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!

 

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Apopka FL Starting to Lean Left

Terminating Anderson’s Apopka contract could be costly, but must be done.

Several weeks ago, we learned through various media reports that a lawsuit had been filed against City of Belle Isle City Manager Richard Anderson, by the victim of a hit and run car accident. Mr. Anderson is also a well-compensated Lobbyist/consultant for the City of Apopka and also draws two excellent pensions from Apopka taxpayers. When he retired in 2014, he also received almost $400,000.00 in compensation. That is a LOT of money for  a public servant to receive, courtesy of Apopka City Taxpayers.

In February, after it was disclosed that Mr. Anderson was in fact NOT registered to lobby on behalf of the City (I do believe that situation has since been remedied), and again two weeks ago, after details of an accident involving his Dodge Ram pickup truck, I called on the Apopka City Commission to immediately terminate the 2 year contract Anderson has with the City. Finally, the City of Apopka has come to the same conclusion. After news of this accident came out, The City of Apopka, via a letter from the City Attorney, informed Mr. Anderson that his contract was suspended and facing termination at the upcoming Apopka City Commission meeting, this Wednesday June 1st. Citing Section F(1) of the Mr. Anderson’s contract with the City, the Apopka City Attorney asserts that Mr. Anderson’s conduct relating to this accident has in fact been a breach of said contract.

And how did Mr. Anderson respond to this news? Did he humbly accept the consequences of his actions? Was he finally forthcoming with details of the accident? NO! Mr. Anderson chose to take a HUGE bite of the hand that has fed him for over 40 years. Digging in his heels, Anderson hired one of the most expensive law firms he could find, to “put [Apopka] on notice that [he] rejects [Apopka’s] assertion that he breached any duty… Therefore, any effort by the City to terminate the agreement will be treated by us as a default on your part, and will be actionable.” In summary, rather than do the right thing, Anderson has chosen once again to hide behind high price lawyers and a clause in the contract that is at best, open to interpretation, giving Apopka residents the back of his hand and the threat of a lawsuit. WOW!

Giving Mr. Anderson EVERY benefit of the doubt, the City responded by saying they would be “more than willing to listen to any sworn explanation of the circumstances that have resulted in the events surrounding the hit and run”, but the explanation must also include why Mr. Anderson did not inform the City of the accident after it happened, in the manner of a sworn affidavit. Even giving Mr. Anderson till 5:00 pm Tuesday May 31st, giving him one more opportunity to save face. Will Mr. Anderson avail himself of this last minute opportunity to come clean? Will he finally do the right and respectable thing? I have no illusions about this; nothing he does will surprise me.

Unfortunately, even with the extremely poor behavior and the exceptional lack of  judgement Mr. Anderson demonstrated in this matter, the City may still be left holding an expensive bag. According to Section I (1B), of the contract, Remedies, “for any default or early termination by the CITY, payment to RDA as liquidated damages an amount equal to twice the total monthly retainers… for each month of the remaining term of the initial two year term..”. Folks, it could still end up costing  Apopka taxpayers over $100,000.00 for the immediate contract termination. Unconscionable! Apopka is screwed no matter what, but if the City votes to terminate Anderson’s contract on Wednesday, perhaps we can finally be rid of this drain on Apopka’s resources and get the fresh start we deserve. At least it would be the end of the line of the Apopka gravy train for Mr Anderson. And Mr. Anderson, if I was you, I’d start carrying an umbrella with me when I walk in the rain.

 

Terminating Anderson’s Apopka contract could be costly, but must be done.

Richard Anderson’s latest role: Person of Interest

Retired City of Apopka Fire Chief with a NICE tax-payer funded pension. Retired City of Apopka CAO with a SECOND VERY nice tax-payer funded pension.Consultant/Lobbyist for the City of Apopka, who until recently fulfilled only half of that job description, yet collected ALL of the taxpayer funded $22,000/month salary for doing what? Since Apopka’s Mayor refuses to demand accountability for this expenditure, we don’t really know what he does to earn this ridiculous salary. City Manager for the City of Belle Isle FL, not sure of the salary but I’m sure it’s not peanuts. In short, public trough feeder extraordinaire. Mr Anderson is also listed as President of the John Land Apopka Community Trust Fund. Where DOES he find the time for all this?

