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

Stench from Apopka Mayor’s Office is NOT from the Water Treatment Facility

Certified Second Chance Inc. a for-profit business “social purpose company” filed their initial papers on February 3, 2017. Just 6 days later, on February 9, 2017, a bill was filed in the Florida Legislature by Rep Kamia Brown (D) on behalf of this brand new company, requesting $500,000.00 in STATE Taxpayer money. The bill, HB 2809, is a simple one page request for a non-recurring sum of $500,000.00 from the General Revenue Fund appropriated to the Department of Corrections to fund this for-profit business. As of this morning (4/16/17), current status is that the Bill’s first reading was on 3/7/17; further action on this bill appears to be unscheduled for now.

According to Appropriations Projects Request form, filed per House Rule 5.14, the requested  $500,000.00 of the TAXPAYER money will go toward Salaries and Benefits ($100,000.00), Equipment/Travel/Supplies/Other ($100,000.00) and Contracted Services/Study ($300,000.00). The request does not mention even ONE DIME going towards helping convicted felons reintegrate back into society. Apparently the “social purpose” type of corporation for this venture was chosen because the State of Florida has a special provision that will require they demonstrate they are in business to convey a public benefit. Hmmm, who are these social purpose do-gooders?

According to the original business filing from February, the principles, all listed as directors are: Joseph Kilsheimer, Mayor of Apopka. currently earning a taxpayer funded salary of $150,000.00. Robert Olszewski (otherwise known as Bobby O), currently running for Florida House District 44. A candidate for FL house, going to that same legislative body asking for $500,000.00 to fund a for profit business he want to start up. Deveron Gibbons, out of St. Petersburg, a former mayoral candidate whose campaign Kilsheimer worked on. And finally Allen Chernoff, involved in the City of Life Foundation, the same foundation that has received over $70,000.00 from Apopka Taxpayers for the program, Apopka Begins and ends with an A. Plans are to continue to fund this program with Apopka taxpayer dollars through infinity. To date, I am not aware of a single, concrete, positive result yielded from this program.

Now, in several interviews, Mayor Joe stated he does not see a problem, a conflict of interest with his current job as Mayor of Apopka, because “this is not an Apopka project”. The City Charter was cited as the excuse that Mayor can be involved with this as long as it does not interfere with his duties and obligations as Mayor. City Attorney Shepard also reportedly told the Mayor that he “must avoid businesses interests that do business with or are regulated by the City”. As noted above, The City of Life received thus far, up to $70,000.00 of APOPKA TAXPAYER Funded Money. I would like to have the City Attorney clarify his statement to the Mayor in light of the relationship between the City of Apopka and the City of Life.

Let’s tie this all together, ok? Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, who receives a taxpayer funded salary of $150,000.00/year, and for better, or definitely worse, is the FACE of Apopka right now. EVERYTHING he does reflects directly on OUR CITY, so just diving into this business venture poses some real ethical and moral problems. The largest Mayoral salary in Orange County is apparently not enough for Mayor Joe, a liberal who spends Apopka money, including reserves like it’s his personal ATM; he is now asking for a boost of another $500,000.00 of State taxpayer money? Mayor Joe is going into business with Chernoff, who already gets plenty of APOPKA taxpayer money; the public trough feeding is pretty good. I don’t know what to make of Bobby O’s involvement here, except that Bobby O and Mayor Joe are  close personal friends, and Mayor Joe HAS endorsed the Candidate for Florida House District 44. Bobby O apparently also sees nothing wrong with going to the Legislative body he is running for and asking for $500,000.00 in Florida taxpayer money. I do not know much of the relationship between Mayor Joe and Gibbons, except as noted above.

Does this pass anyone’s smell test?? The stench coming from all of this is almost as bad as the stench coming from the Wastewater Treatment plant and Apopka’s on-going water problems. Elected officials should view themselves as public servants, and  view their time in elected office as a privilege, not as a money-making venture. If Mayor Joe wants to go off and run his own business, LET HIM, AFTER he is voted out of office in 2018. Till then, Apopka taxpayers pay him plenty of money to represent OUR interests, not his own.

Stench from Apopka Mayor’s Office is NOT from the Water Treatment Facility

Apopka Task Force on Violence Report paved with good intentions

Recently, a group of concerned citizens gathered together to start examining reasons for and solutions to the crime and violence problem in the south part of Apopka FL, aka South Apopka. After months of meetings, focus groups and more meetings, an ambitious, bold and as it turns out costly plan was formulated and presented to the Apopka City Commission. A holistic plan of attack was presented that included: Job creation, educational opportunities, government accountability, crime prevention initiatives designed to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the community.  And at the end of it all, a request for $1.8 million dollars of taxpayer money, to be funneled into and dispersed via a “high quality and reputable not for profit organization”, who at this point, is still nameless. The plan is long on theory and solutions are presented as a word salad of up to the minute feel-good about ourselves buzz words and plenty of blame placing. Several of the suggestions in the report are variations of programs that already exist or will be started shortly.

Only a couple of sentences in this 40 page report talk about accountability or getting the community to  buy-in to the theory and proposed solutions. Plans like this are filled with good and noble intentions; however, plans like this also tend to not only see blacks as helpless victims that can only be lifted up by  good deed doers, but can enable a mind-set of self-pity among the black community. The War on Poverty has been fought for decades, with little measurable economic, educational, or employment success; what does that tell you about the chances of success of plans like this one.

So,what is the answer? More money? More costly programs with few measurable metrics to gauge success? Blacks must ultimately help themselves; they must WANT to take the lead in solving their own problems and re-inventing their communities and their lives. They must take ownership of the conclusions and solutions, and take pride in their communities. Frederick Douglass, who was born into slavery and fought his way out of it to become a Great Statesman and freedom fighter said, “I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us. If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, let them fall… All I ask is give him a chance to stand on his own legs”. Douglass recognized the limits of government benevolence and that it would be up to blacks themselves to ready themselves to meet the challenges of improving their lot in life.

Just this past week, I dialogued with one of the chief authors of this plan, who apparently took exception to my daring to challenge this plan. When I told him my questions and comments were too involved to do via text, I was asked not  to waste his time as he is very busy and involved. So I won’t. He suggested I come up with my own plan. So, I plan to explore each aspect of the Apopka Task Force on Violence Report, in detail in the coming weeks.  Again, while I applaud the efforts of all involved in this task force, including this very busy, self-important gentleman, I question the blame placing, conclusions and amount of money necessary to accomplish the lofty goals of the Task Force, or whether the goals are even attainable. The plan, in its many phases is full of good intentions, no doubt; but we all know what road those can pave.

Apopka Task Force on Violence Report paved with good intentions

Did Apopka Leaders sucker-punch a Good Business Partner?

The City of Apopka is once again in the news, this time for ongoing, serious problems at it’s aging water treatment facility. Anuvia Plant Nutrients in Zellwood Florida, produces fertilizer utilizing a new method that produces biosolids as a byproduct that must be disposed of. The City of Apopka, after a series of discussions entered into a partnership with Anuvia to accept the waste and process it through the water treatment facility. Agreements were drawn up, over $1 million was paid by Anuvia,  permits were signed and all went well for a time.

In December of 2016, it was reported the Apopka Wastewater treatment facility was running into possible environmental problems. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection got involved and in January made a report of the various issues at the plant. Now, aside from technical and environmental  violations, note was also made of some plant management issues, as well as the age of the facility itself.  The City was fined by the Florida DEP for these violations and ordered to clean up the mess. A clean-up company was called in to begin the cleanup of the bio-solids and removal of sludge from the facility, at a cost of about $100,000.00 to the City. I realize this is a vast oversimplification of the situation but the exact timetable is not the question. The City handling all this is most troubling.

