Broward Pols Have New Plan To Pick Your Wallet

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

Hold on to your wallets.  Broward’s tax-happy Legislative Delegation is back in Tallahassee.

This year their goals include two ideas that sound noble, but are recipes for expensive entitlements stretching into the future.

They would set up special taxing districts to (1) put cops in schools (SB 514) and (2) pay for senior services (SB 976).

These are motherhood and apple pie issues wrapped in the American flag.

How could you be against either?

Nobody is against keeping kids safe or helping seniors.

We all should be against creating new multi-million dollar bureaucracies with taxing powers run by unelected politicians.

Here are just some of  what makes these proposals bad news:

 

  •  This is a cynical shell game.  The new agencies are tasks that local government can already provide. Cowardly city and county commissioners support the new services if somebody else pays.  With their eyes on the next election, they don’t want  to raise taxes to pay for them.  So they pass the buck to a new special district that is off their books.
  • These special districts will be run by appointed politicians. They are either appointed by local commissions or appointed by Tallahassee.  Appointed agencies are notoriously unresponsive because there is no consequences at the ballot box for anything they do.
  •  The special districts  — which can tax up to ½ mill (50 cents per $1,000 of property value) — will go on forever.  These are new taxing authorities which will take a life of their own.   We should be streamlining government, not building more elaborate bureaucracies.
  • The districts have the power to buy or lease real estate.  I can see the lobbyists lining up now.
  • The districts have unlimited power to hire personnel.  Talk about a new font of patronage, over-inflated salaries and benefits.
  • The mission statements of these two districts are vague and so open-ended they should be scary to any taxpayer.

The special district for seniors is empowered to “provide and maintain in the county the preventive, developmental, treatment, rehabilitative, and other services which the council determines are needed for the general welfare of seniors.” That could include everything from mental health services to building shuffle board courts, all of it employing dozens on your dime.

The special district for school safety can “Provide and maintain in the county the services which the council determines are needed for the safety of the schools and students.”

Basically, the new districts can do anything they want.

Both districts would be created only after approval by voters in a referendum.  We shouldn’t even waste the time for a referendum on such bogus proposals.

Even the Broward School Board, not a wellspring of wisdom, doesn’t want the school safety special district.  They asked State Sen. Eleanor Sobel to drop the proposal and she has refused.

 

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel: Wants To Pick Our Wallet With New Taxes

Special districts are already widely abused.  Broward has 17 water management districts. That is 17 separate administrations with 17 sets of employees, many doing the same jobs. They are jobs that could be done better and cheaper by the county government.

State Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Coral Springs, has made noise about reigning in the power of the county’s water districts.   “There really is no accountability,” Ring said.

Ring is right.

So why would we create two more districts to do a job that would be done cheaper and better by existing governments?

Are you listening, Jeremy?

The bills creating both these districts should get lost in a committee, never to see the light of day.

Maybe this is a job for state Rep. George Moriatis of Fort Lauderdale, the only Republican from Broward in Tallahassee. After all, he does describe himself as a self-described fiscal conservative.

Well, let’s see just how conservative Moriatis really is.

Call your GOP friends, George. Kill these bad bills.

 



17 Responses to “Broward Pols Have New Plan To Pick Your Wallet”

  1. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    Senator Sobel’s proposal is most likely the result of long-term frustration regarding school security funding issues.

    Presently, whether your child has a fulltime school resource officer in their respective school depends upon a single factor: in which City is the school is located. That is unfair to the children and has placed a signficant burden on municipalities.

    In addition, we all know there are facility changes necessary to make our schools more secure and improve school safety. Ensuring single point access and making other identifiable and known improvements would better secure our schools. While the initial proposal did not include the “capital” side of the security question, perhaps it would later.

    No one really wants another layer of government or another Board. However, it appears that Senator Sobel is trying to provide the necessary resources to do what we know the School Board says it does not presently have to initiate and complete such operational and facility changes.

    The School Board doesn’t want Senator Sobel’s proposed board, and there is certainly the potential for friction and mischief having a separate board dictating security strategies and funding.

    However, I suspect Senator Sobel would ask : “OK, so what is your alternative proposal and what are you doing to get the necessary dollars to improve school security?”

    I guess two alternatives are : (1) the School Board could go out on a referendum, like Miami-Dade County did, to find the capital and operational dollars to improve school security as well as facilities in general (including desperately needed technology improvements), OR (2) the School Board could ask the State legislature to provide local flexibility to find those dollars.

    So, what is the proposal from the School Board?

    We can not ignore the problem of school security and can not keep pushing this on the Cities.

  2. Jetties says:

    Relax. These bills will not even be heard, so no one should worry with “killing” them. They’re already dead.

  3. BCDevelopment says:

    Buddy, you sound very much like an (R) on this one…watch out, you may start a revolt in Demville (aka: Broward County) with these kind of stories..Fox news may sign you as a analyst!

