Martin County

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Tom Campenni

Friends & Neighbors is designed to give you the information that is happening within our County. My goal is to inspire you to get involved and make a change to make Martin County the best it can be.

There is lot’s to do!
– Tom

 

News And Views

Friends-and-Neighbors-of-Martin-County-news-and-views

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Things are changing at lightning speed. I am including the latest news as soon as available. Please read the entire newsletter. There were several meetings that occurred Friday after most of the content had already been written. I have included those meetings at the end in the appropriate government section.

 

1

 

GOVERNOR’S ORDERS

Many of us have been waiting for Governor DeSantis to issue a statewide order regarding COVID-19. And now he has!

 

It is important that we have a statewide standard. Without it every community is on its own. For the past couple of weeks, Martin County has been inundated with golfers who live south because their courses have been closed. This may be a boom for a few privately owned public courses but it could risk the transmission of the virus here. By the way, the courses down south were closed by order of the governor.

 

When DeSantis issued the order, I thought it would be on par with what Martin County had already in place plus add golf courses. The County has taken a fairly measured approach. Alas, he decided to issue orders that are confusing and poorly crafted. The orders refer to previous orders and statements. He issued a second order pre-empting local government from crafting their own restrictions. Usually when the state pre-empts localities it doesn’t prevent those localities from being more restrictive.

 

The order allows churches to conduct services. Hundreds of people can gather in a limited space. One person who is asymptomatic that has the virus can infect many people joining that person in the pews. This is irresponsible of a church that would put their congregation in harm’s way. It is irresponsible for a government to allow it to occur.

 

The order states unequivocally that seniors must remain at home. It doesn’t appear to have any out. Given that Florida has so many of seniors, the jails will be full if enforced as written. So, grocery shopping is out but can grandma go to church and grandpa play golf? For someone who touted his legal abilities and served as a JAG officer in the U.S. Navy, DeSantis should have done better.

 

Stay tuned this order will be changing! The governor showed early leadership regarding our water and environment. He has failed miserably in this crisis. Florida will have thousands of citizens unnecessarily infected because of this order. I am disappointed as a citizen and voter.

 

Both orders can be found at:

 

CLICK HERE

 

2

 

CORONAVIRUS

 

We read and we hear so many things pertaining to the virus. Do we really understand what COVID-19 is and why it is so dangerous? The following is from virologist from University of New England Medical Center that in a few paragraphs explains why it isn’t the flu.

 

Feeling confused as to why Coronavirus is a bigger deal than Seasonal flu?  Here it is in a nutshell.   I hope this helps.  Feel free to share this to others who don’t understand…    


It has to do with RNA sequencing….  I.e. genetics.

Seasonal flu is an “all human virus”.  The DNA/RNA chains that make up the virus are recognized by the human immune system.  This means that your body has some immunity to it before it comes around each year…  you get immunity two ways…through exposure to a virus, or by getting a flu shot.

Novel viruses, come from animals….  the WHO tracks novel viruses in animals, (sometimes for years watching for mutations). Usually these viruses only transfer from animal to animal (pigs in the case of H1N1) (birds in the case of the Spanish flu).  But once, one of these animal viruses mutates, and starts to transfer from animals to humans… then it’s a problem, Why? Because we have no natural or acquired immunity.. the RNA sequencing of the genes inside the virus isn’t human, and the human immune system doesn’t recognize it so, we can’t fight it off.

Now…. sometimes, the mutation only allows transfer from animal to human, for years it’s only transmission is  from an infected animal to a human before  it finally mutates so that it can now transfer human to human… once that happens..we have a new contagion phase.  And depending on the fashion of this new mutation, that’s what decides how contagious, or how deadly it’s gonna be..

H1N1 was deadly….but it did not mutate in a way that was as deadly as the Spanish flu.    It’s RNA was slower to mutate and it attacked its host differently, too.

Fast forward.

Now, here comes this Coronavirus… it existed in animals only, for nobody knows how long…but one day, at an animal market, in Wuhan China, in December 2019, it mutated and made the jump from animal to people.  At first, only animals could give it to a person… But here is the scary part…. in just TWO WEEKS it mutated again and gained the ability to jump from human to human.   Scientists call this quick ability, “slippery”

This Coronavirus, not being in any form a “human” virus (whereas we would all have some natural or acquired immunity). Took off like a rocket.  And this was because, Humans have no known immunity…doctors have no known medicines for it.

And it just so happens that this particular mutated animal virus, changed itself in such a way the way that it causes great damage to human lungs..

That’s why Coronavirus is different from seasonal flu, or H1N1 or any other type of influenza….  It’s a lung eater…And, it’s already mutated AGAIN, so that we now have two strains to deal with, strain s, and strain L….which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine.

We really have no tools for this.  History has shown that fast and immediate closings of public places has helped in the past pandemics.  Philadelphia and Baltimore were reluctant to close events in 1918 and they were the hardest hit in the US during the Spanish Flu.

Factoid:  Henry VIII stayed in his room and allowed no one near him, till the Black Plague passed.. he had no tools except social isolation…

…right now it’s hitting older folks harder… but this genome is so slippery…if it mutates again (and it will). Who is to say, what it will do next.  

 

3

 

IF WE HAD ONLY LISTENED

For years, scientists and others have warned us that a pandemic was coming. The world did not prepare. We ignored it and thought about missiles instead of germs and viruses. The government cut scientific programs, research, and agencies. For at least the past quarter century, we have been warned that our biggest threat was from a mutated virus.

 

Here is something I found from 2015. Bill Gates in this video predicted exactly what has happened today. It is a short 4-minute video that explains what we should have done but more importantly what we need to do in the future:

 

CLICK HERE

 

4

 

LEADERSHIP

 

We are forged by our circumstances. My parents never forgot the lessons that both the Depression and World War II had imparted on their formative years. My generation had Vietnam and the protest movement as our teachers. The Millennials and Generation X had 911 and the Great Recession as their zeitgeist.

 

For my parents, the leadership of Roosevelt guided the nation through both economic devastation and a world war. No one my age thought of either Johnson or Nixon as leaders we could trust. By the late 60’s, few political figures inspired confidence that things would be better. The quality of political leadership hasn’t changed very much in the ensuing 50 years.

 

A strong man is not necessarily a leader. He could be just a bully with an army. Leadership is inspirational. A true leader tells us how bad the situation really is and what he/she is going to do to make it better. It requires that you take responsibility for actions that happened on your watch whether they occurred because of your actions or not. Being a leader is not a popularity contest. You are as much a cheerleader as a problem solver…a parent and a Moses to those being led.

Leadership is based on inclusion not exclusion. A leader makes us believe that we are all in the trenches together confronting the problem head on. The leader shoulders the blame and shares the credit. The very principle of inspirational leadership is to impart the belief that things will eventually be better.

 

To borrow from FDR’s 1st inaugural address in 1933:

 

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. “

 

To read more on what I believe leadership is:

 

CLICK HERE

 

5

 

HOW DO I QUALIFY

 

It seems that the only thing harder to find in Martin County than a dine-in restaurant is a test for Covid-19.

 

Why doesn’t anyone qualify? Even with symptoms, most of us are told to go home and stay on self-quarantine. Why is Cleveland Clinic, which apparently are following CDC guidelines, shooing away sick people? We are told that the supposed best medical system in the world can’t test its citizens to have reliable data because of a shortage of tests. What happened to the president’s pronouncement that anyone who wants a test can have a test?

 

I am writing this on the day that the U.S. surpassed China in the number of Covid cases. In both countries, the numbers must be looked upon with suspicion. In China’s case, they may be artificially trying to hold down the numbers of those who currently have or who have had the virus. In our case, I hope it is just incompetence rather than a conscious effort to fudge the number of cases so that the government doesn’t look bad.

 

Without universal testing, we will never know the true extent of those that have been infected in our nation, state, and Martin County. How do we make the best use of our limited resources if we don’t know where those resources are needed or will be needed next week? Does anyone think that there are only a handful of people in this County that have the virus? That is not believable.

