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

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

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

A Tale of Two Faith Festivals

This Saturday, January 7, the City of Apopka will witness first hand what happens when a community, not heavy-handed government, takes matters into its own hands and organizes all aspects of a faith festival. Big name talent is booked, tickets sales are brisk; food and other vendors are in place; and part of the Festival will be an important discussion of the recently released Apopka Community Task Force on Violence. Even the weather looks like it will cooperate.

How did this come about? Last year, The City of Apopka leaders decided they wanted to put on some kind of Gospel Festival and actually set an item in the budget for this event. Apparently, in what seems to be the modus operandi for this City, staff set to work behind the scenes, almost in a bit of secrecy, working with what appears to be Mayor Joe’s handpicked pastors and church, to get things going on a Gospel Festival. According to the Mayor’s report from the City Commission meeting of October 5th, the pastors from New Destiny Christian Church have a production company that was going to work on the event, from lighting to production, to booking talent for their Festival, and were going to receive $60,000.00 of taxpayer money for their efforts. Typically, putting the cart before the horse, the City laid a lot of ground work for this festival then went to the City Commission meeting on October 5th, expecting rubber stamp approval for the event. But alas, questions were asked, with doubt expressed as to the timing of the Festival, which was originally scheduled for 5 weeks after this motion and vote were expected to sail through. In typical arrogant response to a legitimate question from Commission Dean, CAO Irby responded that this project was in the works for several months, and that staff often has conversations on a daily basis about projects or events that are not brought to council until the timing is right (really Mr Irby?? his response is a topic for another day, though). Not to mention why the Apopka Christian Ministerial Alliance and the South Apopka Ministerial Alliance were not involved in planning and only backhandedly told they could participate too if they wanted. Apparently, the timing was off on this project, because the Council balked and Mayor Joe could not even get his closest ally on the Council to make a motion to vote for the approval. Thus no Gospel Festival..

Enter several prominent leaders in our City, including businessman Rod Love, Pastors Hezekiah Bradford and Darrel Morgan, Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson and Mr. Ray Shackelford. This group realized they had the potential for a true Community and Faith Based Festival and set to work, organizing what will now be held this Saturday, the Apopka Faith, Family and Food Gospel Festival. Obstacles needed to be overcome, such as booking, then paying for the venue, the Apopka Amphitheater. After some legally challenging issues were discussed and resolved, the John Land Community Trust Fund came through with a donation to pay for the vendor and become one of the Event sponsors. Many in our community volunteered many hours of sweat equity, talent and expertise to make this Festival a reality.

Right now, I have no doubt of the success of this Festival, which hopefully will become an annual event. Time and again, it has been the Citizens of Apopka, not it’s heavy handed government leaders that have taken lemons and made the most delicious lemonade. And as we begin 2017 with this Faith Festival, I see much promise  that is when the Community comes together, works together to make our City a better place. Do we really need fancy, expensive visioning studies and heavy-handed, cleverly named government programs that offer little except more government spending to keep them going?

2017 will be an exciting year for Apopka, full of promise and growth. And as this Festival shows, it is the Citizens of Apopka that will fulfill that promise and lead that growth, not heavy-handed government that like to operate in a bit of secrecy.  Thank you to the organizers of the Apopka Faith, Family and Food Gospel Festival for starting the year out right, and showing the way for the rest of us.

A Tale of Two Faith Festivals

Lots happening in Apopka

Well, I have been away a while. Lots going on in Apopka. New City Centers, Gospel Festivals, competing plans for the Lake Apopka Restoration area, splash pads, and lots of workshop. And even though the election for Apopka Mayor is about 15 months away, it is safe to say the unofficial campaign for that election has started with Mayor’s Kilshiemer’s first State of the City address.

As many of my fans know, our family has had a challenging year, to say the least, and I have not been able to research and comment as much as I’d like, but many others in our City are now starting to pay attention and contribute to the commentary, and we need that: a healthy, robust debate that will ensure our tax dollars won’t be wasted.

So, enjoy the Christmas season and let’s get back started in 2017; there certainly will be plenty to keep us busy. Pay attention, educate yourselves, learn things. I will certainly have enough to say… I hope you will too!

And MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Lots happening in Apopka

A month in the life of Apopka FL

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..

 

A month in the life of Apopka FL