Interesting Read from Hank Springer

March 20, 2015Port Orange City CouncilBob Ford, citizens’ comments, Ted Noftall

Thank you Ted Noftall for the new information you have provided to me on an issue which may be connected to the rights of citizens to speak freely about Port Orange city government and their city council members.
Among all the rumors and speculations I have been privy to in Port Orange since 2002 none have piqued my interest as much as any issue which draws attention to the right of citizens to voice their opinions, even when they are negative about Port Orange governmental affairs.
I was especially so interested when the Bonks Landing Group was appearing before the city council every week, questioning the need for the city to buy land in Bonks Landing and its purpose. At one meeting a city council member asked the group not to be so worried about a city park being built in Bonks Landing next to residential homes, and said council member assured the group that would not happen. The following week the mayor told the public that the council withdraws any promises made to not build a city park in Bonks Landing because the mayor did not like the groups’ attitude. On video I asked city council man Kennedy to comment on the Mayor’s reference to the groups’ attitude and Mr. Kennedy replied “no comment”. Recently I have asked city council members to make their own statements distancing themselves from a comment made on public TV by the mayor which professed that a citizen who wants to keep taxes down is not a good citizen. No city council member either answered me, or made a public statement disclaiming the opinion of the Mayor.
Once before, a question came up as to what was said at a manager’s meeting of some sort, which minutes were not recorded, and the anonymous information given to me was that city activists had been spoken about in a negative way implying that they were costing the city too much time and money responding to their requests.
I asked the city manager to tell me what exactly was said, and he told me that he did not remember anything of that nature having been brought up in the meeting, but if it had been brought up, he would think that the statement or statements were inconsequential since he did not remember such. Mr. Harden told me that he would check with others at the meeting to see if they recall such an issue coming up. Mr. Harden made no further contact with me about that issue that I am aware of.
I am very much in favor of putting rumors and speculation to rest, and would be happy to make clear that an original rumor I might have heard has turned out to be unfounded. But have no doubt about my conclusion about these matters; squashing rumors about the city of Port Orange is no easy task. And yet, whether my sources be named or remain anonymous for fear of losing their jobs with the city or whatever, the opportunity to squash rumors, speculations and negative criticism rests squarely in the hands of the city council people. Our city council people have hidden behind the protective robes of the city manager, for too long.
Because of the skillful hiding of facts and truths in Port Orange, anyone who enters into issues of transparency is subject to more suspicion, skepticism and further scrutiny.
Ted Noftall has laid before me new information which I had not before been privy to. Mr. Noftall says that Councilman Ford was the person who refuted the idea proposed that somehow negative criticism had to be stifled. And now we are at the very core of the evil we may be dealing with here in the city of Port Orange. Do city council members protect each other’s asses? Did Stiltner and Bastian hide from me the words spoken by Councilman Ford, and why did Mr. Ford not respond to me when I had first brought up this issue, yesterday?
It may be that the information supplied to Ted Noftall and to me is spurious. I have seen before false information entertained by the city council, and I have been advised not to question the identity of anonymous informants who are afraid of losing their jobs in the city government of Port Orange.
I am left with one conclusion. The keys and answers to negative criticism, rumors and speculations are in the pockets of the city council people. We now have to hear from Councilman Ford.
Hank springer posted 3 20 15 1120 am

from Ted Noftall:
TedNoftallGood morning Hank,
Just about everyone in Port Orange government is leaking to someone, AND if some of the chatter I heard to the effect that Councilman Ford felt the need to push back against what was being bemoaned regarding stifling citizen criticism with a strong defense of our cherished 1st Amendment right including the reasoning behind that constituently enshrined right THEN you have no reason to suggest you over-exaggerated anything. This is exactly why all public meetings need to be recorded – so we can all watch and listen to what was said.
I am more than a little surprised that Scott and Drew downplayed that exchange by not referencing same ??
Ted Noftall
for responsible government – 2016