 

I am not blaming our County government for this. It is not in their control to administer tests. This needs to be addressed in Tallahassee and Washington. The feds and the state can’t truly believe that insufficient testing and taking weeks to obtain the result is in the best interest of our citizens?

 

What serves us all well is knowledge. Anyone with the slightest symptoms should get a test and, if positive, need to be quarantined. There should also be robust testing of those that have no symptoms. If we wait until symptoms develop, then the virus will continue to spread. Transparency is what we need not secrets.

 

Friends-and-Neighbors-of-Martin-County-Letters-To-Tom

I urge those who are reading this newsletter to send an email expressing their opinions on subjects. When a reader sends one, it will be included if I find it relevant and I have adequate space. I may edit the letter because of length and clarity. You don’t have to agree with me to have your letter in Friends & Neighbors. All you must do is send it to

Info@friendsandneighborsofmartincounty.com or fill out the form on the website.

This letter is from Caryn Lee Hall-Yost-Rudge:

 

I know you have a great love for our city and county…

The Martin County Press conference (3/19/2020) had the Clev Clinic head…..@6:30…..declaring their  2 months prep. for this! 

The 1st case in MC was a “travel” case…..shocker!

  Was MC commish Hetherington supposed to shut the airport down?

   Who was/is making the decision of “air traffic” INTO MC?

     You don’t need to answer…I’m just wondering and you are a man in the know whom cares enough

to let others know!     Hope you and family are safe!   Caryn

 

 

The next letter is from Jim Matthews:

 

Your thought is on point that we are changed. 

SADLY, most of even the mostly ‘GOP’ from GNU YOKE who select us to retire within…

… generally fall victim to the ole nature of GOVT HERE TO HELP..

AMERICA will survive as we heard our President’s message … despite the DC TO BOSTON COMMIE MEIDA CHARADE!!

HOW will it help us Seniors who won’t miss a SS or Pension check and are staying home without spending our TRUMP TAX CUTS on our grandkids yet…

… to get a ‘bailout’??

 

HOW do we ‘bailout’ the same corporations who haven’t paid taxes yet … whose stock market was crashed by the Buffet / Bloomberg / et als ‘taking profit’ and ‘buying back cheap’?

TIME for Federal GOVT to discuss all summer exactly how their pieces of Generational Laydown Welfare

 

Entitlementorisms will seek out and help the obvious churches never had problems finding.

 

The best we can hope for is Congress has to also do a 2 month Quarantine and can’t vote on any thang whilst home alone!

 

Jim Matthews

Tequesta NRA Lifetime Member

 

Our next is from Jo Pound from Jensen Beach:

 

isn’t part of Jensen Beach in Martin?

 

My Answer:

 

Jo:

 

Yes it is technically,all of it. It is not it’s own municipality so does not have a government except the County.

 

Did I write something incorrect?

 

Her response:

 

I was just wondering why you have links to all other areas, ie: Stuart, Sewalls, Ocean Breeze, Indiantown, and Jupiter Island. Checking the letter online I found only one mention of Jensen. Do you know of any websites, similar to yours, that can let me know about what is going on in Jensen Beach in Martin County. And by the way, part of Jensen Beach is in St. Lucie County. I have properties in both counties and I must say that St. Lucie is much more caring about the part of Jensen Beach that resides in their county. When I first moved to Martin, almost 15 years ago I remember hearing the term “red headed step child” in referring to Jensen Beach’s relationship to the county. I see this becoming true more and more as long as I have lived here. That’s why I purchased in St. Lucie. I love this area and could not think of living anywhere else. Respectfully yours, joAnn Pound

 

And My reply:

 

Yes, I guess you are correct like Kansas City is in both Missouri and Kansas. 

 

Since mine is a government reporter newsletter that deals only with Martin County, I concentrate on what local government is doing. As to a more social type newsletter especially for Jensen I can only suggest you try the local Chamber of Commerce. Anything that Martin County BOCC does has an effect on you because of taxes, etc. 

 

Sorry I couldn’t give you more information 

Randy Browning from Sewall’s Point inquires on the town park being used for business:

If what Mona Leonard says is true, I’d like to write emails to the council or others as necessary. Where do I find their names and email addresses?

And my response:

 

Randy:

 

You can find their email addresses on the Town’s website. 

 

I have done no reporting on how factual Mona’s assertions were or not. That was an op-ed not me reporting. One of the people involved does use the park. How much she pays or if she pays for the use, I don’t know. 

 

I asked anyone who wanted to comment on Leonard’s letter to send it to me and I would run it. No one from the Parks Committee did. 

 

If you find something out that should be in the next newsletter, send it along.

 

And on the same subject from Mark Puchalski:

 

First, I’d like to say how much my wife and I enjoy your newsletters. They allow us to keep up with what’s happening in Martin County.

Regarding your recent articles on the Sewall’s Point Park, I can NOT believe that this kind of “insiders” deal could exist in a small community like ours. Coming from Illinois, we were used to them up there and, FYI Illinois is bankrupt and people are fleeing the state in droves. I don’t think this will happen here, but it always starts with the small things. It’s unconscionable that our Town Commissioners would put a person in charge of the parks who has a blatant conflict of interest and runs a commercial enterprise out of the park she is supervising. Sewall’s commissioners should demand her resignation and review all of the plans involving our tax dollars. I urges all Sewall’s Point residents to write their commissioners and stop this abuse.

Ruth Donohue asks:

 

Tom,

 

I believe we should protect our stores that remain open,

 

 by requiring that shoppers wear a bandana, scarf, or cloth over their nose and mouth while they are in the store.

 

How to make this happen NOW!  ?

 

 

Ruth Donohue, Stuart resident

And one on crosswalks from Tom Pine in Jensen Beach:

 

I will continue to Thank You and support Friends and Neighbors news letter as the only place in Martin County to keep informed about what’s going on with our local governments.

Crosswalks are an important issue throughout the county. The last time I spoke before the commission on this issue was in February 2020, after I spoke a county employee from the Traffic Analyses Manger Public Works Department asked me to supply him with a list of where I thought crosswalks were needed.

My list starts on Dixie Hwy going East from Savanna Rd. to Indian River Drive north, then west on Jensen Beach Blvd. to Savanna Rd. South back to Dixie Hwy. I created a list of well over 150 missing or inadequate crosswalks.

The most disturbing part was that there are at least twelve intersections on Savanna Rd. that appear to never have had crosswalks.

Savanna Road is home to Jensen Beach Elementary School where children walk and ride bicycles to school every day yet there are very few crosswalks.

Safety is talked about a lot in Martin County but if you look around you will see that safety is usually in the back seat.

Safety takes time and coast money and often people in power can’t be bothered with either one, taking the time or spending the money.

A small note but pointed from Carol Fitzpatrick:

 

Re: Gratitude

Our county should be very appetitive for Medical, First Responders, Police, Grocery clerks, Sanitation department and our Volunteers.

Thank you all,

And lastly from Susan Auld:

 

We approach the fourth week in Lent—theme –forgiveness

 

 

It is the season to examine our lives and one recent event in my life caused me to write this piece. As we grow older, we ponder the future. For me it happened the day I received a call that informs me that my childhood friend had glioblastoma-a prompt call to heaven. A flood of memories enters your quiet space, a quick review of her challenges and her successes, of shared times skiing, wining, and dining and yammering at the Cape, a weekend here in Florida with the three life-long friends reminiscing.  One troublesome uncomfortable memory was my friend’s estrangement from her daughter of her first marriage. The trouble lay as they worked together to blend a new family including her daughter from the earlier marriage. Then as this life unfolded teenage troubles led to some challenging times. The daughter formed new relationships, moved to another country, did not respond to her mother’s inquiries. A cold stagnant relationship continued for many years. Then a friend arranged a meeting in Europe for mother and daughter, and they had a cordial meeting. Step one.  Then the glioblastoma. My dear friend said to me: “If it takes glioblastoma to bring my daughter to me, then I will accept that.”  A death sentence to bring your daughter to you! And that is what it took.

