Monday, May 30, 2011

It's a Mystery

I don’t know Chaz Stevens, but I know what he has done. I also don’t know why he does what he does, it would take a psychotherapist to figure that out; but the results of his actions are clear.

Constructively he is going after corruption; destructively he has disgusting things to say about everyone except himself who tries to do or write anything about Deerfield Beach. On the one hand he excoriates people for not joining him in his jihad (help he doesn’t really want and would reject if offered) and then criticizes them for what they do.

This Timmy-Come-Lately’s brand of “schadenfreude” (It is not enough that I succeed, you must also fail) is damaging in many ways to the people of Deerfield Beach; especially in discouraging anyone who might want to run for office.

Only a few people care enough about the city to go to commission meetings, to run for office, or to write about the goings on. These few voices have kept watch on our Commission for years, reporting and reacting to what they see, they have made a big difference in the transparency of how our city is run. We have come a long way from the days, not so many years ago, of all business being done behind closed doors prior to each meeting.

These people are to be praised and encouraged, not ridiculed and discouraged. Agree with them or not, the brave few, from the raging granny with the guts to speak her mind week after week, the OSOBs who keep a watch on overdevelopment, a passionate young man, David, who is learning by trial and error, how best to stand up for his beliefs, bloggers Wayne and Jeff, to Arnold, Marge, Pam, Jean, Beulah, Kathy, Joan, Tom, Caryl, David, Jerry, and others, as Peggy puts it, “The same 5 people who go to all the meetings” (many more than 5, but not a crowd) now have to put up with accusations developed from a fertile imagination and being called nitwits, turds, fat, ugly, old and much, much worse.

For what sin? What have they done to deserve this treatment? These are private individuals whose only crime was to come to the attention of Stevens by having an opinion or to publically voice that they had never heard of him, or to ignore him, or support someone whom he is going after.

So what? You say. Well for me, nothing, I will continue to watch and report. If I see, what to me are bad projects I will do what I have done for over 12 years, stir the pot. Save some green space here and some trees there. I am not a nitwit and I have never claimed to be a genius but I will stack my IQ against Stevens’ any day of the week, and nothing a sociopath calls me can change my opinion of myself.

But I have heard others say they will never again speak out in public, or write a letter to the editor, or consider running for office or go to or speak up at commission meetings because of him. That is his devastation. That is just wrong.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dear Deerfield Beach Mayor and Commissioners:

There is no doubt in my mind that if you decide to have BSO take over the fire/rescue department you must hold a referendum to approve their use of the city owned facilities. It is very clear in the Charter.

The Deerfield Beach Charter (Section 7.09.) covers a mandated referendum on public property worth more than $750,000 in the case of: “Sale, gift, trade, transfer or lease”. The wording in the charter that makes a vote necessary if BSO takes over the fire/rescue operations is: “Lease is defined as a contract for possession or use of real property.”
Just in case your thinking is “We’re going to do this anyway and let someone try to stop us.” I must say that is not a wise course of action. Very likely there will be a lawsuit brought if the city tries to allow BSO to use the facilities without following the Charter provision.

I assume that a suit will cost more to defend than an election which could be relatively inexpensive if done by mail. Costs aside, think of the results of entering into a contract with BSO, followed by the inevitable lawsuit. The city would undoubtedly lose the suit, forcing a referendum. Think of the mess if the voters refuse to allow the use after already having a signed contract with BSO.

You already have residents up in arms about the possibility of the Commission making this decision without public input, legally mandated or not. The last time the city was deliberating a move to BSO, following the direction of the charter, a referendum, asking if the voters favored allowing the city owned properties to be used by BSO, was voted down. The important impact of that vote was not just the yes or no vote, but that there was a vote at all. Clearly the legal opinion was that it was needed, as it is in the current case.

If the commission votes that they would like to switch to BSO, let the voters have the information that convinced you. Let’s have the pros and cons, spell out your reasons. And then let us vote. It’s the law, and even more important, it’s the right thing to do.

Bett Willett
Co-president, Original Save Our Beach Committee

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why We Need a Vote on the Fire/rescue BSO Proposal.

The Deerfield Beach Charter (Section 7.09.) covers a mandated referendum on public property worth more than $750,000 in the case of: “Sale, gift, trade, transfer or lease”. The wording in the charter that makes a vote necessary if BSO takes over our fire/rescue operations is: “Lease is defined as a contract for possession or use of real property.”

