|Citizens' Editorials 2012||
City Council Meeting Tonight
The Budget - An Abdication of Duty
Validity of Ideas Not Wanted...
Visions: Past and Present
Sunrail, Septic, and Elected Naysayers…
West Vousia Summit Report
Part I: I-4 Construction in 2015
Ridership Down from Half of One Percent...
$unrail fails to reach goal of having HALF of one percent ride $unrail...the goal was to keep 99.5 percent of commuters on the road...that was the goal....1.2 billion...1.2 million on a new wall to block sound in Sanford...we can't pave our way out, but we're paving I-4 soon...and then, as John Likakis used to say, we have this beauty:
"We believe we have a higher ridership, but we can't show it," - SunRail spokesman Steve Olson
Click below for the full story:
Budget passes at 2.9247 - vote was unanimous.
CM Dwyer was the only one to discuss the budget - per the discussions from the City Manager and visioning workshops, he wanted to reallocate 80K over to Stormwater Issues - that failed 3-2 (CM Vihlen voted in favor of it as well as CM Dwyer).
Budget passed 4-1 with CM Dwyer dissenting.
There was no discussion on this budget other than CM Dwyer's commentary. The City Manager put forth suggested cuts and those suggestions were passed with no discussions. CM Dwyer noted that a budget is an "expectation" and it's easier to take it out now rather than after it is passed and expected. So, 15K for the Basketball Court at Glen Abbey is in...as well as 45K for a LED Message Board...there was discussion about how flexible and changeable the budget is.
With the new, unexpected mil rate set two weeks ago, I'm willing to say this budget at this mil rate was the least discussed budget I've ever witnessed with the exception of CM Dwyer's commentary.
In point of fact, take away CM Dwyer's commentary, this budget wasn't discussed at all. And yet what CM Dwyer proposed came from the visioning workshops and the people and the City Manager - Mayor Carson, VM Hunt, and CM Handy-Peters said "No" to putting 80K away for Stormwater Related Issues.
But Mayor Carson championed conferences and the 3600.00 dollars for registration fees...
Special City Council Meeting, I think, tomorrow, 9/17, at 7PM
Budget: What will Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters cut? They changed their position on the mil rate...are they prepared to explain their cuts?
With the new mil rate established two weeks ago by Mayor Carson's and CM Handy-Peters' flip-flop, this Council has had only two weeks to consider the budget rather than two months as usual -
One meeting tomorrow to discuss and nail down the budget rather than the many multiple meetings it is usually allowed...now it's reduced to one meeting -
A Tale of Two Meetings
The Saturday meeting was originally advertised as a Special City Council Meeting. But Marilyn Crotty wanted it to be a Workshop – so even though the Council members received an agenda that read “Special City Council Meeting” the public was told it was a “Workshop”. No voting is allowed at Workshops. When Marilyn Crotty said at the end of the Meeting “it’s time to vote” she didn’t mean that. It was simply a time for Council members and even non-Council Members like Mayor-Elect Clint Johnson to not vote – but, rather, express his opinion by putting stickers next to items he was not voting on.
So that’s the explanation. It doesn’t explain why the Council allowed Mayor-Elect Johnson a seat at the table. It also means that, I guess, nothing was really decided. No votes. No decisions. Nothing was prioritized. Also, Marilyn Crotty asked the Council for their plan. That’s why she said that the citizens’ visions might not fit in with their plans. So, we paid someone taxpayer money to tell the Council that the taxpayers’ ideas might not fit in with the Council's plan. CM Dwyer asked why Marilyn asked for their plan…she said it would all work out in the end - it didn’t.
The Football Stadium received two stickers from VM Hunt and Mayor Carson. So it garnered 7% vote from the Citizens and 40% support from the Council.
Overall, the word cluster comes to mind and remember I’m not a granola kind of guy.
The entire meeting will be available on webcast. Items that were not voted on but received a majority of stickers that do not represent a vote, were listed:
Identify assets for replacement – 4 votes that are not votes
Plan for Stormwater maintenance – 3 votes that are not votes – again, if Mayor-Elect Johnson’s non-vote, vote is included here, it received only 2 non-vote, votes.
Assessment of IT needs – 4
Pedestrian Overpass – 3
Other 3 non-vote, votes:
Risk mitigation plan
TOD master plan
Hire TOD Director
Review and revise development review process
That’s it. 141 visions from the People over two workshops and this is the list with perhaps one vote coming from a person not even on the Council. I’m glad I didn’t go to one much less both Visioning Workshops. In addition, the budget does not reflect the plan of the Council – they are talking about plans that cost money while they are cutting the budget. In the meantime, these items will come back to a Regular City Council Meeting for a vote - a real vote – not an expression or opinion or consensus – but a vote.
