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January 22, 2022 by Barbara

Dear Readers…. Do you love as residents…guests…visitors the outdoor dining extension seating our town was at the forefront instituting at the start of Covid?…. The decision is set to take place for it to be permanent on Tues. January 25, 2022 in Jarvis Hall at 6:30 pm…by our commission ….Your input is vital to their decision!…. This writer is all in for these improvements to our downtown….We had a Resolution in 2014 determining the uses of the Ocean Plaza …But ….we all know that times and uses change ….and that is the case with the Ocean Plaza….as 3 of those on the dais who signed this Resolution know and agree with….The time is now to make the change from that 2014 Resolution to allow extended dining with pedestrian reconfiguration access to the beach ….as well as to keep the extended dining in the Commercial Blvd. parking spaces…. The Town Manager puts emphasis on loss of parking revenue for these spaces….but….we are only flush with parking fund money ….BECAUSE….of the downtown restaurants!….To make up the loss….increase the parking fees to mirror other seaside towns….Below is the email this writer sent to the commission ….and I will be at the commission meeting to make public comments in full support ….  Readers can come and speak at the podium or send in their support to the Town Clerk …

[email protected]

My email…..

‘Mayor, Commissioners-

On January 25,2022 at your Commission meeting in Jarvis Hall on your agenda will be the decision on making permanent the outdoor dining extensions into some of the Commercial Blvd. parking spaces as well as providing the same extension to Aruba Beach Cafe in the plaza.

Our town was at the forefront of utilizing these areas to offer our restaurants what many other restaurants in our country lost out on, a way to stay in business throughout this ongoing pandemic!

We were quick to offer our residents, hotel guests and visitors near and far a safe way to partake in dining out and getting out of their homes!

What resulted from this was quite extraordinary and unexpected!

We found that the use of these hazardous parking spaces for extended outdoor dining were not in the least bit a negative impact in loss of use but  in fact it was a much safer use of prime downtown property and a much healthier alternative of not having the chance of impact from poor parallel parkers and car fumes!

In the plaza, Aruba Beach Cafe, long the real  anchor of our town for keeping our downtown afloat especially in those years of losing Mack Groves and before the fruition of the downtown revitalization that brought in other restaurants and businesses, provided a beautiful sight of welcoming umbrellaed covered tables for those who prior to this use would use the plaza with their balloons in hand waiting for a table there!

The use of the plaza has significantly changed from its original intended use.

For those who think otherwise I again implore you to spend time there in order to see that like most towns we have an increase of the less fortunate souls finding their way downtown to stay for extended stretches of time.

We’ve lost our ocean and beach views while seated under the pavilion which was key to the building of the pavilion and the plaza with the positioning of the boat benches and Adirondack chairs as a result of the need to increase our dune and seagrass protection.

Aruba Beach Cafe with this extension of dining has offered a solution to the plaza use as well as being a good steward to the daily upkeep and  maintenance of the plaza.

Peggy Mohler and her staff are always quick to assist the Town and anyone who might need to use the plaza as witnessed before and during the pandemic.

The most recent example was the Hanukkah event and unexpectedly saved with their umbrellas being on hand as it rained!

At Sea Ranch Club, I have reached out to large portions of over 700+ owners, renters and guests asking their take on the outdoor dining extension, loss of these parallel parking spaces on Commercial Blvd. and the extension of Aruba Beach Cafe and the response has been overwhelmingly for it to continue!

Seasonal renters from Canada back after a years absence, many returning as they have year after year, cannot fathom why there would be any opposition to making this permanent!

Others, new owners to the three buildings which is more than we have experienced in two decades, exclaimed they chose LBTS because of our being different from our neighboring towns where overdevelopment is rampant and they see the downtown restaurants with this outdoor dining setup as a a major component of what drove them to their decision to buy here!

They also cited El Mar Drive as is, stating their daily use and being fully aware of the push to change it and our height restrictions!

In not understanding the south- end old-timers as well as the new- comers those against this permanent outdoor dining extension sitting on the dais show a lack of any real connection to the heart and soul of our town and why we have and will continue to fight to protect and preserve it while being on board for refreshing and improving it in ways to make it better while honoring its specialness as this permanent extension of outdoor dining does!

Thank you,
Barbara Cole’

more to come…..

Post Division

Here’s The Scoop … A Lack Of Judgment Calls?…..

October 14, 2009 by Barbara


Dear Readers… For this writer March 9, 2010 cannot come soon enough!…Tuesday night’s Public Safety Discussion was just the latest “Deputy-sode” of McIntee muck and mire in the last three and a half years…… What is wrong up there?…

How can they sit up there and completely miss the mark …(pun intended)… on the substance of the story of the suicide which appeared first on this site shortly after the incident in May and again after the Mark Brown in-depth articles in the BTS Futures?…

How can they be so blind as to not realize that until Vice Mayor McIntee requested the police reports through the Town Manager as Vice Mayor (We know he cannot do e-mails but is he also incapable of doing public records requests…He did his e-mail request for the Mayor and Comm. Dodd as the VM through the Manager as well)…thus this report went to each of the Commissioners as well…Putting it on the agenda he made it part of the backup for the item further expanding its distribution which along with his statements on the dais made the Vice Mayor himself the FIRST person to publicly expose the name of the widow and her address!…

In what capacity was he speaking ?…If he was speaking as the Deputy Chief of the VFD he should have stepped down in front of the podium… and he should have been questioned by the commission as the rest of the public safety officers were….

