Politics is a nasty business, even at our local level here in Port Orange
Politics is a nasty business, even at our local level here in Port Orange. To say that tonight’s council meeting was uncomfortable would be putting it mildly. But you know what, all the nasty, negative nellies out there made that happen tonight. All the bloggers with their comments, Don Juan, MH, Daisy Dukes lazy worker, Ragnar, Floki, and all the rest of you out there who made the unsubstantiated comments and accusations are to blame for Ted and Ford being dressed down tonight. Do I think either one of them are bad people? I do not. But the way this blog has gone, it was only a matter of time before people fought back, and tonight they struck back. Are there problems in Port Orange, absolutely. Has Ted uncovered issues that needed to be corrected, absolutely. Have other issues come to light by the past 2 city managers, absolutely. But the way some of the bloggers on this site have reacted has been nothing short of vengeful. People were looking for blood and enjoyed harassing some people. A very sad situation. So yes, I blame the negative nellies for what happened tonight to Bob and Ted.
Do I revel at that dressing down? No, I take no pleasure in seeing that. But it happened to me on two occasions when I was on council. I was called out publicly on who donated to my campaign, and a particular union sent two goons to a council meeting to embarrass me. Both were very unpleasant situations for me. So I feel their pain. As an educator for Volusia County schools for over 30 years and to have the teachers unions support my opponent was very disheartening for me also. Yes, politics is a nasty business.
So where do we go from here? As Mark Schaffer said tonight, we move forward. We support the new acting fire chief, the new acting finance director, the new interim city manager, and all the other new people coming on board. We hope they correct mistakes and move forward.
To everyone out there, before you point fingers in the future, take a look at yourselves. Have you ever made a mistake? Have you ever said something you wish you didn’t? Of course you have, I have, we are all human. I don’t believe the mistakes in Port Orange were intentional, so learn to forgive. It will only change the future, not the past.
23 thoughts on “Politics is a nasty business, even at our local level here in Port Orange”
Why couldn’t the supposed leader of long tenure Mayor Green have addressed this ?
Burnette delivered a well prepared statement.
Green avoids it all and shows no leadership skills combined with an inability to speak publicly and conduct a meeting.
Bob, thank you for your thoughts and generally I agree with you.
I think both sides of the issues have made some mistakes with the negative issues that have been revealed.
Those who wanted to support Mayor Green and the former city manager should have done so when personal attacks were starting to be leveled at them. I feel that if elected leaders and city administrators ignore the blogs then the whole thing gets hot like a boiling pot. Ignoring criticism leads to what we are witnessing. The old mind set in city hall has been to ignore the social media comments. In deed how many citizens appear before the city council and the citizen has complaints, and no one responds. Does that not make the citizen angrier? It makes me angry when a citizen come forward with a complaint and the mayor says , “that’s your opinion. I’ll get back to you”. Maybe he does, but since a complaint had publicly been made, can’t we all hear an answer to the complaint.
Social Media makes those in the political scene uncomfortable. So does the news media. But both are here to stay unless this nation becomes undemocratic. And the way the government is responding to criticism, not only hear in Port Orange, but in other cities all over this nation, negative criticism is being attacked whether valid or not. There are valid points to be made about negative findings in our once thought too good and pure to be true city. The lesson we are learning from Port Orange is, if you want to criticize, do so respectfully as you can, and be prepared for the entrenched old boy network and culture to strike back at you. Who said you can’t fight city hall? City Hall?
Ted may once again become a mere citizen, and as such he will not be under the restrictive pressure of the old boy network to act as a team player.
The sunshine law is a farce. Once replying to a question from me you told me that the city manager (Ken Parker) would never communicate to a city council man what another city council man is thinking about an issue. But question was, “Can a city manger tell a city councilman what another city councilman is thinking on an issue?” I am under the impression that it is legal to do so. I believe the master developer can tell a city council man what another city council man is thinking. Is this so?
Does the city attorney advise city council people not to speak out publicly about issues which will come before them? I have asked that city council people have their own opinion page on the city web site, and I think the city attorney takes the position that would be in violation of the sunshine law. Am I correct?
