Saturday, January 29, 2011

Deerfield Beach salary guide should reflect the times

Wow! It is about time!! There has been long festering resentment among Deerfield Beach employees because of the Department heads and Managers who received raises above the top of the pay scale. Elgin Jones reports that the City is finally going to restructure the guide.

http://www.sfltimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6315&Itemid=183


DRASTIC PAY CUTS


By Elgin Jones


Deerfield Beach city officials will move to roll back the salaries of about 45 employees who are being paid above the caps of their salaries. The group comprises the city’s highest paid managers and department heads, mostly. Without commission approval, the group somehow received pay increases several years ago totaling tens of thousands of dollars. In related news, the city is proposing to end all raises, increase the amount employees pay for healthcare and restructure its pay scales. City Manager Burgess Hanson presented the proposals at the outset of labor negotiations with the general employees union, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.
Cities should restructure the pay guides every year, check over the categories, adjust the guide to reflect the numbers of employees in a level, and even out the steps. Perhaps the top of the guide should be revised upward, perhaps not.

These days I don’t think we have to fear the “good” employees leaving us to go to another city if we don’t pay them more, however when the economy improves and we can once again afford it, the guide should reflect the current worth of the job the employee does and not a years old obsolete salary guide.

The uproar about the employees who got paid above the top of the guide was justified. I don’t know if the raises were reasonable or not, perhaps the employees deserved the raises but the City Manager at the time and the Board had no authority to award those raises as they were above the cap for the position. It certainly was suspicious that the raises were awarded in such a sneaky way; why not just revise the pay guide? And when the hanky-panky was discovered, the raises were not rescinded, they were allowed to stand, and still no revision. We had years of “illegal” payments and the commission never demanded an accounting, never demanded a new salary guide there was some discussion, but no action.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Residents said NO PARKING GARAGE on the Main Beach Parking Lot!!!!!

At the Deerfield Beach CRA public workshop last evening (Thursday, 1/20) the Commissioners and CRA Director Keven Klopp got their wish. People showed up to give their opinions, there were very few empty seats. And give their opinions they did!! In no uncertain terms, loud and clear over and over they stated “NO GARAGE on the Main Beach Parking Lot”.


We learned that there is $5.8 million in the CRA budget not designated and over the next 5 years, there will be $2.1 million TIF money coming in a year so we will have $16.3 million to spend on the CRA district.

The first resident to speak energized the whole room when she said “Beautify the Main Beach Parking Lot but do not put a garage on it”. The entire audience erupted in loud applause. Director Klopp’s interjection of: “It would only be one story under current regulations” met a chorus of “no ways” from most of the audience. We were warned by one speaker that there would be “turmoil” in the city if a garage were to be considered.

The consensus on Sullivan Park was that it would be a good use of the CRA funds to buy the Riverview Restaurant property and make the entire parcel a pleasant marine oriented park.

Residents were very much in favor of spending the CRA money to improve infrastructure. Using CRA money to improve the infrastructure of the CRA area would free up city money for infrastructure improvements in the rest of the city.

Speaker after speaker spoke about why they live in Deerfield Beach:

“We bought because the city said no to building on the beach parking lot; we don’t need more people on the beach”.

“When I saw a for sale sign on a certain Deerfield Beach house I knew it was right for me”.

“I chose to live here because it is a small hometown type of town”.

“We like the small, friendly, safe, nice feeling; this is why we are here”.

“Keep the integrity of the town”.

“I love the beach; I love to walk the whole area”.

“I like what we have, just make it nicer”.

“I have lived all over the world and Deerfield Beach is by far the best place, when what has already been started (Cove Shopping Center, Pier improvements, Hillsboro Blvd. improvements) is finished it will be spectacular ”.

They spoke about what should be built or what should be improved:

Other than a Chamber of Commerce representative who said “A vertical garage would give us more green space, and if not a parking garage on the lot then what?” - and, a suggestion to put a one story garage underground on the beach lot, and a businessman who wanted to hire a consultant (perhaps himself) to do a study to see if we need a parking garage, everyone who spoke about the beach parking lot said that it should be updated a bit but essentially stay the way it is.

It was said over and over that if the lots are full there is no room on the beach for more people anyway. Also mentioned was the parking garage on A1A which has lots of room except on days such as Founder’s day (the last time it was full according to one man who said he looked into the use of that garage).

