| Letters to the Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Posted on 16 October 2014 by L.Moore

Commissioners’ health insurance

Dear Editor:

At the outset of discussion at the Oct. 7 Deerfield city commission meeting about the ordinance regarding health insurance, the city attorney, at the request of the District 1 commissioner, gave a brief but clear summary of the proposed alteration of the 2002 ordinance. For clarity, here it is.

City Attorney: “This is an ordinance to amend the existing ordinance to limit insurance benefits to future commissioners (those who are not vested, having served in consecutive years.). They will still have the right to that health insurance benefit, but they will have to pay for it on the same basis as other retired employees.”

Characteristically, the mayor interjected. “I’m not happy with that!”

Following this, the public spoke.

Despite the city attorney’s clear and careful review, virtually all of the speakers addressed the original ordinance of a dozen years ago with no mention of the proposed changes by an entirely different commission.

There was some discussion by the commissioners, all of whom seemed to agree with making the changes, but they also took issue with trivializing the quality of their service and the amount of time they spent serving the city that they had heard from some of the public. Their speaking out about that has been grossly misinterpreted.

The mayor declared, “Now it’s my turn,” and went on to disparage the quantity and quality of service performed by the commissioners by relating it to her comparatively superficial ceremonial duties. Then she told of her experience with a health insurance issue.

I retired in 1993. At that time, the very persons who voted for this thing were on the commission at that time. When I asked if I could stay on the city’s health insurance — my husband had died and I was no longer covered on his policy — I offered to pay the premiums myself. They said ‘no.’ They refused, and pushed me over to COBRA.”

The District 4 commissioner responded by pointing out that there was no such insurance plan available for ANY ELECTEE in 1993 and for clarification, asked the mayor if she meant that she applied to be included in the city’s health insurance plan nine years after having left office in 2002.

No. no,” she said, I said that when I was out of office in 1993.”

You can see and hear the entire dialogue on the city’s website/commission/video. In any case, the mindset of the commission who passed ordinance.

2002/004 was very different from the current one — men who enjoy serving. They serve long hours without complaint — until their integrity is impugned.

David Cohen

Deerfield Beach

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Posted on 09 October 2014 by L.Moore

RE: Health insurance benefits for DB Commissioners

Dear Editor:

This is regarding the Oct. 7 [commission] meeting agenda item for changes to retired commissioner’s health insurance payments and commissioner compensation.

A city such as Deerfield Beach benefits from the participation of qualified individuals in city government. Ideally, short terms and term limits help provide for a regular cycling of the politicians in this city to avoid “dynasties” from coming into power.

Service as a commissioner or mayor is voluntary and should not be done for the money or salary of the job.

For this reason, compensation should be minimal and not have long-term beneficial payments in the form of pensions or lifetime health insurance.

Lifetime benefits to commissioners or the mayor is expensive and beyond the reach of city budgets. At least one city commissioner benefits from a city pension resulting from his full-time job with the city for years, which he earned, so further benefits are redundant.

Lifetime benefits that include health insurance can cost upwards of $700 per individual per month, depending on age and health status.

Especially detrimental to the city budget process is lifetime payments to younger politicians where the benefit may result in payments for over 20 or 30 years. Remember, current provisions pay the commissioner’s spouse the same lifetime health benefits.

Payments as currently in place also provide for commissioner benefits that are not available to city employees and may result in problems with union and employee bargaining where such limitless benefits may be sought by collective bargaining units.

Long-term benefits, pensions and health insurance for city commissioners are wrong and should be discontinued immediately.

This public service should come from dedicated city residents who have a desire to help the city, not for commissioners who took the oath of office for a job or pension.

Payment of excessive salaries and benefits make this a job, not public service.

Also at the [Sept. 15] commission meeting, several commissioners stated that they receive “part-time pay for fulltime works”.