Google the 5 candidates who will be interviewed by our city council on Aug. 12, and you will see that the press and blogs have reported that they have had issues with hostile climates from city council people, not being honest and forthright with council members, one even lied in an attorney general’s investigation, and one had the public’s perception that he was involved in a sneaky land deal purchase.
Mayor Green I think all will agree has a lot of influence and therefore power in the city of Port Orange. And he has developed and used his influence and perhaps power as he thought best, I would expect. And yet, here we are with negative criticism which developed out of negative revelations, and which are highly resented by the “team players”. The “team players” are showing up, not to reform and fix city government, but to silence the nay sayers.
The lesson learned should be, control your emotions, do not call names, but inquire, be persistent, and don’t let one invalid speculation or accusation go by without a response. This I firmly believe is best for advocates of both sides of the issues.
Bob, thank you for being forthright. May I suggest, and I do not mean it as a put down, but you are more forthright now as a citizen than you were as a city councilman. If you think this is so, can you explain
why this is so? I really do wonder why politicians can’t be as opinionated as some of us are on these blogs. I suspect politicians do not want us to really know what they are thinking for fear of alienating some voters and not being reelected. And then I think because during some issues, business deals may be going on and a politician would not want to upset a business deal in the works. Would this be what happened in the purchase of the Lohman funeral home, which you to your credit protested and voted against spending city money on the extravagant purchase price?
Thanks again Bob – hank springer
Bob Pohlmann well said!
Last night Green said lets solve problems by working together. Who are we supposed to work with? I have talked to my council person and pointed out problems which he has brought up at council meetings only to get the run around by management. If you go to a council meeting and say something you are labeled as a negative Nellie. So tell us specifically Bob what do we do. Who do we work with under these circumstances? As far as mistakes go, yes we all make them but when you do you own up to it and make an honest attempt to fix them. That has not necessarily been the case around the city lately. There are still some lingering problems that need to be addressed. I guess at this point we can only hope that new management will honestly address and fix them. If and when they do there will be more negative news because they have been going on for some time and nothing has been done. Any suggestions? This stuff can’t just be swept under the rug. Maybe sometimes reality can be viewed as negativity. You always have the option to fall back on blissful ignorance. Maybe you can help us put a positive spin on things until we get past all of this. I look forward to the day when we put all of this behind us. I do not like the negativity. I love Port Orange but most of this was allowed to get to this point by our leaders inaction and reaction to exposed problems not just negative Nellies.
Hello Mr. Woodman. For what it is worth to you, for several reasons, I do not think of you as a truly negative person. For one thing, you sign your real name. I am not going to waste my time anymore responding to anonymous sources. Those were the bloggers I was referring to. Most of them know nothing about how a city operates and the intricacies needed to perform their city functions. Also, you can add specifics to some of the irregularities in the utility department that need to be corrected. As I have said in the past, I value your years of service to Port Orange and your institutional knowledge. I have also said that I would never support an environment of fear and intimidation for any employee. Everyone should have a voice and be respected in the work force. If you were forced out of your position with the city, I can understand some bitterness on your part.
I believe you now have an important role to play with the new administration coming to Port Orange with the city manager but more importantly with the new utility director. I would encourage you to share your knowledge and suggestions to both. Be part of the solution. Good luck to you and thank you for your years of service to our citizens.
Hello Mr. Woodman. I sent an earlier response to you but did not include my name so I am not sure if it will be posted. Forgive me if I am repeating myself. What I said basically was that I do not see you as a truly negative person but rather as a citizen who has valuable experience who can help correct irregularities in the utility dept. If you were forced out of your position, I can understand some bitterness on your part. Plus I respect that you sign your real name , as do some others. I do not support fear and intimidation in any working environment. Your opinions should have been allowed to be expressed freely.
You have an important role to play with the next administration, particularly with the new utility director. Your knowledge and suggestions would be extremely helpful to the new team. Please share your knowledge with them. Thank you for your years of service to the citizens of Port Orange. Continued good health to you and your family.