This writer has watched over the years how this “Gumshoe” McIntee operates…You have to watch closely when McIntee does one of these numbers…and see how he diverts attention away from facts or self incrimination…it’s a trait that’s really quite well honed after 60+ years……Notice throughout this exercise McIntee never says his police report interview as witness #3 is incorrect…Notice McIntee never asks the Chief to ask BSO to re-interview him under oath and taped…He never does an “Esther Colon” and says “subpoena me”…”I won’t take the 5th”… Why because he knows the interview and the statement he made were true!…We have seen this before with past discrepancies…The McIntee on the dais…and the McIntee in the reports…Fl.Ethics Commission/ Fl.Elections Commission …and BSO… They’re always different… This time he put the onus on the widow…asking for the BSO to interview her…Having her taped for the interview with the “Editor” of the BTSTimes…Notice how he changes times… He arrived in 17 seconds per Chief Perkins at the podium…15 seconds according to the VFD Incident Report (270/300/ 400 ft. in 15-17 secs?)…Notice how he changes how many feet his home is from the suicide 400 ft…270 ft…300 ft…Notice how he says he heard the fire radio in the police report …In the 2nd version he was “directed to go there by the emergency dispatch” on his pager…knowing the only reason he and the VFD get these kind of call is because they have asked to be included on them as a practice…There is no need in a suicide to call the Deputy Chief of the local volunteer fire department to go to a suicide…Notice how he says he heard the woman screaming this time…this version from “around the corner”…inside her house…(is that possible?)…In his police statement he says the woman and the daughter followed him into the bedroom…Notice how he says “he made the decision to go in there and do whatever I could to help the woman”…was the house unlocked?…Did he break down the door?….Notice how he says “the gentleman had put a 45 caliber pistol to the side of his head and blew one side of his head off. He was lying in a position. There was no chance of recovery from. “I looked at him briefly 5-10 seconds,”…as opposed to his police report ” after taking a look at the victim he knew he was dead because of his color, he never checked his vital signs.”…He had time to decide it was a 45 caliber but not time to be the “First Responder” and do CPR….Notice how he says “I scooped up the daughter and the wife as they’re screaming and took them out of this terrible sight they were looking at and put them on the couch and consoled them as best I could.”…In the police report “McIntee then made everyone sit in the living room until the arrival of the police, which he said was almost immediate.”… He says from the dais “I got them to the couch and within 30 seconds the troops arrived. That would be the Chiefs, cops, deputies. They were all there., did a great job.”…But later when asked about entering against VFD SOPs (standard operating procedures) McIntee says ..” I was the first person there. They didn’t get there for a minute, minute and a half and if you think I’m gonna stand outside and with a woman and a kid screaming because I’m in jeopardy, the only life I’m jeopardizing is myself, you’re wrong.”…

McIntee used his usual tactics of comparing apples to oranges (with Jimmy-boy entering the fray in his comments)…by actually comparing a volunteer fireman entering a house where it was reported on the call “HER HUSB POSS SHOT HIMSELF…STILL LLONCONSCIOUS AND BREATHING UNCONSCIOUS OR STAB/GUNSHOT/PENETRATING TRAUMA UNCONSCIOUS OR ARREST (GUNSHOT!) HE HAS RECEIVED A GUNSHOT WOUND” …to the BSO bomb expert who entered the Hyperbaric explosion to save the little boy and his grandmother…with McIntee saying they gave him” a medal… (was that a hint to Jimmy-boy for as future agenda item?).. No gunshot reported at that explosion…and it was a policeman who responded to an explosion…not a volunteer fireman responding to a “possible suicide”…Notice how the little girl becomes the “baby”…and then he descends into a plug for the BTSTimes…an article coming next issue…a follow-up to the Truth “deflector” in the last issue?….He says “I never called her. I never asked for her cooperation”…Not quite what is being said in the background…He continues to ask the BSO Chief “to send somebody out to talk to her and release a sworn statement from her and then I can start looking for retractions.”…But later when the Mayor read the BSO Investigative Action Report (page 2) with his “Witness #3 statement” McIntee entered the master bedroom with the victim’s wife and daughter following him and after taking a look at the victim he knew he was dead because of his color”…. saying “those are pretty strong words and they came from you Vice Mayor”……McIntee countered careful not to implicate himself “No, they came from a Homicide Detective who is presently off sick and did not take any notes and who did not take any tape and who did not generate the report for 3 months.”..(Later when asked by Comm. Clottey about the 3 month gap from May to July BSO Chief Llerena replied it was “standard procedure” for death cases..Did the “seasoned police officer McIntee not know this?)… The Mayor did not back down…”So you’re calling this report [BSO] a lie?”… McIntee sidesteps and does not answer ..instead saying ” Well one of those reports I read Mayor was that I had my feet put up on the detective’s desk. He interviewed me in the fire station.”…McIntee could not say the report was a lie…because it is not…When the Mayor continued to push him on it…he further stepped aside from answering to again “offer up ” the widow…”and that’s why I’ve suggested the Chief [BSO] go interview the woman and get the inside story.”…But again did not offer up himself for another interview… The Mayor was strong and asked for “another investigation”..saying “Because looking at this information and reading what was in the original report we need to get to the bottom of this. We need to protect the citizens of this community and I would think Vice Mayor you would want that as much as I do.”…The Vice Mayor said “I do Mayor and I asked the the Chief prior to that dissertation to please do that.To contact…” (the woman…not him)…The Vice Mayor continued throughout to say the BSO was wrong in their investigation …He said he had asked for a “complete investigation” from BSO “Homicide” from her because “one of the problems was and she told us this was the day of the homi, suicide they talked to her and that night she was very distraught and they never went back to talk to her. I think they did this because it was a courtesy. It, they didn’t want to put her through that again and that made a lot of sense at the time….So according to McIntee BSO stopped investigating as a courtesy?… That’s a pretty serious charge against BSO…

