Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Future of Cooper City

Getting elected was an opportunity which I had hoped would enable me to share your goals and visions for this city, along with addressing and dealing with the many serious issues that affect all of us. Until now, those visions along with your concerns and mine, have been thwarted by those in power and their allies. When I ran for office, I envisioned a better place to live, to work and to enjoy daily life. I envisioned the opportunity to be really effective in government, to make positive change and to make things happen for the good of our great community. Little did I know that our small town politicians, along with some residents and supporters, could be so discourteous, disrespectful, ruthless, unethical, biased and ineffective toward not only their own administration, but toward their fellow neighbors and citizens and the goals that we all share. We, as an administration, must hold ourselves accountable, along with our residents at city business meetings. It is almost to the point of where we may require a professional parliamentarian to run our commission meetings in order for the administration to be to be fair, honest and consistent toward our residents and business owners.

The current administration does not seem to be concerned about the majority of the resident’s wishes and concerns. They seem to only care about their personal agenda in order to maintain their false sense of power in office. I say that they are ‘in it’ for the wrong reason if that is the case. The proof lies in the lack of valid and caring response at our city business meetings to our residents concerns and suggestions. Currently, there is absolutely no unity in this current administration, nor is there any real or effective communication, which is required in order to resolve the serious issues that face all of us in the near future. Also, there is no consistent, effective, unbiased and positive leadership. This community is divided because the current administration is divided. Why are we divided? Because those who do not want to envision positive change and only want to continue to be self-serving, continually resorting to ad hominem attacks, want to use their perceived status or position in order to detract from the real issues, the hard facts and the ultimate truth. There must be some other agenda or something to hide as this is the only thing I can resolve in my mind.

I hope that The People will soon choose to effectively change the lack of effective and positive leadership at city hall within the next 45 days. Drastic change is going to be necessary to bring our community together and to wholly eliminate the very serious problems that have given us such a black eye with the past administration. It is time that we as residents, and the future administration, effectively implement positive change and outstanding leadership qualities in order to be more serving to the people and their essential needs, not those of the administration.

From what I have seen in the eight months that I have been in office, the biggest issue is lack of leadership, next to lack of communication. We, as a management team, actually the Board of Directors of this city, cannot bring this city to be number one and better than it is unless we all, including political supporters, put aside our personal agendas, personality conflicts and really strive to work together for the good of the people, our shareholders. This cannot possibly happen at this time due to the current state of affairs that we all have witnessed on a monthly basis emanating from city hall. We have all witnessed orchestrated and choreographed episodes of blatant slander, libel and defamation at our city business meetings, while absolutely nothing is done to enforce the rules and the laws against such vicious hate crimes.

The past and current administration has also been very complacent. Where we should have a real business plan, none exists, either short term or long term, in order to address the serious issues that face all of Cooper City. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, simple as that. Such things as essential services have suffered greatly at the hands of the past administration while an increase in non-essential services has flourished, at all of our expense. We have yet to be provided with our year-end financial statements and the critical information they will provide in order for us to understand whether or not the city ran a surplus or a deficit, how big of a problem the city really has regarding our utilities infrastructure, and how retirement incentives can affect our employees and their future. These issues should have been fully addressed long before our October budget hearings, and effectively dealt with. Now we have serious issues and infrastructure problems surfacing just after the completion of our budget process, which would have been very helpful to know about three or four months ago, before its approval. Looking back, I am glad I did not approve the budget. Something just didn’t smell right.

There is currently no effective plan in place to manage growth. Just look at Monterra, which has been termed by one candidate, the ‘800 pound Gorilla’. It certainly is! The administration has no information on this debacle, nor have they had any, and the Commission lacks the vital information that they require to develop a plan of action in the near future as to how the pending bankruptcy and failure of TOUSA (i.e., Monterra) will affect our city, our future, our cost of services, our infrastructure costs, our residents, our revenues and profit margin. It has become very clear that this administration cannot depend on city staff to put forth much effort in order to keep us informed on Monterra, but also the other big issues that face our city and its future.

We need to look at the ‘bad’ ordinances, policies and procedures which have been implemented in the past and address them. Ordinances such as those that are not implemented by the will of the People, and those that ignore the basic rights and constitutional protections of those electors. The past few years of commission meeting minutes also show a lack of follow-up along with a lack of implementation of most of the issues brought forth, discussed and voted upon, including major issues that have affected us all. Again, more promises that have not been kept by those in power. We need to re-address the real purpose of government, that of providing essential services, not mostly ‘fun stuff’ at the expense of all of us taxpayers. We simply need more accountability, not only between the administrative staff, but between the administration and our shareholders.

It is obvious that business as usual is not going to get our community the new schools that we so desperately require in Cooper City, nor is business as usual going to serve the future needs of our vastly diverse community. We need a better relationship with our school board in order to ensure our kid’s futures and to ensure steps to hold our school board responsible to us, not make excuses alluding to the myth that we as a city have no control over them. We need to force the school board to be effective in planning for our kid’s futures while setting policy in order to make that happen. We need to better influence the school board's bureaucracy in order to become successful in our children's difficult future. Cooper City needs to be in control of its destiny regarding our kids education, possibilities for success and be able to ensure the highest possible educational experiences for our children in order to reduce the current thirty percent failure rate.

How can all of this happen? We must absolutely review and look at every detail and aspect of how we do business as a city, and how we prevail and lead as elected officials. My message has not faltered one bit, and I intend to make good on my recent election promises to the people of more effective representation, not just with rhetoric and sound bites. The vision of positive change cannot possibly happen until the people again speak and take the necessary steps to create more positive change and to secure our city’s future, for adults and children alike, by their vote on January 29th.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cooper City Partisanship

Cooper City has become a disgraceful battleground of partisanship and has disregarded the needs of everyday Americans and our residents. Administrative and incumbent approval ratings are hovering around 20%. Our town has become the laughing stock of south Florida and the political issues are the biggest soap opera in existence. Our town upcoming election is going to be like a car crash; supporters want to see who survive it. I promise you that as your commissioner, I will continue work in a true bipartisan manner to put forth an agenda that is created by and beneficial to all residents and not sell out to special interests or residents who think they are better than others for political or monetary gain. It is not what’s best for Democrats or what’s best for Republicans that matters; it’s what’s best for Cooper City residents regardless of party, race or religion. We, as the leadership body for this city, must be unified in the continual quest for excellence. It's time to force our staff to get their priorities straight in regards to our shareholders and their needs. It's time to get back to basics in our service to the people. It’s time to stop the partisan, personality based bickering that has stalemated our local government from doing the job that the commission was elected by the people to do.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cooper City's 'plan' for future water...shell out more money honey!

According to Mike Bailey, Utilities Director, the days of 'cheap water' are over. Of course the blame is settled in on 'dry spells' rather than south Florida's water mis-management by a district that knows nothing in regards to our ecology. So. Florida's history has proven that! Now we suddenly have a 20 year master water & sewer plan, and we are facing up to 24% increases in our water bills, although this was not part of our budget, nor any other major discussions. In fact, Commissioner Kleiman and myself objected to the workshop set for Dec. 5th (City Hall at 7 PM), haphazardly placed on the schedule by the Mayor without so much as a response by me prior to its solidification. And...we don't even have a copy of the 'study' as of this date.

Now, according to the article in the Davie/Cooper City Gazette, we are required to find or 'seek alternative sources of water'. There is no such thing as an 'alternative source' of water in South Florida. Although water is water, it perpetuates itself in many different forms. The amount of water on this planet has not changed in billions of years. It is the same now, down to the drop and molecule, as it was when the Earth was formed. Maybe we should seek an alternative 'source' other than the SFWMD!

Maybe gas will be cheaper than water within the next ten years! Of course we will never see cars running on water in our lifetime, all because the fellow who invented the car that ran on H2O was recently murdered. When all else fails, call me. I happen to know a guy who drills wells for a living...

See the entire article (reprinted) here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cooper City: Opposition to candidates resort to possible criminal behavior

The Sun-Sentinel posted the following commentary on their forum; Mr. VT said "It is bad enough when the words fly with gossip, half truths, and possible slander, but it is just disgusting when tires are slashed and cars are intentional damaged. It is particularly abhorrent when those who hide in the shadows seek out women who are just doing their best to serve the community in the best possible way as wanting to serve on the local commission. Just ask Diane Sori or Renee DeLotta what their participation will cost them. I guess if you can't articulate your message and are just plain dumb you have only one message and that is to damage your opponent by resorting to delinquent pranks. Let's hope that this can be stopped now before it gets out of hand."