In other news, there is, I think, a Special City Council Meeting tomorrow at 7PM to see how the Council will reduce the budget.
What is NOT on the chopping block is the 15,000 dollar half court basketball court at Glen Abbey. Hmmmm. Also not on the block: the LED Message Board at 45,000.
On the block: July 4th reduction of 5,000. Bus Shelter @ 21,000. Tree Lighting @ 3800.00. I wonder what Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters will do. I know what I would do, and I would actually have 8,000 left over to give to July 4th WITHOUT cutting the 5,000 dollars. But, I’m sure Mayor Carson, elected 4 times and in City Government for over 20 years has a plan. He should. As should CM Handy-Peters.
Other items on the block: Delay hire dates for a detective and TOD Director. Adopt a Street Program. Banner Replacement. Volusia Days at 1,000 dollars. Record Management @ 5,721 dollars.
Let’s see what happens at this, I think, Special City Council Meeting.
Council members were told it was a Special City Council Meeting, but all notices to the public were "Workshop". The agenda on 9/3 has it listed as a "Special City Council Meeting" - so who put "Workshop" all over the City website and on the agendas available to the public at the Meeting? Who did this? I take Special City Council Meetings much more seriously as voting can take place. Who is responsible for this?
Today's "Workshop" was actually a Special City Council Meeting - there was voting. Even though on the City website it says "Workshop" and at the meeting, I grabbed an agenda and it was labeled "Workshop".
But the Council members had an agenda that was "Special City Council Meeting" and there was voting at the end of the meeting. But, the voting was done with stickers put next to items Council members wanted. For example, if you wanted a Pedestrian Overpass near SUNRAIL, a member would put a sticker next to it.
Moreover, Mayor-Elect Clint Johnson was voting - he's not on the Council. Furthermore, there is no roll call vote on these items. We don't know who voted for what. Just a list of items with numbers.
So any item with 3 votes could have been voted on by Mayor-Elect Johnson and is interpreted as a majority vote but it is not - as only 2 sitting Council members actually voted for it.
It doesn't follow the Special City Council agenda.
There are violations here concerning voting and non-Council members voting on City issues.
Tanner Andrews from the Beacon needs to be contacted. In addition, any private conversations during the Meeting are verboten and I saw VM Hunt and Mayor-Elect Johnson talking during the Meeting - that's a private conversation at a public meeting. I can't count how many different ways this thing went sideways.
All of these inconsistencies surrounding an issue about planning. Why was this everywhere as a Workshop?
Mrs. Crotty used the word "vote" when she talked about placing the stickers.
I wonder who will try to spin this and how...
Because They Can
The Mingle Mangle
SCORE is an entity that provides free workshops and help to businesses. They have a 50 years history and have been proven successful. If you think your business would benefit or is in need of help, contact City Hall and ask about how you might find out about how to score with SCORE.
Selective Thousands and Thousands:
Thousands of people were remembered and used to support the success and validity of the fireworks and Clint Johnson’s sweep into office.
However, different thousands were forgotten: the 6008 that voted for 3 year terms were ignored. The hundreds of citizens who voted for Rick Dwyer were ignored when CM Hunt made a motion to appoint Nick Koval to the Council just 8 months after the people spoke at the ballot box. So we selectively use large numbers of people to support what we want and ignore hundreds or thousands when it is convenient.
In May of this year (see article below), Mr. Gochal from the DeBary Diner dropped the F-word not once but twice. I stood up and loudly stated that it was a good thing Mort Culligan didn’t do that or he would be thrown out. I then said that maybe then VM Carson would have said something to Mr. Gochal. I left the room. But CM Hunt said, “Carson isn’t the Mayor.”
Well, now he is.
And when Mr. Culligan had some kind of disturbance in the back of the room, it wasn’t Mayor Carson who called for Point of Order – which any Councilmember is allowed to do, by the way; and it wasn’t Mayor Carson who said something to the police officers in the room to help – it was Councilmembers Handy-Peters and VM Hunt who did. So whether he is Mayor or not, Mr. Carson does not have the leadership wherewithal to address certain situations – unless it is Rudolph Conoley attempting to use the word “dimwit” or Mr. Culligan pointing…then it’s different.
