Pines Taxpayers’ Skyrocketing Bill For Needless Lawsuit



Pembroke Pines residents are paying the cost of political folly at a rate of up to $225-an-hour.

That’s the legal fees to defend the city in a law suit for trying to block a proposed federal immigration detention center.

One key lawyer defending the city charges $225-an-hour.  Another charges $180.  An aide’s time is billed at $85-an-hour.

And there are lots and lots of lawyers involved.

The cost so far: Roughly $86,000 for just a few months of legal fees and costs.

The bill climbing ever day.

How many city employees’ jobs could be saved with that money?

The costs would be understandable if the litigation was justified.  It is not. It is nothing more than playing politics with the taxpayers’ money.

Blame Commmissioners Angelo Castillo, Jay Schwartz and Iris Siple. Those three voted to fritter away the money on legal fees when they voted to block the prison.

The three commissioners bowed to political pressure from a handful of homeowners in Western Pembroke Pines.  By a 3-2 vote, they withdrew promised water, sewer and emergency services to the land which would contain the proposed prison.

As predicted, the city ended up in court with property owner Corrections Corporation of America.

Now the whole city is paying!

This suit has become a real boon for the legal profession.

When the Pines city attorney opposed trying to stop the facility in neighboring Southwest Ranches, commissioners rejected his opinion.  They asked for an Orlando law firm to give a second opinion.

For his fee of $225-an-hour, Orlando attorney Usher Brown said the prison could be blocked.  His opinion wasn’t cheap.

On March 7, a day that included Brown traveling to Pines and attending a commission meeting, he billed $2,700.  Two days later, Brown charged $2,407.50 for analysis, review, research and preparation, according to the descriptions in the bill.

There were numerous phone conferences between the Orlando firm and the city attorney’s office, costing the taxpayers for both sets of lawyers.  Brown charged $517.50 for e-mails with the staff and “continued research.”

Taxpayers even footed the bill for the Orlando firm gathering the contact information for the mayor, commissioners and city manager and scheduling phone conferences: Cost  $34.

Ka-ching. Ka-ching.

Commissioners have a chance to rectify part of their costly mistake.  Once again commissioners are being asked Wednesday to approve supplying water and sewer to the detention center.

If they agree to provide water and sewer to the facility, I am told that Pembroke Pines gets an immediate $3 million-plus in hook up fees plus an additional $1 million annually in revenue.

That seems to me to be a no-brainer.

But then again I’m not Castillo, Schwartz and Siple, spending other peoples’ money.

35 Responses to “Pines Taxpayers’ Skyrocketing Bill For Needless Lawsuit”

  1. This Is Crazy says:

    Buddy, this is crazy!!! Why isn’t the Inspector General looking into this? My tax dollars are being spent on a political fight. This has nothing to do with the City. This is a federal immigration issue. Then a few rich people out West get upset, the Immigration Coalition gets involved, and now I’m paying for their pesonal political ideology. Hey Pines, I’m a strong supporter of PETA and demand that you send some dollars to them as well. When will this stop? These Pines Commissioners should be embarassed by what they have done and they need to man up and cut the City’s losses now before it is too late.

  2. Pines Taxpayer says:

    WELL, I live near I-75 and heard a lound boom the other day, thinking it was a large car accident, then I realized after reading this it was the political tenure of my 3 commissioners who are supposed to represent me imploding on the highway. That loud bang was their common sense being lost. what a failure this group has turned into. The worst part as I understand it that most of the people complaining to them do not even live in our city.

  3. Defies Logic says:

    Hey Angelo, cut your losses and see if Mr. Brown will give you your money back. Am I missing something here? First Pines pays an outside attorney $25k to issues an opinion that forces Pines to file an action against CCA to show that they don’t have to provide water and sewer to CCA. Now this same attorney changes his opinion (at a shade meeting) and tells the Commission you should actually hear the item and deny it for specified reasons. Is anyone else suspicious of what’s going on here? It’s clear that Pines opinion shopped. At this time for the sake of the City stop this nonsense and move on!

  4. Ignorant or Wise? says:

    A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion

  5. $517.50 For An Email says:

    $517.50 for an email? Are they kidding? Hey Angelo, great use of the City’s money!

  6. To The Three Bafoons says:

    To the three Pines bafoons, I am a struggling attorney who actually works in Pines. How do I get in on this action? I will say whatever you want for half of what Brown is seeking.

  7. The Truth says:

    I can smell the Feds on the horizon.

  8. Constituent says:

    Glad I don’t live in Pembroke Pines or SW Ranches. What will it take for thousands of property owners in Pembroke Pines to speak up at city commission chambers and city hall?
    Thankfully a few dozen have posted over the last few months here on Buddy’s site. A lot more will be needed to stop this financial madness. If you have never worked with attorneys, this will take forever to ensure lots of billable hours. I hear the first thing some law schools teach is deny, delay defer. Equals more billable hours.