This statement shows the failure of the commission to act in a decisive and fair manner with respect to city management. Commissioners are there to set policy. Daily operation of the city is the full- time responsibility of the city manager. The current city manager, this may come as a surprise to many residents, has never been evaluated in his performance of running our city. In fact, when I questioned city officials, I find that no one in the city is “evaluated” in his or her performance on the job. Any employee for any company deserves a fair and regular evaluation. How else can an employee know he or she is doing what is expected of them? When a city commissioner or mayor has to get involved with regular day-to-day city issues, it reflects negatively on city management. In fact, if a commissioner has to work full-time, as some have stated, it suggests that the city manager and his staff are not performing in accordance with the expectation of the city commission, and the system has failed us.

In a properly-run city, political service is ceremonial as stated in part in the city charter, not a regular functioning job description.

It is not a full-time job!

If commissioners or the mayor are being forced into fulltime work, the city is failing at its job, in the eyes of the residents. Ask any resident who has been forced to complain to a commissioner and you will find it is an issue with how the city staff has handled a particular complaint.

It’s well past the time to initiate an employee evaluation procedure that starts with the city manager.

How many city residents have ever worked at a full-time job that did not perform regular employee evaluations? You can be sure that none of the professional-run city businesses in our town neglect or ignore the importance of regular employee evaluations.

Ronald J. Coddington, P.E.

Deerfield Beach

Local activism group Deerfield Dreams

Dear Editor:

Are you interested in helping to make Deerfield Beach a better place to live?

Deerfield Dreams is an experiment in local activism. The idea is to create a new forum for neighbors to get together to make our city a better place.

This gathering is not political in nature. The goal is to come up with good ideas through brainstorming, to gather support, and to create a plan for implementing them. It is an exciting opportunity for residents to be an active part of improving our city in a less formalized environment.

We hope to see you at our next meeting on Saturday, Oct.11 at 10 a.m. at the Old Schoolhouse at City Hall.

Join the Dream Team! Please bring a pen, notebook paper, and any fresh ideas you might have. See you there!

Anthony Dispenziere

Deerfield Beach

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Posted on 02 October 2014 by L.Moore

Climate Change in the NEWS again!

Dear Editor:

On Sunday [Sept. 21], hundreds of thousands marched throughout the world demanding action on climate change. 120 world leaders gathered in New York [Tuesday, Sept. 23] for the United Nations (U.N.) Summit on Climate Change. What can we do?

A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat production accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that the contribution may be closer to 50 percent.

The meat industry generates carbon dioxide by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport and slaughter animals. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

In an environmentally sustainable world, wind, solar and other pollution-free energy sources must gradually replace polluting fossil fuels. Similarly, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains must replace polluting meat and dairy products. The large variety of widely available plant-based entrees, lunch meats, veggie burgers, cheeses, and ice creams can certainly help.

Our next trip to the supermarket is a great opportunity to start the transition to a sustainable world. Our favorite internet search engine offers ample product lists, recipes and dietary tips.

Patrick Bendrix

West Palm Beach

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Posted on 26 September 2014 by L.Moore

CERT graduates NEW class

Dear Editor:

Deerfield Beach CERT Class 41 completed their graduation drill on August 28.

We had an amazing class with 24 graduates! 24/7 our team stands ready — prepared to serve the residents of the City of Deerfield Beach, as well as the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO).

Each month, we meet as a team for additional training.

Our monthly meeting was yesterday, Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 6:30 p.m. [last Wednesday of the month] at Fire Station 102 in the 3rd floor training room – the same room as the CERT Basic Training Class. (Leadership team meets at 5:30 p.m.)

This month’s training was on our CERT bags.

When a new class graduates, they are given a CERT bag with basic supplies. As they become more involved with CERT, they will continually be adding items to their bag. We asked our members to bring their CERT bags to this meeting so we could make sure that everyone had the basic supplies. We also asked members to share the items they’ve added to their bags that might come in handy during an activation. CERT team members will want to make sure their CERT bag is up to par, as we will have a drill in October.

Time, and, weather permitting, we planned to go down to our CERT truck and go over the items on the truck.

SPECIAL EVENT

BSO Fire Rescue District Chief Sievers asked CERT to assist with water and tents for a special event on Wednesday, Sept. 24 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Knowing this was a work day for most, their assistance was greatly appreciated, those who were able to help out.

Event was a grand finale carnival for “Buckle up Quiet Waters Elementary – Buckle Up – Every Ride, Every Time.”

