Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Deerfield Beach Experiment That Didn't Work

To the Deerfield Beach Commission:

 The “Let the public speak at the beginning of the Commission meeting” experiment is not working. 

The State ruling that for each item voted on in an agenda the commission must allow public input changed the way our commission meetings are run.

Formerly the public could address the commission in the beginning of a meeting if written permission was granted a week before the meeting and after each meeting was over without prior notice, and during the meeting on public items.

Now, everyone who wants to address the commission has a turn at the very beginning of the meeting, taking their 4-5 minutes to rant on any topic they choose.  Rarely, if ever, are they held to the guidelines that the topic has to be about city business.  Five, ten or twenty individuals, each meeting, bring up topics from the important to the ridiculous; many causing the commissioners to rebut or discuss, causing the 4 minute limit to drag on and on and the public to speak portion of the meeting to go for an hour or more. All this happens after city presentations of videos and certificates and honors.  Meetings which should start at 6:45 – 7:00 frequently don’t get going until 8:30 or 9:00!

This is not fair to the audience; people who are coming before the commissioners to do business, many with representatives such as attorneys or architects who are paid by the hour, have to wait until the this long preamble is over before getting their chance to do what a commission meeting is supposed to be about.  Think about the hourly cost of having your attorney sit through complaints about how commissioners behave, requests for funding, announcements about upcoming events, pothole filling, and thinly veiled campaigning.  At a few hundred dollars an hour, this can get kind of pricy.

Residents who frequently attend commission meetings do so to hear city business conducted, not to hear residents venting about shoes and ships and sealing wax or cabbages and kings.  

It is time to go back to having the public, who have personal topics to discuss, wait until the end of the meeting.  If the public wants to speak about agenda items, they can do so during the public input portion of the item during the meeting, otherwise business should be conducted, business people will have a chance to do their business and leave.  The commissioners have to stay to hear the public, but it is wrong to make those wanting a sign change or approval for a building plan to waste time and money waiting for the business meeting to begin.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Important for all of Deerfield Beach Voters

There is a very important campaign going on right now.  The fate of our beach area and our entire city is at risk and may well hinge on the outcome of the March 10th Districts 1 and 2 election.

 Commissioners Ben Preston and Joe Miller are being challenged by people who will almost certainly, if elected, create a bloc vote with Mayor Robb.  Robb wants to do away with provisions in our referenda protecting the beach.  She is in favor of more density in beach properties to make it easier for property owners to build higher and more massive.

If she has her vote and 2 others on the commission she can get her way.  We need to support Ben and Joe and protect our beach and city.  If you can, donate to their campaigns, help get the word out by talking to your neighbors and friends, come to campaign meetings, help knock on doors and pass out flyers.  No matter what district you live in this is important to you.

Visit and to find out more about Ben and Joe. 

Ben Preston needs our help right now, whether you live in District 2 or not!  Please join me and other caring residents at his Campaign Kickoff Celebration NEXT WEDNESDAY invitation below:

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Right Thing

Friday, December 19, 2014

Moment of Silence or Moment of Ridicule for Deerfield Beach

Some years ago the Deerfield Beach commission heard from some residents that they would like a moment of silence instead of a prayer in the beginning of commission meetings.  This caused many religious residents to attend the next commission meeting and demand that the prayers continue, which as a result of the uproar, they did.

Now, in reaction to court decisions, there is a movement to have the invocation delivered by those of non-traditional beliefs, all legal according to the courts.  The people who are making these unusual requests are hoping to stage a publicity stunt trying to make the point that government should not be in the business of religion, and that many attendees of commission meetings feel ostracized by the current type of invocations.

Not wanting their invocations turned into a media circus many cities have done away with invocations entirely; other cities, have decided to have a moment of silence during which people can pray silently or not as they wish. 

I don’t think Deerfield Beach is ready to do away with a spiritual moment before our meetings, but a moment of silence will eliminate the possibility of the invocation time being turned into a moment of ridicule, and go a long way toward eliminating the feeling by many residents that the city is not one of inclusion. 
COMMENT BY DAVID COHEN (This was sent to the city commission):
The Five Electees Serving on the Deerfield Beach City Commission were elected To Represent All Constituents, Not Just Christians
The diversity in our town underscores the need to replace the divisive sectarian invocations at civic gatherings with unifying Moments of Silence. 

Scriptures of major creeds support this practice.   Quotations provided upon request.   
Consider also, in sharing that moment of silence for prayer and/or contemplation, non-believers can, at last, attain their due civil rights — HUMAN RIGHTS — to be treated as the equal citizens that they are. 
This is yet one more time for me to invoke the spirit of Rosa Parks.   I insist that you will no longer shove me to the back of the bus.