Saturday, April 11, 2015

A post on:

Jean Robb v. Bett Willett - 04/11/15

A few days ago, Bett Willett wrote a robust criticism of Jean Robb's conduct as mayor on her blog, Blog by Bett, and suggested that Mayor Robb resign. Mayor Robb, in turn, responded via public-record email. 

"No[body] cares what you think," she wrote. "I sure don't."

Mayor Robb is free to care or not care about what Bett Willet thinks. But politics is controversy, and public officials, Mayor Robb included, are standing targets for criticism. It goes with the territory. Robb should care what Ms. Willett thinks and what any citizen thinks, even if it's disagreeable.

This is not new ground for Mayor Robb. She tried (unsuccessfully) to block emails from her city account from people she didn't like. As my doctor might say, "Not good, not good."

People do read Ms. Willett's blog. Presumably, some people are interested in her commentary. Whether they agree or disagree is a harder question.

It's the same with this website. I know that a lot of people "click" on it. Discounting visits from China and Estonia, I assume that some people are interested in what I write about. I also assume that readers are (mostly) intelligent people who can make up their own minds about issues. I don't expect that everyone will agree with what I write.

I also know that from my correspondences that many people are deeply concerned about about the accusations of misconduct and the way that Mayor Robb conducts city commission meetings. Willett is not alone in her views.

I agree with Ms. Willett that Mayor Robb should consider stepping down. She's a cloud over this city, bringing unwanted, negative attention to the city and distracting from the business of the commission.

Undoubtedly, racial tensions in Deerfield Beach are on the rise. I won't lay the blame on Mayor Robb, but she understands the black political culture better than most of us and she has exploited it. Examples include her letter to the voters of Dist. 2 during the recent campaign and her public statements with reference to the "water jug" incident.

Mayor Robb does not have to resign in disgrace. She can claim health reasons or whatever. It would be better for her to resign now than to be suspended or removed from office for malfeasance, a looming possibility.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mayor Robb's answer to my letter:
From: Jean M. Robb
Sent: Friday, April 10, 2015 7:12 AM
To: Bett
Subject: Re: Letter to the Mayor

 No cares what you think . I sure don't.

When I arrived at this morning's dedication ceremony where the little park in Deer Run was to be named for Ada Graham-Johnson, Jean sniped at me:

“Why don’t you get up at a commission meeting and say those things, calling me old.” 

Then on her way out afterwards she said to someone "Have her send her letter to you about what a lousy mayor I am". 

I said nothing as I felt that it was not appropriate at the time, then Patricia Saunders came up to me and said that Jean was out of line, that Ada’s memorial was not the place for that kind of talk.  I, of course, agreed with her, and had an interesting chat about how sad it is that the city is so divided. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Letter to Deerfield Beach Mayor, Jean Robb

Dear Madam Mayor,

Oops, you don’t like that term.  It was OK to call the Secretary of State of the United States of America Madam Secretary (there’s even a TV show called Madam Secretary and the show is not about an administrative assistant to the head of a brothel)  and to call the Prime Minister of England Madam Prime Minister, but you don’t want to be called Madam Mayor.  Do you only know of one kind of madam?  What kind of kinky mind would think that way? 

What kind of warped thought process would think it is the right thing to do to tell a serious lawyer who was trying to state his case at a commission, “Don’t call me madam”.  That poor guy didn’t know what to say in response.  I have heard you say that almost every time someone tried to use a respectful title and to address you as Madam Mayor.  And I have heard snickers at you from the commission meeting audience every time also.  Your mind may be in the gutter but, that doesn’t mean you have to subject commission meeting attendees to your X-rated thought processes, keep your thoughts to yourself. 

“Don’t call me Madam is bad enough, but, a while back, when the head of purchasing proposed a restructuring of his department along the lines of most businesses, and mentioned creating a procurement section, a common business designation, you giggled and said, more than once, something like, “You can’t call it that!”  How embarrassing to your fellow commissioners and that bright young department head.  Jokes have a time and a place, but not then and most assuredly, not there. No one laughed with you, only at you.

Your rudeness is ongoing, and has become a campy joke to those who attend city meetings. Your facial frowns when someone you do not favor addresses the commission, your pointing finger and rude, brusque, “You’re done, who’s next!” comments.

It was not a joke when you were dismissive and rude to a lovely woman, Margaret Blume.  She, through her foundation, has donated thousands and thousands of dollars to create a unique underwater sculpture garden to be sunk off shore in Deerfield Beach, presented her gift to the commission. 