Some other suggestions:

Put all the wires at the beach underground; get rid of the poles,

Improve the curbing,

Improve the dangerous pedestrian conditions on the S curve especially by the 7-11,

Better sidewalks, and pedestrian facilities,

Put signs in that tell people where parking is, especially the north and south beach locations,

Install bike paths,

Improve trash control,

Build a stairway down to Sullivan Park from off the bridge,

Put a kayak launch area in the park,

Replace rusting parking meters, or devise another system at the beach lot,

Maintain and protect what we have,

Be careful how much the city spends on property, the appraised value is often not the real value which lately is much lower, take a lesson from the overpayment for the Boinis beach strip, we are not using play money,

Move the historic Kester cottage to Sullivan Park,

Make the area more friendly to businesses trying to get permits, businesses can go broke while waiting for the city to approve plans,

Look at the Hillsboro Inlet Park and model Sullivan Park improvements on that,

Remove graffiti,

Buy the Royal Palm motel and make it into a park,

Get rid of the “crack houses” on 20th Avenue,

Buy the old Pal’s Restaurant site and put a garage there,

Put a band shell on the parking lot (did not get audience support, residents were afraid of the noise pollution),

Use CRA money to buy a building and create an Art Museum,

Widen the commercial district,

Don’t invite more business until the businesses we have at the beach are making money and all the vacancies are full,

Don’t allow other projects to take as long as the Hillsboro Streetscape project,

Put the turn lane back by 12th Avenue on Hillsboro Blvd.,

Improve the condition of A1A from Flanagan’s to the Boca line.

Home owners should get something for all the taxes paid, return the parking sticker cost to $50,

Do not turn our beach into Hollywood or Coney Island,

NO band shell in Sullivan Park.



There will be another CRA workshop at the Community Presbyterian Church, SE 5th St. between A1A and 18th Avenue. Address: Briggs Hall, 1920 SE 5th Street Thursday, February 3rd 6:00 pm.

THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT MEETING ALSO make sure to attend, the Commissioners have to know we mean what we say, and my guess is that the overdevelopment crowd will be there in force.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Is Florida for Sale? (Again? Still?)

Bob Graham asks below, "Is Florida a commodity or a treasure?"   Residents in Deerfield Beach have been trying to convince Deerfield's Commission and the Broward County Commission that we are a treasure and NOT just a commodity for years - remember the RAC mess?

Bob Graham: the battle over whether Florida is for sale has re-emerged


Is Florida a commodity or a treasure? That is the question former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham asked after his speech Friday to the Economic Club of Florida on the oil spill disaster in the Gulf. Although he chose his words carefully, his point is that the political climate today has revived the question which he believes was put to rest 40 years ago: Is Florida for sale?

Graham was governor from 1978-86 and U.S. Senator from 1986-2004. Here are his remarks to the Herald/Times:

"I think what's happening in Florida is the battle that many of us thought was over in Florida has emerged -- that is the battle to define what is Florida. For two-thirds of the 20th century, Florida was defined as a commodity. If you thought it was too wet, you filled it in. If you thought it was too dry, you dug it up and you packaged it and sold it.

"Beginning in the 1960s, the climate began to change and, ironically, it was largely driven by Republicans, people like (Sarasota Sen.) Warren Henderson and (Hobe Sound environmentalist) Nat Reed, as a civic activist. They were the sorts of people that raised the consciousness of Floridians and what they were doing to their own state. Instead of thinking of this as a commodity, they should think of Florida as a treasure that we have the opportunity to live in but have the responsibility to pass on to the next generation as good a shape as we got it.

"That’s the battle that many of us thought was settled and which has now re-emerged. It is now one, if not the central issue of Florida politics."

The oil disaster has also renewed Graham's admiration for the so-called Pork-Choppers, a band of North Florida conservatives who ruled Florida through the 1940s and 50s, he said. Although the Pork Chop Gang had a mixed reputation over the years, especially regarding reapportionment, Graham said they were prescient on some things. While neighboring Gulf states were opening their doors and coffers to oil drilling, the Pork Chopperse worked together to ban it in Florida.

