23 Dec 2010
Reader requests more info on BSO substation
I, as a concerned taxpayer, have several questions concerning the BSO substation just north of SW 10 Street on Powerline Road.
1. What is their purpose?
2. What are their hours of operation?
3. Are they required to wear a uniform or civilian clothing?
4. What are their salaries and how many officers are stationed there?
The reason is, on Monday, Oct. 25 at approximately 3 p.m., I traveled to the substation to inquire about a traffic ticket. After knocking several times, I had no luck. There have been many occasions that my neighbors have complained about the same experience. They are never in uniform and it’s hard to determine if they are citizens or officers. No matter what time of day, it’s hard to receive the services necessary. Since the city is in a budget deficit, I feel they need to take a look at the substation. [To me] it is a waste of time and a waste of taxpayer’s money.
A concerned taxpayer
Editor’s Note: According to BSO Executive Officer Lt. Kevin Granville, the substation is mostly open 9 to 5 but there are times when the entire Community Policing Unit may be out doing an event. Community groups such as the Teen Center and homeowners groups sometimes hold meetings there as well. A total of 11, including the sergeant and deputies, operate out of the substation. Many are detectives, so there may be times when they are in uniform and times when they are not. If the reader went to the substation and did not receive an answer, they would be advised to go to the main BSO station behind City Hall. This is the best location to go and inquire about a ticket.
Opportunities to speak on CRA “hot-button” issues
There will soon be more opportunities for the public to speak to the Deerfield Beach CRA Board about “hot-button” issues. Marge Hilton’s Letter to the Editor (Dec. 16, “To Deerfield CRA Board”) suggested that the CRA needs to decide what to “fix in the beach area.” This CRA response to her letter emphasizes that everyone is encouraged to provide their suggestions. To help accomplish this, the CRA Board has decided to have 2 additional public hearings and to hold the hearings within the redevelopment area (locations to be announced – watch for announcements in the Observer or at www.Deerfield-Beach.com).
Hearings have been tentatively set for the evenings of Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 and Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011. Agreed upon projects may be listed in the CRA staff’s proposed 5-year capital improvement plan, which will be presented for the Board’s consideration next Spring.
Keven Klopp, CRA Director
16 Dec 2010
To Deerfield CRA Board Commissioners
For the past 12 years, I have attended commission meetings, Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) meetings and Public Input meetings regarding city issues on a very regular basis. During that time, I have witnessed sincere, open discussions. I have also witnessed what appeared to be meetings with a pre-arranged propaganda view and certain people having prior knowledge of the purpose of the meeting, but the general public not being given such prior knowledge.
The City Commission, City Manager and CRA Director have a duty to be open and forthright in public meetings with their constituents regarding all city issues. The protocol at the Nov. 8 CRA meeting was not what I consider a fair meeting for the public. The official agenda for that meeting called for a Public Workshop regarding the CRA 5-Year Capital Plan. However, this was not the focal point of the discussion at the CRA meeting. Rather, the meeting focused on two specific areas within the CRA: the Main Beach Parking Lot and Sullivan Park. If the meeting was going to focus on these two areas, the agenda for the CRA meeting should have specified so. The public could have known what the meeting was really going to be about so ALL of the people in attendance could have been prepared to speak about these hot-button issues.
In 1998 and 2002, referenda were passed by 75 percent of the voters to protect the Main Beach Parking Lot from overdevelopment. They voted against a water feature, an amphitheater and a garage. What they wanted was a parking lot with open space, where they could park their cars and walk across the street to the beach. The CRA money should be spent wisely at the beach. Fix infrastructure, update landscaping and lighting at the Main Beach Parking Lot and repave it. Also help with business façade improvements and go forward with the approved Pier improvements. But do not destroy what the public voted to keep a few years ago.
The public will be impressed with the CRA in what they can fix in the beach area – not what they can destroy.
On Dec. 7 at 4 p.m., while parked at a lot near 380 S. Federal Hwy. in Deerfield, my van was vandalized. The catalytic converter was sawed off and stolen. This was a very costly and stressful problem.
I want to make the public aware of this major issue. I notified the Sheriff’s office and the person I spoke with said he was unaware of an existing problem. There needs to be more public awareness about this.
Not only should the vandals be punished, but also the parties that are buying the converters from them. If the criminals do not have anywhere to sell the items, it might help to stop the problem from escalating.
9 Dec 2010
RE: What do you think? Sullivan Park, Main Beach Parking Lot
The Deerfield Green Market is a great idea and one that’s long overdue in our town.
Let’s make the Deerfield Green Market really GREEN! Sullivan Park is a great venue and very appropriate. Let’s keep it a passive park. More GREEN!
The people of Deerfield Beach have already spoken and fought the proposal to build a parking garage at the beach. We need to preserve the beauty of our beach.
Let’s spend our efforts, our attention and our limited resources on projects that have long been discussed, planned and started, but not completed, e.g., Hillsboro Boulevard (it’s a mess and a safety hazard!) and The Cove Shopping Center to name just a few.
Tom and Laura Elling
RE: Pension payouts
As a proud member of Deerfield Beach Fire-Rescue department for over 28 years and a Fire Pension Board Member, I must address some of the “facts” portrayed by former Madame Mayor Jean Robb in her Nov. 11 letter called “Pension Payouts.” Comparing the Fire Pension Plan (FPP) with the Non-Uniform Pension Plan (NUPP), former mayor Robb makes the assertion that (FPP) plan members accrue a pension multiplier of 3.25 percent for all years served. The fact is that both the (FPP) and (NUPP) earn 3 percent for the first 10 years of service. The (FPP) begins to accrue at 3.25 percent after 10 years of service. Both plans max out at 90 percent. Robb fails to mention that the multiplier was changed for the (NUPP) in the late eighties — from 2 percent per year to 3 percent — a full 1 percent increase. This change caused a “huge” retirement of General Employees who never contributed the additional 2 percent to bring them up to the (FPP) 9 percent of salary contribution per year. If memory serves me correct, this had a cost to the City budget of over $1 million to fund this change. This change happened under former mayor Robb’s term in office.
Robb makes the accusation that overtime pay is only allowed for (FPP) members’ benefit and not (NUPP) members. Again, this is not the case, as both plans allow this.
She points out that the (FPP) has both the “Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) and 20-and-out,” and that (NUPP) members do not. What she fails to mention is that both of these issues were properly negotiated under contract negotiations that the City participated in and agreed to — the General Employees have every right to bargain for these items under contract negotiations if they choose to. The fact that members can retire earlier saves pension liability for the City and helps increase funding status for the plan — which is over 90 percent funded, one of the best in the State of Florida. To date, fewer than 6 have utilized 20-and-out.
The former mayor tries to enrage the citizen “taxpayers” with the absurd accusation that the recent DROP members, myself included, have gotten a 24 percent increase in salary. We have always earned our incentive pay; the so-called increase in salary is based on the 9 percent member contribution which ceases upon entering the DROP. The fact is also left out that the City no longer has to contribute the required “City “portion from the budget per member.
Citizens should be concerned about the future loss of younger members, who will be leaving our department and all the experience and training they have acquired with Deerfield Beach taxpayer dollars, to the benefit of other cities, based on the recent cut in benefits structure. This is truly a waste of taxpayer funds that could be prevented!
I am very thankful to the Citizens of Deerfield Beach for allowing me the opportunity to serve you and our great City. As Jack Webb used to say on the TV program Dragnet, “Just the facts Ma’am” or in this case, “Just the facts Madame Former Mayor.”
Deerfield Beach Fire-Rescue
25 Nov 2010
One can argue from a Republican political point of view, the mid-term election was an incredible success. House Republicans picked up at least 63 seats and defeated many senior Democratic chairmen, such as, Jim Oberstar )D-MN) (Transportation Committee) in Congress for 18 terms; Ike Skelton (D-MO) (Arms Services Committee), there for 17 terms; and John Spratt (D-SC) (Budget Committee) who had 14 terms. Unfortunately, they also defeated many Blue Dog Democrats, such as, Gene Taylor (D-MS) in office for 10 terms and Allen Boyd (D-FL) who had 7 terms.
The Republicans, as of Nov. 5, have 239 members, Democrats have 187 members, and 9 are still undecided. The House will be more liberal than before. Many of the Democratic moderates and conservatives are gone. When I first came to Congress, the Democrats controlled the southern states and there were few Republican office holders. When the new Congress gets sworn in 2011, there will be only 16 white southern Democrats among 105 House members.
One of the key votes is election of the minority leader. Nancy Pelosi will remain as House Democratic leader.
President Obama is still a terrific orator and good on the campaign trail. If the Republicans had taken the Senate, he would have been able to run against the Congress just as Harry Truman did in 1948. Now President Obama has a problem in attempting to get the Democrats in the Senate to go along with his program. They have seen what happened in 2010. The new U.S. Senate has 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans, and 2 Independents. However, in 2012, there are only 10 Republicans running; 21 Democrats, and 2 Independents, giving the Republicans number-wise, a great advantage.
Furthermore, from a practical political standpoint, three Tea Party Republican candidates lost in Delaware, Nevada, and Colorado. Each of these Republican candidates had taken some extreme positions. If they were in office, you could be sure that every day, The Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC and other liberal outlets would have a wonderful time reporting what they said, putting the Republicans in the Senate and around the country on the defensive. Harry Reid will apparently stay
as the majority leader in the Senate. He is not a dynamic leader or speaker. His presence will continue to remind people of the high unemployment in his state and throughout the country. Again, the Republicans couldn’t ask for a better choice.
As far as President Obama goes, it is not clear yet what he is going to do or what he is willing to do. He has recently followed a strategy that has worked for Presidents for years and years. If you are not running well in Indiana, go to India or to some foreign country where you can get a favorable reception. I believe the problem for President Obama will not be just the Republicans, but that Democratic members have seen what supporting President Obama can do. For instance, of the 63 House Democrats who lost, 41 voted for the healthcare law, 59 voted for the economic stimulus plan, and 36 represented districts won by McCain in 2008. Democratic members can look at polls which showed at election time: 59.1 percent of the country thought we were on the wrong track; that President Obama’s unfavorable percentage had risen to 43.8 percent; that President Obama’s job approval was only 50 percent; and that 74 percent felt that the recession is ongoing. In other words, nearly all recent polls reflect that the Obama administration is not doing well, and that a great deal has to be done if he is going to win re-election. Most telling is the fact that only 38.6 percent of Independents approve of President Obama, while 51.8% disapprove.
In politics, a day is a lifetime. However, some days, such as Nov. 2, are more important than other days. Republicans have not a second chance but a last chance. They have to take on the issues that President Obama ignored. They have to take a common sense approach to our economic problems and must lower the unemployment and debt. The next four months will tell us if Democrats can regain their momentum or Republicans can continue on to a win in 2012.
Lou Frey, Jr.,
Member of Congress (FL ’69-’79)
18 Nov 2010
What’s best for Deerfield Beach
All of us want to do what is the very best for the city of Deerfield Beach, and so does Commissioner Poitier. None had to travel the same road as Sylvia has in order to get where she is today. Let her tell you about going into the fields to pick crops alongside the migrant workers. And how she was not permitted to walk on the grass in front of the white elementary school. That is the Deerfield Beach that Sylvia Poitier grew up in. And yet, in her 75-year history in this city, Sylvia has been elected to both the county and Deerfield commissions. While she was with the county, Deerfield could depend on her to look out for our interests. When she first returned to run in Deerfield, she was elected by 66 percent of the vote. The last time she was up for election, she had no opposition. That should tell you something.
Now, Sylvia has approximately four months left in this term. If she chooses to run again, the voters of District 2 will determine her fate. If she is indicted for anything criminal, the Governor will take action. Never in the history of the city of Deerfield Beach has a commission taken action to remove one of their own from the dais. Never has a commission decided they can sit as judge and jury to punish one of their own. Don’t allow yourselves to be the first. There has got to be a better way, and there is. Sylvia’s fate should be determined either by her voters or by the Governor. There really is no reason for you to do anything.
The 2010 elections are over, and people all across our state and country have exercised their voting rights and made their voices heard. In June, I qualified to run for reelection for my fourth term on the Broward County Commission. At the end of qualifying, I faced no opposition. As such, I am deeply honored and humbled to have earned your support, and to have the opportunity to serve as your County Commissioner for four more years.
I came to the County Commission in 1998 with a simple mission: fighting for a common-sense approach to growth management planning; protecting our environment, coastline and water sources; securing fair wages for workers and creating a public transportation system that moves people, not cars. I believe we have seen much progress on all of these fronts. There are more than 3,000 NatureScape certified homes and businesses across Broward, up from zero in 1998. We have a living wage ordinance that ensures fair pay to those who do business with the county. We joined with our neighboring counties to create and sign the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact to coordinate our environmental protection efforts – the first of its kind in America. And our long-range transportation plan now includes improved commuter rail service; urban design elements, like bicycle lanes and pedestrian pathways, and rapid transit on dedicated bus lanes. Even with the economic recession that has swept the nation, we have managed to preserve and improve services to our residents and visitors.
On Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 10 a.m., I was sworn in alongside our new and returning County Commissioners. (See photo above).
There is much work left to be done and much progress left to be made, and I have full faith that together we will achieve great things. My door is always open. Broward County’s best days are still ahead.
County Commissioner, District 2
Broward County Commission
Missing from the ballot
Missing from the recent election ballot was a city referendum to change the municipal March elections to November. This change will save us $100,000 every election cycle. This neglected opportunity is just another example of self proclaimed proactive elected officials failing to indeed be proactive.
Honoring military service members and veterans
This [past] week was a very special one for all of our military veterans, their families and our community. Each year, on the on the 11th day of the 11th month, we pause to honor the military service members and veterans who have chosen to wear our country’s uniform.
I will never forget when I was traveling in Afghanistan and met with a solider from South Florida. He told me it was his wedding anniversary, and he had just gotten off Skype with his wife, telling her how much he loved and missed her. This is exactly the kind of sacrifice our service members and their families make every single day, and it moved me to tears.
It is up to all of us to serve those who have served our country. To our veterans and active duty service members, thank you for your service.
U.S. Representative, District 22
11 Nov 2010
Clarke-Reed thanks supporters
We did it! Your support of my re-election to the Florida State House of Representatives, District 92, was really great. I will be going back to Tallahassee knowing that you believe in me.
This session will bring lots of challenges to those of us who are serving in the Legislature. With the election of a new governor, cabinet members, and leadership in the House, I expect to see many changes. Whatever the path we must take, I will be there remembering the trust you have invested in me.
My office will always be available to assist you in any way we can. Please feel free to call or come by my office at any time. Staff is there to help with your needs. When you are in Tallahassee and need a break, do stop by. The telephone number is: 954-786-4848.
Thank you for your contributions, support and well wishes. I will remember you and look forward to hearing from you.
Gwyndolen “Gwen” Clarke-Reed
State Representative, District 92, Democrat
CVE reader wants to be heard
The Century Village East Reporter continues to stifle dissenting views.
In April 2008, I wrote a short letter to the Reporter noted “for publication” asking several questions, including:
1. How are Reporter columnists and regular contributors selected?
2. Does the Reporter have an ethical code? Is there a differentiation between news articles and opinion?
3. On what basis are submissions by CVE residents accepted or rejected? Are those whose submissions are rejected notified by a Reporter representative? Is a rationale for rejection provided? What percentage of submissions are rejected?
The letter was not acknowledged and not published.
In December 2009, I wrote to then Reporter Board President Eugene Goldman again asking questions 1 and 3 above, and some additional ones, noting the apparent absence of Reporter policies and procedures. (The implicit policy seems to be that the Board approves the editor, who then decides every issue unilaterally, a virtual prototype of autocracy, particularly when the editor wearing his hat as COOCVE President nominates that Board that grants him cart blanche.)
Apparently, Mr. Goldman circulated this letter. Its content was not revealed to those at its next meeting in February 2010, but it was referred to a Board member for a response.
As of Nov. 8, I’ve gotten no response.
A letter recounting this situation was submitted to the Reporter for publication last month. In spite of the editorial statement in every Reporter issue, “We encourage letters that enable our readers to ‘sound off’ on any subject,” the letter was neither acknowledged nor run.
We seem to have a problem with transparency and accountability at our CVE institutions.
With union negotiations coming up, I believe the following is important information.