 

The Readings of the Fourth Sunday in Lent have a lesson for us all. There was a man who had two sons the younger of them asked and was given his share of the property and following the older one received his share. The younger one left and traveled and squandered his property in dissolute living. He is “without” and decides to return to his father, confesses and apologizes. His brother cannot understand how the father could put the past behind. The father welcomes and treats the prodigal son royally to the chagrin of the other faithful brother. “Your brother was lost and now he has been found.”  To be forgiven! Have you someone you need to forgive? Then consider how to act today. And what if the other does not reciprocate? Still forgive with peace knowing you have done what God would have you do. Forgive while each person has the opportunity to clear his or her soul and the other to receive the forgiveness or to forgive in return. Let it not take glioblastoma or a terminal illness to reach this point. Forgiving while both parties can respond is God’s way of leading us to peace. I invite you to take the first step today.

 

 

 

Susan D. Auld

MartinCounty

Friends-and-Neighbors-of-Martin-County-Commission

COMMISSION MEETING MARCH 24, 2020

 

Every one of our Commissioners, along with the Administrator, Attorney, and staff, have shown that Martin County has an effective government during this difficult time.

 

They have that ability because of use of their television channel, Facebook, and YouTube. By having a televised meeting, the Commission showed that, though constrained, the County was still conducting business. By having presentations by every municipality except Jupiter Island (who chose not to participate), citizens could understand that the municipalities were operational.

 

Here is something I don’t understand. Why is it that Martin County does not televise every government meeting? Xfinity is required to have a public access station available for public programming. The station is for all…not just the government of Martin County to program and control. Those costs are borne by the General Fund in the County Budget. Every taxpayer pays those costs.

Would it be more expensive to use that asset as it was meant? Yes, it would, but then government becomes open to the public. The Stuart News, other print, electronic and this newsletter do provide coverage and commentary. We are limited in what we can do. There is no local broadcast news for the most part and certainly nothing in depth. Citizens are left in the dark. Citizens that are paying with their taxes to keep the lights on at MC 20.

 

Democracy requires that we know what government…all government…is doing in our name. It shouldn’t be a struggle. I am calling on the County Commission to embrace this openness not only for them but for all government in the County by televising all municipal and School Board Meetings in addition to County Meetings. The added cost will be well worth it.

 

TRASH HEATS UP

 

Jeff Sabin from Waste Management pleaded with the Commission to postpone picking a company for the County’s waste hauling contract. Waste Management has had the contract for decades. After all that time, it is just good government to have those services go out to bid.

 

No one likes to lose such a lucrative piece of business. Sabin took the track that not all his people could participate in the RFP because of the pandemic. He also mentioned that Indiantown threw a wrench into the process because they may not continue with the County Interlocal Agreement. The other bidders don’t understand what Indiantown adds to the tonnage, etc.

 

Government needs to continue. The procurement process is proceeding. Offices are open for business. Every municipality that has an agreement with the County can terminate it at some point in the term of the contract. That is part of your calculation in formulating your bid.

 

I am glad it is continuing.

 

ADMIRAL’S TABLE

 

The site of the old Admiral’s Table in Jensen Beach is one step closer to becoming a microbrewery and restaurant after 20 years. The owners of Conchy Joe’s, which is located across the street, and the Dolphin Bar are moving forward with this project. When completed, Conchy Joe’s improvements and the rest of the project will be a big boost for Jensen Beach.

 

The Commission approved lowering the speed limit on that section of road to 30 MPH. If you are going to have people crossing the road to park their cars and perhaps look at the lagoon, then it only makes sense to have people slow down. A motion was made by Smith and seconded by Hetherington. It passed 5-0.

 

The site plan and backup can be found at:

 

CLICK HERE

 

FLOOD MAPS

 

The Commission was given an update on the Flood Maps for insurance purposes. These maps will be what your insurance company uses to set your rates. The maps are what determines whether you need flood insurance or not. Everyone should understand how important this is to all property owners. To find the information:

 

CLICK HERE

 

EMERGENCY MEETING MARCH 31, 2020

 

Commissioners stop identifying a “special meeting” as an “emergency meeting.” This was in no way an emergency. It was basically a way to get information out to the public. There were no emergency declarations. They didn’t order people to stay home. In short, they provided Cleveland Clinic, United Way, Sheriff Snyder, and others with an opportunity to give the public updates.

That is very important! The public has a right to know. And the best way you currently have is to have a televised meeting. But just like the moniker “breaking news” has come to mean nothing of substance, so too will “emergency meeting.” 

 

REPORTS

 

Cleveland Clinic’s Rob Lord gave numbers regarding cases and testing that were different than the Health Department. I am not going to recite either since they are by now completely out of date. You can find the latest numbers, which are updated constantly, at:

 

http://www.martin.fl.us/Coronavirus

 

Lord did say that Cleveland Clinic, since it is a network of facilities, has the ability to switch patients, equipment and personnel around depending on where most needed. That should give all of us some comfort that as hospitalizations are increased, we are not just looking at one hospital to take care of our residents.

 

I was also impressed that both Community Foundation and United Way are working together to fund the increased needs during this emergency. I would urge anyone looking to donate to look to those organizations first. They will know who is doing what and where your dollars mean the most.

 

Here are Carol Houwaart-Diez, C.E.O. of United Way of Martin County, remarks at the meeting:

 

Good morning commissioners. I’m Carol Houwaart-Diez, at United Way of Martin county. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. And for all that you are doing for the safety and well being of our community to get us through this pandemic.

 

I’ll keep my comments brief but wanted to take this opportunity to share United Way’s response to COVID-19 and how we are collaborating with local nonprofits and government to help Martin County residents in need.

We all know that people are struggling in the economic wake of this pandemic and in the weeks and months to come, more people than ever before will scrambling to cover their basic needs, such as food, housing, utility, health care resources and more.

 

To help local individuals in need, we launched the COVID-19 Economic Relief Fund and allocated $200,000 from our emergency funds to help people right here in Martin County. We anticipate the need to gather significantly more funding and have been able to raise an additional $50,000 in contributions from our corporate partners and generous donors. 100% of donations will go toward the relief funds – no administrative fees will be taken. We’re working with two local nonprofit agencies who will handle the case management for this fund- House of Hope and Salvation Army.  I have said this many times, Covid-19 is something that our local community, our nation or the world has never seen before.  It is going to affect people and businesses that have never had to ask for help.  I strongly believe that we have to work together and let those organizations that it is their mission year round to provide this assistance take the lead in helping our community now, which is why we chose the House of Hope and Salvation Army to take the lead in doing the case work for assisting in basic needs.

 

Additionally, we are working with Martin County funders to support established local nonprofit organizations that are the frontline responders in times of need through a centralized grant process. Grant requests are vetted by all funders to ensure that resources are allocated to nonprofit organizations in a strategic manner to organizations with a proven track record of the most people as efficiently as possible.  We have agreed that during this initial phase of the pandemic, the United Way will focus on the immediate needs of our community members and the other partners will look at operation support for our nonprofits.

 

We’re also working as the volunteer coordination arm for Martin County Emergency Operations by coordinating all the volunteers so that we will be able to account for the manpower it took to keep our community going. 

We continue to keep residents informed of local resources and where they can go for help through our website, social media and email newsletter which can be found on www.UnitedWayMartin.org. Please know that we are a resource that is here for you.

 

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak.

 

WHAT CAN WE DO?

 

That seemed to be the one of two refrains from Commissioners.

 

When Sheriff Snyder spoke, he did say that the closing of the boat ramps did help. Unfortunately, our own residents are not social distancing at the Sand Bars, but we also had an influx of boats from down south which complicated matters. With the closing of the ramps on the weekend, that lessened people from down south as well as Martin County.

 

Even so, Snyder thought that there were a couple of thousand people at the sandbars last weekend which makes adequate social distancing impossible. The stupidity of some people is astounding!

 

What was interesting was that Snyder has no arrest authority to enforce the Governor’s directives presently. Ciampi then wanted to know if the Commission passed a shelter in place directive, could it be enforced? That really was never answered because Snyder, Kryzda, and County Attorney Woods kept speaking about using persuasion.