  9. The Three Castillos says:

    Do the Three Castillos think we have a plethora of pinatas? In a time where we should be watching every dollar to spend $34 to schedule a phone conference is a complete and utter embarassment. Please listen to the majority of your constituants and approve this agreement and move on. If a few residents out west want to fight this, they are free to do so, but not on our hard earned tax dollars. This is their fight not ours. Buddy, why is the Inspector General not monitoring this? Isn’t this why we voted for one?

  10. DeeDee says:

    To think that Angelo Castillo believed he was deserving of being a county commissioner. Thank God he lost. Imagine what he would have done to the county budget.

  11. Chaz Stevens says:

    >> $517.50 for an email?

    Well, in all honesty, the email did originate in Nigeria.

    FROM BUDDY: As I wrote, it was E-mails (plural). It was also “research.”

  12. electricjack says:

    Well PP residents you an your Fire Dept Union got her elected so suffer for your stupidity. Chris Ziade would have not voted that way…
    As to Jay he was setup by Castillio an crew an did the dumb thing. Hey Jay 12 homeowners do not carry the weight of a complete city. He who buys a house with lots of empty acreage next door is a fool especially in South Florida….

  13. Privacy 101 says:

    It’s too bad the residents of Pembroke Pines can’t hold the Commissioners personally responsible for the money they wasted. Or can they??

  14. Fantasy Land says:

    So Pines hires an Orlando Attorney to spend 160,000 residents tax dollars to fight a federal issue that impacts less than 100 residents? Do they think Pines is Fantasy Land? This is not our fight, this is not our issue. If you want to help these few residents donate a small amount to their fund, don’t place this tremendous burden on all of your residents. If these 3 deny the Agreement, a serious investigation is immediately warranted. Buddy, I assume Mayor Ortis is looking out for the entire City on this one? Why is Castillo placating Siple’s residents. This makes no logical sense. What does he have to gain? Why would he throw the City under the bus on this issue, which will likely be his last?

  15. Taxpayer says:

    I’ll bet the “Time Sheets” have creative semantics to describe the tasks the attorneys, paralegals and admin staff have done to jack up these bills.
    Ans if you want the Broward Inspector General to get involved, email him. The contact info is on the website. Otherwise he is probably busy with other stuff.

  16. Me says:

    I guess over 13,000 signatures on a petition, and a full house at the commission meetings is “a handful of homeowners?” You can blame CCA. Pines read the contract, gave the 9 months required notice, and CCA are sore losers.

    If you want to go after a municipality, go after Davie. THAT contract was drawn up in the dark, there were no workshops or public input, and then at the (packed) commission meeting, the contract was put on consent agenda and the public was not allowed to comment on agenda items. This means there is no official record of dissent. Very clever. At least Pines had the decency to do due diligence and LOOK at the contract, show it to the taxpayers and get input from them. I did not see a crowd of people at Pines or Davie meetings saying that CCA is the victim here, despite the mailers and other pressure.

    Tell CCA to drop the frivolous lawsuit and stop making a municipality waste taxpayer dollars.

  17. Michell Rubinstein says:

    To all the Pines’ resident who are complaining now, you deserve everything you get. When I ran against Castillo, the only people that voted were from Century Village. He has done nothing but cost the City money, money and more money and then write long winded articles. Lets look at the 911 Memorial, why, why and more why’s? Shouldn’t it be in N.Y.? How much did it actually cost?

    I knew from the get go that the reason Castillo and Siple (still luv you Iris) voted for it was strictly politics. As far as Schwartz goes, if Castillo turned to the right or left very quickly, Schwartz’s nose would break and fall off his face.

    Want to know why Castillo went along with the vote to deny? Lets see, in order for Castillo to have control of the five member Commission, he needed two votes to get what he wants. Thereby Siple (she will owe him now) and the guy with a broken nose. It never stops, one blankety blank screw up after another.

    To bad the Commissioners who voted to deny the project don’t have to pay the legal bill. Maybe some good sound business decisions could be made if they did. Michell Rubinstein

  18. Pot calling Kettle says:

    Hey Me;
    Take a real good look in the mirror. My City leaders here in Pines canceled the fire contract with the cow town up north with NO public input what so ever. Get real, they blew it pure and simple, and we all have to pay. The sig’s on the petition are an internet scam from all over the country.