No one is denying that the fire department as paramedics do a great job. The problem comes from the advantages they enjoy pension-wise over any other city employee.
Take those who chose to remain in the non-uniform pension plan. They too contribute 9 percent of salary to the plan, but they don’t have the DROP plan or the 20-and-out that the fire pension provides. Whereas the non-uniform multiplier for their pension payout is 3, the fire department’s is 3.25 and the non-uniform do not enjoy overtime benefits. The non-uniform have to work 35 years until age 55 to retire.
There are 7 members of the fire department who opted to join the DROP plan in the last fiscal year.They are William Bonner, Michael Heffernon, Mark Hightower, Francis Marr, Thomas Ray, Keith Rozak and Doug Watler. For all practical purposes, 5 of them who collect the 15 percent incentive pay also got a 9 percent increase in salary since they no longer contribute to the pension fund. Two of them who collected the 15 percent never go out on a call. How many of you out there got a 24 percent increase in salary this past year?
The way to eliminate this inequity is to do what Pompano does. No administrative people can collect incentive pay. That would save us some money now and when pension payouts are figured.
There is not much the city can do at this point to stop the pension bleeding of taxpayer money, but there are some steps that can be taken to slow the flow.
First and foremost, the city needs to audit just how the overtime is allocated. There also should be a cap placed on the amount of overtime money that can be added to final pension payouts. That will stop the pension padding that has occurred in the past, and, of course, eliminate the 15 percent incentive pay for all adminstrative personnel.
Jean M. Robb
4 Nov 2010
Rick Scott— was ethical as CEO of HCA!
Several people have asked me if Rick Scott indeed bent the rules on coding Medicare reimbursements when he was CEO of HCA, and I can answer with a high degree of confidence that there isn’t a shred of evidence that is true. I have discussed this in great detail with the former CFO of HCA, another friend who was high up in HCA’s finance department, my former administrative assistant who used to be Scott’s assistant, and the former head of HCA’s construction/development department. None of these folks are big fans of Scott’s but all said that he was highly ethical and didn’t break the law or bend it in any way.
The background is this: HCA, the country’s largest hospital management firm was started by the Frist family (today still major stockholders — mostly Republicans such as Sen. Bill Frist) who no longer wanted to run it day to day and they brought in an outsider, Rick Scott, to be CEO. He became a major enemy of Hillary Clinton’s and devoted much effort to killing her proposed national healthcare plan (and publicly told her she was an idiot to her face in front of a huge healthcare conference in Denver). When Hillarycare died, the Clintons started a witch hunt of HCA with 300 FBI auditors. After three years of investigation, there was no evidence found of company-wide misdoings, or any evidence the top management in HCA had done anything wrong. To bring this burden to an end, HCA paid a lot of money for the investigation to be settled and the Frists took over management again and said good-by to Rick Scott and his second in command. A couple of low level folks were prosecuted for “upcoding” reimbursements at one or two hospitals, and maybe one of them served a few months in jail. (It is also pertinent to know that determining reimbursement codes is often subjective — it is very complicated and not a black-and-white decision process).
More on Rick Scott. He was not liked by most people who worked for him. He did away with many of the traditions at HCA. He is very bright, but was an outsider who had a reputation of driving subordinates too hard. He had an over-riding obsession that every department had to make plan all the time or people’s jobs would certainly be on the block. He was not adverse to rule by fear and intimidation, but he certainly wasn’t a crook or [someone who] bent the law, according to people who reported to him at HCA. You will have to figure out if he will make a good governor for Florida. But, our federal government probably spent over $100 million of taxpayer dollars trying to assert that he was a crook and came up with nothing. (How many people would pass that test?) Even though he rubbed many Nashvillians the wrong way, I have never heard anyone knowledgeable here say he was unethical or crooked.
Pompano residents: City Amendments 1 and 2
I’m writing on behalf of the Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors to encourage Pompano residents to support the referendums to City Amendments 1 and 2 in the Nov. 2 election.
Amendment 1 is a housekeeping amendment which would remove the definition of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) from the city charter. Most cities define their ZBAs in city ordinances. Pompano Beach defines our ZBA in both the charter and city ordinances. So, for us, it is more difficult to keep the ZBA definition up-to-date because the charter can only be changed by voter referendum.
There is no desire or intention to make any material change to the role and function of the ZBA. The purpose of this amendment is simply to allow the commission to make future housekeeping changes to the ZBA without having to go to the voters repeatedly.
City Amendment 2 would streamline the city’s ability to transfer city-owned land to the Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) by eliminating the present requirement that the city put surplus city land up for bid.
Currently, if the city would like to transfer a parcel it owns to the CRA, say, to enable the CRA to assemble several parcels in pursuit of the city’s redevelopment plans, the parcel would have to be offered up for public bidding. This could enable a higher-bidding third party to block the city’s master redevelopment plan by preventing the city from transferring the parcel to its own Community Redevelopment Agency.
We urge the residents of Pompano Beach to vote “YES” for both charter amendments 1 and 2 on Nov. 2 and help clear the way for what we believe is a very exciting period of economic revitalization for the city. If you have any questions, contact your Pompano Beach City Commissioner.
Greater Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce
Amendment 4 is a change in the way things are done that will NOT negatively impact communities with tremendous expense (people vote at a regularly scheduled election), nor cause job losses. It will help to curtail overdevelopment, greed, and land speculation. We already have high taxes, deflated property values, congested roads, overcrowded schools, students performing poorly, water restrictions, rising crime, foreclosures and already approved unfinished projects.
Presently, when land -use changes are made that negatively impact our neighborhood, we can’t stop them. We have to wait to vote these politicians out of office. By then it’s too late! The damage is done and can’t be reversed.
Passing Amendment 4 gives citizens a seat at the table with lobbyists, special interests, developers and their lawyers, land speculators, and politicians.
I will vote YES, because I want a seat at the table, a final say in what is best for my neighborhood.
“For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
Marti Mc Geary
I am disappointed in Ron Klein.
Maybe I’ve missed it, but I haven’t seen one article or ad in which Klein focuses on the issues. Rather, all I’ve seen or heard are personal attacks against Allen West. Klein’s campaign avoids touting his support of the increasingly unsustainable national debt that we are passing on to our children’s children, his support of the stimulus bill and his support of Obamacare. (That’s the health reform bill that Speaker Pelosi explained would need to be passed so we all can know what’s in it.)
Instead, Klein has continuously attacked the character, honesty and integrity of Allen West. By carefully selecting brief quotes of West, all of which lack context, he has accused retired Lt. Col. Allen West, who bravely served our nation in both Iraq and Afghanistan, of everything from personal irresponsibility to inciting an insurrection. If Klein were a Republican and West were a Democrat, the attacks made by Klein against West would be condemned as racist, playing on the stereotypical racist view that black men are basically irresponsible.
When I participated on the debate team during college, I learned from the debate coach that if one’s arguments are weak, attack the opponent. Klein apparently had the same debate coach that I had.
Kudos to Observer’s West-Klein coverage
Because of the arrangement of the tables at the Deerfield Beach Rotary Club [Tuesday] it was impossible to position the camera in such a way to prevent people from walking in front of it. Nevertheless, you can see that the quality of the video streaming over the Observer’s website is superb. The Sun-Sentinel proved they were incapable of successfully streaming video over the Internet at the Lynn University debate recently and WPTV also demonstrated their incompetence in doing so during the debate they hosted. The Observer is the only news outlet that has the technical expertise necessary to do this correctly. Kudos to Vice President Jim Lusk and the Observer staff who have made this possible.
21 Oct 2010
Firemen’s Pension Trust Fund
The Deerfield Beach Firemen’s Pension Trust Fund is one of the most responsibly managed municipal plans in the state of Florida. Through smart financial decisions, it is more than 90 percent funded, compared to the standard measurement of 80 percent for a healthy pension fund. In other words, our pension has in hand more than 90 percent of its assets for all current and future payouts. Overall, the pension fund is in good health, even in these troubled economic times.
We invested carefully because we appreciate the contributions from the city and state. The annual return on the market value of assets was more than 12 percent based on the most recent information, while the average pension fund lags 5 to 8 percent behind the market index. Members of our pension plan aren’t expecting a free ride. Throughout their careers they have contributed 9 percent of their salaries to help fund their pension benefit, one of the highest member contribution rates in the state. Their pension payouts will remain static, unlike other departments in Broward County whose pensions include an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA).
Deerfield Beach firefighters and paramedics are hardworking, dedicated men and women. Every day they risk their lives and livelihood to protect the people and property of Deerfield Beach they so highly respect.
President, Local 1673
Thank you, Deerfield Fire-Rescue
I would like to take a moment to thank Deerfield Beach Fire-Rescue. Specifically, Captain Hightower, Dave H., Justin H., Ed Parkinson, Brian Williams and Bill Bonner for responding to my 911 call on Sept.5. I am eternally grateful to you for arriving so quickly and taking care of my husband.
Your compassion for my husband and for myself, being 8 months pregnant, was overwhelming. The follow-up at the hospital the next day made both of us ever so thankful to have you in our backyard. On behalf of all the people you have rescued, whose lives you have saved, we thank you and applaud the heroes that you are.
Anissa & Jim Alonzo
LHP resident angry, water rate increase
I am writing regarding the “notice of rate change” for residences with a 1″ meter.
The increase is 315 percent over the 2010 fiscal year rate of $8.13. Please answer the following:
According to the NOTICE OF RATE CHANGE, “the new rates were established to provide equity between groups of customers and are designed to charge customers in accordance with their POTENTIAL DEMAND (minimum monthly charge) and actual use (volume charge) of the system.”
Please define “Groups of Customers” and the reason for segregating them, when 1 gallon of water used should be the same charge for all.
Potential Demand? You are charging an arbitrary 315 percent increase for POTENTIAL DEMAND? How about the 20+ years of use at the same address based on average? If I control what I do and I’m under average, I get a break. If I’m over, you charge a little more. That’s equitable for all groups.
What is the ratio of 5/8″ vs. 1″ residential meters in Broward County? Please supply the actual total of residential 1″ users.
Since I consider this an unnecessary and exorbitant overcharge, I would also like to know which county employees were responsible for voting this into action. I am forwarding this letter to the County Commissioners and every Broward County resident on my mail list.
I urge friends and neighbors to write as well: www.broward.org/WATERSERVICES/Pages/1InchMeters.aspx?print=1
I also suggest they vote out of office everyone involved.
Reader calls for return to old-school values; Businesses closed on Sunday
While returning from a recent trip to Daytona, I exited Hillsboro Boulevard heading east to home. At Dixie and Hillsboro, I saw Tire Kingdom & AAA Automotive open. Did I mention it was Sunday afternoon? As I own a two-man repair shop in Deerfield, that I close to go away 2 times a year. How is a small business supposed to compete with the big chains — Firestone, Goodyear, Sears, Pep Boys, etc? Are we supposed to work 24/7 and not spend any time with family? As it is, we probably work 60-hour weeks already. I know it might be convenient to get your car serviced on a day off like Sunday, but I think we need to start going back to old-school values and not work on Sundays. Keep small businesses alive, as we all know that this is the backbone of this country!
Steven J Fabrizio
14 Oct 2010
Something has to give
There is no such thing as equality if you are an employee of the city of Deerfield Beach. During my short tenure as a member of the non-uniform pension board, I tried to convince the commission to allow non-uniform employees with 30 years or more of service to be permitted to retire even though the mandated age was 55. Not a chance.
Firefighters hired at ages 19 or 23 could retire at age 39 or 43 without penalty, and the city would have to pay their medical expenses until age 65. At present, there are 8 firefighters who could retire at age 40.
When, at the public budget hearing, it was suggested that something had to be done about excess overtime, Commissioner Ganz claimed that some things could not be changed. Perhaps, he should have asked how the city got into this financial stranglehold with the fire union. Mayor Noland would have been the one to ask.
It goes back to May of 1994 when the commission voted to reopen the defined pension plan for the fire department only. Commissioner Noland cast the third and deciding vote claiming that her vote would not affect her fireman husband, so no conflict of interest was filed. That vote has cost the city in the last 16 years more taxpayer money than any financial conflict that Commissioner Poitier is accused of having. Mayor Noland was a member of the commission that created the DROP plan for the fire department only. Noland was part of the commission who voted in 2002 for the 20 years and out for the fire department only. The DROP plan allows any active member of the department who had attained age 47, regardless of years of service, to elect to participate in the DROP plan. Monthly retirement benefits that would have been payable to the pension would go into a DROP plan on a monthly basis for 5 years. In the meantime, the pensioner would not be paying the annual 9 percent cost required to the pension plan. It was added to his salary.
You can figure the impact on the taxpayer money from the defined pension plan, the DROP plan and the 20 and out.
The DROP plan has been used by the upper echelon with their inflated overtime and the 15 percent incentive pay for calls they never made to pad their ultimate pension pay-out. I must make it clear that the outrageous payment of overtime does not filter down to the firefighters who are the real worker bees.
On Sept. 27, I requested the figures on what the pensions will be for those firefighters who recently entered the DROP plan after their obscene overtime payments were exposed. To date, my request has not been honored, but as soon as I get the information, I shall be sharing it with you.
Absentee Ballot: Vote By Mail
I would like to clarify some misconceptions that exist among many of our citizens regarding the so-called “Absentee Ballot” for voting in the Nov. 2 Election; the correct term that should always be used is “Vote By Mail.” This method is open to all registered voters regardless if they are here or away.
The ballot that is used is identical to the one at the polling stations. Your home or apartment becomes your private voting booth.
You are free to choose whatever time is best for you to fill out the ballot, even piecemeal over a few days, if you wish. After completion, you seal the return envelope and it’s ready to mail.
Ten days after you have mailed it, you can contact the Supervisor’s office by phone or e-mail to receive verification that your ballot was received.
This is especially helpful for seniors who cannot get around easily and others who can take advantage of setting their own time when it is most advantageous to complete this task. Also good for those who do not like standing in line.
What more could anyone ask for? Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes has termed this method “Convenience Voting” and how right she is.
The ballot must reach the Elections Office by 7 p.m., Election night. There is still time to request your free ballot now. [Postage to mail completed ballot to the Election Office is $1.22.] For more information, call 954-357-7055 or visit browardsoe.org
RE: Red light cameras
Mayor Fisher and Pompano commission were quoted on pg 4 in the Oct. 7 Observer as saying that red light cameras are about safety, not money.
If this is true, the City should commit to send the camera proceeds to the U.S. Federal Government general fund to reduce the national debt.
If they won’t commit to that, then it’s about the money …
Thank you for supporting the fight against cancer
On behalf of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Deerfield Beach/Lighthouse Point, we extend our gratitude for your support of our bowling fundraiser, “Spare Lives and Strike Out Cancer,” July 30. You published invaluable press releases. From this event, we were able to donate over $3,500 to the American Cancer Society. Good-hearted people, such as you, are making a difference in our fight against cancer!
We had a wonderful turnout of over 120 participants and 8 volunteers, who all had a great time. We also had 8 sponsors who purchased advertising and bowling packages and 12 businesses that donated items for prizes. To see pictures taken at the Bowling event, please go to Facebook and become a fan of our Relay page. On the facebook search bar, search for: Relay For Life of Deerfield Beach & Lighthouse Point, FL.
Thank you so much for your continued support of the Relay For Life, Deerfield Beach/Lighthouse Point,
RFL Bowling Chairperson
Editor’s Note: To benefit the fight against cancer, The Observer also covered Pink Fire Trucks in the Sept. 23 issue. (Video, observernewspaperonline.com.) The next event is Making Strides at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 23 at Mizner Park, Boca Raton. SAVE THE DATE! RSVP to Jennifer Siesel at 561-394-7751 ext 5311 or via e-mail: jennifer.siesel @cancer.org
7 Oct 2010
Resident calls for attention to School Board race
The big news is the arrest of Broward School Board member Stephanie Kraft & her husband, Mitch. This is the second board member to be arrested in one year on corruption charges. I also found pictures of both on the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) website — good “mug shots.”
Greed is evidentally the “disease” these board members are sickened with. I am just wondering, who will be the next to fall? Just how far up the ladder is this investigation going to go? Who else, besides the board members, are also guilty? I hope it will continue until all involved are brought to their knees, regardless of their status.
