Council Still Needs a Special Investigator

“Clearly he is not answering to Councilman Ford and it is equally clear that Council does not know how to work as a team as not one other Councilman was concerned enough to e-mail the Manager”
TedNoftall
From Ted Noftall
7:37 AM
to Patrick, Hank, Greg
Pat and Hank,
Rarely does one project so clearly illustrate  the  major operational defects  within the Community development department  in Port Orange.    The proposed Wiles Boat yard on Dunlawton  is such a project.
Before I begin let  me say that assuming logistical matters such as storage zones and street access can be worked out I believe this project  would be a good one  for the area.   More importantly up until a week or ten  days ago the residents in  that  area that I had spoken with,   also agreed it would be a good project because in their words  ‘what was there currently  was not ideal’.  Initially as least all those residents wanted  was visual  assurance that the City was following its own ordinances.     But as the saying goes  that was then and this is now,   And after 10 days of the Manager ham fisted poisoning the well of goodwill  who knows what if anything can be salvaged going forward.
Let me say also  that there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Jack Wiles has given  far more to this community that he will ever be able to take back out.
With that said this proposed project raises several disturbing questions starting with:

  • *)   What is wrong with either the zoning and land use codes, OR the way they are administered   in Port Orange such that project after project and developer after developer requires someone’s thumb on the scale.   AND Make no mistake  someone’s thumb was on the scale in this one,  AND  in some respects Jack is as big a victim as the area residents in  –  ‘this is just the way things are done in Port Orange mentality’

The very fact that the Manager hasn’t been able to make it through a sentence without using the word ‘complicated’,    is  un-willing to answer basic questions in writing,  and is hiding behind a talking points timeline  should cause all but the blind to see the  winks and nods City staff put into this one.
The only way we are ever going to fix  recurring  citizen angst and allegations of staff not following City regulations   such as are  arising  from this project is to understand the extent to which ‘thumbs’  are being applied    AND the only way that is going to happen is with a special investigator with subpoena power to compel testimony and produce  documents under penalty of perjury and obstruction. .   If the Community Development Director and his staff were so deposed  I am willing to bet those ‘thumbs’  would be given-up faster than a rat giving  up a bone.  
Such an experienced investigator’ time and report should not cost more than $10,000 or take more than 2 weeks  so let us be perfectly clear —   if a special investigation is not appointed  it is because Council really does not want to unearth any wrong doing ……… in this department or any other.    Sure they may bluster about this and that but real answers ….. not on your life.

  • *)  Port Orange’s  Council/Manager (strong manager)  form of government presupposes that the Mayor is treated no differently than the rest of Council,  AND  the Managers refusal to answer Councilman Fords questions despite having agreed to in writing raises  the question — to whom  does the Manager really report.  Clearly he is not answering to Councilman Ford and it is equally clear that Council does not know how to work as a team as not one other Councilman was concerned enough to e-mail  the Manager advising him that he too wanted those questions answered.

I think we all know that  former manager Parker and current m manager Kisela  answer to the Mayor to  such a degree that for all intents and purposes we have  Mayor/Council  (strong mayor) government  which extends  all of those perks to the Mayor with none of the procedural safeguards extended to Council.   
At this point I do not know if it serves any purpose  to appeal to our current do nothing Council,  as they have failed repeatedly  to take meaningful action when needed most over the past 3 years.  At this point I think the best we can do is focus on the council changes  we need to make in the election later this year.
If that newly elected Council is likewise un-willing to assert its role by establishing responsibility and accountability in all departments throughout the City  then nothing is really going to change in Port Orange and the next major fiasco is only a question of when  and not if.
Ted Noftall


 

From: Ted Noftall [mailto:Ted@TedNoftall.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 01, 2014 2:48 PM
To: Bob Ford; Dennis Kennedy; don@amlsfl.com; Drew Bastian
Cc: ‘Kisela, Greg’
Subject: Council needs a Special investigator

