Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cooper City Pay Raises, Dog Parks and more...


Effective immediately, our District 16 BSO office will serve as safe havens for online buyers and sellers to meet in our parking lot or lobby area. This initiative is expanding the public service (child custody cases, etc.) and practices we already have in place at District Offices. The District 16 Police department is located at 10580 Stirling Road, and can be reached at (954) 432-9000 (non-emergency number)

NEW! There is a new Face Book page for Cooper City! You can 'LIKE' the page at https://www.facebook.com/coopercitycorner Some of the posts have been great so far...LIKE and participate!

An issue that has arisen at the last Commission meeting is that of allowing dogs in our parks. There have been some valid and health concerns raised from residents. I have always loved dogs and don't necessarily agree with allowing them in our parks for a multitude of reasons. Health, safety and bacteria are just a few. I do however, fully SUPPORT a Dog Park in Cooper City! We have plenty of open space and funds to be able to support this effort in our community. I have already heard from numerous residents who support a dog park. Do you? Please let me know your thoughts on this issue...

One of the most controversial issues as of late has been the issue of the Cooper City Commission giving themselves a hefty pay raise. I am here to set the record straight (for the third time). You can view the entire discussion at the Commission Meeting HERE. If you would like to see the Commissioners discuss the topic of their raises click on THIS LINK and go to 1:58. We went three times around before the vote. Listen to the rationale of some of the city commission members as to why they are voting for a pay raise...ridiculous, and absurd in my humble opinion as to why the commission deserves a raise! This is all about public service, not about making money on your dime!

Apparently some on the Commission have publicly stated that I voted NO at the above referenced meeting (and I quote) 'because it is an election year'. Let me set the record straight with truth and facts...I voted NO for the reasons explained on record in the above referenced video. In addition, I have voted NO for commission pay raises at least twice in the past, since I have been so fortunate to represent your best interests, for the same reasons. Don't be fooled...I think it is absurd for the commission to ask for a pay raise when there are families in Cooper City who are still struggling to make ends meet! I am sure the 'politricks' will escalate between now and November 4th.

I also want to let everyone know that Cooper City is proposing (at the last budget workshop), in the upcoming budget, to appropriate $100,000 to Cooper City schools. While I am all for education, I also want to assure you that I do not support this effort based solely on the commentary I have received from our residents to date, especially when the Broward County School Board wants an $800+ million dollar bond referendum in November!

As I stated at the Commission Workshop meeting, I will more than likely in the very near future, be labeled as the 'anti-education/kids/schools' commissioner for opposing this unnecessary expenditure on the backs of Cooper City residents and business owners. Handing over so much money to a county run school, when our seniors need so much besides a monthly lunch and bingo, among other more pressing issues in our city, is disgraceful! What about the Charter Schools? Why shouldn't we give them the same amount (being consistent as the Commission touts)? There is still a plethora of unanswered questions...

There is absolutely no justification for this 'donation' to the school board, no cost-benefit analysis, no discussion as to the infrastructure and maintenance of such an expenditure, and (as Commissioner Green says repeatedly) we cannot set a precedent in this regard, otherwise everyone will want $100K for their cause...What do you have to say about this? Please, let your voice be heard!

On another note...The Cooper City staff invites all of you to share your stories, pictures and memorabilia about life in Cooper City. We already have a time capsule for the future. The 'PRESERVING COOPER CITY'S PAST' event is an event for residents and friends to come see our historic room and to bring and share your own pictures, documents, videos, pictures and stories from decades prior to 1980. Please join us...

The event will be held Sunday, July 27th at the Cooper City pool and Tennis Center in Rock Creek from 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM. Refreshments will be served. For additional information, please contact the Recreation Department at (954) 434-4300 Extension 233. YOU are the key to preserving Cooper City's past!

