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Here’s The Scoop … 2/17/10 MPSC/P & Z/ Special Meeting …. Out Of Touch/ Out Of Order & Out The Door ….

February 18, 2010 by Barbara

YOUR TIME HAS RUN OUT ….

Dear Readers …On a Wednesday night the Master Plan Steering Committee and the Planning and Zoning Board met to discuss the El Mar Drive Project…You know one of the meetings they were supposed to have before the rug was pulled out from under them by a 3-2 vote on the dais a few months back… The MPSC asked for time to discuss the million dollar project after an 11th hour disclosure that the “Oriana Million” was for the beautification of the whole length of El Mar Drive …not just the southern end…The committee was promised that time and then outgoing Vice Mayor McIntee and his “gang” under the direction of Cristie Furth…did an abrupt about face and voted for walkways in the medians…An avalanche of outrage ensued and after a quite while the “Mc-Furth Gang” could no longer turn a blind eye to their misread of the walkers and stakeholders …who made it clear they were not going to be “educated” to walk down the center of El Mar Drive!…

This evening was a two-fer…a double meeting…that almost wasn’t …due to lack of scheduling…and lack of proper posting of the meeting…It was called for 7 pm…and while the Town has come a long way from when this MPSC was first appointed in 2008…when the hall was locked …dark and unprepared…(prev. 2008 post)…followed by many meetings with a change in members… no direction from the Commission for anything to work on…then finally the El Mar Project …which led to the Art Institute debacle… which included students who were treated badly…a project that turned out to be just an “exercise” with the change in the extent of use of the funds…and today’s last meeting for this group!…

At the end of the 2 years…there were some striking similarities…with the exception of P & Z Chair Peanuts Wick…no other members were in attendance…due to no one contacting them from Town!… Some things never change!…

At the meeting it also looked and sounded like countless other MPSC meetings this writer attended since 2008…Chair Paul Novak began the discussion with a synopsis of what they were there to accomplish…the facts now known that despite the vote of the Commission…the people had spoken and the median walkways were scratched…He went on to speak of the monies involved and how far that $975,000 would go… Paul  referenced to the previous meeting and said “We has a lot of people in the audience last time”…OOPS!…Guess that  statement disproves the accuracy of the BTSTimes article concerning this writer and the El Mar Drive Project stating the MPSC  had only 7 people in attendance!….Paul brought into the mix Commissioner Clottey and her Special Meeting called for 9 pm…following this meeting…Comm. Clottey we heard was going to introduce Stimulus Funds through her new galpal Cand. Marjorie Evans…But at this MPSC Evans was conspicuously absent…Perhaps Ms. Evans did not want to appear at the MPSC meeting especially after insulting them at the one the month before?…(prev. post)…Comm. Clottey stood and spoke as she always does in a disjointed hard to follow manner…She made quirky comments about the Broward NPO and getting their “Broward ducks lined up”…with talk of the $600,000 for the A1A project..(We are responsible for a matching $600,000)…She went on to describe a grant project that was due this Friday,…and needed to be “shovel ready”..to do that she said “I know people really don’t like me” but she wanted us all to come together and get this “shovel ready tonight”…Of course there was quite a lot of  murmuring and confusion after her comments… She said she felt it was an opportunity to get “available Fed money”…and it would require engineering plans… She was aided by the Town Manager who got “Campo on the phone”…More confusing was the way this was to be “leveraged” with new jobs and jobs retained…points for that and for not using cars…walking, bike riding and trains…It was not for infrastructure…it was for infrastructure…and we are one of the few cities that had money freed up to use…a real plus…she said…Paul had questions for Ocampo about the project without the sidewalks…Ocampo spoke of landscaping lights and crosswalks… Ocampo knows about what Clottey wanted and had some ideas how to get it done…Ernie Ojito spoke of the crosswalks and  lighting options ..Paul asked about irrigation and Marilyn Carr brought forward sculptures …pelicans, sea shells and they light up!…. Ocampo spoke of the costs involved commissioning an artist unless they were from “off the shelf” and the requirements to build them …It would be more money and more engineering… Clottey spoke of it being $2 million dollars put up “by the Feds”…Paul spoke about how far the $2 million would go…Ocampo said it could be done to 70% and still have an impact while a plan would need to be put in place to incorporate and tie into Minto’s medians etc… Bob Eckblad addressed the phases and moving toward option 3 (The whole enchilada)… Ernie Ojito spoke of “different components”…”pedestrian vs vehicular”…He spoke of El Mar Drive being one lane…This writer awaited a run into the hall from BTSTimes Owner-Publisher-Editor -P & Z Vice Chair and Campaign Manager for Silverstone, Evans and Couriel…Crisite Furth…but she was also conspicuously absent…along with her husband. MPSC member Marc Furth…It is well know Ms. Furth is for keeoing El Mar Drive 2 lanes…Ernie spoke of the hazards of back out parking  as well…Paul Novak threw a “zinger” at Comm. Jim Silverstone asking hi about his comment the evening before (Meet the Candidate’s night)…and his claim LBTS ids “debt free”…with that in mind Paul wanted to know if we had money for the project…Jimmy answered “I can’t go into that here!”…Paul asked for Mayor to provide some lighting advice…but the Mayor, acquiesced to the Ocampo lighting expert in the Hall…He spent some time going over LED, solar and conventional…FPL, shields and how the lighting fixtures worked for the areas effected…He spoke of the future and the costs… windmills …and more…Joe Couriel asked about retrofitting and Peanuts asked about the turtles…a repeat of past commentary was discussed on what is allowed and what is questionable…in the ever changing turtle rules of lighting… shields brought forth Comm. Silverstone to say the Town Manager told him “shields for every pole “were in the works and Don Prince had “shown him plans”…Comm. Dodd and the Mayor along with longtime commission meeting regulars were taken aback by Comm. Silvertone’s comments… If memory served…it was not voted on in the past due to a cost of $600 each…and even with doing every other FPL light…it was a cost on a shield that could be deemed unacceptable soon after they were installed…which we were told happened in neighboring municipalities… This one sounded much like the claims last month that permits were in the works for a metal roof for the Chamber…with the Manager acting as if it were a fairy tale…(The Chamber stands by the comments made by Don Prince they ere going out for permits and the visit by 2 roofing companies who were told the same!)…Diane Boutin spoke about the portals…the lack of maintenance and the greening…lighting and crosswalks…Ocampo again spoke of being “shovel ready by Friday…removing the pathways…and the building dept. “saying they gave us a review number” …He said they would then have 90 days to get the permits once they receive the grant…a short time …but it could be accomplished… He would only want to work with on company and on General contractor…Comm. Clottey had to admit she knew nothing about the grant…no information… Sandra Booth agreed with Diane Boutin and said while she thinks LBTS Public Works is terrific we need to have a large chunk of money to contract out for maintenance of the portals and the medians…Scot Sasser wanted to know “what strings were attached” to the grant…Comm. Clottey callously remarked “No it’s not like the Senior Center.”… Diane Boutin said there was no guarantee of getting the funds and Clottey responded “No.”….Chair Peanuts Wick made some derogatory remarks in response to Ms. Boutin…A resident stood to speak of wanting to maintain 2 lanes…a comprehensive plan and the lack of lighting in the north end compared to the south of El Mar Drive…He awas for going for the grant… A motion was made to agree to go for the grant money …the landscaping, lighting and irrigation…