From: Ted Noftall []
Sent: Friday, March 20, 2015 10:29 AM
To: ‘Harden, David’
Cc: Bob Ford (;; Drew Bastian (; Mayor Green (; Scott Stiltner (
Subject: NO MINUTES / NO RECORDING — Port Orange Strategic Planning Agenda 2015
TedNoftallManager Harden,
I am disappointed. This the second time you have hosted an advertised non-videotaped meeting from which reports have surfaced indicating a desire on the part of some receiving a pay check from the City to stifle the criticism of citizen activists who pay their salaries.
That is not going to happen no matter how much you and those of senior staff who sense of entitlement is only exceeded by their overpaid salaries and incompetent performance protest.
If you want citizen activists scrutiny and subsequent criticism dialed back – then step up yours and your staffs performance.
If you did not realize , or if no one has said – you directed a huge insult at City residents, who follow Council proceedings in person or by POG TV at home, by scheduling the annual visioning session of Council from which so many policies follow at noon on a work day, AND then directing your staff to not record those proceedings.
Will tonight’s continuation of Wednesday’s session be recorded ??
While we are on this topic I would ask that you clarify why you have an police detail at overtime rates present at Council meetings as of late, What that officer has been directed to do, AND why if you feel that need is justified do you not have the Police chief or the Deputy chief fill that need by requiring their presence at those meetings.
Does anyone not have any regard for how the hard earned taxes that our residents pay are being spent.
Ted Noftall
for responsible government – 2016

From: Ted Noftall []
Sent: Friday, March 20, 2015 8:15 AM
To: ‘Fenwick, Robin’
Subject: MINUTES — Port Orange Strategic Planning Agenda 2015
TedNoftallGood morning Robin,
I believe I remember you telling me some time ago that with the exception of the City’s pension boards, the official policy of the City is that the minutes of all other board meetings were to be taken by the Clerk’s office.
That did not happen at the non-video recorded 03-17-2015 workshop meeting of Council. The explanation being given is that Marilyn Crotty’s report will be considered as those minutes.
Would you please * copy me with the written City policy, resolution or ordinance regarding City board minutes, * and provide an explanation as to why your office was not in attendance to take the minutes of that 03-17-2015 meeting.
Thank you
Ted Noftall
for responsible government – 2016

From: Fenwick, Robin []
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 8:46 AM
To: City Council
Cc: DeptHeads; Harden, David
Subject: Port Orange Strategic Planning Agenda 2015
DuhKidGood morning,
Attached please find the agenda from Marilyn Crotty for both Strategic Planning Sessions.
Thank you,

Date: Thu, 19 Mar 2015 16:21:20 -0400
March 19, 2015Port Orange City Council Edit

I thank Drew Bastian and Scott Stiltner for replying to me promptly about this matter.
In addition to the e mail Scott Stiltner sent me which I include in this correspondence, Scott came over to my residence to chat with me.
After speaking with Scott I have reflected that my writing that something had been said at the vision meeting about “stifling criticism” was my perception which may be an exaggeration about the unverified reporting to me.
I hope I do justice to the conversation between Scott and me, but I was given the explanation that whatever might have been said about negative criticism or thoughts from citizens pertained to the small number of negative results on the city’s recent survey. Scott told me upon my questioning that nothing was said pertaining to any one person or group of people and satisfied that the issue was responding to a small number of new negativity showed in the city’s survey which may be the result of a 15 percent turnover in personnel and other factors.
Scott and I exchanged personal views on potentially disrespectful appearances before the city council.
Drew Bastian wrote to me in his e mail “….There was a very brief discussion about being critical of employees and how it hurts morale but I feel it was being directed at council, Mr. Harden did share that when he was in the military (Navy I believe) he was always told to be critical in private and praise in public.”….. I thank Drew for pointing out what he says was a brief discussion but I wonder if such discussion was more about creating a “hostile atmosphere” as opposed to creating accountability. I should not venture into the area surrounding the publicity in recent years of the Navy’s old boy network, and the special favorites played in that branch of service, due to a lack of transparency, not only with the public but with navy personnel as well.
The Port Orange city clerk has responded to my request for a copy of the minutes of this VISION meeting:

