Several members of South Florida 912 joined hundreds of others commemorating Memorial Day at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth. The program was well run – with frequent VA shuttles from the Target parking lot and cold bottles of water and programs handed to all arriving by Boy Scouts and other organizations. Speakers, band performances, presentation of colors, invocations all made for a memorable event. A good summary of the respectful ceremony at this beautiful cemetery can be found here.
For me – the most touching act was by our own 912er – Jeannie Barnett. She saw that an elderly veteran was uncomfortable in the sun, so she went over to him and his wife and held an umbrella to shade them from the sun. Well done, Jeannie!
The following photos are from Boris Balaban:
South Florida 912 is teaming up with the South PBC 912 group for a joint meeting on Tuesday, June 14 at 7pm at the Lantana Road Branch of the PBC Library. Our featured speaker will be James DeGerome, MD.
Dr. DeGerome researched several Socialized Medicine programs and will answer questions on changes produced by healthcare reform in America. Dr. DeGerome MD is the Past President of the American Society of Gastroenterology. He is now active in Washington DC. He practiced in Delray Beach, Florida for many years. He is the author of several publications and the book, The Cure for the American Healthcare Malady.
Healthcare reform affects all of us – so come to the meeting with your questions!
Joe Budd will be speaking about CHARITY, as the final part of our 3 part Faith, Hope & Charity segments. Also on the agenda will be a brief update on the Palm Beach County June 13th budget workshop and PBCTAB.
When: Tuesday, June 14th at 7pm
Where: 4020 Lantana Road Lake Worth, FL
You must be logged in to join the event.
On Thursday at the Villages to sign the 2012 budget, Governor Rick Scott used the line item veto to eliminate 87% of the “Turkeys” identified by Florida TaxWatch. The “Turkey List” annually identifies those dubious projects that are slipped into bills under cover of darkness – sometimes in confernce committees, sometimes by the leadership after the conference delivers their bill. Used by the more influential legislators to “bring home the bacon” to their districts, these “Turkeys” are the Florida equivalent of earmarks in the US Congress – those questionable appropriations that the Republicans in Washington have sworn to eliminate.
To his credit, our local Representative Pat Rooney did not participate, and when asked about the practice at an RCPB lunch this week he indicated he thought their use was questionable, even if some projects did benefit their communities.
See the whole story in “Scott Line-Item Vetoes Parallel TaxWatch ‘Turkeys'” in the Sunshine State News.
It is a busy time of year. I have 3 great kids however with the school year wrapping up there is lots to do. Dances, performances, concerts, art showings and school projects and field trips. However through it all my husband and I keep our eyes focused on God our family and our Country. The other day I was taking a kid to an event and as I was whizzing by I saw Elizabeth on the street corner with her signs. Elizabeth is an amazing woman who had lived under both Stalin and Hitler and came to the United States for a better life. She was sitting there with her signs expressing her feelings and beliefs taking a stand. It was a great reminder that no matter how busy we get, to get involved in our Church, Community, and our Country. So with the hustle and bustle of the end of year wrap up and the intro to the heat of the summer, Welcome home a soldier; attend a memorial at the National Cemetery; Pray for our leaders; attend church; read your bible; learn about the county budget and join us at a 912 meeting to get plugged in.
We can read books, we can blog, however if we do not stop saying we are too busy… we will not have any of the things to be busy about.
Many of us gathered at Palm Beach international airport. To welcome home a soldier. It was so heartwarming to see how many people showed up and brought flags and big smiles. SPC Anthony’s family was so grateful and could not believe that all the people that came were there for their son. It felt good to stand there with his family and let them know that we care about all our soldiers. We will be alerting the group as we get information about other arrivals of soldiers sometimes it can be pretty last minute so please keep checking back to the website for the most update info. Also join our facebook page South Florida 912 and we can get instant alerts there as well. Please come out on Memorial Day next week to honor our fallen Soldiers as well. Thanks to all who came.
Pictures by Boris Balaban:
The following is the May TAB update sent to the coalition partners. South Florida 912 is a founding member of TAB.
Since our last update, much has happened on the county level.
County Capital Projects: The County Commission voted to proceed with the convention center hotel, projecting that 35% of the costs will be provided by new general fund debt, and later (acting as the Solid Waste Authority Board), picked Babcock and Wilcox to build the $500M waste-to-energy facility (for which the bonds have already been sold). For the details see the links below.
TaxWatch Study: With this new debt looming, the County Clerk and Comptroller’s team made their annual financial report today. In the debt guide document, we can see that the total outstanding debt for the fiscal year ending last September is approximately $2.1B, an increase of about 61% since 2001. This was already about $1600 per county resident, before accounting for the burn plant. Luckily, we will get an independent evaluation of the situation through the auspices of Florida TaxWatch. Funded by the Palm Beach Civic Association and individual contributions raised by task force member Jere Zenko, TaxWatch has begun a study of county capital projects and debt as it compares to their last look in 2006 and our peer counties, and an evaluation of underutilized county land, buildings and other assets. TAB assisted in the definition of this project, and we hope to see the results of this work some time in June. For details see Palm Beach Civic Association Sponsors TaxWatch Study.
