Tuesday, December 10, 2013

You think traffic is bad now!!!! Hillsboro Boulevard Boondoggle.

What does allowing an industrial park on the old Deerfield Country Club property mean? This is a done deal, it will happen.  The city and the county have given approval.  This article is the result of my frustration in trying to get this massive development contained, and a set-up for a really big, “I TOLD YOU SO” in the future.

  The property is along Fairway Drive just east of Rt. 95.  The owners had mostly stopped maintaining the golf course and it is in deplorable shape.  This was most likely a tactic to get sympathy for their request for a land use change.

The rationale from the city is that it will bring jobs and business to the city and in doing so increase income to the city in the form of taxes. Never mind what it will do the traffic or quality of life in the city.

The neighbors in the private homes adjacent to the property hated the golf course as it was a very bad neighbor and dumped mulch and trash along their fence line, allowing rodents and snakes to thrive in their backyards.  No matter how much they protested, for years and years, to the owners nothing was done.  The residents said that anything that gets rid of that mess is OK with us.  And, some of us might get jobs out of it. Given all that, what’s the problem? 

The City Commission listened to the neighbors, who bought into what the developers sold them, without considering what the development would really cost.

This is an enormous piece of property.  72 ½ acres.  3,241,773 sq. ft. or 36 football fields. 

Even with the small parcel allowed for a little park and a freebie community center building there will be a whole lot of concrete. 

Environmentalists were horrified that so much open space, in a county as built out as Deerfield Beach would be paved over.

City residents who live west of the area were the ones who saw most clearly what was being done to the city.  They are the ones who have to drive past the location every time they go east, to the beach, or wherever. 

The traffic mitigation offered by the developer will do nothing to improve traffic on Hillsboro Boulevard; it will just keep the status quo which is pretty awful right now.

 Forgotten, or most likely ignored, by the ones who approved this idea is the major development that will be built next to the Tri-rail station.  This location (the old Denny’s lot) also had a land use change which will allow very high density buildings to be crammed onto this plot. 

This, together with the industrial park, will dump so much traffic onto that stretch of Hillsboro that it will surely discourage even the most intrepid resident or tourist from heading east. 

Westbound after work traffic will be at a standstill for hours.  Trying to get to Rt. 95 will be hopeless.

The traffic into an industrial park is not just cars of workers, but giant tractor trailers rumbling off of Rt. 95, making wide turns and going into Fairway Drive all day long.

The Florida East Railroad will be carrying passenger trains in a year or two, no longer will that crossing be only freight trains about 10 times a day, but Hillsboro Boulevard will be closing 30 or more times for the new trains.  Hmmmm, what will that mean for traffic?

OK, so we now have a heavily trafficked road that right now is backed up morning, noon and night.  We are adding car and truck traffic into the new industrial center, car traffic from the new development by the Tri-rail station, many more closings from the new rail line.  What does that add up to?

My predictions: 
  • Irate tourists,
  • irate Century Village residents,
  • irate Deer Creek, Deer Run, Starlight Cove etc. etc. residents, and
  • irate workers every rush hour;
  • 10th Street and 18th in Boca becoming overused and creating more irate residents. (This will be the rationale for the MPO to finally justify a flyover on 10th Street to connect the Sawgrass and Rt. 95.) 
  • We will see snowbirds and tourists second thinking Deerfield Beach as a destination. 

 Response to the above post by a reader:

To bring jobs and business into Deerfield....are you kidding me? 

 Look at the entire Fairway Drive business area.  Half of the office buildings have been unoccupied for several years now and no new business is coming in.  I work at 800 Fairway Drive and our building occupancy is less than half. 

It got even worse after the City approved the utility tax driving many companies out of the area as rentals increased to cover the overhead.  Just to run the A/C with new taxes has become a great burden on management companies in this exact area you are referring to. 

 Complete greed on the part of DB commissioners.  (And what about our taxes, wasn't the utility tax supposed to keep the millage rates the same as last year.  Duh, would like to know where all that revenue is being allocated.) 

They are not creating new business but merely shifting it around for the lowest prices available to rent space.  They are also getting ridiculous in their permit regulations. 

I am President of my condo association and we are always getting hit.  It just cost us several hundred dollars in fines because we slapped a little sealcoat on the entrance of our driveway...no contractor, no permit, just a small improvement to make it look better. 

Something's got to give with the increase in development.  And what is with all the rehab centers and new buildings around St. Andrews being made available to house some of these unfortunate addicts roaming around our neighborhood...Very scary. 

Deerfield is NOT changing for the better, that's for sure.
(Name Withheld)


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Florida leads the country in CORRUPTION - 781 convicted in 10 years (How many got off or weren't caught?)