Well Mr. VT, bravo! Finally, there IS someone else with the impertinence to tell it like it is. I have 'bitten my tongue' in regards to the ultimate nasty politics and lies emanating from the this election and in last March's election. Enough is enough! The gloves may have to come off soon...Mr. VT conveniently forgot to mention the theft of campaign signs from the oppositions supporters on private property. I guess the one(s) who perpetrated the crimes against Diane Sori and Renee DeLotta forgot what was taught at the 'Bullying' seminar recently given at the High School.

Read the entire Sun-Sentinel story HERE.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nov. 13th Agenda Item 9

Regarding Item 9, the proposal is, in my opinion, unnecessary. There are better ways to save the City money in payroll and benefits.

ACCEPTING A BUYOUT OFFER ISN'T AS EASY A DECISION AS IT SEEMS. IT SOUNDS TEMPTING, BUT EMPLOYEES NEED TO ASK THEMSELVES WHETHER RETIRING EARLY WILL BE WORTH IT IN THE LONG RUN...

Employees are suddenly faced with what seems like a dream come true: The City wants to pay you to quit working. Sounds like an easy decision, right? Not so fast! First of all, this issue does not pass the smell test. The decision should now be in the employees' hands. But how do you know if this buyout option is a good deal?

Unfortunately, the city does not want to, nor intends to trim its work force. If we did, this Commission would have been previously informed with a plan of action. Employees faced with making a decision about a buyout offer often feel that they may be laid off, at least eventually, if they don't take the offer. That is absolutely not the case here. So why is this all of the sudden an issue since it was not discussed at any previous meeting or budget hearing? One word…politics.

What important information should a person have in hand before deciding whether to accept an early-retirement buyout? We Need To Look at the numbers! There are so many issues to dealwith, such as Social Security benefits, health insurance, inflation, spouse benefits, early retirement penalties including the fact that you shouldn't count on latching onto a similar-paying job anytime soon.

A recent study by Fidelity Investments estimates that a 65-year-old couple retiring today without employer-provided health benefits would need a nest egg of $200,000 just to finance out-of-pocket medical costs, such as Medicare premiums, co-payments and medigap insurance expenses. And that outrageous estimate does not include long-term health care costs.

Has our pension plan administrator (Michelle Alvarez) determined if spouses would or would not continue to receive your benefits if you die first? Is she willing to testify about certain facts before this Commission?

And if you choose the pension, do you take a larger amount with no survivor benefits or a smaller amount during your lifetime that would pay benefits, usually at a reduced level, to your surviving spouse?

Of course, you’ll need to evaluate the financial pros and cons of accepting or rejecting the offer. That means more than just the bottom line cash. Employees will have to consider bonuses, stock options, paid time off and insurance premium subsidies that they will no longer receive. Have any of the employees consulted a tax specialist about the impact of receiving a lump sum or stretching it out over time? Severance or early retirement pay is considered taxable income.

The employees legally have 45 days to consider a buyout package, and most people wait until the last minute. By signing any buy-out agreement, they forfeit their right to sue the City at a later date on any employment and compensation-related issues, so they must resolve those very important issues before time runs out. Has the City Attorney advised anyone on this?

The bottom line is that this pension-early retirement buyout agenda item simply does not have enough supporting information and documentation for the employees much less the Commission for us to make a fully informed decision on this item. I don’t think the ‘Blue-collar’ employees and their families best interests are being observed in this matter. And, I don’t think that this proposal is clearly in the residents and 'taxpayers' best interests. Whay happens if everyone accepts the offer? What level of services can we as a city provide at that point?

In addition, the huge amounts of money distributed to the city manager and department directors will cause those employees who are left in the city, drastically increased payments toward their retirement plans.

I also think that the current pension system for many employees is gobbling up huge amounts of our budget and some drastic changes are needed. This will be fought tooth-and-nail by them, but the current situation is untenable.

There's one final consideration -- the emotional impact of leaving your job. The decision is rarely just about money. Many long-tenured workers don't want to leave a job they love or are afraid to try something new. The unknown is scary, and we don't have a button on our calculator for that.

In closing, a more complete evaluation of the results and other options are required before I would approve such an incomplete, political and haphazard proposal. This is a perfect example of inadequate preparation, and this is intolerable. The issue of options is very important. There are options available that may be a lot better. The City Manager has shown us none. This leaves the Commission in an "either/or" position, with no other reasonable options on the table.

I would like to instruct the Manager, to come back when you had done a good bit of homework by way of option development, information and analysis and at that point in time, the Commission would be in a much better position to decide among several reasonable options the fate of all of our employees’ and their families future. Further, if my staff ever presented me with this kind of “take it or leave it", "no other option" type of recommendation, I would seriously question their abilities, let them know in no uncertain terms, and instruct them of what is required, and how long they had to straighten their act up. If they complied within that time, fine. If they didn't, I'd start looking to replace those responsible immediately, if not sooner. But of course I don’t have that option just yet, at least until January 29th, which leads me to wonder exactly why this proposal has all of the sudden been brought before us.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Everything is fine in Cooper City...

COOPER CITY POLICE REPORT - Posted on Sun, Oct. 07, 2007 - The Miami Herald

Home burglarized: Someone cut the screened patio door and used a screwdriver to smash the kitchen window of a home in the 5900 block of Southwest 112th Drive between 9:30 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. Sept. 24. The homeowner told sheriff's deputies the burglar stole a Dell desktop computer, a Panasonic plasma TV, a Sony camera and charger, a Canon camera, a Seiko watch, a JVC DVD player and jewelry valued at a total of $6,160.

Laptop, cash, jewelry taken: A burglar used a sprinkler head to shatter a sliding glass door of a home in the 11300 block of South Point Drive between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 26. The homeowner told sheriff's deputies the burglar stole a Dell laptop computer valued at $2,400, $485 in cash, and jewelry of undetermined value.

More - Persistent burglars ransacked a Cooper City home: Between 8:15 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sept. 11 a home in the 10700 block of Denver Drive was burglarized. Items valued at $11,400 were stolen. At first the burglars tried to slide open the kitchen window over the sink. It didn't budge. Then they tried to pry open the rear sliding glass door leading to the dining room but they couldn't do it. Finally they entered by prying open the door of a guest bathroom. They took loose precious stones and a Concord watch from a jewelry box in the master bedroom closet. They also stole a Sony video camera and two pairs of binoculars from another closet and removed two suits, two pairs of shoes and two Wilson tennis rackets from a third closet. In another bedroom, they stole a flat-screen TV, a Tiffany necklace, a Coach watch, four Coach purses, a Burberry purse and a digital camera. They also removed CDs and DVDs and left through the guest bathroom door.

Although "everything is fine in Cooper City" (pun intended)...and although the sky may not really be falling, our protective services have not increased but have perceivably remained status quo. The incumbent majority are now on the record against more police protection for Cooper City. They cannot hide from that vote no matter how hard they try. They are on record as accepting status quo, versus excellence, as being OK for the shareholders of our great city.

The issue here is NOT with the quality of our local BSO staff. In my opinion, backed up by one of the world's top cops, Chief John Hale, they are certainly well qualified and well supported. My position has been that we need, and can afford a whole lot more of them.

The Sun-Sentinel today said that some residents "felt misled when Sims put a detailed story about a home invasion on his blog...The bottom of the story reveals the home invasion did not happen in Cooper City. Sims said he posted the story because he wanted to make residents aware it could happen here." They also reported on a rise in crime nationwide.

The only difference between my blog scenario "How Safe Are We In Our Own Homes" and these true stories cited herein, is that none of the homeowners were unlucky enough to be home when the home invasions occurred...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Final Budget Statement

I would like to once again thank everyone for their hard work and great input regarding the proposed budget. At the end of the day, none of us can live up to everyone's expectations, but we have all expressed our opinions, provided our input and made our positions very clear.

The bottom line is this...although we have not all agreed, we do have a working budget and it’s taken us a short while to get here. This was my first budget that I have worked on since being elected as commissioner and it was an enlightening, time consuming and difficult process to say the least. My sacrifice of time and research has definitely been great, I hope that all of us have learned much, and I trust that we will continue move forward to make our city even better than it already is.