 

The other interesting matter was if the County did order something, then under Florida Statute, the municipalities automatically must follow it. If the County closes parks, then Stuart’s parks would also need to be closed.

 

Every Commissioner spoke about more draconian measures, but none wanted to enact them. There was a discussion that lasted nearly a half hour about how golf courses are being inundated by Palm Beach and other south counties’ residents.

 

This shows that Governor DeSantis’ approach to this pandemic is inadequate. Every county deciding what to do as if an island is just not practical. Pandemics don’t stop at the County line. DeSantis is stopping cars at the border to fill out a meaningless piece of paper if they are from New York. All that does is create a bottleneck for trucks bringing supplies into the state.

 

The pandemic deserves a statewide response. Otherwise, you have Martin County debating whether to close our facilities because they are being overwhelmed by people from other counties. This should not be a burden on individual counties. Under current state law, a city or county cannot pass an ordinance to tell someone what to plant in their front lawns. That was pre-empted from local control. When there are really things at risk and politically tougher, Tallahassee has a hands-off approach. That is political irony.

 

AND THE 2nd REFRAIN

 

Each Commissioner said that we need to give the citizens more input and information. They are speaking with Palm Beach County local broadcast stations begging to give Martin County a few minutes on their news broadcasts. They are relying on print news to put out more information. What is wrong with this picture?

 

This crisis calls out for constant updates. MC TV could be a way to let people know what is happening throughout Martin County. For too long, it has not been the people’s channel but a waste of a valuable resource. Why is the Commission allowing it to not be adequately utilized?

 

MC TV, whether it is on Xfinity, U-verse or the County’s YouTube channel, should be a font of information. It should be showing not only Commission meetings but all County, School Board, and municipal meetings. The County needs to adequately program it so it has valuable information being disseminated.  

 

The cost for the station is from the General Fund. That is the fund that collects money from every taxpayer. How about using it as it was intended which is a source of government information and providing transparency for local governments in Martin County. If we can afford to give tax money to the air show, equine rescue, and a variety of other things, we can afford to bring information and transparency to the voters and citizens of Martin County.  

 

SPECIAL MEETING APRIL 3, 2020

County Attorney Woods gave a succinct explanation of the governor’s orders. What was painfully obvious was how badly constructed and confusing those orders are. There seems to be very little communication between Tallahassee and counties concerning this.

 

“Section 1-A Senior citizens and individuals with a significant underlying medical condition

(such as chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions,

immunocompromised status, cancer, diabetes, severe obesity, renal failure and liver disease) shall stay at home and take all measures to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

 

If he meant that seniors should not be galivanting around it makes sense. Just like it is sensible for every citizen to remain at home as much as possible regardless of age. If he meant to imply that seniors are not allowed to leave their homes for any reason, then it just isn’t doable. Seniors need to shop for food. They need exercise the same as everyone else. They need to walk their dogs.

 

Many seniors are owners and employees of essential businesses. The County Administrator, County Attorney, I believe one Commissioner, 4 of the 5 Constitutional Officers including the Sheriff, and I don’t know how many others would effectively no longer be able to do their jobs.

 

The parks are open. DeSantis’ order keeps the golf courses open. Who exactly is playing golf if not for those over 60? Churches can hold services even if they have a thousand people attending. It is obvious that the order is not very well crafted. No interest group apparently except grandparents are overlooked in the exceptions to the lockdown that isn’t.

 

The Sheriff put it all to rest when he said that his department would not be having check points to look at ID and take seniors to jail. Deputies would not be outside Publix at the senior hour to round up those 60 and over. He explained it is a tool that can be used if necessary. His department in general will be using reason over police power to look for compliance. End of story.

 

Woods explained that even with the order, local government can close their own facilities. They just can’t order privately owned facilities to close.

 

Once again, the Commissioners stressed communications with the public. I hope they do something concrete in addition to speaking about it at Commission meetings.

 

A resolution was passed in support of the governor’s orders

City-of-Stuart

Friends-and-Neighbors-of-Martin-County-Stuart-City-Commission

Question from a reader from last week regarding a crosswalk at Dixie by Sailor’s Return. The City Manager states:

 

There was a letter from a citizen about the crosswalk on Dixie Hwy. at the south side foot of the Old Roosevelt bridge. This has come to the attention of the commission in the past few weeks either by citizens or personal observations and I tasked our public works department to address it. There has been a budget transfer for lighting and push button crosswalk flashers. We hope to have that installed as soon as possible.

 

 

City Manager David Dyess on the City’s Covid response so far:

 

City of Stuart commission meetings will resume on April 13th at 5:30 in the Stuart city hall commission chambers. There will be limited public seating, but we will have public comment waiting areas in the lobby and outside where audio and video will be provided. We will also be streaming live online at http://cityofstuart.us/streaming     

All city functions are still active and we are providing full service as normal. Some large commission action items will be delayed to comply as best possible with social distancing guidelines.

City Buildings: Closed to the public but either have drive through windows or drop boxes at individual departments to receive documents. Citizens are encouraged to use our online services http://cityofstuart.us/eservices

 

Contact Us At:

http://cityofstuart.us/contact      

Phone: 772-288-5300

 

SNUG HARBOR

 

In the last issue, I wrote that Snug Harbor was a Homeowners Association. In fact, it is a Condo Association. I want to thank my friend, Jean Drescher, for the correction.

 

 

SPECIAL COMMISSION MEETING APRIL 3, 2020

 

Originally this meeting was called to pass a resolution in support of the County’s newest resolution. Both the County’s and City’s agendas were abruptly changed with the issuance of the governor’s new and confusing orders which pre-empts what can be done by local government. As I have discussed above under the County and News & Views Sections, the orders from Tallahassee are broader than what Martin County already had in place and not very well thought out.

 

I thought the meeting would last at most 45 minutes. There were two items. The first would extend the declaration until May 11th and the second would adopt a resolution in support of the governor’s orders. It was standard and uncomplicated. The declaration of emergency could have waited until the April 13th meeting because that it is when it was due to expire. Never underestimate the consequences when you place a microphone in front of an elected official.

 

The meeting about nothing went on for 2.5 hours!

 

I am all about communication. It is important that people know what is happening. The City’s website has been turned into information central. There were 7000 views of one of the releases on that website last week.

 

There are videos coming out next week. The staff wants to have them air on MC 20. Leighton thought that the City should push the County to have more content on the station. She is correct. The City can more effectively communicate using TV than any other media.

 

When there was a discussion regarding the governor’s order concerning churches being essential and exempt from the social distancing requirement, it seemed that Meier and Matheson were wanting to do something about that. Meier was going to contact the pastors. Once again Leighton said something that made sense, that people need to be accountable for their actions. Perhaps the Commission forgot that they had no authority to not enforce the governor’s order.

Then the Commission began to discuss preventing senior citizens from leaving their homes in apparent compliance as part of the governor’s order. According to the City Attorney people over the age of 60 fall into the category under state statute. The Commissioners asked questions of how the police were going to enforce it.

 

My wife and I are over 60. I began to get worried if I were going to be locked up for going to Publix. Would I be stopped and asked by the police for my papers. The discussion was conjuring up visions of “Soylent Green.” Two City Commissioners are older than 60. The Sheriff is in his 60s.

 

After a long rambling discussion which included the City Attorney and the Police Chief, the City Manager piped up and said, it is up to the discretion of the officer whether an arrest or ticket or any action is taken. This is a tool. That was the same thing the Sheriff stated at the BOCC earlier.  It appeared that sanity prevailed and that most of the people who are “Condo Commandos” would be spared jail time.

 

I won’t bore you with any other parts of the meeting. It seemed that every Commissioner, but Bruner had to go on and on about…nothing. Most of the meeting was reminiscent of the lines from Becket’s “Waiting for Godot.”

In this instance the City is constrained in what it can do. The governor’s order takes away the ability of Stuart to implement tougher standards. Staff has done remarkable things in getting information up for the public. That is what needs to be done.

