Martin County

Sewall's Point

Ocean Breeze

Indiantown

City of Stuart

Jupiter Island

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

FOR THOSE OF YOU WITH A GMAIL ACCOUNT, YOUR NEWSLETTER MAY BE GOING INTO YOUR PROMOTIONS FOLDER. PLEASE TAKE NOTE!!!!

 

1

WHY TEXTBOOKS

 

I read the article cited below and wondered if generic textbooks are the best way to instruct our children?

 

Through the years I have noticed that textbooks place non-controversy above all else which include basic knowledge. If the textbook covers any of the humanities, the kids will learn nothing of substance. When you remove this or that reference to a subject so that you do not “offend” this or that group, there isn’t much substance left. Different state legislatures and school boards then add their own political slants, and you have a recipe for ignorance of Americans only growing.

 

I was at a luncheon recently where the speaker was opining about what were the influences that shaped the writing of the Constitution. Her first reference was to Ethelred II, a Saxon king, known as the “Unready.” Under his watch, the Danes invaded England (not for the first time) resulting in Ethelred and his family seeking refuge with his wife’s father the Duke of Normandy.

 

She mentioned that Ethelred was elected by the people. That statement is not true. He was descended from the Wessex kings that succeeded in conquering other earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In other words, he was the son of a king and was not elected. Her entire point about this being an influence was incorrect. Since we are not taught history, we are susceptible to believing false narratives.

 

Those trying to influence us take advantage due to our ignorance. The dark ages were not a hot bed of political freedom. Serfs did not elect their rulers. Strongmen became kings and stronger men removed them. This was far from the enlightenment that gave us our Constitution.

 

Our children and most adults deserve to know their history. Our opinions should not be shaped by what we hope was the past. That is the point of education. It needs to be based in fact and not a work of fiction. 

 

The article can be found below:

 

READ ARTICLE HERE

 

2

 

SUE!

Many of us are under the opinion that we can sue our way out of the discharges from Lake Okeechobee. This could not be further from the truth.

 

The fevered pitch that has engulfed Stuart’s Commission setting it on this course is lunacy. Whether done for political expediency or of heartfelt desire that it is the right thing to do, Stuart is on a fool’s errand. This will not lessen the chances for discharges. The result will be that the City will have less money to spend on things like police and fire or face tax increases. As they charge ahead, anyone with any sense and experience knows where this action ends.

 

The Commission is being played for saps by those that have longed to find the right patsies to do their bidding. These supposed environmental experts keep yapping about having the Corps be forced into writing the LORS schedule and LOSUM to their specifications. The Corps, with many stakeholders including Stuart, are doing so now. It is scheduled to be completed by 2022. No court is going to interfere in this process to make it happen faster. And no court is going to substitute its judgement for that of the body to whom Congress has given the responsibility to accomplish the task.

 

Martin County has the experts on staff. They are participating in the rewrite meetings. They are not participating in any lawsuit because, unlike Stuart, they know they can’t win. Martin County realizes that they finally have the Corps listening to their complaints. The County is smart enough to keep their powder dry during the next two years. They would rather influence by giving information than by being belligerent. The United States Army, of which the Corps is part, does not succumb to pressure.

 

Our City Commission is listening to the same people that have been complaining for years… the majority of whom reside outside the City. Like all zealots, they would rather engage in a fight, especially if someone else is absorbing the financial and political blows, than work collaboratively. Stuart’s Commission has always been easily swayed by the crowd either because of naivete or political miscalculation. They are allowing themselves to be used again. 

 

3

 

THE OLD & THE NEW OR SUE PART II

 

The old way of dealing with a problem is to threaten a lawsuit. Lawyers, of course, like this alternative because it uses one of their tools.  If attorneys were plumbers, they would pick up wrenches or if carpenters they would use hammers. Elected officials should be leery of trying to solve an issue by employing any of those methods. It is so perplexing that the Stuart City Commission believes a lawsuit is the best way to have the Corps do their bidding.