At times, I know that city business meetings have become cantankerous, raucous and downright attacking. Most of the time, it has stemmed from two things, misunderstanding and extreme political maneuvering. I also think that a lack of communication has played a major part in it also.

We have all attempted to correct this problem to no avail and as city leaders, we have failed, as we have been all talk and no action. It has become more apparent to me that someone must on the dais must step up and call for an end to the attacks and division that we on this dais have encountered. I have done so to no avail.

That’s what leaders should do, that’s what they are expected to do and how they are expected to conduct themselves. It seems that we have gotten into an endless cycle of attacks followed by vicious retaliation. I know, because I have been on the giving and receiving ends of both! I even heard recently that one of the current candidates, who is up for election or re-election, was again bad mouthing me to many of our residents while on the campaign trail. I was told about it and had to laugh as I considered the source of the attacks and their long term ramifications.

Even though my resignation has been called for, I’m not resigning, and I’m not up for re-election! My intention is to continue to work for the residents to improve the conduct of our business meetings, and I fully intend to serve out my term. Unfortunately, political correctness does indeed allow other people to trample all over you.

Last week, I was also attacked by many for something that I said which was misconstrued by others to mean something else. And I reacted in a way that may have been inappropriate from this dais. For that, I offer my apology. For my part and for what I contributed to the attacks both on the dais and on my website and this Blog, I’ve heard you loud and clear. I also heard Mr. Farrell loud and clear regarding morale and the pay cut debacle. I agreed and it immediately died right then and there but some chose to spin the issue for political gain.

Going forward, I would hope that any present or past member of this administration or any citizen who wants to know how any of us here feel about certain issues contact the one for whom you question instead of orchestrating an attack on them. I have attempted to make myself one of the most accessible Commissioners through not only the standard means but also electronic media yet it was unfortunate that it has not been taken advantage of.

I say, don’t believe innuendos, rumors or make assumptions. That goes for the upcoming election also! Don’t take at face value what you are told about another candidate, especially by those who are running or who are up for re-election or from those who run their campaigns.

Talk to them directly, question them, spend time with them and then make your decision. You may just find that what you may have heard about them is very different than what you hear from them!

The view from the dais is definitely different than the view from the floor or on TV. This looks easy, but its not, and it’s easy to sit out there and say ‘I can do that’ but few of you have.

A friend of mine was asked if he would run for a commission seat and he responded, “Why would I want a low paying job where someone is going to take shots at me, my family and friends all the time?” Touché!

Those simply are the cards that we are dealt as elected officials. The truth of the matter is that everything personal and political appears to be fair game when it’s really not. The last election proved that! That’s not right but it’s just the way it is here in Cooper City and we need to drastically change that or our city will never recover from its negative publicity. We are not responsible for what someone else says to us or about us, but we are judged by what we say at every turn, even when it is misconstrued and twisted by the political opposition.

Tonight, I am recommitting myself to be a voice for the people of Cooper City and for my constituents. I will not initiate or respond to personal or political attacks since it would be an exercise in futility and detract from my real purpose and goals, but make no mistake and let me be clear...I will not back down from issues that I think and know are important to the values, well being, civil rights, health, welfare and safety of our city, and its Citizens. My voice for the people and for this great city is now stronger than ever, and that will continue.

To each and every one of you on the dais, to those in this Administration, to those who work in this city, and to those live in and do business in our city; whether you agree with me, support me or not, I vow to work together with all of you to help our city go from being in the 'top ten places to live in the United States', to being number one on that list! I hope that all of you are there to support me and the entire Commission, to make Cooper City number one and work with me to help make that happen. Thank you.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why I Oppose The Proposed Budget

I felt it was necessary to publish this statement on why I have decided not to vote in favor of the currently proposed Budget.

I specifically campaigned on restoring Cooper City’s financial integrity and emergency reserves. I also requested that we make a valid attempt to reduce our ten year budget projections by 20 to 25%. I even went so far as to request 10, 15 and 20% proposed reductions of our current budget without any response whatsoever by the administration. I asked to create more financial support for seniors, and to support them with our many existing youth programs to no avail.

Yes, I also campaigned on improving our existing recreational programs. That doesn’t mean that I want to eliminate them, but we need to carefully choose which programs are successful, and which are not successful, not just those in Parks and Recreation Department, which are currently costing this city’s taxpayers lot’s money. It is not logical to think that no changes need to be made to the proposed budget. Compromise is necessary and the only time to make a consensus is now since we have failed to plan our budget approval process accordingly.

Some members would like most the time spent focusing on such small items and not on the more important ones. It’s not that I don’t agree with the ‘fun stuff’ in our budget, but we need to look at our return on the investment regarding some of our programs. To the contrary, regarding my thoughts on non-essential services and programs, its called duty and fiscal responsibility, which I am committed to.

Over the last year, there has been an uproar over local property taxes. Over the past few years, there has been a windfall in property tax revenues. The legislature has reacted by imposing mandatory roll backs, placing on the ballot a constitutional amendment to cause property taxes to be cut even more severely. The first phase is costing this city millions. The constitutional amendment will cause an additional and speculative few million. Several Legislators, voting in favor of the January 29 referendum, are publicly stating they are asking the public to vote against it. That is not the issue at this point in time, nor is the issue of which is the right exemption the issue here tonight.

The problem is not only with the appropriateness of spending in the City of Cooper City, but also in the broken, unfair, inequitable tax structure that has been created in the State of Florida. It is just wrong. Granted, the people who have remained in their homes for many years pay low taxes, but in return, are trapped in their homes. Those not covered by the homestead exemption and also new residents are forced to pay an unequal excess of taxes to make up this difference, but they can freely move around.

Compound this with State Legislature’s unfunded mandates, unfunded city liabilities, the lack of supporting material, the lack of openness, the unanswered questions, the invalid explanations, the unjustified numbers, along with the uncontrollably spiraling cost of city government waste and unnecessary non-essential services, and you can begin to see the situation. It isn’t the few thousands of dollars most people comment on or are concerned about. It’s the millions of dollars in forced and unknown expenses and liabilities that are the source of our long term stability problem. It isn’t the city that entirely created this problem, but it is the city, this Commission and ultimately the residents and businesses that will suffer for it. But I can say this, it certainly is the city’s job to fix the budget problems, no matter how small. It is this Commission’s duty to be responsible and ethical regarding our budget, not defend the status quo.

In response, the City of Cooper City has put forward the proposed budget you now see. I must compliment the Staff and another Commissioner for addressing many of the concerns of the city; given the extraordinary restrictions that have been presented. Many crucial and essential services will indeed suffer at the hands of this Commission. The budget seemingly attempts to meet those concerns while avoiding as much pain as possible, though there are several key critical areas that I disagree with and that I am very concerned about. Many will be hurt by this budget, but not nearly as many that ultimately will be hurt in the future if this present budget process continues forward.

Spending in our city is spiraling out of control. It’s time that our city officials become more fiscally accountable and responsible. We need to implement and abide by a Zero based budget. That simply means that means that every line item and every program be justified from the ground up each fiscal year. The budget needs to be tighter, so that our 6 month review won’t be as painful. The gist of debate has been shifted from the big impact items to the little ones these past few months.

My vote against the budget is a vote of protest. I protest the inequitable process and the specific inequities of the proposed budget, the unnecessary and non-essential services funded by the city by your tax dollars, and a broken system created by the Legislature that has hampered our ability to serve the people. This is also a protest of things to come. If no one stands up to voice these valid concerns that affect each and every one of us, no one will ever take the necessary steps to fix them.

At such time in the future that someone starts to address the underlying, inherent problems in our budget and in our tax structure, and forcefully holds the city to adequately address its budget, critical and essential needs in a responsible way, only then we will be able to properly see to the needs of our residents, businesses, and other shareholders, which I can then support.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cooper City Budget Priorities

The deadline is most definitely drawing near for Cooper City's annual, and the most massive of all time, budget approval. We were facing cutting millions and having to deal with a state-mandated budget cut, and our Commissioners still need to pull out their red pens. It's clear that the majority's budget choices reflect personalities, non-priorities and past incompetent budget behavior. Just look at the steep climb in spending per the Finance Director's charts!

