Sunday, June 14, 2009

Baird "Event"

Indian River Report


Iran has “reelected” its leader. North Korea is threatening Nuclear War. We will now see if we can in fact negotiate with terrorists. “Change you can count on”? God help us all.


The federal government has now approved oil drilling off the coast of Florida. Drilling will be allowed 45 miles off the coast of the peninsula and within 10 miles of the Panhandle of Florida.


The Commission met on Tuesday to discuss the”Baird Event”. That’s what it is being called in public. Commission Chairman Wesley Davis walked a fine line in what could have been a free for all of name calling and accusations. Davis insisted on allowing public input and skillfully led the Commission and the public through what could have been a disaster. In the end Davis gave the public the access it deserves and maintained the dignity of the Commission.

Human resources director Jim Sexton and County Attorney Will Collins presented the information that showed Commissioners their options. In the end it was clear that Commissioners could fire Baird and pay more than $300,000 in severance pay or wait until after the court case was heard and consider another form of punishment including suspension.

Much discussion centered around precedence. A lifeguard had been suspended without pay before his court date in the past and critics of Baird had used this event as a reason to punish Baird now.

However, it was pointed out that public safety employees were regularly sanctioned before court cases were heard if the evidence was compelling. The question was “Should a police officer whose job included giving tickets for DUI be treated the same as a facilities maintenance employee for example?” The answer was no! Some employees because of their job duties were treated differently when charged with drunk driving. Police officers, fire fighters, school bus drivers and lifeguards were a different category in policy manuals.

Nationwide, 13,470 people were killed last year in crashes involving a driver or a motorcycle rider with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. Those who hold that drunk driving is a serious matter make a strong case. However, Joe Baird is not a police officer, he is not a fire fighter and he is not a lifeguard. He does not drive a County vehicle that would affect County insurance. The “Baird Event” belongs in the courts.

Now here’s what you don’t already know.
1. There were several more examples to be presented by Mr. Sexton, Indian River Personnel director. Sexton was stopped in his presentation and prevented from presenting additional historical examples.
2. Attorneys in political situations often give good legal advice that results in a legal victory and ends his clients’ career. Joe Baird could win the battle and lose the war.

Here is something that might help others. There is a company that makes personal breathalyzers. Starting at $59 you can carry your own and know if you should drive home or call a cab.


Bass leaves Piper. Jim Bass, CEO of Piper Aircraft was instrumental in keeping Piper in Vero Beach. There are 60,000 jobs in Indian River County. Piper is more than 600 or at least 1% of all jobs. Without Bass the unemployment rate would certainly have increased.

The future of Piper under the new ownership is uncertain but the new leadership has sound credentials. One thing we all wish is for a bright future for Piper here in Indian River County.


With little fanfare and very little notice the City of Vero Beach will hear public input this Tuesday on the controversial subject of the City’s Government Clinic. A final vote has been postponed until after June 22nd.

In fairness Vero Mayor Sabe Abell has spoken in favor of the concept pointing out that the city is losing $750 per day for every day the contract is delayed.
On the other hand Councilwoman Debra Fromang is concerned that the City may not be capable of running a “medical practice”.

Councilmember Sawnick asked for the public comment. The City dog and pony show during its last meeting featured several government employees and visitors from other counties who touted the cost savings to the taxpayer but allowed very little comment or questions.

In case you have not followed the proposal, city employees are asking for $500,000 (approx) to start a clinic that serves government workers and their wives, husbands and children. Free health care for workers, their families, and retired employees for life! Organizers expect from 25% participation meaning the clinic could serve as few as 125 employees and their families.

One interesting observation at the last meeting. Every person in the room who worked for government was for the proposal and every person in the room who did not work for government was against it.

There are many reasons why the Indian River Report thinks this proposal is a very bad idea. Listen for more on Rhett Palmer Live Monday at 8 am and replay at 3:00 on WAXE 1370 AM. Or attend the City Council meeting on Tuesday at 9:30 AM and voice your opinion.


Regular Sebastian City critic Damien Gillams has been charged with grand theft. Investigators charge that Gillams who often accuses Sebastian Council members with corruption took $51,000 in grant money but allegedly failed to pay for services required by the grant.

The long awaited trial begins this week. Wonder if he will wear his wig?


School board members followed Claudia Jimenez’s recommendation that the Board NOT assess a new .25 mills in taxes. This is the first time in recent history that the School Board has declined to increase taxes available to them. Passage would have required 4 of the five Board Members in favor. Instead, only maverick School Board member Debbie MacKay spoke for the tax increase.

MacKay has recently proposed tax increases, opposed Charter Schools, and charged racism by parents who support school choice. MacKay is up for reelection in 2010. Most political observers say MacKay, like Anne Reuter before her, has little chance of re election.


Congratulations (of sorts) are due Indian River High Schools. Newsweek magazine has rated Vero High School and Sebastian River High School in the top schools in the country. Ft. Pierce’s Lincoln Park and at least two Martin County High Schools were rated higher, however. Sebastian High School gets bragging rights since it was rated almost twice as high as Vero Beach 766 to 1347. The Charter High School was not included in the survey.


I know Scripps Treasure Coast is hurting for money and will take advertising from anybody but has anyone else noticed the online ad for the beautiful island of ARUBA?
Isn’t that the place where high school cheerleader Natalie Holloway went missing and local officials including a Dutch judge participated in a cover-up to protect his rotten kid?

Try reading “Aruba” by Holloway’s father. Sure, I can’t wait to send my daughter there.

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