Mark Brown the Editor of the BTSFuture’s had an opportunity to defend his reporting and himself after McIntee spoke first (not the “standard practice…usually public comment comes first)…He was steadfast after hearing McIntee say …”But when I read a description in a paper [BTSF] that is so opposite what happened it hurts and it’s evil and it’s slanderous. And I went to a lawyer and I’m, my aggressive moves that you heard yesterday [4 pm Comm. workshop “defamation” definition] in my initial statement and I’m not backing down. This was a hate filled article that did not tell the truth.” He was armed and ready with 6 reports all used for the factual information found within the pages of his publication …Mark also met with the widow after she contacted him. (He brought her the police reports, which she had not seen until he showed them to her) …Mark told the dais he was glad the Vice Mayor chose to speak first and said “If the objective was to try and discredit me, I’ll tell you right now that I stand 100% behind my story. Everything I wrote down is documented in the public records that are available to all of you on this incident including the Vice Mayor’s statements on this, and I’m prepared to defend my story at anytime and in any forum.” (scroll down to Public Safety discussion 7 a. Report on Suicide in Bel-Air) …Mark pointed out some of the content including the Vice Mayor’s statement and when he made the common mistake of calling it a “deposition” McIntee seized the opportunity to try and throw Mr. Brown off message by countering the mistake as ” untrue.”…Mark returned to pointing out the discrepancies between the 6 reports and the BTSTimes “version” along with this evenings statements made by the Vice Mayor. He said “I think there needs to be an investigation to find out why these stories are changing. But who’s gonna do it because you’ve got two commissioners with the VFD. The Town Manager hasn’t done any oversight of the VFD. She can’t do it. That leaves the State of Florida I think this commission should ask the Florida State Fire Marshal Office or the Florida Bureau of Emergency Medical Services to investigate this matter and find out why there’s these different stories now between the official reports and what we’re being told now.”…He went on about the Vice Mayor’s actions of entering the house and the Florida State Statute 112 concerning the Vice Mayor’s required assistance once he chose to become a “First Responder”…When Mark said the Vice Mayor said the man was dead …the Vice Mayor called out “point of order” saying “that’s an absolute lie,. I never said that, that’s an absolute untruth and another lie and you’re putting your foot deeper in it.”……The Vice Mayor said “I looked at him briefly , maybe 5-10 seconds sensed there was no hope.”..Mr Brown also knew from the VFD CAD report it said “DP12 ADV S7″…which is police “lingo” for dead…(it was odd because we hear S7 is not used by firefighters…must be more of that “seasoned cop stuff)… Mark continued after telling the Vice Mayor “It’s my turn to speak now I’ve listened to you.”…Applause came from the hall…..He spoke of the standard investigations done throughout the country in police departments and fire departments in reviewing the conduct of their members …The Vice Mayor he said should be treated the same way as a VFD firefighter who was suspended this past summer.. McIntee should be put on administrative leave pending the outcome…”If the investigators find he was negligent or otherwise violated the law then he should be put on trial or otherwise be held accountable for his actions.”….”It’s also time for this commission to pass a law that prohibits members of the VFD from responding to medical calls unless assistance is first requested by the BSO or AMR.”…The Vice Mayor had enough and called out “Time!”…the audience responded angrily…

