Pines Loses Round In Fight To Block Prison



Pembroke Pines lost a round in court last week over its attempt to block a proposed federal detention center.

Broward Circuit Judge Carol Lisa Phillips stayed the matter until a federal court hears it first.

The city had wanted the issue in state court, rather than federal court.  Some lawyers believe state judges can be more easily swayed by public opinion because they have to run for election, while federal judges are appointed for life.

There are some very vocal activists against the detention center who have already promised political revenge against anybody backing the project.

The suit began when Pembroke Pines commissioners voted to cut off promised city services to land in Southwest Ranches owned by Corrections Corporation of America. The company filed its suit in federal court.

Pembroke Pines filed an action in state court.

In her order, Phillips noted that under the law, the CCA federal suit must be heard before the Pembroke Pines state court action.

When first faced with protests from a handful of western Pembroke Pines homeowners living near the proposed prison, commissioners said there was nothing they could do.  After weeks protests in person and on the Internet,  Commissioners Angelo Castillo, Jay Schwartz and Iris Siple buckled.

Against the advise of their city attorney, the three commissioners voted to break pledges to supply city services.

The losers in the end could be Pembroke Pines taxpayers.

If the city loses the suit, taxpayers could end up paying millions of dollars in penalties for canceling its agreement to provide the property with water, sewer and emergency services to the facility.

Castillo, Schwartz and Siple’s vote has already caused some lucky law firms to echo with the sound of ka-ching ka-ching.  There is a bevy of private attorneys hired to defend the city.

I wonder what that’s costing taxpayers.

15 Responses to “Pines Loses Round In Fight To Block Prison”

  1. Pembroke Pines Resident says:

    There are three fools on the Pembroke Pines Commission. Unfortunately we will all end up paying for their folly.

  2. This is Crazy says:

    Buddy, what the heck is this Commission thinking? I am an Attorney who lives in Pines and have been following this story in the news.

    It appears that my Commission is being pulled on a string by 30 to 40 residents who bought homes directly next to a woman’s prison and two other future penal facilities. So those of us who live in Pines now have to pay for these residents mistakes, and it appears that the majority of our Commission thinks that helping these resident’s fight will help the entire City as a whole. I still cannot figure out how they can possibly think spending this much of my tax dollars will help all of us. It’s called a bail out and it is proven not to work!

    Instead some other attorneys, who I hear are not even from our area, are getting rich while I am losing services and will probably have to pay more next year.

    Buddy, the way I understand it, the City Attorney actually advised that the City has to service this property? If this is correct, the City Commission opinion shopped until they found an attorney who would support its position. How much did this opinion cost us?

    Then, to make matters worse, the attorney they hired, filed suit against a fortune 500 corporation in state court when the same matter was being heard in federal court. DId he really think the state court action would not be stayed? Where did they find this guy? Is he actually admitted to the Florida bar?

    I’d love to know how much this has cost us and continues to cost us. Anyway we can find out?

    I hope someone comes to my house soon so that I can sign a petition to remove this Commission and to start over.

    Can’t wait to see the Fab 5 does during budget time. Can’t wait to see how they explain this to the electorate!

    have known what they were buying before they closed. The City’s attorney has made it clear that they have to provide

  3. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    I don’t consider this a loss of any kind and it’s silly to even describe it that way. This is a question of civil procedure.

    CCA filed first in federal court and because they insisted Judge Phillips ruled that the federal claim should be heard first. Frankly, I believe this causes delay in deciding the central question which in my view belongs in state court. Why CCA would want this delay is unclear. That’s their business.

    In Pembroke Pines we’re doing the people’s business. And that can’t be done when the law is unclear. Because ours is a state question our declaratory action was properly filed in state court.

    I have total confidence in our judges to get these questions right. Nobody can blame Judge Phillips for deferring to a federal court on a first filed complaint. It happens all the time. Certainly if the matter belongs in state court, the federal court will send it back.

    Yes, this will add time to the decision process but CCA can drag this out if they wish.

    Further, allow me to clarify for the fifth or eighth time I’m not sure which. Pembroke Pines has NEVER had any agreement with CCA whatsoever including to provide water and sewer service. We really need to stop saying otherwise.

    Any agreements Pines ever had along those lines were with the Town of SW Ranches. CCA has no third party beneficiary rights to any of those agreements. The Town’s Council has voted to support both of the City’s termination notices to cancel those agreements.

    In Pembroke Pines, we want to make these decision correctly under the law. But first we need to define what the law requires. Pembroke Pines has taken the proper step of asking for declaratory judgment on these question. City aren’t held liable for responsibly seeking to clarify their legal obligations.

    At the end of the day, once a court decides on the law, we will be in a position to properly address the matter.