Keeping you informed,

John

Commissioner John Sims
Your 'Go To' Commissioner

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cooper City news, asbestos, BSO, food trucks and more…

Lately there have been rumors regarding possible asbestos in our water. Let me assure you that this is not true. Our Utilities Director cleared the air and stated the facts at our last meeting, and reassured us that Cooper City still has the best quality water available and it is regularly tested for contaminants.
Cooper City has recently received a state grant for over ½ million dollars to replace our water pipes in Timberlake and have started the replacement process, with more areas to be replaced in the future. The contractors have been doing a very good job in keeping the water turned on, and have been able to accomplish the task with minimal damage to private property.
Thanks to Ron Book (our lobbyist) who was able to help in obtaining the grant money. I supported retaining Mr. Book because he was the right man for the job, even though there was opposition to my support. This grant (your tax) money has allowed us to replace the older water pipes without increasing taxes or fees in order to do so. If there are any issues that you may have with the water or the construction of the new pipes, please let me know and I will do what I can to resolve the problem as your ‘go to’ commissioner.
Our 2014-15 budget season is now upon us and we will have budget meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, July 16 and 17th. Our budget now tops $50 million annually. There are diverse issues of our proposed budget which may interest you, and if you are interested in receiving a copy you can either email me or go to the city web site and browse the budget department to download it for yourself. If there are concerns please come to the budget meetings and voice your concerns to your commission.
Other good news in Cooper City is that our crime rate is down by nearly 15% from last year. The crime rate went from 2.83 down to 1.8. I commend Broward sheriff’s office for doing a fantastic job in keeping our communities safe. Safety of our community and our families are government’s number one priority and as such, I will continue to support BSO in order to keep you and our local business owners safe.
Our home’s taxable value increased this year. It was 8% last year and is valued at 7.35% this year. Even though this is a substantial increase, those with homestead exemption will see no more than a 1.5% increase based on the current year’s CPI.
Also there has been some discussion regarding the food truck explosion in Pennsylvania. Rest assured that I have addressed this issue with our city manager. I have been assured that the Fire Marshall will be inspecting the food trucks and will require them to have business tax receipts in addition to the inspections in order to do business in Cooper City. I hope that the city will step up and support our local businesses as much as they do the food trucks.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sound decisions....

In our local government, making sound decisions in response to a problem is occasionally difficult without allowing hatred, personal or political agendas ('politricks') to intercede, but making sound decisions is good business practice and engenders public trust...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Keeping you informed...

Keeping you informed on issues that impact you in Cooper City is one of my primary goals as your 'Go To' Commissioner. Discussing and blogging the city commission's activity is part of my goal to make it easier for more residents to get involved with issues that matter to them. Government should be as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested, and thus my role in keeping you informed! THANK YOU for your continued support!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Town Hall meeting July 14th, 7 PM @ City Hall

I am inviting everyone to my monthly Town Hall meeting on Monday, July 14th, 7 PM at Cooper City Hall. 9090 SW 50 PL. Across from the golf course on 90th Ave...I am there at your service to hear and address your concerns, issues and ideas!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Storage Lot Worshop June 18th


The Cooper City Commission recently approved a motion made by me to schedule a workshop regarding the City’s Storage/Parking Facilities.

The open public workshop meeting will be held at City Hall on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.

I will provide the upcoming agenda and all data on the subject-matter regarding the agenda.

If you have any questions, please attend the workshop!


 
Keeping you informed...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The $6 Million dollar "Soccer Park"...Can you say 'Red Herring'?


(Comments from a resident I was asked to post, and gladly obliged...)


What’s really going on?


What is really behind the planned $6+ million dollars to be spent on the soccer field, AKA West Sports Complex (Flamingo Road between Sterling & Griffin Roads),  Debbie Eisinger's Folly, you know the park..., the one on the far, far west side of Cooper City just south of Stirling Rd. on Flamingo Rd? 

I wonder if Southwest Ranches would like to join with us in providing a sports facility for their city. Just what every parent wants, is that their kids will have to traverse the dangerous roads and intersections at the corner of Flaming Road to get to this lavish Soccer Sports Field...Of course NOT!


Questions begin to arise when a meeting of the commission members (Workshop Scheduled May 8th 6:30 PM) is conducted in ‘secret’ (April 12, 2012). City officials quickly denied that the meeting was secret (The public was NOT notified regardless of what the city attorney opines). Strong responses from city officials proclaimed that a notice was posted on the bulletin board (inside the foyer) at city hall. The City attorney quickly jumped in with ‘legally sufficient’ applied to it and the minutes submitted (as an email from the city manager), all 24 words (in a meeting that lasted well over an hour and a half).


There were several slip ups on the veracity of the participants however...A recent blog comments to the lack of remembrance on the part of Commissioner Mallozzi (this one). City attorney syas he was not present contrary to Commissioner  Mallozzi in her published article (In the Davie & the Ranches Magazine) to the residents that the city attorney was there, Hmmm...