Our children have been short-changed due to these actions — all employees of the school system have been short-changed. And the electorate. Hopefully, there will be an investigation into how Vista became the insurance company for the school system. Seems like I heard it just happened — no one knew about it until it was already in place.
We vote and elect these people. We listen to their speeches, their promises of what they are going to do, and we do our best to make the right choices. Little do we know that it is not us and our children they are thinking of, but of their own purses.
So many depend on our choosing the right people who will be working in the best interests of all.
Hopefully, all who are guilty of impropriety for personal gain will be found out, and we will be able to elect some honest, caring, individuals who know right from wrong.
Editor’s Note: The Observer will preview races for the November ELECTION over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for coverage.
RE: Letter from the Mayor — The Budget
Once again, the taxpayers have been subjected to a long-winded explanation in print to justify our tax increases. Has the mayor forgotten or wasn’t she the mayor in 2010 when $9.1 million was used to balance the budget?
All of a sudden, she is concerned about using reserve money to balance the budget when that is exactly what this commission has done in 2009 and 2010?
When talking about clean-up after Wilma, didn’t the city get repaid for its clean-up costs by FEMA?
Editor’s Note: Letter from the Mayor – RE: The Budget ran in the Sept. 30 Observer.
Hazard to walkers and cyclists
I was cycling on the sidewalk on Hillsboro Boulevard, and, of course, to use the bike lane is tempting fate.
Between the boulevards of Deer Creek and Country Club, there are some mighty wicked sawgrass bushes that are overlapping the sidewalk. This is a major hazard to walkers and cyclists alike. So Deer Creek maintenance people, are you listening? Wake up and cut back, cut back, cut back!
Signed: Scratched up but still pedaling.
Dedication ceremony, Our Lady of Mercy
I am writing to let the Observer know that there will be a dedication ceremony for the new church just built by Our Lady of Mercy at 5201 N. Military Trail, Deerfield Beach, 33064.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski will be in attendance. The ceremony will start at the 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday, Oct. 17.
Most of our parishioners are from Deerfield Beach and we would be most appreciative if you could find a little spot to announce this upcoming event?
30 Sep 2010
RE: The Budget
After reading the Letters to the Editor in last week’s paper, I feel compelled to address the widespread confusion and misinformation surrounding the city’s operating budget for Fiscal Year 2011, and the overall economic picture.
This City Commission understands the economic realities of the many variables that contributed to the nearly $17 million shortfall in this year’s budget. We also understand that we have little control over many of those variables. In his budget message, City Manager Burgess Hanson was very clear: We must recalibrate our operations this year to meet a new era of economic uncertainty, and most importantly, map out a plan for our city’s future. Smart decisions today are the only factors we can control.
We also understand that this economic crisis impacts the city on a very personal level, through our residents and businesses. Your City Commissioners are residents and business owners too. With this in mind, city management painstakingly cut this year’s General Fund expenditures by nearly $6.5 million from last year’s budget — an 8 percent decrease. These cuts were carefully analyzed to ensure we could preserve service levels to our residents and businesses. Deeper cuts would have had a direct impact on both.
Another reality we faced this year was the city’s dwindling reserve fund. To understand why this matters, it’s important for taxpayers to know that the reserve fund is the city’s “emergency fund.” In previous administrations, a practice termed “cash carryover” was used to balance the city’s budget. An example is FY 2010, where $9.1 million was transferred from the reserves to balance the budget, leaving approximately $10.5 million. Some have suggested the city should have tapped into the reserve fund this year in order to reduce the city’s millage rate. The idea of using reserves to balance the budget is short-sighted, and more importantly, not sustainable.
To put this scenario even more into perspective, let’s go back to 2005, when the city paid more than $15 million in clean-up and other associated costs for Hurricane Wilma. Who would have predicted that a storm that made landfall in the Gulf would have caused such extensive damage? Imagine the results if Hurricane Wilma had hit Deerfield Beach directly! We, as a City Commission, will not follow in the footsteps of New Orleans and allow our city to be unprepared when it comes to a major catastrophe.
We have heard from some residents and business owners that they were not able to have their voices heard by the City Commission. The most important point I want to reiterate is that my fellow Commissioners and I are available to hear your concerns throughout the year, not just during budget planning. The City Manager also has an open door policy. Call us, e-mail us and attend the City Commission meetings each month to ensure your voice is heard. We can all be reached through the City Manager’s Office at 954-480-4263 or via e-mail at web.commission@Deerfield-Beach.com.
As for the budget process itself, anyone who wants to better understand the budget and its proposed elements should attend all of the public workshops leading up to the public hearings held in September. While it is true public comment is not permitted at these meetings, they do give insight to the budget content, and therefore, allow an opportunity to contact your elected officials with any concerns early in the budget process. This year, a total of six budget workshops were held prior to the first public hearing. Keep in mind also that the recommended budget is always presented one month before the public hearings, giving residents time to learn more about what is being proposed, and again, to contact the City Commission to voice concerns.
As part of the City Commission’s plan for the future of Deerfield Beach, administration will soon begin negotiations with the city’s three labor unions. This year, for the first time, an executive member of the management team, Human Resources Director Mike Milanowski, will represent the city during negotiations. Milanowski has a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law, and brings extensive experience in labor relations and contract negotiations. Previously, these duties have been handled by outside counsel. With the recent hiring of Milanowski, we are fortunate that we now have access to an in-house expert on labor matters.
Many residents have expressed interest in the provisions of labor contracts for the city’s unions. Many people may not realize that labor negotiations are public meetings, and open for the public to attend. The meetings are always posted at the entrances to City Hall and distributed to the media. They are also posted at www.Deerfield-Beach.com, where you can subscribe to receive automatic notice of public meetings held by the city.
I want to express my gratitude to the City Commission for their display of leadership, while making extremely difficult decisions for the betterment of our city. I’d also like to thank city staff and the City Manager, all of whom went above and beyond in preparing a sound and responsible budget under trying circumstances. Most importantly, I want to thank the residents and businesses for their passion for Deerfield Beach. Working together as a team, we will be successful in realizing the great potential our city has to offer.
Although we will inevitably face challenges on this journey, I am confident that our city is moving in the right direction for the first time in years. We are redefining how we provide our services, redirecting our resources, and rediscovering what makes Deerfield Beach a great city.
Mayor Peggy Noland
Pink Heals Tour brings hope to Deerfield Beach
Cancer awareness saves lives. Saving lives is our passion as firefighters and paramedics living and working in Deerfield Beach. With this in mind, our colleague Doug Watler worked to bring the Pink Heals Tour 2010 to Florida to spread awareness in a state where cancer ranks as the second leading cause of death behind heart disease.
On Sept. 20, the tour’s hot pink fire trucks came to Deerfield Beach to support women suffering from cancer and inspire men to be involved. To assist in the effort, we organized a parade, beach event, T-shirt sales and visits to shut-ins, cancer survivors and schools to show support for those affected by cancer, teach prevention and raise money to help fight the disease. (To see more photos of the event, visit www.pinkhealsdb.com.)
We were humbled by stories about love, loss and the hope stirred just by knowing that a collective group of firefighters, locally and from across the nation, stand behind the women and men who suffer from this heartbreaking disease.
Dollars raised from the day’s events will stay in the community, with donations to Sylvester Cancer Center in Deerfield Beach and Boca Hospital’s Eugene M.& Christine E. Lynn Cancer Institute. Money also will be set aside to pay for mammograms for uninsured women.
The firefighters, paramedics and members of Local 1673 appreciate the wealth of support shown by community organizations, businesses and volunteers. In accordance with the firefighter’s creed, we were proud to serve so that others might live.
President, Local 1673
International Association of Fire Fighters
RE: The Budget
Our city commission has, much to the dismay of taxpaying citizens, approved a new budget and a 17 percent millage rate increase without really listening to resident concerns. Most cities in Broward County have been able to hold the line on taxes, but not Deerfield. Many people have lost their jobs or taken significant pay reductions during this recession. Our elected officials have no problem increasing property taxes and raising the ridiculous fire assessment fee (is anyone really sure what this is?) by 36 percent.
Although a layoff of over 100 people is unfortunate, it should have been enacted before to stop the financial hemorrhaging. Next on the agenda should be the sheriff’s department and firemen’s pay scale and retirement benefits — before it’s too late Also, the reins should be pulled on commission perks and benefits.
If our commission is not competent enough to run this city like a business and watch expenses, perhaps they should not be afforded the opportunity to “serve” the city when it’s time for their re-election. If private businesses operated as government does, they would be bankrupt in short order.
Cove parking lot expenditure
I’ve mentioned this to almost everyone that I can, and I’ve mentioned it to Commissioner Ganz also. I don’t care where the funds are coming from. I don’t care when it was allotted. Times change. The majority of The Cove Shopping Center owners are not participating in the façade program that has been offered for three years. Why are we spending money to pave a parking lot that no one cares about when we just laid off over 100 employees? One of our Commissioners always said he’d like to see certain monies go back into the cookie jar. I want to see those funds go to putting our people back to work. No jobs, no income, no spending money at The Cove. Wake up folks, it’s not too late!
23 Sep 2010
Reflections on the Second Budget Hearing, 9-21
This was supposed to be the public hearing on the proposed millage rate and the budget. I emphasize the fact that it was a hearing for the public; however, it was not treated that way. The audience was forced to submit to a 35-minute rehash of the city’s justification for the 17percent increased tax rate, courtesy of the city manager.
What most people wanted to hear was how they planned to reduce the millage rate. Not a chance.
I offered a plan to reduce the millage to a 6 by taking $3,775,000 out of the reserve kept for emergencies. I believe that this economic climate is an emergency. That would have left $6,748.000 in the reserve, giving the city 9 percent of its General Fund balance – which is $74,486,073 – thereby protecting the city’s bond ratings.
After the public hearing was closed, we were chastised by Commissioner Ganz as to why there could not be such a small amount left in the reserve account. He insisted on pontificating about how irresponsible we were to demand some tax relief by using money that, in actuality, belongs to the taxpayer. The only commissioner who held out for the taxpayers was Commissioner Poitier. The Vice Mayor only parroted what Commissioner Ganz had said, and Commissioner Popelsky was unusually silent. Nobody bothered to tell the public that they received a payment from FEMA for past hurricane clean-up, and the money had already been deposited. Most business people would establish a line of credit with a bank to handle any future emergencies, so depending entirely on the reserve is a false argument.
In addition, there were multiple suggestions from Dan Herz that could be immediately implemented to bolster the amount of money in the reserve. Since we all have to bite the bullet, why are the commissioners providing themselves with pensions, and if they were really serious about fiscal responsibility, why haven’t they cut their own salaries? This entire budget shows a complete lack of imagination or initiative.
This is why no one believes politicians, and to be perfectly frank, why should the taxpayers of Deerfield Beach be any different?
Jean M. Robb
Winners and losers on the budget and property taxes
Tuesday night’s commission meeting was a rewarding display of how our city government works and reacts to its citizen’s concerns. Those who wanted less than a 17 percent increase in the millage rate made no headway in convincing 4 of 5 commission members to respond favorably to their request. The commission was obviously dug into their position that the 17 percent millage rate increase, in addition to a 36 percent increase in the fire assessment fee, were both necessary to keep the ship afloat, so to speak. All of this occurred without another scolding from the commission for exercising our constitutional rights to object to their current or pending decisions.
More important, commission members did concede that some of the ideas offered by citizens to reduce expenses or generate revenue were not considered or would not be counted on to relieve the current situation. This suggests that the current process of not allowing citizen input to the budget prior to the first and second vote is not in our best interests. Perhaps, the commission can initiate citizen feedback for the next budget process with as much available notice and information as possible, including a proposed millage rate before they have determined their position at the first and second vote on both the budget and the millage rate. Unlike at the budget workshops, citizens would need to be able to speak. This would require genuine participation from all interested citizens, as well as from the city commission.
Finally, we did hear a commitment from several of the commissioner members to further review cost cutting from all areas, including the unions. Except for the recent layoffs, which were unfortunate but long overdue, there has been no pain inflicted on union workers’ salary and benefit packages, which are riddled with previously-approved (by the city commission) extravagances. Some of those were pointed out at Tuesday’s meeting, including incentive payments paid to some who did not perform the incentive work, the defined benefit retirement plans that are very costly and to work rules that detract from efficiency. Our job as citizens is to hold the city commission accountable to deliver on the promise to unwind costly provisions of these union contracts. I’m in. Are all of you?
Congratulations Deerfield Beach: We are 29th out of 30!
Out of 30 Broward County cities, our city manager has proposed a millage rate percentage increase on our property taxes that is higher than 29 of those cities. The city explains they need to do this to bring in the same amount of property tax revenue as last year. I don’t know about anyone else, but my business has had to make do with a lot less revenue than last year. Apparently, our city manager and commissioners do not grasp the new reality of having to cut back. Our last chance to do this came and went on Sept. 21.
On Aug. 26, I decided to go to the beach (Deerfield), drove over the Hillsboro bridge, proceeded through the green light and was summarily pulled over by a Broward sheriff. I asked what the problem was and he stated that it was illegal to drive straight across A1A on Hillsboro Boulevard. I stated that was how I drove to the beach for the past 15 years and did not ever see any signs to that effect. He further stated that I should have turned left on A1A and made a loop by the Whale’s Rib (which we all know is a bottleneck) or go south on A1A and turn around and then proceed north, where I could now turn right on Hillsboro. If this bit of foolishness is to be enforced (and there are no signs to tell us of such a rule), I am sure this would add approximately 200 – 300 more vehicles going into that already overwhelmed turn on A1A. I looked at these two officers and could tell they were somewhat embarrassed to be doing such foolish duty.
I would think that the sheriff’s office would use better judgment before sending their men on such frivolous details.
Driving on Hillsboro Boulevard between Federal Highway and the Intracoastal, I noticed that the beautification project is still not done. It’s been months since this started. It seems as though the brakes were put on, and we are on hold. When is this project supposed to get done? Right now, it is an eyesore. Will this get done before the snowbirds arrive?
Editor’s Note: Hillsboro Streetscaping is slated for completion, February 2011.
16 Sep 2010
Making Deerfield Beach the most patriotic city in America
Deerfield Beach has always considered its beach its greatest asset. And recently, strides to this end have taken place to ensure that it continues to be our greatest asset — such as the Green Pier Renovation, the safety of longer hours for lifeguards to protect residents and tourists, and a “no smoking” area on the beach.
As I’m sure most of you are aware, Pompano Beach has just expended $75,000 to hire a marketing firm to brand their city to make them stand out from the surrounding cities. I believe Deerfield has done this with the strides that I mentioned above.
To this end, I have another thought. I have mentioned to some of you that after the mayor was kind enough to put appropriate-sized American flags on the lifeguard stands. I thought, why not have Deerfield Beach be known as the most patriotic City in South Florida, heck … in America? Then, as I watched TV one night, I saw a segment about Cape May, NJ, which has a flag ceremony on their beach, and realized there already is a more patriotic city and a beach city to boot in America. I told Jack Disher about this (when we were meeting about other beach concern issues of mine) and he told me that imitation is the best form of flattery. And so it is.
We already have the flagpole south of the Pier that can be used to this end. Basically, this is a ceremony for loved ones to honor their fallen loved ones. The flag that was given to the family will be used to honor their loved one. When the flag is lowered, a recording of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” plays, followed by an instrumental recording of the “Star Spangled Banner” and, finally, “Taps.” People stop, salute and pay respects. I find it quite moving. Cape May has been doing this for 40 years!
Hopefully, the community will participate in a flag ceremony: The veteran’s groups may care to sponsor this event perhaps by taking care of the scheduling duties. Also, in Cape May, school children learn how to properly fold the American flag to give back to family member(s). Perhaps, the Boy and Girl Scouts could participate as well.
A side benefit to the city – families who come to honor their loved ones might utilize our hotels, restaurants and shops. Perhaps, they’ll take their vacation here.
Editor’s Note: Caryl Berner presented her idea at the Tuesday, Sept. 7 Deerfield Beach City Commission meeting. The former New Yorker said she once commuted from Hoboken to the World Trade Center. Mayor Peggy Noland said she liked the idea of a patriotic Deerfield. She asked if staff might consider it for the future. There wasn’t enough time to put something together in time for Saturday, Sept. 11, she said.