Time came for the other Public Safety Officers to make their way up to the podium…First was LBTS-BSO Chief Llerena who would be facing his first head-on interchange with the Vice Mayor…(welcome to politics in LBTS Chief)…The Chief pointed out this investigation was never a homicide and there was never any indication of a suspicious death or any type of crime related to it. He explained the process of not taping or having sworn testimony statements in these cases. He said any issues of the VFD By-laws were not part of the homicide unit and they would not get into that… Well the Vice Mayor jumped onto that opening ..”Question for the Chief, there’s no crime here.” …Chief Llerena said “No sir, there was never any allegation of any type of a homicide.”…The Vice Mayor found just the way to go further away from his own role of entering the home contrary to VFD procedure and to keep off his “first responder” problem of not doing anything for the victim… He said he had asked the Chief to take the statement “from the poor woman, Is that correct?”…Chief Llerena said “Yes Sir,  I’ve been  authorized  by the Chief of Detectives to comment to the best of my ability on the case. So I can relay that concern back to the Homicide Division, we have a victim advocate.”…

Commissioner Silverstone chimed in giving Mr Brown some BFF (Best Friends Forever) swipes for the article…his paper and skewing the papers report saying that McIntee calling off the rescue of an injured man would have been breaking the law if it happened…He tried to initiate some verification of it being punishable from Chief Llerena but the Chief could not comment on the matter due to unfamiliarity with statutes governing firefighters…( the CAD report in the VFD Incident report the DP12 S7 and the VFD June monthly report that shows the “04-May-09 S.E.15 Street medical, cancelled by DPC12)… Getting nowhere Jimmy went to AMR Lt. Brooke Liddle to address this asking who could call off the medics…Mr Liddle answered only law enforcement can cancel or prohibit them from entering a scene…Jimmy said” it was impossible for this to happen. He [McIntee] doesn’t have the authority to do it and if he tried nobody would listen to him anyway ….”…Too funny…Since when did this ever stop the VM?…Comm. Silverstone decided to go for the paper in an attempt to portray the BTSFutures as “nothing but a political format, a platform to use, it’s obvious to me.”…He then stated he hoped the Vice Mayor would follow through with his “promise of seeing this to the end.”…saying this reporting was what was dividing the town…Hmmm….

Commissioner Dodd asked AMR Lt. Liddle and VFD Chief  Perkins the same question…finally getting to the reason …It’s nice to see a non-lemming in action…He asked each about their procedures for entering a “situation such as this”.. that AMR “are not allowed to go into the premises until cleared by BSO to do so”…The Lt. answered that is “standard AMR procedure.”…Comm. Dodd went further asking why the procedure was in place and he was told for the safety of the rescuer…Comm. Dodd said he had concern for the members of the fire department if they did not follow the same procedure…and went on to throw the Vice Mayor a bone about his days in Buffalo and his past a cop going  to similar calls..but he reminded the Vice Mayor that now he enters as a VFD Deputy Chief…He went on to put Chief Perkins on the spot to answer the same  question of procedures where a gunshot had been heard….Chief Perkins said ” Our procedures are the same as AMR. We have to stand outside until the scene is cleared by P.D., That’s the procedure” …It took from May to get the VFD Chief to admit the procedure was in place…Comm. Dodd asked what happens when “somebody doesn’t adopt that procedure?”…Perkins said the following ” Well, every call has a life of its own and Mr. McIntee made a judgment call and I weighed all the circumstances of what happened and I decided he did go against our procedure but it was justified.”…Comm. Dodd asked for more…”So that was the result of the internal fire department inquiry into this particular incident?”… Chief Perkins said ” Yes Sir, the decision came on me. I would either suspend him him for going against procedure or justify of. I felt he made a judgment and every emergency like that is a judgment call and because the woman was screaming, and there was a child involved. Yes it was against our procedures but they needed help.”…

What kind of internal inquiry was done and was the Town Manager informed in the process?…I sent a PRR to the VFD and the Town… The VFD responded…
Public Records Request
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 12:30 PM From: “Barbara Cole”
To: [email protected]
Chief Perkins, Cheryl : I am making a public records request for all correspondence , e-mails, memos or meetings between Town Manager Colon or any Town Staff and the VFD, Chief Perkins, Dep. Chief McIntee concerning the May 4, 2009 suicide incident on SE 15th St.
I am asking for any internal investigation report, documents on Deputy Chief McIntee ignoring VFD SOPs for entering a suicide scene against procedure. Chief Perkins acknowledged DP 12 did not follow procedure .
Please acknowledge this request.
Thank you Barbara Cole

Re: Public Records Request

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 3:08 PM


“Cheryl Louvaris” <[email protected]>


“Barbara Cole” <[email protected]>

Mrs. Cole,

We received your request; unfortunately we have no correspondence that you request.  The only report we have is the incident report in the CAD system which is now public information.