 

There is a great misunderstanding about a case that most people want the Commission to emulate. It resulted in a consent decree mandating that polluted water could not be sent into the Everglades. It was brought by a U.S. Attorney suing Florida.

 

The U.S. Attorney had something that we do not have regarding Lake “O” releases. In that instance, the National Park had regulations forbidding polluted water. The judge ruled that the existing regulations had to be enforced.

 

In this instance, a judge has no regulations to enforce. The Corps is meeting its responsibilities under current law and regulations. Further, they are already engaged with hundreds of stakeholders in writing a revised LOSUM and LORS. The judge will not write the regulations and the law. What is the outcome the City wants to achieve? They are currently engaged in writing amended regulations and we are participating? 

 

In the meantime, it seems that the rest of Florida has moved on from confrontation to cooperation. The South Florida Water Management District is going forward with CERP (Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project) including the reservoir south and projects north of the Lake with the Corps, who they refer to as their partner. In Tallahassee, legislators (including Senator Gayle Harrell and Representative MaryLynn Magar) have formed the Lake Okeechobee Working Group to find ways of reducing the discharges by working with the Water District and the Corps. Martin County, which has the expertise on staff along with their consultants, has decided to work collaboratively not confrontationally with other governmental entities.

 

The Stuart Commission wants to be the cowboy with the white hat battling the Corps in the black hat. That is an outdated concept that our federal, state, and local partners have abandoned. Times have changed as have methods to accomplish one’s goals. It is time that the Commission adopt the new ways.

4

 

SURVEY

 

There has been a survey on our website for the past few editions. It has had to do with our quality of life in Martin County. Many of you have filled it out and given your opinion. We are going to keep it up through February. If you haven’t already done so, please take the time to complete it and let me know what you like and don’t like about living here.

 

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

The first letter is from Tom Kenny a former County Commissioner:

 

Tom,

 

I’ll try to be brief, but your latest issue sparked an interest to comment, I really don’t offer opinion any longer.

You write that Stuart, Martin County, even the Village of Indiantown, say they want more affordable housing.

 

I enjoyed your little story about your first house, bet it wasn’t brand new! Sandy and I bought our first house, with help from our parents as well, for $15,025, on Camden Avenue in Stuart. Why do I mention that? The County Impact Fee schedule along with a water and sewer connection fee can be more than $16,000! So, if you want to talk affordable housing start with why our impact fees are so penal.

 

Somewhere in this issue you say in order to help affordability, density should be increased, you’ve sat on local government panels, how’d those public hearings go when densities are proposed to be raised. I think you also have experience with approval processes, how much do you think the hourly burn rate is for all those professionals to sit in all those endless meetings? I fought the affordable housing wars for my entire 50-year career in Martin County; the voters don’t want it here! Yes, we could have it, but they won’t allow it. They think that is what Port St Lucie is for.

 

So, if they want to have an honest conversation about affordable housing start by looking at impact fees, entitlement cost, availability of land and public appetite for new communities. Talk about it with those that actually are in the housing business! Don’t start with a bunch of politicians trying to sound like they care.

 

Thanks.

 

 

From Marjorie Beary regarding Indiantown:


City: INDIANTOWN
Subject: Howard Brown Jr. Article by Barbara Clowdus
Message: Have you read the 23 January 2020 Martin County Currents article by Barbara Clowdus? Absolutely devastating discussion of Brown’s misrepresentations and lies on his resume when he applied for Village Manager.

Can you tell us what happens next? I know that he encouraged the Council to approve some very generous exit benefits if he is relieved of his position.

I’m heartbroken and horrified at the same time.

Marjorie Beary

 

My response:

 

It is unfortunate.

 

If you live within the Village I would encourage you to make sure the Council investigates and finds out the truth. They should hire a private investigator to check out Mr. Brown’s work history. That would let the Council have all the facts. 

 

Mr. Brown’s contract does call for severance of 8 weeks I believe. 

C Nuttall who lives in Stuart writes:

 

City: Stuart
Subject: New subheading????
Message: As we do not get newspaper continually, we often wonder what the structures will be in new construction areas or what will not be built.
Add a section to keep us informed!

