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My meeting with some concerned residents from Venice that are looking for Mayoral and Council candidates that they can support
By Francesco Abbruzzino, The Scoop News
I had an interesting meeting today, with three individuals from within the City of Venice. One individual is a frequent contributor to this page, along with two other individuals. The individuals are looking for candidates to run for Mayor and the two City Council seats in this year’s election. They wanted to meet me and get my thoughts on the subject.
All three are looking for individuals that they can throw their support behind, with the ultimate goal of picking a candidate that represents their values and that can win the election. Even though the City of Venice is a non-partisan election, partisan politics are deeply in play. However, it became clear to me as the meeting progressed, that they were not interested in politics and were looking for someone that represented their values. What is this Republican, Democrat, and I unknown party association looking for in their candidates? Well below are a few of the issues we discussed:
- Sustainable growth. Enough with the over development and using state laws as an excuse for approving all development. This was brought up and I mentioned how the council is using this excuse to take shelter. A perfect example is the Seaboard area. The council approved the change in the ordinance, so that they could begin the process of turning that area into Venice’s version of the Bradenton River Walk. This is something Holic covered in a 2013 interview with the Herald, which you can read by clicking –>> here. State laws did not force that vote for growth. No, the council members own that vote. There are many more like this, so when the council states that they are voting pro-growth due to state laws, call them out on it.
- Beautification Project. We discussed how Holic is stating that there was no cost over runs, which is basically true because they build the cost over runs into the budget to give them cover. That is right, they sold us on a project for X amount of dollars, without telling us that $700k is built into the budget to cover cost over runs. Our conversation surrounded individuals like City Council Member Daniels, as we wondered if he paid more attention to oversight as he is supposed to, versus playing Mr. Code enforcement, would the residents get hit with the cost over runs?
- The issues with Kit McKeon steering a contract for $60k for marketing the city to his sisters’ company, which you can read by clicking —>>> here. Information that a couple of the individuals were not aware of, prior to today’s meeting.
- Clean water initiatives. Supporting groups like my friends out at Hands Along The Water.
A lot of the conversation revolved around an email I sent them, when I was asked about my views on city related issues and I sent them these bullet points:
- Merging VFD with the county. It is a possibility, but I have a concern and that is with taxes. The city residents will have to pay a fire fee with the county, if we make this move, so that is a tax increase. As residents of the city we pay extra taxes for a better quality of life. If our taxes are supposed to cover services such as the VFD, why isn’t the Mayor and other council members looking at cutting our rate? Overall, this move will lead to a tax increase.
- Working with the county. Holic’s relationship with the county has led to so many problems with the city. Something that will continue with Daniels.
- How is that the fire house and police station can be falling apart, yet no action until I started to expose the issues. Or more recently, the whole beautification project. Individuals like Bob Daniels are to focus on code enforcement and not ensuring that the employees are doing what is right for the city.
- Over development versus sustainable growth. You know where I stand. I will show about zero tolerance for altering the establish zoning. State laws will unfortunately impact some decisions, but they are hiding behind those laws, for pro-development laws that they have passed and are not related to adhering to state laws.
- Taking on the EMS from the county. So far, the numbers look great, but we must see all the information that is out there on this subject
- Affordable housing. Stop having the developers define affordable, which is not affordable. Work with local developers to find a solution. Find a way to overcome the “not in my neighborhood” attitude that has killed a few projects
- Hurricane Shelter. I like what is happening with the new SRQ Memorial. However, it sounds like Venice has been quite about it, over concerns that they may have to invest some money into the facility. I have viewed all the communications and even though Holic was aggressive with his whole Community Center fiasco, he has been very quiet on this one.
- I am not a fan of the council silencing non-residents. Many of them fish here, shop here, own businesses here, and much more. So, I think limiting them to two-minutes, if there is time, was wrong and I would try to reverse that decision.
- I would like to a candidate that would not allow the cost over run’s and delays like we saw with the beautification project, which hides the over runs within the budgeted monies
- I would like a candidate that agrees with me, regarding the City Manager retiring. I think his job performance has been sub-par
- I would like to see a candidate that will look into the HR Manager and the handling of salaries. One that is not paying outrageous salaries because they are the avg, when compared to Sarasota or North Port. As my article indicated, they are extremely above the averages on a national level (read that article by clicking —>>> here). The argument is that we are getting quality employees, but the City Manager and Director of Public Works destroy that theory. I state the Director of Public Works because he was selling the public on the outflow water quality being great, yet we later found out that he was not testing it and had no idea where the quality stood.
Basically, these three individuals are looking for candidates to challenge Bob Daniels and Kit McKeon, who appear to be running for Mayor. Also, they are looking for candidates that may be interested in running for the two city council seats. You can read all about it by clicking my article below.
They have asked me about running for Mayor. I have not committed to it because of some concerns that I noted in the article following this paragraph. I have been approached by about three groups and several individuals and it is something I am considering.
Bottom line, if you are for sustainable growth, clean water, and a government that is working for the people email me. I will forward your information to this group, so that you can have a conversation with them.