Heavy Handed Visioning has a HIGH Pricetag

After having read and reviewed the Proposed Grow Apopka 2025 Vision Plan, I thought I heard Shoeless Joe Jackson whispering to me, “if the City Builds it, people will come”.  The City of Apopka is completing the initial phase of its Visioning process which City Commissioners will review for final resolution and approval very soon.  The plan being put forth is very ambitious and costly. A VERY modest estimate puts this plan at just around $60,000,000.00 to fully implement, including basic infrastructure changes that will be required first, before any dreams can become reality. That is NOT counting the $2,000,000 for the 5th Fire Station being planned and which is needed in our City. It also does not include the $10,000,000.00 plan for an Aquatic Center (that’s right… 10 million dollars). And it also does not include new salaries and maintenance costs that will surely follow, nor does it factor in the money for the planned City Center.  After recovering from initial sticker shock that came from reading this plan several times and then adding it all up, and with grand ideas and terms floating around, I just knew I’d seen these ideas somewhere. Where? Well, a reading of the UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development Terms reveals many of these same ideas and plans.

Agenda 21 is a United Nations Program that had its start in 1976, and was approved by the United States via Executive order in 1993. Part of the premise of Agenda 21 states the only way to protect the earth for future generations is to expand government control over private property and manage man’s interactions with the environment (taken from the Sustainability Freedom Lab). Many visioning programs, including Apopka’s, include terms like sustainable development, complete streets, healthy cities, walkable areas. Many of these generic and harmless sounding terms could actually mean anything, but mostly could result in infringing upon personal rights as well as private property rights. Even the term visioning is found within the principles of Agenda 21. Witness the heavy-handed approach the City of Apopka will take once the Visioning Process is put in motion. From marketing and branding, multi-modal planning, and handling quality of life events, each of the strategies within the Vision Plan will take loads of money and new City management personnel (layers of bureaucracy) to accomplish this. The Plan also calls for more studies to analyze results from previous studies.

Even the Visioning Process itself, which pocketed at least $125,000.00 for the planners, reeked of Agenda 21 terminology. Complicated and leading questions on the initial surveys, consensus meetings held to frame responses to match planner and City goals rather than the respondents, and sessions themselves that seemed over-conducted to the point that the visions expressed were that of the planning agency and not so much that of our community. The plan is also very dependent on the City applying for and obtaining a large amount of federal grant money. Keep in mind that any grant money comes with strings attached, such as low-income housing demands, reduced vehicle usage, healthy cities and more, all key elements of Apopka’s Vision Plan. NOTHING is free and grant money from the Federal government still comes, ultimately, from Taxpayers… US.. It really just depends which of your pockets is being picked. Even grants from private sources or corporations will have strings attached.

Visioning is nothing more than planned obsolescence with many of today’s buzzwords, nearly unattainable goals and a hefty price tag. And as tempting as grant money is in funding our dreams and visions, we should resist its siren call as much as possible, and instead looking at alternative funding sources. It may be too late to do anything about this, but now that we know the true costs of our Vision, WE the citizens of Apopka can take ownership of this plan and work to find economical solutions as we work toward 20/20 vision, without needing bifocals.

Heavy Handed Visioning has a HIGH Pricetag

Apopka Voters Must Choose Wisely

As reported yesterday, The City of Apopka voted last week in the elections for Apopka City Commission, Seats 3 and 4. First a word of acknowledgement and thanks to the two candidates who did not make it to the run-off election.

Alice Nolan is a delight to speak with and a delight to watch as she campaigned throughout our City. Her enthusiasm and love for our City came through during every Candidate Forum, and while speaking with her one on one. I truly believe she will be one of Apopka’s future leaders, probably much sooner than later. Young Kim also showed a love for Apopka during his campaign appearances. Our City is blessed to have both these people living in our community.

