Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Commission Is Facing A Big Challenge

Ladies & gentlemen, thank you for this opportunity to allow me to address you. It is truly an honor to represent you and to voice your concerns to this administration. This new commission is facing a big challenge. Although one of those challenges is leading our city go from the top ten, to number one on that Family Circle list, our first challenge will be building a consensus within a commission often accused in recent years of being out of touch with regular citizens. I think each and every resident and member on this dais can make a difference, simply by bringing respect to the commission.

One of the first changes people will see is that there is going to be a new commission that stresses accountability, respect and open government.

Now that the election is over and we are in a transition mode to the new commission, a reprehensible mantra has appeared. This mantra seems to be emanating from a group that before and during election that viewed those who were seeking change as breeding hostility, animosity and in some cases much worse. This group appears to want to paint the advocates of change with the tarnished brush of divisiveness, and they have attempted to color their efforts with the dark and sinister palette of despicable anti-social behavior.

Please understand, and let it be clear, that the advocates of change are simply those who see what they perceive as those things requiring change and have sought, through peaceful and proper channels, the voicing of their concerns.

There needs to be a level of respect whether you agree or disagree with your colleagues, residents or this administration. Also let it be very clear, that this commission will no longer tolerate the antics that were allowed and displayed here in the past. The rule addressing this indeed will indeed be fully and swiftly enforced.

One could suggest that it is those who have shouted the loudest and attacked the most, and sought to disparage and demean others, were in fact those who oppose any person that has the courage to stand before this commission and voice their opinions and valid concerns.

In fact, it has been brought to my attention that there has been more than one instance of individuals, who without regard for anything but themselves, have made up lies in order to win at all costs and to further embarrass this city. Campaign related conduct has been appalling in the past 3 or 4 elections in this city and it must cease and desist now.

It's sad to hear people say some of the things that I have heard in the past few elections; false accusations, lies, innuendos, rumors, speculation, conjecture and outright bias, prejudice and hatred. Believe me when I say that I can understand the frustration as I have constantly been on the receiving end.

I have attempted, through much effort, to bring to light several things that have been of value to me and others in setting forth the view I have of issues that need to be addressed by this commission, to only be met with distasteful malicious attacks. Using your influence to allow ad hominem arguments or to enlist the help of uninformed residents to do it for you, especially here, is nothing short of disgraceful. This kind of distasteful political strategy must be seen for what it is...nothing more than the inability to debate and discuss the issues that truly face our families and community.

Rather than castigate, depreciate and denigrate those who choose to stand up and be counted when they felt that the circumstances warranted it, we should be open, fair, and also thankful that our system of government allows us to have that opportunity and we should be appreciative that there are those who are interested, concerned and courageous, yes, courageous enough to be willing to subject themselves to the microscopic scrutiny of their fellow citizens. We seldom have a chance to truly act in way that fulfills the promise of that which we all have made, yet we have some candidates who have been elected who have promised to do just that, and for that I am very thankful.

I feel optimistic and excited about working with the new commission. Socrates pointed out that dissent, like the housefly, was easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing individuals who were irritating is very high. He said, "If you kill a man like that, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure him," because his role was that of a housefly, "to irritate people and whip them into a fury, all in the name of truth." I fully understand Socrates, as I was myself labeled an ‘anti-government dissident’ by a member on this dais. We need truth and honesty in this city and in this government, nothing more, nothing less.

We also need to curtail the influence of the city's most powerful movers and shakers, such as lobbyists, developers and outside business groups. We will continue to work with the development community, but we are going to be doing it a lot smarter and giving residents more say on what projects should be done and how they should proceed.

We have a much greater chance to build a consensus with this new commission. The keys to doing this effectively will be based in honesty, consistency, fairness, listening skills and trust. Under the new leadership, this group can indeed find common ground and be more flexible in making decisions that will meet everyone’s requirements.

I was thrilled to hear this past election season, from all three elected candidates, the discussions and direct support on issues that I have previously addressed. Issues that I have championed such as more police & fire, better essential services, top down reviews of the way we do things, restoring financial integrity, increasing public trust, instilling balanced economic smart growth, demanding enhanced and more schools, governing with integrity, implementing local ethics initiatives and instilling positive change. Both newcomers will an opportunity to become part of this cohesive group that can appropriately disagree, discuss the issues and ultimately guide this city to arrive at a better place. This is good for the citizens and for Cooper City.

If there's one constant gripe, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY. My goal is to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's through public scrutiny, or requiring a degree of investigation and follow-up, public exposure of incompetency, cronyism or negligence. In other words, a catalyst for positive change.

It is now up to all of the residents of Cooper City to keep us accountable in this administration and make sure that we all follow up on our campaign promises. We won't be able to keep them all. But at least do what you can to support us and work with not just those you support from a political standpoint, but with each and every one of us to bring respect and dignity back to this city. In turn, all of us here on this dais must always be open, accountable, fair, honest, unbiased and consistent. If not, we will not become the leadership team that the residents of our great city deserve and expect.

Government has not been very good at being creative and thinking outside the box, but now we will have to do just that in light of tax issues that we are obligated to enact. This commission must unify this community while raising the standards for public office. We must also ensure the health, safety and welfare of our residents at all costs and increase the confidence of the residents of our city, by not only utilizing the existing programs now in place, but by implementing future programs to ensure the success of our city and of our citizens.

Those enhanced services will have a direct, and an indirect and long lasting positive effect on the people of our city. We must also partner with the many local communities that we neighbor with in order to secure, improve and promote public safety initiatives in our many and diverse communities.

We must bring integrity and stability back to the city, and enhance our public service capabilities beyond its traditional roles, all for the people of Cooper City, even with reduced revenues. We must strive continually to drastically improve and maintain the integrity of the City Commission.

As current local leaders, we must promise to commit ourselves to exclusively serve, to support, and to perform our duties with honor and respect for the benefit of all citizens regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or preference.

We must continually fight to do right, fight all wrongs, and to use our wisdom and that of the community to utilize common sense and maintain fairness in all that we do. We must take great courage to stand against racism, bias, anti-cultural values, and bigotry in all of its many facets.

Those issues are what are important, and yet those issues have been ignored because this commission has spent too much time going on the defensive. It’s time to go on the offensive and not be reactive. It’s time to take positive, decisive action to restore public trust and make our community someplace special once again. I intend to continue to do just that regardless of the opposition and challenges that we will certainly face.

Our goals are simple, yet they entail very complex issues. We must always be extremely honest and always work for the good of the people. Throughout the course of our lives, and our service as your Commission, with your support, we can and will make a real and lasting difference in all of our lives and in our vastly diverse communities.

It’s time for a new era of activism and direction in our city. The time for change, new leadership and new programs is now. I welcome the positive change that has occurred this past election, which I am sure, will continue in this administration. Together, if we focus on these issues, we will make a better future for our families and our community. Thank you.

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