Cooper City incumbents are willing to stop sorely needed road repairs, eliminate code enforcement officers, terminate school crossing guards and squeeze out School Resource Deputies from the city budget and expenditures, and at the same time, support more than a dozen 'free' (yeah right!) community events. Such events include the Teen Twilight Egg Hunt, the Community Book Swap and the Valentine's celebration 'Say I Do Again'. Make no mistake, they will go on and be paid for by you, at a total cost of over $42,000.

And I quote the Herald, "That's the heart and soul of this city, to be able to have our Founder's Day, to be able to have our `Light Up Cooper City,' to be able to have our annual trick-or-treat event," Mayor Debby Eisinger said. "That's what gives us that attractive hometown community atmosphere."

As public budget hearings continue through the end of September for our city, specifically on this coming Monday the 17th and 24th, the Legislature's directive to reduce property taxes is drastically affecting our city budget. As usual, our previous levels of spending are out of control, and it is supposed to be forcing us, as elected officials, to decide what truly constitutes budget fat. Too bad the People are going to be totally ignored along with the fact that certain Commission members are being completely ignored by the current Administration.

Unfortunately, for the sake of the future of our great city, the Mayor puts 'PR' events before the essential services, health, safety and welfare of the residents when she cuts essential services in lieu of cutting these questionable events, or should I say events that probably won't even be questioned in the upcoming budget hearings.

Monday, September 10, 2007

How Safe Are We In Our Own Homes?

This morning, I received a very unnerving telephone call. The information it contained is not found in the Herald or the Sun Sentinel. It could very well be in the paper later today as "breaking news" or show up tomorrow in a small sidebar.

It pertained to long-time residents who are family and friends who live in our city. This couple has been married for just over 40 years, so they are up there in age. The other evening, while they were preparing for bed, they heard a terrible crashing sound and a loud thud. Wondering what it might be, the husband went to find where the noise came from because he said it sounded like it was "right in the house."

He was surprised to find out when he entered his living room that several strangers had crashed through his back door. Yes, this elderly couple were going to be the latest victims of a home invasion robbery.

He immediately feared for his life while standing in front of these heavily armed home invaders, then thought of his wife and best friend in life who was in their bedroom and unaware of the current dangers and situation. “What do these invaders want”, he thought?

They wanted everything! Promises of "we're not going to hurt you, if you give us what we want" were amazingly granted. The couple was not brutally harmed because they had the courage and knowledge to do exactly what they were asked of them.

In a little unassuming home, within a rather quiet neighborhood where the "welcome" mats line the front doorsteps of almost each and every home, gun toting criminals, home invaders, shattered the quiet of the night and took more than just money, home electronics, valuables and jewelry. These home invaders stole the safety and security these families in this particular neighborhood took for granted for too many years.

We all have come to know and love this family. They have worked very hard all of their lives for everything they have. At 60-something, the husband still works daily to support himself and his wife, while she is a homemaker.

The husband has taken an excessive and undetermined amount of time off of work to stay home with his wife, because she is so upset about the invasion. He also has had to spend lots of time and money that they didn’t plan for to put up a new back-door, door frame and re-plaster the inside walls to try and erase the terrible memories of that evening. A total disruption of their privacy and their lives.

These victims are a couple who within the last several months celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. It isn't the fact that the robbers took their televisions, their VCR and DVD players, heirloom jewelry or money that the wife is so upset over. It is the fact that the two things that she and her husband cherished the most, the security in her own home and their dignity, was ripped from her heart by this scum of the earth.

The husband tells us that since the police left late that night that his wife has not been to sleep. She has been up cleaning, and re-cleaning the empty locations in the home where these thieves of the night ravaged. She has also been constantly washing the hand that these thieves touched when they stole her wedding band, washing so harshly at times that blood is coming to the surface.

How safe are we in our own homes? It doesn't appear that we are as safe as we believe. The police are only required to protect the community at large, not us as individuals.

So what does this have to do with Cooper City or Broward County?

As I look around, I can see the same things happening here within our beautiful surroundings over and over again, just as incidents are escalating to our north and to our south.

We have had explosive growth over the past couple of years, bringing in thousands of people. We have had to deal with an unprecedented number of questionable houses, an influx of very questionable youth and gang activity, and yes, we have experienced a perceived increase in crime. The alleged crime increase that we may be experiencing may not be on the same severe level as other cities or counties, but it is slowly creeping into our daily lives.

How can we stop it? Personally, I don't know.

Maybe the answer is just as simple as ‘getting to know your neighbor’ in order to retain our quiet serenity and to maintain the peaceful existence of our neighborhoods as we once knew them in order to maintain a sense of security.

Maybe it is as simple as removing the "welcome" mat from the outside of our front doors and borders. One of the answers to this question may be to stop all new developments within our area because we are all aware that statistics state that with an increase in population, an increase in crime occurs.

It may be that the only course of action we have before us, as this invasion of our lives is occurring, is to become more aware of our surroundings. Knowing what is happening in our neighborhoods and taking action before it controls and directly affects us.

I do know this. We can't ever turn a blind-eye towards increasing crime, no matter how petty or serious. Once we become complacent, it will fester and boil up to an ugly head, leaving a massive scar. When that occurs, we will never again be able to regain the honor, innocence, beauty, reputation and safety of our city that we all hope and pray will remain ‘Someplace Special’.

This fictitious scenario [Ed: Clarification for the snipers, fictitious for Cooper City, but this was a true story in Port St. Lucie] is why I support an increase in BSO Deputies. We simply need ‘more feet on the street’.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Cooper City - BSO Public Safety Budget Concerns

Based on my blog entry yesterday, some of you may have misinterpreted my comments regarding BSO and the budget. I feel I need to clarify the BSO 'takeover' comment for anyone that didn’t attend the budget meeting so that you are fully informed about what I requested, my thoughts and my statements regarding BSO, so they can in no way be misconstrued.

I referred to the fact that Cooper City has actually lost public safety personnel due to the ‘takeover’, as what Cooper City residents are terming the change from the Cooper City Police Department to BSO. It was sad to learn that many residents objected to the BSO contract, which may be somewhat inadequate, and have informed me that it was an apparent 'done deal' without much concern for public input.

At the budget workshop last Tuesday, I requested that the Commission consider additional funding (from $1.3M to $2M) and we should put the money in the upcoming budget for more police and more firefighters (headcount of 8 to 10, and 4 to 5 respectively) so that our number one priority department, public safety, can be fully staffed. There are budget surpluses anywhere from 2 to 20 million dollars depending on who you talk to...We certainly need to discuss it further!

I have always been a great supporter of Chief Hale, Commander Stoner, Chief Campbell and the entire Cooper City BSO District 16 team. Chief Hale is a top notch individual and you can read some of his comments and concerns here. I am 100% behind BSO and in no way have I ever ‘bashed’ them, although I have questioned some individuals' judgment.

We need to seriously look at why the Monterra Fire Department won't be built now. We can't afford to wait and also we can't afford to delay police department staffing increases.

I have, and will continue to always commended BSO personnel for the job they perform, and I simply want to make their job easier and safer with more feet on the street. We won't tolerate crime and loss of life, or property in Cooper City! Our police force is stretched thin as it is and residents demand more protection. If you have any questions, you can contact me as always or view my website.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cooper City Budget Workshop Synopsis

Last night’s budget workshop was somewhat of a disappointment. Not only because we have had 3 months to address budget issues and haven’t done so yet, but also due to the fact that the meeting was not advertised properly in my opinion. Also disparaging is the fact that the budget is not posted on the city’s website for all to see.

It is apparent that certain city leaders don’t want you to see the current proposed budget without having to take time out of your busy life and go to city hall to check it out. The city is really behind the eight ball and the numbers were attempted to be justified solely by the GPI and private surveys.

I feel that our local government must change their ‘Spend it or lose it’ attitude and they 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 and an apparent lack of fiscal responsibility in the air.

The current proposed vs. requested budget is approximately a 20% difference. The City Manager needs to respond to our needs, as he has been left pretty much unchecked in the past. Regardless, the Commission’s ultimate power is in approval or disapproval of the budget, and I have a feeling it will be a 3-2 approval.

In light of my valid concerns, our Contingency/Emergency fund has suffered a decrease of 45%, the Commission Pay raises slated for Stirling Road improvement is not addressed, the Utilities Master Plan and related issues were cut -88.5% in the capital improvements portion of the budget. Very scary!

