaying was his M.O. This public record request issue has been going on for quite some time.

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  3. James Tracton,JD,PhD says:

    Aleem, Please fire that very bad chief before the city becomes known again for bad people.

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  4. Retired MDPD Gold Badge says:

    I am a retired Miami-Dade PD Lieutenant, where Lenny Burgess also retired from. Another MDPD employee brought this blog to my attention, and I wasn’t surprised to learn about the controversy. When most of us who knew him found out that he was appointed as Chief in North Miami, we knew it was the beginning of the end for the police department. I worked with Lenny Burgess for many years. He was protected and mentored by some of the most powerful in Miami-Dade, mostly because of his affiliations in common with those same heavy hitters in outside professional organizations. He never supervised anyone in any one unit or stayed in any one place long enough to gain any real executive leadership experience. Before his flaws could be exposed, he was moved again somewhere else, collecting titles, ranks, and certificates along the way. He never mastered anything in his career, other than politicking. I’d be willing to bet he’s close with whoever is the head of the most popular or most powerful clique in North Miami PD. He’s a facade at best. He hasn’t been fired because he’s probably in with the City Manager or a Commisioner. Lenny Burgess is after all a politician incognito. Those who know him, will know that he will avoid having conversations about topics he should know about. And if the conversations can’t be avoided, he will talk in circles to death, without any real substance, until you’re left asking yourself, “what did he just say”. For those concerned about the corrupt police officer in question, I read all the documents posted. The investigation and recommendations by the panels for discipline were very well written and thorough. The problem is the final decision made by Lenny Burgess and most likely with backing of the City Manager. Lenny Burgess’ inexperience and inability to make tough executive decisions is evident. Any other chief would have fired that officer. This wouldn’t have been tolerated in MDPD. But speaking from experience, the officer won’t be fired at this point. So requesting his termination would be a waste of time. I’d concentrate more in finding another qualified chief to run the North Miami PD instead. To those who say that he’s being shoved down your throats, I’m sure you have Town Hall meetings or other forums in which to bring this up, and Commissioners or other influential people in North Miami you can talk to. Demand for his resignation or termination. Sadly, if that police officer does it again, it won’t be in Lenny Burgess’ hands, he’ll probably be gone by then. It’ll be the next chief who has to answer for Lenny’s poor decisions. I’m glad he never made Director in MDPD. Those of us who saw through the BS, we knew better and hoped for the best. Unfortunately for North Miami, he’s your problem now. And ladies, I’m not sure if he’s changed his ways in the last few years, but just beware of Lenny Burgess. Those are my two cents. Good luck.

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      Wow! Just Wow!

      I hope Aleem pays attention to your advice and fires his ass. Now that Gary Eugene is FINALLY the Assistant Chief, Aleem has a highly qualified, professional law enforcement officer ready to step up to the plate. Burgess knows this, which is why he resisted promoting Eugene for almost a year.

      C’mon, Aleem! Here’s your perfect opportunity to do the right thing for the Police Department and all the residents of the City of North Miami.

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  5. Riese says:

    Why Eugene Gary? Why not someone who has worked their way up thru the ranks while serving the City of North Miami? There are several who are highly qualified! I sick and tired of outside people getting our top positions….including council seats!

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      You obviously have someone in mind. Care to expound?

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  6. […] played semantics by choosing to “misinterpret” which documents I was requesting, and withheld several of them from me for over a […]

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  7. […] He had various individuals contact me to spin the truth for him.  He tried to put the kibosh on my public records requests.  He flat out lied about his history of a sexual harassment accusation.  He punished employees in […]

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  8. […] for this department due to the differences between Dade and Broward Counties,” according to his personnel record), there is no history of misbehavior in that city.  Then again, he only worked for the Lauderhill […]

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