Don't Worry; Be Happy in Port Orange

Don’t Worry; Be Happy in Port Orange

Hank answers the question:  My family is happy living in Port Orange.  It is a nice city to live in.
A gentleman appeared before the Port Orange City Council on 6 24 14 to decry the negative mood of city council meetings which he says is affecting morale among city employees.  He lays the blame for such a mood on a small number of complaining people who appear before the city council. So let me address some of the issues he brought up:
The city of Port Orange has developed nicely, with the exception of the Ridgewood Corridor. Although the gentleman tries to speak as a citizen and not an official of the chamber of commerce which he is, it is hard for me not to notice that his thoughts are akin to the philosophy of the chamber of commerce.  The chamber is in reality a partner with the city of Port Orange for development and business.  The chamber would like to see more businesses locate in Port Orange and to some degree that is good for the citizens of Port Orange. Nevertheless, although the speaker is an official in the chamber of commerce, his thoughts have some merits and some should be countered.
It has been a plus for business development in Port Orange and in a qualified way for the citizens, that a long time member of the city council has at the same time been a construction business owner.  And his son also is a construction business owner.  Probably because of Mayor Allen Green’s private interests in seeing more business built and come into Port Orange, Mayor Green has made sure that new business areas are built in the best way, for the citizens, and to attract other developers and businesses to build and settle in Port Orange.
But I look at the personal profit advantage of the Mayor, developers, real estate, banks, etc. and the progress in bringing nice looking business plazas in Port Orange.  For financial  profit reasons, the exceptional new business areas have been located in areas at a loss to the east end of Port Orange, the ridgewood corridor.  The priority of building in mostly in the west side of Port orange, has shortchanged the citizens because property values have declined most greatly on the east side, and crime has risen on the east side.  I do not have the figures on crime in the east side of Port Orange, but I would expect figures to support my contention.
It was only by allowing a developer to build  three condos, consisting of 17 stories each, in a proposed city park, did any major development take place on the east end, with the exception of the CRA  Eastport business community.  There are many, both pro city hall and anti city hall who would like to see the Ridgewood Ave. in Port Orange be improved in looks, and crime figures.  Thus, the thought is, stop all the negativity so that new business will still come into Port Orange.
It seems to me that although there might be a handful of activists who bring up negative issues about the governing of Port Oranges, the issues are of great importance and financial magnitude.  I too would think that most people are still happy with living in Port Orange, but a few see that the financial mistakes will hinder keeping up the good city service which we have come to enjoy, and will cause tax increases to remedy the financial mistakes, placing a fearful burden on potential new business owners, and on the citizen tax payers.  It was telling that our construction Mayor had often stated that the city of Port Orange do not have taxpayers, but have “investors” in his vision for the city of Port Orange.  At the same time with the construction Mayor’s vision, “investors” were indeed investing not only in the city expansion, but also in financial rewards to the construction industry, developers, loaning banks and real estate people.  This still is good for us all, except::
Except that in the opportunities in pursuing new construction, which resulted in top notch business areas for the citizens of Port Orange, the vision of construction, failed to take into account that managing the city’s finance was still a number one priority.  In the area of  city finances  there should be no one who would give the city top marks for  a job well done, except the often suspicious Moody Report , and some external auditors.
It was mentioned that 98 percent of people who responded to the city’s survey on the city web site were happy with Port Orange City Government.  Then it was erroneously stated that 98 percent of the city was satisfied with Port Orange City Government.  I myself do not cooperate and complete the city’s survey because I find it of no value, but a PR tool to make it seem that there is nothing wrong in City Government.  I suspect the survey is mostly answered by city workers, developers, banks, real estate people, team players for Mayor Green, the chamber of commerce, people, and those friendly to city hall.  That certainly does not represent 98 percent of the people of Port Orange.
Indeed, I think those who complain about city hall these days, are complaining that a one or two percent of Port Orange People are provided with favorable input at the disadvantage to the other 98 percent of people.  There is a lack of apathy in the general public, until it hits them in their pockets, and those who do appear and complain about where things are going, are trying to forestall the day when 98 percent of the people show up at city hall to complain.  It looks to me that because pro city hall people are so sensitive to negative complaints by a few, that the day is coming when major numbers of discontent will appear before the dais, despite the fact that the Port Orange Pavilion is a beautiful place to shop.
It seems to me that there is a significant  anti reaction to pleas for reform of city hall’s finance procedures and reports which is meant to stop real reform.  Why would real reform be resisted by two percent of city hall followers?  — because real reform would mean that the books would be clear, available to the public, and show that money is hidden from view, money which can by magic be applied to new construction and building projects with developers and businesses,  although putting the tax payers more in debt.
When it comes time to reckon with what is owed in debt, Mayor Green will be gone. Parker is gone, Shelly is gone, Kisela will be gone, Sauders will be gone, this speaker before the council will be gone, Ted Noftall will be gone, and Hank Springer will be gone.  And then there will be a new group of dissatisfied activists appearing before the city council, asking, “how did we come to have to pay for this large amount of debt?”
To reference my viewpoint, I point to the past purchase of the Lohman Funeral Home by the Master Developer and the City of Port Orange, as a prime example of overcharging the taxpayer, in a zeal to acquire new property for developers.
So the plea to silence negativity, skepticism, suspicion, I feel is prompted by the advocates of the devil’s work.  If this is ridiculing anyone, then I am guilty, and so be it.
Deal with it!
sincerely hank springer

