Monday, March 28, 2011

Really, Really, Bad Idea: Golf Courses in State Parks

Everyone knows that Florida has too many golf courses competing for too few players. Hard times have come to Florida’s golf courses, the economy, an aging clientele, fewer snowbirds, and a shrinking year round population all have made it harder to make a profit.

But now we hear about a dastardly idea from Jack Nicklaus and Rick Scott called the “Jack Nicklaus Golf Trail of Florida” act. This is sponsored by Sen. Thrasher and Rep. Pat Rooney, a scary pair who I am sure would have no scruples about also paving over the rest of the Everglades.

This insanity will put new golf courses in a minimum of 5 state parks financed by bonds and designed by guess who?

Look what happens when the government tries to run a golf course, this from a post by Mark Woods:
“Perhaps our politicians should look at Georgia. The state has golf courses in 10 state parks. Most consistently lose money. So a couple of years ago Georgia tried to privatize the ones it runs. Didn't get any qualified bidders. And in this economy, nobody is building new courses.”

“…Last year, even with cut rates, the number of rounds played on the First Coast was down by 9.6 percent. And in the last five years, a half dozen courses in North Florida have closed - including one designed by another legendary golfer, Arnold Palmer.”
But “business friendly” Scott who wants to privatize everything else wants to pollute our parks, and ruin the beautiful natural environments that draw 20 million visitors a year without even the need for putting greens.

There can be no argument that golf courses are water hogs and are liberally strewn with herbicides and pesticides, a byproduct of which is arsenic contamination and nitrate polluted runoff water.  Oh, yes, and in doing this he doesn’t seem to care that he will be taking business away from the courses that are already there.

One park named to be co-opted by Nicklaus is the Martin County Jonathan Dickenson Park. A park surrounded by golf courses already struggling for players. Won’t they be thrilled by the competition? The list below is of the courses in Martin County’s 752.79 square miles, one course for every 16.7 square miles. But Jack and Rick think we need another one.

Martin County Golf Courses :