That leaves us with four very capable gentlemen in the race for Apopka City Commission. The Seat 3 race was very difficult for me as that race featured 3 very strong candidates, all demonstrating a knowledge of the issues and a Love for Apopka most will never achieve. In the end, and moving forward, I believe Doug Bankson to be the best choice for our City, as we approach a crossroads in our town. Mr Bankson has presented a definite, concrete plan for each of the issues we face, including our City Center and the Visioning process. We need steady, we need thoughtfulness, and Mr. Bankson is both of those.

As for the Seat 4 race, the decision was much easier. As anyone who has read my blogs these last couple of years knows, I have not always been a big fan of Commissioner Bill Arrowsmith. I have, however, during these last couple of years, observed Mr. Arrowsmith as a steadying influence in our town, willing to ask the tough questions, a calm voice of reason and always with a watchful eye towards our taxpaying public. As a lifelong resident of Apopka, his love for this town and it’s people shines through.

Our City seems to be running headlong into an ocean of changes, with our citizens wanting BIG changes: splash pads, a skate park, a City Center that is second to none, and we want it all RIGHT NOW! The cost of all these “I want” projects will be staggering. None of these plans can possibly happen without serious analysis, thought and careful budgeting. If we are not meticulous in our planning, if we are emotional and reactionary, the costs will sink our City, and I believe no one wants that.

I’m just one person with a blog. I strongly encourage each Apopka resident to do their own homework, decide which issues are important and determine each candidate’s stand on those issue. Then make your decision heard via your vote on Tuesday April 12th. I’ve done a lot of research and a lot praying and I will support Doug Bankson for Seat 3 Apopka City Commission, and Bill Arrowsmith for Seat 4 Apopka City Commission.

Apopka Voters Must Choose Wisely

Busy Week in Apopka could determine it’s future

Apopka Florida has been very busy this week. Partaking in both the Florida Presidential Preference Primary, running concurrently with our local City Commission elections produced a close to 40% voter turnout in our fair city. THAT is amazing. Through no fault of our own, Apopka made National news on Election Day when several polling places in our city RAN OUT OF BALLOTS, that’s right, people were turned away from their right to vote, because the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office did not provide enough ballots to the polling places. Some ran out as early as 9:30 in the morning; keep in mind polls opened at 7:00 am. The results of the local elections is that both commission seats went to run-off election, which will be held on Tuesday April 12th, ONLY at the Apopka VFW Center on Central Avenue. Also, to clarify, early voting takes place ONLY at the Supervisor of Elections Office Downtown, yes at the same office that ran out of ballots.

Then on Wednesday, March 16, two items on the Apopka City Council meeting agenda were postponed. The City was to vote on a resolution approving the City’s all encompassing, extremely expensive wish list. The vote was postponed to give citizens more time to review and comment and correct the document (whatever that means), although one hint may be to evaluate “what needs to be changed to the compensation plan”. WHOSE compensation plan? The City also agreed to allow the developer of the City Center two more 30 day extensions, thus postponing  a special meeting to discuss and approve the plan that was to have taken place on Thursday the 24th. I have to ask, is the developer in default of their own contract, which called for only 2 30 day extensions, not 4 extensions?  Can the contract be amended only by a voice vote of the City Council? How complex are these plans, and how many zeros will be added to the final contract because of these delays?

And the City is also looking to put up a Splash Pad!! Woo Hoo!! But Where?? At Kit Land Nelson Park? at the Northwest Rec Complex? At Alonzo William Park? Near the Cooper Sports Complex? Or maybe near the new City Center that is already experiencing delays and may not be built till the 12th of Never.. who knows? An excellent issue was also raised, what about the City’s infrastructure, which will have to support all these changes? Should we not work the infrastructure FIRST?

