Some weeks are uneventful then you have weeks where all hell breaks loose. This week is the second kind. A number of controversial issues will be considered this week. Here is what to expect on all levels.
Breaking news is the arrest of County Administrator Joe Baird on charges of DUI. Baird was on his way home from an event when stopped by the Vero Beach Police Department. This is obviously a significant event that will have long and short range implications. More later.
State Representative Ralph Poppell spoke this week to the North County Republican Club. He has but one more regular session to attend before his retirement due to term limits. He told those in attendance that the gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida was better than the one negotiated by Governor Crist but still not good for Florida. He defended his decision to cut the Florida Forever fund and explained some of Florida's budget woes.
The race for Governor was all but a sure thing for Republicans but no longer. Crist announced for Senate leaving Alex Sink with the first shot for a Democrat Governorship in over a decade. Trivia Question: Who was the last Democrat Governor of Florida? If you said Lawton Chiles you are wrong. It was Buddy MacKay who served one month in 1999 after the death of Lawton Chiles.
All other Cabinet Posts will be vacant. Ag Commissioner, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, Governor and Lt. Governor will all be out. These vacancies cause other vacancies such as Adam Putnam's House Seat in Polk County. How about Lt. Governor Ken Pruitt? The Lt. Governor's salary is $127,399, a threefold raise for Pruitt.
Lots of anti-Crist rumblings within the Republican Party Conservatives. Like McCain the liberal press loves Crist. We'll see if Republican primary voters feel the same way.
This Tuesdays agenda is filled with controversial subjects. County Commissioner Gary Wheeler is expected to return and a full Board will be in attendance.
Gas Tax- Commissioners will be asked to give staff direction to prepare an ordinance to allow a six cent increase in the gas tax. Means more than three million dollars in extra money for County and Cities and more cost for you. I vote no!
Board of Adjustments- allows a special board to make exceptions for minor issues to allow faster permits and approvals. Staff is working behind the scenes to kill this issue and a stronger one that is being considered by the Professional Services Committee. They may have been able to convince at least one Commissioner to have second thoughts. I VOTE YES!
Local Purchasing- as I said several weeks ago I have a place on the agenda to discuss the possibility of giving local businesses an edge for County contracts. I have been informed that one Commissioner is working on a plan so I will likely pull the issue from the agenda to give him a chance to finish his proposal. When it comes up VOTE YES.
Minor League Baseball Contract- I VOTE YES.
Government Clinic- Another staff driven proposal. It is being sold as a cost saving measure but it is full of problems. Even without all of the problems this is a very bad idea. Special health care for government workers and if you don't work for the government tough luck. I predict that this will be a hot election issue showing just how out of touch government is to the suffering of taxpayers. Any Commissioner who votes yes better hope the public has a short memory. VOTE NO! NO! NO! NO!
CITY OF VERO
The City of Vero Beach meets on the same day at the same time on many of the same issues. Interested citizens cannot be at both places at the same time.
The Council will consider the following issues on Tuesday at 9:30am:A proposal to raise utility rates, approval of the Minor League Baseball Agreement, a report on the future of electric rates.
Also still on the table in the City is the proposed Government Clinic. Mayor Sabe Abell supports the clinic idea and wants the county to support it also. I plan to ask the mayor to call in his thoughts Monday morning during the Rhett Palmer show.
So go to the City Meeting at 9:30 or the County meeting at 9:00. Either way, Tuesday is going to cost taxpayers a bundle of money.
Even before next weeks unemployment figures the news is grim. Two local auto dealers who have weathered economic storms for 50 years can't survive this one. Dependable Dodge and the Jeep brand at Vero Beach Lincoln Mercury are to be cut. Dependable can still sign another brand, become a used car lot, or become another vacant property on US1.
Word on which GM dealerships are on the block has not been released. Individual Dealers are being urged to handle the news individually. The list is due out June 1st, the day GM plans to file bankruptcy if needed.
Nationwide GM will close one in 5 dealerships and unemploy 100,000. The Saturn brand and Pontiac are already toast. Let's hope not but the odds are that at least one Indian River or St. Lucie dealership will get the ax.
Another arm of the local economy will be on the agenda this week. The Tourist Development Council meets to give more money to the Chamber of Commerce to promote Indian River County. The Chamber met with community leaders Friday to hear from former head of "Visit Florida". Bud Nocera was recently dismissed from his job as the head of the state marketing agency in a "restructuring". The Chamber spends many thousands of dollars annually with the organization for magazine ads and mailings. Nocera reportedly told guests that Indian River was poised to gain from Floridians move for instate vacations.
Readers will remember we have been trying to get the Chamber to promote instate. For four years we have been calling for the Chamber to take bids on advertising plans but to no avail. 4 years and over 1.5 million dollars later there has been no change. What are the odds of doing anything different. 0.00000000000000001.
Just a few days left in this school year. One reader asked why I never gave thumbs up to Board Chairman Carol Johnson. They have a point so here goes. Carol Johnson deserves credit for two things recently accomplished. Johnson changed the policy and now allows public input on action agenda items. District staff had opposed public access saying it would be disruptive. According to Ms. Johnson only one member of the public has used this extra time. Number of disruptions zero. Thank you Carol Johnson.
The second thumbs up Ms. Johnson shares with two others. If not for Karen Brombach the issue of a sixth grade for Imagine School would never have gotten on the agenda. Staff had pledged to block a public vote. And without key votes from Brombach, Johnson and Matt McCain it would not have passed.
So there, give credit where credit is due.