Commissioner Curran who, since 2008, has been designated by the city commission as being the 'Optimist Liaison', very aggressively proclaimed that he has attended some 18 meetings on the subject of  the Flamingo Soccer Park. (City personnel vigorously deny that it is a soccer park...) It is noteworthy that Commissioner Curran has never provided any commentary during commission meetings, sent any memos, discussion papers, or anything that could be construed as being informative regarding the agenda, topics, and agreements with the Cooper City Optimists regarding usage of the sports field. (Informal commentary by members of the Optimists seems to indicate that the Optimists have required that the field be designated, designed and constructed to meet the needs of the Optimists. The main purpose of which is to consolidate the fields for the convenience (ease of use) of the Optimists).


Does this raise the question...Has a deal been struck? If so with whom? What was given in return? (Let's not forget, the city attorney stated that the Optimist 'Field Use Resolution' was a valid and binding contract between the city and the Optimist club). When anyone asks for some sort of explanation, lockjaw sets in. It sounds too absurd to believe that the self declared righteousness of the Optimist Club believes that they are above reproach regarding any suggestions of political ‘quid pro quo’ regardless of somewhat dubious actions in handing

You draw your own conclusions....

(Note from Comm. Sims: As your 'Go To Commissioner' my sole concern regarding this issue is 1) Does the Optimist Club owe the City any 'Non-Resident Fees', and if so, 2) Who will be held accountable for not making that happen?

Monday, February 24, 2014

I have placed on the February 25th Commission Agenda (This Tuesday @ 6:30 PM), a vote for the City Commission to approve a DISCUSSION AND/OR ACTION to set a workshop regarding the boat/RV Storage lots.
This is a 'Request to set a date for a workshop to discuss and review the storage lot issues brought forth by residents – Submitted By Commissioner Sims'

The issues I wish to discuss, IF the majority of the commission approves the workshop, are as follows:


● reducing the rates as promised by the Commission
● storage lots continue to be nonprofit, yet monies are being transferred out of the Parking Lot fund to fund other areas of the budget
● create larger parking spaces within our existing lots (to accommodate 40 foot vehicles)
● fill current vacant spaces before any expansion is considered
● restrict the storage lots to Cooper City residents who should have priority, then businesses, and in addition, perform an inventory
● current renters should not be charged solely for a capital investment when the practice is otherwise throughout the city
● current estimate for expansion lot would cost approximately $20,000 per rental family. This is extremely unreasonable.

If you need to change, add or delete anything to this list for discussion (again, IF the majority of the commission approves this workshop) please feel free to do so and contact me so I can add it to my list above.
Let me know if you need anymore information.
 
I hope that the city, and others involved will give notice to everyone as soon as (again, a big 'IF') we have a definite date.  

As such, it seems that the only way this current commission acts on behalf of the residents concerns, is if multitudes of people show up and show their support. Please do so!

The February 25th Commission Meeting agenda can be seen HERE (.PDF format. Click on the Blue Item number to review the supplied backup material for each item)
 

LOCATION: 9090 SW 50TH PLACE, COOPER CITY, FL 33328
 
Please contact your city commission and voice your support for the Storage Lot Workshop. Click HERE for their email and contact info.

Keeping you informed,

John

Commissioner John Sims

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I-595 Reversible Express Lanes


On behalf of the Florida Department of Transportation’s 595 Express team please see below and attached information regarding the upcoming opening of the Reversible Express Lanes on I-595 at the end of March.  The team will also be presenting at the February 26 TCC and CIR meeting, and the March 13 MPO meeting, here at the MPO offices. Go to this link to see all MPO meetings http://www.browardmpo.org/calendar

Attachments (Click on the links below) include:

Flyer announcing an Open House on February 27 from 5PM to 7:30PM at the Signature Grand in Davie.
Fact Sheet
Express Lanes Information


  • If you have any questions please contact Fiorella Alvarez, contact details see below. Or visit the 595 website at www.i-595.com
http://gallery.mailchimp.com/cb9ad7c7c4d08709fe2a2392d/files/Fact_Sheet_February_2014_.pdf

http://gallery.mailchimp.com/cb9ad7c7c4d08709fe2a2392d/files/Express_Lanes_General_Information_February_2014_.pdf

http://gallery.mailchimp.com/cb9ad7c7c4d08709fe2a2392d/files/Open_House_Invitation_February_2014_.pdf

Keeping you informed...