5 thoughts on “Don't Worry; Be Happy in Port Orange

  • June 26, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    It is a follow the money deal Hank.. they are all benefiting from taxpayer dollars. ….you are absolutely correct. I deeply resent those who try to silence concerned citizens with labels that we are being negative..and it won’t work….. I think the days of an unfettered status quo for the well connected are gone for good in Port Orange. There will be scrutiny. We have a growing cadre of committed people who insist on good governance and proper use of the public purse. They had better get used to it. We are here to stay.
    Dianne Templeton Gardner

  • June 26, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    You are correct. Transparent government gives the council a community full of experts all in different areas and a huge set of eyes, ears, and brainpower. They should rely on us citizens a bit more for some useful ideas and answers to their problems. We are a lot cheaper than consultants. And you are correct. We are here to stay and will be here when they are gone. Why don’t they partner with us rather than fight with us ? We would all have to realize a partnership is made of give and take or it would cease to effectively exist.
    An established partnership between the council and the community is the only answer to good government. There has to be some common ground out there to build from. Perhaps council members could host a quarterly informal tailgate meeting for the residents in their respective zones and bring valid concerns or even savings ideas forward on their behalf. Smaller groups in an informal setting without the egg timer running and someone telling them that’s enough go sit down will forge the beginnings of a partnership. I bet they would be good for re- election as well.

    • June 27, 2014 at 7:39 am

      I hope PO Senior that you or your designate will present this as an idea to council. Tailgate meetings where the councilmen meet and greet actual residents of neighborhoods and get ideas and hear concerns on a quarterly basis. Or meet up with residents for a walk around the neighborhood. And its being done in other local communities. See link below. That mayor does a Q&A with folks as they walk so there is a local model in place. And yes…without the timer running..
      …Also a very smart move politically.. Citizens want to be heard. ..Absolutely would help candidates when they run the next time..nothing like knowing your councilman personally. Its build trust and helps build consensus and compromise. I know my councilman and the better I know him, the more impressed I am. Even when we disagree on a topic or an approach, I know he will listen to my ideas with an open mind. He is thoughtful, reflective, well informed and not dogmatic. That Councilman would be the honorable Bob Ford.
      Thanks so much for your post PO Senior. I am one of those too..A PO Senior. Old chicks rule!! 🙂
      Dianne Templeton Gardner

  • June 27, 2014 at 7:58 am

    I do hope we DO NOT hear the name Dick Kelton and his band of road rangers mentioned in the next search for a City Manager. Appoint a citizens committee. Mr. Kelton has made enough money from us.

    • June 27, 2014 at 8:01 am

      Can I get an Amen??


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