 

I hadn’t watched a meeting through streaming for a couple of years. It hasn’t improved. There were only cameras on the Commissioners and even that was not always on the person speaking. There was no video for the Attorney or Manager. The Zoom part worked well for staff. Audio of the meeting was hard to hear at times. Can’t wait to go back to a live meeting if the alternative is this technology.  

 

Martin-County-School-Board

Friends-and-Neighbors-of-Martin-County-School-Board

SCHOOL BOARD MEETING MARCH 24, 2020

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown our strengths and our weaknesses. One of our greatest weaknesses has been government transparency. It is important that the public has information. It is never so important as today.

 

There was supposed to be a meeting to interview the Finance Officer for the permanent position at 3 pm. I arrived and no one was there. Was the meeting cancelled? Was it moved? I texted two school board members to ask but never heard back. The offices are locked, so there was no way to ask there. I spoke with the camera person from MC TV, and he said it was supposed to be in their meeting room. He was told that they didn’t want to broadcast.

I understand there are severe limitations because of the pandemic. The public’s right to know should not be a casualty. Let’s televise, broadcast and anything else we can do to have public awareness. Do you think we can adopt mid-20th century television finally for Martin County government?

 

HEALTH INSURANCE

 

The District has given us another example of why our health care system is so completely off the rails.

 

The Board provides to all full-time employees, defined as at least 37.5 hours per week, a $6,500 yearly contribution ($541.67 per month) toward their insurance. Those that work between 30 and 37.49 hours per week receive a yearly contribution of $5,800 ($483.33 per month). The employee may also personally pay for coverage for the rest of his family. These are not overgenerous benefits.

 

The Insurance Committee has been meeting for months to work on a new plan for the District. I am on that Committee appointed by the Martin County Taxpayers Association. The Committee has been working on looking at plans for some time.

 

After much discussion and really hard work, the Committee did come up with plans that seemed to be a good deal for the District and the teachers. It will offer 4 tiers: employee only, employee and spouse, employee and child, employee and family, 2 employee family (this is the same as employee and family only it has the District contributing for both employees) There are also three plans: HMO, HDHP, and PPO.

 

In the past, there were only two classifications and now there will be 4. In many cases, this change saves the employee money. It also makes the District more competitive against Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties in keeping and attracting employees. The District has a savings of $180,000 per year, and the employees have a cumulative savings of $1,270,000 per year. However, the employee-and-family tier have an increase in premium.

 

The Board likes it except for the increase to one classification of employees. Defenthaler asked why the Committee voted unanimously given those facts and were other things considered?

 

There were other options such as self-insurance. Other governments, such as the City of Stuart, self-insure.  It is true that during the first roughly 3 years, it costs more because a reserve must be accumulated. After that, there could be significant savings. Though I asked the question, it was obvious that self-insurance wasn’t going to be accepted by the Committee.

 

Could the Committee have opted to lessen the amount of premium to families by having the other tiers pay some of the increase resulting in less savings? Yes, it could have been a discussion. That too appeared to be a non-starter with the rest of the Committee. The Committee is comprised of many people. A School Board Member, Department Heads, teachers, retirees, union representatives, and me. I was the only member that would not receive any benefit. Everyone, including School Board Members, are on the medical insurance plan.

 

So perhaps where I would, as a taxpayer, want to really explore the alternatives, those that are directly affected have other concerns. I would have wanted to dig deeper into self-insurance because, in the long term, there could be savings. Those savings would only occur in the future not in the present. My motives are different than those receiving an immediate benefit. While it could have been beneficial to all employees in the future, I didn’t fight as hard as I could have since the amount to be paid by the Board through taxes was allocated by union contract.

 

That went out the window when the School Board began speaking about equity. There was no talk about shared sacrifice. One thought was to have the premium dollars switched around to lessen the savings to one group for the benefit of their fellow employees. Everyone is in it together until people personally will have to pay more. And apparently even though several School Board Members stated they could afford the increase, the other employees could not.

 

The Board is right that it would be a large increase for that tier. By expanding to 4 tiers, it does make it easier for teacher recruitment, and it is not like Martin County pays the rank and file a lot of money. Providing additional non-monetary compensation is an attractive option. A savings to the district of $180,000 turns out to be an added expense of $330,000 so that those in the employee with family coverage do not pay any more than before.

 

A motion was made by Roberts and seconded by Defenthaler. It passed 5-0.

 

To see all the information regarding the plans and premiums:

 

CLICK HERE

 

CLICK HERE

 

CLICK HERE

 

CLICK HERE

 

Town of Sewall's Point

Friends-and-Neighbors-of-Martin-County-Sewalls-Point

And from Manager Berger:

 

Hi Tom,

 

I think this is a good topic.

 

One of the recent things I requested from the County was to include the municipalities during their (last) Monday morning meeting. They did end up extending the invitation to municipalities to give an update, a 5 minute update, to the BOCC – in the style of public to be heard.

 

While that was limited, I think it was valuable. It allowed the public to see the intergovernmental agencies working together and hear a brief update from their most local elective representatives.  For our Town, we had Mayor Frank Fender, Commissioner Campo and Commissioner Kurzman attend, along with myself. I asked the other two Commissioners to watch from the live feed at home, just to ensure we didn’t place all Commissioners in the space simultaneously.

 

At this point, we have been researching teleconference options, such as GoToMeeting, Zoom, etc.  for our April meeting. Since our government only meets once a month for our official business meetings (for voting purposes) at this time we are only missing the March 24th meeting. We intend to still meet for our business meeting scheduled for April 28th at this time. Although we may decide to forgo any workshop sessions prior to then, since we are unable to vote during those times anyway.  This will be a decision that can be made a couple days before the scheduled workshop on April 14th. It’s too early to cancel it now, in my opinion. But I don’t see a need to bring people together for a non-essential meeting. Some agencies are doing this, coming together for the sake of just being able they’re saying that meetings are continuing. However, there’s no need to have unproductive gatherings. I won’t take unnecessary risks, especially when today’s technology offers so many options.

 

Emails have been sent on a regular basis to the constituency base that have signed up for this type of communication. No less than two per week have been distributed.

 

As far as ensuring our Commissioners remain visible to their constituents, the Town Facebook page has some short videos from the Mayor and Commissioners, expressing their concerns and regards while we are all in this strange time together. There are also pictures of them attending the County meetings, as well as the Martin County video of the BOCC meetings that they participated in. Mayor Fender and Commissioner Mayfield have used their social media presences to share their personal updates, as well.

 

Much of this is considered one way communications, so I am suggesting to the Mayor that we have either a Town Hall session via teleconference, led by the Mayor or one Commissioner, prior to our April 28th meeting.  Or a special meeting, where all Commissioners can dial in, along with the public, for updates. Allowing us to offer insight as to how Town Hall is operating, what we expect in the near future, etc.  I’ll keep you posted on that.

 

Today is the first day our administrative staff is operating remotely from home. We use a progressive approach to varying our operations strategy as the intensity of this health issue has unfolded. We began two weeks ago by flexing our non-essential staff’s schedules (reducing their hours at Town Hall), then allowing the non-essential to work remotely as much as possible, then having all non-essential work remotely.

For our essential, full time employees, we progressively worked through the following:

  • Last week – readied for remote work by assigning lap tops and cell phones
  • Last week – installing an intercom system with the front door of Town Hall to speak to anyone who walked up during business hours
  • This week – created functionality with the existing phone system to forward calls for specific extensions to the associated cell phones (building | Town Clerk | Town Manager | Finance)
  • This week – started remote work today by all Town Hall staff except public works and PD

 

Our staff is meeting via teleconferences each morning, which is allowing us to try the different products prior to the Commission using them with the public.

 

I’ll keep you posted.

 

VIRTUAL TOWN HALL MARCH 31, 2020

Mayor Fender did a great job with his virtual Town Hall on Zoom. There were 38 participants. Between Fender, Berger, and the Police Chief they presented a thorough briefing on how the pandemic is affecting Martin County and Sewall’s Point before taking questions.

