Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Effective immediately until further notice.
An alert has been issued by Pembroke Pines Police Department and the Broward County School Board of a threat to shoot into a school facility or government building. All schools in Pembroke Pines and Cooper City are on “lock down“ until further notice. Cooper City government buildings are also on 'lock down'. Please take precautions at your facility by locking your front doors and only let in people that are known to you. If there are any problems please call 911.
The statement below is from Superintendent of Schools Jim Notter:
Broward County Public Schools will remain on districtwide lockdown, code red until such time that police authorities communicate that it is no longer necessary. Pembroke Pines police are working in unison with SIU, BSO, as well as other police authorities at their command center in Pembroke Pines. There has been an email indicating a generalized threat that something big was going to happen at a government facility, post office, or school.
The police will dictate the status and continuation of the lockdown, and will communicate with the Distrtict when the lockdown is lifted. As of this moment, we are continuing lockdown and code red at all schools and district facilities in the county.
The District's rumor control hotline has been activated (754.321.0321) and information will be updated as it becomes available.
Public Relations & Governmental Affairs
Broward County Public Schools
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
With your perseverance, resources, friends, neighbors, donations, dedication, time and faith in me, you made our vision a reality, which is getting Cooper City back on the right track. I never could have done any of this without you, and your generous support.
Now, once again, I will be able to continue the work of The People in Cooper City. Just as I have always maintained, my primary focus remains on reducing the burden of government on small business owners, to fight the fraud and waste at all levels of government that waste your hard earned taxpayer dollars, to continue to positively lead our city in a direction, and to grow the entrepreneurial spirit that will improve our local economy and in turn, create more local jobs.
Cooper City faces many challenges, but a new day has again come. Together, I know that we will continue to do great things with your support and your faith in my ability to lead us in a new and positive direction.
If there is anything you need or if you have any issues, please feel free to contact me, your ‘Go To’ commissioner.
Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Commissioner John Sims
Thank you for your support and your vote!
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Cooper City Candidates Fall Victim To Political Smear Campaign
Candidates say their fiscal conservatism is challenging the political establishment
October 29, 2010, Cooper City, Florida - John Sims and David Nall, two candidates vying for seats on the commission in the small bedroom community of Cooper City, Florida are saying that the mudslinging which is occurring in their bid for the Cooper City commission, rivals that of some of the nationwide races.
“It’s really pathetic that people would stoop to this level,” said David Nall whose opponent is currently the incumbent. “I had no idea that things could sink this low in a municipal race.” If anyone has a gripe, it is Nall. Several months ago the Cooper City Commission voted to have background checks performed on all candidates, an act initiated by Mayor Debby Eisinger. According to Nall, his background check came back indicating that he had been guilty of credit card fraud.
The problem? Nall had no such blemish on his record. Before the city could even review and subsequently redact the false information, several people, including Mayor Debby Eisinger, made a public request for it. Nall says, “Word quickly spread and some people, a few of which were supporters of my opponent, distributed the misinformation.” Within days, City Clerk Susan Poling issued a public apology to Nall which was posted on the City website. Additionally, Commissioner Neal De Jesus also apologized on behalf of the city at the next Commission meeting, but that didn’t prevent the story from making local and national news.
Commissioner John Sims, who is running for reelection has also been in crosshairs of the same political operatives. “I’ve actually been a target since my first election,” said Sims. Sims is referring to the drinking and dining scandal that ultimately was responsible for unseating all but Mayor Debby Eisinger. Sims, a private citizen at the time, helped bring to light the practice of the sitting commissioners in which they would eat and drink on the taxpayers of Cooper City’s dime prior to commission meetings. “Obviously, when you call attention to wrongdoing, people like to take the attention off of themselves by attacking the messenger,” Sims said.
During his first election bid four years ago, people anonymously published a 16 year old complaint filed by Sims’ former wife along with his social security number and distributed it around the city. And according to Sims, they are at it again. “My wife received a robo call in which they were attacking my character once again with this 20 year old information.” Sims also confirmed that other supporters of his had received the same call. “They have also been harassing organizations of which I am a part and also disseminating misinformation online and in print,” said Sims. “They hate what I stand for so much they will stop at nothing,” Sims added.
Both Sims and Nall are fiscal conservatives with extensive business and finance backgrounds. Daniel Barrett, who is running for the District 3 seat recently vacated by Commissioner Neal DeJesus, is also a successful businessman with a similar background to Sims and Nall. According to records, Sims’ opponents are a School Board employee and a businessman who has deep ties to current Mayor Debby Eisinger, whom Sims believes is the “Maestro behind this orchestration of misinformation.” Nall’s opponent is a sitting commissioner who is married to a municipal employee in a neighboring city. While she is very involved in the community, she brings little business experience to the dais, according to Nall. “Both camps are pulling out all the stops.
They are attacking us at public meetings, passing out literature, harassing local businesses who display our signs and demeaning us through social media outlets. All I can say is they must be nervous,” said Nall. “This election comes down to one thing. If you want more bureaucracy and more government waste then vote for our opponents. But if the citizens of Cooper City want business people who will trim municipal waste and run the city like a business then vote for us,” said Sims. “It really is just that simple,” Nall said. Sims added, “Who would you rather have representing you, the political establishment or business professionals who clearly understand what needs to be done? Let the voters decide.”
John Sims can be reached by going to http://www.keepsims.com, and David Nall can be contacted by going to http://www.davidanall.com
Friday, October 29, 2010
I have consistently voted against higher taxes.
I have consistently voted against increased city budgets.
I have consistently supported and demanded a balanced budget and lower taxes for residents and business owners.
I have consistently maintained a posture of looking for ways to properly spend only spending taxpayer’s money, only when a need is clearly identified.
I have insisted upon a vetting process for every discretionary expenditure.
I have consistently voted in the best interest of our residents and business owners.
I have refused to vote for any expenditure that did not directly improve the services or quality of life in our city.
I have vigorously attempted to implement a local code of ethics, consistently rejecting the dirty politricks that have disgraced our city under the current leadership and by their candidates.
I have dedicated a tremendous amount of quality time and effort into our city in order to make it the best municipality in the county.
I have consistently supported our BSO police & fire, increasing our 'feet on the street'.
I have consistently supported our local business owners in every way possible in order to create jobs.
I have consistently worked to help our residents and business owners on a variety of issues and concerns, earning the title of your ‘Go To’ Commissioner in Cooper City.
A John Sims vote will:
Continue the fight for residents and businesses to keep more of their hard earned tax money.
Continue the focus on open, transparent government, excellence and accountability,
while fighting corruption.
Continue to protect your constitutional and property rights.
Continue to hold city hall accountable to you and your neighbors.
Continue to improve the city’s financial integrity and long term prosperity.
Government is unsustainable at its current pace at all levels: city, state and national. There are simply not enough revenues to cover the expenses and it’s getting worse. We, as a city, are then faced with 3 alternatives:
• Increase Revenues – taxes & fees, which I have refused to do because we simply do not need to do so in this recessed economy.
• Cut Expenditures – discretionary and wants vs. needs which I have consistently mandated.
• Become more efficient and customer friendly oriented in our operations, which I have consistently demanded.
If efficiency and a business like government is what is needed and demanded “By The People”, then I am the most qualified candidate in the race.
Bottom Line: It’s Your Tax Dollars, Your Hard Earned Money, Your City...Choose Wisely!
Sunday, October 24, 2010
November 2 for Cooper City Commission.
Have you had enough of tax increases?
Have you had enough of water rate increases? (and...there are more to come)
Have you had enough of Assessment increases?
Have you had enough of your services being cancelled or cut back?
Have you had enough of awarding contracts or jobs to friends of city officials?
Have you had enough of the current TAX AND SPEND Commission?
Cooper City Residents, HAVE YOU HAD ENOUGH...YET?
Help me continue the fight to end the waste of your hard earned taxpayer money!
Vote to Keep me, John Sims, your 'Go To' commissioner for District 1 and all of Cooper City!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Thank you for being a voter in Cooper City, ‘Someplace Special’!
To keep Cooper City that way we all must exercise our privilege of voting. Your support by voting is important to our city’s future and the well-being of all the residents of our community.
When you vote, please keep in mind that I have supported our Police and Fire first responders, Teachers, Optimist Club, our local business owners and most of all, YOU!
I have consistently led the effort to;
Provide for an open government and transparency in all matters of governmental actions,
Develop a strong ethical and fiscal accountability to reduce waste and inefficiency at city hall,
Lead the fight to create opportunities for business to flourish which equates to jobs and successful local businesses,
Fought to protect your rights against those who would seek to reduce or abolish them for political control in order to intrude into our lives.
As one who knows how to manage a business, balance a budget, and build a successful enterprise, I know that this is just what is needed to lead this city government during what is said to be the worst financial recession in 80 years without resorting to the easy way, raising your taxes.
As a successful businessman and one who has actually been successful in building both small and large businesses I believe that we need experienced, well-rounded leaders in our city who will continue the fight to uphold those things that have made Cooper City the place you call home.
Will you stand with me against the city hall insiders who seek to illicitly gain financially from those of us who pay the taxes and to hold them accountable?
Now is the time to vote Keep John Sims as your ‘Go To’ commissioner so that I can continue to work for you, my boss.
With respect I ask that you help me by continuing to support me with your vote so that our city can remain on a road to prosperity and remain ‘Someplace Special’ in which we live and work.
You may click here for an absentee ballot request form: http://www.browardsoe.org/AbsenteeRequest2.aspx
You may wish to go to my website at http://www.KeepSims.com and click on the absentee ballot link or to read more about what I have, and will continue to do for you.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve you, and I look forward to your agreement that my future service in our community is what you want for all of the residents Cooper City.
Thank you for your valued support and enjoy your day!
Commissioner John Sims
Keep John Sims your 'Go To' Cooper City Commissioner
Thank you for your support and your vote on Nov. 2nd!
Thank you for your campaign donation today!
John Sims Campaign
8708 SW 55 ST
Cooper City, FL 33328-4324
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Let me say this loud and clear...Your elected officials in Cooper City have been feeding our local residents and business owners the same ol’ ‘stuff’ for a long, long time. They call themselves ‘fiscally conservative’, yet our budget alone has grown $6.6 million over the last 5 years.
They talk about reducing waste and expenditures but they are actually cutting vital services and raising taxes, fees and assessments, and also controlling what the residents say while continuing to grow their political bureaucracy and their already inflated budget with even more unnecessary and wasteful ‘pork barrel’ spending.
They say that they are looking out for residents and business owners, but we know that they are taking care of themselves, and their self-serving political agendas with your hard earned money.
The wasteful spending must stop now! Attend the September 13th & 27th public budget hearing on the proposed 2010-2011 budget, millage rates and property taxes at city hall (6PM) and voice your concerns.
Here is just one example (and a fine one I might ad) of an open letter from a concerned resident, Edward Wooley, a smart and well seasoned individual, regardless of what those that tend to discount him say, with a Harvard MBA and a man who is an economist...
"YOUR BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IS COMING FROM YOUR COOPER CITY GOVERNMENT"
Yes, Cooper City is leading the tax hikes on your county tax notice! The Commission is proposing larger hits than the scandal-ridden school district and Broward County commission.
Proof? Like most of you, Broward County’s appraiser reduced my residence’s market value by 14% and State law increased my assessed values by 2.7%. That is typical. Here are the hard dollar numbers ranked by dollar increase for my home.
TAXES and FEES _____Tax Year_____________ Difference
Cooper City___ $1,206.87__$1,328.59__ $121.72_ 10.1
County Comm _$1,194.29__ $1,299.63__ $105.34_ 8.8
School district _$1,832.63__ $1,937.90__$105.27__5.7
Total _______$4,827.93___$5,214.26__$386.83_ 8.0
(small Items Not shown)
The biggest % increase in Cooper City’s taxes/fees is the Fire Assessment Fee—18.8% (and we don't even have a fire department!).
So, the big winners in the tax race seem to be our mayor and those commissioners and staff who are supporting such large increases. Remember, the cost of living index for property tax purposes is only 2.7%. Why is our city raising taxes by an additional 7.4%? Do you feel it is justified in these difficult economic times?
Think about the hurt to retirees on fixed incomes, to those living on social security, to the under and unemployed and to the residents living on modest incomes. For many, the impact can be the cost of two weeks of groceries or months of prescriptions. In these hard economic times, it is simply immoral to treat a large percentage of our neighbors this way. Particularly when it is not necessary to achieve a responsible city budget.
I urge you to let the Commission know quickly what you think about them being the tax champions. Contact info: mayor, commissioners and city manager
Mayor: Mayor_eisinger@coopercityfl.org. Generally votes for $ tax increases
Mr. Curran: Commissioner_Curran@coopercityfl.org. Same as the Mayor
Mr. deJesus: Commissioner_dejesus@coopercityfl.org.
Has opposed some increases. Often open-minded. Fire fee sponsor
Ms. Mallozzi: Commissioner_Mallozzi@coopercityfl.org.
Opposed millage rate increase. Generally votes to raise city revenues. A leader in pushing for red light cameras.
Mr. Sims: Commissioner_Sims@coopercityfl.org.
Generally opposes tax and fee increases. Often the only one.
Mr. Loucks: Bloucks@coopercityfl,org. Proposes tax/fee increases in the budget.
City manager, no vote.
Respectfully, Ed Wooley Phone (954)433-1039 firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, to add fuel to the fire, I had recently asked the commission to discuss the city attorney budget already over budget by approximately$72,000.00 as of last january, and the monthly billing on an average of approximately $27,000.00. The commission voted 4 to 1 NOT to address the potential overage of $180,000.00 for this year. Then the commission voted 3 to 2 to adjourn the meeting without giving me the opportunity to speak during the Commissioners Concerns. What does that tell you? Now we are in September and we have 'busted' the budget with 'rainmaker' attorney's fees!
In fact, we don't even have a year-end analysis of where we will end up as of September 31st, so how in the world can we know where to go from here? Take a look at the budget online here, and you tell me, what is it we need to cut? I can think of plenty of items, and I have already addressed them, that would in fact allow us to lower our taxes, but unfortunately, we are dealing with a commission who says it's a great budget...NOT!
Also, the Cooper City Civic Association Blog contains articles that will help inform and educate the city's residents about the budget and other issues that directly affect them, as well as their pocketbooks. Here is the link: http://coopercitycivicgroup.blogspot.com/
I want to also wish all of my Jewish friends, neighbors and the Jewish War Veterans 'L'shanah Tovah' and everyone a reverent Patriot Day. Please remeber those who died for your right to vote on November 2nd, and those who died on September 11th. We owe our freedoms to those heros, and I pray for their family and friends....
Please check out my website at http://www.keepsims.com/ or my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/JohnBSims and I thank you for your donations, no matter how small, your valued support and vote on November 2nd.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Commissioner de Jesus and I have not always agreed on all items regarding city business, and we have agreed on some very important issues on your behalf, but I have found him to be straight forward and true in his motives for moving Cooper City in a positive direction, even on some occasions in direct conflict with the Mayor. As such, I commend Commissioner de Jesus for his contribution to our city and its shareholders, and know that he will continue to help move our city in a positive direction. I also wish him the best and Godspeed in whatever endeavor he chooses to pursue.
Because of this, and the opening of the District 3 commission seat, I am asking each and every one of you to look about and see if, in your friends and acquaintances, there exists someone that you would believe can represent you and could continue to move the city in the direction that you want for the city? Asking the question “would they be an effective leader and a true representative of the values and desires you have for our great city?”
If you can answer that question, then I urge you to speak to them now and over this holiday weekend, as the period of qualifying will unfortunately only be limited to this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, ending September 8th at noon. The reasons for this short timeframe are not totally clear, but these are the circumstances we are faced with.
Contact them today and ask them if they would be willing to represent you as a city commissioner. Naturally, they must reside in the areas of District 3, which are essentially Rock Creek, Flamingo Gardens and Country Glen. (Further description can be found on the City Website for District 3.)
Please take this communication as a call to action, so that the unscrupulous forces that are sometimes present in circumstances such as these do not win out and extinguish the desires of the residents, local businesses and taxpayers as to their wants and desires.
The place we call home, and a place that many refer to as 'Someplace Special', is in need of a true leader such as Commissioner de Jesus, not a follower, and I urge you to take action today! Don’t wait another minute. It is your city, it is your hometown and to a larger degree it is your responsibility to act.
Enjoy your weekend and have a safe holiday!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Also, campaigning on Broward County School grounds at any time, by any individual or entity, is strictly prohibited. If you have knowledge of election campaigning on school grounds, even if after school hours or during sporting events, please let me know, or file a formal complaint directly with the Superintendent of Broward Schools.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Vote for ability
Vote for character
Vote for a leader
A leader who has attacked your problems and solved them
A leader who can rally the people of Cooper City
Vote for John Sims for Cooper City Commissioner!
Friday, August 13, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Here is the newspaper ad that Cooper City will run regarding our Rebate Program. It will be sized a few different ways and placed in the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Davie/Cooper City Gazette. The plan is to launch the program on Monday, Aug.16. Any calls should be directed to the phone number or web site on the ad. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Here is a Water Conservation article that may help you in saving water and saving money on your water bill.
Also, I have designed an online Water Calculator to help you understand where your water is used the most which can be accessed at http://www.johnbsims.com/watercalc.htm
I would like to express my appreciation to Bill Lewis and WNN Radio (AM 1470) for the opportunity to interview on yesterday's show. You can download and listen HERE (Right mouse click and 'Save Target As'-MP3, 9Mb)
Regarding the proposed Charter School in Cooper City, there will be a Town Hall Meeting in the Cooper City Commission Chambers on Tuesday, August 10th, from 7:00 – 8:30 pm. The School Board of Broward County District Charter School Staff will be present to share some important information about the state rules and regulations regarding charter schools. If you are interested in this topic, please join us on Tuesday, August 10th at City Hall from 7:00 – 8:30 pm.
Recently, the City Commissioners voted 3 to 2 to increase the cap on our property taxes. I oppose any and all tax increases, as they simply are not required. As such, I have kept my word to the residents and business owners of Cooper City regarding my Tax Pledge.
August 9th Monday night 6pm EST listen to Sims’ City News with Commissioner John Sims as we hit the hot topics in our city, with your calls and comments at (347) 215-8968 and listen to the show online at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/johnsims My focus will be combating runaway taxes, skyrocketing and uncontrolled local government spending, inefficient, unnecessary and excessive local regulation.
Then, you can join me at my monthly Town Hall meeting at 7 PM Monday Aug. 9, at city hall in the Commission Chambers. See you there!
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
• Policy - To do the job that I was elected to do, and that is serving you. I do not take information or staff recommendations that are provided to me at face value. Instead, I research the facts and attempt to find a better alternative or a more efficient methodology. I feel that my job as your representative is to improve our city’s quality of life, as opposed to taking the politically correct path of least resistance, or making decisions on your behalf in order to fulfill a personal or a political agenda.
• Vision - Working with our community and other true leaders, my job as your representative is to achieve a common goal of prosperity and success, both yours and that of our business owner’s, and keep the vision in continuing to keep Cooper City ‘Someplace Special’.
• Oversight - Oversight is the fiduciary responsibility to ensure our citizen’s money is well spent and accounted for on basic health, safety and welfare of the community. I take that responsibility very seriously as I strive to protect your hard earned tax-payer dollars. In that spirit, I look for facts and data to substantiate our City's proposed expenses. I ask a lot of questions, yet get very few really solid answers.
Regarding the 2010-2011 budget, the city has raised more revenue than expected and estimated more in expenses. The city consistently understates revenues and overstates expenses. This is not the time to be designing in cushions using your money, especially when so many of us need it to survive and pay our monthly expenses and mortgage.
It’s the time for bold honest truth. The city is not being candid, and should not be playing with other people’s money.
Again, no substantial efforts have been made to curtail discretionary spending. Last year when I asked our staff and directors to try to cut discretionary expenses by 10% I was responded to with a frivolous “we have to lay people off” mentality. Not so much as a simple executive summary of where we can look to cut expenses was provided. Just a “the sky is falling approach” to protecting the individual departmental budgets.
The are dozens of examples I can use to save money in this proposed budget which all add up to big tax dollars! We spend on bottled water while at the same time, we brag about how good our water is, and send out high gloss, multi page brochures instead of just posting it on our website. This is just one very insignificant example, but if you look at our budget online, I am sure you can find more pork than I have found to cut. The city needs to set the example!
I’m having difficulty seeing where the real priorities are. Are we really serving the community appropriately with this budget? I believe in, and strive daily for open, honest and transparent government. You deserve it!
This budget should reflect citizens’ priorities, not those of career politicians. Apparently the city does not perceive what the residents and business owners really want. What they want is reduced expenditures and less taxes. There is rampant unemployment, food has gone up, gas is up again, school supplies are up, over 400 foreclosures in our city as of last month…where does it end?
The increases suggested Monday for Citizens Property Insurance Co. would vary by location. In some parts of South Florida, prices could increase to almost 12 percent. We are facing another 2% Water rate hike in November 2010, a 12 to 15% FPL-Electricity rate hike, a 10% College tuition rate hike, the worst unemployment in the last 50-60 years, a 17% drop in school population per the CAFR, and alot more future increases in federal and state taxes and fees, many of which were supported by your city commissioners and Mayor.
If we don't stop spending on wants, not needs now, we will either have to raise taxes, or there will be some serious cuts to make. And...nothing can be held harmless in making those cuts. Every day we postpone acting decisively to rein in wasteful spending and cut discretionary expenses and the debt in Cooper City, we pile even more on the backs of thousands of young residents and many business owners.
We certainly have the ability to spend more wisely, yet we don’t. Just look at the past budgets, financial reports and workshop meetings. What have you demanded be cut, and it was actually cut? Some say the little things don’t matter in reducing expenditures, yet they add up quickly. We need to set the example and the little things add up to tens of thousands of dollars of your money.
The political establishment has kept costs and expenses up, not down. We simply need common sense solutions and minimal sacrifices to quality of life services. We need to re-establish the public trust which has been all but destroyed by this city commission.
This is not “my” city or money but “OUR” city and money! How the city performs its duties along with how “OUR” money is allocated and spent should be transparent and available to everyone.
Your city commission is NOT cutting the budget but inflating it, NOT reducing fees and taxes but possibly raising them, with little or no follow-up on commission directives of the recent past.
It is time to stop the unnecessary spending, and reduce the city’s inflated budget.
Tell your City Commissioner’s to stop wasting your tax dollars. As your commissioner, and as I have done in previous years, I will vote NO on the proposed budget if I see continued waste and unnecessary or excessive expenditures in our budget that are not immediately cut. The city needs to manage their money like you and I have had to do in this recession laden economy.
Tell your City Commissioner’s not to raise the millage rate cap tomorrow night (Special Meeting at 6 PM, City Hall), and to realize that the taxpayer is not an endless stream or source of money to be wasted by them. I will vote NO if the millage rate cap is raised.
Email your city commissioners and say NO to new taxes and an increased budget!
If the city commission indeed raises the millage rate cap and adopts the budget as proposed, all I have to say is "Thank you for helping the Cooper City economy struggle."
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Broward Sheriff’s Office is investigating the Case #16100700726
Any information leading to the arrest of campaign sign thieves and any information leading to the knowledge of anyone who steals campaign sign thieves will be reciprocated by a reward.
If someone is arrested, they could be charged with theft of campaign sign, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine or possible jail time.
Please keep an eye on your signs when they are able to be placed out.
Trespassing is also against the law. As such, I will expect the Broward Sheriff’s Office to be vigilant for political sign pilferage and the State Attorney to aggressively prosecute and one caught stealing campaign signs and/or trespassing.
If signs are missing in this upcoming election season, please call Broward Sheriff’s Office and get a case number. Demand a report and an investigation!
Because of the importance of the election process to our system of democracy, I do not take lightly these violations! Should we catch anyone involved in this activity, we will stringently enforce the law and they will pay!
You can steal our signs, but not our votes!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Police said three men wearing baseball hats and T-shirts with the letters FBI on the back pulled an SUV into the driveway of a home in the 5000 block of Southwest 104th Avenue after 4 a.m. Monday.
BSO spokesmen said that the two robbers jumped into their new model, midsize, silver Mercedes-Benz SUV with a third man, and they drove away.
You can read the story on Channel 10 WPLG HERE. Anyone with information is asked to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).
Here is another story with complete video.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
On Monday and Tuesday July 26th and 27th at 6 PM there will be workshops held at city hall regarding our 2010-2011 budget.
The 2010-2011 proposed budget can be found online at
On Thursday July 29th, there will be a millage rate (Ad Valorem Property Taxes) workshop at 6 PM at city hall. This meeting is regarding your property taxes. Please be there to show support to my opposition of any property tax increase.
Challenges regarding our budget in Cooper City are mounting. Our surpluses and cash equivalents were $22M+ at the beginning of this fiscal year. As such, we shouldn’t need to even discuss raising the property (ad valorem) taxes. We also don’t need to spend your hard earned tax dollars on a new city hall, as wished for by a majority on the city commission.
Some of the increased taxes and fees the city levies, or is capable of levying, that you may soon encounter, are ad valorem property taxes, the fire assessment fee, the utilities fee/tax, sanitation tax, storm water tax, waste water tax, franchise fee/tax, electricity and telecommunications tax, occupational licenses, permit fees, etc. You get the idea…
On Wednesday, July 28th at 10:00 am a Senior’s forum will be hosted by The Recreation Department. The Forum will be moderated by Stephen Person, Consultant on Senior Affairs.
This forum is designed to receive information from the Cooper City Seniors, Caregivers and other residents attending and interested in our Cooper City Elders activities.
The forum will consist of the following:
1. To determine how to increase awareness and participation in existing programs and services that are offered to those over-60 residents in Cooper City.
2. To solicit ideas from attendees on how existing services can be improved.
3. To identify programs and/or services that would be desired with the focus on improving the quality of life for Cooper City Senior Citizens.
I believe that we need to implement the bus route in Cooper City. I believe the money is available and our seniors so desperately need that service.
Please attend these very important budget workshops, millage workshop and Senior’s Forum to assist our Seniors, caregivers and all interested in improving the quality of life for that Special Segment of Population of our City. Your input is necessary to enhance their daily lives and activities at The Community Center and in Cooper City.
For additional information on the senior’s forum, please call Kathy at 954-434-4300, Ext. 255. Let us all support our Senior Citizens and attend this Forum.
As I have previously stated, the city should and must ‘tighten its belt’ like most of our residents have to do in order to continue to operate ‘in the black’ without unnecessarily raising your taxes. No substantial efforts have been made by staff and the commission to decrease spending, yet the city must be committed to getting serious about your money with decisions on spending made more responsibly, especially in the current economy.
This can be accomplished by removing the political barriers on the city commission, demanding stronger and unbiased leadership, and demanding a lean and responsive city commission and staff with increasing fiscal responsibility toward our residents and business owners.
I simply want to make it very clear, I see myself as a public servant continuing to be increasingly vigilant, fiscally prudent and respectfully responsible to our residents and business owners in the manner in which way we spend their hard earned tax dollars. We should do everything we can to reduce inefficiencies, strive to minimize and reduce taxes and work hard at reducing government’s negative influence on its residents and businesses. It's about what's in your best interests, something that our city government and staff doesn't always place at the top of their priorities.
Remember, Cooper City residents are now able to watch our City Commission meetings live on the Internet at http://www.coopercityfl.org. Residents can instantly replay all or part of the meetings at their convenience through a link on the City’s web site.
I am deeply honored to represent and serve Cooper City’s residents and business owners. I am open to your comments and concerns and would like to continue to help resolve your problems regarding city issues and requirements.
Most importantly, don’t miss the opportunity to vote in our city election on November 2nd. Thank you for your support and your vote on Nov. 2nd!
Have a great summer, stay safe and remember to slow down and look out for the children out of school and playing in our neighbor hoods. Enjoy your weekend!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Unfortunately, a city cannot ‘legislate’ integrity. It can write a code of ethics for officials and public employees, but it cannot impose honesty. Honesty must begin with public officials who believe in core civic values and morals. A public official must be honest in his or her own values. He or she must think to himself and declare to others; I will tell the truth, I will keep my word, I will be professional, I will treat citizens with respect, I will cooperate with business owners, I will do my job to the best of my abilities, I will listen to the public, and I will be progressive. As a public servant, I have tried to do just that.
In the terms of its own charter, city government is supposed to be honorable. City governments like Cooper City seem to sometimes operate in an ethical vacuum. Cooper City has no rules of ethics of any consequence. Not all corruption is blatant criminal conduct like bribery or vote fraud. For this we have laws, prosecutors and people like some of the recent county commissioners to make examples of. The real problem that undermines honorable government is "soft corruption". Intimidation, harassment of people who speak out, giving too short of a notice of pending actions to discourage debate, distortion of facts to mislead the public (outright lying), or evasive actions to avoid disclosure of conflicts of interests.
Simple honestly is the core value of any system of ethics. But as I said, you cannot legislate truthfulness, fidelity, or dedication. A public official is honest or not honest. If he is not honest, he will not be any more honest the day after a code of ethics is enacted than the day before. It really starts with honest people. How you get honest people to run for office and how you motivate voters are questions of political strategy, rather than ethics.
Unfortunately, Cooper City is now known as part of the cesspool of dirty politics (I myself use the term ‘politricks’ based on all the dirty tricks used against me by my past opponents and some on the current commission) in Broward County. The answer to political ethics and corruption is political action. There must be honest people who are willing to do something for the betterment of our city and speak out without fear of retaliation or fear the dirty tricks played upon them and their families. When honest people run for office, and voters put them in office and when these reformers do what needs to be done without compromise or lame excuses, whether it is better rules, programs, or education, then that is when real reform can begin.
Cooper City, as noted, has no code, or ethics training, of any sort. It has an interesting, but essentially useless provision concerning conflicts of interest. The state code of ethics, in part, applies to city officials, but is not vigorously enforced and has severe shortcomings. City commissioners have shown little interest in developing a public ethics program in our city. Thus, any implemented code of ethics can become "technicalities" in the hands of unscrupulous public officials, evadable with a little creativity. Rules, as they say, are made to be broken, and it happens consistently in our city.
The fact is, this city and most others like it are run by small groups of people. Most people don't vote. Less than ten percent of the resident’s control who will serve as public officials and what will be in the charter. Not many people attend commission meetings, or watch it on TV or the Internet, write letters to the editor, or even concern themselves with civic affairs yet they affect them directly. The people who have the stamina to read through this treatise are interested in local affairs and well informed, but how many residents of Cooper City even know who the city manager or their city commissioner is?
There are no signs that an uprising of the masses is about to occur demanding ethics reform. Residents seem more upset with property taxes, soaring insurance costs, government waste and other pressing economic and financial issues. People are probably more concerned with new trash collection rules than with abstract questions of public ethics. But, we don't need a mass movement. We just need public officials and employees to adhere to a good set of ethics rules and standards.
An official can be honest, but not be very professional. He can be competent, but uncivil and disrespectful. He can be gracious, but lie and do unlawful and dishonest things. Criminals are not necessarily brutes, but crude people are not necessarily liars and thieves. Yet most people would agree that lying, stealing, and cheating are wrong, even if many, on the other hand, are willing sometimes to forgive or overlook dishonesty. There is an agreed principle or imperative, a rational basis to ethics, a reason why it is wrong to lie, steal or cheat. The imperative in the case of the ethics of politics and government, is the public trust.
A public official is vested with the requisite powers to discharge the responsibilities of his office. Aside from the legal implications of giving someone in a public position this mantle of authority, the investiture of considerable power over the lives of ordinary people also represents the confidence that people have in the person who has, that is, is entrusted with, that power. As such, the public's trust is imperative.
Public trust is built upon the agreed principles of right conduct in civic affairs, such as truthfulness, fidelity, honesty, teamwork and professionalism. On the other hand, where the usefulness of local government in the service of special or insider interests is the political dynamic of the city, civic values and principles of right conduct such as these may be displaced. After all, speaking the truth or keeping one's word can be inconvenient. It sometimes also depends on the agenda you are trying to push at a commission meeting. An honestly informed public invites dissent and delay, so why would any public official admit his loyalties are not to the citizens? Your answer is probably right...
If ethics reform were a simple matter, the city could just copy a code of ethics from the many codes already in existence. It would then have its own set of guidelines for the right conduct of public officials and city employees which it does not have now. But would it have ethical government? The solution isn't that simple.
The competitive nature of elections invites dishonorable and corrupting behavior. We have seen that in our great little city, and it’s bad enough to make you want to wonder, why and/or how did it get so bad? What is so important to candidates and elected officials that would resort to the kind of politricks we have seen in Cooper City? It isn't the commission pay, but it certainly may be the money. It boils down to control in my opinion.
The council-manager structure, which turns the administration of the city over to a "professional", meaning non-political, highly qualified person selected after an exhaustive search, provides, in theory, a counterpoint to the seedy political side of government. Nonetheless, the key policy-making positions must remain elective to insure that citizens have the final say on public policy and in the conduct and character of public officials. There seems to be no better way to select city commissioners than by a vote. It just needs to be an honest vote, not one supported by political action committees, non-profit organizations and fraudulent absentee ballots.
Public ethics are grounded on values which reflect the agreements of the community on the right conduct of public officials and the proper functions of local government. This does not necessarily result in honesty, truthfulness, or professionalism as these may not be the dominant civic values of a community, although they should be. Consequently, there is an institutional basis for corruption in politics and government that cannot be overcome by a simple statement of rules and procedures.
The personal integrity of public officials and city employees is the basic component of any system of ethics. Honest officials tell the truth, keep their word, do a good job, set aside personal interests which conflict with the public interest, do the best they can in representing their constituents and faithfully serve the citizens of the city. They do not steal or misappropriate public funds, even under a pretext of serving the people. In both their personal and public lives, they try to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
While good government always starts with good people, the operating philosophy of the city government sets a standard for official conduct which transcends the personal integrity of its individual members. Is city government an open and responsive government, or one operated by and for insiders, with information concealed and the public record distorted to support special causes? Is public opinion casually and arrogantly disregarded, with public business conducted in the shadows? Yes to both questions.
If the leaders of the community do not set the proper standards, it is the right of the citizens to write the standards. The city charter amendment should insure that people are able to get complete and accurate information from the city and require that the business of the city be conducted in the open and with fairness to all concerned. The problem is, it may or may not be in writing, and it may or may not be practiced as it should be.
Any City Charter should read: The citizens of Cooper City, in order to protect the health, welfare and safety of its residents, and promote honorable, efficient and responsive government, hereby adopt a Code of Ethics.
This is the agenda item I have placed on the agenda for discussion at tomorrow night’s city commission meeting. Although it is a proposal, and modeled after some great ethics codes and campaign practices, it needs to be addressed, refined and implemented.
As such, the ethical city official should:
Properly administer the affairs of the city.
Promote decisions and votes which only benefit the public interest.
Actively promote public confidence in city government.
Keep safe all funds and other properties of the city.
Conduct and perform the duties of the office diligently and promptly dispose of the business of the city.
Maintain a positive image to pass constant public scrutiny.
Evaluate all decisions so that the best service or product is obtained at a minimal cost without sacrificing quality and fiscal responsibility.
Inject the prestige of the office into everyday dealings with the public employees and associates.
Maintain a respectful attitude toward employees, other public officials, colleagues and associates. Effectively and efficiently work with governmental agencies, political subdivisions and other organizations in order to further the best interest of the city.
Faithfully comply with all laws and regulations applicable to the city and impartially apply them to everyone.
The ethical city official should not:
Engage in outside interests that are not compatible with the impartial and objective performance of his or her duties.
Improperly influence or attempt to influence other officials to act in his or her own benefit.
Accept anything of value from any source which is offered to influence his or her action as a public official.
There are many more issues and details to consider, but the most difficult issue to be addressed in ethics reform is how to create a tribunal to consider allegations of unethical conduct which is itself immune from politics and corruption. To be effective, such a tribunal should have subpoena power as well as the power to make findings and determinations which respect to any complaint. It must be impartial and truly independent of any political influences or favoritism. The complaint process, also, should be made as simple as possible so that there is full citizen access.
The important features of this model are that members are appointed in a manner which makes it difficult for political officials subject to its jurisdiction to unduly influence its proceedings, and it employs independent counsel.
If ethics reform is to be successful in a community, it must be viewed as a comprehensive program with several components. One component is the body of rules, guidelines and procedures which are designed to maintain public trust in the city government. Ideally, the code of ethics will be grounded upon a wide consensus in the community favoring honest and ethical government. This component would also include government openness, transparency and access to all.
A second component is an authority, an ethics commission created to be as independent as possible, to consider and rule upon ethical issues. Again, ideally, the ethics commission will be comprised of "experts," that is, people who uniquely and substantially qualified to serve in this role, and people who have little or no personal interests in local politics. The commission should also be able to employ special consultants, investigators and masters, and should be advised by its own counsel.
Third, a training program should be devised and seriously administered to all employees, vendors and commissioners. Fourth, the ethics commission should have adequate administrative support, and the support element should be independent of the city administration. The support element, or another element, could be given some summary authority to deal with minor infractions.
We also need serious campaign and election reform. It really does not matter whether money, that is, the expenditures of a candidate, is the determinative factor in the outcome of a typical election. Unfortunately, sometimes it seems as if it is. What is important is that people give money to candidates in order to gain influence. This is why the contribution reports are interesting, to see who may get an advantage when the candidate is elected. If a candidate receives a large percentage of his campaign finances from developers, it is presumed that he will give consideration to developer interests in his votes over what is perceived to be the better public interest.
Cooper City has nothing pertaining to campaign contributions, thus candidates can receive up to $500 per contributor and, doubtless, some contributions are bundled, especially to the mayoral candidates. If limitations modeled on the Sarasota laws were enacted, it would be a new ball game in Cooper City at election time. Candidates can say that contributions from developers don't influence their decisions all they want, but most common-sense people know better.
In addition to finance issues, we need ethical issues to be enacted in Cooper City elections. I can say first hand that I have seen the worst, unethical politricks in our city, and it emanates from a choice few individuals and groups who do not have your, or the city’s best interests at heart. I can honestly say that some in city hall, and their supporters, despise me more than they love their city! How sad…
Aristotle viewed hate as a desire for the annihilation of an object that is incurable by time. In psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud defined hate as an ego state that wishes to destroy the source of its unhappiness. It can also be used to disparage a person or group of people based on their social or ethnic group, such as race, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language ability, ideology, social class, occupation, appearance (height, weight, skin color, etc.), mental capacity, and any other distinction that might be considered by some as a liability. The term is also sometimes called antilocution and is simply a measure of prejudice in society.
I don't know if the citizens of Cooper City are interested in an honest, caring government or not. Only five or six citizens attend the meetings of the commission on a regular basis, if that. There has also been little discussion about the wrongs that have been blatantly committed, and the betrayal of the public trust that had been alleged in our city. The importance of everyone adhering to uncompromising integrity and ethics rules is paramount, but rules alone can’t guarantee ethical conduct. Only people can do that. Responsibility to uphold a code of ethics for public officials must be in everything we do, and it starts at the top. As such, we need to implement it at the top, starting tomorrow.
Excerpts used with permission DeerfieldBeachUSA.com
Monday, June 7, 2010
"He (she) uses statistics as a drunken man (woman) uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination." - Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
According to Mayor Eisinger, (See this Agenda, Item 11) “To date, research collected from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (www.iihs.org), the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (www.fhwa.dot.gov), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.nhtsa.gov), report that Red Light Cameras do actually reduce the number of “t-bone” accidents at intersections caused by red light running (which are far more dangerous than rear end collisions).” Dominant theme: 'Red lights are good for all of us'...trust me!
Not so fast, Mayor! A Virginia Transportation Research Council research report by Nicholas J. Garber, Ph.D, P.E. (et al) entitled 'The Impact of Red Light Cameras (Photo-Red Enforcement) on Crashes in Virginia' strongly disagrees. This meticulous study, carried out over a 7 year period and over a large sample area (The entire State of Virginia), concludes that on average and over time, a small (statistical) reduction in injury crashes is observed overall, with the incidence of minor, or non-injury crashes increasing to the extent that “When these results are aggregated across all six jurisdictions, the cameras are associated with a net increase in comprehensive crash costs (emphasis mine).” The study concludes; “[t]hese results cannot be used to justify the widespread installation of cameras because they are not universally effective (emphasis mine).” In essence, according to this exhaustive and highly respected study, red light cameras are universally ineffective and have the added burden of actually increasing costs! Ladies and gentlemen, facts are stubborn things. You can read all about a Florida based red-light camera study here, from the Florida Health Review, which mirrors the Virginia study in regards to being hazardous to your health.
Our mayor goes on (my comments in brackets) “Under the newly adopted law, which goes into effect July 1, a $158 fine will be assessed against owners of vehicles caught on camera running red lights. Of that amount, $75 will go to the local government entity. The remaining fees would go to the State, and the State is required to use $10 for health care (government boondoggle) and give $3 to the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis for brain and spinal cord research (another government boondoggle. Why not crash safety research, yellow light timing fixes, or a road traction study?). In the event the State runs the program through the Department of Highway Safety, $100 of the fine will go the State’s general revenue fund (padding out the budget) and $45 to the municipality in which the violation occurred (again, padding the city budget - maybe for a new city hall - and divvying up the spoils). The registered owner of the vehicle would get ticketed, regardless of who was actually driving the vehicle.” Increased taxes, costs that come out of the subject's citizen's pocket.
As I have said repeatedly since this debate began, “It's all about the money!” Consider “a $158 fine will be assessed against owners of vehicles caught on camera running red lights (emphasis mine).” There is no attempt to find the actual driver of the vehicle, no effort is made to determine culpability for these infractions, the system simply takes a photo and sends the bill to the registered owner. Under this system, If I borrow Mayor Eisinger's car (an unlikely event, but bear me out) and drive through a red light, she gets the bill. Hooray! And...I get off 'Scott free'. Hey Mayor, can I borrow your car..pleeze? I feel like running a lot of red lights today! Add to that the increased insurance premiums assessed against all of these rear-enders and now we're talking real, serious, new city hall money, both the various governments and the insurance companies cash in on hard earned our dime...Cha-Ching!
When considering legislation one is always obliged to ask “Is this new law 'legal' ?” We shall soon see, as there are numeorus court cases and appeals in the making.
The fifth amendment to our Constitution clearly states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence (sic) to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation (emphasis mine).” Clearly this law deprives me of my rightful property without the due process of law. Try replying to one of these 'auto-tickets' with a photograph of $158 and see what happens! In fact, in a recent Red-Light camera case, the lawyer subpoenaed the camera itself as a witness, and it failed to show up for court, as a prime witness. Case dismissed for lack of a witness!
Moreover, the sixth amendment to our Constitution clearly states: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence (sic) (emphasis mine).” Am I to assume that in order to defend a charge arising from my car running a red light (not me, personally), my legal defense will be obliged to subpoena the red light camera as my accuser (as happened already)? Are they sentient or intelligent enough to answer rhetorical questions and/or affirm that they saw me drive my car through a red light at a given date and time? Of course not. The law is written to pad budgets, not punish lawbreakers or make running red lights safer. Simply having a police officer'sign off' on a citation does not make it so.
Once again, I find myself opposed to the local 'legislation' of a petty tyrant, intended to further suppress the rights and freedoms of ordinary people and deprive them of their rightful property (money) in pursuance of an agenda driven by the logic of socialism and the nanny state, not the solid principles our founders laid down for us in our constitution. Instead of casting about looking for ways to increase revenues by reducing unnecessary expenses and pad out the city coffers, our mayor should be taking steps to increase red light safety by utilizing proven engineering methods, reign in the wasteful and unnecessary spending rampant within, and under her disgraced administration, cutting taxes and putting the money back where it belongs – in the pockets of you, We The People. If my car commits a crime, take it up with my car, not me. Please join with me in reminding our mayor whose money she's trying to steal (for a new city hall maybe?) and tell her a resounding NO! to these ridiculous schemes, now and in the future.
Yes, mayor, facts are stubborn things. Behind every scheme there's a schemer, wringing her hands and drooling over all the ways to deprive us of our hard earned property and money. Enough already! Again, go and re-read your sacred oath, unless it means absolutely nothing to you...
Contact Mayor Eisinger at (954)434-4300 ext. 260, or via e-mail at: email@example.com and tell her to stop trying to steal your hard earned money thorough local resolutions, ordinances and majority commission votes!
Friday, June 4, 2010
The robbers broke into vehicles in the Embassy Lakes subdivision last night, and this morning in Country Address.
The robbers were caught in the Country Address subdivision.
Many of you may have heard the BSO helicopter orbiting overhead early this morning.
A reminder..PLEASE keep your doors and windows locked at all times, set your alarms, do not leave valuables in your vehicle, and report any and all suspicious activity immediately to BSO, no matter how slight.
The purpose of government is health, safety and welfare of the community at large, with your safety, and that of your family and business being our number on priority.
We need your help in keeping our neighborhoods safe and secure.
You can read mor about safety tips on my blog at http://www.johnsimsblog.com and at http://johnsims3.blogspot.com/2010/04/crime-prevention-tips-for-cooper-city.html
Have a great and safe weekend!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Unfortunately, many local governments aren’t even researching these bogus claims. They’re just accepting them and passing resolutions saying that the sky will fall if Amendment 4 is passed.
Overdevelopment helped crash Florida’s economy. We currently have over 400,000 vacant dwellings. Local governments helped create the building boom by charging artificially low impact fees to builders, and not requiring them to fund the needed infrastructure (roads, schools, water, sewer, safety). In spite of what politicians tell their constituents, development doesn’t pay for itself, as numerous studies have proven (Jacksonville, Sarasota, Hillsborough, etc.). It costs government more to provide infrastructure and services for new development than it receives in new tax revenue. [Note: Some in the form of impact fees, or even 'donations' of fire trucks]
Our State-mandated long-range growth plans are meant to place services and population in an organized and efficient manner so as to improve our quality of life, prevent sprawl, and keep taxes lower. But these well-thought-out plans are constantly being changed, every time a developer wants to build something that conflicts with existing plans. Instead of asking developers to conform to our plans, our politicians quickly cave-in and approve the plan changes.
This is occurring everywhere at an alarming rate because our politicians can’t seem to say no to developers. If you look at most politicians’ campaign-contribution records, they receive a sizable amount from development interests (sometimes more than 50%). Is it surprising that they approve most of the plan changes submitted by developers? As an example, the Hillsborough County Commission approves over 92 percent of submitted plan changes.
Most counties are in dire straits because of overdevelopment and inadequate infrastructure. Do the Legislature, local politicians, chambers of commerce offer a solution? No, their solution is more of the same. They say, “Don’t change anything … we like it this way … we need to make it easier for developers so they can quickly build still more homes … we’ll have to raise your taxes to add and widen roads and provide basic services, but it’s worked well for us politicians, and our developer partners love it, too.”
What will Hometown Democracy’s Amendment 4 do?
• It’ll provide a simple and balanced approach to planning for our communities.
• It adds only one step – your vote -- to the existing process for changing growth plans.
Citizens will have a say in the future of their communities. Shouldn’t we residents have meaningful input in deciding where the next 3,000-home subdivision will go, or the next airport, or the next supermall?
• It’ll help force business interests/developers to stick to a community’s plan.
• Local governments will be more cautious in approving developer-initiated changes because citizens will veto bad-growth decisions.
• As the number of privately-initiated changes is reduced, process costs will decrease, and governments will be able to do more long range planning.
• The approval of plan changes will still be in the hands of elected officials and their staffs as it is today. The only difference is that voters can agree or disagree with the officials when the item reaches the ballot, as the last step in the process.
The only changes that residents will vote on will be major land-use changes to their growth plans. Voters will not vote on zoning, rezoning, variances, building permits, etc. Depending on the size of the city or county, the estimated number of ballot items would be from one to five per election.
• Amendment 4 won’t stop anyone from building. Florida is “shovel ready” as we speak. It does not require a change in any growth plan to build a building. Current land-use designations already in place allow enough home-building to accommodate another 100+ million people, without ever making another change. More than 1.3 billion-square-feet of additional commercial floor area (13,000 Walmarts) is already approved on our growth plans. Pre-approved land is everywhere. When the market rebounds there’ll be nothing to stop business from building. Amendment 4 will simply assure that building occurs in these pre-approved, appropriate, rational places.
Look at your own community. The bad growth decisions that we have to live with are all too obvious. Amendment 4 is needed. We need a seat at the table on land-use decisions that can directly and irreversibly harm our pocketbooks and our quality of life.
George Niemann (813) 662-7100
Tampa-area Amendment 4 regional coordinator
Reprinted with permission
Thursday, May 27, 2010
I considered keeping my thoughts to myself, but reflecting on the commission meeting last Tuesday night and the free speech issue s that ensued therein, I thought about what the current Cooper City commission has become in destroying the rights and freedoms of Cooper City residents, and especially what has been taking place since the last election on free speech issues. You can also watch this clip of the citizen’s concerns portion of the meeting.
Recently, events in my own family life have reminded me of the essential truths that we all should live by…Peace, Love and the pursuit of Happiness being a few. Those essential truths are not diminished by the rants and tantrums of a petty tyrant. Mayor Debby Eisinger’s latest outburst and misuse of parliamentary privilege brings into a stark reality, the disconnect between her, the majority of the Cooper City Commission and the people from whom the power to govern is granted. My thoughts on the responsibility and accountability of government to the electors are well known to those who follow my blog posts. Cooper City is supposed to be a city close to the heart of democracy. Last Tuesday night, once again, the public servants of Cooper City forgot their place and turned on those whose trust they hold in the execution of their public office.
Now, the good people of Cooper City have again been completely embarrassed by their elected representatives. Our City is again in the news, much to the delight of the negative media, due to the posturing egos of our ‘illustrious leaders’. The ‘politricks’, outright misrepresentations and deceptions emanating from the Cooper City Commission dais on a regular basis, are indeed the stuff of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, only large and in real life for all to ‘read all about’. This article is just one example, and is mild compared to others (that I will not now embarrass the reader with a full accounting), and the comments are disturbing to anyone who takes pride in our municipality. As if this was not enough, now we are again embarrassed by commentary from citizens and a follow-up article from the same news medium.
Regarding the colloquy at last Tuesday evening’s commission meeting on Item 14, Mrs. Gladys Wilson’s comments were factually and linguistically correct. On May 11th, Mayor Eisinger did say that Governor Charlie Crist had signed the ‘Red-Light Camera Bill’, a full 2 days before the actual signing, an undeniable fact. Maybe the Mayor chose to mislead the commission into believing that the Bill was signed since she so desperately needed their majority support for her revenue generation scheme, but maybe the Mayor had simply confused the actions whereby the Florida Legislature had passed the Bill and it simply awaited the Governor’s signature, or possible veto. I can assume that it may have been an honest mistake, but this Mayor should know the difference between legislative passage and signatory execution, and I prefer to believe that she was so impatient to ‘get her hands on the money’ – your money – that a 48 hour discrepancy was a negligible detail, as a child pestering her parents to open a Christmas present early, knowing full well that that was against the rules. I contacted Governor Crist‘s office (850-488-5394) and verified that HB325 was actually signed on 05/13/2010 and the ceremonial signing was on 05/18/2010.
Regardless of what was said, Mrs. Wilson was not, and is not guilty of “slander” as Mayor Eisinger and a fellow commissioner have so vociferously asserted. In my humble opinion, that term is loosely used simply to intimidate constituents. The Mayor has a tendency to berate anyone who disagrees with her view or who has the chutzpah to point out her shortcomings with such words as a form of intimidation or, worse, to ‘put them in their place’. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, certain words deemed slanderous are in themselves actionable, because the natural consequence of what they impute to the party is damage, as if they import a charge that the party has been guilty of a criminal offence involving moral turpitude, or that the party is infected with a contagious distemper, or if they are prejudicial in a pecuniary sense to a person in office or to a person engaged as a livelihood in a profession or trade; but in all other cases the party who brings an action for words must show the damage he or she has suffered by the false speaking of the other party. Perhaps by reining in her emotions and paying more attention to the factual content of our collective discourse with concerned citizens, our Mayor would be better placed to serve our community and hear the criticisms of its residents in a more open, decorous and graceful frame of mind.
The common law protects every person from harm to their reputation by false and derogatory remarks about their person, known as defamation. Defamation must be a direct attack on an actual reputation, not an alleged reputation that a ‘victim’ believes they deserve. There are a number of special defenses available against defamation; the "defamatory" remark was basically accurate, and a special privilege exists for remarks made in certain venues such as in a court room or in a legislative or commission assembly or one of its committees. George Washington once said "To persevere in one's duty and be silent is the best answer to calumny." It is the duty of the Commission to hear criticism and take heart to that which is actionable.
If Ms. Wilson wants to ‘rant’, as some allude to, she is entitled to rant even if what she says is impertinent, inaccurate, or otherwise, as delineated by the Commission Rules. I did not view Ms. Wilson’s remarks as a rant or lacking in common courtesy. Every word that every person says is subject to interpretation. The Mayor should have just let Mrs. Wilson have her say, noted her comments, then allowed her to sit down and proceed on to further business. But no…the Mayor chose to take an overbearing, churlish, unprofessional, and even childish approach. Of course, Mrs. Wilson has the ability to convey her thoughts in a less truculent manner, but she is free to choose her words as she sees fit. It is not incumbent upon anyone to judge her choice of verbiage, truthfulness notwithstanding.
It is my understanding that Mrs. Wilson has been verbally, emotionally and psychologically abused by some of my fellow commission members for several years. I can attest to the fact that she is a highly educated community pillar and knows how to express herself in an appropriate manner. It appears that she has been pushed just a little too hard by our elected officials, as have many of us.
When an active concerned citizen such as Mrs. Wilson goes to the trouble of attending a commission meeting to speak the truth, is this how unprofessional, immature and inaccurate this embarrassment of a Mayor and the other commission members are meant to treat residents? Instead of being about what the resident (our employer) says or requires, the issue becomes about individual commissioner(s) and their political success or self-image.
The attack on Mrs. Wilson was, in my opinion, Elder Abuse. It was cowardly, childish, and unbecoming of a Mayor who simply cannot control her emotions, acting like an undisciplined 3-year-old child, not the responsible adult one would expect to find in her position of public trust and responsibility, with absolutely no regard to the leadership skills and common sense she was elected to bring to the commission. The Mayor’s demeanor was that she can’t handle the issue, so she’s going to angrily violate the rules and now we are all going home. Gee, that was helpful. At that point, the Mayor picked up her gavel and effectively said she doesn’t want to play anymore and she’s going home and taking her playmates with her…
In addition to her nefarious actions and Elder Abuse, there may have been possible Sunshine Law violations and Robert’s Rules violations regarding Recess, in my opinion. The Mayor’s angry outburst at Ms. Wilson was immature, stupid, and improper on a number of levels, including the fact that she tried to shut down the meeting in violation of the rules, and stormed out of the room. Her competence and fitness for office has been seriously in question in the past, like when she was caught drinking in a bar on the taxpayers' dime before commission meetings among other issues, and as far as I'm concerned it is in question again. Maybe a recall effort would help to bring our mayor’s head down from whatever cloud she inhabits! At least it wouldn’t be a frivolous attempt.
I did happen to speak to Ms. Wilson earlier today and offered my apologies on behalf of the commission. She told me that she spoke to the Boy Scouts after the meeting adjourned, who were in the audience and witnessed the Mayor’s childish outburst, and asked them; “If you lie to Mommy & Daddy, don’t you get into trouble?” they all looked at her and agreed and exclaimed; Yes!, We would have been in a lot more trouble than that!
I too have been the victim of a baseless smear campaign by Debby Eisinger and her cronies to publicly humiliate me and damage my reputation and it seems that it’s OK to do so on the dais. In fact, I was again attacked without any validity on May 11th at the commission meeting, in violation of the rules which the Mayor so strenuously ignored last Tuesday evening, when I simply conveyed the facts and data I obtained regarding red-light cameras. I submitted the data as backup material for the benefit of the commission, in opposition to this egregious money grab, rather than herald laws that were, at the time, unsigned by the Governor. My mistake; I promise to repeat it as many times as it takes to carry the message that red light cameras have little or nothing to do with traffic safety, and everything to do with padding the city budget.
I guess that the “Tasteless, Inappropriate, Malicious, Slanderous…” previous blog post about red-light cameras posted herein is mild compared to this one (See this link @ 2H:52M:20S Mayor-“I find the information posted on your blog quite tasteless, Inappropriate…” and @ 3H:17M:30S “ Slanderous, Malicious blog postings that are tasteless…”. You can hear my reply at 3H:21M:00S to :30S). You just can’t kick someone in the teeth and expect them to smile Mayor!
In this clip recorded on May11th, Commissioner De Jesus joins the fray and says “It makes good news, Enquirer type news because it’s not accurate…and I continue to try to send a message to the community, don’t believe the hype, don’t buy the twist, some people would be better DJ’s because they are spin masters than elected officials (Maybe he was talking about Mayor Eisinger?), Um, we’ve got to stop misleading the community…” As the Chair of the Broward County Ethics Commission, I wonder if the topic of misleading statements by a public official were addressed by the commission, and if not, why not? I wonder, as the Chair of the County Ethics Commission, how Commissioner De Jesus can condone this, much less his participation in unethical behavior at times, and condone the continued unethical behavior and ‘politricks’ by his beloved Mayor?
The Mayor misleading the public was exactly what happened, yet it was OK for her to mislead all of us, violate Roberts Rules and possibly our State’s Sunshine Laws; but again, I guess it’s allowed because she is the Mayor, and I guess Commissioner De Jesus condones her behavior regardless of it being disrespectful, rude and belligerent because he was the first to get up and walk out on all of us. Our city is our Mayor’s ivory tower (unless and until she builds a new city hall) and we are supposed to wait patiently for her next edict from above and worship every word. What hubris! There have even been residents who have not only been attacked by the Mayor and Commissioner De Jesus, but by the City Attorney as well, likely under their direction (You can see the Nov 3rd video-click on item 9 on the left window below the video).
When the Mayor recessed the meeting on her own, which is not allowed under Roberts Rules, the other Commissioners got up and walked off of the dais. At that point I said to Commissioner Curran “sit back down, listen to what she has to say and have some respect.” He walked out into the audience and sat down awaiting return of the Mayor. Many of you adore Commissioner Curran, and I do as well, but many of you have conveyed to me your frustration of him being lead around by a bully Mayor. All I can say is let’s keep praying for him.
Then we must address Commissioner Lisa Mallozzi who said during the recess; this is exactly how ‘it’s supposed to work’. Commissioner Mallozzi…that is exactly how it is supposed to work! It’s called ‘Political Dissent’ and is the most protected form of Free Speech that there is in America, and with that, you can’t hide behind the Boy Scouts. You were self-touted as the ‘champion’ of such free speech when Resolution 09-2-3 was enacted, but now you take a totally different view. I guess my question to ask is, ‘I wonder which way the wind was blowing last Tuesday evening.’
The commission majority then returned to the dais after a possible deliberation to vote to adjourn the meeting. After the vote and the meeting adjourned, I spoke to Commissioner De Jesus who said that we are ‘going backwards’. Maybe we are seemingly ‘going backwards’ at times Commissioner, but Mrs. Wilson still had the right to say what she wanted to say without interruption, since it was indeed factual, and not slanderous.
With all of that said, I agree that the Mayor's reaction toward 78 year old Mrs. Gladys Wilson was “absurd and unprofessional. Public comments are supposed to be an exercise in free speech, by the informed and uninformed, the polite and the rude, the calm and the hysterical, the thoughtful and the unbalanced. A mayor who believes she is immune from inaccurate insults is a fool, and one who believes she can stifle them is a tyrant. I agree, the boy scouts should be able to handle watching a control freak Mayor” as one person stated here. What else would you expect from a seasoned civic leader? Mrs. Gladys Wilson has given up a heck of alot for your rights and the betterment of our local government, and should be respected as all previous commissioners have been, without regard to her rights being violated or her opinion being discounted.
This entire issue may not be about the First Amendment…It may very well be about not listening to residents and affording them the right to their input. The Boy Scouts, invited to the commission meeting by the Mayor, saw exactly how it is supposed to work, up until the part where the Mayor started her unprofessional tirade. To cloak an obvious move to squelch speech the Mayor didn't like by invoking ‘the children’ was indeed pitiful.
Again, the government may not silence speakers on the basis of their viewpoint or the content of their speech regardless of what our city attorney says. It’s just that simple. Speakers can be silenced if they are disruptive, and disruption has been defined to include far more than noisiness and interference, yet disruption does not include disagreements on the subject matter. Sometimes government officials need to silence disruptive citizens or prohibit endless repetition. However, other times Cooper City Commissioner’s have squelched citizen speech because they want to suppress the message. I’ve been attacked many times by my colleagues, citizens and by the Mayor, and it happens to me at almost every commission meeting, but quite frankly, I wasn’t misleading or being deceitful toward anyone.
Unfortunately, many situations have arisen in which citizens have been silenced because of the content of their speech, or because they have disagreed previously with a city elected official. This raises the specter of censorship and is highly improper. The law is clear that government officials may not silence speech because it criticizes them. They may not open a “public comment” period up to other topics and then carefully pick and choose which topics they want to hear or what dissent they want to squelch, such as has happened recently by our Mayor and Commission.
Government may not even silence someone because they consider him or her a ‘gadfly’ or a ‘troublemaker’. Laws, rules or regulations that prohibit criticism or personal attacks against government officials have also been found to be illegal. A federal district court has recently struck down a commission rule that prohibited personal attacks during public comments at meetings, as reprehensible as that practice may be.
When a government decides to offer a “public comment” period at an open meeting, it provides that citizens may fully and freely exercise their First Amendment rights. When government creates a public comment forum, they have created a public forum in which greater free speech protections apply. Again, the government may not silence speakers on the basis of their viewpoint or the content of their speech, regardless. It’s just that simple.
It is equally clear that the commission’s concerns and interests in proscribing public commentary cannot outweigh the public fundamental right to engage in robust public discourse on any issue whatsoever. There previously has been a reckless disregard of the need for civil discourse in the city commission chambers that has consisted of untrue and defamatory statements about citizens, including myself, with knowledge that said statements were false, defamatory, slanderous or with a reckless disregard for whether it was false or not, on both sides of the dais. It was quite alright for the Mayor for that kind of nonsense to happen when it was directed at me, wasn’t it? Simply put, when you hear no political discourse, you know you are living in a dictatorship. That is exactly what is happening here in our ‘special’ city…All members of the commission should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves!
The Prime Minister of Israel put it this way, “The test of a Republic is freedom to criticize”. Voltaire said “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This city commission has recently made great strides in avoiding controversy at least to a certain point, and sometimes has done so to its severe detriment. This is no way to run a city.
The Commission, more particularly the Chair, must have the backbone, courage and moral character to take a stand and do what’s right for The People of Cooper City, not for their own political self interests, image and personal agendas.
It is an affront to any civilized society that any speech whatsoever should be denied. The First Amendment guarantees the right to freely speak, but does not guarantee the speaker a public, government hosted forum. On the other hand, criticism by the electorate is needed to insure that elected officials understand what the voters and taxpayers, our employers, approve or disapprove, particularly in these trying and difficult economic times. In essence, your Cooper City Government must live up to its sacred oath of office and uphold the values embodied in the First Amendment.
I will say this in closing…my First Amendment rights start right here on this blog. If the Mayor and the others on the commission think that it is “Tasteless, Inappropriate, Slanderous and Malicious”, so be it, then maybe they should go back and re-read, and subsequently re-commit to their Oath of Office, courage and fortitude notwithstanding.