Florida the rules are different here Chapter LIII
The City of Davie Florida is paying for three city employees to go to law school. That is very generous of the city but there is just one little problem. Davie doesn't have a city attorney, they hire outside counsel. So why is the city giving these benefits?
Like many other happenings in Florida, this apparently has no basis in reason. Then what are we expecting reason from Davie? A city known for corruption plus formerly home to both the Ku Klux Klan and a nudist colony. There must be something in the water there. Don't you just love Florida?
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Davie taxpayers have spent more than $65,000 to help three town employees go to a private law school -- even though the town doesn't have a full-time legal department.
According to public records obtained by The Miami Herald on Thursday, three full-time Davie employees have together received $65,139 to attend part-time classes at Nova Southeastern University's law school.
They work in code compliance, planning and zoning and coordinating grants.
Davie contracts with private attorney Monroe Kiar for legal services.
Town spokesman Braulio Rosa said the employees' supervisors who approved the tuition reimbursement must have felt that the study of law was worthwhile to their work.
''There is a link between law and using it in your work,'' Rosa said.
Davie Councilman Bryan Caletka said better-educated town employees means smoother operations, but added that the town should revise its policy to include a reimbursement cap at 50 percent.
Daniel Stallone, the town's code compliance official whom the town reimbursed for part of his NSU law school education, couldn't be reached for comment late Thursday. Neither could Colleen Ryan, a grants coordinator who's taken courses at NSU's law school.
The third student who got reimbursed, Marcie Nolan, is Davie's deputy planning and zoning manager who works on land-use law.
She said, in an email to The Miami Herald: ``Based upon the approved the town policy, I applied for and received approval for tuition reimbursement.''
Stallone, a recent NSU graduate who was admitted to the Florida Bar last year, got $7,910 from the town the same year, records show. Nolan, who's still an NSU student, received $38,899 from January 2005 to August of this year. Ryan, whom Braulio Rosa said was not currently enrolled, got $18,330 in 2005.
Full-time students at the Shepard Broad Law Center at NSU, a private not-for-profit university, currently pay $27,050 for tuition. Part-time evening students like Nolan pay $20,288 a year.
Davie's education reimbursement program has come to light after Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish -- who lives there -- studied the budget to look at ways to trim expenses. She accused the town of inappropriate spending.
When Parrish raised the issue of Davie paying for law school, Mayor Tom Truex said he thought the policy was too generous.
''I don't blame them for taking advantage of a policy in place, but I don't think we should have that policy,'' Truex said in a recent telephone interview.
As it is, the town policy stipulates that the town will pay for college courses that are ``closely related to the work being performed by the employee, and when there is a reasonable indication that the course will help the employee render better performance to the town.''
The policy doesn't mention a cap.
The town administrator may require an employee who quits or is fired to reimburse the town if the employee hasn't completed two years of paid continuous work after the course was completed.
Davie Councilman Bryan Caletka said he supported the town's tuition reimbursement program, saying educated employees make the town more efficient: ``The better educated our employees are, the more smoothly our town operates.''