And now, Richard Anderson’s latest role: person of interest in head-on hit and run crash. A truck registered to Richard Anderson was driving the wrong way on a two-lane highway and crashed head-on to a gentleman’s vehicle. The accident was bad, leaving the 2nd driver with serious and permanent injuries and heading to a hospital, via chopper. Witnesses who came on the scene gave the police a general overall description that matched Mr. Anderson. They said he was talking on a cell phone and then just walked away, didn’t check on the other driver, nothing. Even left his truck there. And still not being held accountable, thinking he’s too good to talk to police, the press or the public. Weasels like Anderson typically walk between the raindrops, always finding people willing or indebted to help them connive, figure and buy their way out of trouble. I hope not this time.

In a perfect world, here’s what should happen to Mr. Anderson: his luck should run out. For starters, a criminal investigation, followed by a civil one into this accident.  He should at the very least be suspended from his City of Belle Isle job. The City of Apopka should immediately terminate the lucrative consulting contract with Mr. Anderson. And the Board of Directors of the Apopka Trust fund should immediately terminate Mr Anderson’s relationship with the Fund. In February, after news came out that Mr. Anderson was not in fact a registered lobbyist, I called for his contract to be terminated, for him to return the money paid to him by the City up to that point, paid under false pretenses, and I called for an ethics investigation at the Apopka City Commission Meeting. NONE of this has happened up to this point.

And lastly, I call upon Richard Anderson to stop hiding behind lawyers and people who probably owe him, man up and admit his role in this accident. Tell us what happened and accept any consequences of your actions. Understandably, no one wants their lucrative gravy train to come to an end. But enough is enough, Mr. Anderson, even for you.

Richard Anderson’s latest role: Person of Interest

City of Apopka Gets Taken

As the City of Apopka celebrates its city taxpayer funded  Old Florida Festival, some surprising news was reported. Stop me if you are shocked, but it turns out that Apopka’s $22,000.00/month PAID Lobbyist/Consultant is NOT REGISTERED to lobby for the City of Apopka. As reported in the Orlando Sentinel,  Richard Anderson, public trough feeder extraordinaire, has been collecting $11,000/month for Lobbying services (the other $11,000/month is for “consulting” services), for 15 straight months, but is not registered to lobby on behalf of the City in either in Tallahassee, FL or in Washington DC. He is still listed as a lobbyist on the home page of Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm he joined right after “leaving” the City, with offices across the State. Mr. Dave Mica, Chair of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists confirmed that Anderson is not a member of the organization, but would not comment further.

Recall that in September of 2014, the City spent close to $400,000.00 on Anderson’s “retirement”, $350,000.00 on accumulated comp time; his 2nd pension with the City, and the lucrative “consulting/lobbying” contract. The Anderson package was passed during the evening meeting of the Commission, after hours of emotional testimony from dozens of citizens about the Sandpiper Project. The Mayor shoved this package down the throats of the Council and taxpayers by simply not allowing a public hearing or discussion on the matter, due to the lateness of the hour, demanding only a vote be taken; the package passed 4-1.To counteract the Mayor’s  demand, all the Council had to do was request a delay in the vote, or tabling to the next meeting, but they did not. Since then, despite repeated requests from Council and citizens, we have seen only 9 reports, largely one page summaries that are identical to each other and providing few details. Commissioner Sam Ruth, the lone NO vote, stated that Anderson’s reports “do little to describe what the City is getting from Anderson”.

And your Mayor’s reaction to this news? “Richard’s status and business practices as a lobbyist are his business.”. REALLY, Mr. Mayor?? At $11,000/month for lobbying, I would say this is the CITIZENS Business as Much as Mr. Anderson’s. Mayor continues, “I never felt like I had to get into how Richard conducts his own business”. Again, Mr. Mayor, at $11,000/month, you make it OUR business by getting into his business and  protect the City’s interests, NOT Mr. Anderson’s. It is up to YOU to demand an accounting of what Apopka is getting for it’s money.  While never addressing the fact he is not registered to actually lobby for the city, Anderson defends himself, “The City hasn’t given me any legislative priorities on what they would like to see thus far”. Not that he’d be able to do anything about it anyway, ethical issues aside. Anderson and the Mayor both use the work being done bringing the Town Center to Apopka as a smokescreen and an excuse for Anderson’s continued misappropriation of at least $11,000.00/month of taxpayer money.

