Archive for July, 2009

I was For it Before I was Against it!

Posted in BCC Meetings, Emails on July 17th, 2009 by admin – 1 Comment

We are all getting a lesson in politics from our County Commissioner Jess Santamaria. Commissioner Santamaria claimed in a memorandum to County Administrator Bob Weisman dated July 10, 2009 that, “It was about a year later that I realized homeowners outside of the Fargo Road were also considered to be assessed a portion of the cost.” That is clearly a false statement when you view this video at youtubeor view the top video at www.upinarms.net. If Commissioner Santamaria did not believe assessing all 240 property owners without giving them a vote was justified, why did he make the following motion during the June 2, 2009 BCC Meeting?

“Motion to direct staff to petition the 12 properties on Fargo Avenue to determine if majority would be willing to be assessed for the paving of Fargo between El Paso and Arrowhead in an amount equal to the recent four-road assessment plus the same amount (approximately $1,300 – $1,600) that the other 240+/- neighborhood properties would be assessed (a total of approximately $8,800 – $9,100). This would be repaid over a 20 year period. If there is a majority in favor, staff should add Fargo to the MSTU program and prioritize the design and construction. Staff should then place the project out to bid and prepare an assessment roll. The properties along Arrowhead, Pinion, Yearling, Rodeo, Pinto and El Paso, between Fargo and Blanchette are also found to benefit from the Fargo paving and should be assessed equally for the benefit. In addition to their base assessment, the original 12 properties on Fargo will also be assessed the same amount as the six roads above. It is understood that the assessed properties above will ultimately pay for 100% of the final project cost.”

The video of Commissioner Santamaria making this motion can be seen at youtube or at www.upinarms.net : 6-02-09 BCC Meeting – Part2. The motion begins at 3:50. Not only does the commissioner make the motion, he defends it against Commissioner Aaronson’s objections.

After the July 7, 2009 BCC Meeting where the Board reversed the decision to pave Fargo, I asked Commissioner Santamaria why he did not defend his previous motion to assess all 240 property owners. He said,” I wasn’t going to be a dead hero against 200 people.”

Now that property owners in the Ranchettes showed up in mass to object to Commissioner Santamaria’s motion to assess all 240 property owners, the Commissioner has decided to ignore the facts and recreate history. I guess he’s made his decision to run for re-election and wants every vote. In an effort to do damage control, in true political form, Commissioner Santamaria is now sending out the email below.

Dear (Owner):

This letter is to make sure that you have a correct understanding of where I stand on paving of roads in the Ranchette Community, as follows:

Immediately following any request by a homeowner or a group of homeowners to pave any road or roads in the Ranchette Community, all affected homeowners, whether they will be assessed or not for the cost (whether 1% or 100%) should be given proper notice of all meetings, and should be given ample time to express their respective opinions. These notices to all affected homeowners should continue throughout the time this topic is being discussed prior to the final vote of the Commissioners in an open public hearing.

ALWAYS LET THE SUNSHINE IN !

Hopefully the above statement clarifies any misinformation disseminated by anyone.

Yours truly,

Jess R. Santamaria
Palm Beach County Commissioner
District 6

Was Comm. Abrams’ Motion Valid?

Posted in BCC Meetings, Documents, Emails on July 16th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

From: Andy [mailto:andy@upinarms.net]
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 12:16 AM
To: ‘BCC-AllCommissioners@pbcgov.com’; ‘RWeisman@pbcgov.org’
Cc: ‘GWebb@pbcgov.org’; ‘StateAttorney@sa15.state.fl.us’
Subject: Commissioner Abram’s 7-7-09 Motion

Commissioner Abrams and Mr. Weisman,

I am unclear as to the validity and standing of the motion made by Commissioner Abrams concerning Fargo Avenue during the 7-7-09 BCC Meeting, Matters by the Public. The specific part of the motion in question is ”…delay the project until such time that an MSTU is established…” As many property owners in Palm Beach County can attest, the MSTU program has been established for many years and many projects. Recent evidence of an established MSTU program is:

1. In a letter dated March 6, 2008, Engineering sent MSTU petitions to property owners on Rodeo Drive under County Engineer George Webb’s direction. Staff recommended and the Board subsequently approved the assessment roll and construction contract for Rodeo Drive. Palm Beach County paid approximately $175,000 in MSTU funds to pave Rodeo Drive.
2. During the December 16, 2008 BCC Meeting, the Board unanimously approved the MSTU ordinance change that I requested during the July22, 2008 BCC Meeting. The purpose of my request was to have Fargo Avenue paved under the new MSTU ordinance change.
3. In a letter dated March 18, 2009, Engineering mailed MSTU petitions to property owners on FARGO AVENUE FROM ARROWHEAD DR TO ELPASO DR ALL PROPERTIES WEST OF LYONS (FRONTIER) EXCEPT PALOMINO DR. PROJECT NO. 2008134A. The letter clearly states, “Before the project can proceed using MSTU funds…” This petition was mailed one day after the March 16, 2009 BCC meeting during which Mr. Weisman gave his word to personally do everything he could to not allow a 16 month delay to happen in the paving of Fargo Avenue.
4. The petition accompanying the March 18, 2009 MSTU petition letter was worded with the same authority language as other MSTU petitions. The heading reads: PETITION FOR ROAD OR STREET IMPROVEMENTS UNDER CHAPTER 37, PALM BEACH COUNTY CODE OF LAWS & ORDINANCES.
5. During the June 2, 2009 BCC Meeting, the Board unanimously approved the petitioning of Fargo Avenue under the new MSTU ordinance change.
6. In a letter dated June 11, 2009, Engineering mailed MSTU petitions to property owners concerning FARGO AVENUE FROM EL PASO TO ARROWHEAD DRIVE STREET IMPROVEMENT #2008134. This is the same project number as the March 18, 2009 Engineering petition that specifically references the MSTU program.
Please tell me exactly when and under what authority did the MSTU program ceased to exist. As recently as June 2, 2009, Palm Beach County mailed petitions with a current MSTU project number. More than the required 50% YES votes were received as a result of the County’s petitions.

Is it regular County practice to petition property owners and pay 50% of the cost of a road paving project for a program that is no longer established as was the case with Rodeo Drive? Please explain.

Is it regular County practice for the BCC to unanimously approve the petitioning of a project for a program that is not established? Please explain.

Is it regular County Engineering practice to mail petitions that were unanimously approved by the BCC for a program that is not established? Please explain.

What authority makes Commissioner Abrams’ motion valid when the program is currently established? Please explain.

Sincerely,

Andy Schaller
www.upinarms.net

Santamaria – Weisman Recreate History!

Posted in BCC Meetings, Documents, Emails on July 13th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

An exchange of written correspondence between Commissioner Santamaria and County Administrator Bob Weisman shows that both men need a history lesson. Mr. Weisman writes that Staff absolutely did not encourage the pursuit of paving fargo Avenue. He continues that Commissioner Santamaria and other members of the Board gave support only in the later ongoing meetings.

Commissioner Santamaria responds with his own claim of, “It was about a year later that I realized that homeowners outside of Fargo Road were also considered to be assessed a portion of the cost.”

Santamaria’s Memorandum
Santamaria – Weisman Responses

The video below proves that both Commissioner Santamaria and Mr.Weisman are either grossly mistaken or are deliberately trying to recreate history.

This is the response to Santamaria and Weisman
From: Andy [mailto:andy@upinarms.net]
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 12:56 PM
To: ‘jsantama@pbcgov.org’; ‘bweisman@pbcgov.org’
Cc: ‘BCC-AllCommissioners@pbcgov.com’; ‘GWebb@pbcgov.org’
Subject: Comm Santamaria’s 7-8-9 Memo

Mr. Weisman and Commissioner Santamaria,

The issue of paving Fargo Avenue has continued for well over a year and has obviously caused memories to become clouded from time, mistakes, ever-changing staff opinions and public misconceptions.

Mr. Weisman:

In your 7-10-2009 response to Commissioner Santamaria’s 7-8-2009 Memorandum, you wrote: “Staff absolutely did not encourage the continued attendance of Mr. Schaller at the County Commission meetings in pursuit of his request. You and some other members of the Board gave support only at his later ongoing appearances.”

I ask you to watch this video compilation on youtube or view it at www.upinarms.net.

This video shows Staff, George Webb specifically, “supporting” changing the MSTU program so that “this neighborhood” and others could take advantage of this program like they can with the water program. I requested a change in the MSTU program during the 7-22-08 BCC meeting and George Webb supported the change in many statements during that meeting.

Several months later, during two BCC meetings in December 2008, the MSTU ordinance was changed to reflect my 7-22-08 request. Do you actually think that George Webb supporting the MSTU change could be construed as anything but encouragement? An ordinance that was on the books for years was changed at my specific request as a result of my prior meetings with Commissioner Santamaria and Mr. Webb as recently as the day before the 7-22-2008 meeting. This ordinance change was supported by Mr. Webb and came approximately one month after my first BCC Meeting appearance.