WEATHER SPOTTER TRAINING

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Skywarn Weather Spotter Training will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It is being hosted by the City of Ft. Lauderdale.

Carol Sjursen

CERT Coordinator

Deerfield Beach

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Posted on 17 September 2014 by L.Moore

2014 Tax Rates and Accountability

Dear Editor:

You’ll notice that the real estate tax rate for Deerfield Beach rose slightly for 2014 after the major increase in 2013, which followed the implementation of a 10 percent utility tax.

We should all be aware that we live in a city with one of the highest real estate tax rates in all of Broward County. For that, we can thank the current city commission.

It’s also interesting to note that most municipalities held or slightly reduced their rates as values in the county went up.

We should all remember this at the next municipal election that, unfortunately, is not scheduled with all other elections in November when we receive our tax bills, but in March at added cost.

March elections historically produce low voter turnout which generally favors the incumbent.

Is it possible that this is why we have municipal elections in March?

We should be thankful that our politicians realize that we might all become overwhelmed at the polls if we had to collectively vote for them at the same time that we are picking our state and national leaders.

Here’s an idea: Why don’t we have all referendums and constitutional amendments voted on in March, leaving the November ballot free to only vote for elected officials?

That way, we could charge the sponsors of referendums and constitutional amendments for the additional cost of the election.

Can’t wait to hear the reasons why this can’t be done.

David Nace

Deerfield Beach

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Posted on 11 September 2014 by L.Moore

RE: Marine Advisory Board

Dear Editor:

Honorable Commissioners and our Mayor,

I understand that an agenda item is on for the next meeting [Sept. 3 Deerfield Beach city commission meeting] to revisit in some way, my removal from the MAB [Marine Advisory Board].

Please be aware that prior to my appointment to the board, I advised [the District 1 commissioner] that if at any time he did not like my actions or actions on the MAB, all he had to do is ask and I would resign. He chose a grandstanding and public attack of my name rather than accept my offer to resign.

I do not desire to serve on the MAB or any other city board and I will not reconsider this position at any time in the future.

I gave many hours of high value consulting time to the city and did not like the way things were handled.

To revisit this matter again only serves to slander or further attack my good name.

I enjoyed the time I gave to the city, but no longer have the will to serve in any capacity on any panels, boards or in any advisory nature with this city.

I have my hands full with the time I spend on two highly respected Fishery advisory boards and committees for the National Marine Fisheries Service, and as an advisor to the U.S. State Department as a member of the ICCAT advisory committee, which I have been serving on for 12 and 8 years, respectively.

Please do not revisit the past action of the commission. You spoke clearly and loudly and with a unanimous vote. This matter has been completed and should not be revisited. Please respect my wishes on this matter and please respect the time I already gave the MAB.

I respectfully request you remove this item from the meeting agenda.

Sincerely,

Ronald J. Coddington, P.E.

Deerfield Beach

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Posted on 04 September 2014 by L.Moore

RE: Boys & Girls Club; Rod Coddington removal

Dear Editor:

I have to own up to two mistakes.

The first one is easy, since the city has received verification that ALL OF THE MONEY THAT IS RAISED BY Dunn’s Run goes directly to the Deerfield Boys & Girls Club, so Commissioner Ganz was correct and I was wrong in believing that the money was allocated among the 13 clubs. I must say, then, that I have no problem with Dunn’s Run, not now or in the future.

The second mistake is one that is more difficult to explain. I should have voted “NO” when the question was raised by Commissioner Miller to remove Ron Coddington [who was Miller’s appointee] from the Marine Advisory Board.

How often have I been chastised by my fellow commissioners for bringing up material at the end of a meeting without previous notice. That is exactly what happened with the batch of e-mails thrown at us at the last meeting.

Had we had the opportunity to read them, we would have noticed the date, on some, of 2011 – before Coddington served on the Marine [Advisory] Board, since there was no Marine [Advisory] Board then. [The ordinance to form a Marine Advisor Board passed June 18, 2013.]