Water shut off in Timberlake


As part of the SW 51st Street Water Main Tie-in Project, water will be SHUT OFF TONIGHT at 8:00PM until 4:00AM, Friday, February 21st.
The areas of shut off are as follows:  SW 92nd Avenue, from 50th Place to 51st Street  AND SW 51st Place, from 92nd Terrace to 51st Street.  
Residents of these areas have all been notified. 
My apologies for the late notice but I received it just this afternoon...


Keeping you informed,

John

Commissioner John Sims



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

West Parking/Storage Lot Notice

The installation of the new security fence at the West RV lot will begin on Monday, February 24.  Below is a letter that will be mailed this week to persons leasing spaces in the West RV lot to notify them they will need to remove their items from the lot for two weeks during the installation.
###


February 7, 2014

West RV Lot Lessee

The City of Cooper City is preparing for the installation of security fencing at the West Vehicle Storage Compound.  We are sending this courtesy letter to notify you, as the lessee of a spot in the Storage Compound, that your property (ie: vehicle, boat, trailer, camper etc) must be removed from the Vehicle Storage Compound by 5:00 P.M. Sunday, February 23, 2014.  Should your vehicle not be removed by this date, the City will have your vehicle towed by our towing contractor.  It will then be up to you, the owner, to pay for any and all expenses associated with the towing, storage and recovery of your vehicle.  In addition to the removal of your real property, all debris must be removed from your spot and surrounding area.  Any and all items left behind will be permanently removed and disposed of by the City.  We anticipate this project to be completed by 9:00 A.M. Saturday, March 8, 2014, at which time you can re-enter the storage compound.  There will be absolutely no public access to the storage compound during this work period.

The City has notified Code Enforcement of the project and the need for all vehicles to be stored elsewhere.  During the week of February 23 thru March 8, 2014, you will be allowed to store your recreational/commercial vehicle at your residence.  Please keep this letter as acknowledgement by the City of permission to park your recreational/commercial vehicle at your residence.  Should you have any questions please contact the Public Works Department at 954-434-2300.

Keeping you informed,

John

Commissioner John Sims

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cooper City Calendar of Events

Cooper City Calendar of Events

JANUARY 2
4th Father/Son Adventure

FEBRUARY
14th Say I Do .. . Again
21st Cooper City Cabaret


MARCH
1st Community Garage Sale
7th Community Book Swap
9th 5K Richardson Run/Walk
21st No School Camp Day
24th-28th Spring Break Camp


APRIL
17th Teen Twilight Egg Hunt
18th No School Camp Day
19th Cooper City Egg-stravaganza!
26th Cooper City Founder's Day


MAY
10th Mother/Daughter Tea
23rd No School Camp Day


JUNE
9th Summer Camp Begins
14th Touch-A-Truck


JULY
18th Food Truck Rolling Into Cooper City



Cooper City Recreation Department- 954.434.4300 Ext. 233 www.CooperCityFL.org



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Commentary on the Cooper City Budget Regarding Meals on Wheels and the new 'Soccer Park'

In last month's Davie & the Ranches Magazine, Commissioner's Mallozzi & Curran wrote op-ed articles for regarding the expenses, budget and recreational facilities in Cooper City. Commissioner Mallozzi rightfully noted the sad and abrupt loss of the much needed Meals on Wheels program which is designed to supplement fixed income senior's and to keep them healthy and alive, allowing them to survive within their extremely limited means of doing so. 

Commissioner Curran's article boastfully commented on the city commission earmarking $1.6 million dollars for the new so-called 'Soccer Park' on the West side of Stirling Road and Flamingo Road, among other expenses not designed to do anything except make us 'look good' in his opinion. Needless to say, I found it incredibly but typically absurd that Commissioner Mallozzi would lament the City's loss of the Meals on Wheels program, supposedly for lack of funds (The City will profit to the tune of $13M this year, or more), while Commissioner Curran spreads the self aggrandized joy of a $1.6 million dollar seemingly unnecessary expenditure for a 'Soccer Park' that really is not needed in my opinion. In addition, there have been no meaningful discussions, nor are there any specific facts whatsoever to support this expenditure! 

While I find spending money for the new Soccer Park versus "sorry, we have no money for feeding hungry old folks" deplorable and unconscionable  I regard it as a symptom of a much larger disease that has infiltrated the current Cooper City commission, spending other people's money on 'feel good' items rather than absolute necessities under the guise of "We are cleaning up Cooper City so it doesn't look like West Hollywood"...