 

The attachment shows their presentation:

 

https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3A2a812b2d-c855-4c14-a5f6-1c40f8802213

 

SPECIAL MEETING APRIL 3, 2020

 

The Commission had another virtual meeting and it went very well.

 

In summary, the Commission passed a resolution unanimously to support the governor’s recent orders. They then turned their attention to whether the park across the street from Town Hall should remained closed. A motion was made by Barile and seconded by Mayfield to leave the park closed but have the parking lot open. It passed 4-1 with Campo dissenting.

 

There then was discussion on the finances of the Town. Berger and the Finance Director stated that the Town’s finances were looking well. However, there could be troubles ahead as the impacts of Covid-19 are felt. The Commission instructed Berger to bring back more information on the terms of obtaining a stand-by line of credit if necessary.

 

Village-Of-Indiantown

Friends-and-Neighbors-of-Martin-County-Indiantown-Village

This information came from the Village:

 

Hello sir,

 

Sorry this took so long, I got a lot going on here right now. I did a quick round up of our current plans for your use and put it in the email below. As of this moment we remain operating and plan to for the foreseeable future. All of our numbers and emails remain the same and can be found online at our staff directory (https://www.indiantownfl.gov/contact). Let me know if you need anything else.

 

During the COVID-19 outbreak Village staff would like to take an opportunity to ensure transparency in our operations. To begin with, it is important to recognize that last Thursday, March 19th, the Council opted to pass a resolution declaring a state of emergency. Now, while there is no reason to panic, the declaration has altered ongoing operations and those changes are highlighted below.

 

General Administration

  • Beginning 3/23/2020 Village hall will be closed to the public until further notice to better maintain CDC recommended social distancing standards. However, all employees will report to work as usual and support the community via phone and email. Residents can call 772-597-9900 for non-COVID-19 questions.
  • COVID-19 questions should be directed to the Department of Health or Martin County EOC Information line, 772-287-1652.

Office of the Mayor and Village Council

Office of the Village Manager

  • The Public Information Officer (PIO) will issue press releases as needed, update all Facebook, Nextdoor, and other social media outlets provided with information from the Village Clerk.
  • Village staff are working to develop streaming/recording solutions to better meet the needs of Village residents and provide live broadcasts of future Village meetings.

Community and Economic Development Department

  • All Special Magistrate hearings are cancelled until further notice unless there is an “essential or critical” need. The Code Compliance Officer will be assisting other employees within the Village, but will respond to health, safety, and welfare Code-related issues as needed.
  • The Planning Division will not be processing applications during this time period; however, the Planning Division will be available for inquiries via phone and email.

Parks and Recreation Department

Ø  All Parks facilities will be closed, effective March 23, 2020, and until further notice.  Signage will be erected at all Village Parks.

Ø  All Parks-related activities, including facility rentals and large use gatherings, have been canceled effective March 16, 2020.  No further reservations will be taken until further notice.

Ø  Parks staff and Village contractors will be available to assist with continued facility cleaning and maintenance.

 

Daniel Eick

Management Analyst / PIO

Village of Indiantown

DEick@indiantownfl.gov

(772) 233 – 0713

 

I want to congratulate Mr. Eick, Manager Brown, and the rest of the staff on their commitment to providing information as fast as I could hope for. This is the way to treat citizens trying to find Village information. As is apparent, I don’t always agree with the Council’s decisions, but I am pleased with their staff’s ability to help me put together this newsletter.

 

THE BEAT GOES ON!

There is a battle for the government of Indiantown. At some point soon, either the Village will back down, or it will be stuck with a huge budget. What I don’t think the Council sees clearly is the big financial concerns the County has regarding whether Indiantown remains within the County’s framework or not for services.

 

If the Village wants to have its own Fire/Rescue and trash services, then the County will make adjustments that will be less beneficial to Indiantown. How each relates is interconnected and nothing stands on its own. If the County Fire/Rescue is no longer provided, the tax rebate for FP&L goes away which could result in Indiantown losing its biggest taxpayer. Indiantown enjoys Martin County’s ISO rating which keeps insurance premiums lower than a new fire department would have. While homeowners’ rates would go up a bit, FP&L may find that they must leave because the fire protection is not adequate according to their own standards, regulators or those of their insurance carriers.

 

At present, Indiantown cannot compare itself to Stuart with its independent Fire, Police, and other services. Stuart has been incorporated longer than Martin County. Its departments and government took over a hundred years to evolve. Indiantown is trying to do everything within a couple of years. It is putting itself in jeopardy of buying more government than it can afford.

 

That is not to say it can’t do all of it at some point. It should first develop a much larger tax base to support the services that are currently being provided to them by Martin County. It needs to make sure that there are adequate LDRs in place. What is its annexation policy? For the time being if it isn’t broken…

Here is a letter reproduced that County Administrator Taryn Kryzda wrote Village Manager Howard Brown answering that series of questions in their last emails which I included in the March 22nd edition of Friends & Neighbors. You can find those emails on our website at:

 

CLICK HERE

 

 

This letter responds to your letter dated February 7, 2020. We understand that the Village of Indiantown (Village) is actively pursuing termination of our Interlocal Agreement concerning Fire Rescue Services as well as the repeal of the related ordinance, in order to contract for private Fire and EMS services to the Village. You reference that the Village impetus for examining options is directly related to the nearly $6 million in costs that your taxpayers are charged for the services they receive. Your taxable value for the County that I received from the Property Appraiser’s office as of October 2019 was $2,021,308,441. The adopted millage for the FY20 Fire MSTU is 2.7889. At the required 95% ad valorem collection rate, the County is estimating the Fire MSTU will receive roughly $5.4 million from the taxable value of the Village.

 

Your letter goes on to request six additional items that you would like to “explore” and to discuss further. I would like to address each one of those which I have para-phrased:

 

(1)The request to deviate from the current May 1st notification requirement for terminating services and institute an alternative timeline.

 

The County cannot deviate from the May 1 deadline set forth in our Interlocal Agreement. Our special assessment legal counsel has advised that the May 1st deadline is necessary to stay on track with various deadlines for compliance with Chapter 197, Fla. Stat. which ensures that adequate due process is followed by the County and for the efficient collection of the assessment on the property tax bill.

 

(2)The ability to continue to receive fire prevention, fire code enforcement and fire investigations services.

 

The County cannot provide those services as “cafeteria plan” services. Fire Prevention is an integral part of our Fire Rescue Department, directed by our Martin County Fire Chief, and a member of the Fire Chief’s leadership team. These services are dependent on adherence to the protocols of our Fire Rescue Department. It is not possible nor advisable for the County to assume the significant potential liability posed by this request to provide these services to another Fire Rescue service.

 

(3)The ability to purchase Fire and EMS dispatching services.

 

The County is not interested in providing those services as a stand-alone outsourced service. If the Village is going to contract for Fire and EMS services with another company, the County would have no control over their response and medical protocols. The County is unable and unwilling to assume potential liability for the Village’s outsourced fire rescue services. Dispatch is an integral part of the Fire Rescue Department and managed by the County’s Fire Chief and thus cannot be provided to another fire rescue service.

 

(4)The ability to enter into a mutual aid and/or an automatic response agreement once the Village service is operational.

 

The County is unable to enter into such an agreement, by definition such agreements are only available when both parties provide assistance. Your proposal appears to describe supplemental services which are not mutual. If the Village decides to go forward, and the County is no longer providing services to the residents in the Village, the County will be assessing options for a possible relocation of the station to an area more conducive to serving the unincorporated area of western Martin County.

 

(5)The ability to explore alternative pricing models that allows for the County service at a reduced cost.

 

As I have stated before, the County provides Fire Rescue and Advanced life support services to more than 83% of the residents in Martin County. My Commissioners are very concerned about giving the Village a ‘discount’ which would shift that monetary burden to the many unincorporated area residents. Please note the residents of the Town of Ocean Breeze have a similar interlocal and ordinance to allow the Fire Rescue MSTU within Town boundaries in order to receive Fire Rescue services. It is difficult, if not impossible, to justify a ‘discount’ to the Village while requiring the Town and unincorporated residents to pay more.

