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

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 Mayor blames citizens for budget woes

Did anyone see the latest angry tirade from Apopka’s Mayor. Joe Kilsheimer lashed out at Apopka taxpayers during last week’s budget workshops, basically blaming Apopka residents and scolding us because he has to say no to requests from citizens. He went on to also blame the last administration (from at least 2-1/2 years ago) for “hiding things” and “keeping things secret” and they weren’t honest with citizens. “We are now, for the city’s history, being honest with people and telling them, ‘this is what it takes to run your city… and this is what it’s going to take”. Does our Mayor really underestimate the citizens of Apopka that much that he has to arrogantly lecture people about how government works? I would like to know exactly what “stuff” the city hasn’t been funding. Because Apopka has a GREAT police department and a top rated fire department. Is it the “feel-good” festivals, or a community theatre group, or some ill-conceived program that put thousands of dollars into the pocket of a good friend, but yielded little if any results.  Hey Joe, here’s an idea, take care of City functions FIRST. Police and fire protection, water and sewage, and other things that basically only a full service City can handle. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING else: fancy splash pads and skate parks, feel-good “festivals”, education programs that yield little positive results, or any other PORK is what happens after all the city functions are paid for. THAT is how a City is run, and that is Apopka has been run, at least till you came on the scene.

People will understand that certain recreation department activities should be user-fee based, not funded by taxpayers. And responsible citizens understand that government is not and should NEVER be all things to all people. But what we don’t understand is the Mayor of Apopka throwing another temper tantrum, stomping his feet, lashing out at citizens and blaming everyone else but himself for the City’s perceived woes. Taxpayers MUST live within our means, and so must any responsible city government. Commissioner Bankson was quite right when he said, “we can’t go into a spiral where we go deeper in debt and there’s no plan to come out of it… Let’s look at it in a frugal manner”. Yet he, along with the other Commissioners and mayor voted for the higher property tax rate anyway.  O well.

Responsible citizens understand this:  NO we cannot nor should we, have it all.. It seems to me that that the Mayor is trying to play more to his cult followers who want everything NOW! Legacies are nice, but leaving the City in a fiscally sound position should be the top priority of our City leaders. There is no reason to ransom our future for the instant gratification of now. Mr. Mayor, most citizens of Apopka ARE patient, and will continue to wait. So stop blaming an entire city for your frustrations. We need true leaders right now, grownups, not petulant children. We understand we can’t have it all now, do you?

Apopka Mayor blames citizens for budget woes

Being Mayor of Apopka is Hard Work

Being Mayor of a City of 45,000 people is apparently MUCH harder than anyone could imagine possible. Just ask the Mayor of Apopka, Joe Kilsheimer. During a budget workshop last week a line item in the budget calling for the hiring a Chief of Staff was discussed. When asked about this request, Mayor K replied, “It is a struggle on a regular basis; all things come to the mayor’s office. Just the routine kind of handling situations, and then there are extra requests for meetings, places to go”. WOW, really Mr. Mayor, the job of mayor is a struggle? With all due respect, what  did you think the job was going to be? Attending ribbon cuttings, making speeches at events, polishing your own public image? Did you think it would be all play and no work? At $150,000.00 of taxpayer’s money a year, the job should be MOSTLY hard work, very little play.

The proposed Chief of Staff salary (including benefits) would have been $119,687. Our Mayor’s salary, among the highest in Orange County Florida, is $150,000.00 per year. I did not see anything in the story from the Apopka Chief indicated that Mr. Mayor was requesting a corresponding decrease in his own salary. And a Chief of Staff, really, Mr. Mayor?? You are a MAYOR, not a Governor, President or King. We already have a Chief Administrative officer…isn’t he already performing the job of Chief of Staff?

The reason for the request for Chief of Staff is revealed by The Mayor’s request for travel expenses/budget ($16,870), to cover attendance at various legislative and congressional conferences in DC, Tallahassee and Miami. When questioned about this line item expense by Commissioner Doug Bankson, the Mayor defending several of the proposed conferences that “he feels strongly about” attending…. “It’s about making connections on behalf of the City of Apopka with important decision-makers in Washington”. Wondering exactly what type of connections and which decision makers the Mayor is referring to? I mean, yes, in order to get the Mayor’s signature City Center going, Apopka will need some MAJOR funding to re-do the roads leading to the City Center. But what other connections?

I must admit, when I read this story, I laughed my head off. I thought it was some kind of joke, but Mr. Mayor your administration has been the joke, mostly from day 1. The overall City Budget tops at over $100,000,000.00, when just three short fiscal years ago the budget topped at somewhere around $60,000,000.  Some of the expenditures are justified: the new fire station for instance, and the hiring of fire personnel to staff it. And requested police expenditures. A city’s first responsibility is the SAFETY of it’s residents. But I guarantee that a close reading of the proposed budget will reveal a lot of PORK spending in order to justify the expense of last year’s Visioning Process.

Mr. Mayor, may I respectfully suggest that if this job is too hard for you, consider your future. Being Mayor is not a glamour job, but tough, roll-up your sleeves work, as is the job of the City Commissioner. It seems this job is beyond your comfort zone, and maybe a return to cushy private public relations consulting is just the ticket for you.

Being Mayor of Apopka is Hard Work

About Highland Manor and Apopka’s City Center

Well, the Apopka City Center, in the making for over a decade is on the cusp of becoming a reality. An array of gathering spaces, grocery stores, upscale sit-down restaurants, medical offices, apartments and a 5 story hotel are part of the forward looking plans. But alas, Taurus Southern Investments, a company who has been in business for decades, with years and years of experience among it’s project managers, planners and others, have come across something that is just too challenging for them to handle: A city landmark and historic house, Highland Manor. Jeff McFadden, managing partner for the developer responded to a question from Commissioner Billie Dean about Highland Manor, “I’m not sure how you keep Highland Manor on this site, to be honest with you… it just sprawls and takes too much of the site”.