Cheryl Louvaris
Executive Secretary


Back to the meeting…The Vice Mayor took yet another opportunity to go off topic when the Chief mentioned he was on scene in 2 minutes…Ah Ha…McIntee said the BTSFutures said the Chief was not there for an hour…”That’s an absolute untruth.” said McIntee…The Chief said he was there and “I’m dealing in facts.”…But which facts…The Chief in the exchange with McIntee states he has dispatch arrival times odf AMR 3 minutes 8 seconds/ Perkins 2 minutes and McIntee 17 seconds….The VFD Incident Report states on page 2  for DP12 (Dep. Chief McIntee ) Apparatus Dispatch Date and Time 17:11:51/ Apparatus Arrival Date and Time 17:12:35 / Response time 0:00:15 ….For C12 (Chief Perkins) “Apparatus Dispatch Date and Time 17:12:29/ Apparatus Arrival date and time 17:12:37  The mistake of the Perkins arrive on scene time was the “Arrive facility date and time 18:08:29″…it was an honest mistake…..Back to Comm Dodd…(McIntee was interrupting throughout the item and he carried on his behavior the rest of the evening…Time for the gavel!)…. Comm. Dodd asked about suspending people for going into a building without permission from BSO…asking AMR what they would do…The response “administrative leave”…He felt that should be a lesson for Chief Perkins …This is where McIntee said he was first…by a minute to a minute and a half and was going in no ifs, ands or buts ….He went on to try and engage the BSO Chief to compare a policeman going into a fire…and felt quite invigorated when Chief Llerena said “that would be a judgment call he would have to make.”…but the caveat was “we don’t have any specific policy”…VFD does…as stated by the Chief…McIntee was not deterred by this mere “detail” …this is where he went for the “medal”…the “hero got for going into the Hyperbaric explosion scene…

No wanting to be left by the wayside Jimmy-boy could not resist…he asked Chief Perkins if he [Jimmy]was allowed to go in the water to save someone drowning..The Chief said “Yes, you are.”…Comm. Silverstone puffed up and said “Do I need permission from anybody?”.. The Chief said he did not…but he said “you do need to contact dispatch to let them know so we all know that you’re in there”…Aw shucks…Jim was not going to let this bravado go “Just for the record if I see somebody out there, I’m going out. If I hear somebody screaming  and I’m the first one there I’m gonna do something about it. If I can. I’ll make a judgment call obviously.”…You go Jimmy…you go!….

Commissioner Clottey had another chance to deal with a police issue… and she showed where she’s spending her free time lately (eeny….meany…miny…MOE)…saying it was unfortunate to “put a resident in our community through this.”…(The widow now lives in another town)…”But I do have a question of the Police Chief” (we held our breath, deja vue)… She followed the Vice Mayor’s lead about the May to July date on the investigative report…and it was explained by the BSO Chief as standard … Comm. Clottey said “I also have another question. When you have somebody commit suicide who’s not a public figure in any way shape or form is it common to put the family through something like this?…Chief Llerena just got a dose of “Cluelessness”…and answered “I’m not sure what you’re referring to?…Comm. Clottey “I mean the publicity is it common?”…Chief Llerena “That’s improper for me to comment on. That’s not part of the Sheriff’s office. In terms of the investigation it’s routine, it’s unfortunate but we do have to interview some of the victims and witnesses. That part of the investigation is very routine.”

Comm. Dodd stated a public statement containing the information about the investigative procedures might have alleviated the need for this exercise…the Mayor agreed but still trying to dodge the bullet of public opinion the Vice mayor went off  point by inferring Comm. Dodd wanted the in-depth report of the event…when what Comm. Dodd and the Mayor wanted was just what Mark Brown wanted. Some real  accountability and real action taken concerning a member of our town contracted public safety provider who breaks the rules….no judgment call just the rules in black and white….for as the Town Manger said the evening before… there is no gray…

What happens now…well, the Futures comes out on Friday…and you can bet the “Truth Deflector” will be ready, with laundry marker in hand …The Chief of the VFD who spent a long time one on one with Mark Brown after the exchange will be doing some fancy footwork to yet again deny his words to the “opposition” of the “Mc-Gang”…The Town might get my PRR back to me before next month and they may have more info than the VFD. …The Town Manager will continue to ignore this very real public safety issue…that effects us all and it should become a factor in her evaluation next Tuesday……

We have a rogue VFD Deputy Chief who believes he is above the VFD bylaws… and continues to believe his actions…are judgment calls that ONLY jeopardize him…we strongly disagree!….

Remember voters…..If your judgment call is to give him 4 more years with his BFF Jimmy-boy Silverstone (Batman and Robin)… Vice Mayor McIntee won’t just be content acting like the Police…he will be the Police in LBTS……  and that will jeopardize us all!….

more to come….

Post Division

Here’s The Scoop …. ADD IT TO THE BUDGET ….

September 15, 2009 by Barbara


Dear Readers after the September 14, 2009 Budget Meeting…It is quite apparent the Town Manager needs to do much more than to stop saying “AKS”!…

She seems to think that she is only accountable to the Commission and said just that… This is a cunning woman… with an increasingly thin skin…and that tells this writer there is much going on in Town Hall…She tags one key word and goes after it as witnessed last night ….it takes her off topic…away from the point  and diverts the attention away from what is actually being asked….

Will someone please inform the Manager that the chart …the ultimate chart …and she told us how much she loves charts…shows that the CITIZENS are at the top of the chart in LBTS!….She spent much time calling the taxpayers  “some individuals” …”outsiders”….with such disdain that she cannot contain it on the dais and off!…

This was a Budget hearing…the first time the “individuals/ outsiders” could ask questions…the two “individuals/outsiders ” she went after with an assist by Commissioner Silverstone were genuine and offered no bad behavior…just their questions, observations and opinions….