A 3 page fact sheet put out by the City regarding this situation, dated 2/14/17, provides an excellent summary of the issues at hand. Two bullet points in the Fact sheet relate to Anuvia and the future of their relationship with the City. One point reads, “The City considered shutting Anuvia off from our system, but determined that doing so would significantly affect their business operations”. Another point acknowledges  that while there were no violations of the original permit by Anuvia, perhaps the “company’s original discharge permit limits were not stringent enough. These discharge permits are being renegotiated” and new limits might be necessary.  Nonetheless, “Apopka is committed to being a good business partner. Shutting Anuvia down completely would have hurt their business, and prevented a proper evaluation of the problem.”

Fast forward to Friday March 3rd, when in fact Anuvia was presented an updated permit by the City for consideration, as the existing permit would be expiring on Monday March 6th. THEN, on Monday March 6th, Anuvia is served a cease and desist order from the City, forcing the company to suspend their operations. A meeting between the City, Anuvia and the Florida DEP yielded little and the company will be shut down at least another 10 days.

Questions that arise from all this: First, what exactly happened between Friday March 3rd and Monday the 6th to cause the City to go from extending a new proposed permit to issuing a Cease and Desist order. City Administrator Glenn Irby stated, “The plant went into an upset condition”, but did not elaborate what that meant. So, I’m asking, what does this mean exactly? If Apopka is such a good business partner, as stated in the fact sheet from 2-14-17, why did they pull the rug out from under Anuvia, resulting in a shut down of operations, which the City stated would not happen? Whose responsibility was it to not only see if the original permit limits could be met, but to continuously monitor these limits from the start  and to warn of any potential problems or risks to the Facility? Exactly how much money will this policy reversal  on the part of Apopka cost Anuvia? I’m willing to bet millions.. If this is how Apopka is willing to treat their good business partner Anuvia, how will the City treat other good business partners? Especially with the explosion of growth going on all around our City? Can or should anyone trust what our City leaders tell them? The City taxpayers deserve to know the truth behind this Cease and Desist order which  comes only from the very top.

So where does that leave Anuvia? Scrambling, looking for a business partner that won’t sucker punch them. By all accounts, Anuvia did not violate the terms of the original permit, and if the limits were not strong enough, whose fault is that? In the end, this whole situation could result in lawsuits, costing the City taxpayer millions to settle. This could also cost the City the good will of potential new businesses offering the kinds of  good paying jobs leaders say they want. All because the left hand does not know what the other left hand is doing.

 

Did Apopka Leaders sucker-punch a Good Business Partner?

Sludge and Scoreboards in Apopka Begins and ends with an A.

Just some random thoughts about all that has happened in Apopka this week..

Seems like our City is withdrawing over $60,000.00 from our Reserves to buy scoreboards for the NorthWest Recreation Complex. Apparently, a deal of lifetime that just could not wait till the 2017-2018 budget, Mayor Joe believes these works of beauty will attract sports tournaments to the Complex. Excuse me, but I would LOVE to meet the Tournament director whose criteria for a location for their tournament is a scoreboard.. Really!

Another $63,000.00 will be spent by the City to clean up the mess left by Mayor Joe’s friends at Anuvia Fertilizer. Apparently, the method of creating fertilizer introduced by Anuvia causes some excessive biosolid waste that was being run through Apopka’s aging water treatment facility, more than the treatment facility could handle. Now a firm has to come in and dispose of the excess biosolids, and also the removal of sludge buildup. YUCK!! According to Anuvia, the City agreed they could handle all this when they signed off on the permit 3 years ago, and after Anuvia paid about $1.5 million in impact fees. Guess someone did not read all the way through what they were signing off on, huh? Also, although some of these problems can be attributed to poor management at the facility, Mayor Joe’s insistence that this was the fault of the previous administration (gee, where have we heard THAT before) does not hold water (even the yucky kind going through the water treatment facility).

One other thing that made me laugh this week was reading the account of the latest meeting of the Lake Apopka Natural Gas District Board of Directors. Apopka’s own Mayor Joe is on the Board of Directors and apparently balked at granting a salary increase and bonus to the District’s general manager. Joe stated at the meeting, “we should endeavor to establish benchmarks, targets .. so we know how close we are to performing our goals. That would establish a more transparent way of measuring performance as opposed to just a list of accomplishments”. THIS from a man who thinks nothing of giving tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a friend of his to run “Apopka Begins and ends with an A”, a program with ZERO measureable goals or benchmarks, just a lot of liberal feel-good phrases and empty promises.

