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

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.

Why is LANGD Board Membership so important to Apopka’s Mayor

Apopka Florida residents learned another lesson this week from our intrepid mayor. If you hold your breath, stomp your feet and hold a grudge long enough, some dreams do come true. In a war of words a few months ago between Apopka’s Mayor and the President of Lake Apopka Natural Gas District, letters going back and forth between the two became an issue just before our City’s elections cycle in February, with the Mayor rather rudely starting one letter  with “what is the continuing purpose” of LANGD? It seems that several Apopka nursery growers and businesses were expressing dissatisfaction with the rates they were seeing from LANGD, even though rates had been addressed two years earlier and a 5 year agreement had been reached. At that time, I wondered aloud what exactly was the real issue was here. Was it Mayor K’s desire to sell Apopka’s share (2/5) of LANGD to possibly private interests. He actually stated in another letter written to LANGD how Apopka could benefit (about $10 million of quick money), to bring community pools, splash parks, gathering spaces and skate parks to our Great City (coincidentally, all items mentioned in Apopka’s Wish list Visioning Process). The money’s gotta come from somewhere.

Mayor K has also made no secret of his hurt feelings about not being appointed to the Board by Mayor Land, after he was elected Commissioner in 2012. And he has not stopped trying to get on the LANGD Board ever since, finally seizing the opportunity after the City’s April election. Commissioner Arrowsmith, who previously sat on the LANGD Board,  recently lost re-election so the Mayor finally saw the opportunity he was looking for, to appoint himself. But why replace the experience of Commissioner Dean with the close ally of the mayor, Commissioner Velazquez? O wait, I just answered my own question. Commissioner Dean, rightly upset by this very abrupt turn of events and during a rather rancorous Commission meeting this past Wednesday, stated his objections. But hell hath no fury like a mayor insulted.

Mayor K smugly and arrogantly stated his opinion and even got into with a citizen who spoke up about the secrecy surrounding the appointments, even telling this resident, “put your name on the ballot, get elected and then you can be on the Natural Gas Board”. I did not see if this was followed up by the Mayor with a “nany nany boo boo”. It that really the way an elected official should be talking to a citizen he represents?

For a candidate who touted complete transparency as the cornerstone of his campaign when he ran for Mayor two years go, this administration has, for the most part, been shrouded in secrecy, last minute pronouncements, and a lot of rug pulling out from a number of peoples’ feet. And it has been done in a “because I’m the mayor and you’re not” fashion. I don’t know about you, Apopka residents, but I am tired of our City being “led” by an egotistical walking, talking temper tantrum. I am tired of the condescending attitude the Mayor gives any citizen who dares to speak up in disagreement at Commission meetings. I am tired of the secrecy of this transparent administration. I would respectfully ask the Mayor to stop tripping over his ego and start leading this City.

Why is LANGD Board Membership so important to Apopka’s Mayor