RE: The Budget – DO IT NOW
These indeed are the times that try men’s souls. It was particularly apparent at the first public hearing on the millage rate and the budget. Many residents complained about the increased cost of living in Deerfield Beach. It is time to stop the rhetoric and to take definitive action.
There is $10,500,000 in the undesignated reserve, which is kept for emergencies. If the present economic climate is not an emergency, I don’t know what is.
The millage rate being proposed is 6.775. The millage rate should be cut to a 6. That would require an additional cut of $3,775,000. DO IT NOW.
Take the $3,775,000 out of the reserve and leave $6,725,000.
The concern has always been that at the very least, there should be 5 percent of the general fund balance in reserve in order to maintain the city’s bond rating. The city’s general fund stands at $80,912,369. The city achieves 8 percent of its general fund balance with $6,472,989 of the remaining $6,725,000, which protects the bond ratings.
In actuality there will be $11 million in the reserve after the audit. I have used the $10.5 million figure because the commission already has allocated $500,00 of the reserve to offset the increase in the fire assessment fee. This provides the relief that taxpayers are demanding. It also gives the commission the opportunity to increase the reserve fund during the next budget year by utilizing a number of avenues.
Consideration should be given to eliminating the commission pension plans, privatization of the pier operation and the recycling division. Utilization of incentives to encourage early retirements and elimination of the beach parking sticker program in December to increase meter revenue. The commission must move to close the defined pension plan and equalize water and sewer base rates for all multi-family users.
RE:Guest Editorial: “A black man goes to Glenn Beck’s rally,” by Jerome Hudson
I want to thank Mr. Hudson for inspiring me to write this response. I attended the Glenn Beck rally on 8/28, “Restoring Honor.” I, like Mr. Hudson, was deeply moved by every aspect of this somewhat unexpected and historical event. Since the event, I have had many ideas and thoughts about my role in changing things for the better, particularly in regard to race relations. Mr. Hudson’s comments compelled me to take this first step in creating a dialogue between people who are different outwardly but not inwardly.
I am a white woman, married, age 53, with two children. Like Mr. Hudson, I was most moved by the comments of Dr. Alveda King, proclaiming her dream that one day “white privilege” would “become human privilege.” I found that comment profound and provoking. Since the 8/28 event, I have thought a great deal about my privileges and from where they are derived.
When I think back on my life as a child and young adult, I am not reminiscent of an endless stream of special privileges, connections, arrangements, trust funds, referrals, networks, favors and opportunities resulting from the color of my skin. What I recall are two very young parents, my mother (handicapped from a childhood disease) and my father (working two jobs to support our family), who with unwavering devotion and unrelenting sacrifice, made sure to see that our needs (physical, emotional and spiritual) and wants were provided for. Regardless of their circumstances, their steadfast love was the ultimate privilege that we acquired, a privilege that should be colorless. Thus, I agree again with Mr. Hudson in calling for restoration of the family as the foundation of American society. Perhaps, we should be discussing how to cast the net of family privilege over all Americans.
Deborah W. Brown
9 Sep 2010
The ruse of No Tax Increase is exposed
At Tuesday’s Deerfield city commission meeting, there was a lot of lively discussion about the recent nearly 20 percent property tax increase proposed by the city. After initially trying to sell the proposed millage increase as “no increase”, the city commission, thanks to prodding from Commissioner Poitier, reluctantly redefined their no-increase position to mean no increase in revenue to the city even though there are increases to many taxpayers.
Finally, the truth came out on that subject, despite the city attorney’s and the interim city manager’s attempts to position the millage increase as no increase. Commissioner Ganz gets it and was the only commission member, besides Commissioner Poitier, who was honest and sympathetic with the large group of residents who attended the city commission meeting.
The real elephant in the room is that the city commission feels they must have the same amount of revenue as last year to run the city and, short-term, that may be the reality. Is that because the costs of the previously negotiated union contracts continue to account for a greater portion of the city’s resources each and every year? Oddly, there was no mention of any cuts to the largest portion of the city’s budget (the union contracts) at the meeting. Rather than tackling the biggest drag on the budget (the union contracts), the commission has chosen to cut areas that impact children’s programs, the Historical Society and other easy targets that hurt individual interests. We can only hope that the commission has the stomach to renegotiate and minimize the excessive costs of the union contracts in the future to avoid or at least minimize any more tax increases.
Dilapidated home an eyesore, invitation to trouble
We have lived on NE 6 Avenue since 1999. The same year, the home across the street (and adjacent to our dock property) was purchased by an out-of-state man who has never resided there. It not only has steadily deteriorated and filled with weeds, rodents and homeless squatters (some of them felons), but has been posted multiple times for demolition by the county as an Unsafe Structure.
This disgraceful property is the gateway to Pioneer Park’s waterway and the entrance to our community. Anyone who has lived in Deerfield Beach or launched a boat at the marina knows about this infamous structure.
Our home values have steadily declined, long before everyone else … due to this eyesore.
No matter how hard we all have worked to maintain our own homes — it does not matter, as long as this structure is allowed to remain.
Two years ago, the entire community circulated and signed a petition about this disgrace and threat to our security. It was presented to Commissioner Joe Miller and has been read by both city and county officials. We have been told, time and time again, that the man who owns this “knows how to work the system.” He does not live here! We do! Yet, he seems to get much more say in our community than any of us who live and vote here. What spell does this man hold over our officials?
Because the owner never followed through in the past when he applied for permits, the city denied him further permits. However, this past January the owner was allowed a permit to repair the seawall. A few weeks ago, work was begun to repair a small portion of the seawall. It was never completed and the structure is beginning to collapse along the waterway. The Unsafe Structure sign is still posted. Water and electricity was turned off several months ago, just days before the demolition date was, again, delayed. Again, he has worked the system … and the “system” has allowed him to.
Editor’s Note: Petition and photos of property below.
Jim and Lynne Newberry
2 Sep 2010
RE: Utility Tax
In 1974, Statue 166.23 allowed the imposition of a utility tax on the purchase of electricity, water, fuel oils and metered and bottled gas. Deerfield had that tax until 1979, when the voters rescinded the tax by referendum. In 1986, the commission attempted to pass a modified utility tax which, once again, was overwhelmingly defeated by a 2 to 1 margin. The city attorney now says there is no requirement to go to the voters to re-impose a utility tax. The voters have spoken twice on this issue.
The argument is: it will equalize the burden on all users.Really? Take the water tax. The newly annexed areas do not have city water so they will not pay the tax. Most renters have water included in their rent costs, so they won’t pay. Most condos and townhouses have their water bills paid by their associations. With the number of properties bankrupt or in foreclosure, this is just what the associations need to add to their financial burden. Once again, the single family homeowners will bear the brunt of these new taxes.
Our ad valorem is high because we do not have a utility tax. Could that be why Publix located its 1,200,000 square foot distribution center in Deerfield? The same goes for the Sun Sentinel location here in 1989.
On Aug. 3, the commission voted to remove the exemption to the fire assessment fee for the non-profits in the city. It would cost some churches approximately $60,000. Now they are proposing a future water and electric tax. Where does it all end?
Well, here we go again. Instead of the city commission being more responsible with our money, they want to raise taxes. Case in point: beach property, worth by county assessments, in the mid $200,000s, they pay $500,000. How about firing a city manager [Mahaney] who was doing a good job? How much did that cost the city? A couple of hundred thousand or more? We will never know. Now, let’s not forget The Cove project they’re thinking about, which I think needs to be done. I live in The Cove, but let’s finish Hillsboro Boulevard first. I own a small business, very small, and I, for one, do not need any more expenses like a UTILITY TAX. Let’s get out and vote for some people who know how to run a business and maybe even turn a profit in these tough economic times.
Cove parking lot
… I can tell you what I saw and heard that night [Aug. 24] at the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) meeting [with Cove business owners].
Nearly everyone voiced some version of “You’re going to put me out of business. Don’t do this project now under any circumstance.” You could hear the genuine fear in people’s voices. Particularly unnerving was the plan to occupy larger areas (more available parking) via a brand new “4 Phase Plan.” What that said to beleaguered business owners was “Great news. Less parking for everyone.”
One of the speakers came armed with statistics from a 2005 University of Florida study about construction impact from similar projects in Jacksonville and Tallahassee. That report was grim. It found businesses lost between 35-90 percent of their business while their plaza was being worked on. And that was 2005! How much better was the economy then?
All the while, Keith & Associates representative Dodie Keith took the heat from desperate business owners. Meanwhile, the CRA Director twice repeated that “this meeting is to discuss when and how – NOT IF – this project goes further. The constant harping about a 9-month schedule instead of 15 months sounded a lot like: “Would you prefer to go out of business in 9 or 15 months?”
Meanwhile, there was NO real suggestion on how to assuage the issue of losing customers. Or even how to keep the hearty souls safe who try to make it to their favorite shop during construction. There was NO input from the representative from West Construction. What plan do they have to help the business owners and customers?
Finally, about half of the meeting involved discussion of the drainage problems in the alleyway to the south of The Cove. Question was raised as to why the City is going to spend $2M on drainage improvements to the main Cove parking lot when it doesn’t flood – and is spending $0 on the alley that floods mightily. Can we get that answer?
Editor’s note: After the Aug. 24 meeting, a possible solution was offered the following day. 16 out of 25 business owners turned in temporary construction easements by Aug. 25, compared to 6 out of 25 at the time of the meeting.
Help Save History
You have all undoubtedly read the news about city cutbacks and job lay-offs. Well, it also affects your local Deerfield Beach Historical Society. The city has cut out all of our funding (from $50,000 to ZERO). We understand cutbacks when times are tough. We are also cutting back on expenses from within.
Our focus remains true to our mission: to preserve and share our rich Deerfield history. We are fighting as hard as we can to garner outside support from local businesses, corporations, and other donor support, but it takes time to build such support. Here is how you can help: we propose to the city a 3-year transition period to allow the Society the time needed to build outside support.
We are not asking for a hand-out, but have come up with proposals and ideas of what we can do to make up the difference. We are asking for a 3-year transition from the $50,000 we received this year to a $25,000 (year 1) donation; reduced to $15,000 (year 2); and finally (year 3), a $10,000 donation.
If you care about history, like I do, please send an e-mail to your commissioner – no, to all of the commissioners, asking them to support our Historical Society. We cannot do this alone, your support is more important than ever before.
Executive Director, Historical Society
26 Aug 2010
Fire assessment fee: non-profits not exempt anymore?
For the first time in the history of the city, preliminary [departmental] budget workshops were held at the Public Works Building — then they wondered why no one from the public attended. I doubt whether many of the residents even know where that building is.
In June, the commission passed resolution 2010/120, setting a tentative fire assessment fee at [up to] $149.99, subject to change. The commission did something else at their Aug. 3 meeting. Looking at additional revenue of $467,000, they voted to rescind the exemption for non-profits on the fire assessment fee. If the fee were $149, St. Ambrose, with square footage of 78,655 square feet, would pay in excess of $33,775, while Christian Love Fellowship with 34,438 square feet, would pay $20,265. Zion Lutheran, the Baptist churches, the Temples, can figure their costs according to square footage by referring to the table in Appendix A of the 2010/120 resolution. Even if the fee were reduced to $135, it would still have a devastating effect on the large churches and temples.
Although there is a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the fire assessment fee, the public should attend the first public hearing on the budget set for Tuesday, Sept. 7. That is when the commission can take action to reinstate the fire assessment exemption for all the non-profits. The commission needs to hear from the public on this matter.
Received its tax notice:
First Baptist $20,265
Grace Baptist $59,000
Zion Lutheran $33,000
Temple Beth Israel $ 6,755
Young Israel $13,510
Property tax charade
It always amazes me how some politicians and administrative government representatives assume that the general populace is stupid. For instance, take the comments from Deerfield Beach Interim City Manager, Burgess Hanson stated that he did not believe the 16.8 percent increase in the millage rate (from 5.35 to 6.25) would result in higher city taxes due to the 14 percent drop in overall property values. That comparison alone would generate a 2.8 percent increase if you do the math, so to speak.
But wait, how about those of you covered by the Save Our Homes (SOH) statute that mandates a minimum 2.7 percent increase in your taxable base for tax purposes. I believe in that case, your city taxes could go up by 19.5 percent (2.7 + 16.8) if Mr. Hanson’s recommendations are approved by the Deerfield City Commission. Many homeowners are still included in the SOH program. Perhaps, Mr. Hanson needs to revisit his claim that city tax bills will not be higher. How about the 36 percent increase in the fire [assessment] fee that is assessed to all homeowners?
I hope this same fuzzy math used by Mr. Hanson was not used in the budgeting process. If so, how can we believe that the integrity of the budget is any better than Mr. Hanson’s claim of no resulting tax increases?
As taxpayers, you have the right to the truth and, in this case, you are not receiving it. The real truth is that, despite some sacrifices that have been made to the normal tax and spend process that usually takes place in the budgeting process, the city is failing to make the hard decisions that should be considered to make the budget even lower while giving relief to the taxpayers. Many Deerfield Beach residents have experienced job layoffs, mortgage foreclosures, reduced business activity, frozen Social Security benefits and other losses in their retirement assets due to the recession. I recognize that there were layoffs of two full-time and many more part-time city workers and I feel truly sorry for their fate. However, there has been little or no sacrifice in administration costs of government (salaries, travel and entertainment expenses) or union benefits for the city’s public safety organization. It is true that the expected cost of living raises for the public safety employees have been delayed for this year and possibly next, but there have been no layoffs, salary or benefit cuts or any other significant attempts to lower the costs of public safety employees.
Tell your elected representatives to cut more from the budget, stand up to the union bosses who have hijacked your financial future by pushing our politicians to agreeing to high cost salary and benefit programs. Most importantly, ask for the truth from these elected and appointed officials. Don’t let Mr. Hanson’s fuzzy math fool you!
Aug. 6,1945, Hiroshima, the beginning of the end (of WW II) – the first ever atom bomb dropped on a nation. Without this happening, there would be a million less Americans surviving WW II. I was there, a few hundred miles from where this happened. I could not have been more happy. I was and still am happy this happened.
If you had been there, SO WOULD YOU BE HAPPY.
Bud Garner (U.S. Navy, 1943-1946)
National Lighthouse Day coverage brings out first-time visitors
The Aug. 7 celebration of National Lighthouse Day at the Hillsboro Lighthouse was a huge success and very well attended. There were many first-time visitors who learned about the tour as a result of the publicity in the Deerfield Observer.
Thank you for all your help in letting the public know about our event. Our next tour date is Saturday, Nov. 13.
5 Aug 2010
Problems at Century Village East
I haven’t written anything in a long time, mainly because I’ve been so disgusted with our readers here in Century Village East. But, since lots of people have come up to me and asked me to write, I said I would. The president of my building is an owner of more than one Florida home so he is not always here. We mostly fend for ourselves.
It was decided the building would be enhanced by painting the doors, putting up new and larger numbers on the top of the doors, and the floors would be fixed by smoothing the surface and whatever had to be done. We really did not know what we, the few who were left behind when the snowbirds went home, were in for. A painter was hired to do the doors and railings. She and she alone had the keys to all of our apartments, opening the doors to everyone’s units who were not there. I came home one day to find she had entered my home, painted the inside door frame while I was gone. When I approached her, she said, “Oh, you can trust me.”
She is a stranger entering my home alone. No other board or building members and I should trust her. I feel violated and sickened not only by the lack of common sense, but arrogance and uncaring by another human being. It cost me $283.20 to have a new lock installed. Imagine, in this economy … to throw away money because now you cannot know who or what is in your home [while you are away]. I called the chairman of our area building and he said, “Well, you voted him in; now, vote him out.” I did report it to security and others. I was told to file a police report for breaking and entering.
The sprinkler systems do not work. On Sunday night, our landscaping company put on the sprinklers and walked away and we had a geyser gushing up to the third floor and soaking patios and a river in the back of the building. I called up the landscapers and after four calls, plus security being notified, I think they came. Someone put a plastic bag over the water until they came. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
There are no enclosures while [people] sit and wait for buses. It’s ‘burn, baby, burn.’ But money was wasted on signs, which were done wrong and had to be done over. That money could have gone toward enclosures!
28 Jul 2010
Thanks Observer, good turnout, donors
Thanks to the Observer newspaper, we, the American Legion Post 142, and the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 142, had 17 blood donors on Saturday, July 10.
