4 years in the life of Apopka FL

With the Apopka City elections less than 30 days away, campaign season is in high gear. Mail-in ballots have been sent out, and over 600 ballots have already been returned, according to reports. Apopka has approximately 31,000 registered voters. It would be considered a successful election if we can get 15%-20% to actually vote this time out. Of all the rights and freedoms we as Americans have, the right to vote is the most sacred, yet the one right taken completely for granted. As a Nation and as a City, we MUST do better.

Apopka has candidates running for both seats on the City Commission; however, most eyes are on the race for Mayor of Apopka. Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson is challenging current Mayor Joe Kilsheimer. The race for Mayor comes down to these questions:  Do the citizens of Apopka want to see our City spiral out of financial control and into bankruptcy and high taxes in the next couple of years, OR do we want some semblance of financial control and balance restored to the City’s financial life?WHAT has happened to the City’s balance reserves, built up over time and carefully managed by Mayor John Land.  And WHY is our exploding budget being managed, not by careful and prudent spending policies, but by loans and withdrawals from our reserves?

These last 4 years of Mayor K’s administration has seen more than it’s share of missteps and more questions than answers. Let’s review shall we? Let me know if I’ve missed anything.

Right after taking office, Mayor K saw the first order of business as voting himself a salary of $150,000., making him the highest paid Mayor in Orange County;

An inability to get a simple splashpad built, or even to secure acceptable bids for said splashpad; constant missteps in getting a Town Center started. After a sweetheart sale of the designated property, which saw the City LOSE over $12,000,000.00, the first shovel of dirt has yet to be turned. Which means, the City STILL does not get tax revenue on that land.

Several times over the last 4 years when employees were unable to cash their paychecks because the money wasn’t in the bank account. Of course, each time it was the bank’s fault; a pending lawsuit by several employees who were told to work overtime, during lunch periods, without pay;

On-going issue with the City’s wastewater facility and practices, resulting in, you guessed it, a lawsuit against the city;

A very nice deal with a developer, MMI, for them to build what amounted to a private off-ramp from the 414 leading right into their very nice development. The City fronts them millions to build the ramp, and low and behold, very nice contributions from these developers start showing up on Mayor K’s campaign contributors list.

In the ongoing saga of the City Manager who will not go away, former CAO Richard Anderson, involved in a hit and run accident (he hit then he ran), resulting in serious injury to the other driver, ended up suing the City of Apopka for wrongful termination. Then after Mayor Joe was involved in a complicated settlement deal that HE brought to the City Commission for approval, Joe did the only logical thing he could do: he voted AGAINST his own deal..

He dug up almost $60,000.00 from the reserves to pay for 4 scoreboards from a company in North Carolina, over a year ago. Only problem is the scoreboards have yet to be delivered, or even seen, except by a few.

Apopka begins and ends with an A – nothing more than a liberal feel-good program that has accomplished little, if any concrete, measureable results. Did I mention this program is run through a foundation, City of Life, run by a friend of the Mayor’s. Amount given thus far to the Mayor’s friend is in the 10’s of thousands of dollars.

Millions lost from a communications tower that is still in the box because the brain pans in the Kilsheimer administration did not secure a location before buying the tower.

Thousands of dollars in losses from City Run “festivals” like the Symphony under the Stars and the Old Florida Festival among them.

About a year ago, Mayor K and 3 of his buddies, including the friend from the aforementioned City of Life Foundation, put forth a private business plan worth $500,000.00 to a friend in the Florida State Legislature, for taxpayers to pick up the enormous tab.  Fortunately, this money grab died in committee.

And the on-going debate about the City of Apopka’s budget reserves, disappearing rapidly under Mayor K’s administration. Mayor Joe recently claimed at a City Commission meeting, that “sometimes no policy is a policy” and also, “the city does not have the luxury of having a reserve policy”.  With a little fancy arithmetic and some misdirection, Mayor K is trying to discredit Candidate Nelson’s claims about where the reserves were and were they are now. He even hired a blogger from Tampa, of very questionable reputation and ethics, to write a post filled with non-truths, attempting to debunk Nelson’s claims. However, Candidate Nelson’s information comes directly from the City’s OWN budget information, posted on the City’s website. Mayor Joe: figures DO NOT lie, but liars indeed figure.