    Thanks for your continued interest.


  4. Citizen says:

    Does the PP charter have a provision to undo ordinances like other cities? All that is needed in some is 1,000 elector signatures, some specific info and precinct. If permitted, the voters of PP will have the power to do what the majority wants.
    Better its in Federal court – judge controls docket and will cut down on appeals.

  5. SAM FIELDS says:

    I have not looked at the CCA lawsuit (disclosure 15 years ago I was a failed lobbyist for them) but if it is a 1983 Civil Rights case Siple, Schwartz and Castillo could find themselves personally liable for any judgment.

    The legal theory is that the officials were acting totally without any lawful basis and abusing their office.

    The classic evidence for this is that government officials ignored the advice of their lawyers which seems to be the case in the Pines/CCA dustup.

  6. YAFOS says:

    Well, Sam, I’m not a lawyer, and I am not siding either way on this issue, but I don’t believe that not accepting advice is “classic evidence” of abusing one’s office, or it being illegal to not accept advice.

  7. Chaz Stevens says:

    @This is crazy

    >> Where did they find this guy?

    Holiday Inn Express
    14651 Northwest 20th Street
    Pembroke Pines, FL 33028

    He holds court there nightly. Look for him at the b’fast bar.

  8. Embarrassed says:

    I am utterly embarrassed that these are my City Commissioners. The City signed a contract that says that it HAS TO supply water and sewer to the property. HAS TO, not optional, HAS TO. No one forced my Commissioners to sign this, they signed this and fully knew what the Agreement said. Even if the federal court says Pines does not have to give water and sewer service to the property, they still HAVE TO under the contract. As such the lawsuit is totally worthless. The City will HAVE TO supply water and sewer no matter what. So in the end, the City is wasting tax payer money on their own political agenda.

    The lawsuit will determine whether they have to supply water and sewer to the property.

  9. Embarrassed says:

    Buddy, the lawsuit will only determine whether they have to legally supply water and sewer to the property as a public utility. Meaning does Pines, as a public utility, have to provide water and sewer to any property within its service area. This does not in anyway litigate whether or not they are contractually required to supply water and sewer under the Southwest Ranches fire agreement, which requires them contractually to supply the property with water and sewer services. For that issue to be litigated, Pines would have to sue Southwest Ranches or Southwest Ranches would have to sue Pines. Currently, our two cities are not in litigation. Hope that clarifies.


    Thanks for clarifying.

    The results of a loss by Pines seems to be the same — they have to supply water and sewer to the property. I don’t believe they can pick and choose who they service within their service area based on whether they like the use or not. They are currently servicing all the property around this parcel.

    Remember, this is a legal use for this property.

    Even if they win, there are significant budget considerations for Pines — a loss of revenue for fire/EMS, water and sewer. The taxpayers lose either way. Either there is a cost for defending the commission’s silly actions or a loss of revenue.

  10. Pines Resident says:

    Once again we have Angello Castillo starting major problems for the City at our expense. This guy doesn’t quit. Why do we pay for a City Attorney when Angello plays Commissioner and City Attorney. Look what you advice got us Angello. Don’t you have anything better to do that always be in the middle of creating problems for our city. This project is not even in your district…. We are goign to mount a massive campaign to get you replaced. Enough is enough with you already!!!

  11. Lamberti is garbage says:

    When will Angelo defend himself here again?

  12. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear YAFOS
    Ah but it does and has. One way to identify that a public official is abusing his office for improper purposes is to determine that he ignored his own lawyer’s advice and that advice was clearly and obviously on point.
    What is left is a vindictive harmful decision
    It can cost the “decider”

  13. Pines resident says:

    The focus seems to only be on Angelo. Let’s not forget the other two votes, Jay and Iris. All three need to go before they bankrupt our city!

  14. Pines Homeowner says:

    Commissioner Castillo states: “Further, allow me to clarify for the fifth or eighth time I’m not sure which. Pembroke Pines has NEVER had any agreement with CCA”. Isn’t Commissioner Castillo missing something, as I believe there is a clause in that agreement that goes something to the effect of and again this is not word for word but it’s something to the effect of whereas “The City of Pembroke Pines agrees not to interfere with CCA in the development of this facility”. So by doing what they did, doesn’t that fall along the guidelines of “interfering”?

  15. Pines Homeowner says:

    This is nothing new for Commissioner Siple, just go back and watch a rebroadcast of some of the commission meetings in regards to this topic where she’s given advice by Mr. Goren and you’ll hear her say, “while I respect your opinion, I have to disagree”. What law school did she graduate from and if Commissioner Siple is going to state case law, than I guess they no longer need their attorney. (just kidding).