WOW!! It sure has been a busy 4 weeks in Apopka FL, population about 41,000. It started on Tuesday April 12, when about 5,000 Apopka voters were able to find their way to the one polling place in our City, The Apopka Community Center (Formerly the VFW Hall) to cast their ballots for Seat 3 and Seat 4 Commissioners. Incumbents Sam Ruth (Seat 3) and Bill Arrowsmith (Seat 4) were voted out of office, in favor of newcomers Doug Bankson (Seat 3 Commissioner) and Kyle Becker (Seat 4 Commissioner). Many were surprised by the results and wondered what happened.
The Commission meeting of Wednesday April 20 was well attended and many came mostly to wish Commissioners Arrowsmith and Ruth well, to thank them for their service and hear some closing remarks. But Mayor Kilsheimer was having none of that. After breezing through one of the quicker meetings in the last two years, the good Mayor was just about to adjourn the meeting, when Commissioner Arrowsmith spoke up and asked to deliver some final thoughts. And so, with his patented combination sigh/eyeroll move, Mayor said, “well, I guess we will be here a few more minutes”.. WOW! Cold? YES! Disrespectful? Absolutely!
What follows is a brief summary of what has occurred since that meeting. All these events are indicative of leadership that seems to have lost touch, a “complete disconnect”, as one person put it, with the Citizens of Apopka. And so, in no particular order…
Recreation Fees: Fall-out from this proposal will be felt throughout the summer months. Many parents do not want these fees imposed and emotional pleas and appeals were made at the City Commission meeting this past Wednesday. Symptoms of a gimmee society? I must say I agree with Commissioner Billie Dean, who addressed the meeting in part saying “We cannot have our cake and eat it too. This is not the time for the City to say ‘We can give you all these amenities you want for nothing'”. Nothing is FREE. Someone must pay for these services.
Fire Chief Bronson – last seen Tuesday afternoon leaving a meeting, not seen on City property since. No one in City Hall will talk… Must be that transparency thing the Mayor is always talking about. Or maybe a cone of silence, or a gag order.
City Center Development Deal – more delays. Another 30 day extension granted. Signed early this year with the provision of no more than one 30 day extension, we are now on the 3rd or 4th extension. Said Mayor K – “I’m pushing the staff to say this is a good deal. If this were an easy deal, it would have been done already”. With the recent announcement of the closing of Mosquito Creek, is a City Center REALLY a good idea right now?
Old Florida Outdoor Festival – Purchasing irregularities? Did the City violate it’s own purchasing rules in arranging for vendors, talent and rentals to put the Festival on? And did this City run-event make even $1.00 back?
3 months to fix a sidewalk.. While the City shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars without even thinking about it for the OFOF, it is taking 3 months to fix a simple sidewalk for an Apopka family, causing them much inconvenience. The reason remains unclear.
Apopka Begins and Ends with an A – after a lengthy, back-patting presentation of the progress made with this program (spoiler alert: NO discernable results were detected) from the City of Life and the principals of Rock Springs Elementary and Lovell Elementary, it was determined that much more must be done and much more spent before any tangible results could or would be achieved.(Hint: it takes a village to raise a child philosphy was evident throughout). I am preparing a detailed analysis on this program and will publish it in the very near future.
So, there you have it.. a month in the life of Apopka Fl, population about 41,000.
PS – I am using the photo of City Hall in the hopes Mayor K will not threaten me with a lawsuit or something..