 

(6)Other mutually agreeable consideration that are deemed possible regarding Fire/Rescue.

 

Martin County Fire Rescue is a large department under one umbrella, managed by a large team of professionals. The County has no interest in dissecting this department to allow portions of our Fire Rescue divisions and services to be ‘farmed out’ as an outsourced service. Our Fire Rescue Department is a comprehensive service provider of superior quality to the citizens of unincorporated Martin County and the Town of Ocean Breeze. As discussed above, the liability of such a proposal far outweighs any potential benefit.

 

Martin County’s Fire Chief recently listened to the audio from the Village’s March 12, 2020 meeting. There are a few statements made by the Village Council that should be clarified and/or corrected. This letter will serve as the County’s mechanism to address those comments and provide the County’s response for the record.

 

There was a promise by the Village Council that going with a for-profit company would actually increase the level of service since Martin County will continue to respond thus doubling the apparatus and the number of fire rescue personnel. This statement is incorrect, if the Village terminates the Interlocal and repeals the Ordinance, Martin County Fire Rescue will only be responsible for responding to the Indiantown residents in the unincorporated area. That means if the Village units are all busy and another emergency call within the Village boundary is needing a response, the Village would have to make a request for mutual aid from neighboring agencies. This process would dramatically increase response time and is contingent upon the availability of resources, so a response is not guaranteed. As a point of reference for potential impact, over a 17-month period from 2018 to 2019 there were 430-unit responses to emergency calls in Indiantown from surrounding Martin County stations covering the Indiantown units that were unavailable due to utilization. The level of service will only increase for Village residents if the Village’s department does so.

 

Village Council member stated that there are more 911 calls outside the Village than inside the Village boundaries. This is incorrect. This Council member further elaborated the rumors of a volunteer fire department. The Village’s released RFP provides on page 8 (E.) that the Village encourages the use of part-time, reserve, paid-on call, volunteers or other employment status’ that provide qualified personnel in delivering these services.

 

There was a statement by a Council member that obtaining fire rescue services is similar to that of buying a car, and since the City of Stuart residents have their own department, it must be cheaper for them. The City has a special fire assessment fee that all property owners must pay in addition to paying ad valorem taxes for their fire service. The reason that the fee was initiated was because many of their property owners were paying very little or no ad valorem taxes for the City’s fire rescue services. Due to the property valuation exemptions the City residents along the waterfront and the commercial and industrial businesses were paying most of the ad valorem taxes for fire rescue services.

 

The Village ISO rating is currently based upon Martin County’ s ability to respond with the full complement of apparatus and personnel and demonstrated ability to maintain water supply in those areas that don’t have hydrants. Chief Schobel has raised concerns on how the Village’s rating will be impacted when a for-profit company is providing Fire Rescue services. This change in ISO rating may impact FP&L’s requirements (that Martin County currently meets) for specialized training.

 

The County has been in contact with FP&L and has reviewed its Tangible Personal Property (TPP) Agreement with FP&L. The County believes our Agreement is clear that if the County is not collecting the monies within the Village as a part of the Fire Rescue MSTU, then the County will not owe any rebate to FP&L for the Fire Rescue MSTU. The County has no obligation nor interest in amending its TPP Agreement with FP&L to increase its economic incentive because of the Village’s termination of County Fire Rescue services.

 

We also recently learned by listening to the Village’s meeting audio, rather than  by  being advised by you, that the Village is taking steps to terminate the Interlocal Agreement and related ordinance concerning Solid Waste and Recycling Services within the Village. As you know, we are in the midst of a request for proposals for a new franchise agreement for such services. We have notified the proposers of your intent to procure your own service provider. Please be aware contrary to your public comments concerning the Village’s ability to collect “franchise fees” for such service, the County does not and will not receive income or franchise fees in connection with its solid waste franchise agreement.

 

Health, safety and welfare of the residents should be of paramount concern as the Village proceeds. I consider the residents within the Village boundary as County residents too. It is my hope that the Village Council and Village residents understand the Martin County Fire Rescue MSTU is an ad valorem assessment on the taxable value of real property and improvements. In the Village of Indiantown, the majority of the MSTU is paid by commercial/industrial property owners (for example FP&L) not by the residential property owners, many of whom receive the homestead exemption, assessment cap, and other exemptions provided by law. This is an important statement because I cannot expect the residents in the unincorporated area of the County and the Town of Ocean Breeze to shoulder the burden of a tax shift that would have to occur to cover the ‘discount’ the Village is trying to obtain. The taxes that are paid by the residents and businesses receiving Martin County Fire Rescue services are based upon taxable value and provides funding for the entire system including all apparatus and personnel resources. Only those individuals that have similar valued property pay the same annually, the others will vary, yet they receive the same service.

 

In conclusion, for the reasons outlined above coupled with the pending impacts of our current pandemic from COVID-19 and the resources we have to mitigate this crisis, I have extreme concerns with the Village pursuing an alternative fire rescue and EMS service other than continuing to participate in Martin County’s emergency response system and the level of service the residents have come to expect.

The County Attorney subsequently sent an email to the Village Attorney with a correction regarding the trash hauling:

 

From: Sarah Woods <swoods@martin.fl.us>
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2020 2:20 PM
To: Taryn Kryzda <tkryzda@martin.fl.us>; Howard Brown <hbrown@indiantownfl.gov>
Cc: Comish <Comish@martin.fl.us>; William Schobel <wschobel@martin.fl.us>; Samuel Amerson <samerson@martin.fl.us>; gstone@indiantownfl.govjhernandez@indiantownfl.govadowling@indiantownfl.govjclarke@indiantownfl.govsthomas@indiantownfl.govsowens@indiantownfl.govwvose@indiantownfl.gov; Wade Vose <wvose@indiantown.org>
Subject: RE: Response to letter received 2/7/2020-DO NOT REPLY ALL

All,

I inadvertently provided the County Administrator with incorrect language for the portion of her letter addressing solid waste and recycling services.  I apologize for the error.  To clarify: the County does charge a fee to our current provider for the exclusive franchise for residential and commercial collection pursuant to our current franchise agreement.  The fee is calculated pursuant to a formula on a quarterly basis and it is estimated this is approximately 5%.

I spoke with the Village Attorney this afternoon who advised me the Village has no intent to terminate the Interlocal concerning solid waste collection for the upcoming fiscal year.

 

Stay well

Sarah

Sarah W. Woods

 

Indiantown may not be cancelling the agreement with the County regarding waste hauling this year, but it looks like it will next year. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the County to make sure the bidders for the new County waste contract knew this and that Indiantown could only be sticking around for a year. If I were the County, I would give notice now to Indiantown and beat them to the punch.

 

FURTHER UPDATE:

 

Here is a press release from the Village today:

For Immediate Release

DATE: Friday, April 3, 2020

Contacts:

Daniel Eick, Acting Public Information Officer, 772-233-0713 Susan A. Owens, MPA, MMC, Village Clerk, 772-285-7740 Amanda Bevis, DMG, 202-680-9262

 

INDIANTOWN COMPANY BATTLING COVID-19 WITH A 15-MINUTE TEST

Disaster Management Group distributing tests throughout the United States

Indiantown, FL – Indiantown-based Disaster Management Group (DMG), 19100 SW Warfield Boulevard, is working diligently to supply 15-minute COVID-19 tests to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. Department of Defense, state, county and healthcare agencies throughout the United States. DMG acquired the rights to produce and distribute the test in the United States in March.

“DMGtest is the first time the same screening tool that offers a blood test for evaluating candidates who may have COVID-19 that was used efficiently and effectively in China, South Korea and the United

Kingdom is being used in the United States,” said Tom Rubio, CEO of Disaster Management Group. “This cost-effective screening tool can help communities all across the country quickly test, detect and monitor COVID-19 to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”

“DMG is a perfect example of the commercial opportunities in Indiantown,” said Indiantown Mayor Guyton Stone. “Indiantown is the perfect place to find affordable industrial and commercial land for sale so that businesses can expand into South Florida. Indiantown has ample vacant industrial and commercial lands located within a Federal Opportunity Zone and is pretty much ‘shovel ready.’ We are pleased to have emerging industries such as DMG, Promero and others that call Indiantown home.”

