Connecting Dots

After the Commission meeting last week, I was left with many questions. I addressed some of them on Saturday in my post regarding Ordinance 05-2011 regarding foreclosed homes.
My concern in that matter relates, for the most part, to the way the ordinance is written, some of the procedures it leaves open for interpretation and the process by which the whole thing is being carried out. I’m most certainly all for getting the homes taken care of but I don’t want anything being placed in jeopardy in order to do so. I believe the ordinance should be combed through very carefully and pared down to only the most minimal and basic of regulations, if any are needed at all.

Below are a few other concerns that came via Wednesday night’s meeting. This isn’t all of them, but I will hold a few until later. I mention these as a reminder to get in the habit of listening carefully, asking questions, paying attention to the connections between things and getting an overall feel for how each aspect of town government relates to the next. I say that not because I think it’s all a sinister cabal, but rather to be on the alert, not willing to take things at someone else’s word without requiring accountability. The fact is that if we do not know what is going on, do not know who is connected to whom, how decisions are made or the repercussions upon our lives due to those decisions, we will not have a say or be able to prevent something unwanted that might be coming down the pike .

From the recent meeting(s)

During Wednesday night’s town meeting, Mr. Fausto Gomez, our lobbying representative, said that the causes he goes after on behalf of our town are directed by our Town Manager. However he also stated that he represents 12 municipalities or government entities in all.
The town manager may direct Fausto Gomez on our behalf, but since other municipalities direct him as well, does he merely represent us all as a group who have agreed to go after the same things? Otherwise, if the other municipalities aren’t all of the same mindset, wouldn’t Mr. Gomez end up working at cross purposes for one or several of  his clients from time to time? If we are just part of a larger group all working for the same legislation, wouldn’t it be a good idea to know who the whole group is and what their goals and intentions are?

Grants

While Mr. Gomez was at the podium answering questions from the commission, the Town Manager interjected something in support of what Mr. Gomez had said. In the process of making this corollary, she mentioned as an aside that she had “just signed off on a grant the other day.” She did not elaborate. What grant? Was it voted on? How many grants are we as a town in the process of procuring at any given moment and how many people are aware of them all? Is it a requirement that they all come before the commission and be voted on there?

The Sheriff’s Department and the Marina

If Sheriff deputies are patrolling the Marina an extra measure now that the town manager reduced security at the Marina, is the Sheriff’s Department being compensated for this additional duty or are they just being redirected from routine duties around town and in the neighborhoods where they would normally be otherwise? Has security been diminished for the rest of us if the Marina is now receiving extra patrol?

Longevity Pay

Could someone tell me why 5 years of employment is considered longevity pay? I do not know of anywhere this is standard within the private sector. Is this merely based on the time served whether or not the employee has actually done a better job or accomplished more over the years prior? The proposed budget shows longevity pay will be given to more than one employee this year who has reached the 5 year mark. How many others, who have merely reached a 5 year mark of employment, have we added to the “longevity payroll” over time?  Five years seems quite a short time for someone to be considered for longevity pay.

Mr. Fausto Gomez and Attorney Thomas Baird

One last thing, just so we can begin to connect the dots in order to understand the way our town works… We know that Mr. Fausto Gomez (to whom our Town is scheduled to pay $13,500 this coming year to keep an eye on state legislation and lobby on our behalf) represents many other municipalities besides our own. We also pay Thomas Baird for his services as our Town Attorney. This year we paid him, $158,000 for legal services, and he is considered to be on equal footing (as per the organizational chart) with the Town Commission and the town boards and committees (Commissioners and Mayor however, make in the vacinity of $9,500-$10,000 a year.) However, Thomas Baird, P.A., as in the case of Mr. Gomez, while representing us, also serves other entities, although the Commissioners and Mayor serve only our town in respect to their Commissioner and Mayoral duties.
If you would like to see an example of Mr. Baird’s work on behalf of his other clients, please click here (Thanks to Brent Headberg for the link). Also, and someone please correct me if I am saying this wrong, but I believe Mr. Baird is planning to take part in a class action lawsuit (which he mentioned at the end of the July 13th Town Commission meeting) on a pro bono basis regarding the Inspector General issue. I don’t have time to get into all the details on that at the moment, however, this may come up again later, and I will give particulars at that time.
That’s it for now. Just a few things you might like to be aware of and think about. Please keep your eyes and ears open, pay attention to decisions made and what’s going on here on the Street Where You Live. Know who does what and why, and to whom each is connected. Keep your eyes and ears open. It is important. We are working to keep track of how the dots connect. It’s our town and we should be fully aware of what goes on beyond the obvious day to day operations.
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