Town Crier Letters to the Editor

From: Andy Schaller
To: The Town Crier
Subject: FW: Comm. Santamaria’s Letter
Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 11:17:53 -0400

This letter is in response to Commissioner Santamaria’s Letter To The Editor

Existing County Watchdog Challenged

I’m glad to see that Commissioner Santamaria supports a thorough inspection of County practices and procedures. His involvement and handling of a road paving project just east of 441 is a contributing factor in the County Clerk & Comptroller’s review of the County MSTU (Municipal Taxing Service Unit) program. The Clerk’s office notified the Board of County Commissioners and County Administration that a review of the road paving program would start immediately. County Administrator Bob Weisman told Clerk Bock that his staff won’t cooperate with her office’s review of a county road-paving program. If Mr. Weisman has nothing to hide there shouldn’t be a problem.

The County was preparing to start a road project that was going to adversely impact a private road. Notice of the paving project was sent out in March of 2008. In June of 2008, I approached Commissioner Santamaria for help with the county project that was about to start in his district. His initial reaction was that his focus was on helping the “forgotten” area of the far western communities. Since my area of concern was “in town” he wasn’t interested. After about ten minutes of conversation he personally offered me $10,000 from his own pocket to help pay for the road but that was it. Respectfully I declined that offer and another same offer made days later. Instead I asked him to do this the right way and handle it through the county the way it should be.

After about 16 months of working with the BCC, County Staff and neighborhood residents, Commissioner Santamaria made a motion to petition residents of the Palm Beach Ranchettes for paving Fargo Avenue. This motion was made and unanimously approved by the BCC at the June 2, 2009 meeting. Notice was then sent out to property owners in the Ranchettes and an opposition mounted. On July 7, 2009 the BCC unanimously reversed their June decision. Commissioner Santamaria was silent during most of the meeting, never once speaking in favor of his previous motion. After the meeting I asked him why he didn’t speak up to support the project he had been involved with for over one year. He said, “I wasn’t going to be a dead hero against 200 people.”

The next day Commissioner Santamaria wrote a memorandum to County Administrator Bob Weisman stating that he felt a big injustice was done. He also stated his intention to reimburse my expenses rather than to follow through with a positive conclusion to the original problem. This is when Politician Santamaria stated “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.” He then sent letters and emails to property owners in an attempt to win back favor. The facts do not support Commissioner Santamaria’s claim.

During the July 22, 2008 BCC meeting, Commissioner Santamaria asked County Engineer George Webb what the cost would be to property owners. Mr. Webb responded and told everyone that 100 to 200 property owners would be assessed. During numerous personal meetings with Commissioner Santamaria and during several BCC meetings I stated this road was only 12 properties long. After the July 7, 2009 BCC meeting, memos between Commissioner Santamaria and Mr. Weisman attempted to recreate history to do damage control for Commissioner Santamaria’s public image. Despite my requests for Commissioner Santamaria to personally visit the road that was the center of the controversy prior to his June 2, 2009 motion, he declined. The entire history can be found at www.upinarms.net.

How can a commissioner tell a citizen he represents that his concern is not for that citizen’s area?
How can a commissioner support an idea for more than a year without ever visiting the area in question?
How can a commissioner deny his participation in public BCC meetings that are recorded and televised?
How can a commissioner fabricate history? Perhaps memory and recollection of facts are an issue.
How can a commissioner call for an investigation without looking into his own house?

The County Clerk feels there is justification in the review of the County activities on this issue. Hopefully Commissioner Santamaria will support the County’s existing watchdog with the same passion he has for creating a new watchdog.

Andy Schaller
Wellington

( All supporting documents can be found here: Palm Beach Post
Up In Arms Forum and here: Up In Arms )

—————————————————————————————————————–
Letters To The Editor of the Town Crier

Independent ‘Inspector General’ Is Needed

Your editorial in last week’s issue (“Inspector General Is Needed, But Office Must Have Teeth”) is one of the most important that you have written. I am 200 percent in agreement. From the start to finish, your message hit the target’s bull’s-eye! Please allow me to repeat some of your key statements with occasional rephrasing:

(1) The only way the Palm Beach County government will ever regain the people’s trust is by strictly following the recommendations of the grand jury initiated by the state attorney, especially the creation of the Office of the Inspector General and an ethics commission.

(2) There may be some attempts to explain the often repeated “Corruption County” nickname given to Palm Beach County as merely a “perception.” How can this moniker be merely a perception, when the unmistakable “reality” is that, to date, three Palm Beach County commissioners, two West Palm Beach commissioners, one high-profile lawyer lobbyist, one professional planner and the husband of one of the commissioners have been proven guilty of corruption by our courts and given jail sentences? One of the commissioners, Mary McCarty herself, while admitting that she was in fact guilty and a hypocrite, stated “and it ain’t over,” insinuating that there may be others yet to be found guilty!

(3) It is not enough that we merely approve an Office of the Inspector General. As you so correctly stated, “the devil is in the details.” We must be absolutely certain that this position is 100-percent “independent.” Neither the Palm Beach County Commission nor the county staff’s office should have any say in the selection of the inspector general or the actual operation of that office. We must not allow any dilution of the objectives intended by the grand jury’s recommendations. On the contrary, we must ascertain that this process be completely airtight from any special interest influence, be it from the inside or the outside.

(4) Another statement that concerns me is “the Office of the Inspector General will cost too much; we can’t afford it with the current poor economy.” The fact is that, based on the proven corruption and waste we have experienced in the recent past, we cannot afford not to have an inspector general. As a matter of fact, since the creation of the Miami-Dade Inspector General’s office, millions of dollars have been saved each year by cutting down on corruption and waste, and improving efficiency.

(5) Once again, you so correctly stated, “If they [commissioners] have nothing to hide, there shouldn’t be any problem.” Yes, we do need an inspector general with “teeth” that will “bite” any and all government officials who break the law and their oath of office. It is time for “we the people” to stand up and prove that we will no longer tolerate “business as usual.” A truly independent inspector general will be an extremely important step in making sure that “crime does not pay!”

In conclusion, I agree that the only way to win back the public’s trust and repair the county’s severely damaged reputation is for the public to demand the creation of an independent inspector general and an ethics commission as prescribed by the recent grand jury with the active participation of the state attorney’s office.

Jess Santamaria, County Commissioner, District 6

  1. GUY says:

    .

    Buywithout prescription…

  2. ROY says:

    Buynow it mou…

  3. MARVIN says:

    .

    Buynow it lmg…

  4. gerard says:

    Search music now US Charts…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.