Friday, December 17, 2010

Looking Forward To 2011

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to come up with an obvious prediction of what 2011 will bring in Palm Bay. If history is any indicator of future results, the short-term outlook in our municipality is just as bleak as the long track record of our embattled city. After all, given the votes of some of our City Council Members over the years, it is pretty difficult to look for a ray of hope from past decisions. As a matter of fact, let's review a brief synopsis of the results of these past decisions, shall we?
  1. Our municipality has the second highest millage rate (7.50 per 1,000) in Brevard County (Satellite Beach is first at 8.14 per 1,000):
  2. Our city's total debt has significantly increased by almost 98% from $100,666,124 in 2003 to $214,659,657 by September 30, 2009: (see page 158 of 193)
  3. Palm Bay has the second highest unemployment rate in Brevard County at 11.4% in October 2010 (Titusville has the highest unemployment rate at 13.1%):
  4. We have the Red light Cameras:
  5. A childhood obesity resolution voted in by three of our five Council Members which will "encourage" our schools to adopt a food and health initiative by ordinance (The resolution was handed down from our federal government by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, called the "Let's Move!" campaign which is being proposed in every Municipality and County in the Country - Click on "Item 3. Resolution 2010-67, supporting the Let's Move! campaign to solve the challenge of childhood obesity."):

There are myriad of other things I left out. However, these are my top five, and based on these results and the worsening recession (some might say depression) in the overall economy, things may not get any better - or will they?

If there is at least a spec of light at the end of this long tunnel, it will most certainly not come from City Council. Yes, I know Council Member Kristine Isnardi has continuously championed smaller government, lower taxes, and more property rights. She voted against raising taxes, against the red light cameras, against every attempt at government-growth and over-reach, and gave us more transparency:

Mayor John Mazziotti, along with Kristine, is tackling the out-of-control debt (and he even voted against the Childhood Obesity Resolution). But we know it takes three to make a majority. The bad news is there aren't anymore Kristine Isnardi's and John Mazziotti's in City Council. So, based on this mere observation, we can come to the conclusion that more tax rate increases, more debt, and less individual liberty, as well as less property rights awaits us all. Right? Well... maybe.

You see, there may be three Council Members who may get their wish, but according to the recent number of individuals who voted for Kristine Isnardi's conservative values, there are over 15,000 people who share the same liberty-minded views. Although only 49% of registered voters casted their ballots in the recent election, that is potentially the view of 57% of the entire electorate (or 34,706 registered voters) Now you're probably asking yourself, "Does that mean I have to wait until 2012 to see any changes?" The answer to that question depends on us.

We have the option of doing nothing, next year, and wait until the following year to vote with our feet. However, there is another option, and that is, we can vote with our voices next year in 2011 (and 2012), as well as with our feet the following year in 2012. In other words, in the year 2011, when an agenda is put on the table to grow the size and cost of government, to raise the debt-ceiling, to raise taxes, and to take more of our individual liberty and property rights away from us, are we going to take a back seat and do nothing while we complain, or are we going to do something about it, when the issue comes up? Once again, the answer to that question depends on us.

As I pointed out previously, that potentially over 15,000 people voted for Kristine's conservative values. But! If only 1% showed up at almost every Workshop and City Council Meetings, then there would be at least 150 citizens voicing their concerns, and giving their opposing views to unfavorable agendas. 150 people showing up, is a significant number for a small city like Palm Bay. Moreover, it is more than significant to change people's minds, especially those sitting on City Council. Recently, I shared with you how ten or more citizens - just like you and me - voiced their concerns about a potential power-grab of the citizen's Boards and Committees. That agenda was tossed, because a few individuals decided to show up I wonder what 150 individuals can do?

In conclusion, as Christmas approaches and we enjoy our time off with the family, let's also think about a New, "New Year Resolution" for 2011. Let us resolve to get involved in our local government and make positive changes that will have a positive impact in our community.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Citizens' Board Remain Independent

A decisive victory was obtained by the citizens of Palm Bay against an apparent power-grab by members of City Council.