So thin skinned is Manager Colon that no matter where in the room this writer sits…she zones in …asking the Mayor to keep an eye on me…(audible on the video)….Shaking my head was the provocation…again I was definitely shaking my head in disbelief at her continued bad behavior …I was warned as I quietly reassured resident Ben Freeny after he was shocked that both Commissioner Silverstone and Town Manager Colon falsely accused him of saying there was possibly a shell game going on in Town…Mr Freeny’s comment was “In major cities it’s difficult to tell but a lot of time it’s a big shell game”…he was not talking about the Town… and he was not allowed to respond, but when he leaned forward to share his disbelief …this writer was again zoned in on…..

What was said and what was ignored is what needs to be pointed out…along with the artful dodging…(a link to the video and the budget online with the numbers below)…

Let’s start at the beginning…there were 10 residents in the hall along with Judy Vik from the the Pompano Pelican….four representatives from charities and the staff all gussied up at the back table, but never brought to the front for their closeup …just briefly recognized by the Manager at the end of the meeting…Commissioner Clottey was MIA and was excused in her absence by the Commission before we began… The charity reps came up first to ask for another years offerings from the Town…as in the past the Town Manager made a recommendation in the budget of no donations… (approx. 12,000, the same as in 2008-09)…Then came public comments …and the Mayor allowed extra time due to a small gathering…a mixed bag in response for this writer … in prior years it was just 1 or 2 …but at the prior budget meeting when the public was not allowed to speak the room was almost full…Hmmmm….Mark Brown, a resident was up first with a comment and 13 questions…his comment was on the “editorializing” of the budget…He thought that stating “major accomplishments” in the budget such as the training of the fire department…which received a “zero” from ISO…and Public Safety Complex being completed when it is not …constituted “editorializing” …He had concerns about transferring funds from accounts…and how money was projected for use in the budget as compared to discussion or lack thereof from the Commission on those expenditures …He was interested in the grants …especially the $3 million for a firehouse and where the Town’s portion of matching funds would be coming from…He wanted also to know if the budget allowed for any change in police over the 18-24 month lead time previously offered up by the Vice Mayor when he discounted any plan to get rid of the BSO …Paul Novak, a resident  came to the podium in his official capacity as President of the Chamber of Commerce to ask for the same funds as the prior year and to tout the good deeds and the contribution made to the Town by the Chamber and the Welcome Center…Amy Weiss a business owner also spoke on behalf of the Chamber and Welcome Center and what it has meant to her business over the years…Bob Fleishman, a resident spoke about the Bert J. Harris lawsuit and a lack of reserves for the suit…the low millage vs the emergency funds …the Capital improvement fund and infrastructure…He spoke of the Managers’ “pie grafts” saying it was missing the “ingredients”…in not representing where or how money was spent…He thought more savings needed to be put aside…Ben Freeney, a resident and CPA spoke of his credentials and the time he spent looking at the budget and prior Town financial reports and what he found troubling…he spoke of the analysis …the preparation and what was meant when using terms thrown out such as we (Town) are in the black or red…saying a Town is not supposed to make money … He spoke about the financial reports passed each month with no questions asked …He then spoke about ratio analysis…the payroll and items in the budget that changed …with some of those changes raising more questions such as the health insurance and labor changes in departments…and huge cuts in maintenance …such as utilities …and of course his comment about “major cities budgets and a lot of time it’s a big shell game”…Ron Piersante, a resident came up to speak as a volunteer for the Chamber and spoke of the Chamber and Welcome Center …saying he distributes the Visitor Guides…He said he has been asked why this Commission is so anti-business ….This writer was the last resident and spoke of how “thrilled” I am with the marked increase in resident participation in the budget after years of  sitting in the hall with just one or two others…people are paying attention and new people are coming forward…I added the problem I see with the times for the budget hearings being 5:01 and that many younger working taxpayers are unable to participate…I also informed the dais that the next budget hearing that finalized and approves the budget falls on the second day of Yom Kippur..I spoke of the millage …it could have been lowered knowing finally that we are “flush with funds” ( $18,329,219 as of 8/31/09..the end of the fiscal year)…and paying off the promissory notes ( that we now know indeed came with pre- penalty payments more than a year after originally asked about )…This ended the public comments…