1. 76 Golf World

2. Admirals Cove Golf Course

3. Admirals Cove Golf Village - North/West Course

4. Admirals Cove Golf Village - South/North Course

5. Admirals Cove Golf Village - West/South Course

6. Champions Club at Summerfield

7. Cobblestone Country Club

8. Cutter Sound Golf & Yacht Club

9. Cypress Links Golf Club

10. Eagle Marsh Golf Club

11. Eaglewood Country Club

12. Evergreen Club, The

13. Floridian Yacht & Golf Club

14. Golden Bear Golf Club at Hammock Creek, The

15. Golf Club of Jupiter, The

16. Harbor Ridge Yacht & Country Club - Crane Creek Course

17. Harbor Ridge Yacht & Country Club - Golden Marsh Course

18. Harbor Ridge Yacht & Country Club - River Ridge Course

19. Harbor Ridge Yacht & Country Club - Tower Course

20. Heritage Ridge Golf Club

21. Hobe Sound Golf Club

22. Indian River Plantation Golf Club

23. Indianwood Golf & Country Club

24. Island Dunes Country Club

25. Jonathan's Landing at Old Trail - Fazio (Jonathan's Landing) Course

26. Jonathan's Landing at Old Trail - Fazio (Old Trail) Course

27. Jonathan's Landing at Old Trail - Hills (Old Trail) Course

28. Jupiter Dunes Golf Course

29. Jupiter Island Club

30. King Mountain Condo Association

31. Loblolly Pines Golf Course

32. Lost Lake Golf Club

33. Loxahatchee Club

34. Mariner Sands Country Club - Gold/Blue Course

35. Mariner Sands Country Club - Red/White Course

36. Mariner Sands Country Club - The Gold Course

37. Mariner Sands Country Club - The Green Course

38. Medalist Golf Club, The

39. Miles Grant Country Club

40. Monarch Country Club

41. Pine Lakes Golf Club

42. Piper's Landing Country Club

43. Sailfish Point Golf Club

44. Willoughby Golf Club

45. Yacht & Country Club, The

Friday, March 18, 2011

To: Deerfield Beach - For the Record

O.K. Ignoring Chaz Stevens didn’t work; all he did was poke the stick harder. I guess he is frustrated because all the sturm und drang he has stirred up over the last few years has resulted in absolutely no positive gain; no one convicted and all complaints dismissed. He has caused the city a bundle of money and his smearing public officials and candidates has made good people think twice about running for office. Even his famous Kessler Report resulted in a big zero; lots of inflated hyperbole, but almost no substance; nothing worth the cost, nothing that Burgess Hanson wasn’t already handling.

So, why does Chaz keep trying to get a rise out of me? I don’t know. Considering his “professed” wish to make the city better he should be in agreement with everything the OSOBs and I do.

His latest post about a rumor that I will run for mayor is ludicrous. Anyone who has ever talked to me or any of my friends knows very well that I have no intention of running for office. There is no such rumor. He must have had a slow day and an overactive imagination.

Unlike well educated people who value experience, he thinks “old” people should fade away as he constantly mocks anyone older than him. He also has a hang-up on physical appearance, he thinks no one who is overweight or less than magazine cover beautiful should exist. Check the mirror Chaz.

What crimes does he say have I committed? I thought it was a good idea to work toward resolving the differences among groups of residents. I was appointed to the Broward County Planning Commission by Ken Keechl who, knew I was a supporter of keeping open spaces such as golf courses free of development. I supported Amendment 4 which would have given residents a voice in what happens to land use in their cities. Oh, yes, I supported Ron Coddington for District 1 commissioner. Ron is a strong proponent of clean water, and sensible development.

What have I done for the city? I don’t shout from the housetops every time I take a drive. But some things I have done are: in addition to my OSOB commitment, I am a member of CERT, during Wilma I spent days at Westside Park helping the Salvation Army serve dinners, I work for the Relay for Life project, I am a member of the Broward County Sierra Club and a member of the Wildlife Foundation, and I am first vice president of the Woman’s Club of Deerfield Beach whose list of charitable donations is pages long.

Recently I helped the OSOBs make sure that attendance at the CRA meetings, discussing what to do at the beach parking lot, were well attended. The city was not getting the word out about the plans, so we did.

If not for the Original Save Our Beach committee, the city of Deerfield Beach would have:

A seven story, city commission proposed, 240 room hotel-condominium complex on the main beach parking lot.

Or a mixed use commercial development project misnamed “Ocean Park” also planned for the main beach parking lot.

The giant restaurant complex planned by Pete Boinis for our city owned pier. Because we fought and won against this we now will have a beautiful city owned beach facility in scale with the pier.

Because of the OSOBs:

The entire 28 acre beach area was prevented from being rezoned as a RAC which would have allowed much higher density and commercial development on the entire beach.
     We lost this fight at the city commission level but when we took it to the Broward County Commission a study was undertaken and they agreed that this was a bad idea and because of our actions banned RACs on all barrier islands.

The Crystal Lake Golf Course will remain open space. Over and over we helped the residents fight against changing of land-use category from recreation to residential to allow a large housing project. The owners and the residents now have a great solution worked out by mutual agreement.

As a result of residents’ outrage about golf course conversions county wide, Ken Keechl sponsored a change to the BC Land Use Plan, for which, as a council member, I advocated. As a result, the Broward County Planning Council added a provision to its land use code which “strongly discourages” golf course conversions in the County.

Except for unashamedly greedy projects such as above, the Original Save Our Beach ( committee favors developments which meet code; we encourage business growth and redevelopment. We will fight against development which ignores the will of the residents and the building codes. Above all, to us, the quality of life of Deerfield Beach residents is paramount.

Our tactics are simple, find out what the residents want and work toward making that happen. We depend on volunteers to get the message out. We attend commission meetings and workshops to keep up with what is happening in the city.

We are the ones, representing a membership of over 300, and by extension the entire city, who show up at all commission meetings, budget workshops, CRA meetings and city events. We pay attention for you.

Unless it is simply his inflated ego and he is upset at being ignored, what Chaz’s beef with this is completely beyond me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Post Election Thoughts

Dear Joe,

Congratulations on your election but please don’t take it as a mandate that you should continue acting the way you did for the last 2 years. More people voted for the other two candidates than voted for Joe Miller so over half your district is not satisfied with you.

What to do? Start thinking independently with only the residents of the district in mind. Please keep in mind that we are in financial trouble and vote accordingly. You seem to have a fear of controversy, you fear displeasing people. Well stop that! You don’t have to please the other commissioners by your vote; you need to vote in the best interests of the residents, all of them not just your beach group.

The residents of District 1 like Deerfield Beach. Remember how many said they moved here because of the way it is. They do not want to be Boca Raton no matter how much Janice Becker would like that, the people who live here do not.

Get to know the people in the annexed area, find out what the people west of Federal Highway care about, and answer your phone and emails seriously and timely, get out and meet the people.

You seem to have developed a manner of acting while doing business which may serve you well when talking to individual customers but has come back to bite you on the commission. You must not try to please everyone. You have a habit of agreeing with the person you are talking to and then turning around and agreeing with the next person who has the opposite idea. You are trying to be a nice guy and be liked but that only serves to make people like me suspicious of everything you say. I don’t trust what you say to me because I find out later that you said the opposite to someone else. Cut that out!

I believe you want what is best for the city, but you don’t know what that is. Well, find out, by yourself. Talk to everyone in all parts of the city, rich and poor, homeowner and renter, business man and retiree, argue with them, debate with them, don’t just agree with them, and then, armed with valid information you will be able to make a decision. You can be a good commissioner, but not if you weigh the opinions of your beach buddies over the rest of the district and not if you continue letting others make your decisions.

About Sylvia:

Deerfield Beach residents who never go to commission meetings only know about Commissioner Sylvia Poitier by reputation, and what they hear in District 2 about how Sylvia works hard to bring benefits to the district.

And, in truth, I guess she used to, and I guess she still has the reputation. But a commissioner needs to be more than a district commissioner; a commissioner serves the whole city.

Those who don’t attend meetings regularly have not experienced the mess that happens during a commission meeting resulting from either Sylvia's lack of reading her backup, and/or bad memory and/or comprehension.

Too often seems that she has no idea what is going on or what is being voted on and this hurts the way the commission runs. She frustrates all the other commissioners with inane remarks and questions; she often has to be reminded what they are talking about and more than once she had them redo her vote almost getting the city sued. Sadly, this type of behavior creates ridicule.

For a while the Commissioners didn’t say much to her, probably because they didn't want to be called racist, as she plays the race card often, but eventually they couldn't stand it anymore and publically tried to get her to stop her rambling and interrupting to no avail. A signal light system was installed which she mostly ignores.

I don't know what has changed in her life but she really needs to retire. She said she would for the last 2 elections and then went back on her word.

I worry what will happen now that she is reelected I fear she will get worse and worse and really do some damage to the city and the image of elected African Americans, she may not know she is slipping, but everyone else does. She should wake up and step down for the good of her district.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

An Essay by John Hedrick

(I wonder what the numbers would look like if we polled Deerfield Beach Voters?)

Towards restoring citizen control over their governments in Florida
By John Hedrick

Signs abound of citizen dissatisfaction with their local and state governments. Look at the recent Sunshine State poll. Almost half of Floridians say their state is worse off than 5 years ago. 65% say it will get worse or stay the same in the next 5 years. And 21% are seriously considering leaving the state. 71% think their government leaders do the right thing only some of the time or never do the right thing, and only 23-33% of Floridians think their government does a good or excellent job. Yet we have elections every year, two years, or four years. We've tried Term Limits for state politicians and some local governments, and we're about to try Fair Districts at the state level, but that's likely not enough either.