It is telling that even Sonya Laney complained that she had brought up some issues about the citizens audit and advisory board at the beginning of the year and nothing was done. The majority of this city council, three individuals are working for special interests and one for his own special interest. When Scott Stiltner gets elected the balance of power on the city council will shift for the good. That is probably why the master developer gave an ultimatum to this city council to get the binding promise that 50 percent of tax payer TIF revenue will be handed over to him.
What unsubstantiated comments have I made Mr. Pohlman. I think many of us have posed difficult questions, and in some cases have pointed out irregularities and the appearance of improprieties that need to be addressed and answered, not covered up, or not taking the position that it is an indignity to be questioned in any way. Some people who have worked within the organization for years have personally witnessed many improprieties and have been either neutered, blacklisted, or fired for standing for the truth.
Many of us have proposed intelligent alternatives to the ideas of the three person majority coalition at the dias. Some of us have prognosticated in advance the upper managerial implosion that would occur and has not yet finished imploding very insightfully. The problems with large meters, dirt excavation & hauling, internal controls. etc. have been identified by those among us, and due diligence performed by many of these bloggers and the citizen activists has rivaled the ex-city manager’s, his senior staff, and our elected officials who have the fiduciary duty to perform the due diligence that individuals like Ted Noftall and Mike Gardner have undertaken for citizens.
Our ex-city manager and elected officials have proven themselves to be intellectually deficient and incapable or not sufficiently motivated to be up to that task. The city manager and his hand selected management team have run for the hills and now you are blaming everything on bloggers and activists. The ex-city manager has left behind a coalition of interims that are sure to continue on status quo until status quo can be reinforced.
You have just named and blacklisted a number of individuals that are proponents of open and transparent governance. You have called individuals out as being negative who have identified all of the repetitive problems in the city and in many cases proposed legitimate solutions. You have spoken of unsubstantiated allegations being made but you have not even listed one of these unsubstantiated allegations that you are referring to. Maybe you are confusing valid questions and speculations about the unanswered appearances of improprieties with allegations.
If you can recollect any of these so called allegations that have allegedly been made by myself and others please elucidate on their specifics if you are being truthful. I would be more than happy to explain myself in detail. I think you have clearly identified yourself in this post as an enemy of open and transparent government. With all your articulated subtleties and beating around the bush, it is abundantly clear just how polarized your position is, and how you would like to see the new paradigm of open and transparent governance with citizen activism disappear.
If you have any thing substantive and specific to say I would challenge you to say it. If you are just trying to sequester opposing ideas and pep rally for a desperation death cry of an old regime and old paradigm that is nostalgically dear to your heart at least be honest about it. Lets hear these so called negative allegations so that we can discuss them. Remember we are not talking about opposing ideas or unanswered questions about apparent improprieties here, you stated there have been made unsubstantiated negative allegations. Put up or fade into black..
Sorry Mr. Matus, I am not responding to fictitious names. No Don Juan Matus in the phone book. Good luck to you and stay positive.
You have just invalidated yourself.
Bob, can you not respond to the issues without knowing the identity of the author of the opinion ? Do you need to know who the author is so that you are not trapped into possibly agreeing with some one you dare not agree with. Can you agree on 2 plus 2 is four, authored by Mr. Math, even though Mr. Math may be Hitler himself? Do you need to handle issues by knowing what the motives of the author may be? There are other problems with anonymous opinions which I have previously written about, but they do not include the essence of an opinion.
So Mr. Pohlmann…..You are still calling people goons? I remember when you referred to me as one when you sat on council without ever knowing me nor speaking to me. I have the video. It was hurtful but I forgive you. Please eliminate that word from your language.
Hello Mr. Remember Me. I do not know who you are, sorry. But you know what, I will have to agree with you. The word “goon” is very disparaging. I apologize to you if you think I referenced you. I will try to refrain from using words like that in the future. Sometimes my New Jersey upbringing just comes out of me. The union “individuals” who I was referencing were not city employees but were sent from other jurisdictions. If you were one of those “individuals”, I forgive you also. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Good health to you and your family.
Can’t resist blogging? I don’t think Mr. Remember Me is in the Port Orange phone book.