I attended all of the Deerfield Beach budget workshop sessions. The directors of each department presented their budget requests to the commission. There were only about six people from the public at each session, which is sad because we can learn which departments are good stewards of our money and which are not. Senior services seems to be responsible and the rest need improvement.
The Public Works director told the commission that he did not like to send five men out on a job and have two working and the other three standing around. He didn’t say he didn’t have five men available; he just doesn’t want the public to see this kind of waste. He also said that he could contract out a sidewalk repair for less than it would cost to send city employees to do it. This shows that the city’s cost structure is bloated. Also common sense tells us that if the city has employees who can repair a sidewalk, but they contract it out, the taxpayers are paying twice for that sidewalk repair.
Two years ago, it was made public that the city had 44 employees, all managers, who were being paid more than their salary cap. Some are being paid more than $20,000 above their salary cap. No one knows who authorized this; in commission discussions, the City Attorney said these payments were made with “no authority.”
It’s like when you have children and you come home and find the lamp broken and peanut butter and jelly on the wall and you ask the children, “What happened?” Nobody knows anything.
I ask the city commission to reduce the salary of managers who are being paid more than their job allows, not just to the cap, but below the cap by the same amount they have been overpaid by for years. This is not out of line with pay reductions in the private sector. Most, if not all, of the small business owners in Deerfield Beach have lost income in this recession. Many have lost it all and this can be seen in the office and storefront vacancies in Deerfield Beach. Business owners cannot tell their customers to pay more because sales have declined. The city should reduce waste and salaries of managers and not increase taxes and fees on struggling families and businesses.
21 Jul 2010
RE: Pioneer Park
Dear Mayor Nolan and Commissioners:
My name is Jason Roberts, a resident of District 1 in Deerfield Beach. I am writing to voice concern over the vitality of one of Deerfield Beach’s most precious assets, Pioneer Park. Over the past three years, I have seen many changes in the park, a place I visit daily. Some are positive, but the lion’s share have been negative.
First, since reconfiguration of the park and building of the new ballpark, the boat-ramp area has been severely compromised. The loss of parking has led to boaters parking in swales, on the grass, destroying the green areas and sprinkler systems. This has led to weeds taking over the grass and a general unkempt look. There is plenty of ‘fenced off scrub’ that used to be great parking for the boaters, but now it is just a weed field. The grass is not fenced off so that got trampled.
I support the boat ramp and fishing dock as I think it is one of our best assets in the park. It just seems that we need to support it with adequate parking, perhaps supported financially by parking permits (like the beach!) or by pay meters. Pompano has a great meter system at their 14 Street dock … something to consider.
Second, since the new playground was built some 20+ months ago, it has been closed and taped off like a crime scene for nearly a year. What is the issue? Is the manufacturer providing a safety recall? What a waste of funds to build such a beautiful playground to let it sit unused.
The same is true for the water fountains installed in the kids’ play area. It ran for perhaps the first month after it was installed. Now, a park bench is placed squarely in the middle and it hasn’t run in over a year. These park features draw families to the park for essential play and recreation time. Those families spend money with local shops and restaurants. Again, it’s a waste to invest in such an expensive water feature and not use it.
Third, the overall care for landscaping is inadequate. Beautiful sod surrounded the new ballpark a year ago. Now, due to lack of attention to watering and weed control, it is barren and overcome with weeds. Sprinklers in the park and along the cemetery are in complete disrepair. For the past three weeks, an orange construction cone has been placed over a broken sprinkler head to prevent it from shooting 20 feet in the air. Every day, sprinklers run and flood the street rather than watering the grass they are intended to water. Someone at the city cared enough to ‘cover up’ the broken sprinkler head, but not to fix it. As a resident who honors the water restrictions for my own lawn, I find it insulting that the city can waste hundreds of gallons of water every day by not maintaining the sprinklers.
On a positive note, the tennis center seems to be very well maintained and utilized! There seems, though, to be a double standard at work on how those facilities are maintained vs. the rest of the park.
I understand that there may be a master plan for the park. I cannot find it listed in any ‘project list’ online. I would love to be informed of the long-term plans for the park and to provide constructive feedback if it is welcomed. This park is a huge asset to our community. We should take better care of it.
15 Jul 2010
To Deerfield Citizens and Business Community
Now that the dust has settled and I am able to clearly see what has happened, I would like to express my feeling to the citizens and business community of our wonderful city. I would like to take you on a walk down MY memory lane in hopes of bringing back some fond times we have shared together during the past 12 years.
The beginning of my tenure came with a hurricane approaching and the chamber having windows from floor to ceiling and no shutters… what shall I do?… I do not think masking tape will work. After several conversations and much cajoling, the chamber became part of the FEMA dollars for coastal cities to retrofit for hurricane protection. Thanks to Deerfield Builders Supply and FEMA dollars, our windows became hurricane proof. And James Lee Witt, Director of FEMA, celebrated with the chamber and city.
There were the Power Boat Races, when the director of Parks and Rec came to me and said that without the chamber, this event would not be successful. Thus began several years of the Power Party on the Pier sponsored by the chamber in celebration of the Power Boat Races.
The firefighters hosted an event on the beach called the Firefighters Challenge and wanted to increase awareness and participation. They asked me for help. We created the Corporate Firefighter Challenge where companies would compete against each other to perform the same skills as firefighters. So many companies participated and I fondly remember List Industries giving it their all.
I believe the greatest success of the chamber was the Leadership program I created along with all those individuals and corporations who had enough faith in me to contribute their time and resources into making our chamber one of the best leadership programs in the state. As I look around the city, I see the mark leadership has left on this community from Constitution Park to the chamber, Butler House, NE Focal Point and the American Legion. It has created city leaders: our police chief Pete Sudler; Fire Chief Chad Brocato, as well as community leaders: President of Kiwanis, Historical Society President and members of the Cultural Committee, Chair of the Cuisine of the Region and board member of NE Focal Point and many more interested in making our city unique.
Ten years ago, a very young girl from the American Cancer Society was hired to do an event called Relay for Life. She came to me for advice and I gave her entry into the Deerfield Beach business community. Today, Deerfield Beach Relay for Life is one of the most successful relays in the state of Florida. The baton has been turned over to Gordon Vatch, who with my help and support over the years, has become a major voice and advocate for this incredible event.
Our chamber has been a source of guidance for both tourists and residents. During my tenure, countless tourists have come to our chamber looking for activities, restaurants and accommodations. I cannot begin to tell you the stories of people I have helped and phone calls I have made to help the stranded tourist without a reservation, the family who can’t find their loved one, the person whose car is broken down or who is a victim of a petty crime, the elderly lady waiting for the NE Focal Point shuttle or the chamber member whose child discretely needs community service hours.
And finally, to all our members, who I worked tirelessly to help their businesses grow, to all of the calls I made to City Hall to help our business community navigate the system, to working with commissioners to tell them the plight of the small business owner, to making sure I was fair to existing members by always expressing the importance of protecting their membership to those who wanted the advantage of being a member without wanting to pay:
I was certainly not your perfect executive director, but I was dedicated, respectful and loyal to this wonderful community. I miss my role as the director of your chamber, but please know that I did my best for what I believe was always in the best interest of this beautiful community where we work, live and play.
Thank you, BSO!
I want to say “thank you” to our BSO officers who have helped resolve a traffic issue in the Deer Run neighborhood. Chief Sudler, Lt. Grenville and Sgt. Williams and their Road Patrol deputies have all shown a strong desire to help the community resolve traffic issues that are plaguing the neighborhood. The speeding and disregard of the stop signs is a safety issue with the many kids who live in the area. They, along with Ms.Shafer from city hall, all have been great to deal with and deserve a big “atta boy” for their efforts in keeping us safe. Thank you all.
8 Jul 2010
Pioneer Park ice machine asked to move due to Flyover
I recently became a customer of the bulk ice vending machine located on the west side of Pioneer Park just north of the tennis courts on the east side of Dixie
Highway. I am extremely satisfied with the convenience, uniqueness and quality of the service offered by this company, courtesy of the City of Deerfield Beach (who I am sure charges a fee to Mondo Ice to provide the service).
On my last visit, I noticed a copy of a letter from the Interim City Manager of Deerfield Beach informing Mondo Ice to cease operations and remove their machine due to the Flyover construction. I can only assume this service is one that has been utilized and appreciated by those who frequent the park and boat ramp (which is also a unique feature our city offers to residents and non-residents alike, I presume, AND in spite of the fact that it is more difficult to get to since the demolition of the Community Recreation Center).
I can assure you, had I been aware of this convenient and economical service previously, I would have been a customer much sooner.
The ice is less expensive, better quality and greater quantity than other local sources and a lot easier than handling bags of ice. Is there no other place in the park area to relocate this machine/service? What alternative is the city planning to offer, if any? Is it going to be as economical as the existing machine/service? The fact that this machine has been in its present location for some time (although I don’t know how long and in spite of my ignorance to its value and convenience to the community previously) is indicative of it’s value and convenience to the community. Why take away an obvious benefit that assists in making Deerfield Beach unique to its neighbors? Please don’t negate the value of the Flyover improvement by removing an enhancement to the community that perhaps you (and a few others?) are not aware of either.
Deerfield Beach (resident since 1982)
RE: Coast to Coast
I work at a pharmacy in Louisiana. Upon receiving two narcotic prescriptions from Coast to Coast Healthcare in Deerfield within the span of a week, we began to ask questions. The doctors at C to C verified both of them, as required by Louisiana state law. The Florida DEA will, hopefully, return or answer our phone calls sooner or later. But a few Internet searches led me to this newspaper and the letters to the editor discussing the questionable legitimacy of said clinic.
And for bringing this information to light, I would like to thank you, both for your efforts and those of your contributors. Future patients will have substantially less luck getting their narcotics from us.
Zachary A. Dupre
1 Jul 2010
Road Construction & Intracoastal wake
Short and sweet: The difference between government and private enterprise – we can build a Walgreens at Federal Highway and Hillsboro Boulevard in a few months, but the road construction is taking forever.
Also, the article in the June 17 issue says the speed limit in the Intracoastal is 25 mph — correct but the sign also says maximum wake is 15 inches, not 4 feet (as stated). If people obey signs, the Intracoastal would be a more enjoyable place.
Steven J. Fabrizio
RE: Road Construction
Can someone please explain with a valid reason why the Hillsboro Boulevard project is still incomplete? So far, this has taken over a year-and-a-half and it looks half a—d! When asked this question, all I get from the city is that they’re waiting for FPL to pull the underground cables so the old utility and light poles can be removed. Seems to me that this would have been planned way back when the project was started. This is the road to our beach, the beach we’re all so proud of, which makes Deerfield Beach such a great place to live and work. So let me put this question to the city commission: Is this acceptable to you? Why haven’t you fought to get this done? What are you doing to get it done?
Thank you for your charitable ad space for our car show. You should be proud to know that with your efforts in promoting this event, we were able to raise $2,000 for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Our sincerest gratitude for your efforts, dedication and support. You’ve helped create a world with less breast cancer and a world with more birthdays!
Patty Zolis Miranda
Event Co-Chair, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
24 Jun 2010
What a shame this past weekend at Mango Festival. To those people hired as security or staff, hoping to earn some extra money, no luck! To the vendors selling food and souvenirs, gone. And, most of all, to the people who bought tickets to enjoy some fun and entertainment for a weekend, NO REFUNDS! Deerfield City Commissioners and the promoter should hang their heads LOW. What a way to ruin a beautiful weekend. Thanks for nothing!
Editor’s note: Other than the $25,000 already budgeted toward Mango Festival, the city deemed the 25th Mango Festival ‘a private event’ because it charged admission.
Community cares RE: Firing of employees
Two of our city’s finest employees were terminated [Khaled Coury – Aquatics Director at DB Aquatics Center, former swim coach and Ocean Rescue Lifeguard, full-time since 2004; and Kenneth Brighton – Lifeguard, Swim Instructor and Swim Coach, part-time employee]. Both employees have impeccable personal files with no reprimands.
Both are accused of falsifying documents – time card for Brighton from last August-September. Brighton was scheduled more hours than the city allows for a part-time employee. The city does not allow overtime so they “bank” the hours. This practice has been going on for at least 12 years. It occurs in other departments as well. It is also common practice in the city of Pompano Beach, according to a former lifeguard and swim coach there [Chris Hoch, Palm Beach Fire- Rescue Officer].
All of the hours Kenny worked were documented by his boss and verifiable by employees who worked with him. He worked the hours he was given and had no reason to believe it was against city policy. He was paid for the extra hours in a subsequent paycheck after he had stopped working for the city for the summer. Neither the time card nor the hours documented were written or signed by Kenny.
In both termination meetings, their boss told them the order for termination came directly from the mayor’s office. This was said to both Khaled and Kenny in two separate meetings in front of the Union Steward. This is against city policy.
The annoying part of all of this, is there are employees presently working with huge infractions and written reprimands to their personnel files. Why was Khaled fired for a practice that has been a long-time protocol and never told not to continue it or that it was against policy? He never received a warning, written or verbal. Why was Kenny fired for working hours he was scheduled by his supervisor?
RE: Firing; To the city of Deerfield Beach
We are all aware of the allegations against [Khaled Coury and Kenny Brighton] and we are all aware of the inequity in this matter. Kenny Brighton is being terminated for simply working the hours he was scheduled to work and reporting the hours to his supervisor per his request. Khaled Coury is being terminated for a policy that has been utilized within the city for at least the past12 years and is still practiced today. The fact that there are employees still working for the city with actual infractions, some of them actual crimes, confirms that the handling of this situation has not only been unfair but also inequitable. The fact that they were told, not once but twice, that this came “directly from the mayor’s office” confirms there is more to this issue than meets the eye.
We implore you to consider the facts in a manner free from political agenda and personal prejudice. We are confident that as the City Manager, you are willing to do so and will see this issue with the required amount of impartiality.
This situation has not only been an unnecessary black mark on the otherwise clean records and reputations of these two men, but has also had a deeply detrimental effect on the countless children and parents who know and appreciate the character of these two gentlemen. Please restore the confidence of the citizens of Deerfield Beach by correcting this blatant injustice. [The undersigned created a petition that was signed by concerned parties and sent to the city as well].
Deerfield Beach Dolphin Swim Team Swimmers and parents
Deerfield Beach Aquatic Center Patrons
Deerfield Beach Water Aerobics Patrons
Deerfield Beach Aquatic Pre-Competitive Swimmers and parents
Deerfield Beach Aquatic Swim Lesson Participants and parents
South Florida Recreational Swim League Members
Editor’s note: Khaled and Kenny had their appeal meetings with the city Tuesday. As of press time, Kenny had gotten his job back. Awaiting word on Khaled, but hopeful.
17 Jun 2010
Amendment 4 allows voters to weigh-in
Amendment 4, will give the voters a seat at the table. We’re the ones who watch tax dollars go to extend the schools, police, fire, water, sewer and roads to new developments that politicians keep approving. We should get a vote before we’re forced to pay.
Here’s how Amendment 4 works: Local city or county commissions will study, hold public hearings and vote on proposed changes to the overall master plan (local comprehensive land-use plan) just like they do now. Here’s the new step: [voters] will veto or approve their decision on the next regularly scheduled Election Day. No special elections required.
Amendment 4 requires voter approval only for changes to the overall master plan. It doesn’t require votes on re-zonings, variances or individual development approvals. In other words, you won’t weigh in on every new grocery store or hotel, but you will get a vote when a speculator wants to change, for example, farmland to apartments or turn a residential area into a commercial zone. I want the chance to vote, and I think most people want it too.
Don’t believe developers
[RE:] Amendment 4’s passage would stall development. There’s already enough land approved for development in Florida’s local master plans to accommodate 100 million residents – five times more people than now. There’s no need for land-use changes. Under Amendment 4, the only time citizens would vote is when a developer insists on building outside already-approved areas.
Since the 1985 Growth Management Act, a blizzard of land-use plan changes has assailed one community after another, making wise, long-range planning impossible. Planning has been gutted. People all over Florida have protested unwanted developments, only to find the deck stacked against them by the building industry and their well-rewarded, pro-development politicians.
