Sunday, June 7, 2009

Government, The worlds Second Oldest Profession

Indian river report


Inside politics includes the August 4th special election for the Florida Senate. Qualifying ended this week and its Democrat Bill Ramos against Republican Joe Negron. A primary and its $100,000 price tag was averted. Television ads have already started. Negron is the favorite.


The overwhelming success of the Indian River Tea Party was the subject at this months Men’s Republican Club. It included a discussion by Tea Party organizer Toby Hill of the Hill Group. Hill described the volunteer organization that put on the event that drew thousands of residents to protest government spending.

Hill reported that there had been some talk of a third party with limited government as its base. However, that idea was not pursued. Instead, the Tea Party committee is considering endorsing candidates that pledge to hold the line on government spending and limiting debt.

Considering the success of the event and the passionate response from those in attendance an endorsement could be a valuable asset especially since the Press Journal endorsements have become nothing more than a personal vendetta by the Press Journal’s Ken Ward and Larry Reisman.


City elections are the first Tuesday in November. Several candidates have announced for the seats up for grabs in Sebastian and Vero Beach. Qualifying begins in just a few weeks. With issues like red light cameras and clinics for government workers under consideration candidates beware. 32963, The Taxpayers Association, The Indian River Report and others strongly oppose the clinic idea. The Tea Party committee will be asked to weigh in. The Clinic is a very bad idea. See the discussion under the CITY heading.


The County voted to take a deeper look into the idea of a government clinic to see to the healthcare of local government employees. In a 5 to 0 vote Commissioners elected not to join the City of Vero’s plan at this time. But that does not mean Commissioners do not support the clinic idea. In fact my count shows the clinic passing unless Commissioners hear from the public.

The health department is directly across the courtyard from the County offices. If that’s not good enough for employees why is it good enough for the public?

When it was learned that the County’s paid consultant was a partner in the clinic venture it prompted Commissioner Gary Wheeler to say, “it doesn’t pass the smell test”. An understatement!


Under pressure from the media and constituents there will be a discussion of the Baird arrest on this Tuesday’s agenda. Commissioner Bob Solari who originally blocked any discussion has asked for a clarification from County Attorney Will Collins. Collins will offer Commissioners information on their options. Solari who is also a lawyer likely knows the answer already but wants to put it on the record.

Rumor has it that Baird’s arresting officer is heard on tape saying “We’ve got Baird”. Targeted? Maybe the court case will shed some light.


Is the economy improving? Some signs point to maybe. Here is some of the good news.
1. The free fall of housing prices has now begun to slow and some housing sales are happening.
2. Unemployment held steady even falling a fraction.
3. Taxable property reduction was less than expected 9.7% instead of the 12.3% expected although Sebastian will take a hit at 16%.
4. With thousands of auto dealers closing across the nation Indian River only lost one. Dependable Dodge. The nearest G.M dealerships to confirm closing are two Coogin dealerships in Kissimmee.

While “Government Motors” continues to operate and other announcements may be made, for the time being Indian River GM dealers all will continue to sell and service GM vehicles and employ hundreds.


On a three to two vote Commissioners approved a measure which gives local business preference in government contracts. Commissioner Gary Wheeler and Bob Solari voted no. The measure was brought forward by Commissioner Joe Flescher and allowed local contractors to get the business if they were within 5% of the winning bid and agreed to match the out of town contractor.


Last week most of the action was in the City of Vero Beach. The Indian River Report questioned the wisdom of red light cameras. Opposition brought a quick response from Vero Beach Police Chief Don Dappen. In the interest of fairness here were his comments:

Mr. Wilson,
I was given a copy of your paper regarding red light cameras. I don’t know where you received your information, but except for getting the day of the council meeting correct, just about everything else is wrong. I don’t know what you are trying to accomplish with this misinformation, but if you are truly ignorant of the facts, you can contact me and I will be glad to explain the facts to you.

Don Dappen
Vero Beach Police Department

As it turns out the Indian River Report was correct when it pointed out that speeding tickets and other infractions could get tickets not just red light runners. The Council wisely removed speeding tickets from the contract vastly reducing the number of tickets, fines, collections and harassment that could be assessed against the citizens of Vero Beach.

It was clear to most including Councilwoman Debra Fromang that the primary reason for the cameras was increasing revenue for the Vero Beach Police Department. Chief Dappen staunchly defended the move as a safety measure. Dappen provided a record of intersection accidents which indicated a majority were rear end mishaps.

The truth is in the results. If rear end accidents increase and red light accidents decrease we will know the truth. The Indian River Report takes Chief Dappen at his word when he says he is primarily concerned about public safety. However, with a contract that lasts five years it will be a shame if the results are that revenues go up and so do accidents and injuries. That may or may not be the reason but I bet anyone a wooden nickel that that will be the result.


On Monday the City of Vero Beach held a dog and pony show about all the reasons government employees should receive better healthcare than regular citizens. It was interesting to note that public comment was limited and that everyone in the room that worked for the government thought it was a good idea and everyone in the room that did not work for the government thought it was a bad idea.

In the end the decision was postponed until sometime after June 22nd. There is plenty more research to do including the amount that would be paid to the consultants should their advise be taken. Savings? Maybe. Bad idea, absolutely. The City of Vero Beach qualified to establish a medical practice? Priceless.


City electric rates going even higher! Should the city be in the electric business? (see clinic). An 18% increase over already higher prices than FPL. OK, so it wasn’t this council or this City manager that put us in this situation but gee whiz….


Dedication of the controversial Humiston park improvements is scheduled for June 13th. The Indian River Neighborhood Association members opposed the plan and were very vocal about it. IRNA leaders, however, say the Association did not have a position. Either way it will be interesting to see if the park improvements are worth the land loss.


Chief of police Jim Davis retires this week. The assistant chief moves up but the assistant Chief position will remain vacant due to budget woes. Sebastian has been hit harder that other areas of the county. A 16% reduction in revenues is feared. Good Luck to Mr. Davis.


School is out but the School Board still meets. This weeks hot topic is another tax increase being considered by the Indian River School Board. The discussion item was placed on the agenda at the request of Ms. Jimenez. At issue is a .25 mill increase in your property taxes.

There is no decision yet but if history is a guide it’s more tax. The Indian River School Board has assessed every single penny of tax it is allowed to assess plus millions in pledged revenue called COPS.

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