That’s pretty clear, if BSO is going to use our firehouses which are surely worth over $750,000 there has to be a referendum vote by the Deerfield Beach voters.

The last time that question was up for a vote a vast majority of voters turned the idea down. Now, the proposal is being considered again and considering the savings to the city, the vote might be different.

Yes or NO? It is certain that the move is only being considered to save money.

Concerns that have been raised are that if both fire and police are handled by BSO, over 52% of our budget will be controlled by the sheriff. We will have no control over salaries etc. Will the savings continue? Or, is this a low ball figure which will go higher and higher as the years go by? At lunch today I heard that Lake Worth is regretting their switch to PBSO and now cannot afford the upfront costs to go back to a city managed force.

So the jury is out, we need to go to the meetings and listen to the presentations by BSO, before we decide. This is a decision that needs more than a knee jerk decision.

Going with BSO will eliminate the possibility of getting creative and coming up with a different style of service with our fire and rescue in the future.

Staying with the city force may cost us millions.

To Vote, or Not to Vote, That is the Question

Friday, May 13, 2011

Steve Gonot Guilty

Steve Gonot was found guilty. I guess justice was done. I met Steve Gonot when he was first elected to the City Commission. He is to be commended for bringing better fire and police protection to West Deerfield, but he was not a friend of the Original Save Our Beach (OSOB) committee. We despaired when he voted in approval of various horrendous projects including, at first, voting in favor of the massive pier restaurant.

But, then wonder of wonders, after looking over the financials of the project, Steve saw the city was getting the fuzzy end of the lollypop in the deal and started to campaign against it. That is when the OSOBs and he joined ranks. We didn’t care why he changed his mind, just that he had.

As a result of his decision to fight the pier, I am sure that Mayor Capellini, and Larry Deetjen, buddies of Boinis and the pier project, started the movement to oust Gonot. Boinis warned Gonot that he would find and fund someone to run against him, he did, but Gonot won reelection. That made Boinis furious.

Then, no coincidence, the recall Gonot effort started, with a bogus charge of Sunshine Law violation. Believing he was being railroaded because of his stand against the Boinis project, a number of OSOBers and I worked against the recall.

The city was so polarized with such misinformation that many of us also supported the new Reunite Our City (ROC) effort to get out the truth about the pier restaurant, Gonot’s recall and other controversies in the city. Some of us attended the city wide parties thrown by ROC. The goal was to get people from different districts together to meet and talk. ROC published a newsletter with the same goal.

Thanks to our efforts, the massive restaurant was voted down, and the OSOB Vision for the pier area has now been implemented. To see the OSOB ideas go to: our vision was:

1. Keep Control of this Irreplaceable City Asset for the Public

2. Preserve the Special and Quaint Quality of the Pier

3. Have an Old Florida Authentic Small Pier Restaurant

4. Have a Special Place to Serve the Beach Goer (families with children)

5. Preserve the Current Parking Spaces for the Public and the Pier Fishers

6. Prevent the Traffic Congestion and Problems that Would Result from a Large Restaurant

The OSOB committee will continue to fight against over-development. I am convinced that as soon as the recession is over and builders start building we will be busy again, greed is not gone, it is just waiting for its next opportunity.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Told You So when Amendment 4 was defeated

This is my Ha Ha, I TOLD YOU SO piece. I’m deleting the Ha Ha it as this is no laughing matter.

Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature are making the people in Florida who care about the quality of life in their neighborhood, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the traffic congestion and their taxes wish they had voted for Amendment 4.

Remember that one, the amendment that would have given the voters the right to vote on changes to their city’s growth management Comprehensive Land Use Plan, land uses, such as changing a golf course or a park to a housing development or an industrial park. It would have gone into the Florida Constitution, thereby ensuring that growth management and Comprehensive Plans would be required.

People fell for the massive media blitz telling them the fairy tale that Amendment 4 would cost jobs and create complications. Well we now have the folks in Tallahassee causing horrendous chaos and ensuring the loss of more jobs than the real estate bubble. All I see is workers and teachers being laid off, I haven’t seen any jobs created.

Our (not) representatives repealed growth management. Everglades and land conservation went down the drain. I fail to believe that the voters who put the current crop of slash and burners in really want to “put all the trees in a tree museum and charge all the people to see them.” but that will be the result of the elimination of the checks and balances and the Paving of Paradise to put up a parking lot.