Commissioner Santamaria spoke in support of changing the MSTU program as a way of achieving the paving of Fargo Avenue during the 7-22-2008 BCC meeting. Additionally, Commissioner Koons specifically called a point of order to ask Mr. Webb to give a “good faith effort” to catch Fargo up with the current projects. Mr. Webb responded with, “We’d like to do that. It would help cost wise to do that.”

To any rationally thinking person, changing an ordinance at the request of a citizen that was supported by Staff and unanimously approved by the Board, would constitute encouragement in anyone’s mind. Once the ordinance was changed, the only logical next step was to apply the MSTU change to Fargo as George Webb indicated during the 7-22-08 BCC meeting.

From December 2008 when the new MSTU ordinance was adopted, to the March 17, 2009 BCC meeting, your staff was (according to Tanya McConnell) working on the paving of Fargo. She plainly stated that Engineering management was responsible for the delay.

At this same March 17, 2009 BCC meeting, Commissioner Marcus reminded you and staff of the original reason for the MSTU ordinance change. She again asked staff to continue to pursue paving Fargo while the road contractors were still in the area. Commissioner Marcus said, ”…that was the idea in the beginning. That’s where the savings was going to be. They’re out there. Let’s keep them mobilized. Let’s just do this one strip of road and let’s get it done.” She also said, “We want you to go out there and pave this road.” Commissioner Koons said, “We have to do a better job.” Commissioner Marcus followed up with a direct request to you saying, “For the purposes of this one little road, could you get involved and do whatever you could not to make him wait 16 months” Your response was, “You can count on it.”

Respectfully, even the most pessimistic person in the world would be encouraged by the Board support and your word to the Board to do whatever you could to see that the problems were rectified and make the paving of Fargo happen quickly. The video does not lie. To date Sir, what have you done to correct the mistakes of Engineering and get Fargo paved?

Commissioner Santamaria:

During the same 7-22-2008 BCC meeting, you specifically asked Mr. Webb about the cost of paving Fargo under the proposed MSTU change to 100% participation by the property owners. Mr. Webb stated the cost would be shared by an estimated 100 to 200 property owners.

I find it hard to believe that you were under the assumption that there were 100 to 200 property owners along Fargo. We spoke very specifically on numerous occasions about Fargo only being 12 properties long. The idea of changing the MSTU to the 100% level was suggested to me, by you, on 7-21-08 when you and I and Mr. Webb met in your office.

During prior conversations and meetings with you, I consistently brought to your attention that Fargo was a road that was only 12 properties long. Despite my requests for you to actually come visit Fargo Avenue yourself to personally view the situation, you declined. For you to say that it was one year after my original request to change the MSTU, at your suggestion, that you realized that other properties would be assessed is completely disingenuous and inaccurate.

I ask that you watch and listen to yourself in this video on youtube or view it at www.upinarms.net.

Are you suggesting that you realized the scope of your 6-2-09 motion before or after the unanimous Board approval? If it was before, why did you make the motion and defend it when Commissioner Aaronson had questions? If it was after, then I submit that you should be sure to “realize” the facts of a situation and the impact of your actions before you encourage citizens to be involved with County Government and pursue issues with your continuing support.

I do not wish to be reimbursed by you for my expenses. Rather, I would like to see you stand by your sense of fair play and duty as my District Commissioner to pursue the correction of mistakes made by your staff and pave Fargo Avenue to completion. Staff’s encouragement, the Board’s encouragement and your personal and professional encouragement to me dictates a need to continue this issue to its final favorable outcome.

Your campaign was based upon elected officials doing what was in the best interest of the people and to restore confidence in our Commission. My personal evaluation of your position in office as my elected representative will be based heavily upon my interaction with you for nearly half of your term thus far, and your future results. You have consistently called for the public to become involved in issues. Fargo is a very public issue and all eyes are upon you and your involvement.

My hope is that you don’t drop the ball on Fargo and become another District 6 Commissioner that we the citizens can’t count on. I am sure you have faced bigger challenges in your life than the paving of a dirt road that is only 12 properties long. Surely a man of your business experiences and abilities is capable of handling this issue. I hope I am right?

Gentlemen:

I respectfully request once again that both of you view the video at on youtube or view it at www.upinarms.net. Your written communications to one another are continuing evidence of the ongoing and constantly occurring problems with this issue. Apparently there is a need for a short refresher of the facts as the line between personal opinions and hard facts has obviously become blurred.

Andy Schaller
www.upinarms.net

Why should I pay for Fargo?

Posted in BCC Meetings, Emails on July 2nd, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

From: Andy [mailto:andy@upinarms.net]
Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 8:55 AM
To: ‘BCC-AllCommissioner@pbcgov.org’
Cc: ‘Rweisman@pbcgov.org’; ‘GWebb@pbcgov.org’
Subject: Fargo Avenue : Why Should I pay?

