Search and Categories

Here’s The Scoop … The 2012 Lauderdale-By-The-Sea LOWV Meet The Candidate Forum … Mr Myagi And The Kid…

THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT KID ….

Dear Readers … the 2012 League of Women Voters Meet the Candidate Forum was over in less than hour in part because there were only 2 candidates vying for one seat and a lack of questions to answer although a lot of the questions came from the 35 this writer sent in to the moderator on Dec. 9, 2011  … I’m definitely going to go back and watch the exchange again .. Readers should do the same and will have countless opportunities to do so with the event being re-broadcast on the Town’s channel 78 Jan 12,13,14,15,16,25,26,28,29 at 7 and 9 pm as well as being available anytime on the Town’s website   http://lbts.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2 …..

That being said here are my impressions from the first viewing of this forum … I thought it was rather odd that the moderator prefaced the 2 minute opening statements would contain the candidates qualifications and volunteer activities…That’s a new one…Once again this moderator’s impartiality is being called into question by this writer (I questioned it at the last such forum) … It began with Mark Brown who gave the voters a detailed look at his impressive personal and professional biography which was so extensive he could not fit into just 2 minutes…His opponent Edmund Malkoon had quite the opposite problem due to not having much of a professional biography or qualifications to put forth to voters …The questions began and each taking turns in who answered first were allowed 1 minute …The first question was about the top 2 priorities each had for the Town if elected…Malkoon answered they were  high level public safety …scrutinizing finances …and actively engaging people to participate… Brown responded he wanted to continue what this Commission was doing while being careful with spending ..The second question was about the Town promoting local business and Brown was up first to respond…He said the Town should play a small role in it and not a whole lot of Town money should be used citing events the Town already puts on …Malkoon said that the Town has done a lot with the businesses bringing up the hotels and then went on to state what the Town has done legislatively to aid in the businesses …

BC-legislative measures are not promoting town businesses …

Question 3 was on the Charter changes that are necessary and Malkoon answering first stated they needed to answer the redistricting which he said was an issue due to what people voted for and what was not in the charter …

BC-this was discussed last night by the TAtty. who stated there was a discrepancy of what was on the ballot vs. the charter with the residency requirements of candidates ending in 2018 not being included in the Town Charter and the statute of limitations for it to be put in had passed in 2008 (under the CIC majority time on the dais) …thus making the residency requirement permanent if no change is made …The FAU study for extending the districts is still required due to that being in the Town Charter…

Mark Brown answered that this was “a more important issue than you realize” correctly citing the report Consultant Cecelia Ward brought forth to the Commission of many such instances of more issues not making it into the Town Charter…He added he was looking forward to the committee but did not want to impose on them or tie their hands … The question that followed was to ask the candidates where they would cut or increase the current budget …Brown responded that this Commission has done a good job with a lean budget during these economic times…He added that he would look into the Town Attorney’s budget as well as discussing capital improvements and keeping a line on the millage rate …Malkoon spoke of how lucky we are to have a town that is financially sound and spoke of keeping the 3.999 millage rate…He took a jab at his opponent by stating Brown was for raising the millage at budget time …

BC- Brown has stated he was for raising it slightly along with a few others during the budget hearings due to the unknowns in the budget leftover from the previous administration cited by the Administration at these meetings and it was for this millage hearing only…Readers may recall this is the same time that the sewer replacement in the south end of town was also looming as Malkoon will touch upon later in the forum…

The Candidates were asked if they were happy with the current Master Plan and it was Malkoon responding first to once again remind voters he was on the MPSC and was happy with the Master Plan stating it was not set in stone for the 5 years.. Brown shot back that he was “disappointed” with the MPSC and glad that the Town went out beyond the committee to accomplish the plan citing a lack of consensus on the committee…He also corrected Malkoon by stating that only one year of the Master Plan has a budgeted commitment of funding..

BC- Readers will recall (prev. posts boards) that the Comm. thought the MPSC was floundering as well and asked the TM to take over with guiding them through this process…TM Hoffmann came in with some planned committee group building exercises followed by introducing experts to produce outside the box ideas which ed to presentations and the UM study along with resident input to finalize the Master Plan…The Commission cut short the MPSC 5-0 over the objections voiced by Malkoon himself long before their 2-yr terms were up …

Up next was the question concerning the upcoming beach re-nourishment which was also discussed at a recent Town Reg. Comm. meeting… Brown responded that he had experience in beach re-nourishment while working with congress and stated it is imperative to do and he supports it with reservations ..Those include the impact on LBTS which he stated was nowhere as bad off as Galt Ocean Mile…He also stated his concerns about the proposed ideas such as the sand coming from mined areas on trucks and the impact of the trucks carrying it as well as the quality of the sand itself.. He reiterated he supports the project with reservations…  Malkoon responded after Brown that he remembered the beach re-nourishment of the early 1980’s and the problems at that time..

