Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Future of Cooper City

I stated in the March ’07 edition of this magazine, “One cloud however remains and looks more ominous with each passing day. That is the cloud of public distrust...The responsibility for this distrust rests squarely on the shoulders of our administrators.”

Public distrust is still at an all time high, which was clearly conveyed in the recent Presidential primary and elections. The January 29th election is now history. While we all forecast a reformed city commission, things may not be so obvious. This past election was about positive change. Its now time to take positive action for the well being of our residents.

First off, let me congratulate the new commission. I can say for certain that we will all work very hard to serve the public and do our very best to be the cohesive leadership team that our residents and business owners rightfully expect. I can also assure you that the new commission will work to address the major outstanding issues in our city. Issues such as retirement buy-outs, more extreme water and sewer fee increases, ordinances that should not be on the books... maybe you get my point and maybe not.

There have been many problems over the past few years that seemingly have not been addressed effectively, timely or appropriately. I also foresee a one-and- a-half month ‘hustle’ to get controversial issues passed prior to the swearing in ceremony that may indeed affect our city for years to come.

As I see it, there are two steps that need to be taken. First, the newly elected commission along with all employees must, more than anyone else, play by the same rules at all times. It is imperative that public officials be independent, impartial and that public office not be used for personal or political gain with the new commission.

If we can’t trust our elected officials, who can we trust? Again, true leadership and trust in government demands integrity, honesty and humility. When a mistake is made, it demands tacit admission and swift rectification. This is why it is so important to implement my ethics committee proposal forthwith.

We, as a commission, still have major issues to resolve such as the police and fire personnel increases necessary to protect our residents and the new developments, water and sewer infrastructure issues including new sources, school overcrowding and lack of responsible support by the school board, increased taxes, the golf course, Monterra, commission communications and leadership issues along with many others such as resident participation, which is at an all time low.

As a new commission, we must foster balanced ‘smart growth’, implement Management by Objective, improve and maintain the city’s common areas, address unfunded mandates and liabilities, address ten year budget projections, reduce our current budget, implement more diverse programs, increase employee morale, improve efficiency and customer service, return our city to the residents and most importantly, restore fiscal responsibility and accountability to public office.

My main point is this...our city’s leadership team, the new commission, must do the right thing based upon the will of the people even though they individually may no longer have a vested interest in their political office after the election. We should diligently serve as elected public officials and do exactly that until the last second of our current term in office.

The new commission needs to make our municipal government more like a business; a problem solver, not a problem creator. Our focus should be combating runaway taxes, skyrocketing and uncontrolled spending along with inefficient, excessive regulation. Working together with the residents and business owners of Cooper City, the new commission must pledge to bring back integrity, trust, responsibility, communication, commitment and accountability to all areas. Together, we will all help and continue to make Cooper City truly “Someplace Special.”

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