Commissioners,

You are hearing from some Ranchettes owners that they never use Fargo and should not have to pay for the paving. To them I offer the following using their logic:

I have paid County taxes for 19 years on my Ranchettes property and for 10 years on multiple County properties. My hard earned tax dollars have been paying for:

County Roads: I have never had a County road in front of my properties so I need a refund for the last 19 years.

Schools: I don’t have children and probably never will so I’m going to not only need my money back and I won’t be paying in the future.

Library: I have the internet and no children so I’m going to need the money back and I won’t be paying in the future.

Fire Rescue: I have never had a fire or medical emergency so I am going to need the money back and I won’t be paying in the future.

County Parks: I have no children who play baseball, softball, football, tennis, basketball, soccer or play golf on a County public course so am going to need the money back and I won’t be paying in the future. If I personally want those services I can join a private facility. Note: I do have a boat and you will be charging me a boat launch fee on a pay per use basis.

County Debit: I won’t ever personally use Mecca Farms for anything so I am going to need the money back and I won’t be paying in the future.

Health Care: I have private insurance that I pay for so I am going to need the money back and I won’t be paying in the future.

Public Transit: I own vehicles that I pay County taxes for and do not use public transportation so I am going to need the money back and I won’t be paying in the future.

Everglades: I didn’t cause the problem so I am going to need the money back and I won’t be paying in the future.

The list can go on and on. Some Ranchettes owners work for the County in the above mentioned areas and seeing how my tax dollars have paid for their salaries for the last 19 years they personally owe me a refund and should expect a pay cut as a result of me not paying future taxes . Also any Ranchettes owner who has had a child in public school over the last 19 years or who will ever have a child in public school owes me a refund. Any Ranchettes owner who over the last 19 years has ever called Fire Rescue, had a child play sports at a County facility, saw the school nurse, rode the bus, went to the library or will ever have a child participate in any public activities owes me a refund. While we are at it, Engineering management owes the Ranchettes about $50, 000 for the delay in Fargo paving according to Tanya Mc Connell’s statements to the Board.

To say that Fargo does not benefit any of the east/west roads is to say that not only do you not use Fargo now but neither you nor anyone associated with your property now or forever in the future will ever use Fargo. This includes Fire Rescue or the Sherriff’s Department that might need the fastest route to your property, the delivery company, any worker who comes to your property, anyone who will visit your property, pick up or drop off your child and so on. I and many others could very easily say that my property was assessed for Blanchette Trail in the 1980’s unfairly. Why should I have been charged for a few hundred feet of road that I would travel that is in front of someone else’s house only to have to drive a mile east on a dirt road to reach my house. The amount of times I have traveled the 1 mile east or west on my formerly dirt road totals maybe a couple of handfuls in the last 19 years. The road was too bad. It was easier to travel a few hundred feet north on Fargo and to access the paved road Palomino. Now that Rodeo is paved I have probably used it more in the first month than I did in the first 19 years. The natural flow is to head in the direction of travel. Since Rodeo was paved, thank you Mr. Webb, I have seen neighbors from the entire paved length driving, walking, riding bicycles, skateboarding, rollerblading and a host of service traffic utilizing the pavement. Some owners have argued to the Board that lack of pavement on their street is negatively impacting their property value. For most perspective buyers, I would guess, continuous road pavement to and from their driveways would not be a drawback.

To you the Commissioners, I offer the following:

The United States and this County is a Republic. We elect officials to act in our best interest for the present and for our future. As a Board you unanimously voted to petition the 13 property owners on Fargo. To my knowledge you have at least a 70% response in favor, YES votes, of paving Fargo. This road was deemed to have been a benefit to a number of properties and the County has a history of assessing “all users” according to Tanya Mc Connell. The reason we are in this mess is because the Engineering did not follow the normal County practice for road design as it would have negatively impacted Fargo with 9 pavement changes in a 12 lot distance. Engineering, according to Mr. Weisman, has made mistakes in handling the Ranchettes paving process. Now the Board has unanimously approved a plan to correct some of these mistakes. I ask now as I have in the past that you apply the normal County procedures as it relates to property assessments and paving Fargo Avenue. I would also be extremely thankful if you found County funds to help Ranchettes owners with the paving costs.

This is a logical decision that you have made, not an emotional one. If we are going to run this County on emotions, I have many County decisions that I never had a vote in that I would like to have overturned. Remember this is a Republic.

Andy Schaller
www.upinarms.net