A great number of the emails were directed to the commission in reference to the four years it was taking to pave Hillsboro Boulevard, the delay in the repair of the damage to the fishing pier – all of those were done as Coddington’s credentials as an engineer. He was able to point out the deficiencies in the city’s actions. I don’t think he was out of line with those. What was accomplished was that the city used his expertise to take action.

No one on the dais questioned his ability to serve on the Marine Advisory Board at the time the vote was taken.

For all of those reasons, I am asking for a reconsideration of the vote for his removal that was taken at the last meeting.

Jean Robb

Mayor Deerfield Beach

Editor’s note: At the Wednesday night, Sept. 3 city commission meeting, there were two items regarding the Marine Advisory Board. Agenda item No.25 was a discussion item, requested by Mayor Jean Robb, to reconsider the removal of a Marine Advisory Board member. Agenda item No.20 was a resolution appointing Thomas Nolan as a member of the Marine Advisory Board and Julie Cisneros as an alternate member of the Marine Advisory Board; and providing for an effective date.

Thank you” for $ returned at ATM

Dear Editor:

On Saturday, August 30, my daughter and I went to the [Wells Fargo] ATM machine [at the corner of 10th and Federal Highway] to get $60 out with my debit card. The [ATM] machine wrote on the screen that I did not have that much in my account. As we drove around the corner, a man came running after us saying, “Ma’am, did you just leave the ATM machine?” We said “Yes.” “You left $60 in the machine!” he said.

I was so touched by this. I think it is a great human nature story. I can’t tell you how surprised and thrilled about his honesty [I am].

Melba Hebert

Boca Raton

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Posted on 28 August 2014 by L.Moore

RE: Deerfield BUDGET

Dear Editor:

I have a somewhat different perspective to offer on the City of Deerfield Beach budget.

I am a risk management professional in the private sector.

Taken from a private sector view, the amazing job that Deerfield Beach city manager (Burgess Hanson) has done is even more apparent.

Do you realize that if the city were a private company and that private company went through what we have been through in the past five years, it could well be out of business? When the housing bubble burst, millions in tax revenue disappeared from our city income.

When Burgess took the helm, the prior city manager had spent $17 million out of the General Fund in just the prior two years.

That was when the public should have been up in arms.

Years ago, there were very few of us who stood up to object at the commission meetings.

Bill Ganz was one of us and that is when he decided to serve.

Thank you [now] Commissioner Ganz for the excellent job you have done as a member of the city commission and as the representative of my district.

Thank you Burgess and thank you to every member of the city commission (both now and in prior years) for making the hard choices that have made all the difference to our city.

I cannot imagine where we would be without the new revenue stream and the dramatic reductions in spending that had to happen when they did.

All you have to do is read the published budget or attend the budget workshops to know exactly where and how our tax revenue is now being spent.

What a welcome change it was to see real transparency in the published information. Another one of the big accomplishments of City Manager Hanson.

It took not only his abilities but teamwork on the part of the City Commission to get us out of the very dark days that we are now coming through.

Thank you again City Manager Hanson and thank you to every member of the Deerfield Beach City Commission.

Sally Potter

Deerfield Beach, FL

RE: “Dude” & “Bad Guy” in LHP Bank robbery story

Dear Editor:

In response to Mrs. Newberry, thank you for your letter.

Having written official reports as a Police Officer and EMT in Palm Beach County for over a decade, I found that very few people understood such official writings.

This is why I have tried to keep a more casual tone when it comes to [my] crime reports. I will do my best to be more official in the future.

Jim Lusk

Vice President

HAPPY 103rd birthday, Mom!

Dear Editor:

Edna Horne Johnson was born in the year 1911 in Deerfield Beach.

Her family arrived in 1903. Mom is the oldest living pioneer of Deerfield. She graduated from Pompano Beach High School in 1929.

Today, Mom resides part of her year in Boca Raton, FL and the remainder in Canton, GA.

Joyce Avant and I, along with the rest of our family, are so blessed to have been given such a wonderful, Godly woman in our lives that we can call “MOM” or “GRANDMA” or “GG”!

Mom, we are looking forward to another 103 having you in our lives!

Thank for setting such a wonderful example [on how] to live. Happy Birthday!