This writer had no idea until after the second meeting why Diane Boutin stood to give accolades to the MPSC and all they accomplished…this board and the prior ones for 8 years of service…presenting them with a token of appreciation…a flower in a pot…(more on this below)…

There was a 45 minute intermission as we awaited the Commissioner Clottey called 2nd meeting for the grant… No one had any backup…or information…Commissioner Clottey was making statements of no strings attached to anyone who would listen…and The Mayor went to speak to booth the Town Clerk and the Asst. Town Manager Olinzock sitting in for the out of the office til Monday Town Manager…Both told the Mayor quite emphatically they had no further information…no backup to help in this quick decision…Hmmmm…

Also MIA was Vice Mayor Jerry McIntee… Once again after the Mayor gave her the floor, Comm. Clottey reiterated what was aid at the 7 pm meeting…this “recent discovery” and the “shovel ready” stimulus money from”the feds”…with no strings attached…due this Friday…

The Mayor allowed comments from the audience…Mayoral Candidate Joe Couriel said “Hi Friends”…and wanted to take a look at increasing to the “whole enchilada”…and spending the full “$3.5 million” to do all of El Mar Drive…

Resident Yann Brandt said this Wed. night 9 pm meeting was called with no back-up ..no name of the grant…..leaving us between a rock and a hard place…it was less than transparent…He said this grant does not come without strings attached and warned from his extensive experience that a Federal grant comes with stringent RFPs…auditors and Federal guidelines…

Resident Bill Vitola spoke also of this last minute meeting…and felt if we can pull out with no penalty it was a go…but no sidewalks in the medians…

I asked Commissioner Clottey to explain her jobs requirements for the grant…retaining jobs…She tried to respond coherently…and failed…the Mayor began to straighten it out when she was rudely interrupted  from the front row by her opponent Joe Couriel…The mayor said “excuse me”…and Joe just shot her a look!…

MPSC Chair Paul Novak came to say go for it as well and if we do not get it LBTS should come up either the matching funds to the “tune of a million dollars”…