Many residents, including myself, want to know why we are spending millions of taxpayer dollars without any "due diligence" having been done regarding the absolute need for a 'Soccer Park', one which will more than likely not be able to be used by the public and their kids...just like at the 'other park' located just East on Stirling Road.

As a final comment, our City Commission has several members who speak of their religious faith and even practice it in government owned facilities, but fail to understand that Jesus' command to feed the hungry comes way before spending taxpayer dollars on seemingly unnecessary recreational facilities, especially one which has no data to support its construction.

To paraphrase a more secular source, pride tends to be at the bottom of all our mistakes. In this case, the self-aggrandizement of a Soccer Park supersedes any interest by the Commission in the Meals program...and oh yes Commissioner Curran, I disagree on one other subject…Kids + Sports does not equal success, Kids + Reading, Writing and Arithmetic makes success!




Sunday, August 18, 2013

OPEN LETTER REGARDING THE ISSUE BETWEEN MAYOR GREG ROSS AND THE PEMBROKE PINES POLICE


OPEN LETTER REGARDING THE ISSUE BETWEEN MAYOR GREG ROSS AND THE PEMBROKE PINES POLICE
COOPER CITY, FL --August 9, 2013
To Whom It May Concern;

Regrettably and most unfortunately, negative publicity has again been brought to the City of Cooper City and in turn to our residents. The alleged actions of our newly elected Mayor, as recently reported by the media regarding an alleged confrontational situation that occurred between the Mayor and law enforcement officers of the Pembroke Pines Police Department, has again cast a cloud of disparagement upon our great city. 

I am appalled that the Cooper City Mayor allegedly espoused his political position to attempt to influence a police officer. It is not an issue of exculpatory evidence and as such, I as a senior Cooper City Commissioner on behalf of my constituents, do not condone any actions or interference, personal or otherwise, of any police officer during a traffic stop. I am appalled by any elected official, commission member, city staff member or resident, who personally chooses to engage in interference, intimidation, ridicule, political pressure or any other form of verbal or other assault upon the integrity and honesty of any law enforcement personnel in any jurisdiction, or interference during the official performance of their duties whatsoever.  

The task of performing much needed law enforcement in today’s environment is especially difficult due to the risks to the officers and our citizens when potential violence occurs, seemingly so often. The extreme challenges essential for law enforcement officers to fully accomplish their duties must be viewed by the citizenry as a required function of society, and must be fully supported while being executed in a professional manner. We ‘The People’ who place our safety and security their hands, must not intervene regardless of any profession or political office one may hold, especially in such a manner that disrupts their life safety and critical tasks at hand. 

It is my firm belief that all of the residents of our communities are very thankful and very supportive of all law enforcement personnel regardless of their function or jurisdiction. Given the multitude of cities that surround us, the name of the jurisdiction on the sleeve patch is not important, but rather what is most important is that they are on the job every day and night providing the essential safety and security that we all require and insist upon. We all believe in the end that government’s number one function to the citizenry is indeed the safety of our communities and our families. 

I am extremely grateful that those who continue to serve in the line of duty and perform their daily and extremely hazardous duties in a professional manner, will continue to do so in spite of the efforts of a few to be disruptive, and in spite those who intentionally disregard the lawful processes required of our law enforcement officers. They do so in complete disregard of the oath that they have sworn to uphold and defend. 

Further, as a long serving city commissioner, I am extremely concerned with political corruption; appearances of impropriety, unethical behavior and of course any wrongdoing of our elected public servants. I most strongly condemn any action(s) by any elected official, commission member or member of city staff who decides take it upon themselves to ridicule, impugn or condemn any police officer, to engage in any unethical behavior, suggest, infer or to solicit any special favors or special benefit which may benefit themselves, or expect special treatment on behalf of others from any law enforcement officer during the performance of their official duties. 

Anyone who has concerns regarding this issue may feel free to contact me to express your views and concerns.

/s/ Commissioner John Sims
City of Cooper City, FL

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What does the Proposed Budget do?


The 6 “C”’s of leadership are; Character, Commitment, Competence, Confidence, Conviction and Courage. The essence of good Government is that they are prepared to make difficult decisions to achieve long-term prosperity. What we have is a government that is out of control regarding the recent expenditures of taxpayer dollars, especially in the legal department, not to mention the lack of response by the city commission and the county to residents regarding the Palm Avenue project.  