Business friendly really means greed and gluttony wins the day, say good-by to clean air and water. Do we really want unregulated businesses whose entire focus is on the next quarter’s earnings?

Ex-Governor Graham, who instituted our Growth Management system around 1985 in reaction to the devastation caused by unrestrained development and sprawl thinks, according to Mike Mayo, that this session may be the lowest point in the history of the Florida Legislature.

No longer will developers be required to pay for schools, parks and roads in their projects, we the taxpayer will foot that bill unless our local commissions require it, and given who are the biggest contributors to their election campaigns I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.

No longer will a developer be required to prove that their project will not harm the environment, if residents suspect it might, they will have to hire someone to prove it.

This fallacy that less regulation will equal more jobs is insane. There are millions of units of building already approved in this state and not being built because of the economy, not because of regulations. Regulations did not stop growth, over speculation did.

This is clearly an instance of the result of the massive power of the business lobbyist, and the lack of simple common sense on the part of the elected officials, or perhaps a strong desire to keep the deep pockets of businesses friendly and insure lots of campaign money for re-election time, as well as a lack of ethics and morals.

Whatever their reprehensible motivation, this group of scoundrels, heady with power, have royally screwed us.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Trees are Safe!!!! The Yellow Tape is Gone for Good.

At last night’s (Tuesday) commission meeting we heard that the city is working with Broward County and FDOT to try to figure out a way to be able to use the grant money to improve the Hillsboro Boulevard Landscaping and not cut the trees, that would involve FDOT revisiting their rules, but if that can’t be done, our city will refuse the grant and not cut the trees. Phew!!

Here’s how it started. In 2008 the city applied to Broward County for a Broward Beautiful Grant, to landscape the Hillsboro median. The grant was awarded and the commission approved the grant agreement which said that the city would landscape the median and replace DAMAGED trees. Nothing in that 2008 agreement said anything about taking out healthy trees.

Then in 2010 when the plan was developed it was found that if the medians were to be redone at all, they all had to meet FDOT guidelines. So the plan was drawn which had most of the trees coming out.

Here is where the outrage starts.

The commission agreed to this plan with no resident meetings or input. How anyone could see this plan and not reject it is totally beyond me. I am told that the commissioners understood that the removal was mandated by FDOT and they agreed without questioning the facts. Not one commissioner, before voting for the plan in 2010, questioned this.

Kathy Maggie, a resident, alerted some of us and researched the paperwork, finding the original agreement which didn’t mention cutting healthy trees. She enlisted Commissioner Ganz who agreed to look further and uncovered more details. FDOT did not mandate the trees come out. Only that if the city was to redo the landscaping, then they had to comply with current guidelines. If the city did nothing except maintain the median as they have done all along, the trees could stay.

Also, after finding out that the yellow tape on the trees meant they would be axed, (and some being alerted by Kathy, Joan Maurice and me), residents flooded the city and the county with outraged letters, phone calls and emails, if they hadn’t we would be now looking at stumps instead of the beautiful canopy of trees.

Broward Commissioner Kristin Jacobs office told me that:

“…if all of you and the elected would not have banned together to ‘shake the trees’, as they say, we would not have been able to get to the hold (temporary stop order on the project).”

Saving this beautiful canopy, of native to our area trees, is enormous. The city tree canopy that I, up to now, took for granted was envisioned over 25 years ago by our then City Forester Zeke Landis. Mr. Landis is largely responsible for the planting of the stately wind resistant mahogany, live oak and other trees all around our city. He had a vision of Deerfield Beach as the Tree City and made it happen.

We owe a big thanks to the late Mr. Landis for our green city. And we can pat ourselves on the backs for saving Mr. Landis’ trees for future generations.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs is ON THE JOB!!!

About the Hillsboro Boulevard Trees, From Marcia Monserrat, Senior Aide, Office of Broward County Commissioner, Kristin Jacobs 954-357-7002:

We continue to work with the city and FDOT to reconsider the scope of the project, because we all know that Broward’s cities need all outside sources of funding they can get.

We are encouraging the city and FDOT to revisit the rules they are citing in this situation in hopes of keeping the current canopy, as well as using these dollars to add new landscaping.


The Hillsboro Boulevard Tree Landscaping project (AKA: the chainsaw massacre)  has been put on hold pending further notice. Thanks to Commissioner Ganz, the project is being reviewed and will not proceed as planned.
Wonderful words, "on hold".  Even more wonderful would be "PROJECT CANCELLED"