This was to be the first week of safe passage for Floridians. The Legislature was supposed to be out of its 60 day session. Budget considerations are still keeping them in Tallahassee.
This is Debbie Mayfield's first session and Ralph Poppell's next to last.
Commissioner O'Bryan reports that impact fees were only part of the reason Indian River County lost a 400 job military plant last week. Seems that power cost and the availability of land were even more important. Jacksonville Power was able to undercut FPL by thousands and land given to Duval County when the Federal Government closed a military base tipped the scales costing Indian River hundreds of jobs and millions in payroll.
Someone tell me why military contractors are nowhere on our economic priority list.
Officials are making the best of the Piper sale. New owners say they will stay in Vero Beach. (that's what they all say). A new influx of capital could be good since American Capital, Pipers previous owners, is on the ropes.
Opening Asian markets could be good for Piper but it seems to me that China, Japan etc. were pretty good at making aircraft without American plants. Is it just a matter of time before Piper packs up? Who knows.
In the early 1960's a Russian leader said "we will bury you". Most people thought he was talking about military conquest but the speech was really referring to economic collapse caused by our "decadent capitalistic lifestyle". Seems he wasn't far off. Wouldn't it be ironic if Piper Aircraft was to be manufactured in Vietnam?
Budget battles have already begun and first on the line is newly elected sheriff Daryl Loar. Commissioners are asking for major reductions from all departments but have made it clear that public safety and public works are top priority.
Loar inherited a large deficit when he took office. If Loar can come in with no increases he will have done well.
Commissioner Gary Wheeler will be out for some time recovering from surgery. We all wish him well and a speedy recovery. Physical therapy may continue long after he is able to resume his place at Commission meetings. There are provisions for casting votes by telephone under emergency circumstances.
This weeks Commission agenda includes approval for the next steps in Commissioner Davis' R.I.G.H.T. economic recovery plan. You will recall that RIGHT stands for Reform of Government, Impact Fee Reduction, Growth of existing Businesses, High priority targets for new business, and Tax abatement.
The Committee for Code adjustment is on the agenda for approval. Davis refers to it as the Committee for Common Sense. The first part which has been severely watered down by staff will be presented for approval. A more comprehensive additional version demanded by the Professional Services Council will come in a few weeks but at least the Board will be formed if approved on Tuesday.
Also on the agenda Tuesday is the proposal for a referendum on Tax Abatement proposed by Commissioner O'Bryan. Tax Abatement is likely to be supported by the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Realitors, and many others. We'll see how voters feel about tax breaks for business. Another problem. It is estimated that the referendum could cost as much as $250,000.
"Get your kicks on Route 66"
Ever since Commissioner Wheeler expressed a wish to revisit 66th Avenue expansion homeowners have been more agreeable to settling right of way with the County. A settlement offer has miraculously appeared on this weeks agenda. The offer grants former Commissioner Ruth Stanbridge $245,000 for less than an acre of land plus a rent free agreement for what could be many years. Another landowner and frequent speaker at Commission meetings, Charlene Brown, gets $440,000. The proposed settlement would prevent a long court battle but the price per acre is based on highly inflated outdated appraisals. Guess we need another Tea Party. Total cost of the parcels, $2,342,200.
FCAT scores that rate student ability in writing were released this week. Congratulations to Indian River District for exceeding state averages.
Highest rated elementary schools were Beachland and North County Charter Elementary. Two Charter Schools had 100% passing, North County Charter was one. And before Debbie MacKay charges racism the only other school to achieve 100% passage was St. Peters Academy whose student population is 70% black. Proving again that Charter Schools and parental choice are good for parents, good for students and good for schools.
Highest rated High School...you guessed it Indian River Charter High School.
OH, and by the way, if there was ever a case that proved the link between reading and writing skills and student achievement it is this report. The students at the Alternative School where students with disciplinary problems attend scored only 31% at grade level as opposed to 98% at Charter High School. Reading and writing, back to basics. When will we ever learn? Correct me if I am wrong but isn't it reading assistants and library media specialists that are being cut by the District instead of administrators?
Goodbye to Miss Vero. The popular blog Miss Vero's Beach House ceased publication this week. The mysterious woman about town entertained hundreds each week with her witty look at "All things Vero".
She has gone on to bigger and better things and wish her well.