Believe me when I tell you that all of us have heard just how poorly these issues have been managed, and how poorly the Mayor and the city attorney conducted themselves in the last few meetings. Their bizarre behavior is not associated with proper leadership and ethical, open government actions.

As far as our upcoming budget, (public workshops of which have already taken place as you read this) a 'balanced budget' is simply not my idea of true prosperity. Costs of Police & Fire are up, along with costs associated with our utilities infrastructure and employee benefits.

We must make deep cuts regarding waste and unnecessary spending in the proposed upcoming budget in order to put even more tax dollars back into the pockets of our families and businesses. We must drastically reduce the extreme operating costs of our local government and substantially increase its level of customer service.

I feel that our city must change their ‘spend it or lose it’ attitude and must immediately tighten their belt like all of us have had to do in the recent past. The question that all of us should be asking is “What does this proposed budget specifically do?” We just don’t know. There is a severe lack of backup material, in addition to a lack of real discussion and fiscal responsibility in the process.
 
As I see it, there are two steps that need to be taken regarding our commission. It is imperative that public officials be independent, impartial and that public office not be used for personal or political gain. As public officials, we are in a position of Public Trust and as such, we have a duty to provide transparent and honest services while in office and to do our absolute best to assure absolute public confidence in the government. This simply has not been the case in our city. The public’s trust is imperative and is determined by civic values such as open government, integrity and professionalism.

No one person or party can claim to have all of the answers. In the end we all must work together, residents and this administration alike, and the people must get what they have long demanded government to do. At the end of the day what we're doing is simply our job...public service. In this process, we've got to ensure that our tax dollars are spent very wisely and only on the bare necessities.

As long as we remember that we serve The People, and we work together to do what is right, not just talk about it, putting aside our petty personal and political differences, all of these goals that all of us share and dream of can be achieved as a house divided cannot stand. In public service it is always important to remember that we serve our boss, “We The People”.

Cooper City faces many challenges, and just as I have always maintained, my primary focus remains on reducing the burden of government on you and on small businesses, fighting the fraud and waste at all levels of government that waste your taxpayer dollars, continuing to lead our city in a positive direction, and to grow the entrepreneurial spirit that will improve our local economy which in turn, will create more local jobs. If there is anything I can help with or if you have any issues that need resolved, please feel free to contact me, your ‘Go To’ commissioner at 954-445-6997.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

BSO on the case in Cooper City!


Yesterday, Cooper City detectives arrested a subject who was responsible for committing several nighttime burglaries over the past few months.
 
Because of the partnership between residents and law enforcement, the subject was identified and arrested with property being recovered.
 
If you see something, say something. For emergencies call 911 and non-emergencies call 954.435.2000

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wanted: Dissent in Cooper City

Reposted with permission from : http://coopercityinsider.blogspot.com/ on 3/22/2013

Dissent Is An American Necessity
Once again the principle of free speech and the right of citizens to question the actions of their government are being tested. The general feeling seems to be that dissent is dangerous, that critical commentary erodes our unity and diminishes our resolve, that debates over the loss of constitutional rights is somehow a negative to the betterment of the nation. Perhaps such feelings are natural.

The state of our economy. the tensions of unemployment  as well as the outrageous larceny of some corporate leaders, indifference of political leaders and the stresses of high costs gas and other necessities can create levels of distress that can be unbearable. The tendency is to close down, circle the wagons, and lash out at all who may question. But real security doesn’t come from stifling debate or muting voices of dissent. In fact, dissent may be what we need most.

Dissent is the antidote for what social-psychologists call “group-think,” the tendency to rush to judgment. (Clearly demonstrated by the recent decisions disguised as thoughtful discussions). Group-think can become a kind of herd mentality. Dissent is a guard against this mentality, a check on the unbridled stampede toward the cliff.

For this reason, as President Eisenhower once reminded us, we should never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. A democratic society depends on dissent because, at its best, dissent is an act of courage, a real test of patriotism. The ancient Greeks understood this. They used the term, “parrhesia” to refer to speech based on moral principle, voiced by a speaker with the courage to speak the truth in the face of powerful opposition. Such dissent, they believed, represented one of the highest ideals toward which a citizen could aspire.