 

And my answer:

 

Thanks for the feedback. At this point I have all I can handle with what I am doing. 

 

A good idea that will need to wait.

 

 

From Jane Schultz in Hobe Sound:

 

Subject: Document shredding
Message: I would like to know when and where the next document shredding will be.

 

And our attempts to find her an answer:

 

From: Thomas Campenni <thomasfcampenni@gmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, January 26, 2020 9:07 AM
Cc: Colleen Pachowicz <
comaide3@martin.fl.us>
Subject: SHREDDING

 

You should contact your County Commissioner, Harold Jenkins. 

 

I have copied his aid in this e mail.

 

On Mon, Jan 27, 2020, 09:49 Colleen Pachowicz <comaide3@martin.fl.us> wrote:

Good morning.

 

The County does not hold document shredding events.  However, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office does conduct these events a few times a year.  I have contacted them and the next one will not be until June or July. No date has been determined. In the future, you may contact the Martin County Sheriff’s Office at (772) 220-7000 for information on this.

 

Thank you.

 

Colleen Pachowicz

MartinCounty

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

The next Commission meeting will be February 18, 2020 and the joint meeting with the School Board, Stuart and Indiantown will be held at the Blake on February 13, 2020

City-of-Stuart

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

It appears as if I am picking on the City in this newsletter. Maybe I am! Only because I have several disagreements with its policies.

 

I have been a staunch defender of David Dyess when he was at the Police Department and now as City Manager. We are friends and I am impressed by his abilities. He may be my friend, but when I think a mistake has been made it needs to be called out.

 

In a recent Movers & Shakers section of Florida Trend Magazine, it appeared that Mr. Dyess was being recognized by the magazine for his accomplishments. In actuality, it was a paid press release that was authored by City staff. Staff did so apparently to highlight the City’s efforts to resolve the cybersecurity breach and the City’s environmental advocacy.

 

David did save the City at least a million dollars by not caving to the criminals that had hacked Stuart’s files and then being the main person that fixed the problems. Dyess is a self-described nerd who knows more about programming than most professionals. In this instance, it is beside the point.

 

There is no reason to have paid press releases extolling the virtues of the City Manager, Commissioners, or any other staff. There should be a policy that ends this phony recognition nonsense. When I asked Dyess, he told me he did not know it was a paid advertisement. I believe him. I hope he took the staff member responsible to task for this silliness.

 

In the future, if staff believes that the City deserves recognition, let me know I would be glad to author a story…after checking out the details.

 

COMMISSION MEETING JANUARY 27, 2020

 

LAKE LAWSUIT

Once again, Stuart’s intrepid Commission feels it must take on the world to save the residents. 

 

There was extensive public comment from about 20 people, the vast majority of whom were not Stuart residents. Taryn Kryzda, the County Administrator, spoke on how the County has 14 employees and consultants in different fields advising them on environmental actions. She stated correctly that every Stuart resident was a resident of the County. Taryn went on to pledge cooperation in a common cause.

 

There were the “usual” river people urging the City to sue the Corps. It was easy for them to take that position since any expenses were not being paid from their tax dollars. Even though most of the speakers live in unincorporated Martin County, none criticized the County for not suing the Corps. They know a soft target when they see it and it is the City Commission.

 

Commissioner Matheson began by reading from a prepared statement. He said that for the past 40 years, leaving things to others has not worked very well. He believes that all the doors that were open to him this week, including conversations with the Corps, were because of the threatened lawsuit. There is an emergency now and it must move forward.

 

Commissioner Clarke had an analogy that everyone was in a rowboat and must row in the same direction. Leighton believes that we are in a different position than the County. Following that logic would mean the people in unincorporated Snug Harbor which is surrounded by Stuart and the River is somehow environmentally different than Stuart.

 

Meier thanked the County and didn’t realize all the work that was being done by their staff and consultants. He believes we are in a crisis. A crisis means that Stuart is under great stress immediately which isn’t true. He wants to know what the strategy is to move forward. He said that he spoke with Congressman Mast, and his advice was not to feel rushed but continue to apply pressure (whatever that means). The Corps is part of the federal government as is the Congressman. Meier went on to say that he isn’t ready to file just yet.

