Readers react to roundabouts and nine other topics
Whatever happened to community education classes?
I was told that registration for the fall session of adult and community education was starting. However, I couldn’t find the information in the Palm Coast Observer.
The hand quilting class, which has been given for over 20 years, exists solely because all of us email each other with the registration and class information. However, we get no new attendees (since no new people know about the class), so with attrition from people moving/dying, the class will soon fall below its required attendance figures and be eliminated.
The American Quilting Society show in Daytona in March had over 10,000 attendees (more than twice as much as the Shriners) and was the largest show in 2018 in the convention center. There is obviously a lot of interest in quilting in this area!
I’m sure there is also interest in the few other community education classes still offered. When we moved to Palm Coast 14 years ago, we receive a mailed newspaper of over 20 pages, giving a long list of all the classes. Dog Training. Mah Jongg. Yoga. Saltwater Fishing. Belly Dancing. Art. Music. Finances. Computer Instruction.
Soon there will be no classes at all. What a shame for all the seniors in this community.
Don’t punish people who need pain pills
Recent coverage of the opioid epidemic is very one-sided. Where are the articles, input and letters from those who suffer from chronic illnesses, cancer and other disabling diseases? You never see the "other" side being covered.
The opioid epidemic is not new; it has been around for as long as, well, opioids! However, the continued push by today's politicians to make opioid medication a political tool should be unacceptable.
More people die from alcohol and tobacco addiction and abuse than from opioids. Those who take pain medication as prescribed, never sharing, selling, or taking more than prescribed, are being punished because others abuse it. Those who do abuse opioids are often mixing it with street drugs and/or man made drugs. Most opioid deaths are from a combination of drugs and more often than not involve illegal street drugs.
Just like an alcoholic has a so called "addictive" gene that leads them to abuse alcohol while others can and do drink without becoming an alcoholic, some people are wired for addiction to such things as narcotic pain medications. Not everyone becomes addicted to opioid pain meds. Stop punishing everyone for the crimes of some.
Time to change our form of government
Not a week goes by without hearing about some excesses of power by the appointed managers in Flagler County and the city of Palm Coast.
The appointed manager form of government assumed a legislative body that would supervise their employee. In both Flagler County and Palm Coast, long-term managers have been in power for many years. In both cases, these managers have been unchecked and have had their way when it comes to governance. Both these managers have survived numerous elected officials and have skillfully orchestrated elected officials to support the manager’s agenda.
I think it is time to go to a new form of government. I think it is time replace the strong manager form of government with a strong elected county executive and strong mayor form of government.
A strong executive form of government is the form in larger counties and cities. This form of government gives the voters control over the executive and his or her actions.
The elected executive could be elected for a two-year term to give the citizens a tight rein over the executive.
This letter is not to give a complete program of how this strong executive would function but rather to start a discussion.
Don’t convict Dr. Fruehan in the press
I am extremely upset over the allegation made against Dr. Florence Fruehan.
I moved down here from New York and needed a doctor. Members of my family have been going to him for years, and he was highly recommended. I was very pleased with him as he listened and treated all my health issues. I have seen him in church and saw how many people stopped to talk to him.
Any woman who allows something like that to happen and not immediately say something — in shock? I don't think so. Most 54-year-olds would have yelled for him to stop. And told the office staff.
If she cried in her car, she would have not been so shocked that she didn't walk right back in and report it. I am a 55-year-old woman and would have punched him on the spot, not waited until the next day and called the police.
To plaster this in the news before he is convicted is a great disservice to him and the community. No one should have his reputation destroyed over an allegation.
Serious issue: Stop littering in Palm Coast
We have a serious issue in beautiful Palm Coast. My wife and I have been living here for the past 16 years. We recently downsized to a smaller house in the W-section. In the past few months, the amount of trash and litter in the streets around our house is incredible.
At least twice a week, I have been picking up beer and soda cans, fast food bags and cups, empty cigarette packs and butts, as well as assorted papers and trash. Please address this issue in the Palm Coast Observer, and explain that it is unsightly, decreases property values, and this is not what Palm Coast is all about. Maybe if you post “Do not litter in Palm Coast" in the Observer for several weeks, some people may get the message.
Why all the transfers out of the stormwater fund?
In the Aug. 16 edition, the Palm Coast Observer reported on the proposed rate increase in the city of Palm Coast stormwater fees.
Why does the city continue to transfer funds from this account into "other funds"? Since Fiscal Year 2015, the city, has transferred $699,146 to "other funds.”
The city’s website says the following: “The City of Palm Coast has established a stormwater utility, which is an enterprise fund. That means that monies generated by the stormwater fee are used solely for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the stormwater drainage system. All properties within the Stormwater Utility Service Area are assessed a fee that contributes to the annual budget needed to maintain the system.”
If these funds are solely for "the maintenance and rehabilitation of the stormwater drainage system,” why has almost $700,000 been transferred to "other” funds, and now they are studying a double rate increase?