Commissioner Dodd said he wanted answers about the Beach Patrol and the $35,000 shown in the fire assessment fund (not in the original budget)…and whether that was an addition to the VFD contracted amount (at the July meeting the Manager asked if the VFD contract could be altered after learning the beach patrol could not be funded from the fire assessment and was told by the Town Atty. no…The Town Manager then opened up the $35,00 fire assessment fund from the General fund…[])…Comm. Dodd also said  after receiving the memo with the total of $18 million …he was changing his position of paying off the promissory notes …He was interested in the “original repurchase loan that changed to a now account and compared it to a variable bank mortgage…he spoke of the $100,000 made in the short term cost us in the end to pay back…He spoke of the reserves and the need to lower them and commended the Town Manager on her presentation of the budget this year…The Vice Mayor was in campaign mode … a chicken in every pot!…. He first made his usual pitch about where we stand compared to other towns in Broward County…the “terrible beating” the Town Manager receives from members on this dais…and that the majority of residents will see major drops in their taxes (HUH?)…He spoke of the fire assessment and discussion about it was misleading…that “Commissioner Silverstone nailed THEM” with getting a list of towns and finding most did not fund the fire dept. only from a fire assessment…( he did not add why that is…later stated by Comm. Dodd…because many of those towns knew what the Town Manager found out in July and was addressed by Mr. Burton, that portions of the fire service cannot be paid from the fire assessment)…He went on to talk of the “realm of recovery…it’s scary …200 applicants for a job …not sure this is the right time to pay off our loans…I think we should set up a workshop”…( a workshop was already setup per Comm. Clottey on the 10th for 5 pm on 9/22/09)…he then told us how “fortunate” we are that “somebody is doing right”…and in an all out political campaign to wipe away past bad deeds he told Paul Novak and the Chamber he was in support of the same funds as the last year for the Chamber and if they got $20,000 from the county …”I could care less…you get it…God bless you”…(This was the same Vice Mayor that wanted to move the Chamber…was in lockstep with  the Town Manager for getting an RFP for the Welcome Center…and offered and pulled the VFD funding of $5,000 for Christmas -by -the- Sea last year WOW!)…Commissioner Silverstone spoke about the donations and was confused about there being no donations…the Town Manager clarified it and he said he was “leaning towards” giving them the same as the precious year…( he had the wrong amount)… and then it began…Comm. Silverstone spoke of the 13 questions Mark Brown presented and wanted answered…and the Town Manager began her disgraceful responses in a condescending tone that speaks volumes for why she needs to go…she said she did not put inaccurate information into Town Topics and that “some individuals don’t understand a roll back”…she went on to explain where the info came from and then again in a condescending manner said “I try to explain during the power point, I circulate these documents if individuals can’t them that’s not my problem.” …. ” I do not give unfactual ( her word) information”…she spoke about about the LETF not shown in the budget (per a question from Mark Brown about the $150,000)…she spoke of how all the funds were discussed for the renovations,…(while I do not recall that discussion, LETF is not usually included in the budget)…she was flippant in her response to the Town Atty. budget…answering that the Commission understands the $250,000 for the Bert J. Harris suit…the question from Mr. Brown was not on the $250,000 but the increase in the Atty. budget ….she derogatorily spoke of “budget 101” …. Comm. Silverstone brought up the VFD “fire” boat …another question Mark Brown asked about…. its purpose of “patrolling” the Intercoastal…Comm. Silverstone said it was “necessary tool”…and it had been used for 2 dock fires ..(this writer will put in a request for those incident reports)… he also said the purchase of the Public Safety building will save us money…and on the topic of recycling …the Town Manager said the Mayor requested more cans on the beach…adding residents are not recycling causing extra work for the employees…The Town Manager answered Mr. Brown’s question on the grants saying she only looks for non-matching fund grants…and will not come to the Commission with them for that reason…she added “On the face” they are not asking for matching funds…Hmmmm……adding (thin skinned) she gets in trouble for getting grants and for not getting grants…the $3 million “firehouse” is not a “firehouse” she said…at first saying it would be for the VFD/AMR vehicles…then adding “housing for fire rescue”…Hmmm…a building that housed the fire apparatus and the AMR apparatus and the fire rescue can sleep in…sounds like a “firehouse”!…OOPS!…She said there is no money out there for the police and they were turned down for the federal stimulus funds….she added that when she gets direction from this Commission she will look into the police …and a change…Comm. Silverstone went along with the Vice Mayor on the Chamber (Broom Boys re-election)…and addressed “Mr Freely ” (Freeny) about the “Question about being in the BLACK OR BLUE” …..and then the “possible shell game up here” remark which distorted Mr Freeny’s comment…The Town Manager took over with going after Mr Freeny about the ratios and said “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist” to understand…along with additional commentary that showed an “udder”(Jimmy-boy)  lack of professionalism….She spoke of “personal attacks”…and her past actions “sittin up here as Finance Director”… paying off existing loans …and designations of Capital Improvement funds for capital improvements…She spoke of the trucks bought and why they were bough when they were this year ….Hmmm …(what she didn’t say was the trucks were bought “upfront”…and at the prior RFP for Parking Citation…this Town Manager said she does not buy anything “upfront” OOPS!)