Judy Denault

Canton, GA

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Posted on 20 August 2014 by L.Moore

A Perfect, Long Overdue Clean-Up Project

Dear Editor:

I was asked by the president of Windwood Isles to spearhead a beautification effort related to Ed. Dietrich Sr. Avenue/SE 2 Avenue.

This letter is to inform you of the deplorable conditions of SE 2 Avenue, in specific, the grassy swales and the general upkeep and maintenance.

There are approximately 16 different condo developments along SE 2 Avenue, totaling over 1,000 homeowners, tax payers and voters. The point is, the entire avenue is a constant mess with trash, papers, soda cups and cans etc., all along the swales. It now looks worse than Dixie Highway used to look … It’s embarrassing!

This same condition exists along SE 7 Street, with trash and school papers. Maybe someone could talk to the school principal!

You may recall, a while back, the mayor and another person worked on getting “No through truck signs” put up, and it’s helping, but they still fly by, over the speed limit.

BSO is all over the School Zone speeders,* but do not enforce the other laws.

The bottom line is that we need a continued, ongoing effort by the city, the civic organization that adopted the street, and the owners. We also need our city commissioner to talk to the business owners and the empty lot owners about maintenance and periodic mowing.

I now see a real estate sign on one of the west side lots that says “For Sale, Multi-Family.” That’s a lot better than more commercial warehouses.

In conclusion, this avenue is our main and only thoroughfare to access over 1,000 homes.

This is not an attractive entryway to our attractive homes.

Please get it cleaned up now and on a regular basis. I am wondering if the city could add some beautification that might be conducive to the areas?

[I have] more than 20 years of volunteer community service. How about some pay back?

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

William Derian

Deerfield Beach

*Most school zones are 15-20 mph. Fines are DOUBLED for speeding in a construction area or school zone. Fines for speeding range from $155 to $605.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Posted on 14 August 2014 by L.Moore

School Board, Wake Up!

Dear Editor:

Most cities don’t have a city resident on the School Board, just someone from a large regional district.

This means that “our” representative deals with not only our 7 schools, but dozens more in other cities.

This keeps the School Board members so far removed from the hometowns that they don’t see the local needs, or the unfairness of many of their decisions.

It is impossible to have enough time to get to know each school’s and city’s needs, and so perhaps decisions are made without enough knowledge. For example, deciding that schools don’t need to have School Resource Deputies (SRDs).

With what this country has seen in the recent past, taking place on our school campuses, elementary, middle and high schools, police in each school are not a frill, but a necessity.

For years, Deerfield Beach has begged and borrowed money for School Resource Deputies for its schools, not a city responsibility, but these are our children.

This expense should be a School Board budget item.

However, when the Deerfield Beach District 4 commissioner contacted them, he was greeted politely, thanked for his call, and then, in effect, told, “Take a flying leap.”

Decidedly, money and politics count more than children in our School Board’s list of priorities.

The money for next year, $199,562 for 2 deputies, which should be paid by the School Board, is instead, with the commission’s approval, coming from Deerfield Beach’s LETF resources (Law Enforcement Trust Fund — money confiscated from drug deals and such).

There is no way Deerfield Beach should be on the hook for the entire expense as the children in the schools come from many other cities. The School Board is not stepping up to the plate, so we have to, but each of the cities which send students to Deerfield Beach should pay their prorated share. Who can make this happen? Whoever it is should get cracking.

Think of the things $200 grand could do for our city, for example, helping prevent crime with children’s programs or, perhaps, helping victims of crime. This won’t get done because we are shouldering the entire burden of keeping our kiddies safe in their schools.

Our commission has its priorities straight. However unfair it is, our city is paying the cost.

To our commission: our children’s safety comes first. I can’t say the same for the Board of Education …

Perhaps we should grab our “pitchforks” and attend a few School Board meetings.

Bett Willett

Deerfield Beach

RE: City Wide Clean-Up for Month of August

I’m responding to the article regarding Deerfield Beach Clean-Up [in the August 7 Observer].

How about the city start with that tent and trailer sitting on our beach, violating many ordinances?

Talk about low-hanging fruit.

James Radyko

Deerfield Beach

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