Bob, Dennis, Don and Drew,
I somehow missed this slice of Port Oranges underbelly when it was originally  written back on Dec 9th  and am only seeing it as published on Pat’s blog now for the first time on Dec 31st.
Let me say from  the outset,  that I do not know if what the Gardners   are alleging is factual and I  extend Jack every benefit of the doubt.
BUT  what I do know is if only ½ of what they are alleging is true then the Manager and several of his senior  Community Development staffers need to be terminated ,  JUST as  senior staffers  need to be terminated in Finance, Public Works , HR and possibly IT but for different reasons.
If ½ of what the Gardners say occurred then it will be nothing new as the  Manager and  Community Development have been applying a different, softer  less compliant law for the Riverwalk  developer friend of the Mayor’s  for years now,  AND Council has raised no meaningful objections …..Why is that ???
WHY  it was only last week when people asked why buddy had no permit box up on his property to house his  permit and plans,  that the City sprang  to his immediate defense and said he didn’t need one,   And  as for the plans well the inspectors would keep copies in their vehicles.   That’s funny because I have had permit boxes up on my property on  4 different occasions  now and inspectors never once kept copies of my plans in their vehicles .
This is all so crooked and corrupt AND the truth is that nothing has changed since the former Manager and his CFO left with their sweetheart pensions and severances.     This is still a stumble bum operation with full portions of neglect,  corruption and incompetence  being run in a consequence free zone for the Manager and his staff.
These allegations are disgusting and they  need to be investigated and hopefully refuted,   or otherwise confirmed by other than the Manager, who if he had any  interest or credibility  in this matter would have taken appropriate action back in August when he was first appraised of the alleged un-permitted tree and vegetation removal.
Accordingly at your first meeting in  2014   Will you agree  to hire an outside investigator, with authority to subpoena  if  necessary,  to refute or confirm these allegations,  which if confirmed would amount to serious disregard of the Port Orange  land development ordinances ??.  
If County Council can undertake such an independent action to assure citizens regarding possible corrupt practices in their operation,  Why should the Port Orange Council  offer any less independent assurance to those same citizens.  
AND PLEASE IF  you choose to take no meaningful action as has been your past practice  would you at least  spare  citizens  from hearing you say          “ If  anything like this occurs one more time ……………   “
Ted Noftall


 

“Cronyism … and Given Port Orange’s Recent History of Incompetence at High Administrative Levels …. “

Published December 9, 2013 | By incoming
 
Mike and Dianne Gardner
618 Ruth St
Port Orange, FL 32127
December 8, 2013
RE: Atlantic Marine Planned Commercial Development
Greg Kisela
City Manager
City of Port Orange
Dear Mr Kisela,
We own the property, and reside, at 618 Ruth Street in Port Orange, Florida. Our property backs up to a two-acre-plus parcel that is currently under consideration by the City of Port Orange for development as a multi-use commercial project involving boat sales, repair and storage. Principals in the development are Jack Wiles and Brad Wiles (father and son) of East Central Florida Boat Works doing business as Atlantic Marine. Jack Wiles is well known to elected city officials and staff members through his activities within the local financial community and on local government advisory boards.
Our experience to date has been that Jack and Brad Wiles have blatantly violated the provisions of the City of Port Orange Land Development Code and that the City has aided and abetted these violations by not enforcing its own ordinances. The Code very clearly states its intent in Ch 9 § 9 that “the purposes of this article are to:
1) acknowledge the environmental benefits of trees and natural vegetation,  2) prohibit the destruction of natural vegetation until a development plan, or other specific plan for interim land management has been approved, and   3) provide specific criteria for allowable clearing and grading activities as they affect tree preservation.”
More detailed specifications regarding the type of documents required before a developer can begin to clear property abound in the Code. However, when Jack and Brad Wiles caused the removal of trees and natural vegetation from the Atlantic Marine property without an approved Site Plan or even a Tree Removal Permit, and City officials were notified of this violation, they chose to ignore their own ordinances and instead allowed what amounts to wholesale clear-cutting of the land to continue.
Those officials did not enforce Ch 9 § 22(a) of the Code which specifies that
“all violations of this article involving the unauthorized removal of trees and vegetation shall require the land owner to file a restoration plan as provided for below.”
Instead, they issued a Tree Removal Permit that would be laughable in its deficiencies were it not for the damage already done by the developers. All natural barriers between the Atlantic Marine development and at least ten adjoining properties have now been removed and homeowners in the neighborhood are reasonably asking what recourse they have available to them.
When we voiced our concerns to staff in the Planning and Code Enforcement Departments, their responses were pleasant enough but they also clearly indicated that nothing substantive would be done about them. It is fairly obvious at this point that when it comes to protecting the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, the City of Port Orange places more importance on the wishes of insiders than on the protection of average citizens. Cronyism seems an appropriate term to use for this practice, and given Port Orange’s recent history of incompetence at high administrative levels, not an unsurprising one.
Please let us know what solutions, if any, you can offer within the existing City framework for grievances before we look for solutions outside that framework.
Respectfully,
 
Mike and Dianne Gardner
386-527-1959 (Mike)
manddgardner@cfl.rr.com
386-527-1641 (Dianne)
dtgardner@cfl.rr.com

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