Apopka Commissioner Scolds citizens during Commission Meeting

It happened right during the most recent Apopka City Commission Meeting. During the public comment section, things got a little heated when the topic turned to the Apopka Historical Museum. People more familiar with that whole business can comment on the exact issues involved; it was right at the end of that discussion that Commission Diane Velazquez chose to make herself heard. Getting on her soapbox, she began with how she felt “singled out” during meetings, and after a short statement about how her husband got involved with the Museum, lambasted the public, HER constituents, with a “I am Commissioner Velazquez, hear me roar” scolding. WOW! Where did that come from?

She went on to say how many people who spoke gave her the passive-aggressive treatment. I do not even know what to make of that psyco-babble statement. She stated, “I can think of so many occasions of how many times I have been berated up here, insulted”. Problem is Commissioner Velazquez, I and many others cannot think of a single instance where you personally have been berated or insulted at City Commission meetings. During the Public Comment Section of the meeting, ordinary citizens, people who voted for YOU, speak their minds to the ENTIRE Commission. If there are instances where people have been rude or insolent, they have been called out and asked to refrain from insults. Is your skin that thin, or is your ego that large?

Velazquez went on to toot her horn with accomplishments and involvements with the Community. There is NO DOUBT that the good Commissioner is very active and involved with our Community, her involvement is part of the reason she was elected. Possibly, the recognition she receives in almost weekly stories in the media and the photos are not enough for Velazquez, she wants more. Again, how much more credit for doing your job does your ego need?

Commissioner Velazquez also addressed criticisms that call her “she” or “her” or “his girl”, “I am no one’s girl up here. I am COMMISSIONER Diane Velazquez; I am a City Commissioner for the City of Apopka..” Perhaps the criticism that she is “someone’s girl” is a bit sexist, although does have a ring of truth to it. Check out Velazquez’s voting record.. She votes with the Mayor a good 90% or more of the time; they serve on several boards, including LANGD’s, together; they even shared the same campaign manager and consultant, and campaign ideas, when both were running for election almost 4 years ago.

Finally,  at the end of her tirade, Commissioner Velazquez demanded respect from citizens, “I am a City Commissioner for the City of Apopka. I just ask each of you to respect me as I respect you”. Really, Commissioner, you respect us? Like when during the Public Comments section of the meetings, most commissioners, including you, are shuffling through papers or checking your phones, hardly paying attention at all to what WE the citizens are saying? Do you mean THAT kind of respect? At least you do not have that classic, combination  sigh/eye roll movement down yet. Respect is something that is EARNED, not demanded simply because one is an elected official. I will ALWAYS respect the office, the office holders earn my respect with their conduct and demeanor.

Perhaps Commissioner Velazquez is feeling a bit smug and superior because as of now, it appears she will be running unopposed for that cushy green chair. Perhaps a good scolding was just what COMMISSIONER Velazquez felt her subjects needed, a reminder that SHE IS COMMISSIONER VELAZQUEZ and we best not forgot that. I am wondering if we should address her as “Her Royal Highness”. What I DO know is that Commissioner Velazquez has a very healthy, even over-inflated sense of ego and self. What I would like to say to the good Commissioner, with all the issues our City faces and with almost constant calls for all to work together for the betterment of our City, is this: If any criticisms directed towards you are too much for you, perhaps reconsider your decision to run for a second term. Otherwise, Get over yourself, Commissioner, knock that chip off your shoulder and earn that respect you so ardently demand. Realize this: It is NOT ALWAYS about you!

 

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Apopka Commissioner Scolds citizens during Commission Meeting

Mayor Joe’s Greatest Hits

Many of us have been preoccupied with getting our homes, yards, lives and finances in shape after a visit from a most unwanted guest, Hurricane Irma. Aside from missteps and mishandling of hurricane debris cleanup, with one contractor taking off  the morning the job was to get started, what else has Mayor Joe of Apopka been up to? Well, a quick listing below with follow-up on many of his activities to come in later posts.

Mishandling of and an inability  to secure a bid on a splash pad for our City and not following best procurement practices for such an expenditure;

The various, ongoing and costly problems with the city water treatment facility and also Anuvia;

Several money losing events run by the city of Apopka, including the Annual Old Florida Festival. Taxpayer losses from this event in the thousands of dollars are just shrugged off by the City. And the Orchestra in the Park event, not sure how much this one lost, but I am sure losses were substantial.

