Well, well, well.. guess what issue has reared it’s ugly head one more time? The John Land Apopka Community Trust Fund. I’ve been asking questions for almost a year about this fund, and also asking WHY we can’t get the simplest of answers. As of tonight’s writing, here is what we know. The name of the Apopka Trust Fund was amended to read John Land Apopka Community Trust Fund via paperwork filed with the State of Florida on May 26, 2015, a full year after the vote came from the Apopka City commission to establish this fund and make a substantial deposit with taxpayer money.
The president of this not for profit fund is Richard Anderson (former CAO of Apopka and now a well compensated lobbyiest/consultant for our City.) The Vice president is John Ricketson, publisher/owner of The Apopka Chief. Secretary is David Rankin who is employed with Iberian Bank (where the money apparently resides); Treasure is Clifton Addison. Directors are listed as: Elise Gruber, Doug Bankson, Mary Kruger, Edward Bass (who is also listed as Current Registered Agent) and Bill Mcleod (whose law firm filed the original legal paperwork). The current mailing address is 1420 W. Orange Blossom Trail, Apopka, FL 32712, which is the Iberian Bank and the address listed for all the officers and directors. This is what we know.
NOW, on to what we don’t know and cannot seem to get answers for no matter how hard we try. How much of the original $200,000.00 of TAXPAYER-Funded money that was used as seed money to get this fund going is actually left? Who appointed the original trustees and board members? Has a meeting of this Board taken place yet? Are minutes of these meetings or the meetings themselves open to the taxpaying public? What are the guidelines or procedures for dispersing money? And I understand this trust fund was converted from a PUBLIC to a PRIVATE trust fund? Why was that? Was it to avoid having to answers questions beyond who and where? What is being hidden from the public? Earlier today, during a Facebook post announcement of a retirement party for Apopka Chief Manley, it was suggested that tax deductable contributions could be made to the John Land Apopka Community Trust Fund. Please note Chief Manley was NOT involved in this request.
Citizens were fired up, rightly asking why should we contribute to a fund we know nothing about? Until the Board members involved in this fund start answering questions about what happened to the $200,000.00 of taxpayer money taken from the General Fund, they cannot seriously expect people to contribute another DIME to this Trust fund. There have been calls for this Trust Fund to return the tax-payer portion of the money back to the City, giving the Board time to prepare guidelines and procedure for distribution of the monies, establishing the purpose of the fund, and plans for transparency. This action seems to be the prudent thing to do and would also serve to restore some modicum of trust and encourage people to make contributions to this fund without reservation or question where or who are the true beneficiaries of this trust fund money.