 

Matheson made several motions in the ensuing discussion that were ultimately changed. The final motion was to give the City Attorney the authority to draft a lawsuit after speaking with the environmental and legal experts (not enumerated) which includes asking for professional mediation. Before filing the suit, it must come back to the Commission for approval. It was seconded by Leighton and passed 5-0.

 

I have now listened to the tape of the meeting twice, and there was no time-frame given for the return of the draft.

 

The one positive thing that happened was that Matheson was appointed by the Commission to attend the PDT (Project Delivery Team) meetings which is where the new regulations and the schedule are being drafted. The City has been sending staff member Ben Hogarth to PDT for the past several months. He will continue to attend with Matheson.

 

When Hogarth stepped up to the podium to discuss his role, he explained that he was hesitant to speak too loudly for the Commission. He is not elected, and attending is a big difference from being able to speak about the City’s positions. With Matheson attending, he will be able to do just that.

 

Hogarth did say something very strange and, to me, perplexing. He told the Commission and the Manager that he had confidential conversations with other PDT participants that he wasn’t at liberty to divulge. Ha!!!

 

He is going to these meeting and being paid by the City to ferret out information and report back. He is not a lone agent. His fiduciary responsibility is to Stuart. He doesn’t make strategy. He is the eyes and ears of Stuart and should report back to Dyess everything he finds out.

 

Only in government could an employee make such a statement and still have a job.

 

FULL TIME…PART TIME…CONSULTANT…STAY WITH BEN

Meier stated that he wanted to find a full-time employee (FTE) as a river defender that had legal, lobbying, legislative and environmental experience. That is a tall order. If you use up the entire appropriation of the river defense fund, you could fund this position through September. But then what?

 

The agenda item states that a tax increase would be necessary to fund this position in the next budget year. The job description seems to be written for the resume of Alex Gillen which was attached. Gillen was the Executive Director of the Friends of The Everglades for 6 months. Gillen has been trying to be hired by the City for the past 5 or 6 years.

 

He was proposed several times when I was a Commissioner. I believed then and as I now do that it is a preposterous idea and an unneeded expense. Apparently, so does Leighton and Bruner who both opposed the idea of any new employees.

 

Does the City really need one more employee or environmental consultant? There is no magic bullet to stop the discharges. Lawsuits are not going to do it. Angry letters to other governmental officials are going to go right into the circular file. All of it is perplexing because the entire water problem is a statewide one.

 

The counties most affected by the management of Lake Okeechobee are not on the Treasure Coast but are Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. When one speaks about the human health and safety to be considered, in many respects the Corps is already doing that. There are millions of people south of us that depend on how the lake is managed. The votes and the tax money are concentrated there…not in Martin County and definitely not in the City with less than 17,000 residents.

 

It was decided to do nothing at the present time.

 

The agenda item with job description and Gillen resume can be found at:

 

CLICK HERE

 

Martin-County-School-Board

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

In the last newsletter, I wrote about the tumult in Martin County High School’s OPUS program. The parents and students had rapidly become disillusioned with the program when the new choral director was hired for this school year. Director Kylie Lowe was under internal investigation at the time that the parents and students spoke at the last board meeting. She was subsequently terminated during her one-year probationary period.

If Ms. Lowe was inadequate, it was for the best that she be immediately terminated. It probably means that this year’s seniors will have lost their final year to participate in the program. There is always an adjustment period when programs have new leaders. This seems to be more than that. The District did not perform its due diligence when selecting this person. Parents stated that her only qualification was that she was a graduate of Belmont College and an OPUS alumna. If that is true, when will Martin County begin to see that being born here is not a qualification for having a job here?

 

EASEMENT

 

Doing anything with a government entity is not easy even if done with the best of intentions. This is the case in this matter.