The result has been an unending effort to catch up with the expensive infrastructure that these plan changes require, with existing residents paying the tax bills. We’re forced into fighting a rear-guard action to protect Florida’s wetlands, rivers, water table, agricultural lands and natural areas prized for recreation … In this instance, we’ll be regaining our decision-making power over land-use changes by having the final say at the end of the local politicians’ approval process.
Member Amendment 4 Statewide Coordinating Committee
10 Jun 2010
RE: “A Soldier Died Today”
Thank you so much for the printing of “A Soldier Died Today” poem (May 27 Observer). I am going to frame it and hang it next to my husband’s flag. He was a Korean vet and also had almost 25 years of honorable service to his country between regular reserve and callbacks to duty. Many thanks to you and the writer, whoever he may be.
RE: Noise problem
I am in my early 70s and do not consider myself to be a grouchy old coot. I am a “snowbird” – soon to be going home. I am also a property owner and taxpayer, having arrived in the area in 1982. I have a few problems with my surroundings regarding quality of life issues.
First of all, let me point out that the Empire State Building in NYC was built during the Depression in one year. Will I live long enough to see the Hillsboro Boulevard project come to completion? It is like the Energizer Bunny … it goes on and on!
Second, Deerfield Beach must have noise ordinances. Why don’t they enforce them? Most motorcyclists are law-abiding. However, there are enough mutants in the area who can and do harm the quality of life; they have inadequate or no mufflers. They enjoy roaring down A1A between NE 2 Street and Hillsboro Boulevard. They know their noise is intensified by reverberations off the tiered parking lot on the west side of A1A and buildings to the east. The noise sets off the car alarms, wakes up kids and others, gets dogs barking, etc. They wouldn’t get away with this in [other cities]. Why here? By stationing a sheriff within a decibel meter and summons book in the area, this problem could be alleviated. As an added benefit, a couple of dollars could be added to the city’s coffers.
Chaz Stevens’ resignation letter to mayor
When I filed my application for the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority Board, I did it in the hope of helping those most in need, firm in my resolve to not make the board appointment about me, my blog or my life.
Unfortunately, Mr. Connick, Mr. Emery and Mr. Crawford have now purposely made it about me.
• I did not want to make it into a circus. Connick did.
• I turned the other cheek. Crawford couldn’t.
• I forwarded public information to the Kessler agency. Emery accused me of misconduct.
I invite you to review the audio tapes from the meetings, my e-mails and such. You will find my conduct exemplary. In a not-so-strange twist of reality, those folks who ridiculed my name-calling resorted to the same whereas I choose the moral high ground.
But, in the end, my mere existence as a board member diverted attention from the important task of providing housing for those most in need. To be a part of such foolishness is no longer acceptable to me.
Notwithstanding the extreme criticism I have leveled at you in the past, I do not wish you any fallout from my departure. I told you I would leave quietly if need be and that is what I am doing.
Therefore, please accept this letter as my notification that I am tendering my resignation from the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority effective immediately.
Chaz Stevens, Commissioner
Deerfield Beach Housing Authority
3 Jun 2010
Mayor follows up on Youth Violence Roundtable with Schools Superintendent James F. Notter
It is with great humility and pride in the City of Deerfield Beach and its residents that I write in support of Deerfield Beach Middle School, its students, families and faculty. In a desire to publicly address the seriousness of the recent incidents of violence at Deerfield Beach Middle School, a Mayor’s Youth Violence Roundtable was held in the City of Deerfield Beach on March 31. As you are aware, Deerfield Beach Middle School serves a broad and diverse student population, with 14 sister cities sending resident students to this school. The roundtable was attended by a cross section from the community, to include concerned citizens, educational offi-cers, law enforcement officers and other stake holders. The roundtable provided a significant opportunity to express concerns, identify challenges and discuss current programming and strategies already in place — with the goal to prevent, monitor and investigate incidents of bullying and youth violence.
Specifically, Deerfield Beach Middle School and High School Principals Christine Flynn and Jon Marlow, together with BSO Captain John Nesteruk and BSO Deerfield Beach Police Chief Jay Fernandez and other law enforcement panelists were extremely reassuring as to all steps being taken and the full range of anti-violence and bullying strategies and systems already in place.
I have been advised by roundtable panelist Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, Broward County Mental Health Court Judge and former SAMHSA National Advisory Council Member, that as a grantee of The U.S. Department of Education Safe Schools Grant, expert technical assistance is and has been continually provided to the Broward County School District.
On behalf of myself and all the attendees of the Deerfield Beach Roundtable, March 31, I wanted to offer our help and commitment to actively participate in any and all community efforts to educate and engage all sectors of our community in a campaign to prevent youth violence and bullying…
One overriding theme to emerge from the roundtable was that strategies and solutions must come concurrently from all levels and sectors of the community. The problem of youth violence is not owned or confined to the school system. We all must join together as one community to ensure and provide for the safety and well-being of our children in their school environments.
I look forward to meeting with you or any designees in furtherance of these goals.
Peggy Noland, Mayor
RE: Kessler report
Instead of keeping the City’s finances in order, the City wastes precious taxpayer money in blindly pursuing a forensic audit against a separate and independent Chapter 421 Housing Authority over which the City has no legal authority other than to name and remove Board members.
Recently, the City, with no legal authority ordered a forensic audit of the Housing Authority. A forensic audit is traditionally done when there is suspicion of Criminality — yet there is absolutely no suspicion of criminality concerning the Housing Authority.
This unlawful forensic audit by the City was prompted by Internet reputation assassin Chaz Stevens. Recent disclosures reveal that Stevens latched onto a disgruntled former Housing Authority employee, Leslie Hall, and has perpetuated exaggeration and misinformation in order to attempt to discredit the Housing Authority. Stevens has had all questions asked at Housing Authority meetings answered fully. He will continue to attempt to destroy the Housing Authority to feed his ego.
Since there is no legal authority to order a forensic audit of the separate and independent Housing Authority, the City is attempting to do indirectly what it cannot legally do directly by a Public Records Request for massive quantities of documents from the Housing Authority — from which the City will have a forensic audit done. Cost to taxpayers for the voluminous records requested and for this unnecessary audit is expected to exceed $100,000! At a time when the City needs to concentrate on responsibly spending taxpayer money, the City is instead throwing taxpayer money away.
Note: So everyone will know, an independent audit of the Housing Authority is done every fiscal year by an independent CPA in accordance with Federal audit standards of public housing agencies pursuant to F.S. 421.091. Current audit of the Housing Authority is anticipated to be completed and distributed in June 2010.
If there is any well-founded suspicion of criminality, that suspicion should be reported to HUD. HUD has the jurisdiction, power and authority to do a forensic audit if it deems such an audit desirable. If there were a need for a forensic audit, which there is not, the audit should be done by a CPA pursuant to a Request for Proposal.
Thomas Connick, Attorney at Law
Editor’s note: On Friday, May 28, Chaz Stevens resigned his position on the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority.
27 May 2010
RE: Deerfield Chamber reorganization
I want to share my feelings of shock and disappointment that the news of the ouster of Janyce Becker from the DFB Chamber of Commerce has wrought. Janyce worked tirelessly on behalf of the membership, at all times fostering relationships, increasing business prospects and creating exciting opportunities for old and new member businesses alike. At present, the Chamber is headless and in lock-down; no Executive Director, no Chairman, no staff, closed doors and with a Board seemingly forgetful of the fact that they were elected to carry out the wishes of the majority. Janyce, you are already sorely missed. What a waste of an enormous talent.
As Janyce Becker departs as Executive Director of the Deerfield Beach Chamber of Commerce, she takes with her 12 years of dedication to strengthening area businesses, improving the lives of area residents and encouraging tourism.
She has ably guided the Chamber in its day-to-day activities, gaining the participation and cooperation of its members, as well as adding to its roster. Monthly meetings involved speakers from the political arena, government officials, business leaders, etc. She emphasized the networking of members as they held on during the economic downturn.
Janyce was a major player in such local events as Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society held every year in May at Quiet Waters Park, Pigout in the Park, a family-oriented barbecue and entertainment event, the Chili Cook-off, the Firemen’s Challenge on the Beach, golf tournaments, etc. The list is endless and her personal involvement contributed to their success. Chamber members enjoyed monthly meetings, Business After Hours and luncheons, all designed to foster increased business. Janyce’s creative mind worked overtime, planning activities for the benefit of Chamber members and the citizens of Deerfield Beach.
Her many supporters and admirers are saddened and feel the void as she leaves the Deerfield Beach Chamber of Commerce. We wish her well as she seeks new challenges. Janyce Becker has made her imprint on Deerfield Beach and will continue on a successful path in all her future endeavors.
Ann B. Kreiman
Making greener choices after oil spill
After the tragic oil rig explosion in the Gulf Coast, many people are rightfully concerned that the oil spill will reach our shorelines, polluting beaches and devastating marine life. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do to undo the destruction or bring back the workers who are presumed dead. We can, however, at least try to negate some of the environmental damage by making greener choices in our daily activities.
Choosing vegan foods, for example, can help reduce pollution and conserve resources. More than 1/3 of the fossil fuels produced in America are used to raise animals for food, and factory farm waste lagoons are a leading source of water pollution. According to the EPA, chicken, hog and cattle excrement has polluted at least 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.
Eating vegan foods will help animals too. Most of us aren’t able to assist rescue groups in their efforts to save seabirds and other marine animals in the gulf, but we can each help save hundreds of other sentient animals by going vegan.
20 May 2010
“Pill mills” should go!
“Pill mills” need to be immediately shut down now! Any “medical facility” that only accepts cash for payment is owned by non-medical personnel (many which are convicted felons), use doctors who write ‘scrips for 200 or more oxy’s per patient per-visit and cater to out-of-state clients is NOT a medical facility. Funny, there is no rehab for supposed injuries involved at these pill mills. If you want to know what is happening to your children or friends, please watch a video done by an undercover reporter who risked her life to get the real story: www.hulu.com/watch/100279/vanguard-the-oxycontin-express. You will be well-educated and know what to look for.
I wish to thank our great political representatives in Tallahassee for allowing this to happen. I’m sure the pharmaceutical companies have well compensated them for their lack of having a spine or a brain.
“Pill mills” are trouble
Pill mills are trouble and we all know it. Any time you drive by Coast to Coast Healthcare Management on Hillboro Boulevard, you can see the string of out-of-state cars and people waiting in the car, under trees and anywhere they can get into the shade.
While it may take awhile for the laws to catch up with them, any professional involved with this organization knows exactly what is going on.
So isn’t it time for a little community action?
RE: “Street Cleaning? Really?”
In this April 29 Letter to the Editor, Donna Lavoie states that the “street cleaning truck came down the street” with a big cloud of dust behind it. She proceeds to say how the truck came back down the street “(AGAIN!)” two hours later. “I watched more carefully this time and noticed he was talking on his cell phone so I guess he was not paying attention to the fact that he had come by here already!” I would like to say that street sweeping of our residential streets is very important to our community. Street sweeping can be an effective measure in reducing pollutants in stormwater runoff. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers street sweeping a Best Management Practice in protecting water quality. Street sweeping really does help our environment and plays an important role in the Stormwater Division. Many residents appreciate getting their street swept. It removes trash from the road and helps keep the neighborhood clean. As far as the sweeper returning down the same street, maybe the operator was sweeping the other side of the street when he returned. Or perhaps the operator felt the sweeper needed to make a second pass to ensurethe street was cleaned sufficiently.
As far as the driver “talking on his cell phone” and “not paying attention,” the City does issue Nextel phones to certain employees. These phones have a walkie talkie feature and are indeed cell phones but only the “direct connect” feature is activated. Perhaps the operator of the sweeper was getting a call from his supervisor about another area that needed sweeping. I believe the operator did submit a copy of his personal cell phone records to his supervisor and it was found that no personal calls were made or received on his personal cell phone while he was operating the vehicle.
It is sad that there are lay-offs happening and [there was] consideration of a library closing. To answer your question Ms. Lavoie: Yes, the City of Deerfield Beach really does need a residential street sweeping truck.
13 May 2010
Trip to Post Office becomes magical mystery tour
On April 29, I went to the Deerfield Post Office and noticed the parking lot was packed with spillover cars from the clinic across the street. It was row after row of out-of-state plates. This was strange. I looked around at the back of the clinic and saw groups of people standing around talking. A group of five men were gathered in the swale of the post office so I grabbed our ObserverTV camera and when they saw it, they took off down the street.
This was getting weird. All these cars were pulling up to the clinic and people piled out and were replaced by other people who were already there. One guy saw my camera focused on him and pulled his hat down and pushed his sunglasses up, as if to conceal his identity. After a few more minutes, I heard someone shout, “Hey video punk! What’s the camera for?” I replied, “The local ObserverTV.”
One of them shouted “get out of here” while the other lunged at me, trying to grab my camera. All he got was the foam microphone cover.
I had to order a new microphone cover for the camera and when the FedEx lady brought it, I told her what happened. “Oh Boy” she said “I was making a delivery next door to that clinic a few days ago and while doing my paperwork, two guys jumped up into my truck and said, ‘did you just make a delivery to that clinic?’ I shouted, ‘No! Now get out of my truck!’”
I hope someday soon it will be little kids jumping up into the FedEx lady’s truck, asking if she just delivered the newest car models to the hobby shop that took the place of the clinic.
ObserverTV will continue to film activities at the clinic.
Pill mill spells trouble
I totally agree with Regina Sargent, who wrote on May 6 regarding the Coast to Coast Healthcare pill mill. I’ve seen what this kind of business can do to a community. It is certainly something we do not need nor want in Deerfield Beach. Are we not supposed to say no to drugs? However, here it is on the main street in our town for everyone to drive by and use. I know, from keeping up on current events, other towns are banning these businesses. Deerfield needs to act and act quickly. This is not something to be taken casually.
Clarification re: Goodwill
Perhaps, I should clarify my previous letter to the Observer. I have nothing against Goodwill stores, thrift shops, etc. What I was objecting to was the location of the Goodwill store. I do not believe it is the proper place for such a store. There also are not sufficient parking spaces. This is my opinion. I am not a snob, as one woman who wrote to me suggested. I believe there should be some type of control over where certain businesses are located and also the look of new/old buildings, i.e., color of the paint. If you feel I have insulted the Goodwill stores, which was never my intent, perhaps you should actually read what I said and not misconstrue my words.
Looking forward to Goodwill
I have donated to Goodwill stores since 1938. The people at these stores have always been super nice and grateful for everything you give them. There are a lot of people who need to shop at these stores, especially today.
There is nothing disgraceful about the Goodwill. They help a lot of people. I look forward to this store coming to Deerfield Beach.
6 May 2010
Goodwill Center good idea?
I agree with Mr. Imperatrice regarding the Goodwill Center. Here we are improving the look of Hillsboro Boulevard and Federal Highway and now the city is allowing a Goodwill store to move into the area? It is a disgrace to do this to our city. Across the street, you have a beautiful shopping center. Just what kind of businesses are you trying to attract? This is certainly not the type of business that should be in this area. Also, what about the parking situation? I hope something can be done about this. How can we stop this from happening?
Wake Up Citizens of Deerfield Beach
I find it appalling that this city has allowed a business that partakes in drug trafficking to operate in, what was once, a family-oriented community. I am talking about Coast to Coast Healthcare on Hillsboro Boulevard. This is not a healthcare clinic. It is a legal place to buy and sell lethal presciption drugs. The parking lot, streets and Post Office parking lot are overflowing with in state and out of state vehicles. Anybody who follows the news knows that these people are not here to receive healthcare treatment. What is going on here is an epidemic that is killing people and Deerfield Beach is allowing it to perpetuate. This, from a city that will not allow you to park your boat in your yard because it is an eyesore. And they don’t want you to smoke on the beach because the cigarette butts create trash. Oh, but this kind of trash is OK? Not to mention the fact that the elementary school is right down the street. This place needs to be shut down. In light of all the bad press that Deerfield Beach has gotten lately, this is clearly not the kind of business that serves this city well.
29 Apr 2010
Opposing State & Municipal Pension Benefit Reductions
Dear Florida Legislators:
My name is Rose. I’m honored and proud to be the wife of a loyal, dedicated long-time serving Veteran Law Enforcement Officer. For over 23 years, my husband, alongside his associates have unselfishly risked their lives to protect and serve the people of this community. They furnish us, our children and our families with safety as a nation. We ask that you protect the very important people who protect us and have protected us throughout the decades. Give justice to the men and women who upheld justice for us. Give them the benefits they worked hard for and are rightfully theirs. I can’t think of any better shovel-ready projects than supporting your public servants.
