With a little help from my friends there are some changes to the Indian River report. Headlines are available by email and more in depth information online at IndianRiverReport.com. This allows the Indian River Report to add photos and updates during the week. We welcome comments. For example here are some comments about last weeks report.
On the story about the camping trip including two School Board members who two days later voted in lockstep on several issues readers said:
"This is a clear violation of the Sunshine Laws"
"I found out out that 40 people were on that trip. Next time report all of the information"
On the story about Dodgerpines Golf Course, City manager Jim Gabbard told me that he was not pushing the Dodger Pines purchase. He had been asked to look into it and he did. He also said "the proposed purchase is dead." Good!
There were several comments on the story about budget cuts where I suggested that Supervisor of Elections Kay Clem could afford cuts since there were no elections. Several people said "you forgot about the city elections". I did not forget and explained that city elections are supervised and paid by the cities. However Kay Clem corrected me. She reminded me that this years budget was from October to September of 2010 which will include the primary election of 2010. Clem said "my budget is cut to the bone". Thank you for the correction.
200 PLUS JOBS LOST
The Economic Development Council was told that 200 plus manufacturing jobs were lost this week to Jacksonville. One EDC member reported that the hundreds of employees and the multi million dollar payroll was lost because of ....ready....impact fees.
The company has a contract to produce batteries for the military. Tell me again that impact fees don't cause unemployment!
Welcome back Baseball. The press conference was interesting, positive and upbeat. It was a good day for everyone with the possible exception of Russ Lemmon. There were more than a few people unhappy about the Lemmon Drops over the past few months and they told him so.
COMMITTEE OF COMMON SENSE
Planning and Zoning took up the Common Sense Committee. This is the Committee proposed by Commissioner Wesley Davis as part of his economic recovery plan. It passed unanimously despite a poor presentation by Charlie Wilson.
Commissioner Gary Wheeler will be out for knee surgery. If you want to send a note try 3302 63rd Square 32966 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Surgery scheduled for Wednesday. Good luck Gary.
TOURISM CONTINUES TO WASTE MONEY
The County Commission missed a chance to help move tourism forward. They decided to make a blanket reappointment without considering any alternatives. Some appointees have been on the TDC for more than a decade. This continues to use tourist tax money as a Chamber of Commerce welfare fund. Some reappointed members have direct conflicts of interest and the TDC has no representatives from Sebastian. The Commission led by Bob Solari missed a chance to help redirect efforts to increase tourism and help employ hundreds of restaurant workers.
Commissioners had a difficult time deciding but in the end voted not to carve out a small opportunity for a local company to provide waste services in the enterprise zone. Capital Sanitation appealed to the Commission but failed to convince them that they could do the job.
Consultant and developer Joe Paladin apparently sees the political tea leaves moving towards the Indian River Neighborhood Association. Paladin originally started out as an IRNA ally but broke with the group when Commissioner Joe Flescher refused to support Charter Government. Paladin has made recent appearances before the Commission and Planning and Zoning opposing efforts to lower impact fees and opposing the plan for a board of common sense. Paladin also engineered the appointment of environmentalist Dr. David Cox to the P&Z board with the support of Commissioner Wheeler and Commissioner O'Bryan both IRNA backed Commissioners.
Why? If Commissioner O'Bryan is reelected and Commissioner Flescher is replaced by an IRNA candidate such as Dale Simcheck the Commission returns to IRNA control. The IRNA continues to have a majority of the Vero Beach Council and the Sebastian Council, a huge influence on some key County staff members and at Planning and Zoning. The IRNA has reliable allies in Ken Ward and Larry Reisman to control the press, adequate funding and 2000 absentee ballots in its pocket. A hard to beat combination.
Furthermore the business community is failing to provide effective political activity and the Chamber of Commerce will not participate for fear of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the County Commission.
So unless there is an immediate change in the attitude expect the IRNA to move forward with its programs which include higher impact fees, increased gas taxes, more restrictions on business and residential development and resulting unemployment.
Follow up to last weeks report about the camping trip attended by Claudia Jimenez and Debbie MacKay. A reader forwarded to me an email from Ken Ward at the Press Journal. She has asked him if they were planning to do a story on the trip and the vote which followed. Questions include, Did they talk on the trip? Who else was there? Did it violate the Sunshine Laws? Were other School Board members invited?
Ken Wards response, "The bosses at the Press Journal are not interested in the camping trip. We consider it a case of "situational ethics".
What the Hell are "situational ethics?"
Recent efforts by Debbie MacKay to stir up racial unrest in order to stop Charter Schools is starting to cause concern for members of the NAACP.
Rumor has it that MacKay actually intends to run for reelection and thinks she is a shoe-in. I suggest she call Anne Reuter. Odds are that she will not only not be reelected she will be last in a multi-candidate race.
THUMBS UP/ THUMBS DOWN
Thumbs Up to April. Florida's most beautiful month and this has been a great one. Record cool weather including 50 degrees on the 22nd. Rain to date .4 inches.
Thumbs Up to Craig Callen. Welcome back to Vero Beach and welcome back to Dodgertown whatever it will be called.
Thumbs down to the landlord at Denny's. Employees say they will close next week because rent was doubled. Where are all of the drunks going to go for breakfast at 2 am?
Thumbs up to the Lacrosse team. Proof is in the pudding.
Thumbs down to Roger Dearing. After all of these years he still has the ability to make life miserable for Indian River County.