Tip of the Iceberg

What came about from this week’s town commission and CRA meetings?

Well, there was quite a bit that went on last night that needs attention, but one thing that stuck with me was the way the town manager repeatedly treats with antagonism, hostility or a stone cold stare, those residents and commissioners who ask hard questions or provide a thorough inquiry into our town’s dealings. Negative facial expressions and the shaking of her head at concerns of others that counter her wishes are not only unprofessional, but misleading. Residents are likely unaware that the underlying reasons we are even dealing with the issues she’s wagging her head about is because she and her staff got us into most of these messes. She then ups the intimidation factor and demeans the commissioners who have the audacity to do what we pay them to do. The town commissioners are supposed to be overseers of town business. Why are we and the commissioners tolerating a manager who treats them, HER BOSSES, with this attitude when they are following due process in regard to votes they are taking. Why is she trying to hinder them from doing their job? Why is she treating them as if she is their superior?

The irrigation grant which the town pursued and passed last night in a 3 to 2 vote (Commissioners Hockman and Longtin did not support it), did in fact have a number of conditional items that needed to be addressed (and please don’t let the manager and the grant writer dupe you into believing the grant was GIVEN to us. Grants are not a gift. They are pursued at great expense of time and effort and we still incur costs. They come with binding strings attached, and they require follow up and adhereance to requirements that hogtie our town in many respects for a long time to come.) For that reason alone, in my estimation, the town manager was incorrect in saying this would not cost the town any more.

Limited time offer, hurry!

As in the past, this grant was presented as something that had to be done immediately or we would lose it.  “Hurry, hurry, hurry…one day only!” The town manager gave the impression by her reactions that those who wanted to discuss what they were voting us into an obligation for, were fools.  She finally admitted that she wasn’t sure about some of the particulars when commissioners Hockman and Longtin continued to prod, including exactly how much it was estimated to cost for the engineer’s part in the process. Clearly, there WILL be an expense for the Professional Engineer’s time. When these commissioners pressed the town manager, she sort of accidentally admitted (oops!), that the hourly rate of the engineer adds up quickly, because she used the cost of his time as one good reason for not having him at the meeting.

The money for this required engineer, according to the grant wording, is not covered by the grant funds, so how can they tell us that there will be no additional costs? If it’s not much, it’s not much, but they need to be honest and quit intimating that grant money is a free pass. And why weren’t the other commissioners questioning the particulars of this grant? They sat silently and then voted to pass it. Please take note of this.

At the risk of repeating what I have said on other occasions (because it is IMPORTANT), I dare you to read the grant wording through (and the details of EVERY grant our town goes after). You will be AMAZED at what has been and is being implemented. If you look, you may find that much of what is hiding below the surface of our town is the result of a build up of what came with the bait called “GRANT FUNDS” in the past. Many of the problems we face at the Marina, for starters, are the result of accepting grant money and the conditions that came with it. Those who write these grants have a purpose for doing so, and they are getting us to implement their agenda by giving us a little something, hoping we won’t notice what they are sneaking in with the goodies. We are gullible enough, they believe, to be lured by the “free money”. So far it seems they are right. This town is sadly full of gullible fools in that respect who will trade the integrity of our town’s foundation for some cash.

I merely point all this out as a warning. This grant has been accepted. We are now stuck with it and the ramifications of it. Please be on guard in the future, for this has become our town’s MO. They take money which should be spent on the care of the town, and in the estimation of many, squander it. They have put our town into debt repeatedly. Lake Park has purchased property in numerous locations that we are now in debt for and they have taken out loans which we will pay interest on for years to do things like improve alleyways, etc. Then in order to take care of a simple town maintenance, they go begging for handouts under the auspices that we are needy. We get the imposing grant conditions thrown in. So next time they tell you we can’t afford something basic, remember what they did in the past that caused this financial situation, and question it when they blame a poor economy or whatever. The poor economy is most likely the economy they have created with their policies and choices. It seems our town STAFF finds this to be an acceptable way to operate. How does it sit with you? Many of us believe it is time to move ahead with replacing those who are doing this to us and our town.

The Telling Responses

Last night during public comments, Sue Lloyd made a compelling argument for the need for serious inquiry into the relationship between the CDC, the CRA and the town, as well as in regard to the curious funding of these entities. She was met with dead silence, no response. Nothing. Neither did Jim Lloyd receive any response to his questions regarding information that was withheld from the public and the commission during the acquisition of the property the town purchased for $2.4 million dollars through an interlocal agreement with the county. The property was in foreclosure at the time of the sale. Most people in this town, if asked could not tell you what the CRA or CDC is, let alone how they operate. Yet, these entities are pulling many of the strings in this town.

Meanwhile, in contrast, when those who were clearly at the meetings last night at the behest of the Town Manager and/or the Mayor came to speak on causes dear to those town officials’ hearts, they were gushed over by those on the dais. Not only did they receive a polite and smiling response, but they were asked encouraging questions and stopped from leaving the podium and prodded to please, tell us more!, despite the fact that a number of those individuals were not even residents, but merely there to affirm ideas the STAFF and the mayor are in favor of.  They were treated with respect and appreciation for their time in a way those who pay taxes here and pay their salary are not. Interesting.

Time does not allow me to get into the discussion of the property at 800 Park Avenue (formerly the Art on Park Gallery) or anything else and there is so much more. This is the tip of the iceberg, and yet the town is moving full steam ahead. One can only wonder when we will collide with what is below the surface just ahead. Then again, maybe we are already at the point of impact.