+ Will City Hall be mayor’s ‘Katrina’?
My wife and I attended City Manager Jim Landon’s City Hall sales pitch — excuse me: town hall — meeting the Nov. 15, at Buddy Taylor Middle School. Like others, we came away almost convinced that now was the time to build— until we had time to do our own due diligence.
Mr. Landon did a very good job explaining the issues, but his slide presentation cannot gloss over the fact that (creatively) financing a new City Hall with monies borrowed from funds established for other reasons is just plain wrong.
Further, using such a scheme conveniently bypasses the vote of the citizens. For this reason, we are opposed to building a new City Hall at this time.
What is the point of establishing dedicated funds within the city’s financial structure if the monies can be moved between them like a shell game by vote of the Gang of 5?
Fifty-eight percent of the funding scheme — $5.8 million — comes from the State Road 100 Community Redevelopment Area fund, which itself must repay the general fund with tax incremental financing dollars. That’s like taking a mortgage for a home from your spouse (using dollars you assume you’ll later earn by working) and then saying that you aren’t going to repay just now because you want to use the mortgage payback money to buy a new car (which you really can’t otherwise afford).
In 2005, the City Council insulted the citizens of Palm Coast when they asked for a vote on a $22 million bond issue to build a gigantic, glass “Taj Mahal” with a 2,200-square-foot office for Dick Kelton. Eighty-two percent of the voters said, “No!”
Now, they want us to believe we can afford a new City Hall. I think not. Didn’t the City Council “get” the mood of the country in the most recent election?
Just who is behind this renewed push to build a City Hall in Town Center? One, the developer has a vested interest in bragging rights — no doubt. That’s why he volunteered an artist’s rendering of the new City Hall that City Manager Jim Landon is brandishing in his meetings.
This taxpayer feels that the developer of Town Center ought to kick in, say, 20% of the funding — that would help sway some voters. I realize that land has been donated, but that isn’t enough. Get some money, too.
During the Nov. 15 meeting with Mr. Landon, I told him that if they proceed without taxpayers’ voted approval, “Heads will roll if a new City Hall costs one penny over $10 million or if taxes are raised subsequently because the creative financing didn’t work out.”
Get some money from the developer! Because of the 2005 fiasco, a new City Hall is a highly emotional issue to local voters. Let the will of the people determine the course of future actions on this subject. It may be lawful to act without voters’ input, but it ain’t smart. Do the right thing, council.
The previous mayor’s “Katrina” was the first City Hall vote. Will the current mayor’s Katrina be a new City Hall?
+ ‘Mockingbird’ still not in flight
Your headline of Nov. 18 read, “Feathers ruffled, but ‘Mockingbird’ OK.” In my opinion, I don’t agree that the “Mockingbird” remains in flight. As for the School Board, perhaps you are unaware this is not a musical. So why do the dance?
+ Feedback on ‘The Real Rick Scott’
I read the news article entitled “The Real Rick Scott,” with some incredulity. Is this four-page tour de force news, or opinion, or apology, or endorsement or a combination? Shouldn’t it have appeared on the opinion page or been printed as an editorial? The Palm Coast Observer is a welcome and valuable resource for this town. The editors are urged to separate the news from opinion and editorials.
+ Record suggests Rick Scott is unethical
I was intrigued by your pre-election four-page article in support of Rick Scott. I recognize you group editor Matt Walsh is a strong supporter of Mr. Scott and has covered him previously in his career with Forbes magazine (which incidentally supported Bill McCollum in the primary versus Mr. Scott).
I have a slightly different perspective. In a long career with ITT Corporation, I spent some years as head of internal audit and also as troubleshooter for parts of the business that got in trouble (it happens in most big companies sooner or later).
I’d summarize that experience into four principles:
1. Most people in business are honest, ethical people.
2. Unethical people exist, know how to manipulate the unassuming majority and either lead them or scare them down the wrong path.
3. Good business leaders put procedures in place so that the ethical people are not intimidated by the bad guys.
4 Occasionally, the bad guys get to be the business leaders, and then the company has a major mess because the checks and balances break down until an outsider or a brave whistleblower spills the beans.
Your article makes the case that Rick Scott should be considered in my third category: a good ethical business leader. Unfortunately, the record suggests he is in the fourth.
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