September 1, 2013 New York Times

Arrests of 3 Mayors Reinforce Florida’s Notoriety as a Hothouse for Corruption

On Aug. 6, Manuel L. Maroño, 41, the mayor of Sweetwater and president of the Florida League of Cities, and Michael A. Pizzi, 51, the Miami Lakes mayor, were picked up along with two lobbyists. The United States attorney’s office has accused them of involvement in kickback and bribery schemes concerning federal grants.
Prosecutors said Mr. Maroño had received more than $40,000 in bribes and Mr. Pizzi $6,750. The defendants, who were targets of an F.B.I. sting operation, are charged with “conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right” and could face 20 years in prison if convicted.
Gov. Rick Scott suspended all three mayors while the criminal cases proceed.
“We bought the trifecta,” said Carla Miller, the ethics officer for Jacksonville and a former federal prosecutor. “It’s bad when three mayors get led out in handcuffs. What’s left of the public trust gets ground into little pieces.”
Not that such situations are unusual in Florida, which led the country in convictions of public officials — 781 — between 2000 and 2010, according to Department of Justice figures.
“Florida has become the corruption capital of America,” said Dan Krassner, the executive director of a watchdog group, Integrity Florida, citing statistics going back to 1976 and the “significant number of public officials arrested this year and last.”
Florida, and especially Miami and its environs, has long had a reputation as a place where the odd and the eccentric mix with the furtive and the felonious. Last century, organized crime figures from Chicago and New York set up lucrative gambling, extortion and loan-sharking endeavors in Miami Beach and elsewhere, and beginning in the 1980s, South Florida’s economy, culture and reputation were transformed by drug trafficking.
With so much money sloshing about, it was perhaps inevitable that a parade of officials would enrich themselves illicitly at the public trough.
One was Alex Daoud, who in 1985 became the mayor of Miami Beach and six years later was indicted on 41 counts of bribery. He served 18 months in prison, and has since written a memoir.
Last year in Miami Beach, City Manager Jorge Gonzalez, who was making $273,000 a year and had been mired in a web of investigations, was forced to step down after seven of his employees were arrested in a federal corruption investigation. His six-figure pension remained intact.
The arrests of the three Miami-Dade mayors followed news in July that the Securities and Exchange Commission had charged the City of Miami and one of its former budget directors with securities fraud, only a few years after the commission reprimanded the city for similar behavior. In May, a former mayor of Hialeah, Julio Robaina, and his wife, Raiza, were charged with failing to report income from high-interest loans totaling more than $1 million that they had made under an informal system involving friends and associates. The Robainas said they were innocent.
In 2011, in the largest municipal recall election in the country, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Alvarez, was removed from office after he gave large pay raises to close aides and then pushed for a significant increase in property taxes.
This year, the State Legislature approved two ethics bills and six that focus on government transparency and accountability — the first time in 36 years that state lawmakers had passed ethics legislation. Mr. Krassner and others think legislators could do more. But many people seem resigned to the prevalence of officials who appear oblivious to ethical boundaries.
“They get drunk on power,” said Katy Sorenson, who served on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners for 16 years and runs the Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami, which educates elected officials about ethics and related issues.
“There’s a certain psychology to some of the people who run for office here — they don’t think they’re going down the wrong track, but there’s a slippery slope,” she added. “There’s a lack of self-awareness, an immaturity, a brazenness, of feeling like a big shot. So when they’re arrested, they’re very surprised.”
The persistence of political malfeasance — often involving the stereotypical envelopes stuffed with cash, delivered with knowing nods — perplexes those for whom public service is a noble calling.
“Maybe it’s the heat,” said Ruth Campbell, 93, a former City Council member here and the curator of the Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum.
Mrs. Campbell, who has lived in town since 1942, was sadly aware of Florida’s reputation as a haven for corruption. “We like to be distinguished,” she said, “but not like that.”
Prosecutors said Mr. Bateman, among other things, had failed to disclose that the health care company, Community Health of South Florida Inc., secretly agreed to pay him $120,000 over a year to lobby on its behalf. By the time he was arrested, he had accepted $3,625, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
After the mayor’s arrest, a City Council member, Judy Waldman, told reporters, “I have zero tolerance for people using their public office to make money.” Ms. Waldman, who referred to Mr. Bateman only as “that individual,” said his activities on behalf of Community Health Care of South Florida were “just the tip of the iceberg,” and encouraged prosecutors to dig deeper.
Mr. Bateman’s lawyer, Ben Kuehne, told The Associated Press that his client was “shocked” by his arrest and had “served the community for many years in an honest, dependable manner.”
At City Hall on Friday, in a frame that contained photos of city officials, Mr. Bateman’s likeness had been concealed behind a paper copy of the city’s crest. But a day earlier, a group of his supporters rallied a couple blocks away, and Mr. Bateman, out on bond, showed up, shook hands and vowed to fight the charges.
A version of this article appears in print on September 2, 2013, on page A9 of the New York edition with the headline: Arrests of 3 Mayors Reinforce Florida’s Notoriety as a Hothouse for Corruption.
Highlights and bold print added by me - Bett

Friday, November 29, 2013

An answer from City Manager Burgess Hanson

... I am sorry for the late reply. I completely agree that these improvements are needed. They have been discussed. Unfortunately there are no available funds for the sidewalk project right now. The City Commission and staff are looking at alternatives ways to fund the sidewalk project.

The CRA funds are not eligible for either project because they are outside the legal boundaries. We were able to utilize FDOT monies for the roadway/sidewalk by the Embassy Suites. It was part of a storm drainage project. We were unable to extend the project to the north where you described.

The interior of the restrooms will be addressed. I apologize for the condition. Some of the major improvements to the building will have to be repaired at a future time when the money is appropriated for the facility. I will have Facilities Division address the minor issues.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Letter from a Beach Resident

This was sent to me from a long time Deerfield Beach resident with permission to post:

November 26, 2013
Burgess Hanson, City Manager, Deerfield Beach, FL

Dear Mr. Hanson:

I am writing to you regarding city improvements sorely needed on beach property between the completed pavers near the Cove Beach Club and the Embassy Suites. The sidewalk on Ocean Drive between 6th Street and 10th Street is an eyesore.  Not a welcoming site for the many anticipated tourists for the 2014 season.

Specifically, I have 2 main concerns:
 1)   the sidewalk on the east side of Ocean Drive should have pavers, just like the rest of the sidewalk north (to the pier) and south (to Embassy Suites)

 2)   The public bathrooms at 7th Street and Ocean Drive are a disgrace. A number of years ago I wrote a letter voicing my concerns over the rundown and, frankly, disgusting appearance of these bathrooms. New doors were installed which are quite ugly. The sinks were matched to these doors and they are totally rusting out. The automatic dryer is rusty and barely works. I won’t even go into the mirror issue! If you go into the ladies room (and probably the men’s also) you will understand my concerns.

If CRA funds are appropriate for addressing the issues above, this would be a highly visible improvement to our community. If CRA funds are not available, I am sure that the city of Deerfield Beach can find the small sum of money required to enhance our beach area as requested above.

