+ U.S. Rep. John Mica not keeping word on rail
Flagler County’s representative, U.S. Rep. John Mica, has abandoned us.
Mica has apparently, maybe conveniently, forgotten that in November 2004, an amendment to repeal the 2000 amendment that mandated construction of the high-speed rail system was approved by the voters.
We thought the people of Flagler County and our state had spoken!
We thought the 10th Amendment to our U.S. Constitution was clear: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Our congressman seems intent upon forwarding the agenda of the House Transportation Committee and the Obama administration’s tax-and-spend-us-into-oblivion ideology through projects like the high-speed rail.
Our congressman needs to remember that he was not elected by anyone in the other 49 states. He should not abuse the power of his position as chair of the House Transportation Committee to move its agendas and/or his personal agendas forward. He should cease all efforts to circumvent our governor’s decision on behalf of Floridians to reject the high-speed rail.
We will not forget in 2012 that Mica’s actions do not reflect promises he made to us as a candidate in 2010 — to be fiscally responsible and to adhere to the U.S. Constitution.
+ Youth Reality Show a major production
Thank you for your recent coverage of the Youth Reality Show at the African American Cultural Society Center.
This annual event has become a major production during Black History Month and is embraced throughout Palm Coast and surrounding communities for its content and historical relevance.
Each year, new talent is showcased, and aspiring youth are encouraged to achieve and make their marks in our society.
The Palm Coast Observer is establishing itself as a fair and balanced media organ that is important to all of its readers. Keep up the good work.
+ Tourism, not construction, is sustainable for Palm Coast
I’d like to express amusement at the notion that building 300 or so homes a year should be a goal for the city to sustain the number of those who are in the construction industry.
No one likes to see folks unemployed, but let me point out a few things.
First, building homes should never be viewed as the primary industry of an area. It is a secondary one. Folks move to a place to work — or, as is often the case here, retire — and need a place to live. Hence, new homes. Florida, and especially Palm Coast, should have learned by now not to pin economic hopes on building homes (or for that matter soon-to-be vacant strip malls).
Palm Coast was meant to be a retirement/recreational community. It was also meant to be very in-tune with its natural beauty. These were primary concerns not only of ITT but also those — including the huge landowner, Lewis E. Wadsworth — who sold ITT their land.
The city’s best hope for the future is maintaining a nature-oriented schemata, which also conveys a very progressive image. Ecological tourism, unlike home construction, is a permanent, sustainable industry, and while Palm Coast has suffered a few setbacks of late (the hotel off the main northern Interstate-95 exit, and a lack of proper landscaping in front of a few new places) — it remains a place that has done many things right and should continue this way if it wants to maintain its distinction as a place of beauty, as opposed to just another exit off 95 with litter under neon lights.
Michael H. Brown
+ Economic development depends on voted debt
The first session of the Economic Summit produced a startling conclusion. Seems the participants were led by the facilitator to a discovery of the need to define their objectives.
There was one point made that is very important to the voters of Flagler County. It has to do with ethics.
Recently a senior member of the crowd pushing for publicly funded private economic development efforts stated directly and clearly that to entice a business to Flagler County it was necessary to make a cash payment to the company up front with no strings attached.
It was stated that to do this effectively they needed a steady stream of guaranteed income, that is akin to voted debt. My fellow citizens, you are hearing a call for a voted tax, a special tax, a budget item outside the procedures of the normal budget process.
Our business community leaders would use those funds in part for up-front, no-strings incentives. To most common folk, it is using our tax dollars to pay a bribe. Just another example of why funding for economic development needs to stay in the regular budget process and stand in line with all the other requirements for our tax dollars and receive its right and proper priority each year. No more special dedicated taxes!
It gives one a fine sense of pride to hear Jim Landon, the Palm Coast city manager, and Beau Falgout, senior planner, say that the city will provide incentives but requires performance objectives as part of any incentive package. Reportedly it was the company of note in the Koala project that demanded an up-front, no-strings payment.
Our city had the courage to reject paying a bribe. Apparently we did offer a cash payment tied to incentives that the company rejected. We should all be proud that our city has such strong ethics and the courage to stick by their principles.
Three cheers for the City of Palm Coast!
Editor’s Note: City Manager Jim Landon, who also received this letter, noted that policy on incentives is set by the City Council, and he was following its direction.
+ Budget trends disturbing in Palm Coast, School Board
The Feb. 17 issue had much food for thought. The City Council thinks it’s unfair to charge vacant-lot owners for stormwater drainage maintenance, because they receive “no benefit” from this service.
But what if there was no stormwater runoff system? How much would they have to pay to connect their land to such a system if it did not exist, and what would their lots be worth if the city let it go to ruin?
Instead, City Council members Frank Meeker, Mary DiStefano and Holsey Moorman want to give the owners of these lots a 95% discount on the fee, thereby encouraging the lots to stay undeveloped by making it economical to keep them empty awaiting better days.
Fair play, in their minds, demands that the $700,000 budget deficit from this be passed on to us, the people living and paying taxes in Palm Coast.
Apparently they feel we are a rich town, and recent news in the Palm Coast Observer seem to prove it: No matter what we say, they will build a new City Hall out there in Town Center, near to the mayor’s beloved Tennis Center, and will spend a few hundred thousand on out-of-town consultants to prove it’s worth it, even though the majority of us voted we don’t want it.
Last year it looked like we needed to increase millage just to keep the library running, and this year the library has enough money to be giving away scholarships and selling books they don’t want anymore for next to nothing (I wonder what the book store thinks about that kind of competition).
The mayor doesn’t like our cheery blue-and-white neighborhood signs and wants to replace them with somber black-and-white granite slabs looking like grave markers.
Our city manager is exited that maybe, just maybe — a “long shot,” he says — a “medium box” company paying minimum wages, might come to town.
Meanwhile, the School Board seems thrilled to have devised a plan to eliminate programs and close at least one school, weakening our already weak school system by that much and firing 26 teachers, who very likely might be thrown into foreclosure as a result (just as we were, when my wife, with a Ph.D. in education, couldn’t find a job for 12 months and now has to commute 200 miles just to keep working).
It’s easier to stop a runaway train than to stop a foreclosure, and I guess we’ll be forced to leave Palm Coast just like those 26 teachers and several thousand others. And in that same informative Palm Coast Observer issue, there was an ad that the city will give up to $30,000 in assistance to anyone buying a foreclosed home. Even a small part of that money would be enough to save most, if not all, of the 2,000 Palm Coast families facing foreclosure on their homes this very minute.
But the City Council’s sense of fair play applies to saving homes the same as saving the stormwater system: Let’s give people who don’t live here a break and turn our backs on the people who do by increasing their taxes, wasting their money or pushing them out and leaving their homes as empty as those vacant lots.
+ David Holmen on Neighborhood Stabilization
Editor’s Note: The following was written in response to two letters criticizing the Neighborhood Stablization Program.
Lynn Tobin and Kat Byckovski should check the facts.
1. You don’t have to be rich to move or live in St. Croix.
2. We are not strangers, but we did need some help.
3. Palm Coast is using federal money for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, not yours.
4. We can’t sell our home for the next 10 years, or we must repay the “loan” of $30,000.
5. We can’t own another home anywhere.
6. We had to meet all the requirements of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
7. Isn’t it hypocritical for you criticize me when you are living off a federal program, Social Security? That program will be gone before we are able to retire because you are getting more assistance than you put into it.
8. You messed up thinking you could live off Social Security.
9. You should do more and say less until you have checked all the facts.
10. If you don’t like where you live, move. We did.