Stop and Check the Map

The decision by the Lake Park Commission last night to allow Town Manager, Maria Davis to resign and to provide her with three months severance as well as benefits including health, etc., instead of firing her with cause, proved to be another Lake Park government FAIL. Commissioner Stevens, citing the fear of a lawsuit, chose to lead us down the path of least resistance, as has become his custom. At a time when principle and strength was warranted, he was instead the first to advocate that we cut and run, and at quite a cost to town residents. The rest of the gang of three followed along as expected. Another large sum of money exchanged hands.

The audience was full of residents wondering why we would cave in and payoff a woman who deceived two commissions about who the attorney was that she had hired to “rewrite the town employee handbook” and about how much had been paid. Just last week Ms. Davis went to the Palm Beach Post and spoke negatively against one of her bosses (Lake Park Town Commissioner Steve Hockman), and she was considered by many to be the cause of much of the discord within the town. She also led the taxpayers into dubious agreements with the county, agreements that have landed like monkeys on our backs.

Full Speed Ahead

Yet ,”Move forward”, Stevens, Rumsey and Dubois begged last night, as they proceeded to slip that wad of cash to Ms. Davis’. This is nothing new. The town has been doing this for years through her hefty salary, her benefits and what appear to be unethical payments made over about 4 years to her longtime friend. She also gave the go-ahead on numerous projects that have left the town in a compromising position. The “go along to get along” sentiment among this trio of commissioners seems to regularly be “let’s put this behind us and just move forward”. Enough with the “moving forward” already.

The standing-room-only crowd came hoping to see the commission STOP and carefully consider what has happened, make a wise decision and have justice done on their behalf. How do some town leaders advocate “moving forward” with their usual “hurry, hurry” mantra when they clearly have no clue of where they are headed? It seems to be an attempt to distance themselves as quickly as possible from the unpleasantness they helped create. That reads as weakness, not leadership. Thank you commissioners Hockman and Longtin for taking the time to look into the details of town documents and carefully consider alternate solutions. Not only did these two speak out, they backed up their words with a vote to match.

Move Forward?

Let’s get specific. What does “move forward” even mean? Why is this phrase always at the tip of the gang of three commissioners’ tongues? It has proven time and again to be nothing more than a feel good platitude. When evidence was brought to the public that showed the $110,000 worth of payments over many years to the Town Manager’s long time friend, with whom she shares property, wouldn’t this, of all times, be one in which putting on the brakes would be the advisable course of action?

“Move forward?”… The bridge is out up ahead! Continuing to “move forward” without stopping to regroup and check the map for alternate routes is foolish. If a general “moving forward” is all they’ve got for us, folks, we better get working on finding some new candidates to run in the next election. “Moving forward” is a progressive mantra. It doesn’t define what will get done or where they intend to take us. Slick. There comes a time to open our eyes and ask specific questions. We need to slow down, assess what is going on around us, stop dead in our tracks, and hey, how about we even check the map from time to time. We may need to even {gasp} back up, turn in a different direction or go sideways for a while until we can circumvent the disaster up ahead. It’s time for Lake Park to stop moving forward for moving’s sake and reconsider our destination. We may need to go in an entirely different direction, or we will find ourselves merely “moving forward” toward our demise.

Lake Park doesn’t need yet another “hope and change” type mantra like we heard so much a few years back. After all, what did that mean and what did we get from it? Did you know at the time or did it just sound “nice” and “positive”, so you bought in? The same type of slogans have numbed Lake Park with vague and aimless banality that has us hurling on a course that has not proven to be pleasant or productive. It’s time for Lake Park to get off the highway and take the scenic route for a while. Regroup. Think. Make some wise and prudent decisions.

Next time you hear the meaningless cliché “move forward”, ask yourself: “Moving forward towards what, by what means… and why?”

In Search of Strong Leadership

What we need is strong leaders to guide Lake Park as we begin the search for a new town manager. Strong leadership is not JUST talking tough and moving fast and checking off a to-do list in order to say “done”. Leadership also means voting tough and voting smart. The votes are what count, not just the speeches and the tough talk. The votes are what can lead us ever closer to the edge of that drop off if they are not thoughtfully considered.

So let’s take the time necessary to find the right Town Manager candidates from which to choose someone of character, integrity, wisdom, strength and leadership in order to fill this important town position. Let’s consider rewriting our town charter and the wording of the contracts and all documents that have prevented us as a town from making wise choices during times of duress, such as we just encountered last night. It’s time to slow down and think and choose wisely. The town we save may be our own.

Please Vote Today

I want to take a moment to remind those who are eligible to vote in the Republican primary to please do so today. You have 12 hours to exercise your responsibility of citizenship. Check out all of the candidates. What do they believe? Are they true principled conservatives who have demonstrated such in times past, or are they republicans in name only? Does their record back up their claims? Is the candidate you intend to vote for a strong leader who knows what they believe? Are they willing to stand and defend what they believe without equivocation and then vote to back it up? Are you planning to vote based on the picture the media has painted of the candidates through their incessant polling? It’s not a popularity contest. It’s about leadership. Learn from Lake Park. Upside down leadership has consequences.

Finally, do you know what YOU believe? That’s a good place to start. The future is at stake. I wish you wisdom in your decision.