The beach in Deerfield is a beautiful area. We are all proud of our community and do our best to maintain our properties. Money to add pavers and remodel our outmoded bathhouse would be money well spent to keep Deerfield Beach a world class area.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

You Can Help

Here’s a chance to find out what you know about sea level rise and help an FAU PhD student. Read Betsy Roberts’ article below and then fill out the survey form here:   go to www.kbolter.com  or directly to the survey:   https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1inxk0-KQ3-nl2UrXnRz2j2H_gONuZjJ7jdTuF_G726M/viewform

For your information here is the new FEMA Flood Zone map.  Just zoom in (scroll button or + - buttons) click anywhere on the map and you will see the flood designations for that area.  http://bcgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/OnePane/basicviewer/index.html?appid=0b1b5ffc6f8440f9ab23d688bb79f063

Deerfield Beach, Coconut Creek

agree to assist with sea-level survey

  By Elizabeth Roberts Sun Sentinel Staff Writer    

 Ever see the photograph of a polar bear clinging to a tiny piece of ice amid a great ocean and wonder what you can do to stem sea level rise? A local Ph.D. candidate wants to give every Broward County resident that chance.

Recently, Deerfield Beach and Coconut Creek put out an online call for participation in a survey on the issue.

They agreed to assist with a survey requested by Coral Springs resident Keren Bolter, who is on the cusp of a Ph.D. in geosciences from Florida Atlantic University. The university’s research department is helping with the survey.  

Bolter will use the data for a doctoral thesis comparing the perceived risk of sea level rise with real data. Her goal is to find out if people are concerned — and whether they should be.

 “Why are people buying property at 2 feet above sea level when the sea level is projected to rise up to 2 feet by the year 2060?” she said. “Inland areas think they are safe, but they don’t realize the water comes up through the porous ground.”

Bolter knows of what she speaks. She recently gave a talk for TEDxMiami about the misconceptions related to sea level rise that was later broadcast on a National Public Radio affiliate. The information, Bolter said, is vital to helping planners and emergency personnel identify where people are at greatest   risk.

But of 30 Broward cities she contacted, only Deerfield Beach and Coconut Creek have agreed to help. Ironically, she said, those are among the Broward communities with perhaps the least to worry about.

 “In general, the elevations in Broward County go from north to south, from high to low. Deerfield Beach, in terms of elevation, is close to 10 feet higher than Fort Lauderdale,” Bolter said.

Bolter said she is hoping to get about 1,000 survey respondents.

The survey is available at  www.kbolter.com    through Dec. 31.    

Elizabeth Roberts can be reached at: eroberts@tribune.com


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Deerfield Beach's Sullivan Park

Kudos to the commissioners who voted to go ahead with the Sullivan Park renovations.  I have no idea why Mayor Robb would vote against improving this park which has a unique setting, a short walk from the Cove Shopping Center, also a short walk from the beach, right on the Intracoastal.  Ideal for boating, fishing and relaxing. 
Maybe she doesn’t realize that the money to fix it up will be CRA funds which must be used in the area; the CRA funds will be supplemented by a marine grant of over a million to improve the dock area which will have to be paid back if not used for this project.  This is a no brainer.  THE MONEY CAN’T BE USED IN THE REST OF THE CITY!  The funds are generated from increased property values in the CRA area and must be spent in the CRA area.

The City used CRA money to fix up everything else in the area first, (see the projects by clicking on the CRA area link below) and now this little gem of a park will have its day.  This park has long been a favorite of fisherfolk and kayakers but its rough condition was not conducive to picnickers or other kinds of recreation. 

Way, way back when, the Woman’s Club of Deerfield Beach donated money for the park’s upkeep and a classy brass plaque. For a while it was used often by residents, but the park has had minimal upkeep, the plaque was stolen and the park fell into disuse.  The Riverview Restaurant closed and became an overgrown eyesore. 

The city dropped the ball on this park as it had done on the Cove Shopping Center.  With CRA funding the shopping center is now a busy focus of activity, as the park will be when it is complete. 
Because of CRA funds it was possible to buy the Riverview property and because of the extra area the property added to Sullivan Park, it became possible to envision and create a marine based, attractive park (See link at the top).

The CRA Tax Increment Funds may only be used in the designated CRA area.  This is a link to the CRA area map: 

When the County started the CRA concept the then Deerfield Beach Commission chose this area because improvements there would increase the property taxes and those increases (tax income over and above the rate at the time the CRA was started) are income for the CRA.  Over time the tax increases (some of which would have gone to the County but stay in the City because of the CRA agreement) have funded the improvements you see at the beach area and east of Federal Highway. 
We have been able to use millions of dollars in the area that would have gone to the county because of this agreement which was made during the boom days; this kind of CRA is no longer allowed by the County.

As the CRA winds down over the next few years, the remaining income will be used mainly to pay off the bonds which were used for the major projects.  This was smart planning the city got the money up front and used the increased revenue from the result of the projects to pay off the bonds. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Popcorn Anyone?

Those who attend Deerfield Beach’s Commission meetings, the few, the committed (perhaps should be), the strong of stomach, should be warned that as of October 1, they might want to pack drinks and snacks, perhaps popcorn as befits viewing a comedy/drama/tragedy, and tuck in for a looooooooong session.

 I have always thought that preventing residents from speaking on agenda items was bizarre; after all, the items on the agenda are what people are at the meeting to hear, so I was glad that the State passed a law requiring public input be allowed on items up for consideration. Especially since the agenda is not published until the Friday before a Tuesday meeting which hardly allows time to call the commissioners or city department about an item.  Folks should be able to give an opinion or ask a question about an item up for consideration that affects their neighborhood or the city, and perhaps their taxes, commissioners should welcome hearing what their constituents think.

However, this opens the door even wider to the grandstanders and the time wasters. The dwindling few who watch Commission meetings on TV or in person, have become inured to the parade of residents who have issues with the way the city is run, or its actions or lack of actions on some topic.  But lately, with good reason, some regulars have quit coming entirely and some are leaving early; those at home watch the meeting the next day so they can fast forward through the worst of it. 

Some residents who speak make good points and are to be applauded for bringing a serious concern to the commission’s attention.  But, some repeat offenders must have self-esteem problems, perhaps their mommies didn’t praise them enough and they hope to get the attention they crave by appearing in public opining on their every inane thought, over and over meeting after meeting. 

They know perfectly well that much of what they rant on about are questions that could easily be answered by a phone call to the appropriate city department, but no, they feel they have to subject the audience to their mostly misinformed outbursts to bolster their sagging egos.  