Street Cleaning? Really?
Today, Friday the 23rd, the street cleaning truck came down the street. Behind it was a big cloud of dust! Two hours later, the street cleaner came down the street (AGAIN!) and left another big cloud of dust. I watched more carefully this time and noticed he was talking on his cell phone so I guess he was not paying attention to the fact that he had come by here already! With all the lay-offs and all the closures going on now, even considering closing a library (what?), does the city really think we need a street cleaning truck?
Recycling contract reeks, says resident
Just when you thought the Deerfield Beach commission was getting its collective act together, a majority of commissioners do the unthinkable. This one really reeks, and this time it is garbage (or recycling to be exact). At the city commission meeting on March 23, a then 4 to1 super majority approval granted the City’s recycled materials drop-off contract to three companies. For the past seven years, the contract was monopolized by just a single company (Sun Recycling). Competition is good after all. In fact, moving to three companies for drop-off would have saved the City of Deerfield Beach and its residents over $216,000per year. However, at the April 20 commission meeting, a new majority of 3 to 2 reversed course and gave the recycling drop-off contract back to Sun Recycling. This lone act will cost us residents $216,000 per year for the life of the new contract. In a year where the City’s budget shortfall is expected to be $16 million or more, we the citizens deserve a real explanation, not the same old recycled politics. This whole issue should be brought back to the City Commission and open to public discussion.
22 Apr 2010
Decline of quality retail establishments
I am writing regarding the declining state of quality retail establishments along the Deerfield Beach/Lighthouse Point
Federal Highway corridor.
Since moving to the area in 2008, many quality chain stores and restaurants as well as locally owned small businesses have closed. As a property owner and taxpayer, I am very concerned about the types of stores replacing these recently closed establishments.
Is Federal Highway near Hillsboro an appropriate spot to open a Goodwill retail center or additional pawn shops and tattoo parlors? Don’t misunderstand me, I believe the Goodwill organization is stellar with regard to its mission and I myself have a tattoo.
My point is that the city community development staff should be paying much closer attention to the types of business opening in their core retail corridors and work overtime on attracting more desirable types of businesses. Also, zoning laws should tweaked. What are the consequences of not doing this? Residents, like myself, will head west and north to shop, as I find myself doing more frequently.
Bees be gone!
Kudos to the City of Deerfield Beach for getting a bee keeper to expeditiously remove that humongous bees nest on 4th street in Deer Run. I called on a Friday and the next Thursday it was removed.
Service with a smile, anyone?
Thanks for keeping Cal Thomas
I read “Letters to the Editor” all the time. A week or so ago, two of the letters were complaining about articles written by Cal Thomas. They felt your paper should include a liberal point of view. The column was missing that week and I was very upset. However, it was back in the next week’s paper.
Thank you for keeping it! If someone doesn’t like the column, they don’t have to read it. Ninety percent of the media (TV and newspaper) are liberal and often seem to leave out a lot of the facts. I like to hear both sides and make up my own mind. Thanks again!
Deerfield Beach, FL
15 Apr 2010
SW 10 Street sidewalk a wise use of funds?
Last week a 9-year-old boy was hit and killed by a bus on Disney property near Orlando. Where this happened, the sidewalk is next to a busy road, which in my opinion is a dangerous situation. A few months ago, Deerfield Beach City Commission approved the creation of a similar dangerous sidewalk along the south side of SW 10 Street next to Century Village. During the meeting where this $75,000 sidewalk was approved, a lady spoke before the commission and pointed out the hedges on the south side of SW 10 Street are broken down in several places, where cars have run off the road. She also asked the Commissioners “Are you out of your mind?”
The only difference between this sidewalk and the one at Disney is that in Deerfield Beach, no one will use it because we already have a sidewalk on the north side of SW 10 Street that is a safe distance from the speeding traffic on that street. This is being paid for by Broward County so the City Commission wasn’t concerned about the waste of money. The last time I looked at my tax bill, both Deerfield Beach and Broward County took a large cut.
With property values “dropping like a rock,” to quote Charlie Crist, it is time that the City and County got serious about saving money. Commission rules allow any commissioner who voted on the prevailing side of an issue to bring it up for reconsideration. In this case, that is all the commissioners. In the interest of saving money and lives, I am asking the City Commission to put this on the agenda and tell Broward County to cancel this sidewalk and put the $75,000 in reserve for future projects that make sense.
RE: Deerfield Beach Faith Community March Against Youth Violence
Dear Faith Community:
I was told the reason “I didn’t participate in the march because it doesn’t make a difference” or “I was not led to march because I am called to do other things” is your prerogative, perception and preference. I can’t argue with that, all I can do is share my heart.
This march did show that some people were led to stand up because we have had enough of the outpour of negativity about and within Deerfield Beach. It was a way for us to break down the barriers between denominations and come together since we don’t do this on Sundays! It was a time to show those who have lost faith in the church to see us team up beyond color, socio-economic status and age, a way to show the media that there are GOOD people in Deerfield Beach!
You may have not felt called to March Against Youth Violence, but please don’t tell me that it did not make a difference. It made a difference to the youth who marched, it made a difference to those who were in their front yards and saw us take a stand, it made a difference to all the people driving by on the corner of Hillsboro and Dixie as we held up our signs and prayed over our family, churches, schools and government!
I poured my heart into this march because, as a mental health counselor, I SEE and FEEL the pain that our youth are going through. I SEE and FEEL the weakening of families. I SEE and FEEL the decline of the moral fiber of society!
This was a way for one person to be able to show Deerfield Beach, the community that I love so much, that we care … and that my friends, makes a difference!
Diana Santiago Rice, M.S.
8 Apr 2010
Ending teen violence: Shifting the educational paradigm
I was moved and outraged by the brutal beating of Josie Ratley by Wayne Treacy. What could cause one young person to attack another – someone he didn’t even know – with such fury? I learned from the philosophy of Aesthetic Realism, founded in 1941 by poet and educator Eli Siegel, that all cruelty and violence arises from a person’s desire to have contempt for the world – “the addition to self through the lessening of something else.”
At that moment, Wayne Treacy saw Josie as representing a world he wanted to obliterate. This same contempt is present in a sarcastic remark, a racist statement and is central in the bullying, ever more deadly, running rampant in our schools.
How can this youth violence end? The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method, which I used for 30 years in New York City High Schools, has this principle by Mr. Siegel as its basis: “The purpose of education is to like the world.” This method enables young people to learn successfully AND become deeper, kinder persons. It enables them to see, through the subject, that the world has a logical, beautiful structure of opposites related to their lives. Students’ respect for the world, which every subject stands for, increases. They learn with ease that they are more than just individuals. Until students can use the subjects they study to see likeable meaning in the world, the same world that can pain and confuse them, this cruelty will continue unabated. For more info, visit www.aestheticrealism.org
‘Distorted minutes by condo newspaper’ – and rebuttals
Century Village East (CVE) is an 8,400-unit senior condo development in Deerfield Beach. Each of its 253 buildings is a separate corporation. The Condominium Owners Organization of CVE (COOCVE) is an umbrella organization with a 350-member board of directors (BOD). It collectively owns the for-profit CVE Reporter, a substantial monthly publication distributed free to all condos. It is virtually the sole source of published information about what happens in CVE. The COOCVE President nominates the CVE Reporter members’ BOD to the COOCVE BOD, which routinely rubber stamps them. That Reporter BOD “oversees” its Editor-in-Chief, currently the same COOCVE President who nominated that BOD.
For many years, CVE decision-making was dominated by Mr. Trinchitella, who built a powerful autocratic political machine with interlocking membership on formal decision-making bodies. A new group is effectively following in his wake, resulting in the following instance of distortion of information:
The CVE Reporter BOD met Feb. 23, 2010 and their Minutes, recorded by their Secretary, also the COOCVE Secretary between 2008 and this year, were published in the March CVE Reporter. These Minutes are distorted to flatter the Reporter and diminish its critics. In past similar situations dealing with COOCVE Minutes, the critics found no recourse for presenting our views to the public.
The question I asked the Board was: “What policies do you have which govern the Reporter…?” Eventually, Reporter director and lead columnist/reporter Ms. Judy Olmstead explained that their editorial policy was the six-line statement in their masthead. At the Reporter Board meeting, Editor-in-Chief and COOCVE President Mr. Steven Fine interrogated me about what I wanted.
My main point – that the Reporter BOD has no significant policies which govern the paper’s operation, so that, among other things its editor could and did censor all views with which he disagreed with impunity – was completely omitted. CVE would benefit as a community if more of our residents participated actively in our affairs. That would help counter the autocratic control of those in interlocking authority!
A Critic of CVE Autocracy, Kenswick C
1 Apr 2010
All for some, none for others
I have lived in Deerfield 20 years now. Not a fan of the politics here, never have been.
I follow the happenings of the CRA in The Cove area and the beach. Nice lighting, pavers, underground wires, soon a new entrance to the pier. I guess the city has lots of money. Bond debt you say? Who pays for the bonds? We do!
And I have to ask, again … what about those of us just west of Federal Highway? What do we get? A flyover! How attractive, what value this will add to our homes!
Between Federal Highway and Dixie Highway, this stretch of Hillsboro Boulevard is the only part without a median and the plantings that go with it. You could land an airplane here. I hope someone does not say “Oh, it is because of the school crossing.” Not true, there is a school crossing just past Powerline Road.
Time for the city to spend some money where their voters live, not just make things pretty for tourists.
Raccoons running rampant
My daughter was the child involved in the incident on Feb. 9 when a raccoon came from nowhere and bit her and my two dogs. I am really concerned about our security in this neighborhood [The Preserve at Deer Creek, at Hillsboro Boulevard and Powerline Road.] We are afraid to walk the dogs at night and would like better propaganda on this issue, so more people can be aware of the risks and work together as a community to prevent over-population of raccoons in our environment.
I would be very grateful to have some help with this issue.
Thank you very much
RE: Cal Thomas
I am a resident of Deerfield Beach and enjoy reading the Observer. I am disappointed that the newspaper carries a weekly column by Cal Thomas but offers no balance by publishing a weekly liberal columnist. I would suggest that either you alternate weeks with a conservative one week and liberal the other week, or publish both political viewpoints weekly. For a liberal point of view, I would suggest Jim Wallis, Ellen Goodman, Leonard Pitts Jr., Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, E. J. Dionne Jr., Clarence Page, Richard Cohen, Bob Herbert, Garrison Keillor or David Sirota.
I enjoy your newspaper but do not understand why you subject your readers, week after week, to the rantings of Cal Thomas. Why print the viewpoint of someone out to polarize and divide the country against itself? Mr. Thomas does not provide any answers or suggestions for the problems our country is facing, so he resorts to instilling fear and disrespect of our government. Many of his accusations of the Obama administration are outright false. If you cannot drop Mr. Thomas’ byline altogether, can you at least provide a weekly column with an alternate point of view?
Publisher’s Response: Thank you for your letters. However, it is not practical financially for us to contract with numerous columnists.
25 Mar 2010
Save Lives, Enhance Revenue!
To the Editor:
When the Surgeon General made the statement that walking daily for your health is a good habit to establish, she apparently never spent time in Florida — the deadliest state in the U.S. for pedestrians. I can speak from personal experience: my next door neighbor was hit and killed by a motorcyclist as he was crossing A1A on Hillsboro Boulevard, just a few years back.
I drive the scenic route to my office in Delray Beach most mornings. I stopped today to let walkers go by (just inside the Deerfield/Boca border on A1A). I counted 9 VEHICLES (including a police cruiser from another jurisdiction!) zoom right by, with no consideration for the people attempting to cross the street. This was at a designated crosswalk, with a neon green sign and arrow! What in the world is wrong with this picture?
Want to bump up tax revenues? Here’s the perfect solution: Place some motorcycle patrolmen at regular side-streets alongside A1A for a couple of weeks. Start ticketing these people. People pay attention when it hits their pockets! Make running a crosswalk an expensive moving violation, no acceptions! It’s the Law-Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk. Make it tough for them to get away with their potentially life-threatening behavior on the road.
Let’s start educating through enforcement, and let’s use some of those additional revenue streams to provide more education, more crosswalks and more flashing lights at crucial areas of high pedestrian traffic. After all, why should walkers use the crosswalks designated for their use if drivers are not required to stop for them?
Joan R. Gould
Dear Mayor Fisher
To the Editor:
As a Pompano Beach business owner and resident, I wholeheartedly support the plans for the pier development, especially with the on-street parking that allows the public to have a good connection between various East CRA developments. It would be really nice to go to dinner at the pier, and then take a stroll on the sidewalk along Pompano Beach Boulevard to walk off the meal or go and have dessert at Café Al Mare.
I believe the on-street parking is a crucial element to promote a user-friendly walking promenade and to avoid dead zones that can lead to crime and the perception that an area is not safe.
My group of five small lodgings flank the East CRA immediately to the North and South along the beach. Our guests are upscale business and vacation travelers, who bring money into Pompano Beach, which helps the area prosper. The first thing they ask me about the beach road is “Is it safe to walk there?” They all want to be able to take an evening stroll, but right now, it looks spooky.
If we had on-street parking, it would be an invitation for folks to come and enjoy the beach and walk up and down Pompano Beach Boulevard. This new vitality spurred by on-street parking would be a threat to Pompano’s less desirable thugs and homeless who rely on dark, empty streets to prey upon the few that come along. With on-street parking and the life it would bring when enough people are around, no one would be afraid to take a nice evening stroll there.
Elaine Fitzgerald, President/CEO
Beach Vacation Rentals
18 Mar 2010
Water rates, firefighters’ retirement costs
Recent letters to the Observer cry out for clarification and comment. The letter from the Canadian resident of Century Village concerning the equalization of base rates for water and sewer usage obviously does not understand that it has nothing to do with water usage. The base rates of water and sewer make certain that when the user turns on the tap, there will be water to be used. Everyone should pay the same for the privilege.
Tim Hanley’s touching farewell to taxpayers upon his recent retirement failed to tell residents just how much his and Tony Strevino’s service has cost and will continue to cost taxpayers in the future.
Tony Strevino: Age at retirement 53
Annual pension: $91,592.04
City will pay his health insurance until age 65
$306.83 x 12 x 12 = $44,183.52
As of November 2009, his DROP plan held $406,567.08
Tim Hanley: Age at Retirement 50
Annual Pension: $75,797.76
City will pay health insurance until age 65
$306.83 x 12 x 15 = $64,949.40
As of November 2009, his DROP plan held $290,499.15
If the commission does not take action, the city will soon be bankrupt. The commission should eliminate the defined pension plan for all future hires in the Fire Department, take a good look at all who get the 15 percent incentive pay but never go out on a call, and drop the DROP plan which exists solely for the Fire Department. Make those people retire.
Jean M. Robb
Memories of a great angler
I am writing to tell you about a man who was a great angler, friend and mentor to many young anglers. His name is Charlie Walker. He was the teacher and advisor to all who needed to learn about South Florida fishing. He took kids under his wing and would get them hooked on fishing instead of the other things in life that could destroy them. He operated Walkers Bait And Tackle in Deerfield Beach for more than 30 years. His customers would come from Boynton Beach to the north and from Ft. Lauderdale to the south to learn the tricks and techniques of fishing offshore to the everglades. I have known him since 1973 and he was my best friend. We fished locally from the Keys to the Bahamas. He touched everyone with a smile and a wealth of fishing talent. He was a gentleman and a friend to everyone he met. He would go out of his way with time and patience to be sure they understood what they were learning. I am sad to say this local legend has passed. Those who knew Charlie will most certainly miss the kindness he shared with a cup of coffee and a smile as he taught you to be a great angler and respect nature. He fought for regulations at many, many meetings to help conserve the fisheries, whether it was here or at the capitol. He once coined the phrase “release today and fish for life.”
Captain Tony Rizzo
Deer Run signs
Who are the powers that be who decided to erect two lovely wooden Deer Run signs a quarter of the way down 4th Street? Running parallel to 4th street, you can’t see them from Powerline Road. The signs should have been angled out for a better view.
11 Mar 2010
RE: Freedom of the press?
