It is still not known why Senator Ken Pruitt decided to retire early but the special election to be held on August 4th will include Republican Joe Negron from Stuart and Democrat Bill Ramos from Jensen Beach. If no one else enters the race no primary will be held.
This Senate seat includes parts of several counties including all of the Indian River barrier island. The special election will cost Indian River taxpayers in excess of $47,000 with total costs exceeding $200,000.
Much to the dismay of the Indian River Neighborhood Association and others, Senate Bill 360 removing a number of current growth management provisions has passed both houses of the legislature and is on the Governors desk for signature. The Governor can still veto the measure and IRNA organizers are asking supporters to call and email the Governor to urge him to veto the bill. If you need information visit the IRNA website: http://indianriverna.com
Is Daryl Loars honeymoon period ending? Three deputies received pink slips or suspensions last week and sources inside the Sheriffs say that rank and file deputies are unhappy with the new undersheriff.
Sheriffs spokesperson Jeff Luther defends the decision to fire two officers and suspend another. There’s more say deputies. It involves an incident in Fellsmere.
Still Loar is riding high after last years election. He spent last weekend on patrol during the Memorial Day weekend. Internal problems if they exist have not yet put a crack in Loars public popularity and most political observers say Loar could be Sheriff for 20 years or more.
Paying the Piper
It’s time to pay the piper for all those years of spending. Property Appraiser David Nolte reports that tax revenues will drop by 15%. Home values are down almost 50%. Businesses and commercial properties will carry the weight. Government has two choices: Spend Less or Raise Taxes.
Indian River is better than most. By next year The City of Ft. Pierce Redevelopment agency for example has debt payments alone that are larger than its income. It has three people including a $100,000 per year director and it will only be able to write interest checks, pay the employees who have nothing to do and be broke.
Residents should keep special watch. This is the time government will do anything to get money. Proposals for Red Light Cameras, Government Clinics, fee increases and more will be used to generate more revenues at the expense of residents.
The Tourist Development Council was told that receipts from visitors were down more than 20%. That did not stop them from awarding the Chamber of Commerce almost $400,000. There are fewer tourists visiting Indian River today than in 2000. With more than three million dollars going to the Chamber in recent years you would think that the TDC would at least consider alternatives but alas no way.
Realizing that the Chamber has packed the TDC with its members and no change is likely, a group of hotels and restaurants are forming a new group to be called the Indian River Restaurant and Lodging Association and do its own promotions and advertising. Their website “VisitIndianRiver.com” is currently under construction.
The Association will compete with the Chamber for Members who are interested in actually promoting Indian River with events and special “get-a-way” weekend packages. More as details become more available. One hint. With the same amount of money the Chamber spends Indian River could have 30 to 40 billboards on Florida’s highways and in major cities inviting millions to “Get Out Of Town for the Weekend” Visit Vero Beach.
Most of the action this week is at the City of Vero Beach. On Monday they will consider the ill advised Government Clinic. This scheme is being sold as a cost cutting measure. What savings will be realized is yet to be seen and has very little evidence of substantial savings. What it does do, however, is to make a two tiered medical system, one for government workers and one for everyone else.
Under the proposal the City would establish a clinic that only government employees would be able to use. Start up cost, over $500,000. To protest this proposal go to the special call meeting Monday at 9:30 am at City Hall.
Then on Tuesday, Vero Council will vote to approve red light cameras. Tickets will be issued for entering an intersection too late. What they are not telling you is that speeding tickets will also be issued so if you slow down to cross the intersection you get a ticket, if you rush to make sure you get through, you get a ticket. The pay schedule anticipates as many as 80 tickets per day per camera.
Make no mistake about it this is a means for getting more money and has nothing to do with public safety. Once established the agreement calls for more than 5 years of operations. How many tickets is that? You do the math. Another very, very bad idea.
To protest visit the Council meeting on Tuesday.
Also in Vero Beach, a hat trick. A motion to increase water rates.
Turning to Sebastian the economy caught up with the City of six old grouches (in case you don’t know it’s on the welcome sign as you enter Sebastian). Three employees got the ax. One in engineering two in finance.
A proposal for a high scale large apartment complex in Fellsmere? Could be. We will see Thursday.
Signs of the economy. Spam, not the email kind the what is this meat kind, is making a comeback. According to reports while most businesses are having trouble making ends meet spam is booming.
What is the importance of this date? Well if we escape the end of the world which according to the Mayan calendar is in 2012 this is the year growth in Vero Beach will equal the number of housing units already approved. That’s right, according to a presentation made to the Economic Development Council we have enough houses either built or approved to accommodate expected growth through 2050. Wow. Not a good place to be a developer is it?
By the way, I believe in the end of the world in December of 2012. My mortgage last payment is October of 2012. Just my luck!
Sign of the times? I recently took a trip to Jacksonville on Amtrack. It was an experience. The train was full and it was very clear that a rail connection to Miami, Orlando, and Jacksonville would indeed be a boom to the Treasure Coast. One disturbing thing, however. There were several Tent Cities in operation along the tracks. At least a hundred people have taken up residence in the woods along the tracks. If you don’t think we could be on the brink of a depression just ask these folks.
Riverside Bank is being targeted as a bank in trouble. Longtime bank president Vernon Smith unexpectedly “retired” just before the sister Bank on Florida’s west coast was taken over by the feds.
Comments on TCPalm have ranged from “there is no problem” to Vernon Smith gets what he deserves. Riverside may have to change its bumper stickers from Riverside loves you to Riverside Loves You Longtime”.
Anyway financial advisers on TCPalm (sarcasm intended) say it’s alright to love Riverside but be sure to use protection. A number of friends of Vernon Smith wish they had.
Home prices may have reached a stable bottom. Home buyers have been increasing and the rate of home price declines is slowing. Bankers and realtor's report improved business for those who qualify. Problem is, who can qualify?
For the most part it has been a good week for schools. The 1st class graduates from the new Imagine School. Almost all fifth graders are returning for the sixth grade no thanks to Debbie MacKay and Claudia Jimenez who voted to force students back into traditional public schools.
FCAT scores exceeded state averages. 86% passed the important third grade test.
Dr. Harry LaCava had his contract extended after receiving good grades from Board members.
But what was a good week for schools was the worst week ever for former school board candidate Gerry Lamothe. Lamothe, father of 11 and a former Catholic Priest, was arrested for Child pornography.
Are Lamothe, Baird, Sheriffs Deputies getting trial by press? It is one of the subjects to be discussed on the Rhett Palmer Show Monday morning.
This is an editorial comment.
Last week a 45 year old husband and father committed suicide rather than face “LIFE IN PRISON” for failure to have workman’s compensation and not having the certificates he promised for MOLD REMEDIATION.
What is more outrageous than even considering LIFE for MOLD are the comments made by anonymous posts on TCPalm.
The pride we deserve for coming together as a community after the twin hurricanes of 2004 is negated by the mean spirited, “Town Without Pity” attitude and cruelty displayed by posters. I did not know this man but I know he had children and a wife. For those of you who expressed glee at this man’s despair shame on you. You are the same who make fun of people of faith and are pleased at the difficulties facing our democracy.
Further, the erosion of our rights by knee jerk prosecution and government who’s only goal is to squeeze every penny from its subjects is driving us to ruin.
It is now time to take stock. Red Light tickets, a juvenile justice system that sets kids up for failure for profit (C.O.R.E.), and law enforcement agencies who feed on the public to keep its budget are not right for this community.
Certainly we need to be safe and we pride ourselves at being a safer place than our neighbors. But we do not need to become a mean spirited, lynch mob. Stop It.