The Federal Opportunity Zones Program was established by Congress through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The purpose of the program is to promote investment and drive economic growth in low- income and/or economically disadvantaged communities.

The Village is developing a new Land Development Regulations plan which will pinpoint existing and available commercial and industrial development zones.

DMG has been in the forefront of disaster recovery and rapid deployment efforts for 15 years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, DMG has been working closely with the CDC and DOD. DMG partnered with Promero, Inc., of Pompano Beach, FL, to develop a cloud-based app, DMGapp, that assists patients suspected of having COVID-19 with finding the nearest test site.

For more information, visit the Village of Indiantown website at www.indiantownfl.gov or DMG at www.basecampservices.com.

Town of Ocean Breeze

Until further notice the Town’s offices are closed to the public. They will continue to be manned Monday-Friday 9 AM to 2 PM. You can reach them at 772-334-6828 or the Clerks cell at 772-807-2557. The email is townclerk@townofoceanbreeze.org

 

All further Council meetings have been cancelled until further notice.

 

INVASION:

 

Sun Communities is continuing to allow RVs to park on its pads. As you can see from the emails below to some residents it is a concern:

 

From James Lynch who lives at Ocean Breeze:

 

Why is ocean breeze still bringing in RV rentals?

4 today 1 from NY (JL)

 

Do you live in Ocean Breeze? (TC)

 

Yes, I do. (JL)

 

OK I will see what I can find out for you. (TC)

Here is what I sent to Chris Walters (Resort Manager) below and his reply

RE: Keep us safe

 

Florida says no more rentals and for us at ocean breeze close the gates. They have been open for 3 days

Florida Gov. DeSantis suspends new vacation rentals amid COVID-19 concerns

 

Hi Jim,

Pursuant to our March 28th 2020 Face Book post we are aware of the Governors order to suspend Vacation Rentals and are in compliance. Our Main gate only is currently programmed to be open from 7am to 7pm at this time to accommodate the large volume of our at risk resident deliveries from Amazon, Fed Ex, UPS, Meals on Wheels, Home Health Care and other carriers in an effort to encourage Social Distancing and to ensure that the much needed supplies reach our residents . Ironically I found myself locked out of the coastal gate while making a quick trip to the grocery store this morning while forgetting my phone. Should you observe suspicious individuals it is my recommendation that you contact the  Martin County Sheriff’s office at (772) 220 – 7000 while providing their office with a description to include the vehicle, plate number if available and description of the suspect to include details such as clothing. It has been my experience that the Sheriff’s office responds in a matter of minutes and this description is extremely helpful in their investigation. Hope that you, Dawn and family remain safe.

Best,

Chris Walters

 

After speaking with Terry O’Neil, the Town Consultant, I wrote back to Mr. Lynch:

 

James:

 

I spoke with Ocean Breeze Consultant Terry O’Neil today.

 

According to him and from what I understand the Governor’s Order states is that resorts are exempt. 

 

Terry did tell me that Sun has stopped renting their units. As to the RVs headquarters hasn’t told them to stop them as of yet. Under the PUD Agreement they may have RV rentals until January 2021.

 

If there was enforcement because of the Governor’s Order, Mr. O’Neil stated it would be by the Sheriff’s purview. 

 

Not very helpful I know.

 

He answered:

 

Thomas, thank you your quick response and hard work.

        James Lynch

 

Mayor Ostrand spoke at the special BOCC meeting held on April 3rd. She was asking the County for help to stop this from happening. If Mr. O’Neil is correct, then the County could not do anything.

For two reasons it would not be possible. One is that the Governor’s order supersedes any local jurisdiction and it permits that use. Second, the County has no authority to do anything about the situation within the boundaries of Ocean Breeze.

 

Ocean Breeze has its own authority as a chartered municipality. As a municipality it gave Sun Communities the right in the PUD agreement to rent RV spaces until January 2021. The governor’s order notwithstanding, the Council now must live with the agreement until the end of the year even if the dreaded RVs are from New York and they are fleeing the pandemic.

 

Going to the County and thinking they can solve your problem because you changed your mind on the terms of a PUD goes against every principal, I have heard the Mayor express about home rule. The County is not in charge of any city. I am all for cooperation and teamwork, this is not that.

 

The Mayor’s letters to the County can be found at:

 

CLICK HERE

 

Jupiter Island

Jupiter Island Sky View

The next meeting is scheduled for April 21st at 9 am.

Final Thoughts

Many of us have been spending much more time on our computers in the last couple of weeks. Not all the information we find is accurate especially, about COVID-19. Much is anecdotal. For example, if you take Ibuprofen, you could have more severe symptoms or die. Autopsies have revealed a high prevalence of the drug in the victims’ systems.

 

What does that actually reveal? If I have a fever or muscle ache, ibuprofen would be my go-to pain reliever. Everyone who ends up testing positive or is admitted probably took some form of pain reliever. No one has done any scientific research to prove that your chances of survival with the virus are less if you take ibuprofen over Tylenol or plain old aspirin.

 

We create “facts” based on supposition. All of us, at some point, use faulty syllogisms to create bad conclusions. As Americans, we been doing that for a while. People who might be afraid to fly because they believe it is dangerous don’t think twice about driving. Where are you more likely to be involved in an accident?

 

Much of the time our faulty logic and hidden biases don’t matter until something such as this pandemic happen. It shows us how dangerous it is to view the world wearing rose colored glasses instead of clear lenses:

CLICK HERE

 

GET THE WORD OUT

 

Friends and Neighbors of Martin County is your eyes and ears so that you know what is going on in Martin County’s municipal and county governments. I attempt to be informative and timely so that you may understand how your tax money is being spent. Though I go to the meetings and report back, I am no substitute for your attending meetings. Your elected officials should know what is on your mind.

 

Tom Campenni

772-287-5781 (o)

772-341-7455 (c)

Email: Info@friendsandneighborsofmartincounty.com

thomasfcampenni@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

ARTICLES OF INTEREST

 

Our first article is from Route 50 regarding Puerto Rico’s affirmative vote to become a state:

 

here

 

From The Startup Milton Freedman still knows more about markets than The NY Times:

 

here

 

The History of Yesterday has an article regarding Adam Smith’s two revolutionary ideas:

 

here

From The New York Times a piece remembering the time that Martin Luther King was stabbed in Harlem and saved by the NYPD:

 

here

 

Another from Route 50 regarding New York City sending EMTs with cops to answer some calls:

 

here

 

And finally another from The History of Yesterday regarding a scientist that gave the world cheap fertilizer and a gas used to kill millions of people:

here

 

GLOSSARY

Annual Medium Income (AMI)

Basin Action Management Plan (BMAP)

Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)

Business Development Board (BDB)

Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

Center For Disease Control (CDC)

Centum Cubic Feet (CCF)

Children’s Services Council (CSS)

Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)

Community Development District (CDD)

Community Redevelopment Board (CRB)

Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)

Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)

Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) 

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

Emergency Operation Center (EOC)

Equivalent Residential Connection (ERC)

Evaluation & Appraisal Report (EAR)

Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA)

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

Full Time Equivalents (FTE)

Future Land Use Maps (FLUM)

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)

Hobe Sound Local (HSL)

Indian River Lagoon (IRL)

Land Development Code (LDR)

Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS)

Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSUM)

Local Planning Agency (LPA)

Martin County Fire/Rescue (MCFR)

Martin County Taxpayers Association (MCTA)

Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU)

Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU)

Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY)

Organization For Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD)

Planned Unit Development (PUD)

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

Preserve Action Management Plan (PAMP)

Project Delivery Team (PDT)

Request for Proposal (RFP)

Residential Planned Unit Development (RPUD)

Right of Way (ROW)

Secondary Urban Services District (SUSD)

South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)

South Martin Regional Utility (SMRU)

State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP)

Storm Water Treatment Areas (STA)

Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

Urban Planned Unit Development (UPUD)

Urban Services Boundary (USB)

World Health Organization (WHO)