I don’t know how this is going to work. As I mentioned above, it was noted that Mayor-elect Johnson was swept into office by thousands partly on a campaign platform that had as its foundation Quality of Life Issues and Events. Well, the budget is to be cut – Quality of Life Issues and Events, I would think, would be cut before essential services. In addition, the workshop tomorrow about putting the wants and needs from the Visioning Workshops in order, are in conflict with the budget that is bringing in less money not more. I can’t imagine, though it will probably happen, any of these items being funded the next fiscal year as we are cutting the budget. Is CM Handy-Peters running on the platform of raising taxes again once elected to fund these Quality of Life Issues and Events? I would think that she would have to given her stance on Mayor-Elect’s Johnson’s reason for being elected, her support of the Visioning Workshop and all that it created, and all of her past support to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars for Quality of Life Issues and Events. So tomorrow we have a workshop from 8:30 to 4PM to discuss Quality of Life Issues and Events, the reason so many people move here, that won’t be funded by the current budget.
Will Mayor Carson come with a list of things to cut? Will CM Handy-Peters? They should. CM Dwyer has already been down this road – I suggest he listen to what the two people who changed their position have to say. What will be cut?
From May of 2014:
To view meetings referenced herein:
From 34:00 to 38:00 at the January 15th, 2014 City Council meeting, Rudolph Conoley was speaking. Until he used the word “dimwitted”. At that moment with the Mayor present, VM Carson said, “Mr. Mayor. Mr. Mayor”. Clearly, VM Carson took offense to Rudolph’s wording. And then CM Handy-Peters said these incredible words, “Out of order.”
CM Hunt went on to say how Rudolph could be removed by the police officer.
The Mayor was present at this meeting.
From 1:10 to 1:12 of the May 21st, 2014 City Council Workshop, Allan Gochal of the DeBary Diner said the word “F****” twice.
The Mayor was present.
Not a word from VM Carson, CM Hunt or CM Handy –Peters.
I loudly raised my objection to such language. When I said something about the silence of VM Carson and left, CM Hunt’s response was, “He’s (Carson) not the Mayor.”
Well, VM Carson wasn’t the Mayor on January 15th. Neither were you CM Hunt. Neither was CM Handy-Peters who objected to “dimwitted” and called “Out of order” but was silen on the word “F****” .
I’m not the Mayor either – but I called out the incredibly foul language because it violates the decorum rules of Robert’s Rules of Order – decorum CM Handy-Peters and Carson and Hunt used to censure the Mayor – remember that?
Carson, Hunt and Handy-Peters are not outraged by Rudolph’s or Mr. Culligan’s words – they do not like them as people. If vulgarities were the issue, then those three Councilmembers would not have been quiet at the Workshop with the twice used word “F****”. It’s not the issue of being vulgar – it is about the person.
So, CM Hunt basically abdicated the Council’s responsibility as it relates to enforcing the rules of decorum. So, if I go up there and curse and the Mayor doesn’t care – the rest of the Council will be silent? What if Mr. Culligan or Rudolph does it?
As for CM Dwyer, I believe he was shell-shocked as most were in the room. I think the Mayor was shell-shocked at the use of the F-word. I know CM Dwyer is chiding himself for not saying something just as I admonished myself for not speaking up for Mr. Culligan last October when Sandra Wilson and her stormtroopers accosted him at the public political debate from which Mr. Culligan was removed and given a trespass notice.
I'm glad I stood up for Mr. Culligan at the workshop in calling out the conspicuous double-standard in play against individuals like Mr. Culligan. And Rudolph.
But Carson, Hunt and Handy-Peters who were and have been so quick to call out lack of decorum as it relates to Rudolph and Mr. Culligan and the Mayor have no excuse – only the position that it’s the person and not impoliteness that guides their commentary and outrage.
Because They Can
9/3/14 City Council Meeting Con't
I went to the podium to tell the Council that I prefer to have five Council members who have been voted into office by the people. Clint Johnson won his primary for Mayor – that is a rare thing. I would prefer to have Mayor-elect Johnson on the Council rather than a member appointed by the four Councilmembers. CM Dwyer had suggested to the Council that they wait until after the primary to see if there was a clear winner and then appoint that person – overruled. Too bad. Not too bad because CM Vihlen is doing a bad job – he’s not – but we live in a representative republic and our officials should be voted in by the people –even if I didn’t vote for that person myself, which as it relates to Mayor-elect Johnson I didn’t.
Anyway, four people had to pick a replacement – it was an oligarchy - the rule of the few – replacing the voice of the people – the worst way to govern. CM Hunt pushed hard to appoint someone in late July – then CM Hunt missed a City Council meeting and two workshops during the month of August, so why the rush?
