From today's Palm Beach Post-
Palm Beach County Commissioner Warren Newell, champion of a $50 million taxpayer initiative to protect public access to the waterfront, steered $14 million to a private Hypoluxo marina where he docks his personal yacht.Newell's non-reply tells me another crook is masquerading as a County Commissioner. This arrangement smells because of the fact that Newell never disclosed the debt he owed to the marina and voted for the deal when it is obvious to anyone above the fifth grade he'd have a conflict of interest. When you conisder this news, and some other recent County Commission actions plus the recently disgraced Tony Masilotti, you have to wonder if every County Commissioner is on the take.
Newell met privately with the marina's owners and county staff, then voted with other commissioners to pay $14 million to keep the Palm Beach Yacht Center a working boatyard, county records show. County administrators said they never were told about Newell's business ties to the marina. No record could be found that the four-term commissioner, before voting on the purchase, publicly disclosed his lengthy association with both the business and one of its owners.
Newell wouldn't talk about it. "There are several prosecutions pending against other individuals and I do not want to do anything to compromise the integrity of those pending matters," he wrote in response to written questions from The Palm Beach Post.
Documents The Post obtained show the commissioner's connection to the marina went beyond tying up Long Shot, his 38-foot fishing boat, in a yacht-center slip:
• While pushing the $14 million acquisition in 2005, Newell owed the yacht center $35,900 for unpaid dockage fees and maintenance. Newell never reported the debt on his state-required financial disclosure forms. He did report it in a May 2005 financial affidavit that he filed in his divorce.
In a brief interview, Newell said the debt has been paid. His boat remains at the yacht center, and his monthly marina payments are current, he said.
• Newell and Leo Berman, who owns 45 percent of Palm Beach Yacht Center, were among investors who applied in September 2005 to open Legacy Bank of Florida. Newell invested $300,000 in the Boca Raton-based bank while Berman, the largest single stockholder, had a $1.6 million stake, according to the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. Before that, Newell and Berman were directors and shareholders of Southern Community Bank of South Florida, which was launched in 2002 and sold in 2004.
• Newell's engineering and surveying firm, West Palm Beach-based SFRN, provided the property surveys needed for the county's acquisition of the yacht center's development rights. Surveys on file with the county show that the firm had mapped the yacht center in 1996 and updated the survey last year.
Newell, who owns 26 percent of the firm, wouldn't say how much SFRN was paid, and the company, through its attorney, wouldn't comment. Berman did not return phone calls or answer written questions faxed to his office.
Linked to- Bright & Early,