Worst are the mean spirited jerks who use their minutes to denigrate a commissioner or staff member.  These folks lately have not been cut off and thus are encouraged to continue and come back and do it again and again.  Unbelievably our Mayor has also stooped to this type of remark on the dais. This then engenders a cat fight among commissioners about who should be keeping order.  More time goes by.

Regrettably the mayor’s memory seems to be shaky, or perhaps she doesn’t talk to staff or read the backup pages in her meeting package and so goes on and on about things that were perfectly clear if researched a little beforehand.  Madam Mayor also speaks so fast and rushes through parts of the agenda so quickly that time is wasted going back to redo errors.  I often want to tell her to take a breath and slow down and listen.  Nothing anyone else says seems to sink in, and points have to be gone over time and time again, and the meeting goes on and on. Perhaps she has also forgotten that it is the Mayor’s function to run the meeting in an orderly and respectful manner which is obviously not being done at the moment. 
If topics warrant, a meeting should take as long as it takes when dealing with city business correctly, not nonsense.  I support the public speaking, I support the new law, I hope that those running the meeting will keep the public on topic and nip any extraneous and malicious comments in the bud, and keep comments about each other and staff to private moments. 

If not I predict meetings where the vote to continue after 11:00 p.m. becomes habitual, and any respect left for our commission dries up and blows away.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Some Clarification

I was informed that the most significant decreases in the reserve occurred under City Manager Mike Mahaney not Burgess Hanson.  And, the things that have further decreased the reserve are that the BSO Fire and Police have over a 3 million dollar increase this year and the fire pension recalculation (because people are living longer now the pensions will pay out longer and the pension funding had to be readjusted to reflect that) cost the city about 1.5 million.  None of which could have been predicted but had to be funded.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Some questions need to be answered.

Before moving on to correct the current situation questions need to be answered.
What is Staff presenting to the Commission as alternatives to the Broward County Sheriff's cost increases?  I would add that when things are done on an "end justifies the means" basis, it is often the result that serious public policy mistakes are made.  City Charter 7.09 is clear that there should have been a Referendum if the Sheriff fire section was to use the City owned fire stations.  Even without Section 7.09, on an issue of that importance, the public should be given the vote.  But, especially with former Mayor Noland's strong desire to do everything for the fire department and her fire department husband, Howard, the public was ignored as the right of the public to determine those crucial issues affecting the public's lives was ignored.  The Commission did not allow a vote, and for that the members of that Commission are justifiably to be blamed.  I believe the public did not want the fire department to go to the Sheriff, and I believe that that that Commission knew it, but felt that the public's wishes should be ignored. 
The problem is that now, when there are issues concerning the fire department being with the Sheriff, there is still a large opinion that it never should have been done in the first place.  I have not reviewed the Contract, but in light of the fact that the Commission and Staff knew that the legitimacy of the manner in which the fire department went to the Sheriff, that the contract is structured to make it difficult for the City to take the fire department back, if that is the wish of the Commission.

What structural changes are being made to the personnel employment chart for the City, especially at the upper Staff levels?  This is vital because a top-heavy Staff symbolically and practically reflects that there is bloated government that is not serious about government efficiency and treating the taxpayer funds with fiscal responsibility.

The City Manager is the Chief Administrator for the City.  Did Staff provide written memoranda to the Commission and to the City accurately stating what would cause the fund balance decline and any increases related to the contract related with the Broward Sheriff's Office?  While the decision to have a budget that would cause a fund balance decline and to contract with the Broward Sheriff's Department are policy decisions for the Commission, the City Manager should (although often they do not) state in writing the consequences of the actions a Commission is determining."

A serious answer needs to be given to the question: "How did what happen occur?"  Burgess was the City Manager during the move of the fire department and was acting City Manager or City Manager during a significant portion of a drop in the reserves.   An analysis is needed as to what information Staff gave the Commission and was available to the citizens.  This does raise the issue of Burgess' weakness in finances.  If the answers are what I suspect they may be, Burgess needs to significantly change his behavior so that these things or types of things never happen again.  Burgess' responsibility for this serious situation should not be minimized because if it is minimized it will not be corrected.  Burgess is paid a lot of money (someone should really even at this date do a valuation as to his compensation package on both an annual basis and also the value of his "golden parachute" when he is no longer City Manager.  This is a one sided contract in Burgess' favor and not in favor of the citizens of Deerfield Beach), and his performance on these two significant matters seems to have been very inadequate.   

As concerns staff, I would look to the issue of top-heavy staffing and the pay levels of those staff.  I would also be careful not to place too much weight on what other municipalities are paying since the overpay problem is endemic of government.  I go back to my letter to the Commission of September 2010 concerning Burgess' pay jump when he went in-house to being a City Manager.  I wonder who on Staff would do a hard analysis of the top heavy nature of upper Administrative level personnel and the overpayment salaries/compensation packages.

The potential errors by Burgess in the reduction of the fund balance and an accurate assessment of information provided the Commission concerning the fire department going to the Sheriff's Department are very, very significant errors.  It was and is his job to provide accurate information.  Whether the then constituted Commission would have voted differently is difficult to say -- I believe that no matter what, Peggy Noland would have voted in favor of the fire department going to the Sheriff's Department because it benefitted her husband.


The fund balance should never have been allowed to dip so low and should be beefed up ASAP.  There should be more revenue now that property values are inching up if that is not enough a raise in the millage rate might be the way to go, perhaps with a provision that it will only be until we get a fatter fund balance, a raise will anger some but may be the only  way to go. 

I think Hugh Dunkley our Director of Finance is very aware of what needs to be done and the commission should listen to him more and worry about reelection less.  There are lots of things the city needs that cost money but should be put on the back burner until the balance is large enough so we have enough for hurricane damage etc.

It is hard to justify taxpayers paying more if the city pay scale is out of whack, I don’t know if it is, but needs to be addressed every year, when I was president of our teacher’s union we adjusted the pay scale every year, many years the teachers at the top of the guide got very little increase, if anything.

 I also don’t know if we are top heavy in top administration, but a serious look at that should be done.  Perhaps we should look at saving money by outsourcing some departments, landscaping for example, would it be cheaper?  We should take a serious look at that department and others.  Most likely it would save money as we would save pension and medical costs and perhaps get better service as the company would know they would be let go if they didn’t perform up to snuff.  We are not an employment agency for city residents, but I suppose the city could make a provision that our workers would be hired by the outside agency. 