  19. What are they thinking says:

    Less than 6 residents attended the Pines meeting last night, yet the Commission once again, less the Mayor’s comments, voted to defer the item to a later date. This is the biggest waste of tax payer money I have ever seen. At least the Mayor acknowledged that this has to end already. Plus, the City had 2 outside lawyers there Ka-Ching, and where do they put the item, at the end of the agenda. So our residents got charged nearlly $5,000 last night simply beacuse the Commission attempted to hide the item on the agenda. There is no doubt that the Pines residents are funding Castillo’s campaign for illegal immigrants. Illegals from all over the country are asked to sign a petition saying please don’t deport me and then the Florida Immigration Coalition says look we have 13,000 opposed to being locked up in South Florida. This shows how incompetent they really are. How in the world do they only have 13,000 signatures? You could get that many on a street corner in downtown Miami. Yet, when the Commission really debates this matter, the Florida Immigration Coalition can only muster 6 to show up at a meeting. This Commission is an utter embarassment. I can’t wait to see who they blame come budget time. Is Charlie Dodge and Sam Goren now on the ropes due to the Commissions failures and wild expenditures? They will need to pick a fall guy. Who will it be? I hear that Dodge is even money right now. He should learn from what happened to Benson in Hollywood, and he should immediately resign while he is on top. The writing is clearly on the wall. Today, he could find another job in a heartbeat, once his Commission crucifies him for the budget shortfall, the press will falsely write an article about his incompetence, which will make it difficult for him to ever get a job in the future. Time for Dodge to say goodbye and to let his Commission swim in its own sea of mistakes.

  20. Seriously? says:

    Ok, I have to say that I watched the meeting from home and was disappointed at the lack of turnout but this issue has been going on for months. The Commissioner’s know how their constituents feel about having this prison that has been pushed through by SWR Council without public input.
    Pines on the other hand has had NUMEROUS public workshops on the Water subject. PINES DOESN’T HAVE WATER to WASTE on projects that are not economically positive to our community!!
    People complaining on here clearly don’t know what has been going on, nor do they see all the signs up in the Ranches and in West Pines where they allow signs.
    NO ONE wants more prisons!! They are a blight on our community… especially when they are hiring people who end up raping or abusing detainees. CCA has a clear pattern of abuse and our community wants NOTHING to do with this vile company performing a duty of the government and these special purpose prisons wouldn’t even be needed if we had been enforcing immigration policy. Who Profits? CCA! Not our community, Not our schools because they have been avoiding paying taxes for the past 14 years since they bought the property with an AG Exemption. WHY? Because Bergeron put a cow on the property for them once a year!! So, Bergeron is complicit in helping this company deprive our school children of the much needed funds for our schools. This is not a positive corporate citizen for our community!

  21. Seriously? says:

    BTW, Buddy, Are you selling Ad Space to CCA like the Shark Tank is? Can you say CONFLICT?

    I sell no ad space at all. The ads that appear on this site are sold by Google. No advertiser can influence me because I don’t depend on this site to make money. In fact, it costs me money.

    By the way, I am philosophically opposed to private prisons along with most privatization of government services. I see this Pembroke Pines case as a property rights issue.

  22. Jackson says:

    All the people complaining about this lawsuit arent seeing the big picture. Dont you all realize your federal tax dollars will be used to build, maintain and house these detainees? Our tax dollars are being used by a private prison corp and the federal government to house illegal aliens that shouldnt even be in this country to begin with, and here you are, crying about the city commissioners and a so called frivolous law suit.
    FLIC is mentioned. FLIC is only one group of people oppoaing this prison, there are hundreds of residents of Pines and SWR that oppose this that arent affiliated with FLIC. Seriously, your facts are inaccurate if you think its only FLIC involved.

    The revenue Pines will receive from this facility will pale in comparison to what this will cost in the long run. Decreased property values, increased crime rates, the need for increased fire and EMS services, decrease in public safety. Taxes will go up no matter what.

    There are thousands of children that live and go to school within a 5 mile radius of this, wheres your concern for them? Oh, youre heartless. Im sure if your wives / husbands / children / grandchildren were somehow involved in a crime commited by an illegal (which has already happened), youd be singing a different song. Its shocking the lack of concern that is seen for the children and residents of this area, by people who are so worried about money.

    You should be thanking your city commissioners for standing up to CCA. CCA is a morally and financially unethical corporation. Its not surprising the people that are crying about the cost of the city lawsuit are the same ones that would support a private prison. Private prisons seems to attract the most unethical, greedy and naive supportere; people who cant think and research for themselves, the same people who drink the CCA kool aid and think CCA is the answer to all their financial woes. Take off your blinders people.

    The same people that are crying about this lawsuit are the same people who will be crying their tax dollars are supporting / detaining illegal aliens in a 5 star hotel atmosphere. These same people will be crying how these aliens will have better housing, food, medical and mental health services than they do.

    Thank you city commisioners for standing up for whats right. CCA is playing bully because theyre not getting their way, imagine the hard ball game theyll play once they get their foot in the door.

  23. Seriously? says:

    @Buddy, Good to know.

