Editorial Sent by a Madeira Beach Resident
Appointed to Madeira Beach City Commission & Vice Mayor, 7/9/2016
Mr. Ghovaee was appointed to the commission without any public discussion of his background. Some have asked: What kind of force and spokesperson he will be for residents of Madeira Beach?
We have heard questions like:
- Will he help the mayor and city manager control the budget, or
- Will he continue the reckless spending spree for dubious projects that has buried the city in a mountain of debt, and requiring frequent budget adjustments?
- Will he stop the mayor from providing FREE use of city property and facilities to private event operators?
- Is this Commissioner going to stop the give-away of hundreds of thousands of dollars in impact fees to developers? Or, is he going to tell us – as our Mayor has – that these developers have invested a lot of money and they have to be allowed to make more profits?
Investment advisors always tell you, the best predictor of future success/income
is to take a good look at the track record.
- So, to get an idea of how Mr. Ghovaee would handle the city’s money, let’s take a look at Mr. Ghovaee’s own particular finances – which are easily gathered from Pinellas County Circuit Court records…
- Then, you can judge for yourself.
Here is what the public record tells us about Housh Ghovaee.
Item #1 – Multiple Residential Foreclosures
We searched Pinellas County Circuit Court filings relating to Houshang Ghovaee and Housh Ghovaee (DOB 1957) and found multiple foreclosure filings on his residential property at 423 150th Ave, Madeira Beach.
The court records show 6 bank foreclosure filings against his residential property. The most recent was filed by JP Morgan Chase on May 9, 2016.
That case is open and awaiting judicial action. No court date has been set.
During the past several years Mr. Ghovaee has periodically fallen behind in his monthly condominium fees for insurance, maintenance and escrow payments, and the condo association filed 4 foreclosure actions with the Pinellas County Circuit Court to collect these fees.
Item #2 – An Imminent Tax Deed Seizure on Business Property
Mr. Ghovaee faces a tax deed seizure and sale of his business property (Northside Engineering Services) for the failure to pay real estate taxes. Furthermore, the City of Clearwater has filed a lien with the Pinellas County Clerk of Court for code violations at the property.
He has not paid any real estate taxes on the property since 2012 and owes nearly $35,000 for the past three years (2013, 2014, 2015). Another $9,500 in taxes will be due at the end of 2016.
The Pinellas County tax record in the link below shows the county plans to sell the property to satisfy past due taxes on November 16, 2016.
Click here => to see Pinellas County Tax Record Information.
According to the Clearwater City Clerk the lien for code violations at the property had a balance due of $15,400 on 11/12/2015 and the fine increments daily at a rate of $200.
Click here => to see information about the City of Clearwater’s lien.
The taxes due, the Clearwater lien, AND the apparently abandoned state of the property raise very serious questions about the location and viability of Mr. Ghovaee’s business — his primary source of income.
- It is noted in records from the county, that the Pinellas County Appraiser listed the 300 S.Belcher Rd. property as vacant in 2013.
- The property appears to be for sale and it appears to be vacant today.
- A recent visual inspection of the property reveals:
- No sign on the door posting the name of the company (Northside Engineering), phone number or its office hours
- No sign of occupancy can be seen through the windows
- Large Klein & Heuchan for sale sign on the curb
- 300A portion of the bulding is occupied be the Idesign Corporation
The Facts Raise Serious Questions
So the first question is… is Mr. Ghovaee a shining example of financial stability who can guide our city to fiscal stability that it lacks today?
Based on his history of foreclosures and the likely sale of his business property by the county due to non-payment of taxes, the answer to that question is NO!
The second question… which gets a little more personal, is would his financial position make him vulnerable to ‘self-dealing’… or acting on his own self-interest?
My Dad would have said Mr. Ghovaee is a deadbeat – someone who doesn’t pay their bills. His current financial situation is unstable at best.
And, it is it hard to conceive of any person who would not seek opportunities to stop one’s home from being foreclosed and halt the sale of his business property by the tax authorities…
So the answer to the second question is that Mr. Ghovaee’s financial position does pose a risk.
Commissioners Have a Fiduciary Responsibility
According to the Florida League of Cities “Ethical Behavior in Office”, “the Eleventh Circuit has opined that “public officials inherently owe a fiduciary duty to the public to make governmental decisions in the public’s best interest. “
Can we be sure that Mr. Ghovaee is in a position to fulfill fiduciary responsibilities to the city of Madeira Beach, given his current predicament AND past actions?
Does the City Manager Know What We Know?
We wonder if the Madeira Beach City Manager uncovered these troubling financial matters — when he presumably vetted the candidates for appointment to the Board of Commissioners and before making his recommendation to the Commission? Did the City Manager do due diligence and share his results with the Board of Commissioners?
Because, Mr. Ghovaee stands out among the other candidates not for his business acumen — but for his financial instability. Honestly, do you want someone with this kind of financial past (and present) making decisions about how your city’s tax dollars are spent?
If he is this careless with his personal financial decisions, how can we trust him with the city’s money? And, given his ties to the development community and his precarious personal and business financial state, he should resign from the Board of Commissioners.
If he does not resign, the city should take immediate action to force his resignation due to the risk of major conflicts of interest and an unstable financial history.
So, What do You Think?
Write, email or call elected officials. Tell them your concerns about the:
- Failure of the City Manager to perform a “Due Diligence” review to properly vet this candidate
- Commission’s ill-advised decision to appoint Mr. Ghovaee to be Vice Mayor.