Let’s be frank here. The City is lacking in leadership and institutional knowledge. The Police, Fire and General employees were at the top of their game during your tenure. You were instrumental in having the employee step raises removed. The promises that were made to employees who voluntarily gave up rights for a year were promised they would be rewarded on the next go round. Guess what? The promises never came to be. The step raises are gone. The wholesale changes that were made are paying huge dividends to the City and will only increase over time. This Council isn’t smart enough to see the prior contract modifications that will continue to increase savings over time. We have become a training site for other Cities and the turnover is huge. Was that the ultimate plan? If so it worked well. It has drained the City of many knowledgeable employees and guess what? They took the knowledge with them. You were a purveyor of Employees being within the top 3 in the County. Now we are the armpit. Holly Hill and Edgewater have even surpassed us. We do adequately invest in and train employees for the entire County now. I am sure they appreciate it. Tell me your thoughts on this. Could it have something to do with the Cities’ current state of affairs? We didn’t get here overnight and anyone with any Management skills could surely have seen it coming. I know you are no longer here to make any changes but perhaps you could explain that the changes you made were both short and long term gratification. They have worked well take a look at the pensions and personnel budgets. I may sound a little negative and apologize as I am frustrated. But I did deliver you facts to talk about and not propaganda . I would appreciate a reply. Even the Mayor said he hoped we didn’t get a hurricane. No planning. He is dead on. The level of service has been shattered.
Hello Mr. Or Ms. POE. I assume that is Port Orange Employee. The city losing employees to other municipalities has been going on for many, many years, long before I came on board. It was always said that PO seemed to be the learning ground for some employees. I remember Ken Parker and other Dept. Heads talking about that. That occurred during a period of time when Port Orange employees were near the top of the scale for all local cities, not just now. It seems to be a pattern but I guess employees will leave for more money elsewhere. I don’t blame them. The same can be said for school board employees. Some leave for Flagler due to a higher pay scale. But many stay local. The same can be said for PO city employees. Some leave but many stay.
When I was on council we always discussed pay parity with what other cities were paying their employees. Some were higher in pay scale, some were lower. I am not sure if the employees leaving trend is still happening. Not counting all the recent resignations of course.
Union contracts are always a difficult situation for all cities. Some unions will negotiate, some won’t. But if you remember, from 2008-2012, America was in a deep recession. All efforts were made to keep the same level of service but at the same time we had to consider the affordability factor for the 56,000 residents, the tax payers. Everyone was deeply affected by the recession so tax rates were kept low. The city had no choice but to ask for our employees to give some things back to the city to make the budget work. For instance, one year we asked the employees to not ask for sick leave buy outs for unused time. Two unions agreed, one union did not. That is costly to the budget. As all benefit packages across America were scaled back, we also had to do that in Port Orange to make the budget work, keep up the same level of service our citizens expected, keep everyone employed, and maintain a reasonable tax rate. Sacrifices had to be made.
With the new budget, and union contracts up this year, I hope all employees get a raise. I am hearing a 5% raise over 3 years. If that is what the city can afford, so be it. I work for the school board. I can tell you none of us got a raise for 3-4 years. No one has received a step in years. We all are at the same level. That is the world we live in today. Money is tight for everyone out there, not just PO employees. It’s terrible to say but there are many people who would like to have the jobs and benefit package that we have. I don’t complain, I am happy to work. When I call a parent to pick up a kid at school, many of them say, I do not have gas money to get there. Many, many people work numerous minimum wage jobs just to get by. The middle class is in bad shape. We are all frustrated, like you. All cities have cut back on their pay scale and benefit package. As old union contracts expire, new ones are not as good. It is happening all over America, not just here in Port Orange.
Port Orange employees are great. Everyone of them, I hope, doing the best they can. I appreciated all employees when I was on council, and still do today. There are some differences of opinion on what employees should receive but that is where it ends for me. I wish everyone the best. Good health to you and your family.