Thousands of dollars of RESERVE money going to fund pet projects run by Friends of the Mayor: “Apopka begins and ends with an A” anyone?

Just recently, Mayor Joe played Santa Clause to city employees by doling out thousands of taxpayer dollars in cash bonuses to them for doing such remarkable work during the Hurricane. In the real world, it’s called doing your job.

The costly mishandling from the very beginning of the lawsuit the City filed against everyone’s favorite public trough feeder, Richard Anderson (again, this topic deserves its own blog post, and it will get it). Safe to say, Apopka loses will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars on this fiasco. What kind of person negotiates a settlement, then votes against it?

One program that is very curious that must and will get more attention, but deserves mention here is that of the new scoreboards at the Northwest Orange Recreation Dept. The item was part of the Consent agenda for the City Commission meeting of March 1, 2017. Even though it was pulled for separate discussion, the end result was that the three musketeers, Mayor Joe, along with the always reliable commissioners Velazquez and Becker voted to spend a total of over $61,000.00 of Apopka taxpayer money as deposit and to install electricity for each scoreboard location. A company called Major Display Scoreboards out of North Carolina was the lucky lottery winner that day after a short presentation of this Scoreboard program by someone named Shorty Robbins. Question: WHERE are those amazing scoreboards, and what exactly does Apopka have to show for expenditure of taxpayer money, gotten from reserves.

As our budget and taxes continue to climb, Mayor Joe views Apopka’s hard earned and well-saved up reserves as his personal piggy bank to be raided anytime he wants to do something that is not part of the bloated budget. He recently told Commissioner Bankson at one of this year’s budget meetings, after the good Commissioner dared speak up in favor of a more robust reserve fund, that the City does not “have the luxury of larger reserves”. Yet, he spends money on fancy sounding do-gooder programs run by friends that produce NO measurable goals or successes. Mr. Mayor, being a wise and frugal steward of the taxpayer money is NOT a luxury, it is YOUR duty and your RESPONSIBILITY to the taxpayers of Apopka! CUT spending and increase the reserves; it really is that simple.

There will be much more analysis in the coming months of these and other missteps our Mayor is sure to make. The blog practically writes itself..

Mayor Joe’s Greatest Hits

Redefining Nationalist and Supremacist

Nationalist and Supremacist – two words that have been tossed around interchangeably by the media and the Left in the last twenty four hours. What do they mean? According to Webster’s New World Dictionary:  Nationalism (n) – devotion to one’s nation; patriotism. Supremacist (n) – One who believes in the supremacy of a particular group. The words do not mean the same thing. Despite what the Left screams at us, there is nothing wrong with being a Nationalist.. it means you proud of your country, that you are a patriot. Supremacist is one with feelings of superiority over groups or people and this word has a negative connotation. But when you put the word “white” in front of Nationalist, as the LEFT has done this weekend, suddenly, patriotism has been redefined to mean racist, hate-fill bigot, and worse. It means the same as being a white supremacist. And thus, the propagandist media hijacked the narratives of these ugly riots in the first moments.  Suddenly nationalists (patriots) were lumped in with the same hate-filled groups like the KKK, neo-nazis and the like. Cries to condemn the actions of these hate-filled white nationalists or white supremacists, used interchangeably, filled the airwaves. Politicians and media alike rushed towards TV cameras and microphones, tripping over each other in their rush to condemn the white nationalists, and assume some kind of moral high ground. Just be sure that high ground is not built on quicksand.

Some very true statements were made and of that there is no debate. “Racism, bigotry and hatred have no place in our Country”. “We must Unite”. All of these statements were directed at white supremacists, white nationalists only. President Trump has been vilified by the leftist media, leftist politicians and even appeasing members of the Republican Party. All have said President Trump’s statement was not forceful enough or that the statement was too general because he did not condemn the actions of only white Nationalists; they also loudly questioned the delay in making his statement.

The truth is, if blame is to placed at the feet of white supremacists, then blame must also be assigned to other people who engaged in violence, those members of ANTIFA and BLM, among others. Unfortunately this episode will not go away soon, and Nationalists, patriots, will continue to be widely and loudly condemned. And let’s not forget why this all started. The LEFT, in their Orwellian haste to erase anything THEY  deem politically incorrect or abhorrent, took down yet another monument of our Nation’s history. Taking down a monument does not mean that part of history gets automatically erased. I am by no means justifying the ugliness that happened yesterday at the University of Virginia, but let’s at least acknowledge the role this type of history re-writing can and in this case, ultimately did play.