This little walk down memory lane serves as a reminder of what happens to a City when it is irresponsibly and inexcusably mismanaged. Not to benefit all the Citizens, but a small percentage of campaign donors, developers, personal friends and a core base of joe-bot like supporters. So, which do you want, a city that will soon drown in its own debt, a city that will not be able to provide even basic city services in a few years? OR do you want a City that will be vibrant, growing and thriving because of sound fiscal policy and led by someone who gives personification to the term Public Servant. MY choice has been made: Bryan Nelson has received my vote and I pray he receives YOUR vote!

 

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4 years in the life of Apopka FL

No More DACA! Does that make me mean, stupid and inhumane?

According to many illegal immigrant advocates, including an activist Sister in my town of Apopka FL, if you disagree with the continuation of DACA, and by extension blanket amnesty for those in our Country illegally, then you are stupid, mean, inhumane, cruel and disrespectful. In typical liberal fashion, they argue only from a position of elitism and name calling, but let’s take a look at some facts of DACA, shall we?

DACA was established in 2012 by a Department of Homeland Security Memo. It provided a promise that qualifying illegals would not be deported, and would qualify for certain taxpayer funded benefits. How to qualify? If the illegal arrived here before their 16th birthdays and were not older than 31; if they were in school, graduated or were honorably discharged from the military; as long as they passed a background check and were found to have no criminal convictions. What is wrong with all of this?

First and foremost, immigration law must come from Congress, not via executive action from a power-hungry president. According to Heritage Foundation scholar Hans von Spakovsky, “The president does not have the authority to decide who should be in the United States when it comes to immigrants. That power resides entirely in Congress.. the Constitution says it”. Only Congress can establish a “uniform Rule of Naturalization”. And the continuous sob stories presented by the media and illegal immigrant advocates of Dreamers coming to the United States as guiltless tiny children who were immersed in American culture and language is true in only a small percentage of cases. The Obama administration continually waived any education requirements and were “lean and light” when it came to criminal background checks for Dreamers; most were actually never vetted. DACA has no requirement for English fluency. The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that “perhaps 24% of DACA-eligible population falls into the functionally illiterate category and another 46% have only basic English ability”. The reality of DACA blows the myth of the poor innocent baby brought here by law-breaking parents right out of the Rio Grande.

And let’s look at who is being truly disrespectful. Is it really people who advocate for the rule of law, especially regarding immigration laws? Those who respect the rule of law, those who understand that citizenship is a privilege granted to about 100,000 legal immigrants each year. Our Founding Fathers advocated for immigration laws that would “increase the wealth and strength of the community”. Are these the people who are disrespectful? I say a resounding NO! Those who advocate for unlimited DACA, blanket amnesty; those here illegally, who scream and protest, demanding their “rights”; those advocates who would throw our immigration laws out the window and cheapen the privilege of American citizenship, they are disrespectful: of our laws, our Country, of those who have gone through the legal process to obtain citizenship, though rigorous,  to become full citizens, and of the American citizen and taxpayer.

There is NO OTHER issue that calls for an America first approach more than immigration, and I will not apologize for that, nor am I and many others who oppose continuation of DACA cruel, mean, stupid or inhumane for believing this. I make no excuses for believing in the Rule of Law that puts America first, not those here illegally, or the tiny elite who advocate for anarchy veiled under the mantra of “immigration reform”. Citizenship is a privilege that is earned, via hard work, learning our language, understanding our founding principles, and assimilating to the American culture and way of life and following the rule of law. Any continuation of DACA beyond the March 2018 deadline, as established by the Trump administration, is a slap in the face to America and it’s citizens and legal immigrants and would be the truly mean, stupid, cruel and disrespectful thing to do.

No More DACA! Does that make me mean, stupid and inhumane?

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!

 

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