 

A good person purchased a spoil island off Sewall’s Point years ago. She then donated an easement to the School District and Florida Oceanographic. The easement not only included the island but also a 40-foot-wide passageway between two homes in the Highpoint Subdivision of Sewall’s Point in order to be able to get to the island. Once the School Board accepted the gift, it was quickly forgotten and never used.

 

In fact, the District’s Environmental Center didn’t even know they had the island until a letter was sent from the current heirs of the grantor asking that the easement be returned in order to facilitate a sale. The heirs were especially interested in removing the easement from the Sewall’s Point passageway. At the point that the letter was received the staff decided to go to the island and peek. Guess what?  They liked it!

 

Over the years, a fence was erected on the 40-foot-wide passageway between the two homes and the land had become overgrown with vegetation. Most Board Members agreed that even if they had clear passage, they would never drop kids off in a neighborhood and then allow them to board a boat from someone’s back yard. That makes sense.

 

What was being asked was a little hard to discern from the staff presentation. In general, over the years, government staff has learned not to react to questions from elected officials. Elected officials will go on about something and staff will take copious notes and wag their heads in agreement and then promptly do nothing. Only very rarely will a Board Member be persistent enough to follow through on anything. If the matter doesn’t return as a subsequent agenda item, then the hour of discussion that was had was a waste of time.

 

In the letter the Board received regarding the easement, it stated that the heirs would be willing to sell the island, and in a subsequent letter, a price was suggested. Although it was a public record, no one wanted to disclose the price at the meeting. I requested the letter but have not received it.

 

Of all the bureaucracies in all the governments in Martin County, the School District is the most impenetrable. Stuart and Indiantown are great for someone like me to deal with when it comes to obtaining information. The County administration is on top of producing documents when requested. Why isn’t the School District?

 

PUBLIC KEEP OUT

A recent article in TC Palm stated that, as of today nearly 9 months after the 2 oversight committees composed of residents were formed to ensure that the District was spending the tax increases as promised, there is still no elected chair and vice chair. It is being chaired by the District CFO, who is a District staff member. This is in contradiction to stated policy. Further, members have not received all the information regarding the funds. One member made a public records request to obtain them

 

The District CFO who has acted as chair stated that she provides summaries and opens it up to questions. Without all the documentation, how would the members know what questions to ask? In the article the Board’s Attorney stated that unless a majority of the committee asks for information, individual committee members can make a public records request. How transparent is any of this? How are these volunteers to perform their duty?

 

Where is the School Board in all this? Why aren’t they demanding that the public has a right to know what is going on? Most of the taxes that the average property owner pays are school taxes. Doesn’t the Board believe that we should have as much of that information as possible? The public has a right to know. How about if the School Board begins to advocate for the public instead of being mouth pieces for the staff.  

 

This should be an issue in the upcoming elections for Powers and DiTerlizzi.

Town of Sewall's Point

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

COMMISSION MEETING JANUARY 28, 2020

There never is a right time for public comment or Commissioner comment at a Sewall’s Point meeting.

 

For a couple of years, I have been going to meetings, and there is a pull and tug regarding when comments should be allowed. When I first went, there would be a debate between Commissioners and the person making public comment. This inappropriate behavior was reduced substantially last year under Mayor Barile. Mayor Fender has so far kept it up. It needs to continue.

 

Fender suggested a time limit on how long public comments can be made, perhaps 30 minutes. I think that would be fine, especially if the comments were repetitious. At this meeting, the Commission was anticipating more public comment because of septic to sewer conversions which may have precipitated the Mayor’s suggestion. There were only 2 public comments which is not very overwhelming.

 

The public can speak on non-agenda items during the public comment section and then again on specific topics when those items are being discussed. Whether public comments and Commissioner comments come at the beginning or the end doesn’t make much of a difference if it occurs.

 

It was also decided to have a full meeting schedule in November and only one meeting in December. Campo wanted one meeting for each month. The Board decided in a 4-1 vote to the agreed calendar.

 

MANAGER EVALUATION

Berger has been on the job for 3 months. According to her contract, she was to be evaluated 3 times during her first year. The first evaluation was at 90 days. As of the meeting, no evaluation criteria had been developed. I think most of the Commission would have let it go and do it at 6 months. Campo wanted to have the evaluation as per the contract.