Perhaps instead of getting caught up in the twisted semantics of Nationalist or Supremacist, we should, as one commentator said this morning, see ourselves as AMERICANS, without the hyphens, racial, religious or class categories. All sides of this ugly incident, whether participant, commentator, politician or ordinary citizens just trying to make sense of this all must recognize: AMERICA FIRST! Hatred, racism and bigotry have NO PLACE in our America. We must unite. There are forces out there far uglier that are trying to destroy America and if we do not unite as Americans to fight these forces, then we are DONE as a country.

Redefining Nationalist and Supremacist

City of Apopka once again gets screwed over by Former CAO Anderson

Anyone who knows anything about Richard Anderson, Former CAO for the City of Apopka knows several things about him. He is adept at finding ways to take millions in Apopka taxpayer money. He has the morals of an alley cat (no insult to alley cats intended). He left the scene of a late night accident that HE caused, not even bothering to check on the other driver, even though he was a former EMT, and FIRE CHIEF for the City of Apopka and had an obligation to render aid;  nor did he even place a 911 call to report the accident, or summon for help. Even though the City of Apopka was paying him $11,000/month to be a lobbyist for the City, he failed to report that he never REGISTERED as a lobbyist; he just took his $11k/month. It is this last statement that formed part of the basis the City of Apopka used to file a lawsuit against Richard Anderson, in June 2016 for breach of contract to the City, along with the facts of the accident, and to terminate his consultant/lobbying contract with the City.

Now comes word of a potential settlement agreement whereby the City of Apopka will pay Richard Anderson $60,000.00  presumably to get Anderson out of the City’s hair once and for all. According the Mutual Release, this $60,000.00 would take care of ALL claims, counter-claims and liabilities for all time.  The City Council will vote on this settlement this coming Wednesday June 19, at their evening Council meeting. Now, I’m no attorney and do not pretend to understand the underlying legal issues involved, all I have is a reading of the settlement agreement and the past relationship between City Apopka and Richard Anderson.

The fact that Anderson was not actually registered as a lobbyist for the City was first reported almost 4 months earlier than the filing of the original suit, in February 2016. At that time, while reporting this, I made note of Mayor Kilsheimer’s appalling lack of concern for Anderson’s dishonesty, nor of the complete waste of at least $11,000/month of Apopka Taxpayer money; Mayor K stating in an interview, “Richards’s status and business practices as a lobbyist are his business… I never felt like I had to get into how Richard conducts his own business”.

At that time, I also called for IMMEDIATE termination of Anderson’s contract and the return of $165,000.00 by Richard Anderson based on the false premise the money was paid to Richard Anderson. The City did NOTHING, then 2 months later, came Anderson’s accident and its fallout; even THEN the City did nothing until 2 months later, in June, finally terminating Anderson’s contract and filing suit. The weasel then had the nerve to file a counter-claim against a City which had already paid him close to $1,000,000.00 since September 2014.

So after a year of legal wrangling and mounting legal bills, somehow, Anderson once again has the City by the throat and the City, which filed the original suit, is the one having to payout a potential settlement to a criminal on felony probation. What kind of settlement is this? WHY wasn’t a demand made that  Anderson pay-up a settlement to the City? WHY wasn’t there anyone in the settlement room defending the City of Apopka against the corruption of a swamp dweller?

The bottom line: If the City had dealt with Anderson’s dishonesty in February 2016, when it was first reported, we would NOT be facing this rotten deal now. And APOPKA might have gotten our money back instead of having to swallow hard, yet again, and pay out another $60,000.00 to a despicable worm. This settlement will prove two things: One, Apopka’s Mayor does not have the best interests of the City in mind. And Two: Crime and corruption DOES pay, and apparently keeps on paying! I expect the City Council will vote for the Settlement to make this matter and other things we do not know about go away, and maybe it’s easier that way. But Apopka voters, DO NOT forget your Mayor is up for re-election next spring. Do NOT forget how much his ineptitude has already cost our City, nor how much it will continue to cost us.

 

City of Apopka once again gets screwed over by Former CAO Anderson

Red Light Cameras in Apopka Will Modify Peoples’ Behavior

This past Wednesday 6/21, the City of Apopka voted 3-2, to renew a Red Light Camera contract with American Traffic Solutions, for the Intersection Safety Program. During the Public Comment portion of the meeting, preceeding the official presentation and vote, about a dozen people spoke against renewal of the contract, and against the Red Light cameras themselves. Although several of the commentators were straight forward, several took advantage of the TV camera and reporter presence to make their comments with a more dramatic and theatrical flair. Several expounded on the tyranny of red light cameras, and questioned the constitutionality of the cameras. One speaker even threatened to sue each of the commissioners who would are vote in favor of the cameras, for dereliction of duty by not upholding their oaths of office.