Ethics: Also today, the Commission voted 7-0 to approve the new Ethics and Inspector General ordinances, extending their scope to all 38 municipalities in the county. After a long and contentious battle over the scope of the oversight, the work of the drafting committee was accepted mostly intact. For details, see the Post story: Palm Beach County passes sweeping ethics reforms.
Budget: We are working on a TAB proposal for the 2012 budget, but there are a few balls in the air. Only a month ago, the working assumption on valuation was a decline of 5%. Since then, the Property Appraiser is re-evaluating and may come in at the 1-2% level. The Legislature passed significant FRS reform (see Pension Reform – the Final Bill) that we estimate will be worth about $40M to the county this year, counting PBSO and Fire/Rescue. Both of these things should take significant pressure off the millage rate unless there is a move to restore some of the pension take-aways to employees. We have questioned the county Budget Director about this and are awaiting a reply. We expect the answer has not been determined yet, but will be evident before the first budget workshop on June 12.
Smart Cap: The Legislature passed SJR958, which will put a “Smart Cap” (similar to TABOR) constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot, applying only to the state budget. While county government has shown some restraint over the last few years in the downturn, with real estate values bottoming out we may again be “off to the races”. One way to prevent this would be a local version of Smart Cap, implemented as a Charter Amendment. See Smart Cap – Good for the State, Good for the County.
Finally, we have been having an interesting conversation about Fire/Rescue spending with a South County Firefighter / Paramedic on the TAB website. For an insider’s viewpoint, see Conversation with a Firefighter / Paramedic
Thank you for your interest in responsible government spending.
The TAB Team.
Throughout our analysis of the county budgets, we have been somewhat critical of Fire / Rescue. We observed that the growth of their budget (even adjusted for service area size) was significant over the last 8 years, and the firefighters in the county are compensated more than 50% above than the national… [Read More…]
On Friday May 6, the conference committee put the final touches on FRS Reform and sent SB2100 to the Governor. Although it is not as far-reaching as the Governor wanted, it is significant, both in the precedent it sets (employees must now contribute to their pensions) and in the budget savings for both… [Read More…]
As the Legislature winds down the session, there has been much progress on the bills we have been tracking that relate to county budget issues. The following is a status:
SB2100/HB1405 having emerged from conference on Friday May 6, has been sent to the governor. From the House bill,… [Read More…]
The Palm Beach Civic Association, in conjunction with the Town of Palm Beach County Budget Task Force (CBTF), is engaging Florida TaxWatch to perform a study of Palm Beach County capital expenditures, debt and reserves, and inventory of underutilized land and buildings. Funded half by the Civic Association… [Read More…]
The Florida Legislature is moving forward on a constitutional amendment for the 2012 ballot to limit state spending to a “growth factor” tied to inflation and population growth. A previous attempt in 2009 had included county and municpal governments in its scope, but that has been omitted this time…. [Read More…]
The Taxpayers won again – just barely.
After a 9 1/2 hour marathon meeting at the Solid Waste Authority auditorium on Jog Road, the SWA board upheld their selection committee’s choice of Babcock and Wilcox to build and operate the $600M waste-to-energy plant that is the biggest taxpayer-funded project… [Read More…]
This morning, the Board of County Commissioners voted 4-2 (Marcus/Aaronson/Vana/Burdick in favor, Abrams/Taylor against, Santamaria absent) to “conceptually approve” a county subsidy of $27 Million to The Related Companies to build a 400 room Hilton next to the convention center. They also approved $200,000… [Read More…]
Thanks to all of you in South Florida 912 who worked for passage of the Palm Beach County Ethics Ordinances (Code of Ethics, Commission on Ethics and the Office of the Inspector General) over the last two years. First – your emails and petitions and speaking out at the County Commission meetings helped get passage of the ordinances by the County Commission in December 2009. Then you voted in November, 2010 to get the ordinances to apply to your cities. And this year, you helped convince the Board of County Commissioners to approve the ordinances unanimously.
Now it is up to the Office of the Inspector General to prove its worth. And as the Code of Ethics gets implemented throughout the cities – perhaps our elected officials as well as local and county employees who serve the public, will restore our faith and trust in our local governments. Let’s hope that this is a major step towards repairing our County’s reputation.
And following is the State Attorney’s press release upon passage of the ordinances:
OFFICE OF THE STATE ATTORNEY
FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR PALM BEACH COUNTY
MICHAEL F. McAULIFFE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement of State Attorney Michael McAuliffe regarding Final Approval
of Ethics Reform Ordinances in Palm Beach County on May 17, 2011
With the final approval by the County Commission of the code of ethics and the two enabling ordinances for the Office of Inspector General and the Ethics Commission, the community can rightfully claim that Palm Beach County is living in an era of real and fundamental ethics reform. Today’s final vote comes almost exactly two years after my office working with the grand jury produced a Grand Jury Report outlining specific, comprehensive ethics reforms locally and on a statewide basis. Many voices combined to create the chorus which carried the message that change was necessary. A public/private coalition was formed by several groups and individuals including the Voters’ Coalition, the Economic Council and Leadership Palm Beach County, which helped steer the debate and supported the proposed ethics reforms. Numerous elected and community leaders weighed in to add momentum to the process. Local print media championed these reforms with ongoing coverage and advocacy.