I believe that taking the fire department back would be next to impossible, but if an actuary could prove that it would save money it should be looked at.  I don’t think so but who knows.  I have many questions about that.  What would happen to the extra fire station out west? Would the city have to be stuck with the same pension provisions?  As a teacher I did other jobs for the district for which I was paid a stipend, and coaches etc. make extra money, but NONE of that extra money went toward our pension basis, and I do not believe overtime etc. should be included. 

The City Attorney's opinion was that we didn’t need a referendum, but I would have liked to see one, I am not sure the residents would have voted no, as they did in the past, as this change was presented with the rosy outlook of saving millions and millions each year, how is that working out?  But the voters should be heard on items such as these.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Witch Hunt!

I have heard rumor after rumor that Mayor Jean Robb and her vocal cohorts are “going after” City Manager Burgess Hanson. I am convinced it is true.  I also hear that Human Resources Director Mike Milanowski, Asst. City Manager Keven Klopp, and others are on the hit list. Mostly for no other reason than they said no, or refused to knuckle under to someone who certainly wanted something unreasonable; it unquestionably is not because of job performance.

When Burgess Hanson was voted in as City Manager I had serious reservations.  My main concern was that he was trained by former City Manager Larry Deetjen who I found to be nasty, selfish, overdevelopment friendly, and resident unfriendly.  I saw Larry running the city commission single handedly, making policy, (I suspect with back room deals and meetings) not just carrying it out, and if anyone crossed him, they likely suffered grave consequences accompanied by a verbal whiplashing.  This was not a legacy I was eager to see continued by his “disciple”.  I was very wary of how Burgess might act.  Unlike Larry, Burgess had always been polite and helpful whenever I asked him something, but still, he WAS trained by Larry.

It took me a while to become a Burgess fan.  I attend almost all city meetings.  I watched for signs of Larry seeping out of Burgess’ pores, but I saw no sign of the Larry nastiness, no sign of being a control freak, no sign of disrespect for residents especially women or those of other ethnicity or race from himself. 
I did see the city being well run, I saw a commitment to fiscal responsibility, I saw a city manager who is responsive to the commissioners, residents and city workers, and someone who puts in very long, long hours.  I understand he is demanding.  Nothing wrong with that; demanding that a city worker do their job, and do it well is something I admire.    Toward that end, Burgess, knowing that the city has been weak in the area of human resources, hired Mike Milanowski, who has a law degree and a wealth of experience.  Burgess is following what I believe is a solid game plan for the city.  Hire the best people you can, pay them what they are worth and let them do their jobs. 

Our top managers and supervisors, in the private sector, would be earning far more than our people for a corporation the size of Deerfield Beach.  Being penny wise and pound foolish is not the way to save money.  Having well paid managers who make sure their supervisors are well trained will improve morale and productivity, saving far more than their salaries in the long run.  We have a ways to go before all supervisors know that supervision by intimidation is not the way to manage, but Burgess and Mike are making sure that training is taking place. 
Hiring a city manager from an outside pool of candidates subjects the city to the “Dance of the Lemons” with available candidates being ones who were fired from other cities.  Witness our last two managers if you doubt.  We are fortunate to have Burgess who comes from within our city and is personally involved with Deerfield Beach.

I am still watching for signs of Larryism, but the only signs of it I see are from our Mayor and her allies, not our City Manager. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Today Affects the Future - don't forget who lives and drives here!

City Commissioners must look at the long term picture for the health and quality of life of Deerfield Beach and not a short term fix.  Current and future residents must be the focus of all the city does.

The Deerfield Country Club golf course is a valuable piece of property, even if the arsenic laden pesticide drenched grounds will take a lot of cleaning. (Let’s take it as a given that it will never be continued as a golf course.)

Broward County has very little open space left, and none that I can think of in such a valuable location near transportation.  In the ideal world, this green space would be cherished and not allowed to be paved over, the city and county would be up in arms at anyone wanting, in our built out urban county, to build on this green expanse of land. However reality and campaign money enter the picture.

The current proposal, to be voted on by our Commission in August, is to allow industrial buildings on the entire parcel.  (Land zoned for recreational use.) A proposal that will make the property owners a lot of money, and will be so devastating to the traffic on Hillsboro Boulevard that people will mark the decline in Deerfield Beach - as a destination - from the time of this development.

If this proposal is voted down, and the city stands firm as to what it expects, as quick as greased lightning there will be another development proposed for that golf course that everyone can live with. 

If this proposal is voted down there will be a proposal for that golf course that will not bring tractor-trailer after tractor-trailer in all day and night. 

If this proposal is voted down there soon will be a solution that will retain contiguous open space as well as allowing reasonable development of the property, a proposal that will bring jobs and increased taxes. 

Right now the developer is bragging that there will be a lot of green space, however most of that is in little spots here and there such as islands in a parking lot and mandated setbacks in front of the buildings. That is not what we think of as “green space”.  The developer is pulling the wool over the eyes of those who dare question the proposal. 

Developers are very clever and good at working out solutions, but they won’t even try if everything they want is handed to them on a silver platter on the first go-round. 

Recently I had to wait on Hillsboro for two Publix trucks to make a turn; they had to swing way around to make it and held up all traffic for a good while; just two trucks in the middle of the summer.  Imagine the truck traffic coming off of 95 onto Hillsboro going into the only entry of this industrial complex on Fairway Drive (across from Natura) with multiple businesses and more than one warehouse all day long in season. 
The traffic lanes and fixes the developer wants to put in will not come close to solving the problem, or to easing the tempers of the drivers on the boulevard. 

Keep in mind there is a high density housing/commercial project coming in next to the Tri-Rail station. 
The commission should turn down the current proposal; then there will be a very short wait for this developer, or a new developer, to come up with a workable proposal.
The commission owes it to the future residents of the city not to sentence them to the horrific traffic problems this proposal will create.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Funny or Sad

Saturday, June 1, 2013

There Goes the Neighborhood

Land use designations are the MOST important decisions a city makes when thinking about the quality of life of its residents.