  4. Dear Mike says:

    Problem with your reasoned solution is the word is out there that good ole Eleanor has made it clear to the school board that she would be very inclined to support bills calling for more funding for charter schools and other bills that could hurt Broward public schools if Runice and Co dont step up and support her on this. While comprimise is always good, those who know Eleanor know comprimise is not a oft used verb in her vocabulary.

  5. voter says:

    posturing as usual – she gets publicity and looks like she is actually doing something up there and newspaper may get something to post and print

  6. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    To Dear Mike: Thanks. I am not privy to the strategy or the potential consequences to the School Board by not backing Senator Sobel’s bill, though what you suggest is interesting and certainly plausible. There is no question that Senator Sobel is very motivated on this issue and has good reason to be concerned that this issue will never be fully addressed without a legislative response.

    As a parent of children in public schools and a former PTA President, I applaud the motivation and effort to improve school security, including providing fulltime school resources officers for EVERY public school in Broward County.

  7. Ron Cacciatore says:

    Buddy, you hit the nail right on the head. I attended the Broward delegation meeting several weeks ago when this issue was discussed. One official spoke how their School Resource Officer helps children open their lunch milk and advocates placing another SRO in each school. The SRO program is an important one but must change their focus to school security. Adding another SRO to each school is law enforcement empire building and political rhetoric. One top law enforcement official stated he supports banning assault rifles. Like a handgun with multiple clips is not a threat or an insane person can’t get their hands on a assault rifle. Wake up and smell the coffee.
    I never thought I would make this statement in my lifetime, but like it or not we live in times of danger and uncertainty and to protect these children and school staff, we must lock these schools down. Yes lockdown like a correctional facility. After school starts place limitations on the entrance and egress at each school.
    When you walk in after school starting time the visitor is contained in a secured holding area while they are processed by school security. Yes, just like a jail ! How many people have walked into the Broward County jail, armed and past security and started shooting innocent people ? None, because the facility is on lock down.
    A SRO in a school could be handling a situation on the other side of the school leaving the school vulnerable. I know law enforcement officials would like to increase their person power but they need to have a reality check as we are talking about human life.
    Give Superintendant Runcie the funds to protect our kids. The School Board has their own police department and given the tools and direction they could handle this task.
    If the law enforcement leaders really want to help let me pose this question. How many of you would be willing to give up some your millions in law enforcement trust fund money to help Superintendant Runcie complete this task. Give up some your fancy extra iPads, fancy cars, and some of the unnecessary items and become part of the answer to this issue.
    It will be interesting to see how many, if any will take that first step.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Ron Cacciatore has a lifetime in law enforcement. His views are very interesting, especially his call for law enforcement leaders to give up the millions in the law enforcement trust money to pay for school police.

    The most probable threat comes not from an outside crazy, but from other students. Kids have beaten, stabbed, shot and killed others at Broward schools. Some schools periodically ban school bags so that students have trouble bring weapons to class. More school police will not stop these attacks. We may need to accept Cacciatore’s plan to lock schools down, or at least make them less porous.

    And, of course, parents should realize that addressing just the school campus would not really keep kids safe. One of the most horrible attacks on a school student in Broward came when a boy was burned in a condominium parking lot. Other attacks have taken place in buses or at bus stops.

    Even at high-priced private schools the kids are not 100 percent safe. One student of a well-known Broward private school was stabbed to death in a mall a few years ago. Another was beaten at a party. Those are just the cases I know about from the newspaper.

    Unfortunately, there is no way to keep kids totally safe unless we have a North Korean-style police state.

  8. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    Ron,
    You raise a number of different points but, respectfully, oversimplify the complexity of what we face. I say this as a father, former PTA president, a Mayor who spends time in many different schools, as the Co-Chair of the Broward League of Cities Joint Taskforce on SROs, and someone who been working on the security issues at our schools, including SROs for years.

    First, your idea of reducing ingress and egress is not a novel concept; this has been discussed over the past decade. I am not sure you remember this, but the School Board moved towards the idea of single-point access for schools after Columbine. That effort was never completed, and for some schools never started. The Broward League of Cities’ Joint Taskforce on SROs discussed this very issue during evidence gathering. To finish single-point access efforts likely means tens of millions of dollars to address all 232 schools. Some schools need minor facility changes while some will require major reconstruction. Cities giving up “fancy ipads” wont accomplish single-point access in Broward County.

    Second, the School Board does NOT have a Police Department like you seem to believe exits. They have about 10 officers to handle all district wide investigations. Some of the gang counselors were even let go last year. To be a full police department, they would have to hire hundreds of officers. They do not have cars, radios, dispatch, equipment for the hundreds of officers. They do not have command staff. They do not have buildings to house the officers. Maybe you are suggesting “Wackenhut” guards, but they don’t have those either. It would cost tens of millions of dollars immediately to just start what would be one of the largest departments in the County.