After all the comments, the time came for the actual presentation of the Intersection Safety Program. After a nearly 20 minute presentation by Police Captain Fernandez stated over and over that he was not “selling” the program; in fact, that is EXACTLY what he was doing; and touting the program’s ability to “modify peoples’ behavior”.

Let me repeat that and then let it sink in for a second. After all the dog and pony, and all the drama and theatrics, after all the data and statistics that were sited, and the videos shown, the bottom line is the government run Red Light Camera Program is about “modifying peoples’ behavior”. A chill ran up my spine as the Captain seemed to make this the centerpiece of his presentation.  DO NOT get me wrong: Red light camera runners DESERVE any punishment the law sets for them. My daughter and I were involved in a bad car accident in 1999; a guy going around 50 mph, ran a red light and plowed into my vehicle. My daughter just recently underwent her 4th knee surgery as a result of that accident and I have still have neck and back problems. But here’s the thing, I do not believe for ONE second that a red light camera would have modified that guy’s behavior.  And they probably won’t modify the behavior of people who think they can beat the camera, or beat the ticket in court. But none of that matters to a government in search of ways to modify their citizens’  behavior.

The presentation given by Capt Fernandez the other evening, about red light cameras improving safety and saving lives, was all smoke and mirrors to cover their real purpose: modifying people’s behavior! The red light cameras are not about safety, they are not about the paltry revenue streams. Like Agenda 21 and even CRA’s, which were also on the meeting agenda; the purpose of government programs like red light cameras is to get people to behave in a certain manner, to modify their behavior in such a way that is pleasing to government. Because after all, Big Brother IS watching you.

 

Red Light Cameras in Apopka Will Modify Peoples’ Behavior

Practical Solutions for the Apopka Task Force on Violence

On June 2, 2017, the three principles of the Apopka Task Force on Violence  will present their report at a National Conference on violence in the black community. The report, presented originally in December, 2016, found that it will take almost $2 million of taxpayer money funneled through a still unnamed high quality and reputable not for profit, for a 5 pronged attack on violence.

Throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars and reinventing the wheel with a myriad of new and unproven government programs is not the answer because there are many programs already in place run by local churches and businesses that stand ready and willing to help.

One supposition of the Report is that CRA housing  is one answer. Why push a government program that one of the principles of the Violence Report appears to have a huge stake in, whether financial or political? While decent housing is certainly a weapon in the war on crime, why not work with Habitat for Humanity which is already building 58 affordable homes in the South Apopka community? Push to work with them on more affordable housing communities and other projects.

What about jobs? In this City, when presented with companies offering real jobs and opportunities wanting to come to our area, all we hear from community leaders are howls of protest about “dirty Jobs”.  Those “dirty Jobs” people turn their noses up at are good paying, high quality, high tech manufacturing jobs with excellent futures. Most WILL provide training to those who are willing to put in the time to train and learn. These holier-than-thou self appointed leaders of “South Apopka” should do a little more practical research into private organizations and businesses who already have proven jobs training programs. Check out:

Machining Training Solutions in Longwood, a leader in skills training with an innovative program called “80 to Work”. After two weeks of intensive training, a person with little or no skills is ready to work and become a  productive, contributing employee to a manufacturer almost immediately. Other training programs are also available, and MANY are paid for by potential employers. These programs offers job and life skills that will transfer from job to job. Many machine shops and fabricators in our area are desperate for workers and many are willing to TRAIN people willing to work. THESE are the type of jobs that will present REAL pay, real benefits and REAL futures. Also, check out all the educational and employment resources the Manufacturer’s Association of Central Florida  have to offer to those willing to put a little effort into their lives.

Work with some of our top employers right here in Apopka, like Qurvo, Collins Manufacturing ; Mullinax Ford, as well as exploring the many opportunities  opening up in Apopka with the New Wekiva Plaza, the Kelly Park Crossings, and other fine opportunities. Nothing is quick or easy; people will need to work hard and be patient! People must be willing to learn and show respect to employers and teachers. Many hospitals, including Florida Hospital offer training opportunities leading to fulfilling careers. Work with the UCF Incubator or even the Chamber of Commerce to seek out opportunities instead of creating new, expensive and unproven government programs .