Each city has a comprehensive plan in which uses of property are set out.  It puts industrial sites as far away from residential housing as possible.  The plans are well thought out, include residents’ input, and steer (with any luck) common-sense future development in the city.
In Deerfield Beach, you will find problems cropping up where developers convinced some former commission that the plan should be changed, so we have residents complaining about the dirt and noise of industry and the smell of Mt. Trashmore.  Housing should never have been allowed in those places. 

The Deerfield Country Club golf course must not be allowed to turn into an industrial park.  Future traffic problems will be overwhelming and the loss of open space in our city will be irrevocable.  Future commissions will be beset with complaints from residents, the residential area’s property values will take a serious hit, and the quality of life in the neighborhood will decline year after year. What then?
Look at the graphic of Deerfield Beach’s land use.  Look where the purple (industrial) areas are, they were placed away from residential (yellow, brown) areas. Contrast, on the map, how little open (green, teal) space, there is compared to the purple and red (commercial).

Look at the green Deerfield Country Club golf course land at the top of the graphic.  The golf course, designated recreational use, acts as a buffer between the residents on the right and the industrial area on the left.  It was planned that way.
Notice the purple area next to the golf course; it only has one road leading out to Hillsboro Boulevard, this road already serves 14 or more large businesses and a large hotel in a smaller space than the golf course area.  Workers tell me it is a long painful process getting out of there after work especially if one needs to go west on Hillsboro. 

No matter what the hired traffic experts the developer brings in tell us, adding a lane or even two will not mitigate the traffic.  No way, no how!   
And, if the change is made, I predict that the traffic problems will be so bad in a few years that NW 3rd Street or NW 2nd Court will pressed into service as an exit, right through the residential area.  No matter what promises are made, when businesses put pressure on some future commission they will cave in, further trashing the property values in the area.

Look again at the map, look at the wealth of purple and red, anyone who wants to bring a business to Deerfield Beach has acres available; along the railroad and out west away from our congested city center and away from residential properties. Where they should be, where it makes common sense, where the planners put them.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Post from CityEthics.org, making local government more ethical

Not Engaging in Our Fathers' Misconduct
(Also mothers' - Bett)

Read the whole article here:

"...the way to deal successfully with past misconduct is the same in government as it is with being a father oneself. Looking at local government leaders not with fear or anger, but with sadness and understanding, with an appreciation of the situational pressures on them, is the best way to go about changing the situational pressures and discussing the past in a way that leads to a new future, rather than the same old thing."
"...those who take and hold power through intimidation, who abuse both subordinates and the public, are sad people. Just like fathers who abuse their children. They are people who lack self-respect, who can't win by playing fair, and who care more about winning than anything."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kingfisher Canal Conundrum

I was impressed with the residents who did a presentation at last evening’s commission meeting (May 21) about the condition of the Kingfisher Canal.  They had legitimate complaints, but they also had solutions.  Their list of 10, well researched, actions that could be taken were mostly achievable.

A new water analysis seems to be a no brainer as the last one was done in 1998.  FDOT has a 72” drain which dumps waste water from Federal Highway into the canal along with whatever happens to be in the gutters of the street at the time of the storm, yes, let’s “encourage” them to put a filter on it.  The city’s 24” drain pipe has a baffle, but should have a more effective one. Find and repair any leaking sewage pipes. YIKES! There might be some buildings that are still using septic tanks which might leak, and even worse there is some evidence, in the city, of homes and businesses bypassing the septics and allowing their raw sewage to dump directly into the storm sewer or even the canal, YIKES! The city should find those miscreants FAST. As the resident presenting the list said, we can now shove cameras up the pipe to find out what’s up. 

In investigating this I had a lot of trouble discovering who owns the canals in various parts of the city, but it seems the canals are owned by the city as the various developers dedicated them when the developments were finished.  So, if the canals are owned by the city, and FDOT uses them as waste baskets, they should be the ones to clean them up.  And, the city should devise an ongoing plan to keep them clean.  Some ideas were mentioned at the meeting and I applaud the commission for looking to the future. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Things we can do to save the planet.

How to save the planet

By Edward Renner, special to the Tampa BayTimes

EDWARD RENNERTampa Bay TimesSaturday, May 18, 2013 4:30am

The news is grim. New measurements show that the climate-changing gas carbon dioxide is at the highest atmospheric concentrations — 400 parts per million — in at least 3 million years. Evolved human beings have never seen it like this. And yet a recent Gallup poll shows that only a minority of Americans — 50 percent of Democrats and 18 percent of Republicans — believe that global warming will "pose a serious threat to them or to their way of life during their lifetime."

With such a disconnect and so little political will, action seems impossible. But there is a way. There are many things we can do ourselves if we shift our focus from climate change to the well-established biological concept of carrying capacity.

Carrying capacity is the maximum population size that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment.

We'll get to the math later, but it works out that if only a minority of the population reduced their footprint by 25 percent right now, eventually increasing to half the population by 2050, it might be possible to avoid crossing a point of no return, a tipping point for the planet. That is not an unreasonable possibility. To be sure, individuals will still need to push institutions to change, but the answer, fortunately can start within ourselves.

Let's begin with an analogy. Think of a rowboat that can hold a limited number of people. Add one too many, and the boat will sink. Everyone drowns. Likewise, the planet can support a limited number of people. Add too many and its capacity to support life will collapse.

In a rowboat, it is not the number of people but their combined weight that matters. For the planet, this is the "effective population;" it is the number of people multiplied by their average impact that is the total burden of the human footprint on the planet. As you might guess, an American has a much bigger footprint than someone from the developing world, where population growth is fastest.

 Additionally, a rowboat, when exposed to stormy weather, rocks and dips in ways it did not when the water was still. Nature is the same. When a growing population cuts down trees to clear land to grow food, the result is soil erosion decreasing the amount of food to feed the increasing number of people who are cutting down the trees.

When collapse occurs in nature, there is a "tipping point" in which the accelerating demands produce a rapid decline in capacity. The process is similar to the overcrowded rowboat that, with the addition of a small amount of extra weight, starts to take on water and quickly sinks. Once the tipping point is crossed, neither the boat nor nature can support life. For thousands of years this has not been an issue for the planet. It is today.