The Commission received an already ‘cut’ budget, a budget completed by the City Manager which received no input by the Commission or residents before its submission. One Commissioner even gave away the fact that this was a set budget, not a proposed budget. Not one Commission member ever asked any real pertinent or pressing questions except for myself and Commissioner Mallozzi. The incumbents really did nothing but comment and continually defend the Manager and Staff, attempting to fully justify their actions and decisions.

Other grave concerns are unfunded liabilities, possibly to the tune of millions of dollars, not budgeted for nor were they fully discussed. Discretionary Bonuses should also be eliminated from this budget since department head salaries have increased by 30% since 2000. My proposal was a 10% across the board pay cut (for upper management). The top salaries can certainly support it. The blue collar workers need the rasies more than ever.

We have approximately $7M to $8M in reserves per the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Since we all know our police services have perceptively suffered somewhat since the BSO ‘takeover’, we should use some of it for police & fire services headcount and repairs and upgrades to our utilities infrastructure and its capital improvements.

Some city leaders bragged about decreased Millage rates yet the city has had a windfall in Ad Valorem tax revenues. We have no additional business foundation or valid long term sources of revenues (i.e., SMART Growth, Additional Revenues, etc.).

One item that was not planned for is the proposed ‘Super Exemption’ and its direct effects on our city revenues and services rendered. If the exemption passes, we could be in real trouble as we have nothing to offset the possible future losses in Ad Valorem revenues.

Regarding the Monterra P&L statements, I disagree that we are helpless as to the information and projections from the developer. We, at this point in time, simply don’t know about the impact of the development, the capital impact or the percentage of any possible losses or recovery. One additional source of questionable revenue discussed was City Park and sports complex ‘sponsorship’ advertising. I can see it now, a Victoria Secret advertisement in the sports complex!

Regarding the Attorney’s office budget, he stated that he knows nothing. The labor issues, costs of lobbying and associated issues, costs of litigation, etc, are handled by other contracts and departments, and when asked about the costs and responsibilities, the city attorney stated he knows nothing. Oh well…

As conveyed by one resident, the safety of the kids at sports complex should be a top priority. We need to go ahead and spend what we have to on the health and safety of our kids and park users, regardless of the costs. The money is there, let’s fix it now before someone is seriously injured or killed. Hopefully, the upgrade to the lightening system is already mandated and in progress.

Many residents are appalled at the city’s level of customer service. We have cut essential services but have not cut the exorbitant salaries. We have decreased level of services, and the general perception is that the public’s needs are less than average.

Budgets should reflect the desires and relevant issues of the community, not that of those in power. As I stated in my public commentary, politics must be completely eliminated from the budget process. We need open, honest government in Cooper City. The question is, do we continue to support the status quo or do we vote in positive change come January? We require and demand a Commission that works together for the will of the people!

Unfortunately for the benefit of, and on behalf of our city and the residents, I was not able to convey all of the positive issues that I had hoped to succinctly convey during my budget concerns commentary. Also unfortunate, aside from the fact that the sharing of notes on issues discussed, faces were made and statements by one Commissioner were made that some questions were ‘a waste of time’, is the fact that this budget and supporting documentation is not readily available or out in the open for all to scrutinize. Certainly, questioning or scrutinizing the budget is certainly not a waste of time by any means.

Further frustrations ensued when the Chair got defensive, answered for the Manager, cut me off when I directly addressed the Manager when asking for a response, and made the budget workshop a personal political platform. I didn't seek the opinion of the Chair, I sought the facts from the Manager.

Not only did the Chair make a feeble attempt at controlling speech, it responded with personal and political views with attacks and insults, and did not allow opening statements by the Commission. Regardless of the Chair’s antics, I am grateful that I am not the resident expert in unethical campaign and political practices…

Please be sure to tune in to, or attend the next budget hearings on Monday, 9/17 & 9/24 at 7:30 PM, City Hall.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

2007 Biennial Cooper City Citizen Survey

Dear Cooper City Resident:

Your Mayor and City Commissioners want to know what you think about local government and life in our community. Two years ago, we performed a survey of the community and have worked diligently to address the concerns expressed by our residents at that time. Answers to the questionnaire will let us know how we have performed, help us set budget priorities and evaluate programs. Please participate! You should find the questions interesting. We will find your answers useful.

The City is surveying all households in the community. However, to reflect accurately the views of all people living in Cooper City, we must also have a representative sample of individuals.

To get a representative sample of Cooper City individuals, we hope we have devised a simple way for you to choose the adult in your household who should fill out the survey. Please select the adult (anyone 18 years old or older) who most recently had his or her birthday. Please understand the year of birth plays no role in the choice.

Please spend the few minutes needed to answer all the questions and return the survey (in the enclosed postage paid envelope if you received a hard copy), within two weeks of your receipt. This year you also have the option of responding on-line via the City's website. Just log onto www.coopercityfl.org. Click on 2007 Citizen Survey and follow the prompts.
PLEASE DO NOT MAIL THE HARD COPY IF YOU ARE RESPONDING ON-LINE.

Let me stress again that your participation in this survey is very important. If you have any questions about the survey, please feel free to contact Susan Bernard, Assistant City Manager, (954) 434-4300, ext. 220.

Take the SURVEY here...

Very Truly Yours,

The Cooper City Commission and Administration

Monday, August 27, 2007

Cooper City Makes the NUFORC

National UFO Reporting Center -- Reported on 6/20/2005 and 1/23/2006, residents have indeed determined that there is intelligent life in other places than Cooper City!

http://www.nuforc.org/webreports/044/S44489.html

http://www.nuforc.org/webreports/048/S48820.html

Most UFO phenomenon are completely explainable. The residents who reported these UFO's probably just saw a reflection in the sky from the giant Red LED sign in front of City Hall...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Apology

Let me take this opportunity to sincerely apologize for the way my thoughts were shared and the way that this administration conducted themselves at the last commission meeting. Believe me when I tell you that all of us have heard just how poorly the last commission meeting was managed and conducted, and how poorly we all, including some residents, conducted ourselves during that meeting.

The chair showed of a lack of leadership, creating another black eye and further disgrace to our city. My sincere apology goes out, not only to everyone in this community but also to those in our surrounding communities. It was also extremely informative for me to hear the concerns of the residents regarding the matter and for those of you who took the time to contact me, thank you. Sometimes one can be on the side of truth and yet communicate that truth in a politically incorrect or lengthy manner.

Doubtless, I contributed to the situation in my desire to remain on the side of the will of the people, not the will of those in power. I did indeed make the commitment that I will listen to the residents. I have heard you, and will strenuously do my part at all times, to maintain and if necessary, force a sense of respect, order and decorum here on this dais. Personalities and bias have no place on this commission. We are here to administer, simply for the will of the people, not for our own agenda, and if none of us can practice that always, then it’s time to step down and move on.

I appreciate all of you whom have supported seeing positive change through to the end, and your commitment to stay positive for our city’s future in light of the lack of teamwork and leadership ushered by this administration. We can never forget that how we as leaders lead, sets the tone for those who follow and for whom we represent. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Budget Thoughts

Cooper City is today experiencing the longest period of sustained economic growth since I can remember. The foundation of this upcoming Budget is our determination to maintain stability and growth without reducing vital services to the public.

Facing a certain future of intense scrutiny, Cooper City's government must be fully prepared and be fully equipped. Long term prosperity can be secured only if we make the right decisions to be leaders in local government, enterprise, infrastructure and education. Our family prosperity can be secured only if we match a strong economy with investments to help parents balance work and family life, to give every child in our schools the best possible start in life, and to deliver a fair deal for our stakeholders.

So my Budget choice is to lock in stability and never put it at risk; to strike the right balance between tax cuts that are affordable, investments that are essential and stability that is paramount, at all times putting our city's hard working families first.

I have repeatedly requested to have our budget and financial statements placed on our city website to no avail. Recently, the Governor has created the Office of Open Government for the purpose of replacing the door and installing a window into the workings of the People's Government, and the sun shines brightly through that window. We need to mirror his example and vision right here in our city. We need to provide our residents and the public, access to our budget from the comfort of their homes, without charge.

In addition to intense budget scrutiny, I will suggest a top-to-bottom review of our customer service operations and attitude, and implementation of my proposed changes to have them placed underway forthwith in order to provide the people with the most ethical, open, and customer-friendly government possible. It is their government after all, and it should serve them well.