BC- Hmmm… Malkoon is 36 years old…so to remember the project in the early 80’s he would have been  5-8 years old..so how much of a beach re-nourishment project would an 8 year old really recall…I am told that project was not done from the shore but rather brought in from the water although I have not checked it out… So who coached him?… Comm. Clottey who it is said was nodding throughout the forum as he looked toward her for reassurance?… Speaking of “Team Edmund” this writer was also informed that Cindy Geesey and Bob Fleishman made it their business to make faces at Mark Brown throughout such as putting their fingers down their throats when he responded and using the throat slash when it appeared he was running long on a response … Later on in Brown’s closing remarks he took aim at such actions which should send a message not only to these two but to voters …

Public bathrooms was the next topic… Malkoon responded once again that he was on the MPSC and this had come before them for the “80th” time…he did not think it was a top priority citing the sewers and drainage ..

BC- I think a look back at his time on the MPSC will show he was all in when it came to public bathrooms ..

Mark brown stood his ground saying he had written about the need for bathrooms and was not going to change his position now (as his opponent did) ..He spoke up about his idea to do a trial with a modular unit to see if it worked or not..If not then not much would be spent on the trial …He also spoke of walking around town often and the usage of restaurant bathrooms to cover this deficiency…

BC- A look back at this discussion which went on quite a long time with the MPSC will show that Brown’s idea was put forth on the dais by none other than Comm Clottey… Brown also recommended using El Prado as the test area …Talk about parking lots was brought up by others in town and met with concerns of pedestrian safety crossing  A1A or El Mar and using the Aruba alleyway which would put the pedestrians in danger from valeted cars…

A screwy question which was prefaced by the moderator as such but nevertheless still put forth by her concerned the Chamber of Commerce being funded by Town and County taxpayers and a charge of the Chamber paying “thousands” to an out of state contractor… Mark Brown said indeed the question was wrong … Ms. Smith, the moderator then asked if the Chamber should play a bigger role or no role at all in town… Brown responded that he is a big supporter of the Chamber citing what they bring to the town as well as the partnership required now more than ever between the two with what is planned as well as the Town not being able to hire more staff … Malkoon reminded voters once more that he is a Chamber board member ( he made a try for the Chamber board in 2010 but was not elected) …He said he owned a business in town and said we are one of two Welcome Centers in Broward and ours is well run…He then digressed into bids saying he is pro bids and putting forth the Town’s policy of local bids preferences …

BC- The Town’s bid policy has nothing to do with the Chamber bids policies…

The sewer/water fees increase question was finally asked and it was Malkoon’s to answer first… He said he spoke to the Town Manager on this issue and that there is an inequality as well as adding the sewer replacement would cost us about a million dollars which is not as bad as we thought it would be and we have $1.8 million in the sewer fund which “is more than enough needed” … He spoke of the water usage and Fort Lauderdale and the charges “going down” as well as looking at a rate decrease across the board..

BC- I find this disturbing because up til now it was my understanding we do not have the final figures for the cost of the sewers in the south…So where did Malkoon get the million figure from?… Did the TM inform him before the Commission?… The water usage I believe is slated to go up with another increase on the horizon as we only sent in by resolution our complaint concerning the fees…As far as a rate decrease across the board for south end properties under the PB-LBTS Master Sewer Agreement…I believe the only rate decrease to be discussed is concerning multi-family/hotel/condo properties…on Jan 19th..

Mark Brown responded that he supported the Commission’s decision to have everybody pay their fair share in order to maintain the sewers and build up reserves for repairs and replacement…He said if there is now a question of too much money being reserved then it needs to be addressed…but a continued fair share rate should apply …

The question was asked about the need and any support from the Candidates for a new Town Hall… Brown responded that the present Town Hall properties are underutilized and should be consolidated in the future citing the fire station as a component…He did not believe public monies should be used and said it was not a top priority… Malkoon agreed it was not a top priority…

BC- I believe at the time of Town Hall discussions Malkoon was for the “whole enchilada”…

The 5-year Capital Improvement Plan question was put to both and Malkoon responded it addressed the infrastructure adding it was not “set in concrete” so changes could be made…He stated we do not have to go out for monies and spoke of grants for improvements ..Brown stated he was happy we finally have a 5-year plan citing “piecemeal” projects …He added correctly that the projects funded thus far are from reserves and added he will not be voting for increasing taxes to fund projects… The moderator segwayed into the  millage rate and raising it… Brown said only if there was a disaster saying he saw no reason to raise the millage… Malkoon responded “being a taxpayer who wants to pay more”…He said we have $2.3 million in our emergency disaster fund as well as other avenues to cover such an event…

Outsourcing the Parking Dept. was the next question…Malkoon stated that the Parking Dept. has longtime residents as employees and stated it should be made known to taxpayers that it is funded by the Enterprise Fund not from the General Fund and he needed to look at it more …

BC- Malkoon was wrong… The Town employees are not paid from the Enterprise Fund…that funds the parking lots etc…but the department employees are paid for by the taxpayers…

Mark Brown hit right back by saying he has done a lot of knocking on doors and repeatedly heard “Do what you have to do to keep the cost down”…He said he would look at outsourcing case-by-case based on facts not emotion…Traffic flow was up next ..Brown cited the many traffic changes implemented by the Town (Consultant Hughs) and spoke of concerns with pedestrians at the intersection of A1A (and Commercial) as well as the turnaround at the Pavilion …Malkoon went green with agreeing with the A1A/Comm. Blvd. intersection adding that people should get out of their cars and use the Pelican Hopper/the new sharing bikes and walking…Then it was onto the “Does Lauderdale-By-The-Sea have a parking problem” question… Malkoon said no we don’t our parking is underutilized and that talk of a parking garage will be wonderful one day…done by a private entity…

BC- Again voters need to go back to Malkoon’s time on MPSC to see where he stood then vs. now…

Brown said we do have a parking problem because people want to park right in front of where they are going..He cited signage as well being a problem and added that after the recession is over the time will come to think about a garage or some  way to deal with it…No money for it right now… Next was the question of what if any changes the candidates would make in the bid process …large bids… Brown responded the Town under this Commission and Administration made big changes with a limit of $15,000 being kept and the Commissioners seeing all bids first… Malkoon added there has been a big increase in transparency in the last 2 years and he thinks we should bid as much as possible .. That was followed by a question concerning staffing in Town such as a Town Marketing person, Town Planner, Asst. TM and an Asst. To the TM… Malkoon said we should let the TM run the town… Brown stated that as a Chief of Staff he held a similar role to the TM in staffing …He went on to say as long as the TM was mindful of the overall budget it did not matter what title was affixed to the TM’s hires…He added that if the Commission became unhappy with the TM’s actions the TM could be removed… The second to last question was about the recreation/Senior Center and any changes… Brown responded he regularly participates in the program lauding its volunteers and saying he thought there was a need for more space and suggesting more usage of Jarvis Hall ….Malkoon stated it was now called the Community Center and he said Armilio (the director) was doing a “great job” …as far as youth programs he said we are “blessed” with programs in neighboring towns and it’s something we can look in to..

BC- Mark Brown was a big supporter and proponent to save Armilio Bien-Aime’s job and the center itself a few years ago when Malkoons “mentor” Comm. Clottey was in cahoots with former TM Colon to undermine the program and Armilio with Broward County!…Oops!…

The final question was about the Town employing a lobbyist …Malkoon’s response was a swift no …Brown said “we have a Congressman, State Representative, State Senator and County Commissioner, let them do the lobbying for us!”…

The closing came at 10 to 8 due to no one in the 3/4 filled hall coming forth with anymore questions for the candidates despite the moderator repeatedly asking them to do so… Each had 2 minutes…

Malkoon went first and said he was proud that LBTS is financially sound …he would be fiscally responsible and spoke of a cost benefit analysis…He then went on the attack one more time against his opponent and his experience in Washington pleading with the voters to vote for a local boy…

BC- This line of attack was a complete misfire in this writer’s opinion …It made it abundantly clear that Malkoon not being able to match Brown’s experience decided with his small, small cadre of pals to denigrate it!… Sad and pitiful….

Mark Brown had the last words and they were the reason this writer used the Karate Kid reference at the top of this post… Mark spoke of walking around the town over the past 3 months and what an amazing experience it has been…He spoke about the remarks he heard concerning happiness with the commission and the desire to move forward while keeping the uniqueness of out town intact… He followed that up by declaring that he had written hundreds of stories over the last five years (as a volunteer) which he signed his name to and took full responsibility for … He further declared that he would continue doing so when elected your commissioner…He then shot his final blow to those who sat menacingly in the front row as well as his opponent by emphatically stating “I’m not beholden to anyone” … He ended by just as emphatically telling the voters he will listen to the people, do what’s best for  the town and he won’t waste any money doing it!…

With that the meeting ended… As Myagi  said to the “kid” wax on…wax off… Voters…take a look at the forum…take a look at the differences ..an experienced…methodical…factual man who is beholden to no one or a self proclaimed local boy who is apparently beholden to a cadre of supporters who let him believe he is owed a seat on the dais because he is a local boy!… Wax off!…..

more to come…

Tags: ,

Post Division