Fortunately, we can do something about it. And in surprising ways, the math works in our favor, if enough of us change our ways. If, between now and 2015, just 3 percent of the effective population would reduce their total footprint by 25 percent, and by 2020 the percent doing so doubled to 6 percent, and by 2030 double again to 12.5 percent, and by 2040 to 25 percent, and by 2050 to 50 percent, then the total footprint of the effective population would be reduced, the planet could start to recover, and the danger of crossing the tipping point would be averted. The collective effective footprint of the human population on the Earth would start to decrease at around 8 billion, even though the actual population is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050.

The impact of total distances traveled and the efficiency of transportation, the amount and sources of energy used, and what we eat and how it is produced can each be divided into subcategories, which can be further broken down to the number of gallons of gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel refined; the tons of fertilizer and pesticides used; the number of wind farms created; and the BTUs of coal and oil that must be remain in the ground. These can all be measured. They are all subject to public political control, and the policies required to regulate these events are known.

This challenge is of particular relevance to those of us living in the United States, because we are putting in jeopardy our way of life, far more so than China, which is our major competitor.

While China contributes more to carbon emissions, its population is four times larger. Per person, it is we who are the biggest offender in the world of overuse of natural resources. We have more to lose than any other nation if, collectively, the human race exceeds the carrying capacity of the planet. And it is within our power, personally and politically, to reduce our footprint and the effective size of our population — in other words, the per person load we put on the planet.

A small percentage of people making regular small contributions, and encouraging progressively more people to join with them, can have a large cumulative effect. These individual efforts are all necessary, but they alone are insufficient. Rather, they must be our daily reminder that public policy issues, such as effective mass transit to replace commuting by car, the infrastructure of alternative energy sources and national policies independent of the short-term self-interest of big agriculture, big oil and multinational corporations are also essential. Averting a crisis in our lifetimes doesn't make the Earth habitable forever.

The same new dire report on carbon dioxide offers one hopeful and helpful note. It points out that atmospheric levels will briefly dip this summer before heading back up to ever more dangerous levels. Why? Trees will leaf out and absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis in the Northern Hemisphere, which contains the majority of the Earth's land mass.

This temporary natural relief does not have to be seasonal. In the short term, we have direct personal control over hundreds of specific everyday actions, such as using fewer plastic water bottles, driving one less mile, eating less meat, planting a garden and eating seasonal local produce, among a long list. Every bit counts.

In the longer term, if a growing number of us change our personal ways, we will begin to build the necessary social and political awareness to shift our focus away from the abstract event of climate change to government and corporate accountability for specific and measurable policies and practices of not using more resources and producing more waste than the planet can replace or absorb in a year.

Add them up, and we can save the planet.

Edward Renner is a professor in the Honors College of the University of South Florida. He may be contacted at kerenner@usf.edu. The environmental data is from the Global Footprint Network data base: www.footprintnetwork.org. He wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mickey Mouse Club Commission Meeting

I am concentrating on issues, such as the crazy proposal to turn the Deerfield Country Club into an industrial/business area. 

 I have been purposefully staying away from comments on the comportment of the new mayor and the commission; letting some time go by for the new commission, hoping to see the promised mellower mayor emerge. 

But, you knew there would be a “but”, didn’t you?   I received an email from a new acquaintance, who just moved to Deerfield Beach, and attended a commission meeting a couple of weeks ago. 

The new resident said,

“The new mayor is certainly, um, different. While I can appreciate (to a certain extent) her feistiness and take-no-prisoners attitude, she is so unpolished and unprofessional, and seemingly simply intent on seeking some type of revenge on those who were naysayers in her past life as mayor (in the 1980s, I gather), that she is a difficult pill to swallow in her current position as Mayor…

As a veteran of many local governmental board/commission meetings in ***** NY (where I lived for 30+ years), I was appalled at the behavior I witnessed that night …It was a regular Mickey Mouse Club that night; I expected to see a "for entertainment purposes only" advisory on the bottom of the agenda!”
It was sad but interesting to me to read this reaction from someone who is new to the area. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Denim Day

Denim Day was April 23.  Broward County sent a flyer around explaining that is a day when everyone is encouraged to wear denim to raise awareness about sexual violence. 

I forwarded the flyer to my email lists. 

I was delighted to receive the picture below from a reader who said, "I wanted to thank you for raising awareness and to share the attached photo of all our employees at Universal Insurance (Deerfield Beach) who wore Denim last week."

It is really encouraging to hear from super people like the Universal employees.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Poetry written late on a sleepless night after a Planning and Zoning Board meeting

Lousy golf course

fire ants and fungus;

weeds on the fence.

An executive course about to be executed;

no more CEOs or CFOs or any OTHEROs

no more greens space; or space for green.

Once wooded land, under protest from tree huggers, was

sculpted, greened and bunkered

and now will,

under protest from green lovers, be

scalped, graded and building-ed.

Concrete rule$. 


Monday, April 8, 2013

Salvation Army Bin at the Deerfield Beach Woman's Club!!!

 We did it!!!  Deerfield Beach is the first city in Broward County to have an ordinance allowing donation bins, and The Woman's Club of Deerfield Beach is the first location in Broward County to have a permitted charity clothing recycling donation bin.  The picture left shows Jim Moyer thanking the women.

There was a dedication ceremony at which Jim Moyer, Salvation Army Donation Director, Joe Miller, Deerfield Beach Vice Mayor, Marty McGeary, President of the Woman's Club, Bett Willett, VP of the Woman' s Club and Joe, a recipient of help from the Salvation Army spoke about what it means to have this bin.  Commissioner Richard Rosenzweig and his wife Verna were there with bags of donations (bottom picture below shows him pitching in to help load the bin). 

Donations from the residents and Woman's Club members almost filled the bin to the top.  Thanks to all who came.

But if you want to donate some no longer needed clothing, don't worry there will be plenty of room for your items, the bin is emptied regularly.   The Woman's Club is at 910 East Hillsboro Boulevard across from the fire station.  Coming east on Hillsboro turn right at the blinking yellow light just before Federal Highway.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Good bye Greenspace

Well, it looks as if the economy is recovering again, David Eller and his group are once again trying to get a land use change for his golf course which will turn the entire open space parcel into industrial, office, and commercial use.   