The Easter Island like sculptures, called RAPA NUI, will draw divers from all over to our beach. Partway through Margaret Blume’s soft spoken description of the exciting project and while thanking the Deerfield Woman’s Club and Arilton Pavan of Dixie Divers for being the primary sponsors you, Madam Mayor, interrupted her and as much as shooed her away.  Ms. Blume, looking bewildered, carried on and finished her description and acknowledgements. 

Instead of effusive thanks to this generous woman for her outstanding gift, she got a curt “thank you” from you and then on to the next item on the agenda as if you were doing her a favor. 

This generous woman should have had a plaque presented to her, should have had a day named in her honor and should have received, with urging from all commissioners, a standing ovation.  She did NOT DESERVE the quick thank-you-and-now-get-out treatment she received.  Shame on you!

I wonder why you continue to serve as mayor.  You do not appear to be enjoying yourself; you seem to be in mental pain during most of the meetings.
Why are you staying?

This commission voted to go on record against your unethical conduct and abuse of power. 
Why are you staying? 

The Inspector General’s report said you committed malfeasance or misfeasance by your frequent violations of the city charter; and possibly, in some cases, violated criminal statutes.
Why are you staying?

You seem lost during many discussions and it is evident that you either haven’t read your agenda backup material, or have forgotten what you read.
Why are you staying? 

You are 83 years old, that is old by any definition, wouldn’t you be happier if you didn’t have to battle your way through commission meetings? 
Why are you staying? 

Why are you staying?

Why are you staying?


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fool's, Deerfield Beach

Jeff comes up with a wryly humorous post for April Fool’s day. Or, is it? 

  Redevelopment Outside the Box - 04/01/15

For decades, "redevelopment," as a matter of public policy — that is, actively pursuing growth through a combination of land-use rules to encourage redevelopment, investments, infrastructure improvements, tax policies, and public-private partnerships — has focused on the beach area, the district east of the Intracoastal Waterway that includes the public beach. A CRA was established in the beach area, not in the Cove or along the Dixie Corridor. This is the box.

Suppose, however, we were to think outside this box and decouple the words beach and redevelopment when it comes to our growth strategy. We think westward. The beach, after all, is only one part of town. Why focus on the beach when other parts of the city could be ripe for redevelopment that would help grow the city's tourist economy — with a little push from city government?

Actually, this is already happening in the limited way. The seminal Deerfield Beach Village Center urban-renewal study encompasses the area around City Hall and along the 2d Ave. corridor. The idea is to transform this area into a "downtown" entertainment district well off the beach area. This is a real plan, now in the works.

But imagine this: An almost unimaginable idea, known as the Backswamp Project. The central concept is to change the land-use scheme for many of the properties east of Federal Highway from single-family to zoning categories that would allow for larger construction than is now permitted in the residential neighborhoods that dominate this district. Also mentioned in the preliminary studies is a five-to-ten acre mixed-use, city-owned, revenue-generating parking facility, not in, but adjacent to, the Cove Shopping Center.

This plan is conjured up by a coalition of businesses and stakeholders looking at ways to "improve" Deerfield Beach. "Houses on secluded, tree-shaded lanes may seem nice," they argue, "but contribute little to the city's tax base. We need to think growth." All they have to do is persuade our elected officials that radical transformation of the Cove area is in the greater public interest than maintaining a quaint bedroom community.

I field this idea to an urban planning expert. "The plan has the potential," he says, "for redeveloping the properties along the waterways into larger condominium complexes, hotels, marinas, and restaurants that would fit nicely into the city's nautical theme."

The downside is that "such an undertaking would displace hundreds, if not thousands, of residents or ruin their lives. But, on the other hand, it would vastly increase the city's tax base, as the proponents argue, eliminate blight, push out undesirables, and, in balance, serve the common good, and bring badly needed jobs to the city." This would be "smart growth," he tells me.

The expert also says that the St. Ambrose church and adjacent properties would be an excellent site for an Indian casino, "the one thing Deerfield Beach does not have."

The city could also consider constructing new inter-connecting waterways that would accommodate larger boats. The expert says, "The whole east side of Deerfield could become an enormous tourist destination in 10 or 15 years."

Undoubtedly, Backswamp would arouse opposition from hometown terrorists who foolishly believe that quality of life should take primacy over growth and tourism.

Of course, the "Backswamp Project" is purely imaginary (April Fools!) as of now. (Or is it?) It hardly seems imaginable that anyone could come up with such a plan. But these are the very same arguments advocates for redevelopment of my neighborhood, the beach, use.

In the world of growth at any cost, driven by politics, nothing is truly unimaginable.