The ethics reforms first applied to only the county; however, in November 2010, voters overwhelmingly (over 70% approval) voted for expanding the ethics reforms to all cities in the County. The ensuing effort to apply the county reforms to the municipalities by re-writing and editing the ordinances was at times heated, even contentious, but the process worked and all perspectives had an opportunity to advocate for or against the proposed changes. The commission’s final approval today of the code of ethics, the IG ordinance and the Ethics Commission ordinance brings closure to a chapter in the ethics reform movement here in Palm Beach County. However, an equally important new chapter starts.
The inspector general and the ethics commission must now pursue a course of independent, but respectful engagement with the individuals and entities within their jurisdictions. The IG and the ethics commission are now able to focus not on the parameters of their duties, but on fulfilling them on behalf of the community. And, as the IG and the ethics commission develop a body of work, we will be able to make judgments regarding the roles we have assigned them. My office will remain an active and committed advocate for these institutions and for fairly judging them as they have the opportunity to make a difference.
INFORMATION CONTACT: Sarah Alsofrom, Public Information Officer
Please join other patriots and the PGRs in welcoming home SPC Anthony Goindoo on Saturday May14th at Palm Beach International Airport.
Staging @ 4:15pm
Palm Beach International Airport
Arrivals Commercial Lane (Extreme left lane Farthest from Terminal)
MOTORCYCLES ONLY, Cages (that’s cars for you, humans) MUST Use Parking Garages
NOTE: Vehicles curbside are subject to Inspection
Briefing @ 4:40pm
Flagline @ 4:50pm @ Concourse “C” arrivals meet & greet area
We will Depart and Escort Him Home
Please Bring your 3X5 Flags and lets Welcome Our Soldier Home
Last night’s May meeting of South Florida 912 began a little bit differently. Gypsy Horse Pub set up a very nice buffet dinner for us – and many of the attendees took advantage of the dinner deal. Later we found out that Commissioner Jess Santamaria was covering the costs of the buffet so that we could donate the proceeds to our charity. Thank you, Jess! And to everyone who donated so generously to the effort!
Between dinner and the meeting, Ken Barnett set up our banner – and he took a lot of effort to devise and create a projection screen integrated into the banner for us – thanks so much Ken! We had a packed agenda. Shannon Armstrong (co-founder) was MC for the evening. Ed Fulop led us in the invocation and Mike Lamayer in the Pledge of Allegiance. Our value of the month, was ” Humility” and Jason Shields movingly described the impact his illness has had on making him humble.
Iris Scheibl asked the members to attend Tuesday’s BCC hearing on the Ethics and IG Ordinances and then introduced Al Johnson, Executive Director of Palm Beach County’s Commission on Ethics. Al gave a very informative presentation on the background and functioning of the Commission on Ethics as well as the relationship between the Inspector General, the Commission on Ethics and the State Attorney. Time for a break!
Ed Fulop spoke briefly about the charity and how much money we’d raised. Commissioner Santamaria quickly reiterated how important it was for all of us to turn out next Tuesday for the ordinance vote. Then Ed took the mic to introduce Deerfield Beach crusading blogger Chaz Stevens, who spoke about how he got involved four years ago and found his blogging niche – searching for corruption on a local level.
By then we were running a little late – Dr. Richard Rayborn (Delray 912) spoke about our next meeting which will be in the Lantana branch of the Palm Beach County Library on Tuesday, June 14th. Fred Scheibl gave a quick Tallahassee update and mentioned the County Commission budget workshop – on Monday,June 13th in the evening.
Shannon also spoke about an opportunity to welcome home one of our hard-working military this Saturday at 4:15 at the PBIA terminal. We’ll post more details as they’re available, as well as the 4th of July celebration meeting at Original Pancake House and Christ Fellowship. Watch for details.
We hope you join us at our upcoming meetings.
Pictures from Boris and Fred
Thank you so much to everyone who contributed cash or gift cards at Tuesday night’s meeting. The cash will purchase additional gift cards tomorrow, and the entire “stash” is going to be forwarded to the Christian Service Mission of Birmingham, Alabama, and their partner, the Church of the Highlands. You can read more about their relief efforts here.
Our group’s generosity is only a small part of a much larger effort being put forth by other 9.12 Project chapters throughout the state of Florida. Last weekend, what was billed as a “Convoy for Kindness” began in Central Florida, and delivered supplies directly to Tuscaloosa earlier this week. Check their site for more details and photos soon.
On behalf of the group’s organizers, thank you again to everyone who contributed. Let’s not forget that hurricane season starts next month . . . .