Previously, I wrote about how City Council was attempting to co-opt the citizens' boards and committees by:
  1. "hand picking" one (1) member (per council member)
  2. reducing certain boards and committees down to five (5) members
  3. forgoing the application and vetting process

See agenda for more details:

However, after a significant showing by concerned citizens (i.e. significant for a workshop) and several Palm Bay residents voicing their opinions, City Council unanimously ditched the proposal. As expected, Mayor John Mazziotti and Council Member Kristine Isnardi spoke out against this potential power-grab. Moreover, several citizens in Palm Bay, also, united against the proposal. The consensus among the hard-working residents of Palm Bay is, "don't fix what's not broken."

In fact, current board members, who attended the workshop, suggested the reason why applications have decreased is because of hard economic times. So many people are trying to either get a job, or working more than one jobs to make ends meet. However, taking over the citizens' boards and committees by picking your own people without going through an application process and being vetted by the other Council Member is not the answer, of course.

The answer, obviously, is to increase advertisement efforts. Currently, the mode of advertising vacancies on boards and committees are two announcements during Council Meetings as well as City web page announcement. Some great recommendations were made to increase advertisements, if within a reasonable budget. Among these were:

  1. advertise through Hometown Newspaper
  2. set up signs on major roads in Palm Bay
  3. advertise in movie theatres in Palm Bay
  4. advertise through utility on-line billing and mail billing
  5. word of mouth by Council Members in every event, meeting, and conferences in the City of Palm Bay involving groups of local citizens

If you are interested in applying for a citizens' board or committee, please go to the following web page link below and fill out as many applications where you believe you can best serve:

Again, unless you were there to voice your opinion this would have been a power-grab done right under our noses. I'd like to thank all of you who exercised your first amendment right as an American citizen to peaceably assemble and articulate your concerns, respectfully, to our elected public servants. Remember, Thomas Jefferson said, "... Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." We came together as one voice, we gave consent to our government, and they listened to us, not the other way around.

Monday, December 13, 2010

City Council Power-Grab

A proposal in City Council is attempting to take away the citizens’ voice and a very important vetting process of all municipal boards and committees.

The most important aspects to know about this proposal are, if voted “yes,” it will:

A. REDUCE boards and committees down to five (5) members (except where required by statute or charter provisions).

B. Each Council Member can appoint one (1) member to each board and committee. The remaining appointed at-large by the City Council.

C. Prolonged membership to two (2) years rather than one (1) year.

You’re probably asking yourself two questions, right now:

1. Why fix something that’s not broken?

2. If any Council Member wants anyone personally appointed to a board or committee, can’t he or she simply ask the person to go through the same application and vetting process, like everyone else?

The operative words here are, “application and vetting process.”

If each Council Member can choose his or her own appointee, without being vetted by the application process (which involves background checks in some cases) and without being vetted by the other Council Members, then each Council Member will have a like-minded person on these citizens’ boards and committees; thereby seizing power away from Palm Bay residents from ever having a voice in some of the most important aspects of City government. This means that all boards’ and committees’ decisions will be under the absolute control of the majority (i.e. only three Council Members) in City Council that wants to drive forth their agenda, un-checked and un-filtered by a free-willed citizenry who has gone through the vetting process to obtain these board and committee positions.

Moreover, another important aspect of this proposal is that “… any board member can be removed by a majority plus one of the City Council.” Therefore, if an appointee is becoming “non-cooperative,” then the other “cooperative” members can simply have their appointers (i.e. Council Members) vote the person out.

So far, there are only two City Council Members opposing this power-grab: Mayor John Mazziotti and Council Member Kristine Isnardi. From what I understand, the other three Council Members are 100% behind this power-grabbing proposol, and it appears they are going to get their way unless we express our concern, in person.

The workshop is being held Tuesday, December 14, 2010 – 6:30 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers. For more information go to: