Tuesday, September 10, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Sunday, August 18, 2013

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What does the Proposed Budget do?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 11, 2013

BSO on the case in Cooper City!


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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wanted: Dissent in Cooper City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cooper City Redistricting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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