What should the City do? One: Demand the IMMEDIATE return of the  $165,000.00  ($11,000.00 X 15 months) by Richard Anderson (or sue him for the money if he won’t return it); Two: the City of Apopka terminates immediately the entire lobbying/consulting contract and any other relationship with Richard Anderson. Three: The City Attorney (or some entity) launch an ethics/fraud investigation to determine which laws Anderson has broken by taking this money under the false assumption that Anderson is a registered lobbyist for our City. This entire matter must be dealt with NOW, as soon as this week’s City Commission meeting. Four: Mayor Kilsheimer is NOT off the hook here and should be questioned closely why he did not feel he had to account for paying someone $11,000.00 a month to someone who was not even registered to perform the services he was hired to do. Richard Anderson has managed to help himself to literally millions of Apopka taxpayer dollars; it’s time for the City to let Mr Anderson know his time is up here.

 

 

City of Apopka Gets Taken

The Apopka Community Trust Fund continues to raise more questions than answers

Well, well, well.. guess what issue has reared it’s ugly head one more time? The John Land Apopka Community Trust Fund. I’ve been asking questions for almost a year about this fund, and also asking WHY we can’t get the simplest of answers. As of tonight’s writing, here is what we know. The name of the Apopka Trust Fund was amended to read John Land Apopka Community Trust Fund via paperwork filed with the State of Florida on May 26, 2015, a full year after the vote came from the Apopka City commission to establish this fund and make a substantial deposit with taxpayer money.

The president of this not for profit fund is Richard Anderson (former CAO of Apopka and now a well compensated lobbyiest/consultant for our City.) The Vice president is John Ricketson, publisher/owner of The Apopka Chief. Secretary is David Rankin who is employed with Iberian Bank (where the money apparently resides); Treasure is Clifton Addison. Directors are listed as: Elise Gruber, Doug Bankson, Mary Kruger, Edward Bass (who is also listed as Current Registered Agent) and Bill Mcleod (whose law firm filed the original legal paperwork). The current mailing address is 1420 W. Orange Blossom Trail, Apopka, FL 32712, which is the Iberian Bank and the address listed for all the officers and directors. This is what we know.

NOW, on to what we don’t know and cannot seem to get answers for no matter how hard we try. How much of the original $200,000.00 of TAXPAYER-Funded money that was used as seed money to get this fund going is actually left? Who appointed the original trustees and board members? Has a meeting of this Board taken place yet? Are minutes of these meetings or the meetings themselves open to the taxpaying public? What are the guidelines or procedures for dispersing money? And I understand this trust fund was converted from a PUBLIC to a PRIVATE trust fund? Why was that? Was it to avoid having to answers questions beyond who and where? What is being hidden from the public? Earlier today, during a Facebook post announcement of a retirement party for Apopka Chief Manley, it was suggested that tax deductable contributions could be made to the John Land Apopka Community Trust Fund. Please note Chief Manley was NOT involved in this request.

Citizens were fired up, rightly asking why should we contribute to a fund we know nothing about? Until the Board members involved in this fund start answering questions about what happened to the $200,000.00 of taxpayer money taken from the General Fund, they cannot seriously expect people to contribute another DIME to this Trust fund. There have been calls for this Trust Fund to return the tax-payer portion of the money back to the City, giving the Board time to prepare guidelines and procedure for distribution of the monies, establishing the purpose of the fund, and plans for transparency. This action seems to be the prudent thing to do and would also serve to restore some modicum of trust and encourage people to make contributions to this fund without reservation or question where or who are the true beneficiaries of this trust fund money.

The Apopka Community Trust Fund continues to raise more questions than answers