"Along with this issue of commodity versus treasure is the theme of short-term or long-term vision,'' Graham said. "It’s really stunning how long the vision was of the Pork Choppers on a number of issues for which we are still benefitting.

"Does our generation of political leadership have the same ability to think over the horizon, and to act in an over the horizon manner even though there are no immediate rewards?"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Deerfield Beach CRA Meeting Advertised Poorly

I am one of those people who attend city meetings whenever I can. I like to know what is going on in the city in which I pay taxes and I think that having interested citizens at meetings keeps the elected officials as well as the staff on their toes. Even with this citizen involvement, all too often we hear about iffy practices, imagine if they had no residents at all interested.

At the CRA Board meeting last Tuesday a lot of time was spent discussing how the city could attract more people to its second and third CRA CIP public meetings. The commissioners, in a belittling way, said that they were afraid that only the same few people would attend the capital improvement meetings that attend the budget workshops and city meetings.

They talked about how to improve attendance at the meetings by sending out letters, and about handing out flyers rather than just posting a notice on the city hall door and on the web-site. But nobody said let’s really tell the public what is going on.

Well duh! Considering how poorly the meetings are advertised and how little information is given about the content of the meetings there should be no mystery about the low attendance.

I believe this lip-service discussion was in direct reaction to the fact that the OSOBs, disgusted at the lousy information about the meeting from city hall decided to run a full page advertisement in the Observer paper to try to get more people to the meetings and let residents know what the city is proposing. The commissioners know that 75% of the voters voted against developing the Main Beach Parking Lot, but the city is entertaining the idea again.

Just imagine for a minute that the city had spent the big bucks and sent out a letter to everyone stating what it says on the city web site about the meeting. Who do you think would be interested in going?

This is what the web-site notice says:

“Public Hearings-CRA Capital Improvements Two public hearings have been scheduled to al-low the public to provide input on the Community Redevelopment Agency’s (CRA) Five Year Capital Improvements Plan. The first meeting will take place on Thursday, January 20, 2011 at Royal Fiesta Event Center, 1680 SE 3rd Court in Deerfield Beach. The second meeting will be held on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at Briggs Hall, Community Presbyterian Church, 1920 SE 5th Street in Deerfield Beach.
Both meetings will begin at 6 PM.
For inquiries about the Deerfield Beach CRA, call 954-480-4263. To receive automatic updates on projects of interest in the CRA, visit www.Deerfield-Beach.com and select “E Subscriptions” to sign up for notifications on projects of interest. “

Right, let’s have a big YAWN! I don’t think anyone would be excited much less even mildly interested by this notice and I really think that is their idea. (Remember the CRA director and 4 out of 5 commissioners didn’t even want to have two more meetings, thank Bill Ganz for forcing them, so I am sure they are not eager to hear from a bunch of residents who might not agree with them or their special friends about the area.)

Think if the notice said something like: YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO COME GIVE IN-PUT ON HOW YOU WOULD LIKE THE MAIN BEACH PARKING LOT DEVELOPED OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS, AND WHAT KIND OF DEVELOPMENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN SULLIVAN PARK, AND THE REST OF THE BEACH AREA, just maybe people might be interested. Using the word encouraged, not just “allowed”, might make a difference also. People are busy, but if it affects them they will show up, they just have to know what’s up.

The city has expertise in advertising, they know how to word notices, if they wanted citizen involvement they would have no trouble wording a notice to attract participation, they know about newspaper ads, so ask yourself why they don’t, there is only one answer.

The OSOBs think that the future of the lot and the park is important enough that residents should be informed about the meetings so that’s why they ran a full page ad in the Observer. THAT’S HOW TO GET THE WORD OUT!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Must Make Meeting, Deerfield Beach Projects Discussion

WARNING!!!!

Here we go again!

In both 1999 and 2002 Deerfield Beach voters sent a strong message to the city and voted to protect the main Beach Parking Lot from development.

Now the Main Beach Parking Lot is under consideration for development again.

The city is considering changes to the Main Beach Parking Lot and Sullivan Park which is Next to Hillsboro Blvd on the Intracoastal.

If you care what happens to your money and your city you will want to make sure you and your neighbors ATTEND these 2 City sponsored hearings.