The American Founders also understood the importance of dissent, which is why they crafted the First Amendment. As the nation evolved, dissent became an important feature in all government institutions and processes, from Congress to the Supreme Court. Even in the executive branch -- the one most feared by the Founders because of its resemblance to monarchy and its tendency toward imperialism – even here our best presidents have welcomed and honored dissent.

Today we see government officials, powerful public figures, even our friends and neighbors asking us to be silent. Once again we are told that protest is bad, that dissent is divisive and un-American. That for the betterment and solidarity of the community we must become silent. But it is not. We must not be misled from a central truth: Free and passionate debate is essential to self-governance.

To dissent, to break from the herd, to question and offer in many cases an alternative position, is to celebrate American democracy with a ferocity that no one should attempt to suppress...unless we let them.

Cooper City Redistricting

In the previous election, voters approved redistricting utilizing total population, which included revisions to the Charter in order to create districts with resident counts being as close to twenty-five percent of the total city’s population as possible and no more than a ten percent population disparity between districts. This ‘apportionment’ clause has always been in our Charter but has been willfully ignored and politically manipulated by some on the commission for quite some time, and in my opinion the district disparity issue should have been resolved many years ago.

Of course, any attempts to adhere to the Charter mandates would have quite possibly exposed questionable practices and lack of adherence to the Charter by former commission members and city attorney. Although Monterra is expected to be complete by the Spring of 2014, the city will be estimating the projected population, adjusting the district maps accordingly based on current and future building Certificates of Occupancy (CO’s) rather than actual number of residents, in addition to using a district population average scheme. The contention is that this will reduce any future districting changes, but it also does not count everyone on a real time data basis.

An additional error using CO’s also becomes apparent when you take the total number of residents and do the math, which comes out to anywhere between 2.85 and 3.06 persons per household depending on which formula you use, an error of up to five hundred residents per district. In addition, the ‘district population average’ scheme was never discussed or approved at the Charter Review Board meetings or at the city commission meetings while implementing the enacting Ordinance.

The Charter states that no district shall have a population variance of greater than ten percent from any other district. The ‘Plain Language Rule’ in law dictates that laws must be interpreted using the ordinary and plain meaning of the words used unless a law defines specific terms. In other words, the law is to be read word for word and we should not divert from its ordinary, plain meaning. This rule applies to our city ordinances and our city Charter which is our Constitution that we have sworn an oath to uphold. To avoid ambiguity, legislatures often include definitions in the law which defines important terms used. Some laws omit definitions entirely or fail to define a particular term, such as our Charter and it’s implementing Ordinance. This is part of the problem that we face in the push to change the Charter, a push that was originally and possibly still politically motivated.

The Charter Review Board and city attorney failed to define key phrases and meanings within the Charter changes, therefore key provisions and clear mandates are open to interpretation by the city attorney whose participation has been questionable within the entire Charter review process. One very questionable issue is the Charter’s ‘ten percent rule’. If you utilize the current data set offered by the vendor who performed the population analysis, you’ll quickly see that no two city districts currently deviate by more than 9.1 percent. If you look at the same data utilizing statistical analysis, the deviation is only 8.62 percent using the same numbers.

This is part of the problem, in addition to FAU utilizing a ‘District Population Average’ formula, one which was never previously discussed. In fact, the vendor admitted their numbers presented in the presentation were “incorrect”. Also, the vendor does not include Estada as a part of Monterra and the residency numbers! The question becomes, should we redistrict? Yes, it’s required by the Charter. What do we want to do then? Change districts completely or simply bring districts into parity? If you change districts substantially you may be gerrymandering and may find yourself in a lawsuit. If we change them to bring them as equal as possible, we need to concentrate on districts three and four because of size and discontinuity.

I am very sure of no need for drastic redistricting based on the 2012 base map data. As far as I am concerned, it’s just a question of not dividing residential communities in order to make all four districts nearly equal without favoring or disfavoring any incumbent, which is against the law.

The city has an obligation to allow the residents to be fully involved in the redistricting process. As such, multiple Public Meetings will be held at City Hall on advertised dates so everyone who can attends will have an opportunity to be a part of the process. Also, you can view all of the redistricting material at www.coopercityfl.org and click on the box labeled ‘election redistricting project’ in addition to watching the commission meeting videos on the issue under the link entitled ‘Government’ at the top of the page. Simply click on ‘View Meeting Videos’ and select the meeting or workshop you wish to view. Now is the time to make your voice fully heard to ensure transparent, ethical, honest and open government in Cooper City.