New year, same old BCC

“It remains to be seen whether the Chair will carry out his threat to censor citizens who step up to the podium to offer public comment at Tuesday’s meeting.”


From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: The first meeting of the Martin County Board of County Commissioners in 2018 offers no new hope for residents looking for fiscal responsibility and accountability from the same old Commission majority. 
It remains to be seen whether the Chair will carry out his threat to censor citizens who step up to the podium to offer public comment at Tuesday’s meeting.
At the last meeting of 2017, Commissioner Ed Ciampi warned that so long as he is chairman, criticism of commissioners will not be tolerated.  Ciampi said he plans to “protect” his colleagues from unkind or unflattering comments that citizens might try to make from the podium, even if that means violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
NOTE TO COMMISSIONER CIAMPI: The First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  Protections afforded by the Amendment apply not only to the U.S. Congress but to all government bodies, including the BCC.
The Lake Point project owned and operated by George Lindemann, Jr., and his partners has a spot on Tuesday’s agenda, although litigation commenced by the Lake Point entities has been finally resolved as to Martin County and the South Florida Water Management District.  Lindemann served time in federal prison for insurance fraud after hiring an equine hit man to electrocute a show horse called Charisma.  In 2013, the Lake Point entities sued the County and the District as well as Maggy Hurchalla, seeking a government bailout for an unsuccessful mining operation in western Martin County.  The County and the District have settled all claims, with County taxpayers paying millions of dollars for 400 acres of Lake Point property that offers virtually no benefit to residents.  Lake Point principals and attorneys failed to unseat Commissioners Sarah Heard and Ed Fielding in 2014 and have now spearheaded legal attacks against Commissioners Heard and Fielding and Commissioner Anne Scott in advance of this year’s elections.
Agenda Item 8B1 on Tuesday’s BCC agenda is an amendment to an interlocal agreement between the County and SFWMD that has been re-written to conform with settlement agreements entered into with Lake Point.  The re-write, among other things, deletes the original mission statement, which was to restore the South Florida ecosystem and protect the St. Lucie River Watershed.
Agenda Item 8A3 is a request for approval to spend $50,000 in County taxpayer funds to pay for an attorney and consultants to help the newly established Village of Indiantown make the transition to independence from Martin County.  It’s not clear whether the $50,000 is a gift, a grant, or a loan from County taxpayers and it’s not clear who will be paid, other than retired Stuart City Manager Paul Nicoletti, who is to provide legal services to the municipality that Indiantown residents voted to establish last year.  Staff recommends the expenditure as a “good faith” gesture to help Indiantown become independent – although apparently not so independent that it will pay its own way.  Parents of teen-aged children will recognize the “you aren’t the boss of me . . . can I have $20 to go to the movies?” gambit. 
The old boondoggle known as the Jensen Beach Mooring Field is being resurrected in Agenda Item 8A1, as staff asks Commissioners to accept a $250,000 state grant which requires the County to put up an additional $250,000 to move forward with the unpopular project.  Doug Smith has been trying for years to force Martin County residents to pay millions of dollars for his pet project that violates the County’s Boat Facility Siting Plan, threatens manatees and other resources in the Jensen Beach to Jupiter Inlet Aquatic Preserve and will likely be another financial drain on taxpayers if it is ever constructed.  
And while the County Clerk has finally decided to comply with state law that requires Commission approval of all expenditures of public funds, the “warrant list” of checks and disbursements which appears on the Consent Agenda contains virtually no information about the $12 million paid by the County to employees, vendors, and other unidentified payees between December 8 and December 19, 2017.  
Agenda Item 4B2 asks commissioners to approve more than $1 million a day in payments from taxpayer dollars to someone for something with no explanation.
In other items on Tuesday’s agenda:
– Agenda Item 8A2 seeks approval to market property located at 977 SE Dixie Highway which is currently owned by the Community Redevelopment Agency.  The appraised value of the one-third-acre parcel is $61,760.
– Commissioners will be asked to give final approval in Agenda Item 6A to an amendment to the zoning ordinance to allow community centers to be operated in residential zoning districts.
– Agenda Item 4A on the Consent Agenda seeks approval of the County’s Investment Report for November 2017 and minutes of BCC meetings for December 12 and December 19, 2017; however, these materials have not been posted for public review in the agenda packet.
Download or view Tuesday’s agenda items at:
You can attend the BCC meeting at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday at the Administration Center, 2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart, to express your views on these or other issues or e-mail commissioners at, and, with copies to the County Administrator and the County Attorney at and

Related posts:

Comments are closed.