Sometimes it seems like our City leaders are more like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Seriously though our City will face some major budget issues sooner rather than later unless we tighten the belts NOW and stop trying to please everyone and every liberal cause out there. Budget and property tax rate setting time is right around the corner; I wonder what we are in store for.

Sludge and Scoreboards in Apopka Begins and ends with an A.

Apopka FL Starting to Lean Left

Lots of news coming out of Apopka Florida these last couple weeks. Much of the news is showing how our fair City is leaning much more leftward than in the past… From Richard Anderson back in the local news, to wastewater treatment problems, to the Task Force on violence report to veiled calls for Apopka to become an unofficial Sanctuary City, lots going on. For anyone who cares, and in no particular order, here goes:

The headline in this past Friday’s Apopka Chief, “Judge tosses city suit vs Richard Anderson”. The suit was dismissed for no particular reason, and the City has 20 days to file an amended complaint. Per City Attorney Shepard, The City will re-file to include other complaints as well. Never mind that Anderson, after leaving the scene of a serious accident with injury, was able to settle that suit, and also never mind he still faces criminal charges as a result of that same accident. How’s this for another complaint, Mr. Shepard. In February, 2016, it was discovered that Richard Anderson was not registered as a lobbyist to perform at least HALF of the job he was hired to perform for the City. In February 2016, I called for Mr. Anderson’s contract to be terminated immediately, and that he pay back the money he was paid under mostly false pretenses, and ethics investigations. The City did NOTHING and now, a year later, Mr. Anderson continues to cause our City to rack up HUGE legal bills because of his questionable ethics.

So, the consultant hired by the City to review problems at our wastewater treatment facility found “administrative shortcomings” at the facility. And most shocking, Mayor Joe’s special friend, Anuvia may be partially to blame because the organic material they are dumping from their fertilizer plant may be to much for the aging facility to handle. Guess that kinds of shoots the whole, “Mayor Land is to blame” spiel Mayor Joe has been spouting since these problems were first reported.

The City taxpayer funded Old Florida Festival once again, lost money. Mayor Joe said in an interview that making money on this festival was not a major goal, but instead, making sure everyone had fun. I guess that’s true, because the Festival was gutted this year to save money, and to offset any savings the City might have seen, they offered free admission to the event. Liberal logic and your tax dollars, at work.

Also, the City heard, and for those enterprising enough to read the 40 page report, The Task Force on Violence Report.  LOTS of liberal word salad and plenty of finger pointing (except, I noticed at the actual people causing the violence) and at the end of it all, a request for $1.8 million dollars to fund solutions to this problem. I’ve read this report at least 5 times, and am preparing a detailed analysis, from a conservative viewpoint. All I will say now, is that as ambitious and well-intentioned as this report and the people involved with it are, unless you get the buy-in from the community you are planing to “help”, you may as well set fire to that $1.8 million dollars. And Greg Jackson’s constant harping on CRA (community redevelopment), makes me wonder which office he is angling to run for this time. Or whose non-profit agency Mr. Jackson is really advocating for.

And coming from our School Board Representative, Christine Moore, a thinly veiled request that the schools and law enforcement take pity on undocumented immigrants, the politically correct term for ILLEGAL ALIENS.  I also noticed the Hope Community Center is sponsoring an Immigration Fair next Saturday to address concerns among other things, New immigration policy. NEW?? You mean enforcement of existing laws is new? Well, I guess, under Obama, who rarely enforced these laws, it would be new. For an excellent analysis of what SHOULD be done about illegal immigration, read Patti Bankson’s spot-on weekly column, “Anchor Babies and the 14th Amendment”, in this week’s Chief.

There must be a full-moon hanging over our City and it refuses to move. And it looks like, as we draw near the end of just the 2nd month of 2017, it’s going to be a long, crazy, bumpy ride.. Hang on to your seats, my friends… Here we go!

 

Apopka FL Starting to Lean Left