When? Thursday, January 20th 6:00 pm

Where? First meeting: Royal Fiesta Cove Shopping Center

Follow up Meeting: Community Presbyterian Church, Briggs Hall, 1920 SE 5th Street Thursday, February 3rd 6:00 pm

Do You Want A Parking Garage on Our Main Beach Parking Lot?


 Plans for the Main Beach Parking lot that Deerfield Beach is considering:
  • Beachfront Park and Integrated Parking, or
  • Low Rise Structured Parking with
  • Community Facilities or with
  • Governmental Facilities or with
  • Commercial Facilities or an
  • Amphitheatre or Beautification/Modernization Only.
 Attend the meetings to make sure the city knows where you stand, this is your chance to give input about what residents want in Sullivan Park and on the Main Beach Parking Lot.
 
CLICK ON GRAPHIC FOR LARGER IMAGE
 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Did you know we still dump sewage into the ocean?

“We are the ones we have been waiting for” is a line from June Jordan's "Poem to South African Women and was used as a spring board, by Tom Atlee on his blog, (http://tom-atlee.posterous.com/) to his New Years blog post.

His headings, which I am using below, got me to thinking about how our elected officials don’t want to be the “we”.
.
The Broward County Commission is trying to weasel out of shutting down the pipes that dump “treated” sewage into our ocean in Pompano and Hollywood. Yup, even Kristin and Sue, unbelievable!

The pipe is one of six in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties ordered closed by a 2008 state law, after a campaign by environmentalists who argued the pipes were polluting coral reefs and wasting fresh water.

The law, which set a deadline of 2025, requires wastewater authorities to improve treatment systems so the water can be used for purposes such as irrigating golf courses, watering lawns and recharging underground water supplies.

Broward’s water director says the treated water is clean. I don’t think so; the Reef Rescue people have pictures of greenish brown gunk pouring out of the pipe onto the reef, (see video above right) pictures of red algae bloom, fed by the “nutrients” that survive the treatment, killing the coral, the Reef folks say only the “chunks” have been taken out of the sewage, and they worry about the effect of the pharmaceuticals, pathogens and viruses that survive the current treatment

We are in this mess because of the horribly short sighted actions of past officials, who allowed unrestrained development without providing for land for waste treatment plants. Palm Beach County planned ahead and set aside land for the plants, so shutting down their pipe will be relatively inexpensive, but Broward? Nope.

We are the ones we've been waiting for.
Yup, you; our current officials, no more blaming the past, you have to step up, perhaps be unpopular to people who may have to pay more fees, it has to be done. The population was allowed to surge out of control, western cities were allowed to tap into the ocean sewer pipes instead of handling their own waste. Now you have to make sure our ocean stays clean and our reefs alive.

We are the ones who've been waiting for us.
Right, us. All of us. We may have to pay higher sewage bills, but then, maybe lower water bills. We have to make sure that pipe is shut down or the constant beach closings and dying off of the reefs will ruin our tourist industry, never mind the ecology. We need to be the “we” and make sure our County Officials do the right thing.

“We” must shut down the pipe and use the treated water for watering our landscape. 50% of our drinking water is wasted on our landscape. We would have no water shortage if we did this. Everybody else is doing it, all of Europe is doing it, and all the North East is doing it, but Broward? Nope.

We are the ones our parents were waiting for, to make the world new.
How many times have we heard that we have to fix what our parents ruined? We brought dead Lake Erie back to life; well, now we have to stop polluting the ocean before our grandchildren will have to bring IT back to life. The pipes and treatment plants will have to be done eventually, let’s do it before it is a crisis.

We are the ones who cannot wait any longer...
We need to lay the pipe system and build the better treatment plants and then spray the treated water on our lawns; it is time, beyond time if you look at all the beach closings.

The pipe discharges 32 million gallons of sewage every day from Parkland, Pompano, Deerfield, Coral Springs, Tamarac, Oakland Park, Lauderhill, North Lauderdale, Coconut Creek, Lauderdale Lakes, some of unincorporated Broward and Ft. Lauderdale.

(I’m glad I live in Deerfield Beach, the currents flow south. That’s why Deerfield’s beaches are seldom closed and Hollywood and Pompano’s often are, the excuses given about cat and dog poop being the reasons for the closings is just preposterous.)

“We” cannot wait any longer!!!