Commenting on the letter of Mr. Bender March 4, I, too, find it a glaring conflict of interest when the hitherto independent Reporter is now managed by an Editor-in-Chief who at the same time controls COOCVE as its elected president.
Although I had successfully written for the Reporter for many years, a clear example is his arbitrary censoring and eliminating of my column, which apparently expressed a conflicting political point of view.
As to the late Mr. Trinchitella, as a long-time resident of Century village for over 30 years, I was actively involved in numerous programs, working closely with him for a number of years.
While I concede “Trinchie’s” autocratic style, his whole effort, however, was always dedicated to the benefit of Century Village and the betterment of its residents.
RE: Water rates spark discussion
Concerning your March 4 article, “Water rates spark discussion at District 4 meeting:” It is commendable that Commissioner Bill Ganz is seeking to “even out the rate” with his district and Century Village East.
The rates, as I understand them, for water and sewage, are based on usage. So the rule of thumb is the more you use, the more you pay.
1) In CVE, all of the more than 8,600 units are occupied by either one or two persons, whose use of water and sewage is significantly less than homes with children.
2) In CVE, a large number — estimates are more than half of the units — are unoccupied for anywhere from six to eight months a year, as many of the co-owners are either snowbirds or snowflakes, and only occupy their units for a part of the year.
So one can easily see why the CVE charge is that much lower than single-family homeowners. The figures the City has used as a lower average base rate, being lower than the nearby District 4, with owner-occupied full-time family residents is justified. It should be noted that multi-family units in District 4 also pay less than single family home-owners, presumably because of lower usage, although not nearly as low as CVE because they are predominantly year-round dwellings.
However if Mr. Ganz wants to “even things” out, would he be willing to eliminate the vast differential in property taxation between permanent residents and snowbirds and snowflakes, who pay a disproportionately higher share of city, county and hospital taxes, even though we do not use their facilities for much of the year? Now that would be real justice.
A proud resident of CVE [Deerfield Beach]
and a proud Canadian Snowbird
4 Mar 2010
Pre-K program short on money
The State of Florida may be short on money, but we, as Pre-K providers, are not short on quality. We continue to strive to meet the state-mandated guidelines. We also seek to meet the needs of our students and their families.
As the article Sun-Sentinel, Feb. 3] states, “It was never well-funded in the eyes of early childhood professionals in the beginning.” Florida ranks 34th out of 38 States [that fund Pre-K]. That is setting the children of Florida up for failure. The voters want a “high quality” program.
As a private faith-based provider the success of our pre-kindergarten program relies on the voluntary pre-kindergarten funding for 4-year-olds. We cannot survive on the reductions of per-student spending. Curriculum is always fine-tuned at our school to meet the children’s basic needs. Once these are met, the child can concentrate on learning.
I am praying that the lawmakers in Tallahassee will find the funds to continue this valuable program. Just as the article states “… the irony, to many program advocates, is that pre-K has been successful, despite the financial difficulties.”
As long as First Christian is able to operate the school in these difficult financial times, we will continue to create an environment supporting the leaders of tomorrow.
Helen M. Magnuson
Director – First Christian Day School
Freedom of the press?
For many years, Century Village East (CVE) decision-making was dominated by Mr. Trinchitella who built a powerful autocratic political machine with interlocking membership on decision-making bodies.
A new group is effectively following in his wake, resulting, in the instance below, in suppression of opinion within CVE.
The umbrella organization of the numerous local CVE building associations is the Condominium Owners Organization of Century Village East, whose elected president is Mr. Steven Fine.
The substantial monthly newspaper and the main source of information available to residents distributed free to each of the buildings is the CVE Reporter. Its Editor-in-Chief is the same Mr. Fine, who serves under a board appointed by the COOCVE Board, at the recommendation of COOCVE President Mr. Fine. His appointments are his close allies, including two of the CVE Reporter’s prime columnists/reporters.
1. Mr. Fine informs CVE in his Reporter December column as COOCVE President that he will require the COOCVE Board of Directors to assume the legal costs he is incurring, which are not covered by Directors and Officers insurance policy or he will leave his volunteer positions. Mr. Fine is a defendant in two actions brought against him, one by the State of Florida for assaulting a COOCVE owner, the other a related civil suit, plus two actions he brought against owner-critics for defamation.
2. Opponents of his position respond with their arguments.
3. Reporter Editor-in-Chief Mr. Fine refuses to print their response as a letter to the CVE Reporter, giving specious reasons at a public meeting when asked about it.
Freedom of the press indeed is enjoyed by those who control the press. Democracy and Fairness are victims.
25 Feb 2010
Time to look at Deerfield budget, says former mayor
The time is now to start taking a look at what is to be a rather tight budget. The former manager transferred $9 million from the undesignated reserve to balance the last one. That option is not open this year. There are only tough choices to be made.
First and foremost is increasing revenues and eliminating expenditures. The city could increase revenue in water and sewer bills by $455,000 by making every multi-family unit pay the same base rate for water and sewer usage. Garbage rates could be reduced by $2.2 million with elimination of the recycling division and a contract for Waste Management in its place. Lower water and sewer and garbage bills might make residents more amenable to increasing the ad valorem, which is tax deductible while those other bills are not.
Now is the time to lease the pier to private enterprise and eliminate $315,000 from the budget. There has to be an increase in beach parking stickers or elimination of the program. Last year, 1,800 residents bought stickers and the city earned $90,000, but it lost a bundle of money on those meters that were taken out of usage. We had 1,800 city residents being subsidized by the other 65,000. The commission has to look at closing the defined pension plan for new hires in the Fire Department. Their pensions are killing us. And there should be no 15 percent incentive pay for any member of that department who never goes out on a call.
If the (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) DROP plan were dropped, those top-heavy employees of the department would retire, making room for advancement of the lower echelon, and the city would save their high-end salaries.
Time also to eliminate a number of managerial positions. Get an actuarial study to determine what the cost would be and how much would be saved in salaries if the city allowed employees with 30 or 25 years of service to retire without penalty — regardless of age. Employees from the recycling division could fill those positions.
Jean M. Robb
18 Feb 2010
Thank You and Goodbye
This past Saturday, I had the great pleasure of participating in the Founders’ Days Parade. This was not my first parade as a member of the Fire Department. However, it will be my last.
On Saturday, Feb. 27, I will work my last shift for the Department after more than 29 years of service. As the parade began and we moved slowly east on Hillsboro Boulevard towards the beach, I took greater notice than ever before of the scenery, the people and the moment. Smiling faces young and old took in the spirit of the procession as I attempted to soak up all that I could. I remembered the many times, as a child myself, sitting on the sidewalk by the main fire station watching, waving and racing for the candy being thrown by people riding on the various floats. Also, I was reflective of the many emergencies along this corridor through the years. The Founders’ Days Parade has always been special, but Saturday I seemed to make more eye contact and connect with more people than ever before. I looked at every child I could, with the intention of somehow convincing him or her that someday s/he could view the parade from my perspective as a member of Deerfield Fire-Rescue. Perhaps someday, a young Firefighter will tell this older one that’s what their motivation was. Along the route, I saw longtime friends, former schoolmates and even people that, through the years, needed to call on me while on duty to help with an emergency. None of them knew that I wasn’t waving hello, I was waving goodbye!
This letter is to thank all of you for extending me the privilege and the honor of serving you. No longer will I be responding to your calls for assistance, but I will always be there in the spirit of those still answering the alarm and rendering aid. They are, after all, an extension of me, and that — I am very proud of!
Captain Tim Hanley
Kudos to city workers
This is to express my admiration for the City of Deerfield Beach workers who so quickly, efficiently and cheerfully removed the debris left by the Founders’ Day Parade. Their professionalism and goodwill spoke well for the city of which I am proud to be a citizen.
Deerfield Beach, FL
4 Feb 2010
One wonders why…
As a resident and taxpayer of Deerfield Beach and a weekly visitor of the beach for the past 28 years, this weekend I noticed the two vertical blue fish sculptures and the Adirondack chair signage from the front door of Harpoon Louie’s were removed. The new owners of the old Luna Rosa Restaurant (across from the pier) have made so much of a spiffy improvement to that location inside and out, it is an asset to the beach. But for some reason, these things were not in compliance.
With all the poor planning and questionable decision-making on the Pier Restaurant and adjacent land deal, one wonders why the City of Deerfield couldn’t work something out with the owners, rather than causing friction, extra expense … and most of all, the same week of the Art Festival that would have given them and the city some pleasing exposure.
28 Jan 2010
Children need civics education
Our children are being drastically shortchanged in know-ledge of our government.
Most of you have heard the statistics: A poll in Florida indicates that only 40 percent of our society is able to name the three branches of government, much less know how they are intended to balance each other. It is long overdue for students to learn what their government is about. In the 2010 Legislative Session, I will introduce a bill in the House of Representatives that provides for a curriculum in civics for middle school students followed by a test to discern whether the students understand the basics of government.
While it is important for everyone to register and to vote, students need to learn why our freedom is so important, how it was won and why it is so critical for us to maintain. If they don’t understand how their government works, they will not be motivated to vote or to serve in the military. The cost is well worth the price, and the end result is that it will impact every person who values their freedom. We must not let another generation go through school being completely ignorant of what makes this country great.
If you agree with me about this need, please urge your Florida Representative or your State Senator to Support House Bill 105.
District 16, Florida House of Representatives
21 Jan 2010
Residents ring in on Mahaney
It is unfortunate that the taxpayers are represented by such reprehensible politicians who had the audacity last Friday to fire the City Manager, Michael Mahaney. Mr. Mahaney was the victim of the Noland political machine because [he] would not cave in to the constant requests by the firefighters’ union for more pay, benefits and anything else they can get their hands on. Everyone knows that the Noland family is well-represented in the firefighter’s organization. Yet, at least two more of Deerfield Beach’s commissioners, Bill Ganz and Marty Popelsky, joined Noland in her “witch hunt” despite the huge conflict of interest in this action. Beware of the city caving in to the firefighters’ union demands post-Mahaney. Wasn’t it Mr. Mahaney who gave Deerfield Beach a balanced budget with no layoffs and a minimal tax rate increase? Let’s see how well Noland and Company can do now that the feeding trough is once again open for the firefighters’ union (did I mention the CONFLICT OF INTEREST issue?) There is a phrase used many times over when politicians abuse the power given to them by the electorate, including taking actions against the will of the people. It goes THROW THE BUMS OUT! Unfortunately, a trusting electorate such as us just voted some of them in. They think we will forget about this abuse of power. I guess we’ll have to prove them wrong. Unfortunately, by that time, the firefighter’s union will once again have had its way and our taxes will be higher. Is that what you want? Then forget about the actions of your elected politicians. If that is not what you want, remember what they did to you last Friday when you next go to the polls, THROW THE BUMS OUT!
I want to thank Commissioner Ganz for tackling the difficult task of moving the city forward with a new city manager. The city of Deerfield Beach has the same problem General Motors had before the government bailed them out. Our retired firefighters cost the city more than the working firefighters. The costs of our retired workforce will escalate at a faster rate than that of General Motors because GM workers needed 30 years of service to retire, our firefighters only need 20 years. [Firefighters pay for this with “175 money.”]
The City Commission (except Major Noland, of course) should instruct the new city manager to change the firefighters pension plans to 401K or similar plans that will not bankrupt the city. If the city cannot solve this problem in the worst economic collapse since the great depression, Deerfield Beach will turn into Gary, Indiana or Detroit, where a house sells for $25,000.
Note: New hires have the option of participating in the city’s 401(K) or firefighters’ defined-benefit program.
Many of Deerfield Beach residents certainly agree with the Observer [Publisher’s] letter last week, that we should indeed give our City Manager a chance to meet reasonable expectation by the commission. But, I must bring attention to the costs of his firing that were left out of the letter. Certainly, we will incur the costs of severance, new-hire search, headhunter fees and an increased compensation package by the newly hired City Manager…
It doesn’t stop there. When have we ever had a City Manager who stands up to the Firefighter Union like this one did, and what new City Manager would do it again after seeing where that got this one? So, certainly, we can expect revisiting of COLA’s, DROP, Merit increases, new top salary ranges, better benefits, shorter hours, better health insurance, manpower increases, new Ops center, redesigned new state-of-the art fire stations, and on and on … And I can see it coming, shouldn’t Deerfield Beach consider a Strong Mayor charter instead of a Strong City Manager? Oh God, I can’t believe I even thought it. Let’s stick together, Deerfield Residents, we can fix all of this at the next round of elections.
14 Jan 2010
Resolve differences with city manager, not replace him
The Deerfield Beach Original Save Our Beach Committee (OSOB) is disappointed that there is serious discord among some of the Deerfield Beach Commissioners and the City Manager. We believe that it is in the best interests of the City that those Commissioners who are dissatisfied with Mr. Mahaney try to work out their differences with him.
Replacing the City Manager will be a financially costly and disruptive process for the City, and should not be done unless absolutely necessary. It is not too late to attempt to resolve the differences and no harm done if it takes some time, as there is no urgency in replacing Mr. Mahaney.
The communication issues between the City Manager and some of the Commission obviously need to be improved, but people of good faith can and should make that happen. There are areas of performance in which Mr. Mahaney can improve. However, Mr. Mahaney has shown himself to be honest, has kept our city on sound financial footing, even during these very difficult economic times, and has the overall best interest of Deerfield Beach taxpayers in mind when making decisions.
For the good of the City, we urge the Commission and the City Manager to make a serious attempt to resolve their differences and strive to do what is truly in the best interest of the citizens of Deerfield Beach.
RE: Mahaney — Mayor’s conflict of interest
I wanted to take a moment to contact you regarding your article titled “Deerfield moves to terminate City Manager.” As a concerned taxpaying citizen of Deerfield Beach, I am appalled by what is going on and how Peggy Noland is manipulating the termination of Mike Mahaney. It is obvious that Mike has gone up against the fire union and has not allowed them to get their way, as they always do, with their union contract. Peggy Noland is working behind the scenes on behalf of her husband and son, who are both firefighters, and has put undo pressure on Mahaney to cave in to the fire unions’ demands, directly benefiting her family. She should have NO say in any decision about his future with our city, due to a clear conflict of interest. The city should ask her to step aside and allow the other commissioners to vote on this matter. Based on what I understand of Mahaney’s performance, there is no other valid reason for his termination.
Aside from a conflict of interest by the Mayor, the city manager is presently under contract, and with budget negotiations going on, it is NOT in the best interest of this city to have him terminated.
Thank you, Publix
I’d like to compliment Publix at Hillsboro and Federal Highway. Perry Smith, the manager, is terrific – always helpful and smiling. But, my letter is regarding the Little Clinic within this store. I returned home from Chicago with a terrible head cold, and after the ninth day, went to Publix to ask the pharmacist for help. He suggested I see the lady in their (clinic). This young lady, a family nurse practitioner, was so good. I already feel 50 percent better! I was given an extensive check-up, and she explained everything about sinusitis that I did not know. Her home remedy suggestions were used by my mom years ago. Thank you, Publix.
7 Jan 2010
Angels who walk amongst us
For the past six months, it has been my pleasure to become acquainted with the hospice services in our community. These people go about this very important duty with little or no fanfare. I believe that the public should know more about what they do.
There are only two inescapable facts of life – being born and dying. The road of life is filled with adventure, some good, some great and some bad. When we come to the end, these are the people who make the difference. Death is never easy, especially for friends, family and loved ones. When someone dies unexpectedly, some relatives grieve and, hopefully, move on with their lives and retain fond memories of the departed, which can be savored at any time. But [for] another large segment of the population, death is a slow and agonizing process. Cancer, heart ailments … the list goes on … terminal illnesses can take an extreme toll on families – emotional and physical. A lot of families will reach out and contact hospice.
Hospice does not discriminate because of race, ethnicity or ability to pay. The patience and caring these nurses provide on a daily basis is unequalled in the medical profession. These angels of mercy must deal with families in their worst emotional moments and try to provide sense of purpose to the events. They must travel to hospitals, nursing homes and residences, not knowing what they will encounter. Some families are angry, others sad, but all share a common bond in the sorrow of losing a loved one. We must try to imagine what these nurses are feeling as they go to these places and give a piece of their heart and soul to families and the patients themselves. These truly are dedicated people; what they do is not about money or hours, but because they care.