Martin County Commission Agenda: Comment before Tuesday on these important items

Local attorney and civic activist Virginia Sherlock provides a comprehensive look at Tuesday’s Martin County Commission Agenda. The public is urged to comment on these items; email addresses for the commissioners are provided.
The Board of County Commissioners Agenda for Tuesday, February 26, 2013, contains the following items of special interest to many residents who may want to call or e-mail your County Commissioners if you are unable to attend the meeting:
At 9:30 a.m. there will be a discussion regarding appointment and duties of members of Neighborhood Advisory Committees that report to the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Last year, the “Super CRA Board” was dissolved by the new commission, which returned to the prior system of having the BOCC sit as the CRA Board once a month to consider Community Redevelopment Agency issues brought forward and recommended by the Neighborhood Advisory Committees.  When the old commission established the Super CRA Board, it stacked the Board with development community representatives, marginalizing the NACs.  Hopefully, the return to the prior system will allow NACs comprised of community residents as well as business owners to have a stronger voice in CRA activities, offering ideas and proposals that truly emanate from the local community.
At 10:30 a.m., Maggy Hurchalla will be giving a presentation on proposed revisions to Chapter 2 (overall goals and definitions) of the Comprehensive Plan.  Please support Maggy’s work and let your commissioners know that we want to restore the Comprehensive Plan protections that were eroded over the past 10 years.
At noon there will be a private attorney-client session in which the Acting County Attorney will discuss the lawsuit filed against South Florida Water Management District and Martin County over the rock pit in western Martin County operated by the Lake Point entities.  Lake Point-affiliated LLCs were huge donors to the political campaigns of Ed Ciampi, Patrick Hayes, Brandon Tucker, and Doug Smith during past election cycles, contributing at least $32,000.00 to Martin County pro-growth candidates.
At 1:50 p.m. there is a staff presentation on the County’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program.  This looks like a good presentation that makes it clear that the County can remove — and has removed — derelict vessels from waters throughout Martin County, including the area where the Jensen Beach Mooring Field is proposed to be constructed.  Since one of the primary arguments in support of building the mooring field is to allow for removal of derelict vessels, it is important to understand that we have the legal ability — and the money — to do that now. Derelict vessel removal is funded by boat registration fees and grants.  Earlier this year, staff reported about $160,000.00 is currently available in the derelict vessel removal fund.
At 2:00 p.m. a presentation on the Jensen Beach Mooring Field is scheduled.  The bad news is that the staff report contains so many inaccurate statements it is almost impossible to address them all. The project, as proposed, violates our Comprehensive Plan and impacts seagrass beds, including threatened Johnson’s seagrass.  The good news is that there may be a way to allow for construction of a mooring field that complies with the Comp Plan and will not harm seagrass beds and marine life in the Indian River Lagoon and the Aquatic Preserve.
At 3:30 p.m. the BOCC will convene as the Community Redevelopment Board and elect a chair and vice chair, then hear the annual report for the CRA for Fiscal 2012.  The report will be submitted to the BOCC for approval after the commission adjourns as the CRA and re-convenes as the BOCC.
Also on the agenda, but not pre-set, is the appointment and contract of Michael Durham as the new County Attorney.  Despite repeated requests for a copy of the contract, I have been unable to obtain a copy, so I do not know the terms that are under consideration.
There is also an item seeking approval of a “Revenue Enhancement Program” for the Martin County Parks Department.  Although I am a fairly well-educated and intelligent person, I cannot understand the program proposal.  The concerns I previously expressed do not appear to have been resolved, however.  The concerns that remain include:
(1) giving County employees the ability to “solicit” sponsorships, donations, funding, etc. from vendors who might otherwise be doing business with the County.  This seems to codify “pay to play”, that is, if a company wants a contract to sell goods or services to the County, the vendor may feel pressured to cough up the dough to “sponsor” an event at the water park.
(2) allowing advertisements for private companies to be posted on the County Parks and Recreation website
(3) providing “sponsorships . . . to promote businesses, companies, individuals, not-for-profit and other entities in return for fees, in-kind services or a combination thereof” using taxpayer-financed land and facilities for private advertising and marketing, especially those directed toward children who use many County facilities.
(4) offering private individuals or organizations “commissions” to promote or market County venues (such as weddings at the Leach Mansion or company barbeques at Indian Riverside Park).
I may not be reading the proposal correctly.  It is extremely difficult to follow.  But if I understand the proposal, these and other “revenue enhancement measures” seem questionable at best.
You can review any individual agenda item you are interested in at the following link:
Please feel free to contact your commissioners with any questions, comments, suggestions, or opinions you have.
E-mail commissioners at:

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