From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners Agenda is short but contains critically important items that deserve careful consideration.
There are only three agenda items to be taken up, including a shade session on the continuing litigation filed against the County by the owners of the Lake Point rockpit in western Martin County, including George Lindemann, Jr., who served time in federal prison for having his show horse, Charisma, electrocuted to collect insurance proceeds. In addition to suing Martin County and the South Florida Water Management District to try to get taxpayers to compensate the owners for their unsuccessful business efforts, Lake Point has SLAPPed Maggy Hurchalla for communicating her concerns about the rockpit to her County Commissioners. Agenda Item 8B1, pre-set at11:00 a.m., is a private attorney-client session to discuss the status of the litigation and to seek guidance regarding strategy.
Agenda Item 8A2 is a request to establish a comprehensive public records program which is long overdue. The County’s handling of public records and Public Records Act requests in the past has been haphazard and disjointed. County Attorney Mike Durham has been trying to establish a more organized approach to maintaining and producing public records, but it has become increasingly clear that more resources are required to set up an efficient, effective system. Staff is recommending creation of a Public Records Team consisting of a document maintenance officer, records customer service liaison, public records request liaison officer, and records management technical analyst. Commissioners are being asked on Tuesday to approve an additional staff position (the public records request liaison) to complete the team.
Last, but by no means least, is Agenda Item 8A1, which seeks review of the tentative 2017 Fiscal Year Capital Improvements Plan (CIP).
The tentative plan is very lengthy (more than 400 pages) but is detailed and carefully set out, establishing priorities for costly capital improvement projects by assigning “points” for various aspects of each project to rationally prioritize expenditures. While many citizens will find the task of wading through the charts and figures a bit daunting, staff has done an exceptional job of providing information for review and discussion in an understandable, if massive, collection. Tuesday’s review will allow Commissioners — and the public — to comment on individual projects as well as the overall CIP. Final approval will be sought during public budget hearings in September.