 

He has a point since the evaluation is clearly stated in the Manager’s contract. At the meeting, it was decided that there would be a verbal evaluation, and then the Town Attorney would come back with a written evaluation form for the 6-month review.

 

According to Berger, Campo told her after 3 months, “you own the budget and the operation.” She said that she owned it from Day 1 and that her job was to fix it. She went on to say that she serves at the pleasure of the Board so every day she is being evaluated.

 

Berger is right. The evaluation should help both parties address what they think is right and what they believe needs improvement. It is a tool.

 

I have known Michele since she was a Port St. Lucie Council Member. She has always been brutally honest and no nonsense. She is no shrinking violet, nor will she allow anyone to take advantage of her.

 

A motion was made by Barile and seconded by Campo that the Commission approves of the job she has done for the first 90 days. It passed unanimously.

 

SERVING ON A ROAD GANG

 

Sometimes, the Board must feel as if the grants that they have hobbled together from various sources are hard to keep straight. It is for me! The anagrams flying across the room can leave a lay person confused. But when you have four or five grants being used to do a project it is hard to keep all the balls in the air.

 

Don’t get me wrong…I think what Captec Engineering does in applying and securing the money from government sources is amazing. Joe Capra is a hero! However, one grant on top of another present challenges. If something is delayed or the agency giving the money wants to see some results in order to issue the check, other grant money can become problematic. This has happened on South Sewall’s Point Road Phase 1 A.

 

I thought Berger and Capra came to a clever solution when they proposed using a state loan program at ½% to start some of the work. For a million-dollar project, that comes out to $10,000 in interest for a year. Every delay of a year could add 10% or 30% to a project’s price because of increased construction costs which is a 10% to 30% interest rate on the money.

 

I don’t know if the Commission understood this or not. They did decide to begin getting bids on that project in order not to lose grant funding.  It could make very good sense to have the money available by a revolving loan to contract for all the projects at once.

 

Complicated!!!

 

Village-Of-Indiantown

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

SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING JANUARY 30, 2020

 

The controversy surrounding Manager Brown continues. The Council feels that it needs to defend Brown against what is negatively being written about him in the Indiantown Currents and on the Indiantown Community Facebook page. They are making a mistake.

As elected officials, they represent the people not Brown. It is true they picked him and thereby feel invested in their choice. However, their responsibility lies in finding out the truth. I don’t know whether what has been written about Brown is true or not. And that is the point.

 

The Council based its hiring choice on the advice given by the ICMA association retirees that volunteer their time. That is fine as far as it goes, but they do not conduct background checks. They take the information presented and then rank the candidates. Is this good enough? These Council Members and countless other ones believe that it is. It isn’t.

 

In her remarks, Gibbs-Thomas was brief and addressed the rumor mill. Dowling stated that Brown is moving mountains and that he was vetted. He may be moving mountains, but there was not a proper vetting of someone responsible for millions in taxpayer dollars.

 

Hernandez said she had reviewed every resume. I believe her. She also stated that she had someone check into him. When I asked later who that someone was, she said a friend who could google him with fresh eyes. She did say that she had met one of Brown’s former bosses from another Council and that he wanted him to return.

 

Stone asked how many ICMA-credentialed managers were in Florida? Brown apparently was an ICMA member but had let his credentials lapse. It appears he has not subsequently renewed them.

 

The entire way Brown was chosen is flawed. Having to meet the candidates and then choose your next manager the same day is dangerous. There is no time for reflection or thought. When you don’t have candidates investigated as to their credentials, work history and whether there is abhorrent behavior in their past, problems can arise. A bad or embarrassing hire could be alleviated with a thorough background check.

 

If I were on the Council, I would want to put an end to these accusations.  This is hurting the credibility of Mr. Brown, the Council and ultimately the Village. It is not too late to do a discrete investigation of Brown’s work life to put the rumors to rest.