Perhaps they should consider hiring department heads who can 1) propose a working budget, 2) utilize the fund budgeted to his/her department, or 3) hire a budget office for the city that can manage the current budget, as the stormwater budget is not the only budget to have funds transferred to this phantom "other funds.”
Editor’s Note: The following statement was provided by the city of Palm Coast to answer your question: “There are two reasons why we transfer money out of the stormwater fund. First, all city enterprise funds contribute to the overhead of our overall central operations such as IT, payroll, purchasing services, contract review, etc. Second, we use some stormwater funds to purchase equipment through the city fleet fund, but those purchases are strictly for trucks and other equipment used to maintain the stormwater system. So those are the transfers you saw in the budget. The transferred money is still spent on stormwater-related expenses.
“We should also point out that the city also supports the stormwater fund with more than $500,000 in ad valorem property tax revenue annually – far more than what we transfer out of the fund. This is property tax revenue that we use to supplement the stormwater fund. We do this for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is that effective stormwater management is a communitywide benefit, so it’s appropriate to dedicate a certain amount of tax revenue to support that function.”
Island Walk parking is not good
Only two questions: 1) Who was the moron who designed the parking at Island Walk?
2) Who was the bigger moron who approved it? What a disaster!
Too hard on business? Not hard enough
In discussing Town Center and what to do with it (now that a slew of trees have been deracinated), there was the familiar refrain, in a recent article, that businesses find the city of Palm Coast "hard" to deal with.
What? By that, do they actually mean the city hasn't allowed businesses to come in and destroy the natural beauty of the place — which attracted most of us here to begin with?
If so, yes, the city has halted outright stripping of critical green barriers and has done well preserving Palm Coast aesthetics in the face of an onslaught of businesses. But it has certainly not been too hard on prospective business. In fact, if anything, the city tends of late to be a bit too accommodating (just look around at all the empty storefronts, and some of the flaring, blaring signs near I-95, where once was beauty).
And look at how we are waving welcome signs to new developments — at the same time that we are restricted in water use, due to too many using it!
Certainly, businesses are not discouraged — unless they want to despoil a stretch of road to save a few dollars on landscaping. If the city gives in, Palm Coast will lose its signature quality: beauty amid the bustle. And it will never get that back.
Michael H. Brown
Gearing up to celebrate women’s suffrage anniversary
As we approach Aug. 18, 2020, the centennial of the ratification by 36 states of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which enabled women to vote, let us remember and thank the many men and women in our country who worked so hard for passage of this long-overdue right.
The celebrations will pay tribute to the dedicated women who labored against unbelievable odds over many decades to win their own civil rights. Local women who worked ceaselessly for passage were educator May McLeod Bethune and May Mann Jennings of the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs. Florida did not ratify the amendment until May 1969 unfortunately.
The official celebration date of ratification is Aug. 26, 2020, Women’s Equality Day, when many national and local organizations will present interesting programs. There is a move on foot to make that day a national holiday honoring this great achievement.
Now is the time to learn more about this amazing effort by so many to improve lifestyle and opportunities for millions of women and their families.
Mary Ann Clark
Public Policy Chairman, Flagler County Branch AAUW
Will the roundabout madness ever end?
Now the Florida Department of Transportation wants to impose yet another unnecessary and wasteful roundabout in Flagler County. Supposedly the reason is that roundabouts reduce high speed accidents. Well, yeah, if you slow traffic to a max of 30 mph, there would seemingly be no high speed accidents.
But what does this do to traffic flow, while it wastes time, gas and increases air pollution? You could get the same effect with enforcing 25 mph limits on all roads or installing stop signs every quarter mile, but does anyone want to do this? You have to wonder if FDOT is familiar with the law of diminishing returns?
Ironically the Flagler County Commission just submitted its wish list for FDOT to fund. The gist is that they know the chances of many of these projects being funded is low due to lack of money. At no time has the County Commission ever asked for roundabouts in our county. Meanwhile, FDOT, seemingly immune to the wishes of the people and the need to spend wisely to get the most bang for our transportation bucks, is wanting to spend millions on roundabouts nobody wants.
I recall no great safety issues being raised at U.S. 1 and Matanzas Woods Parkway or State Road 11 and County Road 304, so in those cases we are spending millions to resolve a problem that does not exist.
In the case of Old Dixie Highway and U.S. 1, there are safety concerns, but they could be resolved much more cheaply by either eliminating left turns (and using U-turn areas already on U.S. 1) or a traffic signal.
The questions is: Where are our elected representatives to put a stop to these wasteful boondoggles by FDOT? How about it Gov. Rick Scott, along with honorable local legislators Paul Renner and Travis Hutson? And let’s not forget the County Commission, which has yet to take a strong stand against these projects, especially Greg Hansen.
If someone doesn’t step up soon, FDOT will be pouring concrete and wasting transportation dollars we need for real problems. I hope my fellow Flagler citizens will let these representatives know how they feel and soon.
National Motorists Association Activist for Florida