While I have only been your Commissioner for just under five months, my work to make our city government more ethical, more open, and more focused on serving the people is just beginning. We, working as a team, will prevail in changing the public's attitude in regards to our government, along with their trust and faith in it.

To our great credit, we must all work as a team to further trim the upcoming budget of many white elephants. A 'balanced budget' is simply not my idea of prosperity. Costs of Police & Fire are up, along with costs associated with our utilities infrastructure.

We must make further 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, businesses and employees. We must drastically reduce the extreme operating costs of our local government and increase its level of customer service.

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. That is, focus on results, not politics nor process. And I know that if we all work together, we can succeed. I invite all of you to the budget workshops and public hearings (posted here) and I implore you to give valuable and much anticipated input throughout the entire budget approval process.

As long as we remember that we serve the people, and we work together to do what is right, all of these goals that all of us share and dream of can be achieved. In public service, it is always important to remember, we serve the people—our boss.

You can read my entire budget commentary here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Flag Flies over City Hall

Just to let you know, the new large flag is flying on the Nextel tower and it looks gorgeous!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Positive Consensus on the SRD

In the midst of all of the controversy at last night's commission meeting, I wish to commend my fellow Commissioners for supporting my (our) retainment of the Cooper City Elementary School Resource Deputy (SRD) in the coming budget.

I sincerely believe that all of my colleagues on the dais were supporting the same important issue for the same reasons, and we came to an important decision, commitment and mandate to the Office of the City Manager.

I have seen the damage done to our city which compelled me to take on the challenge of becoming a Commissioner. We need to stress and continue the proper business of government and work together for the good of Cooper City and its residents. I hope my colleagues continue to agree...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

City makes Family Circle top 10

BY LISA BOLIVAR

A national magazine has taken the measure of Cooper City and found it lives up to its motto, Something Special. Family Circle, due on newsstands Tuesday, has named Cooper City one of the top 10 places in the country to raise a family. It lists the city seventh after Castle Rock, Colo.; Diamond Bar, Calif.; Morton Grove, Ill.; Cedar Park, Texas; Derby, Kan.; and Kennesaw, Ga.; Madison, Mo.; Franklin, Mass.; and Chanhassen, Minn., finish the list.

Family Circle hired On Board, a New York research firm that provides real estate and demographic data, to look at 1,850 cities nationwide with populations of 15,000 to 150,000 and median incomes of $65,000. They narrowed the list to about 800, and Family Circle staff further evaluated cities on family-friendly criteria, including cost of living, jobs, schools, healthcare, air quality, green space and crime rates.

''Cooper City was one that kind of popped to the top,'' Editor in Chief Linda Fears said.
This is the first time the magazine has created the list, Fears said. 'We figured even though there are a lot of lists around, such as the best cities for making money, all sorts of `best' things, none of us have ever seen a list for great places to raise your family,'' she said.

Being named in the list comes as no surprise to Cooper City Mayor Debby Eisinger, who announced the honor at the June 13 commission meeting. ''This is exactly why I moved here 17 years ago, when my eldest was not yet 4 and I was pregnant with my second one,'' Eisinger said, adding a ``Yahoo!'' And while the rest of Broward County has been growing in both construction and crime rates, Cooper City has managed to maintain a hometown feel, Eisinger said.
''My ultimate response to the city from the first day I moved here was this is a community that is about great sports and recreation, safe streets and wonderful schools, and that is what brings families here,'' she said.

THE ATMOSPHERE
It is the hometown atmosphere that brought Paul Blackinton, 47, back. ''I've lived in Cooper City for 31 years, went to Cooper City High School. . . . My mom's still here,'' Blackinton said, adding that he has moved elsewhere but came back to raise his family. ``We've been billed as a bedroom community. There's a real sense of community here where neighbors have met out in the street.'' Blackinton described his community as one that cares for its own. ''During the hurricanes, even before emergency response teams arrived, the neighbors were clearing the way and making sure everyone was all right,'' he said. ``That is the type of community we have.''

SPECIAL SERVICE
Fears said one city service in particular caught her eye, making it a must for being included among the top 10. ''Part of our hope in doing this list was there would be surprises,'' Fears said. "One thing we found out about Cooper City is that they helped people who have lost trees from storms or hurricanes. They replaced the trees for free, and we thought that was really neat.''
And like Blackinton, Fears was impressed with the city's ''it takes a village'' culture.

''A lot of parents work, so you have to depend on your neighbors. You have to have people who care about your kids as much as you do,'' Fears said. ``And now with everyone caring about the environment and a place like Cooper City that cares about the outdoors, with the fact that they replaced the trees, that is an awesome perk.''

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Land Surveys in Cooper City

Tampa Bay Engineering (TBE) has been performing land surveys in Cooper City for the past few weeks. I have seen them set up on Griffin Road, 90th Avenue and several side streets, including S.W. 49th Street. I have been advised by Mike Bailey, the City Engineer, that FDOT is updating their roadway maps and 'TBE' is establishing corners, etc., back into some of the side streets off Griffin Road. They are not surveying for construction, just for FDOT mapping purposes.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Appointments to the Education Advisory Board

I would like to proudly announce my appointments to the Education Advisory Board. They are; Ginette Hartman and Trinidad Gai. Please welcome them with open arms, and let them know your concerns!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Appointment to the Parks & Recreation Board

I would like to proudly announce my appointment of Patty Webster to the Parks & Recreation Board. Please welcome her, as she is an invaluable resource, wealth of knowledge, and a great person! Welcome Patty!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Thank You...

John, Thanks for standing up to the Commission and Administration.

I am now getting all kinds of literature from Comcast to REDUCE my cable bill , including a digital starter package at no increase in rates and literature from ATT and Bell South to give me better rates and more channels etc. Competition is GREAT !!!

Bart

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Ugly Antenna Pole is History

FYI...Trevor Thomas from BECON did a probe at Griffin Elementary this morning to find a new location for the antenna pole. They were able to find an adequate signal in a new location adjacent to the side parking lot on the north side of the school. It is not near any homes and should be a good resolution to the problem, providing the new location passes soil boring testing and does not conflict with existing underground utilities. Mrs. Novotny was present and agreed that the new location was suitable. The old adage applies here...do it right the first time! I am glad I was able to resolve this issue. I want to thank the homeowners in the area for attending my town hall meeting and placing their trust and confidence in me to get the job done forthwith. I will continue to monitor the issue!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The obsessive authority...

The Mayor is only supposed to control the meeting, not the agenda. The residents and public, along with other commission members, must control the agenda. The only way to reinforce meaningful reform is to see if this mayor allows the aforesaid. I am up to the challenge and committed to wipe out control of the agenda by one person.

Based on the 'new' attitude by the mayor, after stressing the issue in the workshop, which stemmed from my town hall meeting, the following is now reality...

"Presentations will be limited to three minutes. Comments may address any issue including items on this agenda, provided that if a person wishes to speak on an item designated for public hearing, their comments should be held until the public hearing is opened by the Mayor. There will be a thirty-minute aggregate time limit for this item. Other public discussion will be permitted under "Open Public Meeting." Public input during Public Hearings shall be limited to three minutes per person."

At least its a political step in the right direction, albeit a small one...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

More Landmark Changes Made At City Hall...



As you will notice, there are some more positive changes being made to the way we conduct our commission meetings. From Tuesday night on, citizens comments will be allowed to address any issue including items on both the consent agenda and the regular agenda.

This was an idea of mine which stemmed from my Town Hall Meeting agenda that I am glad to see the mayor has instituted. I am sure you will be glad too! This is a tremendous step in the right direction for our residents, business owners, investors and developers to be heard on any and all issues. This is just one small step in the right direction of turning our meetings back to the citizen's to whom they belong.

The fact that a few recent landmark and stunning changes have been made due to my pressure, leads me to believe that this administration is outright grasping for approval. Hopefully this change was not a mere political move by the 'old administration' in preparation for the upcoming election.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Expense Reports...


The Cooper City staff should compile a report of credit card usage and/or reimbursement by elected officials and city staff and employees, and post it on the city website. In the interest of making this public record available to the public as soon as possible, I'm giving you exactly what you asked for without the benefit of any particular analysis...accountability. All of the charges which are called into question should have a logical explanation.