Estimates to move Highland Manor from the site, (in fact, it’s 2nd move), run aproximately $1.1 million dollars. No estimates were obtained to simply demolish the property. Emotions are running high on both sides of the house. Many want to preserve the House, perhaps turning into a musuem and/or Bed and Breakfast run by the Apopka Historical Society. Others looking ahead to the future do not attach such sentimentality to the place and ask why it cannot just be torn down. The former president of the Apopka Historical Society, and now mayor of our fine town, Joe Kilsheimer seems to be siding with the group that says to tear it down. Ironic, isn’t it. At a recent meeting, Mayor Kilsheimer responded to an observation by Commissioner Doug Bankson, “These are tough choices. What do the residents of Apopka want? Do they want a gathering place, a city center where people can go and come and have good times.. eat at restaurants, shop at stores, all around Martins’ pond where we’ll have a pedestrian walkway”. There’s little doubt about what the Mayor wants. Out with the old, in with the new.

The legalities of the contract seem standard enough; Taurus is getting a steal of a deal on the land to be sure. And after over a decade of talks, The City Center will be Mayor K’s legacy, his claim to fame and a possible stepping stone to bigger things.Is ensuring a legacy the Mayor’s only reason for pushing the City Center at the expense of an important part of Apopka’s past? It does seem that way.

Just a word of caution, however, about this City Center. EVERY City is building it’s own City Center, from Clermont to Winter Garden and Ocoee, Maitland and Winter Park. Are we building this City Center ONLY for the residents of Apopka, or will the project be marketed to surrounding areas? We still do not have a clear picture of exactly what vendors will be coming to the Center and after the shine wears off, will our City still support this Center?  The location of the Center, away from many of the most popular residential areas such as Errol Estate, Rock Springs Ridge, Pines of Wekiva and several news ones that will be going up soon, near Binion Road and Marsden area near the new Florida Hospital makes me wonder just how many residents will actually climb in their cars, fight traffic and then hunt for a parking space to walk around gathering spaces. NOT to mention the enormous and expensive amount of road work that will need to be done even before the first shovel of dirt on the project itself is turned.

I’m not saying not to build the City Center. But maybe the future of Highland Manor should be decided first. Can it be turned into a B&B, a Museum or even an antiques or specialty shop? OR can it not continue to be a special events venue, that could be marketed as such in conjunction with the Hotel that will be put up. Certainly, the creative brain trust at Taurus have had similar challenges before, in their decades of experience and hundreds of projects; I find it difficult to believe they simply cannot work with the structure. OR maybe they are unwilling to work with Highland Manor and then they should just be upfront about that. Must we really bulldoze our past as we move to the future?

About Highland Manor and Apopka’s City Center

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

Should Apopka end the City of Life Foundation Gravy Train

About 7 months ago, Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer introduced the citizens of Apopka to his pet project “Apopka Begins and ends with an A”. Typical of many liberal feel-good programs and with a heavy dose of it’s for the kids and this IS who we are rhetoric, the program and it’s main goal was that all schools in the Apopka Community will achieve an “A” rating from the Florida Department of Education. In a 5 page proposal, the Mayor laid out a non-specific plans towards achieving that nearly unattainable goal. Filled with flowery, lofty language and liberal buzz words and catch phrases that don’t mean anything, the Mayor then announced he’d already committed $20,000 to an organization called the City of Life Foundation, a group with whom the Mayor had a 10 year association with, including being its President from 2011 – 2013. The group had already chosen the first two schools to work with.

As far as I can tell, that was the last we heard of this program until a presentation about this program was done at last month’s Commission meeting. I personally did not expect much from this presentation except more non-specifics about how great the program was doing but how much work remained to be done. And I was not disappointed. Not unexpectedly, the report was long on back-patting and very short on actual program achievement specifics. The presenters even admitted that the goal is at best, a moving target. In fact, we were told that this program actually is not all about the “A”, but about the students and hopes this program expands to all Apopka schools… at $10,000 per school, I am sure that is a BIG hope. Like most government feed-the-beast, gravy train programs, success won’t be measured by concrete results or accountability measures, but by how quickly more taxpayer money can be obtained to expand the program. The presentation was also very long on liberal  “it takes a village” rhetoric. As long as the target continues to move, we have no choice but to continue to throw more taxpayer money at this program; after all it is for the kids.

Then yesterday, a blog post by City of Life Orlando was discovered, singing the praises of George Soros, a “self-made” billionaire. For those who are unfamiliar with Mr. Soros, he never met a far-left, Socialist destructive cause or policy he did not support. He has poured millions into far-left and new world order causes and organizations, Common Core, among others. He strongly supports Mr. Obama’s wish to fundamentally transform America. Wanting to find out if there was any connection between this organization and the City of Life Foundation that came to Apopka last month to appeal for thousands more in taxpayer money, I researched. And found that these two organizations are in fact the same.

So, Apopka citizens, I have a question for you.  Are you willing to continue to throw thousands upon thousands of dollars to an organization with very little to show for that money, but makes a hero of far-left Socialist George Soros? I won’t even get into the whole public schools as indoctrination centers theories, but it is very disconcerting that our Mayor sings the praises of and appeals for more money to fund an organization run by friends of his that in turn support leftist causes and individuals. Is this who WE are?

 

 

Should Apopka end the City of Life Foundation Gravy Train