This is just a general overview of this week in Apopka Florida. I intend (and this is not a threat) to analyze each of the above in detail, how these issues will impact Apopka, what’s at stake, how much will this cost taxpayers. The City Election coming up on April 12th will be important and will determine the future of our great City. Do we want to grow rapidly and blindly, or do we want to carefully analyze all the data and studies that are being thrown at us and then make decisions based on what the City can financially and rationally support. So, I guess for now, wrapping this up and bringing this home, Apopka Citizens, PLEASE pay attention; READ, STUDY the issues, talk to the four remaining candidates (Sam Ruth and Doug Bankson, Seat 3) (Bill Arrowsmith and Kyle Becker, Seat 4) to get their take on what is important to you, how can we pay for all this, etc. Then and I mean this, Mark your calendars NOW for Tuesday April 12th, to go VOTE! The City keeps asking for your input on everything! Your most Important input is your VOTE!!!

Busy Week in Apopka could determine it’s future

Let’s Be Positive!

As many of you know, I have spent a lot of time during the last 30 years or so, working on and supporting campaigns. It started in 1984, when my husband Phil ran for Milwaukee County Commission. With little support or experience, we ran a campaign the old fashioned way: going to door-to-door throughout the county with a POSITIVE message. And we came within a handful of votes to force a run-off. Over the years, we have worked on or managed many campaigns, from the local and state levels, to  Congressional levels, to being named State Coordinators in 1988 for a Presidential Candidate. After moving to Florida in late 1988, we took several years away from politics to settle in and raise our young family. But we NEVER stopped paying attention.

Over the years, we have watched as political campaigns, on ALL levels go from positive messages and substantive discussion on the issues, to increasingly negative and nasty attack ads, where we find ourselves today. I am unabashedly and perhaps naively, a campaign purist. As a candidate for Apopka City Commissioner myself in 2010, both myself and my opponent, Commissioner Billy Dean, ran positive campaigns. We stuck to the issues and stayed as cordial as two opponents in a campaign could be. THAT is the way campaigns should be run.

I believe firmly in several unofficial rules of campaigning. ONE – Politics is NOT personal, and  candidates must strive to  keep that in mind as this belief will determine your entire campaign plan. TWO – candidates must campaign as if they are the ONLY person in that race. NEVER attack your opponent. Campaign with tunnel vision, talking ONLY about yourself and either YOUR record as the incumbent, or what YOU can bring to the office you are seeking if you are the challenger. THREE – never antagonize potential supporters or voters by attacking them, scolding them, or assuming the worst of them. Even if I do not support your candidacy, remember, IT IS NOT PERSONAL! I am entitled to my opinion and to support whom I want without being challenged or personally attacked. FOUR – and this goes along with Rule TWO – if you are a challenger, NEVER run on your opponent’s records, run ONLY on your own record or your own merits, and what YOU will bring to the office if you are elected.

In addition to the Florida Presidential Primary this Tuesday March 15th, Apopka voters will be electing Commissioners for Seats 3 and 4 on the City Commissioner. While the Seat 3 race has been, for the most part, cordial and issues-oriented, the Seat 4 race has begun to sink to the level of attack mode. Campaign pieces mailed out have become increasingly negative and the forum held Thursday night devolved disappointingly, into a bit of attack mode, on the part of all three candidates.

We are human and  sometimes in contested campaigns, emotions and temperament take the place of reason and issues. But we must strive for civility in our campaigns, for respect, for issues-oriented speech and ads. We all, including me, must keep these rules in mind. Attacks have no place in our campaigns, from the Presidential right down to our local campaigns. American citizens, Apopka Citizens are looking for leaders right now, people who can stay focused on and articulate their stand on the issues and maintain a positive message. We are looking for people who can campaign on their record, or merits, without resorting to attacks. Just one more thing, as we work to support our candidates, by going door-to-door, making phone calls, waving signs, or donating money, remember as voters, we have two even more important jobs. Thoroughly research each candidate and their stands on the issues that matter to you. After that, remember to VOTE for your candidate, using your head and not your heart or connections to that candidate. Apopka deserves nothing but the best.

Let’s Be Positive!