There should be a few apparent lapses which are for the most part where I expect they might be, for example: the wining and dining on the taxpayer's dime for the past fifteen years before Commission meetings.

But, not taking into consideration the errors and omissions dealing with the administration and elected officials, the rest of the department reports should, for the most part, be pretty mundane. I think the city needs to reconsider whether our policies are appropriate of providing food for public events and meals while employees and elected officials work or meet under any circumstance. Also, we need to look at whether our policy for paying for meals during which city business is conducted at any function whatsoever needs to be changed and omitted. The 'slush fund' must be destroyed...

My conclusion for moving forward is that we need to change procedures so that future public records requests can be filled immediately without delay or excuses, and a detailed list of those requests should also be posted on the city website for all to see. A detailed explanation should be immediately available, with supporting documentation, including those requested by anyone outside of law enforcement. Every charge must be explained in the detailed report even if it takes several weeks, and hundreds of staff hours to produce the report. City leadership also needs to lead by example, and reform our method of operation as well. We shall see if the city is willing to be an open and honest government.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Agenda Items Now Have Associated Info Available


FINALLY! The 'webmaster' put links to the supporting Commission Agenda information on the Cooper City Website based on my comments, pressure and residents concerns regarding the lack of communication and information, which stemmed from my Town Hall Meeting.
Now...that wasn't so difficult was it?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Issues for the May 1st Commission Workshop

Issues I'd like to discuss at the May 1st Commission workshop are the agenda, commission meeting protocol, consent agendas, Senior Advisory Counsel, Community Appearance Board, meeting web casts, Comcast, the boat ordinance, speed bumps (or lack thereof), traffic violations and lack of enforcement, the House & Senate debate regarding property taxes, loss of revenues, increasing revenues without raising taxes or millage, mid-year budget review, pension funds, unfunded liabilities, city maintenance, city budget, the city website, the BSO contract, community appearance, homeowner's association complaints, city salaries and employee perks, the duck issue, Diamond Head construction damage, Monterra, code enforcement, and e-mail to residents.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Town Hall Meeting of April 23rd

To those of you who were able to make it to my Town Hall meeting this evening, thank you! To those of you who could not attend, I hope to see you next month! My Town Hall meeting schedule is on my website at http://www.johnbsims.com/townhall.htm . I thought it was very well performed and I had a great turnout considering it was not advertised. There had to be 20 to 25 people all who obviously feel the same way about lack of communication and genuine consideration of residents concerns by the city staff and administrators.

Issues such as the agenda, commission meeting protocol, consent agendas, Senior Advisory Counsel, Community Appearance Board, meeting web casts, Comcast, the boat ordinance, speed bumps (or lack thereof), traffic violations and lack of enforcement, the House & Senate debate regarding property taxes, loss of revenues, increasing revenues without raising taxes or millage, mid-year budget review, pension funds, unfunded liabilities, city maintenance, city budget, the city website, the BSO contract, community appearance, homeowner's association complaints, city salaries and employee perks, the duck issue, Diamond Head construction damage, Monterra, code enforcement, and e-mail to residents, were all discussed at length. I even allowed dialogue between residents to learn more about their issues, which turned out to be very enlightening and informative.

I will address each and every one of these issues in more detail, and with the entire Commission, at future public forums. Make sure that you keep abreast of the issues and the agenda items which can be found on the city's website at http://www.coopercityfl.org/ You can also subscribe to my E-Newsletter at http://www.johnbsims.com/subscribe.shtml

Although time was limited, I think our first meeting was very positive, productive, open, and orderly. The coffee and snacks were great!

Please contact me if you have any other concerns or issues that I can address, as I want to listen and take action! Thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing you at my next Town Hall meeting on Monday, May 21st at 7 PM.

Best Regards,

John Sims, Cooper City Commissioner
http://www.johnbsims.com/

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Boat and RV Ordinance Proposal

Regarding the Boat and RV ordinance. I have proposed to be on the agenda and at the workshop that there be NO registration fee, yearly fee or permit. The rest of the ordinance will stay intact and remain. People want to be left alone without gov’t interference. Fact is, the city can’t charge twice for the same vehicle to be registered. The fee is Double Taxation. Motor Vehicles and Vessels are only subject to one form of taxation per Advisory Legal Opinion (AGO-74-128). The argument that code enforcement works FOR the people holds true here as they are already paid to do their job.

There needs to be strong adherence to the inform, warn & cite process by Code Enforcement. Due Process of Law provides the People Redress of Grievances against their government in an open, honest and complete manner without any appearance of impropriety. The People's unalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness, include but are not limited to:

The Right to acquire, possess, and protect personal and real property;
The Right to be secure from intrusion; and
The Right to privacy

The residents will no longer tolerate being "alienated" by this administration regarding boats and RV's...or any other civil and God given rights enumerated by our Constitution, that we all swore to defend and uphold.

Implementation of a Senior Advisory Counsel

You all now know it's time for us all to get serious about our economy, about building successful relationships and businesses large and small, and making good jobs more plentiful across the whole city and that it is just as critical to get serious about economic justice. You know that it's time to get serious about delivering both internal and external quality customer service, and dealing once and for all with escalating taxes, fees and costs.

Make no mistake; this city administration is about leadership that strives to serve our residents long-term interests in stronger, healthier, safer and more prosperous communities. We need the best ideas, professionalism, life experiences and the best people from all comers, young, old, blue collar, professionals, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, to help turn our city around. The main resource of these should be the seniors in out city.

Therefore, I want to implement a Senior Advisory Counsel which will serve and practical and professional counsel to the city staff. I want to set up a meeting ASAP and I would like to ask Chief Hale if the services and professionalism of Cindy Healey and Linda Victor would be available to help initiate the preliminary stages of this initiative...

This Advisory Panel will help manage and help the city to be more effective in planning programs for the city & our seniors.

The Cops on Bikes Program

The Cops on Bikes program will be implemented as soon as training is completed. Bicycles were obtained by a grant. Details are printed in the Spring edition of Cooper City News and Views.

Thank You from Timberlake Residents

Commissioner Sims, and Mr. Farrell; Many residents have asked me to offer a big “thank you” to you for cleaning up the entrance to Timberlake.

Traffic Study

I was able to get a new traffic study implemented for the intersection of 90th Avenue and Stirling Road at the Diamond Head entrance. As I stressed, even though the Broward DOT may not be willing to change the light, its not what they want, but what the residents demand to keep them safe and avoid accidents. This is a bad intersection and the safety issue needs to be resolved. I know...I have almost been hit three times at that intersection just this past week!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Commissioner Sims' Monthly Town Hall Meeting Schedule

Hello Everyone,

I’ve reserved the 2nd Monday of each month at 7 PM at City Hall for open forum town hall meetings. Monday, April 23rd is set as well. See my website for more details. Also, e-mail me with your concerns. I hope to see you there...

Please forward to all of your city friends and neighbors.


COMMISSIONER SIMS' TOWN HALL MONTHLY MEETING SCHEDULE AT CITY HALL:
DATES: The second Monday of each month, beginning in May at 7:00 PM.

I have the first town hall meeting in April on Monday the 23rd at 7:00 PM.
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Please reply by email or use the form here to advise me of your issues and concerns so I can have answers in advance, if possible.
***
As I enter into my first term as your City Commissioner, I would like to sponsor monthly town hall meetings at city hall. I would like to know what issues I can directly address that are of concern to you, your family or your business, and what suggestions you might have for improving our city and our city government. I need your help, suggestions and ideas to work toward making Cooper City more than "Someplace Special".

Please reply by email or use the form here. If you would like to meet with me or talk on the phone at (954) 434-4300 Ext. 260, I would be happy to do so. I want to hear what issues in our city are of concern to you and your family such as Schools, Taxes, Parks, Public Safety, Traffic, Infrastructure, Public Works and Maintenance, Environment, Open Space, Ethics in government, Budget, Operations, City Hall, Customer Service, etc.

I also want to hear your views and ideas on how we can all better address these important issues and improve customer services for the residents, developers, investors and business owners in our great city, no matter how large or small. These town hall meetings are available and open to all, and I will address any and all subjects, concerns and issues. I appreciate your time to share your thoughts with me. Your concerns won't go unheeded. Thank you!