Education and jobs go hand in hand; As for Education opportunities, don’t wait for them, go out and get them. Work with the School Board and school parent organizations. Reach out to these local churches and organizations and see what they are willing to do, or already doing, without having a carrot of taxpayer money dangled in front of them. Stop the duplicate efforts of programs already in place, tripping over each other in the process.  Stop making excuses, “I can’t”;  “I’m poor”; “people are racist”; “no one will give me a chance”. THESE are the type of excuses that stop a productive life in its tracks. Check out Junior Achievement, which according to its website “fosters work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, and uses experiential learning to inspire students to dream big and reach their potential”. They also provide the training, materials, and support necessary to bolster the chances for student success. Business people and other volunteers share their workforce experience with students, all while teaching sound economic principles and reinforcing class curricula.

All of these programs and more are available for a fraction of the $2 million price tag being proposed in the Task Force Report. If you really want to help these kids, stop throwing out generic and non-specific feel-good programs. Stop holding conferences and forums where self-important theories are discussed, but nothing ever gets done.  Instead look into real world solutions for these problems; solutions that are already in place and stand ready to serve, if asked.

Practical Solutions for the Apopka Task Force on Violence

The Truth about AHCA. READ this if you dare!

The rotten-to-the core propagandist liberal media once again refuses to do their jobs and report the facts. Instead of reporting what exactly is in the newest healthcare plan bill approved Friday by Congress, they report ONLY on the flat out lies, side-show protests, mob mentality at Congressmen’s town halls and the mass hysteria created by the lying left, and gloat about how Republicans will lose the House in 2018.

The biggest lie of all is that people with pre-existing conditions will lose their coverage and be left to die!! Even just typing these words, I realize just how ridiculous that sounds, don’t you? American Congressmen (specifically Republicans) will just let their constituents and fellow Americans to die?? Liberals and their lying cohorts in the media who have not even read the bill are engaging in scare tactics, fear mongering and moral bullying simply because they know that Obamacare, the plan they forced down America’s throats in 2010, is collapsing under its own weight, with more and more large insurers pulling out of the exchanges every day. All that is left in some states is ONE insurer; that’s not choice, that’s monopoly! The young, healthy person on whom hinged all of Obamacare’s shared pain and sacrifice did NOT buy health insurance like they wee supposed to, electing instead to pay the penalty imposed by the IRS for NOT having coverage.

Let’s be clear, the Republican plan passed Friday DOES allow for continued coverage of Pre-existing conditions.  Insurers are required to sell plans to everyone, including those with pre-existing conditions. This is known as “guaranteed issue,” and it’s mandated in the AHCA. Planned Parenthood dollars currently used to fund abortions, would be diverted instead to actual women’s healthcare and services.  NO ONE is going to die under this plan; granny will not be pushed over a cliff. What the bill does allow for is more input from each STATE about how best to handle coverage for their residents, through planned legislative and administrative actions, such as waivers from certain aspects of AHCA which can help bring down costs and actually expand care.  The left’s hysteric claims that millions will lose their coverage stems from the fact that, unlike Draconian Obamacare, people will no longer be FORCED to buy healthcare. They won’t LOSE it, they simply can now refuse to buy coverage. One GREAT aspect of AHCA is the reinstatement of health savings accounts, which will result in people having more control over their healthcare decisions. Subsidies for many will be continued under this plan.

The AHCA is infinitely better than ObamaCare could ever hope to be. Since the lying slugs in the propagandist, leftist media refuse to tell you the truth, perhaps this very general outline would help. And, keep in mind, The AHCA passed by the House is NOT the final product!! It must go to the Senate for discussion, amendments and rewrites. What will come from the legislative process is anyone’s guess. Truthfully, there is NOTHING in the Constitution that states government must provide healthcare or insurance to anyone. This is another entitlement program designed by socialist liberals who believe only in government and collectivism and not the individual or free markets.

Liberal politicians and the leftist media must stop being driven by blind hatred for Trump and America and start reporting the TRUTH and let Americans decide for themselves about AHCA and other issues. Pontificating, fear mongering  hand-wringing, emotional blackmail must be recognized as the deceitful, dishonest leftist tactics they really are. They have NO place in an honest and open debate and discussion about any of the issues America faces, including healthcare and health insurance.

 

The Truth about AHCA. READ this if you dare!