Citizens For Broward’s Children, a political committee formed to sell voters on the reauthorization of the Children’s Services Council of Broward, raised more than $18,000 from local non-profit organizations. The CEO of the Urban League gave $100 to the cause, as did the CEO of Hispanic Unity, the local affiliate of La Raza. Howard Talenfeld, the co-chair of Citizens For Broward’s Children, gave a $1000 contribution. He is the president of Florida’s Children First. Former State Sen. Nan Rich chipped in $500 to the committee. Children’s Services Council(CSC) President Cindy Arenberg Selzter also added a $500 contribution. But the political committee’s largest contribution was $15,000 from the Community Foundation of Broward.
Founded in 1984, the Community Foundation of Broward claims its mission “is to provide leadership on community solutions, and foster philanthropy that connects people who care with causes that matter.” According to its website, the Community Foundation gave more money to the Citizens For Broward’s Children than it gave to the American Cancer Society ($10,000). In 2013, the Community Foundation gave $38,085 to the Children’s Services Council for a free backpack giveaway. And the CSC gave $50,000 in mini grants to the Community Foundation. However, the ties between the Children’s Services Council and the Community Foundation of Broward are not limited to grants.
At the November 2013 Children’s Services Council meeting, The Community Foundation of Broward announced it would something it has never done-advocate for a political cause. Thor Barraclough, Community Foundation of Broward Vice President of Marketing & Communications, “speaking on behalf of the Community Foundation of Broward, expressed support for the referendum, citing a long history of various partnerships with the CSC and the effectiveness of the CSC in providing services in the community. He noted that this is the first time in the Foundation’s 30 year history that it has undertaken grassroots advocacy efforts. He explained that the findings of a study commissioned by the Community Foundation of Broward support placing the CSC retention question on the 2014 general election ballot.”
Joining Barraclough at the November 2013 meeting was Rick Asnani, president of Cornerstone Solutions. The minutes state Asnani, “was hired by the Community Foundation of Broward to look at the referendum process and landscape for CSC’s success, summarized the findings and thought process behind their recommendation of the 2014 general election for the CSC retention question.”
As Red Broward reported, Kim Lee Bove, treasurer of Citizens For Broward’s Children, works for Cornerstone Solutions of West Palm Beach. According to their website, Cornerstone Solutions helps “clients win political or issue campaigns, or pass/defeat ballot initiatives or legislation. We do it with award-winning strategic and integrated communications plans.” Asnani has done work for other groups including the Broward Workshop. RED BROWARD obtained a Cornerstone Solutions email touting their work for The Broward Workshop, “Services included GOTV and absentee chase efforts including direct mail and phone banks for the No on Amendment 4 effort in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.”
At the same meeting, Children’s Services Council President Cindy Arenberg Seltzer announced, “both the United Way of Broward County Board and its Public Policy Committee whole-heartedly support the retention of the CSC and have listed the referendum issue as a high priority issue for 2014.” As RED BROWARD reported, the United Way received $25,000 in taxpayer funds from CSC for its “Choose Peace” anti-bullying campaign.
The Community Foundation of Broward has direct ties to the Children’s Services Council new media plan. Gary Bitner sits on the Community Foundation of Broward’s board of directors. Bitner is “president of Bitner Goodman, one of Florida’s largest public relations firms with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.” According to Children’s Services Council documents, Bitner Goodman received $55,000 to promote “public awareness/educate taxpayer.” Last year, “in order to more accurately gauge the reach and impact of existing public awareness” the CSC commissioned a $25,000 survey from Rose Marketing Research. Bitner Goodman was hired to produced a media plan based on the survey. In February, Children’s Services Council meeting minutes show the plan would cost $115,000 worth of taxpayer funds.