Thanks for your reply and your assumption is correct. We have many employees that are right there with the parent you spoke of with not enough gas money. Our employees pay close to $200 per week for family health insurance which they are now required by law to carry. They pay mandatory pension contributions and of course Uncle Sam. Our entry level employees take home $200 a week after theses deductions. Could that support your lifestyle? Not mine. The City has record money in reserve. I think they used to keep an extra 15% on hand and should for natural disaster or emergencies. The new employee is stuck right there on the bottom thus the turnover and training ground. You are a man of education. I am sure you would agree that a well educated long term employee is a more valuable asset than a rookie in most arenas. The recipe we have is quite the opposite. Training and retaining quality employees helped to make Port Orange the City Beautiful. The current method of operation will cripple our level of services. This has been trending downward for years now. My property value has increased dramatically as of late. My home value lost 50% during the economic downturn. I am now back up to around 70% along with you and all the other taxpayers. Revenues are up and employees net salaries are still headed south due to health insurance costs on the rise. The previous union contract cuts are paying continued dividends going forward. They were not a quick fix for the budget. They were long term goals. To keep hacking benefits is ridiculous. Do you agree that the cuts in your tenure were long term and would reap more and more going forward? Or do you think every time the City is looking for a dollar that they should take $2 from the employees?
Bob, I thought you said you would not respond to anyone blogging under a fictitious name?? Isn’t Edgar Allen dead? Can’t help yourself, can you?
Hello MDFW. You blog what you want and I will blog when and what I want. This is America, you know, a free country. I followed local politics for years before I decided to run and served 9 years. If I want to comment, why do I constantly have to defend myself? Or is this a private blog only for tea party members? Free yourself and accept other opinions. Maybe I know who this is. I respect city employees and their plight as I do for all struggling Americans. Maybe you should too. And please try not to be so bitter about little things. More to come, when I feel like it. Good health to you and your family.
Bob, I want to apologize to you for my sniping remarks. You are correct it is America and we all have a right to our opinions and the right to blog. It’s just that you leave yourself open and vulnerable by constantly contradicting your own opinions. Have a good day.
I hope we don’t get a hurricane. I’ll tell you right now if we get a repeat of 2004 we may be screwed. We have little competent, knowledgeable leadership left and those that are left are discouraged from stepping up. The entire workforce is less than motivated. We have a bunch of newer employees and managers that have never worked through any disaster events or had training. I have said on this site in the past take care of your employees because they take care of you. If we do get a repeat of 2004 I think we may find ourselves wallowing in floodwater and raw sewage. When the city leaders decide to ruin employee moral, take away raises and benefits and run off long time employees they should look at the big picture. They need to look beyond dollar signs and consider the health and safety of the citizens. When the you know what hits the fan and the citizens are reaching out for help it won’t be there. I have contacted some mid level managers that are still remaining and advised them on hurricane preparations and recovery that used to be my responsibility. I had to leave before I had a chance to bring my second in charge up to speed on this and other things. We are very vulnerable right now. Congratulations to our leaders for allowing this.
It is true. There has been no training or plan for quite awhile. I was nervous with the few that were coming our way this year. I know we are required to work but have NO idea what my responsibilities are. I don’t know if my supervisors know what to do since most are new. I’ve not heard it discussed in any sense.
Woody, thank you for your technical support even in your retirement. We have had numerous conversations regarding the topic of hurricane preparedness and response since you were forced into early retirement by our recently AWOL interloping city manager and you have freely shared your institutional knowledge with me. It is obvious that you love our community that you live in and just like Ted Noftall you continue to share your institutional knowledge and give of yourself freely to your community.
The mayor and the city council needs to recognize and honor citizens like yourself that have given 36 years of service to the city and still live here and continue to support your fellow employees and citizens even in retirement. Our Politicians will show disdain for someone like yourself that loves this city and continues to give back freely, but honor an interloping runner like the ex-manager that slip slides away when the going gets tough. Do you think Kisela gives two hoots if we are prepared for a hurricane or not?
Anyhow it is good to know that you still live here and can be called on in an emergency even after the way you have been treated by the city politic. That is because you are a true citizen of the City of Port Orange just like Ted Noftall. I just want to let you know that we that remain here to put the pieces back together appreciate you and miss your institutional knowledge.