woman“ Hank,
Cindy forwarded your request to me for processing. I will provide you with a copy of Ms. Crotty’s report as soon as we receive it from her. That report serves as the minutes for the work session.
Thank you,

hank4From what I gather, more citizens would respond to a city survey than attend a VISION strategy session. That is certainly true in my case. Also, I have access to three IP addresses and probably could reply three times to a city’s survey on its web site. In fact, non-Port Orange citizens, perhaps city workers, could be responding to an internet city web site survey, or even ISIS.
My conclusion is that any time the city council meets together in a public meeting it should be held in the Port Orange City Council chambers and conducted with the minutes produced by city staff as in all city council meetings.
I live with what I know at this time, but am still open to new information about this aspect of the council meeting. Never should the city council meet and not record the minutes of the meeting, as is usually done by the legal and authorized clerk? for the city of Port Orange.
E mails follow:

From Scott Stiltner:
STILTNER2Good Afternoon Hank!
This was my first Strategy Planning Session Meeting, so some of the questions you have asked I am not quite sure of. I have no idea why it was held at this location, although it is my understanding that this is not unusual and has been a past practice. As long as it is open and noticed to the public, which it was, I’m OK with it. This was a meeting fully open to the public. In fact, Newton White attended and spoke briefly at the beginning. In terms of his perspective of what he saw and heard, I would ask you to ask him. I believe he was the only resident that attended, and he did not stay for the entire session.
In terms of “rumors”, perhaps you could be more specific. This was an 8 hour long strategy workshop, so perhaps you can narrow down exactly what you would like to know. Part of the workshop was a review of the first draft of the annual citizen survey. There was some discussion that the volume of of public criticism (council chambers, social media, news-journal and TV coverage) in the past 12 months, was likely a factor in the slightly reduced overall percentage of residents that rated our services as highly satisfactory. I would whole heartedly agree with that assumption and suggest that many of those passionate criticism were point on. I do not believe anyone suggested that any residents be “stifled” from criticism. Hopefully that report will be finalized and made available for your full review.
We will be back there again Friday evening to finish the final 4 hours (5pm – 9pm). I would invite you to come out and see for yourself what it is all about. Hope to see you and many others there.
All my best!
Scott Stiltner, Councilman
City of Port Orange, District 4

From Drew Bastian
bastianGood afternoon Hank,
In response to your e-mail, we did have a meeting (more of a strategic planning session) and it was proctored by Marilyn Crotty, it occurred yesterday and lasted approximately 8 hours including breaks and a dinner break.
There was much discussion on vision statements, mission statements, goals and objectives for the future. Also discussed were the results of the citizen survey which is available in electronic format, our interim assistant city manager Alan Rosen did a great job presenting to council and those attending the meeting, unfortunately it was not well attended. The only citizen showing up was Newton White and he did not stay the entire time.
You were inquiring about any specific discussion regarding stifling the citizen criticism and I can tell you there wasn’t any discussion that I can remember about that specific subject. There was a very brief discussion about being critical of employees and how it hurts morale but I feel it was being directed at council, Mr. Harden did share that when he was in the military (Navy i believe) he was always told to be critical in private and praise in public.
Here are my thoughts on citizens speaking up, the public has a right to be heard and we as elected officials are obligated to listen but we are certainly not obligated to agree with everything, in my position now I feel that criticism and disappointment are inevitable, but misery is optional. I don’t take the comments personal, i believe that it just comes with the territory. If you are interested we are having another meeting tomorrow from 5-9PM at The Chamber of Commerce building, feel free to join us. Have a great evening Hank.
Drew Bastian
Vice Mayor Port Orange
all of above reposted 3 20 15 at 1141 am


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