Wednesday, September 15, 2010

If Only

In his email about his latest post about Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment 4 on his website Jan Bergemann had this tasty quip:


"Have you ever considered how politics would work in Tallahassee if the doggie bags in the Governor's Club, headquarters of the developer lobbyists, would only contain real food left-overs?"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Everybody's a Critic in Deerfield Beach

After last night's (Tuesday) commission meeting I thought this quote (below) from Teddy Roosevelt should be posted. 

There were people in the audience whom I have never seen at a meeting or a budget workshop.  Many of them were upset with their taxes, understandably.  But, some acted surprised at the millage rate and how it came to be higher than last year, they didn't seem to grasp what a roll back rate was, and were angry that the city had not sent them an engraved notice of the budget workshops. If they had attended any of the budget workshops they would have seen the process the staff and commission went through to arrive at the budget for next year. I guess it is not enough for them that the meetings are publicized in the newspapers and posted on the city website, and emailed out to residents who sign up for notices.  I am no fan of the current commission but I did have to step up and defend the city staff against this ridiculous charge, if people in the city don't know about meetings it is their own fault for not paying attention, and getting involved. 

The Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment 4 publicist, Mitch Kates,  has this quote as a footnote to all his emails which is where I saw it.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” T. Roosevelt

Monday, September 6, 2010

OSOBs left out of Deerfield Beach recap.

There was an article in the Pelican Newspaper recently about the history of Deerfield Beach. There was no mention of the part the Original Save Our Beach played in protecting our beach and city. Funny as the author of the article was Judy Wilson who was very vocal about the OSOBs when we were fighting to save the main beach parking lot from a hotel and commercial development, fighting to put back the building codes her commissioner cronies voted out in favor of developers who wanted to build from curb to curb, and fighting to save the Pier from a giant banquet hall restaurant..

Over the years Wilson, when writing for the Observer, progressed from calling the OSOB group “disgruntled housewives”, to “homegrown terrorists” and finally to a “polished political machine”. Her opinion of us never changed, just her perception of our effectiveness. As our group was responsible, more so than any other, for protecting the quality of life in Deerfield Beach, it is surprising that she didn’t mention us at all. Or, maybe it is not so surprising since she never supported any of the OSOB efforts to protect our beach area and the residents' quality of life.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why elected officials want to water down Ethics Codes

The insidious creeping in of entitlement that turns an elected official corrupt. Keep the Broward County Commission's and the Deerfield Beach Commission's recent actions in mind when you read this:

Very few public officials begin their careers with the intention of becoming corrupt, but then succumb to a sinister form of peer pressure over time. Being placed in a position of significant political power can be overwhelming, and the temptation to bend or break rules for a perceived 'greater good' is always present. How often have you heard a politician say, “I am voting for this because it is good for the city.”

Contrary to the Machiavellian cliché, nice people are more likely to rise to power. Then something strange happens: Authority atrophies the very talents that got them there. Psychologists refer to this as the “paradox of power”. The very traits that helped leaders accumulate control in the first place all but disappear once they rise to power. Instead of being polite, honest and outgoing, they become impulsive, reckless and rude.

Why does power lead people to flirt with interns and solicit bribes and fudge financial documents? According to psychologists, one of the main problems with authority is that it makes us less sympathetic to the concerns and emotions of others.

Although people almost always know the right thing to do—cheating is wrong—their sense of power makes it easier to rationalize away the ethical lapse. There is no easy cure for the paradox of power. The best treatment is transparency; the worst abuses of power can be prevented when people know they're being monitored. This suggests that the mere existence of a regulatory watchdog can help discourage people from doing bad things.

However, people in power tend to overestimate their moral virtue, which leads them to stifle oversight. They vote against regulations, sometimes there will be lip-service paid but circumventions in practice, and sometimes there will be direct resistance to anti-corruption efforts. Corrupt politicians will defend their vital interests, vehemently and sometimes even violently. The end result is power at its most dangerous.

Sources:

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-corruption.htm

U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, http://www.u4.no

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704407804575425561952689390.html

Deerfield Beach Commissioners FINALLY do the Right Thing

It looks as if the Cove Shopping Center parking lot will get its upgrade after all. After a very long time and lukewarm if not downright hostile reactions by most of Deerfield Beach’s commissioners to a plan developed by residents and business owners, they finally did the right thing and voted to award the contract to fix up the center.


An amusing (or distressing) note, when the Commissioners voted to award the contract, Sylvia at first voted no. When she realized she was the only no vote, she changed her vote to yes. How’s that for the courage of your convictions. Did she really think it was a bad idea, her no vote certainly seemed to indicate that? Did she change her mind in the less than a minute between her no vote and her recantation? I would think not, so whazzz up with the turnaround? Politics is a strange animal. Is it in her mind to pull a switcheroo at the next meeting and try to get the award voided? What other reason could there be to really think something should be voted down, vote no, and then change your vote? (To bring it up again she would have to be on the prevailing side of the vote.) Deerfield certainly has precedent for that, we shafted the local recycling guy, re-member? I hope they get that contract signed ASAP.