Will Illegal aliens be covered under the national health insurance program proposed by President Obama? Answer. As currently proposed, no. In practice when over 30 million illegal residents are made nationals, yes, more than likely. Decide for yourself.
Sheriff vs. Deputies round one went to the Sheriff. Lots of backdoor politics on this one. Bob Solari said "after two years on the Vero Beach City Council and one year on the County Commission this is my least favorite vote". He was right.
A second vote will come tomorrow, Monday, on a bonus for employees. The union is asking for double the bonus awarded last year by former Sheriff Roy Raymond. Raymond who was retiring awarded $1,000 per full time employee and $500 for part time. The Police union is demanding double that amount or as much as $1,200,000 for all employees including non union personnel.
The entire fiasco pointed out the poor situation of running the Sheriffs office by committee. The County Commission cannot know how many people will be in the jail, or budget for a hurricane mobilization. That is why the Sheriff has to maintain flexibility. On the other hand Sheriffs deputies have not had a raise in several years and unlike the fire department does not have regular raises for time served.
Watch for the Commission to try to even the call on Monday.
The true art of "politics" was on display last week when Commissioners considered a contract for providing sand for beach renourishment. Whatever you have to say about Commissioner Gary Wheeler he is a genius at manipulating county policy, money, and personnel.
Wheeler used a parliamentary trick to accomplish a result that fellow Commissioners didn't see coming. Before anyone knew what was happening Wheeler skillfully hijacked the proceedings by making a motion that contained more than one decision. Instead of having one motion to approve local sources which everyone agreed with and then a motion to accept the lowest bid, Wheeler made the motion to accept local sources and give the bid to a West Virginia firm with a branch office in St. Lucie County.
Not realizing that he was being manipulated Commissioner Joe Flescher jumped on board along with Commissioners Wheeler and O'Bryan.
In short Wheeler was able to:
1. Screw Commissioner Wesley Davis who was unable to say a word due to conflict of interest.
2. Please the crowd of unemployed gathered to ask for jobs and make them think that he was on their side.
3. Satisfy his Indian River Neighborhood Association friends by moving trucks to another bridge so they would not all be going over the Wabasso Bridge.
4. Send the money and jobs out of Indian River County to St. Lucie, Palm Beach.
5. Spend taxpayer money by taking a higher bid instead of the lower bid.
As long as Commissioner O'Bryan is content to be the Junior Commissioner representing the Indian River Neighborhood Association and willing to second any measure proposed by Commissioner Wheeler, Wheeler will be in charge.
Make no mistake about it. Despite being in the minority on many issues and falling short of his goal to dominate politics in Indian River County using the IRNA as his army and Charter Government as his constitution, Gary Wheeler remains the most effective, influential political force in Indian River County.
One good note. By requesting an opportunity to bid, local sand miners saved the County taxpayers 12 million dollars. The original bid was 19 million and reduced to 7 million when the commission accepted competitive bids.
Maybe they should try competition in other areas. They can start with the hundreds of thousand of dollars they give the Chamber of Commerce for tourism. Oh, I forgot, they had a chance to do that but elected to forgo bids.
NEW PROPOSAL FOR BUSINESS
A new proposal to allow what is called a "functional equivalent" will be presented to the Commission shortly. Functional equivalent means simply if someone can offer a design that is clearly better than called for in the code they should be able to do it. It is part of what Commissioner Wesley Davis calls "Common Sense".
The proposal was part of a package designed to help Indian River shed its anti business reputation and received widespread support from the Commission and the Professional Services Committee.
FLESCHER FOR SHERIFF
Firmly in the rumor column is the gossip that has Joe Flescher doing what Gary Wheeler did and go from the County Commission to being Sheriff. He won alot of support last week from deputies and their families. We'll see.
Sebastian will be a year ahead of the County in efforts to stem the economic meltdown here in Indian River County through tax abatement for new business. They have authorized a voter referendum for November.
This weeks economic news is headlined by foreclosure announcements. Among them are the Vero Outlet Mall with hundreds of employees ( reportedly will stay open during foreclosure ) and Hanley Hall Rehabilitation Center with 20. Also reportedly closing the walk in clinic operated by the late John Song located on St. Rd. 60 with at least 5 employees, and undisclosed locations on the beach reportedly closing due to the rising cost of Vero Utilities.
Indian River County is currently shedding one point or approximately 600 jobs per month. Indian River now has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in Florida behind Hendry and Flagler Counties. The next report for unemployment is expected next week.
CITY OF VERO BEACH
Powerful arguments continue to point towards a meltdown of confidence in the City of Vero's ability to manage local utilities. Citizens continue to proceed with efforts to force a referendum and a customer revolt by both residential and business customers is at hand.
Unlike private business, utility customers cannot "vote with their feet". However, if local restaurants and civic activists get their way, residents will vote at the polls.
Boy do people love it when I have to print a correction but fair is fair. I guess this is really a half correction. My source told me that the decision to dredge the Vero Isles canal cost 1 million dollars. New sources contend that it is $140,000. So giving them the benefit of the doubt I will say that I stand corrected on the amount but not the fact that the City is willing to spend $140,000 to dredge canals for a few boaters but suggested closing the fountain or charging kids a dollar to play in the water. I am not against dredging clogged canals but this is not the time for either.
Fellsmere knows how to run an election. My favorite mayor, Susan Adams and her fellow Councilperson Sara Savage were reelected without opposition. A far cry from the record number of candidates seeking to replace incumbents in Sebastian and Vero Beach.
Red Light Cameras
The legality of Red Light Cameras are now in courts throughout Florida. In a recent editorial by the Vero Beach Press Journal, editors pointed out that any income from camera tickets will be more than offset by legal fees defending the City in Court.
Alright, everyone has heard about the No Bama speech at local schools and everyone has an opinion. But for those of you who think fair is fair read this report:
When Bush spoke to students, Democrats investigated, held hearings
The controversy over President Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren will likely be over shortly after Obama speaks today at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. But when President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar speech on October 1, 1991, from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington DC, the controversy was just beginning. Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush's speech -- they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue.
Unlike the Obama speech, in 1991 most of the controversy came after, not before, the president's school appearance. The day after Bush spoke, the Washington Post published a front-page story suggesting the speech was carefully staged for the president's political benefit. "The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props," the Post reported.
With the Post article in hand, Democrats pounced. "The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students," said Richard Gephardt, then the House Majority Leader. "And the president should be doing more about education than saying, 'Lights, camera, action.'"
Democrats did not stop with words. Rep. William Ford, then chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate the cost and legality of Bush's appearance. On October 17, 1991, Ford summoned then-Education Secretary Lamar Alexander and other top Bush administration officials to testify at a hearing devoted to the speech. "The hearing this morning is to really examine the expenditure of $26,750 of the Department of Education funds to produce and televise an appearance by President Bush at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, DC," Ford began. "As the chairman of the committee charged with the authorization and implementation of education programs, I am very much interested in the justification, rationale for giving the White House scarce education funds to produce a media event."
The National Education Association denounced the speech, saying it "cannot endorse a president who spends $26,000 of taxpayers' money on a staged media event at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C. -- while cutting school lunch funds for our neediest youngsters."
Lost in all the denouncing and investigating was the fact that Bush's speech itself, like Obama's today, was entirely unremarkable. "Block out the kids who think it's not cool to be smart," the president told students. "If someone goofs off today, are they cool? Are they still cool years from now, when they're stuck in a dead end job. Don't let peer pressure stand between you and your dreams.