Open Letter to Lake Park Residents and Business Owners from Steve Hockman

To all Lake Park Residents and Business Owners,

I want to say thank you to all who have supported me for the past three years and to those who will continue to support me in the years to come.

I realize that I don’t need to explain myself or my actions to the level-headed people of our town. However, I have been informed by some of my supporters that one of my fellow commissioners, Mr. Kendall Rumsey, has been posting comments about me on his blog in order to defame me and what I stand for.

I don’t have a problem with him posting the information, but in so doing, to be honest and fair, he should post the whole story instead of just select parts. I guess if you go about putting out only part of a story, things may be misconstrued and people may be misled. I would only hope that everyone would ask where the rest of the information is. Why is Mr. Rumsey only posting partial truths?

In regard to the shirts he referred to in his recent blog post, yes, I did receive six shirts at the time, as requested by the town manager. These shirts were to last me at least three years while in office. The request was to wear the shirts any time I could to promote the town. I guess that if a commissioner doesn’t get involved on committees or go to meetings with other town officials, they might not need the shirts. If anyone is interested, they might ask Mr. Rumsey how many committee meetings, league meetings and training conferences he went to over the past three years. To this day, I do not ever recall seeing him at any of them, not even meetings in town such as Crime Watch, the Library Board, or any of the others around town.

As to the other expenses that he listed, yes, there were hotel stays, and of course, event fees. However, if your elected officials do not go to the events, how are they to get involved with the things that affect everyone in the town? Another fact he failed to mention is that I give my own time to attend these meetings. I don’t get paid by anyone, including my employer when I go to these meetings.

As far as this expense, what he failed to mention was that during the past two years, I have started paying for my own gas, tolls, meals, and parking when I travel to Orlando or other cities around the state for committee meetings.

Another matter of concern in Lake Park has been the sober homes and how they are popping up all over town. No one wants to live next to one, and many residents are afraid that they will take over the town.

Until 2011, there was a lot of money spent to fight sober home problems, but the issue was constantly dropped before getting to Tallahassee. It was something that no one cared to hear about from our great town. After the passing of the former mayor, I made it one of my main areas of focus.

I got involved in the Palm Beach County League of Cities and pushed this issue to the forefront so that it would become one of the main items garnering attention and support from them. I got involved with the Florida League of Cities and pushed ahead to make it one of the supported items by the Florida League as well. Now there are bills in both the Florida House and the Florida Senate. I have worked hard to get it there these past two years. Yes, there are several other people involved, but I believe the networking I did with other city officials helped bring attention to this so that the issue is being addressed as it is today. If I had not done the networking, the issue would most likely have been dropped two years ago.

By no means do I have anything against those who seek help via the sober homes. However, there should be some control over them and how they operate, to be sure the people living there get the right help along with the best help they can.

Mr. Rumsey talks about my record but doesn’t mention his own. How many times has he voted to spend money on projects even though the town did not have it to spend or approve town expenditures for projects even though they went way over budget? Mr. Rumsey never questioned the former town manager when the town went out on a $4,500 project (bid amount) and came back not once, but three times for an increase of $10,000 on that project. He never questioned it, just voted yes. That project, the employee handbook revision, ended up costing over $110,000 total, yet we still had to clean it up after the fact.

Mr. Rumsey also never questioned the installation or the cost of the town parking meters, the meters that were to bring in over $300,000 revenue. Mr. Rumsey instead made a comment, along with another commissioner, that I didn’t know what I was talking about when I provided a spreadsheet prior to the purchase of the meters showing that the town would be losing over $40,000 a year. Guess what, the town is loosing over $40,000 a year with the meters, and yet he approved another $10,000 this year to dump into the meters again. The purchase of the meters occurred prior to my election as commissioner.

Maybe the residents of Lake Park should look at what Mr. Rumsey has done to the town financially just by voting on items without questioning the staff. How about the new irrigation system on Flagler Blvd? The project cost the town approximately $16,000 plus anther $54,000 of all taxpayers’ money, (a grant) for a system which really only needed about $1,000 invested in order to replace the existing sprinkler heads which would have made the system work. Yes, I know it was an older system, but it worked, and the $65,000 could have gone towards something that really needed to be fixed or replaced.

As it was discussed this past week in the commission meeting, the town was rejected or was not responded to by over 14 banks regarding the refinancing of town bonds. Why, because of the lack of cash flow of the town. I said it before, if you budget a job for $4,500 and it ends up costing you over $100,000, how long and how many times can you do this before you start seeing the repercussions? Or, if you are losing over $40,000 on an item per year, such as the parking meters, how long do you keep dumping money into it?

When listening to information provided by individuals such as Mr. Rumsey, please look at ALL the facts. Perhaps Mr. Rumsey should publish his own record and show what he has done and how he and his votes have bettered our town. What he has done beyond showing up at commission meetings and using his platform to try and defame Commissioner Longtin and myself? Many times during the past four years he has also disparaged residents who spoke up or disagreed with him. Is this the kind of voice you want influencing how you will vote?

In closing, I still wonder to this day what Mr. Rumsey meant when I first got on to the commission and he called me on the phone to tell me that the reason people didn’t want me on the commission was because they were afraid of what I might uncover in town hall.

It seems there are a lot of skeletons in the town hall closets.

If you have any questions about my stance on anything happening in Lake Park, what I will focus on if I am re-elected, or about where I have stood in the past and how I have voted in regard to the issues encountered while I served as commissioner this past term, I will be happy to discuss it with you.

Thank you for your time and I hope to have your vote this coming Tuesday, March 12th.


Commissioner Steve Hockman