So what can bring government decisions back in line with people's needs and desires? Back in the early 1900s, when Americans faced similar concentrations of corporate and economic power, reformers managed to expose and remove political machines and bosses. The parallel today is the division between the Insiders and the rest of us.

A century ago, reformers sought to enable the citizenry to rule more directly, and thus they developed political safeguards called Initiative, Referendum and Recall. These three safeguards of citizen control have since been adopted, in various models, in about 25 states, including Florida . Yet existing safeguards have not gone far enough to give citizens a way to counteract undue money and insider control. What is needed are the following Constitutional Amendment initiatives:

(1) A “Legislative Initiative” at the state level and then, similarly, “Legislative Initiative” for all local governments. Only in this way can citizen voices be truly heard: citizens can petition and put an proposed law on the ballot, for their fellow citizens to decide.

We have “Constitutional Initiative” currently at the state level, which is very difficult to utilize, with its high percentage requirement of petition signatures and its 60% passage threshold. This “Constitutional Initiative” also results in measures such as Class Sizes being put into the Constitution instead of being made a statute. (And I might remind everyone that most state Constitution votes these days are the result of what the Legislature itself has voted to put on the ballot.)

Previous attempts to get our state legislators to create “Legislative Initiative” for citizens have gone nowhere. Years ago Don Tucker, the former Democratic Speaker of the Florida House, told me that a bill I was able to get out of committee creating “Legislative Initiative,”, would go no further -- and it didn't -- since it threatened politicians’ power.

For the Legislative Initiative, we should make the percentage of required signatures lower than for Constitutional Amendments; require only a simple majority to pass the statute; and provide that any statute created this way must be submitted to the voters a second time in the future, to alter or repeal it (to avoid the legislature simply passing something themselves that potentially thwarts the will of the voters). And locally, all citizens of local governments should be able to initiate ordinances, not just Cities or Charter Counties . Local governments should be allowed to set a lower percentage of required signatures, if they don’t want to follow the state-set percentage.

(2) Create expanded “Referendum powers” for all local governments. Citizens need a mechanism to be able to effectively challenge decisions by their elected officials.

(3) Enable citizens to Recall elected officials more easily. Astonishingly, there are various officials to whom recall does not currently apply, and it needs to. And, for all officials, though the percentage of signatures necessary to accomplish Recall needs to remain somewhat substantial, the primary reasons why you can recall an elected official need to be loosened. It's simply too difficult to make Recall fit the usual "misfeasance, malfeasance, etc." categories. I've had citizens gather signatures from 15% of registered voters within 30 days, only to have a court say they couldn't make their issues properly fit the Recall definition. If citizens are outraged enough at a decision that their elected official makes, they should be able to try to remove them right away. We should also lengthen somewhat the time frame within which the signatures can be gathered, to make it possible to use Recall.

Some would say that I haven't mentioned one obvious reform that would help citizens curb the influence of Big Money: it’s called “Clean Elections/Public Financing.” For example, we’ve just seen the grassroots Florida Hometown Democracy crushed by Big Money, and the same could well happen to a proposed ban on Offshore Oil Drilling. Unfortunately, unless and until the U.S. Supreme Court has its makeup changed to overrule the recent Citizens United and older Buckley decisions, or unless a federal constitutional amendment is enacted to overrule those decisions -- decisions that have both unleashed unlimited Big-Money influence on our politicians, the Supreme Court is currently composed to eviscerate any “Clean Elections/Public Financing” reforms.

It's important to note that Initiative, Referendum and Recall themselves are content-neutral and can be utilized by any citizen or organization. Enactment of the above reforms will go a long way toward restoring the power of the citizenry, curbing the influence of insiders, and moving Florida towards a better place than where it is currently headed.

John Hedrick has been an activist for 40 years, an attorney for 25 years; lobbied, been a candidate, run campaigns, studied Political Science and is chair of Panhandle Citizens Coalition and President of People's Transit Organization. He can be reached at .