Comm. Silverstone began the commissioner comments with asking if the cost would be less with no walkways…Mr.Ocampo said he did not know…after going back and forth he ended up saying he believed it would be a reduction..how much he “could not quantify”… Ocampo went into detail with Comm. Dodd on the percentage of his charges if the plans moved up in cost…back and forth until it was finally settled among Ocampo and the commission that extra plans…extra changes meant extra charges and income for Ocampo…Yes!…The Mayor asked what the cost was at now and Ocampo said he believed it was $56,000 …a bill was presented to the town after the project was stopped… There was talk of the drainage…it is not included in the cost…for anywhere but in the medians..and more discussion ensued on “green components” to make our project look more enticing… The Mayor asked Asst. TM Olinzock if the Town had ever done a Fed. grant before…He named the A1A project and another that was done before he was hired…He has done Fed. grants elsewhere… Diane Boutin spoke of the scope being clarified before the vote…not having seen the plans…and reiterated her earlier maintenance issues…along with budgetary restraints… I came to the podium to address the longtime and overwhelming response of walkers and stakeholders for green areas…landscaping…and to say how amusing it was that the same people who put the kibosh on the Pelican Entry sculptures were now talking them up or sculptures of seashells in the medians…lit up as well!…I asked them to  listen and include the people… Again there was talk about the increase in funds…the process of getting the grant application in…the cost…the plans…and the time frame… former Commissioner Dave Wessels spoke of doing it the right way…doing drainage first…so we do not have a problem 3 years later…”do it right” he said ,… it’s a “jewel”…let’s “get our foot in the door” and go for it…

The Asst. TM was less than truthful in the intermission as he now spoke up to say he had looked into this…and it turned out to be the jobs grant…that resident Yann Brandt was so sure it was!…And with that it was apparent…that this night was a total waste of our time!…It has been sidelined and Mr. Brandt said it most likely will be not come up until next summer…

Comm. Silverstone thanked Comm. Clottey for “opening a door that was not opened before”…HUH?…

Windjammer Manager Diane Boutin again addressed items not being addressed …the cart before the horse…underground utilities …additional parking at the medians…

Mr Brandt addressed the Asst. Town Manager for owning up to what this grant was and proceeded to describe what was what with this jobs bill…

Ocampo spoke of the plans…the changes the people wanted…

Candidate Marjorie Evans who has a habit of holding her head in her hands and appearing to sleep…came to the podium to again speak of her non- profit organization and telling the commission to worry about the details later…get the million…and explained she just got $30,000 for her organization…

Candidate Chris Vincent asked why we did not go up to $1.5 so we would be able to do the whole thing…asking why we are stuck on $2 million…

Comm. Silverstone said because it will coat us more …

Ocampo said we could apply for the grant with the work being done in phases…

The Mayor asked about the budget…the Capital Improvement fund…and the Asst. Tm responded “I can’t answer that one”…It was for the Town Manager …Shades of the pre- waste RFP meeting… (prev. post)…

Candidate Marjorie Evans was frustrated and did not stay seated…she came to the podium and said “Just take the money”…she “felt handicapped” by not having the information “Is it on the internet?”…Again she stood and asked if it was on the internet…then said “put us on the list!”…. Time to wake up earlier Ms. Evans…preferably before you decide to run for office…She said she was “confused” at the Meet the Candidates Night…Perfect…we could end up have “Clueless” Clottey and “Confused”Evans….if we aren’t careful on March 9th!…

The Asst. TM again said he did additional research into this bill….

The Mayor said these types of grants are always available… after hearing his statements and those of Mr. Brandt…

Commissioner Clottey was clueless in her comment that we should have many “projects” ready to go up on the shelves so when these grants come along we are ready with more that fit the criteria…

Comm. Dodd said he had some reservations about a plan unseen…and that he also had reservations about crosswalks…and discussed the swales…increasing the greenery and stamped swales…

The Mayor reiterated the plan have no walkways in the medians…

The Asst. TM spoke about the process once more…no plans submitted until accepted and then they have 90 days…until then everything is on hold…

The Town Attorney finally did what this writer has been asking for for so long…she actually said she wanted to completely summarize what was being decided!… THANK YOU!…

The Asst. TM went over it all…Comm. Clottey wanted the MPSC to continue working on it as agreed for the next few months…and that was added to the motion…Comm. Silvserstone admonished the Mayor for making the motion as it was Comm. Clotteys’ baby…and she made it …”no strings..no penalties”…It passed on a roll call 4-0!…

One small problem though…

Not only did this turn out to be a total waste of everyone’s time…a waste of overtime hours for staff… a waste of taxpayer funds for Ocampo to be there all night… but the MPSC that Comm. Clottey made sure to add into the 4-0 vote…well, the reason Ms. Boutin gave them the accolades earlier…this writer found out in the parking lot after the meeting… was due to the MPSC/ P & Z/ BOA all receiving  a letter (it is said)from the Town Manager thanking them for their time on their respective boards and telling them their service was no longer required and they could re-apply after the March elections…

With that …which we hear has been done in the past….and the process for appointing new board members to start after the next commission is in at the end of next month…there is NO MPSC  to do anything on the El Mar Project for the 2 months the Commission just  voted for!… OOPS!…

more to come….

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