    If you see this as a property rights issue, then let me clarify it a little bit for you.

    Is it a property rights issue when they have to enter into an IGSA with a municipality to exercise their property rights? That’s the only way they will build a prison is if they get this IGSA through SWR. They can build a prison if they want, but won’t end up with any customers because FL prison populations are on the decline… ICE is the only possible customer they can look towards. Private Prisons are not positive developments in our society and this is NOT just a NIMBY issue… it’s a national anti private prison fight against wasting our Federal Tax dollars on yet another private prison our gov’t doesn’t need. We will have to PAY whether it’s full or not at 90% capacity just like the State deal they tried… This is clearly not a property rights issue as if it were, there would have already been a prison built. They have to find a customer in our federal government and a town stupid enough to enter into an IGSA to forever link their good name to be taken into the gutter along with CCA. I hope that this sheds some light on this fight and you can stop mis-characterizing it as a few people in West Broward… who are simply struggling like everyone else to hold on to our homes through this tough economy and are not blinded by promises of low paying jobs and tax revenue that will never be. Take a look at or simply google CCA Lawsuits and figure out what type of company this really is… You might change your mind on the commissioners standing up for what they believe.

  24. Dobs says:

    The biggest losers will be CCA, Poliakoff, Nelson and the rest of the town council. Throw Ortis in there for kicks and giggles. Guess what folks, this detention center isn’t happening. Mark my words.

  25. Congrats says:

    Buddy, Congrats! Looks like FLIC found your website. I’m sure you will look forward to their posts, which to sum them up will say, when the prision is built, its inmates will certainly rape and murder our children. To Seriously, they could build a prision, a strip club, a factory, anything they want there as of right, but it appears hard to accept that. As to Dobs ignorance is bliss. Wish I lived in your world.

  26. Alan says:

    As a tax paying resident of Pembroke Pines, I’m more concerned about the value put on my condo. The Appraisal Office cut my value down 20%. But my tax bill only went down 1%. Whats up with that. And my insurance also went up 60% this year.

  27. Lisa says:

    Are Poliakoff and Nelson writing these negative comments? Do they really think that people from Pines and SWR don’t see through their game? Thank you Pines commissioners for being politicians who stand up for their constituents, the thousands of them who will be detrimentally affected if this prison goes through! SWR residents thank you as well!!

  28. My money says:

    When will Pines Commissioners realize that they are spending tax payers money to support their own political agenda? This has nothing to do with Pines. Castillo needs to man up and get us out of this mess now!

  29. Jackson says:

    @ My money says:

    When will you realize your tax dollars are going to build, house and maintain these detainees? Our tax dollars will be paying for illegal immigrants to live better than you or I while awaiting deportation.

  30. DoYOURresearch! says:

    FLIC isn’t associated with the residents as the residents are opposed to this facility for other reasons… Call it research, lack of open government, lack of open meetings..all you have to do is search CCA Lawsuits and you can come up with a thousands of lawsuits against CCA or ways that CCA has left a town broken. Get Real SWR Council and Town Atty… You are in the minority.

  31. Living in Pines says:

    To “My Money” and others commenting who refer to a political agenda by Pines commissioners… could you please explain exactly what you think that political agenda entails?

  32. Where Other Threads Have Gone Before says:

    @Living in Pines, read these:

  33. DoYOURresearch! says:

    @Buddy, You might want to do some research…

    I what world does placing a private prison in the middle of homes and schools make sense when they are notorious for riots at their facilities?

  34. Six Figures Gone, Soon Seven says:

    The legal bill for Pembroke Pines to take a stand against a proposed federal detention center in neighboring Southwest Ranches is $122,000 since September, and growing.

    At least three different law firms are working on the city’s behalf to oppose the planned U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holding facility, and collectively their attorneys have logged dozens of hours in meetings, performing legal research, and reviewing and preparing documents.

    But attorneys fees, at a rate of $185 to $225 per hour, are just a fraction of the city’s potential liabilities.

    Pembroke Pines could be on the hook for much more — potentially millions — if the city does not prevail in a federal lawsuit filed by Corrections Corporation of America […]

  35. PemBROKE says:

    Just in case PP taxpayers weren’t already going broke paying the legal expenses for the CCA lawsuit, it seems that the PP Commissioners have found yet another great way to put the “broke” into Pembroke… who votes these clowns into office?!?

    […] Pembroke Pines City Manager Charles Dodge has an annual $705,000 private contract with the city (recently it was $755,000) that pays only him and his assistant, Martin Gayeski. Under the private contract, Dodge was the highest paid city manager  in Florida, making as much as the city managers of Miami and Fort Lauderdale combined.

    The kicker: Dodge is also receiving a $75,000 pension. He only inked the big private contract after he retired as an employee. […]