    Third, those in support of SROs are not delusional. Everyone recognizes we cannot stop the deranged and the determined. Even the idea of a flood of security guards on campuses, as you might be suggesting, does not mean they can be at every point in the school or they will stop the deranged. This is particularly true because of the many, many schools have open and porous campuses.

    Fourth, our SROs are not funded through law enforcement trust funds. We make the very difficult budget choices to fund fulltime SROs in all 11 schools; some cities cannot fund SROs for elementary schools at all. We believe it is part of community policing model, much more than security. The suggestion that all cities need to do is give up some cars and laptops to provide school security oversimplifies the problem and wrongly places blame, whether intended or not, on cities.

    If you want to support security for the schools, please stop blaming the cities for not giving up dollars and focus on the real dollars necessary to alter the physical and operational security.

  9. Watching the Race says:

    Former Federally Indicted Fraudster Ron “Chicken Man” Cacciatorre has a point. Use LETF money on physical security measures at all of the Public/Charter Schools. Pass Code Ordinances that require private schools to have the same physical security features. LETF cannot be used for staff but it can be used for equipment and for things like buildings,etc.

    Most Schools are fenced but with multiple gates and some are left open. Secure all gates during school hours, including faculty gates. Have one area for people to come in and out of.

    This problem was addressed in the 80′s by “Crazy” Joe Clark in Patterson NJ. The movie Lean on Me told the story. If you lock the schools down the only danger comes from the staff and students.

    Ron is good friends with Sheriff Israel, I am sure he has the influence with the Sheriff for Scott to give up BSO LETF money and give it to the schools for physical security improvements.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Let’s never forget that an indictment is not a conviction. It means little. For instance, Cacciatore’s case was so weak it was thrown out of court.

    This from the Miami Herald July 1, 1974:

    “A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed fraud charges against former Broward County Sheriff’s Capt. Ron Cacciatore , closing the only criminal case to result from a lengthy corruption investigation of the Sheriff’s Office.

    Evidence presented by the government in the six-day trial was too weak to put to jurors in the case against Cacciatore, his wife, Diane Cacciatore, and boat captain William Dawson, U.S. District Judge Jose Gonzalez said.”

  10. Watching the Race says:

    There are 286 Public/Charter schools in Broward County. The School Board pays something like 40K per SRO now. All High Schools have Security Specialists (most former cops) and SRO’s on site.

    It costs approx 100k per position for a police officer so you are looking at a budget increase of 30 Mil?

    BSO was considering using “reserve” LEO’s to become SRO’s and pay them a flat 40k per year. The School District could do the same thing. The School District budget is in the Billions something like 5Billion.

    With all of the waste and mismanagement surely they could expand their police department. Miami Dade Schools has a PD.

  11. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    Speaking of Columbine, there was an armed SRO on campus.

    And if recall, all shots missed and most of the children killed were killed after the SRO engagement.

  12. BCDevelopment says:

    Mayor Ryan 1 Ron Cacciatore ZERO

  13. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    Actually, the school officer received the call AFTER the shooting started as he was coming back from getting lunch at Subway. So, he was NOT on campus when it started. Then, he engaged Harris from 60 yards away. The second officer was writing a ticket off campus.
    http://extras.denverpost.com/news/col1123b.htm

    Not sure it makes a difference in the context of deranged and determined.

  14. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Special districts are truly licenses to pillage tax dollars at will. Not to mention the cost of more bureaucracy. And yes we all realize the school board has some explaining to do and examples to set before anyone would give them a billion. Read the Audit Committee and Facilities Task Force minutes on the website.

    How about some creative thinking? When I came to Florida in 1969 there were no crossing guards. My daughter was going to start K soon so I got together with the neighborhood association, the Clerk of Courts and we came up with a plan. Put a $4 surcharge on every moving violation fine paid and earmark it for crossing guards. The delegation loved it. We got the FL PTA to back it and it passed the first time out. It raised $1.4 million in Dade alone. Terrible drivers, even then.

    So, this time, put a surcharge on every firearm, ammunition, gun permit and other appropriate sales and earmark it all for school safety. The school board is mandated to spend it all on school safety. And the Chief Auditor watches over it all.

  15. Watching the Race says:

    @ Charlotte

    Now that’s thinking and it makes sense. It is such good thinking it will probably never happen

  16. just a taxpayer says:

    @Charlotte-
    the school crossing guards in the city of fort lauderdale cost over $800,000.00 a year. the city funds them with surcharges on parking tickets and maybe some other sources we don’t know about.
    and fort lauderdale doesn’t get it when no one comes to park and spend money in fort lauderdale – the parking tickets are very expensive

  17. frank says:

    Gun permit fees were actually DECREASED in the past several years. Bring them back up and add the money to the FEFP categorical.

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