….She addressed the health and labor costs  changes in the budget…(per Ben Freeny) and then added this gem “some people want to write the facts, some people like to muddle the facts. I don’t muddle the facts.”…(She just skirts them…bends them…or stamps her foot down until they go away)….Comm. Silverstone (also a little thin skinned ) added that he does not have a CPA but he trusts the Town Manager and then wanted to make a motion to “reduce the debt”…The Mayor thanked everyone for coming and asked about the 5:01 time and was then correctly informed it cannot be held BEFORE 5:01 …then she spoke about the correct amount of the donations…the millage rate…and asked for residents to continue to make their comments  known….. The Mayor asked Comm. Silverstone about the ISO training and was informed that ISO would not accept the transition training in doing their report…The Town Manager went on to speak about the fire assessment and addressed the $35,00 (see above) that will be paid by the General Fund…She was deceptive in her holding up e-mails to say she had given the same response 4 times to Comm. Dodd on the payment which is still not sorted out…she went after him on the bank accounts…and sidestepped the issues…those being when she changed the repurchase agreement a little over a year ago (per the SunTrust Rep.) was it done with or without Commission input?….and the promissory notes…She  was almost glib in being able to “slap” Commissioner Dodd on the wrist in her assertion the promissory notes are at a “fixed rate”…while not addressing her decision to choose a pre-penatly when acquiring them that turned out to be FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE now that we need to pay them off with approximately a  $200,000 cost to the Town….She addressed the lowering of the emergency fund…and spoke of the million used in Wilma…(a look at 2 dates of the emergency fund shows in July it held approx. a million and in August it was back to $2.2…Hmmmm)…The line item budget…(per my comment and Comm. Dodd)…she said was antiquated…(Hmmm….on the RFPs she said if it ain’t broke don’t fix it)….and then went all personal again ..saying she has “a problem with criticism that hits below the belt”…that she gets “more criticism from OUTSIDERS (citizens) than on the dais…Comm. Dodd spoke about the memo on the fire assessment and the 100% not paid and asked for 95% to go to the fund and the rest to the vehicle reserve (the budget is always done to 95%…this allows the rest if not used to be used elsewhere [unencumbered funds]…Comm. Silverstone asked if it could be done at “this stage of the game” and said he was for no fire assessment ..he wants ad valorem…The Town Atty. said it was to late because the Commission had already gone for the 3.9990 and could not go any lower…Comm. Dodd said he would put it on next year…and the Town Manager informed him that the 95% budget was already in place…the fire assessment passed 4-0…the Millage was read…and passed… Comm. Silverstone wanted to see if it was appropriate to pay off the loan…The Town Manager made her power point presentation…showed her charts…spoke of “cuttin'” hours and added she cut the Fire Marshal from 30 hours to 20 hours making it an “on call” position…due to a drop in permits…(what she didn’t say was she terminated the Fire Marshal who was hired as “AT WILL” employee giving her the unilateral right to terminate him, as of today…we have no fire marshal in town…unless she has chosen to use the VFD fire inspector?)….her chart showed $16,472,480….she said they were “workin’ very well with the BSO ” and they would be moving into the Public Safety building and then the “illegal trailer” would be removed…(for a $3 million firehouse/ and what about Minto’s trailer?)… She spoke of the surveillance cameras which she decided were a “reocurring” (her word) expense…(the LETF section of the State statute list the item as allowable)…She said the following about the donations …”It is my opinion that if you don’t have the interest to come here ” (the hall) you shouldn’t get the funds…and the extra $2000 should go back in the General fund….She did give the personnel (not TM/Asst. TM/ Dept. Heads) a 2.5% COLA ….She spoke of the 46 code revisions…with 30 being enacted lat year …and more to come (fees…fees…fees)…She spoke of the need for a master plan document with “citizen input”…(the MPSC has yet to receive any of the past plans or direction from Town or Commission as a whole and was canceled tonight due to a CIC meeting)…Commissioner Silverstone made a motion to “forgive the loans”…then corrected it to pay of the loans after being informed by the Town Attorney it was an amendment to the budget…it was seconded by the Vice Mayor …(who was against it at the last commission meeting and in his comments at this meeting)…the budget and the amendment passed 4-0..

While I am glad the promissory notes are to be paid off…and again this should have happened a year or so ago…due to the pre- penalty payments…and the large cost to us in this timing of the payoff…the Commission already set a workshop for 5 pm on the 22nd per Comm. Clottey…after she and the Vice Mayor said it needed more than”3 minutes” to discuss… Now there is no discussion including Comm. Clottey and the set meeting is  canceled?….What about direction to be given to the Manager to see if the bank will negotiate down the penalties?…….We waited way too long  for real numbers of what this town has in funds….. it was again a unilateral decision made by the Town Manager… This budget was passed with some very big padding that will end up unencumbered for use by the Manager in the last 3 months next year…(more trucks?) …items such as the roof for the Chamber and garage doors for the municipal garage and more under the justification sheets… and nothing was said about the warehouse sale…

After all that was said and all that was done at last night’s meeting maybe on the 28th the Commissioners should offer up that Dale Carnegie course for the Town Manager…and for a budget review board to be in place next year……made up of “individuals and outsiders”!….

The final budget meeting…again open for public comment is Sept. 28, 2009 at 5:01 pm…Jarvis Hall

more to come….

budget is on the right hand side…meeting is under video

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