In the 15th century, workers would throw their sabots (wooden shoes) into the wooden gears of the textile looms to break the cogs, fearing the automated machines would render the human workers obsolete – hence the word “sabotage”. CM Hunt said that a small group of people sabotaged the mil rate vote. Some small group flipped Carson and Handy-Peters. Mayor Carson said that people were telling him not to raise taxes. I don’t know how many people told him this, but that’s what Mayor Carson said. CM Handy-Peters did not explain her new position on the mil rate.
CM Vihlen had some good points during the meeting about budgeting and he looked at both the big picture and asked specific questions such as – what are we going to cut to get to the mil rate just voted in? Neither Mayor Carson nor CM Handy-Peters came prepared to list what it is they would cut to get to the new mil rate.
The Public Library wishes to thank DeBary citizens with a concert at the Splash Pad. The City will provide police as this is a new event and so while the cost is 270.00 it is a City responsibility to provide safety. It’s nice for this organization to say thanks. If you have some books to donate to the DeBary Library it would be greatly appreciated – the proceeds go to help children.
It sounded like Mayor Carson was saying that he supports quality of life events even though he, in a sense, voted against funding them. I assume that what will be cut from the budget are those items not needed or necessary to run a City. A half-court basketball court is not a necessity.
To Note: The contradictions were hot and heavy. Let’s review:
Mayor-Elect Johnson, it was stated a few times, was swept into office on a wave of wanting quality of life events in DeBary – the new mil rate does not support that – why did Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters change their minds? Why did they, after the fact, vote against the desires of the people that just swept Mayor-Elect Johnson into office? Mayor Carson was actually in favor of 3.055 two months ago. CM Dwyer’s campaign platform was not to raise taxes – he’s being consistent with his platform.
It was stated that the visioning committee meetings that have been happening talked about quality of life events and issues – they are important to those attending those meetings – Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters voted against funding any further such items for the next year. We’re looking to cut the budget. So, I’m assuming that CM Handy-Peters campaign platform will be to raise taxes next year since she spoke highly and in favor of the quality of life events the Visioning Workshop championed – how else will they be funded?
The Visioning Workshops have come up with a list that will sit on a shelf for the year unless there are items that do not require funding or are self-sufficient. We are cutting the budget. I can’t think of a time when Mayor Carson did not vote for a tax increase. The same could be said of CM Handy-Peters. Yet, both now have right before this election.
Here’s another interesting one: it was stated during the GCA discussion that people move to DeBary for quality of life reasons – well, we have to cut them from the budget with the new mil rate. Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters voted against their core belief – why? And what do they want to cut? Please do not cut items necessary to running the City. Please do not keep the window dressing items that are easy to see while neglecting buried infrastructure that is so important. So when that list of potential items to cut is put together, let us make sure we are not cutting items necessary to running the City. Apparently, by all accounts: the reason why Citizens voted in Mr. Johnson, the Visioning Committee members’ ideas, and the draw of quality of life events to get people to move here and do business here will all have to be seriously reduced because we need to keep the items necessary to run the City. We’ll see…
There was a 1.2 million dollar loan to ourselves out of our reserves for the Police Station. Of course the land was purchased for 640K - so we are at 1.8 million.
Fireworks over Fireworks:
How much do the fireworks cost? If you read the budget the “2013 Actual” adds up to just a little over 31,000 dollars. But that isn’t correct. Mayor Carson stated at the meeting to me that it is 15,000 dollars. But that isn’t correct – that’s just the contract for the company that shoots off the fireworks without taking into account other services, like police, to aid in the event – that’s not being intellectually honest, Mayor Carson. That’s like saying I have 10K in the bank even though I have 5K out in uncashed checks. The actual cost for the 2013 fireworks? 23,000 dollars and some change – so said the City Manager to me the day after the meeting. Why it isn’t what is in the budget under “Actual” is, in my opinion, something that the Council should address. All of this over an event that initially was sold to us as something that “wouldn’t cost us a penny” by Mayor Carson. I think since we have to cut the budget, tell the citizens that if CPPI does not take back the fireworks and pay for the whole thing as it was originally intended to do and did the first year, there will be no fireworks. Put it back in their laps as they did to the City.
Thus ends Part II…stay tuned faithful reader for Part III: The Mingle-Mangle…
Because They Can – 9/3 City Council Meeting – Part I of III
It was a very political meeting.
City Issues: The Budget:
In a shocking reversal, after months and some workshops of Council’s consensus on a mil rate of 2.99 – Mayor Carson and CM Handy-Peters reversed themselves and joined CM Dwyer in voting down that mil rate and tax increase.
CM Dwyer then motioned for a mil rate of 2.9247 – his long term position that was his campaign platform.
Why did Carson and Handy-Peters switch? CM Hunt asked that very question. CM Handy-Peters did not answer. Mayor Carson did but I didn’t understand it. These two brought no plan or list of items to cut the $93,000 reduction in revenue with the newly voted in mil rate.