 

ONE STEP CLOSER TO BEING A UTILITY

Under Florida statute 180.301, the Village needed to have a hearing to determine whether they should buy the water utility.

 

The Council acts as judge to determine whether the Village has met the threshold to move forward with the purchase. The Village Attorney questioned the Village consultant, Gerald C. Hartman, to determine his qualifications to be accepted as an expert witness to advise the Village. After presenting reams of documents that were accepted into the record, the Council accepted his expertise.

 

Hartman testified as to why the Village should buy the private utility. There is no question that the utility has not been maintained causing the customers, Village residents, to suffer. There are leaks and other problems. The infrastructure is not in the best of shape.

 

Because the Village is a public entity, much of the now private owner’s cost will be substantially less. According to Hartman, rates would be able to be reduced or by keeping existing rates, money could be allocated to improve the system. The Village is planning on obtaining the money needed for the purchase through grants and very low interest loans from the state and federal governments.

 

The negative impacts that Hartman named were latent defects due to the age of the system. The Village would be assuming the operation of the plant which is a 24-7 operation and would take a minimum of 7 employees. He estimates the repairs and improvements to be $9.8 million over the first 5 years. The Village would lose $14,000 in taxes per year and they would not be able to institute a franchise fee. The utility could pay the Village an in-lieu payment to substitute for the lost tax money.

 

The purchase price is $8.5 million, and the closing must take place no later than September 2020. The Village does not have to close if they find the financing to be unsatisfactory.

 

Only Scott Watson spoke during the public comment. His questions were spot on and seemed supportive. Hernandez made the motion to move forward and was seconded by Dowling. It passed 5-0.

 

The Village needs to buy this utility. Without reliable water and sewer, Indiantown cannot grow. Martin County passed on the purchase a couple of years ago. Jupiter Island’s utility is interested but is waiting to see what would happen with the Village. Acquisition by another private entity would only drive the costs to the customer base higher without guaranteeing needed expansion.

 

Owning the utility is one of the only ways that the Village can responsibly grow. If someone other than the Village buys it, the Village will be seriously limited in its ability to do so. If it decides to annex a property, then without water and sewer, it may not be developable. New businesses will not locate in Indiantown and existing ones won’t expand. This is a necessary purchase.

 

The entire report is listed below:

 

CLICK HERE

Town of Ocean Breeze

Next meeting February 10, 2020 at 10:30 AM

Jupiter Island

Jupiter Island Sky View

 

Next Meeting February 14, 2020 at 9:00 AM

Final Thoughts

We have just gone through the most wrenching political experience that the United States has. The impeachment and trial of a president is the closest legal way that we have for removing a democratically elected official during his term in office. Whichever side of the political spectrum you are on, what we just witnessed is bad for all of us.

 

For too long now, citizens have treated our politicians like athletes and our political parties as if they are sports teams. Neither is true. When citizens or elected officials think like this, we denigrate our democracy. The Republicans are not the Yankees and the Democrats are not the Red Sox.

 

Political parties should stand for something. Their members should believe in common tenets that draw them to those organizations. When someone proclaims themselves to be a Republican or Democrat, it is much more than swearing fealty to any one person. We have forgotten this. We have forgotten why our form of government is special. Americans need to reclaim the reason for a political party to exist.

 

It isn’t all about individuals winning and staying in power. Individuals should come and go, but the tenets of our beliefs should remain. When we substitute belief as a reason for naked power, we are no longer living up to our American ideals.

 

When it comes to our democracy, you are either all in on our system or you are not. There is no threading of the needle. Right is right and wrong is wrong. If we, as a nation, continue to lose sight of that, we will no longer have a right to be called special.

 

To read more on my piece published in Medium:

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

 

 

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

The Washington Post writes that our first president almost died of the flu:

 

here

 

NPR tells us that school enrollment is dropping nationwide:

 

here

 

Again from the Washington Post an article on Amy Coney Barrett that tells the story of her connection to Martin County:

 

here

 

From Florida Phoenix an article on how both political parties agree that Proposition 3 should be defeated:

 

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)

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)