Best Regards,

John Sims, Cooper City Commissioner

http://www.johnbsims.com/

Dates: Monday

COMMISSIONER SIMS' TOWN HALL MONTHLY MEETING SCHEDULE AT CITY HALL:

DATES: The second Monday of each month

All Town Hall meetings will be located at
Cooper City Hall, 9090 SW 50th Place, Cooper City, FL 33328-4227

Time: 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Schedule:

June 11th at 7:00 PM
July 9th at 7:00 PM
August 13th at 7:00 PM
September 10th at 7:00 PM
October 8th at 7:00 PM
November 12th at 7:00 PM
December 10th at 7:00 PM

Call me if you need a ride!

John will...

HONESTY - INTEGRITY - COMMITMENT - LEADERSHIP

JOHN WILL...

  • RESTORE CONFIDENCE in our city government.
  • SUPPORT BALANCED economic 'Smart Growth' plans.
  • IMMEDIATELY ADDRESS any city government waste.
  • LEAD THE CITY in restoring and increasing its financial integrity.
  • INSTILL POSITIVE CHANGE in order to revitalize our city.
  • INCREASE COMMUNICATION from city hall.
  • DEMAND SMART GROWTH for our city's resources.
  • DEMAND control and decorum of city business meetings.
  • ALLOW any item affecting our city to be on the agenda.
  • DEMAND DUE PROCESS and the right to be fully heard at city business meetings.
  • DEMAND that the City Manager make a full report at each commission meeting.
  • ENFORCE existing rules, policy and procedures, along with civil rights.
  • TAKE ACTION and get results to vastly improve our city.
  • RETURN OUR CITY to the people of Cooper City.

http://www.johnbsims.com

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thank You!


Dear Cooper City Resident,

The purpose of this letter is to sincerely thank you for your recent vote and support in my run for Cooper City Commissioner. In the time up to and preceding the election, I came know many of you very well and in a very short time frame. After you learn more about me, you will know that I am a strong person, a good family man and I fully believe in what I stand for and what I represent.

I was the only one challenging the incumbent along with the entire Commission, and I knew that the core issue was, and remains, accessibility to government. When people feel that their government is not listening, there is often a response from the election booth such as the one last Tuesday.

Tuesday’s victory belongs to the countless numbers of you that voted for the first time, or the first time in a very long while. To the folks from all across the city and county, from all kinds of political perspectives who decided it was time to see your stake in your neighborhoods come to fruition, your friends and neighbors’ dreams and struggles come to fruition, as well as your own. To each one of you who decided to take a chance not on me, but on your own aspirations, I applaud you.

Thanks to you, not only did we win at the polls, we turned a political campaign into a movement for positive change. And we did it against the huge odds, the old fashioned way, by grit, hard work and determination, one person at a time, one neighborhood at a time, one development at a time, reaching out and asking other people to see the connection that you have with them and acting like citizens, not just members of a certain party or movement, but members of a civilized community.

You knew that an outsider wasn't supposed to win without the blessing of the insiders. You knew that a grassroots campaign wasn't supposed to win. But you also knew that that's precisely the kind of politics we had to implement to bring positive change to Cooper City.

You all now know it's time for us all to get serious about our economy, about building successful relationships and businesses large and small, and making good jobs more plentiful across the whole city and that it is just as critical to get serious about economic justice. You know that it's time to get serious about delivering both internal and external quality customer service, and dealing once and for all with escalating taxes, fees and costs.

All of you whom I have corresponded with and spoken to, have shown me a great deal about yourselves and about this great city, which will tremendously help me on the Commission to better serve you. In the face of blistering criticism, personal attacks and accusations, extreme pressure from our elected officials and our city staff, I stayed on course with my message and beliefs, and I stood my ground without resorting to negativity.

I addressed the issues and the attacks with truth and facts, not faltering as to my purpose and as to why I ran for this position of public trust. Despite the rage against me by some in the administration and their supporters, I took the high road, and I intend to move forward, continue to be positive and always do the right thing for all of the people of this city.

It is the sweet harvest of the work of many tireless volunteers, young and old alike, funded by many small contributors from every part of this city and county. Those who lingered on the brink of despair only a short time ago have been brought into this campaign, heart, hand, head and soul, and I have been the beneficiary and have directly witnessed first hand, the most remarkable political process in the history of the world.

We ran a competitive campaign, but even when things got a little heated, I never doubted the sincere commitment to service that each of my supporters and friends brought to this campaign, and that which I have brought to their lives. I welcome their pledge of support and counsel in the coming weeks and in the coming years, and I'm proud to be a member of a group of citizens that counts them both among it's leaders, and I'm happy you're beside me.

My campaign group was an organization that gives dramatic proof to the power of love, and to a faith that can literally move mountains. As Yeats put it, “Count where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say: My glory was I had such friends.”

We are entering a new period of important and hopeful change in Cooper City. In the literature and music of our children we are told, to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. And for our city, the time has come at last.

Make no mistake; this election was about whether we want lasting and meaningful change. It wasn’t about spinning our wheels, it was about aiming high. It wasn’t about government by sound bite, gimmick, or slogan; it was about leadership that strives to serve our long-term interests in stronger, healthier, safer and more prosperous communities.

I chose change. I chose hope. I chose to believe in what Cooper City could be if we bring to our local government the talent and idealism and creativity of women and men who are willing to challenge the old ways that have let us down all too often. And I invite everyone in this city to join on this journey. We need the best ideas and the best people from all comers, young, old, blue collar, professionals, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, to help turn our city around.

Going forward, I too want to be proud of Cooper City and I want to help bring this community together to rise above all of the recent issues. I want to help make Cooper City more than ‘Someplace Special’. Let me know how I can help you to promote the same.

Thank you all for being there with me, from the very beginning and on every single day of this campaign over the few months. I've asked you to see this not as my campaign, but as yours. Not just my chance to be Commissioner, but your chance, our chance to reclaim our civic and political future, and that's why the recent victory is yours. It's all yours. Again, thank you and I truly look forward to working with all of you, and the current administration, in order to bring positive change to Cooper City.

Best Regards,

John Sims

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My Inauguration Speech

Madam Mayor, Commissioner Kleiman, Commissioner Roper, Commissioner Mallozzi, City Manager Ferrell, Assistant City Manager Bernard and fellow citizens, Good Evening.

It is my honor to serve as the next District 1 Commissioner for Cooper City.

Tonight I come before you as man, humbled to have been chosen for this task.

The mandate given to Commissioner Mallozzi and myself on March 13th was both shocking and staggering.

But, the campaign is over, the election is complete, and the people have spoken.

And now, tonight, we must close this chapter on our history and begin to craft a new one-------together.

Together as a commission, we must continue to build on the solid foundation laid by our predecessors.

That is going to take unswerving commitment from all of us.

The philosophical differences that have separated us until now must be used to energize us as we go forward.

All of us on this dais bring different strengths, views and methodologies to the job.

That’s good for the City.

To all of you (nodding toward other commissioners), I vow to work along side of each you for the common good of Cooper City.

Together we can move ahead to impact our community in a positive way.

It’s time to bury the past and look with hope and optimism to the future.

Tonight, I also make the commitment to work together with the great organizations in our city.

Organizations such as the Optimist Club, the Davie-Cooper City Rotary Club, the Kiwanis Club and the Davie-Cooper City Chamber of Commerce, to name just a few.

We cannot and should not ignore the deep and lasting contributions that these organizations, as well as many others have made, and continue to make to our great City.

Their selfless acts of giving back to our community will be felt for generations to come.

Finally, and most importantly, I will work together with our citizens to make our community more than “Someplace Special.”

To those citizens who voted for me, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I am honored.

To those of you who didn’t vote for me, I will work hard to earn your respect.

To all of you, I welcome honest dialogue and forthright questions as we work together.

The city belongs to you---the people.

You have let your voice be heard, but this is only a start.

I urge you---continue to let your voices be heard.

Speak out when you have the opportunity.

Take interest in the decisions that are made, and let all of us know your thoughts.

Let’s work together, for there is much to do.

Finally, I would like to thank all of those who labored tirelessly on my campaign.

When things got tough, you still believed in what we were doing, and our vision for the city.

You didn’t waver----you stayed the course.

And tonight I am here---thanks to you.

Now, it is time for all of us to go to work---together!

So to my fellow commissioners and citizens, I ask you to pick up the pen with me.

And let’s begin to write that new chapter together.

The best for Cooper City is yet to come.

Thank You.