To Note: Mayor Carson was quick to dismiss potential cuts to fireworks, half of a basketball court and lawn equipment but he brought no plan of his own. He changed his position without coming with a plan to execute it. How many budgets has Mayor Carson passed? A dozen so far…one would think he would know the process. Same is true for Councilmember Handy-Peters – never had a problem with tax increases until this election year.
To Note: It was mentioned a few times that Mayor-Elect Clint Johnson was swept into office because of his stance on bringing quality of life events and community events to DeBary. Ok. Then why did Carson and Handy-Peters vote against a mil rate to continue funding those quality of life issues: like half a basketball court instead of a hoop nailed to a tree?
To Note: CM Handy-Peters said that the Organizational Chart of the City needs to be re-structured. CM Dwyer agreed and I don’t know if Mayor Carson agreed or not or even commented on this – I don’t know if CM Hunt agreed with this but my guess would be no – he’s concerned that the lowered revenue might come by way of reducing staff. That was his concern and he said it. CM Hunt has been consistent in his view of very moderate tax increases to fund quality of life issues. He is consistent. He said, “I’m a liberal.” It’s actually refreshing to hear someone know who they are, what they want to do, and what they want to do with the money and to say as much. CM Hunt mirrored the surprise in the audience of the failed, previously agreed upon mil rate.
Gateway Center for the Arts:
After a five year hiatus, the GCA appeared to ask the City to be partners with them on the Haunted Hike. GCA submitted financials that showed they have 88,000 dollars in the bank and they were asking for 290.00 dollars. I firmly believe that this was done to show and re-affirm to everyone that they have enough votes on the Council to come and ask for this money and get it. (See link below for text of what I read to the Council) I guess they didn’t want us as partners the last five years – but this year – an election year – they wanted to be partners. I’m glad they showed up. Two major things came out:
Lastly, Mayor Carson’s mind was in the toilet – well, the bathrooms at GCA. This came up years ago – the GCA wants the City to clean their bathrooms. It was shot down. But Mayor Carson’s clunky segue to it confirmed to me that he will make the case that somehow the City is on the hook to clean the bathrooms at the GCA. There was a grant and it’s a shared responsibility and shared money - that's the case being made.
CM Dwyer pointed out that even though Sandra Wilson claimed she does not take a salary, she does take a salary. CM Dwyer had pulled the IRS form 990 that proves Sandra Wilson takes a salary at GCA. She replied that she has not been paid the last two months. CM Dwyer was interrupted by Sandra Wilson and then basically shut down by an emotional CM Hunt who made a motion to approve the 290.00 dollars to a private corporation with 88,000 dollars in the bank and a building that is not open to the public if you don’t have the right attitude. Why did GCA ask for this money? Because they can. Why will the taxpayer fund this? Because they have to...
THUS ENDS PART I. STAY TUNED FAITHFUL READER FOR PART II: SABOTAGE!
To read the full text of what I only partially presented to the Council concerning the GCA please click below:
City Council Meeting
September 3, 2014 @ 7PM
On the Agenda:
1. Presentation by SCORE - Free Business Workshops - Marketing
2. Adopting a Mil Rate and Budget
3. Amending Land Development Codes
4. Paying for the new Police Station using Cash Reserves - Cost: 1.2 million:
The Council has decided to fund the construction with cash reserves rather than obtain conventional financing. To accomplish the construction $1,007,000 from the Franchise Tax fund will be provided through an inter-fund loan to the General Fund and will be repaid over three fiscal years commencing in fiscal year 2015-2016.
During the upcoming fiscal year final payments will be made on existing lease purchase agreements used to construct City Hall and purchase a fire truck. The $400,000 available after payoff will be budgeted to pay the inter-fund loan.
5. The City Council has received two requests from local non-profit organizations for event sponsorships.
The first request is from the Gateway Center for the Arts in regards the Annual Haunted Hike at Gateway Park.
The second request is from the Debary Public Library Association in regards to use of Community Park for "Music on the Green" - there will be no cost to the City for this event - but the City is being asked to provide for the application fee and police at a cost of 320.00 dollars.
Lots of misinformation on this about how it's costing the City money - it's not.
Please do not allow anyone to say it's costing the City money...the event is not...but the City will have to cover the costs to host it...two completely different things...unrelated...one might even say, and someone surely will, that the costs to the City for hosting the event have nothing to do with the event.
So we shouldn't associate the costs of hosting the event with the event itself - to do so would be a thought crime...and it would be best for you to put it out of your mind...