October 1, 2011 now this is the date the City would like to begin collecting the first pounds of flesh resulting from the imposition of their Utility Tax. We all heard Hugh Dunkley indicate that this vote must take place tonight because of Florida Statute 166.233 which gives the procedure for levying this tax. He indicated that the Department of revenue in adherence of statute stated that they would give the City leeway if they informed them tomorrow June 8, 2011 that the City has approved the ordinance. This would give the Department of revenue time to post the tax rates so the vendors namely FPL and the City of Deerfield can upgrade their systems to accommodate the addition of the tax and facilitate the collection. This was put into statute at the behest of the business community to allow them sufficient time to make the necessary changes to their system.
Linda Frazier-Revenue Program Administrator for the FL Department of Revenue indicated today that everything Mr. Dunkley said is correct. What she went on to say is that in February of 2011 the City contacted her about this and she discussed their options. The question we the citizens should be asking ourselves is if the City is in such dire financial need as staff has indicated but not provided no hard documents and reports to prove why did they not provide notice then and initiate this tax for July 1. That was more than enough time. All residents were equally represented under the law. Mayor Noland in a statement to the Sun-Sentinel even stated that they had been working on this for a year which gave Sylvia move than enough time to have constituent meetings. Well, she may not have had meetings but at every chance she had she talked to her constituents about this and the overwhelming response was this is not needed and we can’t afford it. So she did what a true representative would, she vocally and openly denounced this tax. Fast forward to April 14, 2011 Sylvia is now gone and the 8,563 American voters in her District were left defenseless by Governor Scott . The City’s charter was clear and they could not appoint, so a Special Election was ordered and set for July 19, 2011, leaving those 8,000 plus Americans without elected representation voting and acting on their behalf for three months. It is obvious to me from Mrs. Frazier comments that these options were discussed and then they asked for a little wiggle room after passage so advised that she would hold off the posting of the tax rates so they could get theirs in. Well, this is wrong, wrong, wrong! Especially after hearing this part of this after the City was asked last week if they could contact the Department of Revenue and explain to them the unique situation in our city and to find out that they know about this entire situation well in advance and did not act. If they knew we would have a predicted shortfall and knew that we would need a new source of funds, then it behooved them to act as soon as possible to make sure we did not have a budget shortfall and since both the City Manager and Finance Director admittedly knew all of this and to find out that they had contacted the D.O.R back in Feb, which would have given them ample time to satisfy notice statute to have this tax implemented in July, if it is so necessary. It is strange that they would wait and then rush through it, knowing full well all of the citizens weren’t represented and the district that would be most adversely affected is unrepresented. Coincidence or planned by the City Commissioners, Management, and staff to take advantage of this opportunity to fund their pet projects that had been held up by the Commissioner of District 2.
Now some may say that this has nothing to do with anything and that this situation has happened before, most recently in Broward Count y with the resignation of Commissioner Wasserman Rubin. The main difference b/w that and what has happened in Deerfield is the fact that at County meetings the public is encouraged to discuss agenda items giving their perspective and adding to the dialogue of the decision making process, so in the absence of their elected representative the constituents of that district still had access to the political process in the fact that they could openly discuss and participate in the debate on agenda items with the remaining Commissioners. Here in Deerfield Beach, this is not the case. Look down at the bottom of the Deerfield Beach agenda, what do you see. You’ll find a statement that has muzzled the City’s residents for years. “Persons addressing the commission during this segment may not discuss items that are on the agenda.” This effectively takes away all the residents of Deerfield Beach’s voices. This in combination with the removal of Sylvia Poitier the residents of District 2, were effectively cut out of the political process and therefore the City of Deerfield Beach violated their Constitutional rights as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment for Due Process and equal protections under the law. Some could even argue that the State of Florida could be included in this argument as they were notified and did nothing and continue to do nothing to right this wrong.
Now, I have contacted many groups and elected officials to try and get some light shed on this subject, asking them to contact the ACLU, the newspapers, or television news and they have all said the same thing that they cannot do anything. This is very disheartening because I guess I have a fools dream of Democracy. I thought “of the people, by the people, for the people” meant that our elected representatives were sworn to protect us. That we not deadlines, not lobbyist, not special interest, not anyone else, were there number 1 priority. When did that change? When did politics only become a game? A game played by adults and the one with the most friends in high positions, companies beholden to them, big name supporters, wins. This ensures that me and the rest of the little people, i.e. American citizens would always lose because we do not fund campaign elections. We do not fund benefits and fundraisers that help line the pockets of these politicians and political “pimp’s and ho’s”.
This situation, which affects me personally as I am one of over 8,000 American citizens having my rights trampled because our City wants to be able to build parks and the elected officials from Broward County on up refuse to help us. I have contacted them all and was put off and then this week after incessant badgering on my part to have them tell me there is basically all nothing they could do, resulting in a few angry words, which I don’t regret. I say this to anyone who is reading this. How would you feel knowing that the government, which is full of people who are sworn to protect you, had turned their back son you. You did everything in your power, emailed, called, visited, etc…and to be brushed aside as if your constitutional rights do not matter all because somebody had a big idea to get rid of your City Commissioner and so they could pass legislation to that would help them fund the building of parks. As, an American I cannot stand behind that or those who would allow it to go on. I can tell you that I spoke with everyone and it actually seems like conspiracy because the newspaper basically told me this was not newsworthy, the television news media wouldn’t return any of my emails and when I called they told me it wasn’t news worthy, the elected officials, well let me say that I will lend my voice to seeing that each and every one of them does not have another term, because of their very un-American inaction.
The funny thing is the City imposed this tax saying they are broke, but then will discuss expending funds in a legal defense of the passage of ordinances that could have waited until all residents were represented equally under the law. If that isn’t fiscal irresponsibility and neglect of duty I don’t know what is. Our City Attorney has indicated that it would take about $50,000 to defend a lawsuit, if they lose you add on the legal fees of the complainant, multiply that by let’s just say 2, for the BSO Merger which another group may be looking to sue the city on and the rights violation. You are looking at possibly over $200,000, plus the cost to undue anything , or as City Manager Burgess Hanson says, untangle the web, resulting from the passage of these ordinance, which in all cases the City would be fully responsible for. Then the cost of referendum which the City would bear which is about $100,000. That is a lot of money you have committed to wasting in the hopes that no one sues you. But you set this course for the City and like almost everything else this Commission has done, once again the tax payers will foot the bill for their self-entitlement. It’s time to say good-riddance to bad news and I think it’s time the Citizens take back our City and move for the immediate recall of Peggy Noland, Ganz, and Popelsky, along with the repeal of the Public Utility Tax and the BSO Merger.