The correct answer to his request is NO. They are asking for a designation of “Employment Center” which is neither an unemployment office nor a headquarters for head-hunters, but a cute, non-threatening name for a very ugly idea which will pave over the green golf course land and create an industrial complex. 

The designation of the vast majority, 71.8 acres, of the Deerfield Country Club golf course is now Recreation Commercial  

From the backup to the Planning and Zoning agenda: “This is a proposal to change the Land Use designation of the entire Deerfield Country Club property to Employment Center. The proposal would allow a maximum of 755,000 square feet of development on the approximately 75-acre property: 60% light-industrial, 20% office, and 20% commercial uses.”

755,000 SQUARE FEET!!!!!!!!

Broward County is on record as opposing this type of conversion.  Their policy also wants to know “…how the negative impacts of the loss of open space on surrounding neighborhoods will be minimized or mitigated.” 

POLICY 5.04.03   Broward County shall strongly encourage the preservation of open space areas.    (See the entire policy *below)

 The golf course owners have every right to use their property for any of the allowed Recreation Commercial designations which are: 
From the City of Deerfield Beach Future Land Use Element Document:

Areas designated for commercial recreation use on the Deerfield Beach Future Land Use Map (Series) are intended to accommodate major public and private commercial recreation facilities, primarily golf courses and commercial recreation associated with structures and/or indoor facilities.

Uses permitted in the Commercial Recreation Land Use Category are:
1.) Outdoor and indoor recreation facilities such as active recreation complexes, stadiums, and golf courses.
2.) Accessory facilities, (excluding residential uses) that are determined by the City Commission (by resolution) to be an integral part of and supportive to the primary recreation facility.  

THEY DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT, smack up against a residential area, to pave over green space with industrial facilities, office buildings, hotels and etc. the proposed little strip of a green buffer is a sad answer.  (Be sure to see the entire list of what they could build there below**.)   

THEY DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT to change the land use of their property just because it suits them to close their golf course.   

THEY DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT to remove green open space and add traffic and the problems inherent in commercial and industrial uses to an already overbuilt area in Deerfield Beach just to make more themselves money than they would be able to with the current land use.   

They knew what the land use designation was when they bought the course. 

Go to the website which tracks Florida Development and you will see that Broward County is already at “build out”, with precious little open space left.  We need to save every small plot we have.  http://www.priceofsprawl.com/

 The Planning and Zoning meeting is Thursday, April 4, 7:00 p.m. at City Hall in the Commission Chamber.  Be there; tell the Board what you think about this bad idea.

*Broward County Land Use:
POLICY 5.04.03

Broward County shall strongly encourage the preservation of open space areas.

Amendments to the Broward County Land Use Plan which would result in the loss of open space shall be strongly discouraged and be required to address how open space and recreation needs of the existing and projected residents of the community will be met, including how the negative impacts of the loss of open space on surrounding neighborhoods will be minimized or mitigated.

POLICY 5.04.04

Amendments to the Broward County Land Use Plan containing golf courses, including closed golf courses, shall address the following:

a. The impact of the loss of open space on the surrounding residential areas. The loss of open space must be mitigated through provision of parks and open space to serve the surrounding neighborhood.

b. Management of storm water retention taking into account the extent to which the golf course provided storm water retention for the surrounding development and how this will be mitigated, along with any additional storm water impacts created by the new development.

c. Minimization of the impact on natural resources including wetlands, lakes, aquifer recharge areas and the tree canopy, including any historic trees on the site.


d. Mitigation of environmental contamination. The level of environmental contamination must be determined by conducting a Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental assessment.

e. Integration of the proposed development with the surrounding areas including how the development will tie into the existing neighborhoods through roads, sidewalks, parks/open space and greenways.

**From the City of Deerfield Beach Future Land Use Element Document:
Uses permitted in areas designated employment center are as follows:
City of Deerfield Beach Future Land Use Element:

1.) Light manufacturing, fabrication and assembly;

2.) Office uses;

3.) Research businesses, including medical and research laboratories;

4.) Hotels, motels and similar lodging;

5.) Restaurants and personal services;

6.) Community facilities;

7.) Communication facilities;

8.) Non-residential agricultural uses;

9.) Residential uses are permitted without the need to amend the City’s land use plan map, provided that the City applies flexibility or reserve units to the parcel in the

following manner:

(a.) For parcels 5 acres in size or less, free-standing or mixed-use multi-family structures are permitted; within areas designated on the County Land Use Plan as Urban Infill, Urban Redevelopment or Downtown Revitalization Areas or Chapter 163 Redevelopment Areas, free-standing or mixed-use multi-family residential uses are permitted on parcels 10 acres in size or less.

(b.) For mixed use developments greater than 5 acres in size (or 10 acres within areas designated on the County Plan as Urban Infill, Urban Redevelopment, or Downtown Revitalization Areas or Chapter 163 Redevelopment Areas) freestanding or mixed-use multi-family residential uses are permitted provided that the gross residential acreage does not exceed 5 acres (10 acres within areas designated on the County Plan as Urban Infill, Urban Redevelopment or Downtown Revitalization Areas or Chapter 163 Redevelopment Areas), or 40% of the total gross acreage of the employment center designated parcel,whichever is greater, and that the entire mixed use development be governed
by specific zoning regulations that establish criteria to ensure proper integration and compatibility of land uses within and surrounding the development.

10.) Commercial and retail business uses may also be permitted subject to the review and approval requirements of Broward County Land Use Plan Policy 13.01.10 and as long as the total area of these uses does not consume more than 20 percent of the employment center land designated on both the Deerfield Beach and Broward County Future Land Use Plan Maps within a flexibility zone, and as long as the location of these uses does not preclude or adversely affect the future use of surrounding areas for employment center use.

11.) The following uses are permitted only as Accessory Uses (Limited to less than fifty percent (50%) of the site):

(a.) Transportation and utilities, excluding electrical power plants.

(b.) Storage.

(c.) Retail within buildings devoted to principal uses.

(d.) Recreation and open space uses.