Hot Air Balloons.

From the talented pens and pencils of AF Branco.

Seeing the protest balloons in Britain I think Trump would have them beat with all the hot air going after him here in America.

Philadelphia Gas Bags.

There are times when it is really easy to hate certain people or agencies within governments. This is one such case.

The City of Philadelphia established the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) as means of distributing gas to homes and businesses within the city. When customers fail to pay gas bills, through a complicated and often automated system, the City files liens against the property for payment of the bills and associated fines and fees. That sounds reasonable until you get into the details of the system.

Whether to seek a lien depends on seven different criteria some of which are based on the type of account. (home vs. business.) For the criteria for a home account is that the account is in arrears for over $300 and 90 days, which sounds reasonable except for the fact that the account is tied to the location / address and not to a person, yet it is a person that establishes the account.

For landlords, this means that a person can rent an apartment or a home, not pay the gas bill, leave the residence and the property owner is left with the bill. Furthermore, the renter is free to go merrily down the road and do the same thing again. After all, Philadelphia is very strict on the return of security deposits so by the time the gas bill is noticed, the landlord has returned the deposit and has no leverage.

As far as the liens themselves go, Philadelphia Gas Works is required to send the lien notices to the property owner and often do not. Instead they send the lien notice to the address of the building which means that the property owner is never notified until they are stuck with more fees and fines and even increasing the amounts of the liens.

Furthermore, if the property owner gets a notice of the lien, the utility is prohibited from disclosing the name of the person on the account that caused the problem and the amount of the bill.

All the while, the fees and fines continue to accrue.

Fear not! The property owner can appeal the lien!

Public Union: Public Enemy

We aren’t sure that we agree that public unions are the “enemy” of the public, but the influence and power they wield in politics and the election of candidates with whom they will later negotiate employment contracts is not in the best public interest.

This video from Prager U. goes into the problem and the history of public sector unions a little more.

Public-sector unions have been gaming the political system for decades, bankrupting whole cities and plunging states into massive debt. How did this happen and can it be stopped? Akash Chougule, senior policy fellow for Americans for Prosperity, has the answers in this sobering video from Prager University.


Cocoa Beach: City Commission Tonight – Final Vote On Ballot Language For Height.

Tonight the Cocoa Beach City Commission meets starting at 6:00 PM for a CRA meeting followed by a 7 PM regular Commission meeting. The agenda for both meetings can be found here.

For a warm July evening, this meeting has a couple of things that will affect the citizens of Cocoa Beach.

First is an item that will confirm meetings to establish the millage rate for the upcoming year. The dates for those meetings would be September 5, 2018 (Wednesday) at 6:00 PM, to set the tentative millage and tentative budget, and September 20, 2018 (Thursday) at 7:00 PM. The could be considered a “save the date” vote.

A second item of interest is to finalize the languages as to what would appear on the ballot this year in regards to height limitations within the City.

Palm Bay: Council Meeting Tonight And It’s A Doozey.

The Palm Bay City Council takes to the stage tonight in a meeting that promises to have some interesting discussions and probably a packed house for the audience. The meeting starts at 7:00 PM and the agenda can be found here.

The first item of interest (and one the we believe will cause the greatest reaction from the public) is a public hearing on storm water assessment fees:

4. Resolution No. 2018-23, confirming the preliminary rate resolution for stormwater management services and continuing the imposition of stormwater service assessments and fees against certain real property.

This is a “where the rubber meets the road” item. Candidates are out there saying they lowered taxes on people which is technically true if all you are considering is the tax rate. It is our belief that while tax rates do matter, what matters more is the money from the people. Saying that one “lowered taxes” is disingenuous as most people don’t care about the rate, they care about the total amount of money – including fees such as storm assessment fees – coming out of their of the pockets. That is what they care about.

(Speaking of being disingenuous, at yesterday’s Florida Today candidate forum for Seat 4 of the City Council, Councilman Calvin “Tres” Holton made this curious statement starting around the 11:00 minute mark of the video:

“We were the last city in the state of Florida – we didn’t have the use of special assessments to address the infrastructure.”

At best that is being misleading. At worst, that is an outright lie. What changed in 2016 was not the ability to use special assessments, but the means and methods of implementing special assessments. If Council members such as Holton are certain that the change in the charter on assessments was correct, why say things about the change that aren’t true?)

No matter what, the City Council will address rates of special assessments tonight. As we said, we expect that a vocal crowd will be in attendance.

Palm Bay: Why We Didn’t Support Or Oppose The Petition Drive On Assessments.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: We wrote this post as a staff collaboration several months ago. We decided not to publish this because we didn’t want to hurt the petition group’s efforts, even though (as you will read) we feel the petition group is off base in an important way. We applaud the effort of the group, but think the proposed language opens up more misguided spending by the City Council. We are posting this now because as the petition drive winds down and election rhetoric and charges heat up, we felt it was time for our voice to be heard.)

(This is a complicated situation and our beliefs are complicated as well.)

In 2016, the citizens of Palm Bay voted to change section 6.02 of the City Charter to allow the City Council to implement “special assessments” on properties in order to repair, maintain, and upgrade the City’s infrastructure in regards to “roads, streets, boulevards, sidewalks, related lighting, landscaping, street furniture, signage, greenbelts, gutters, pedestrian canopies, swales, culverts, sanitary sewers, storm sewers, outfalls, canals, primary, secondary and tertiary drains, a comprehensive stormwater management system, water mains, water laterals, alternative water supply systems, reclaimed water, aquifer storage and recovery, desalination systems and water distribution systems, including all of the necessary appurtenances and structures thereto.” The referendum was passed by a margin with 54.15% of the people for the idea and 48.85% against it.

It seems clear that the citizens want the infrastructure improved and recognize the City must have the funds to pay for these things.

From talking with people, it was assumed – an assumption put out by the City itself through slick marketing – that the increase in special assessments would be modest.

Residents found out that was not to be.

After the election the City Council increased assessments by upwards of 400%. People were angry and no amount of argument could convince the Council members who voted for the increases that it was too high, that people could not afford it, that there was no real plan or costs revealed, and that the City government as a whole had basically lied to the voters.

In short, once the Council was granted the ability to raise the assessments, they irresponsibly went hog wild raising them as high as could be.

(We believe that any Council member who voted for that great of an increase lied to the people of Palm Bay. There is enough corruption in politics without the Council lying to the voters.)

Now a group has decided to fight back against this and has started a petition drive to place on the ballot in November referendum which reads:

We believe the petition is off the mark in at least one major way: the petition allows for an expansion of projects which special assessments can be applied to.

As you can see, the header of the petition says that this “petition is to amend Section 6.02, Special Assessments of the Palm Bay City Charter, by repealing it in its entirety and replacing it as follows:”

First, if you are replacing an entire section, it is not “amending.” Secondly, the group and supporters say that this will take the language of Section 6.02 back to where it was prior to the election in 2016.

It won’t.

The entire pre-election section 6.02 reads as follows:

Pasco County Firefighters – Bravo Zulu.

In writing a blog like this, we often – perhaps too often – focus on the negative things that happen in government and around the world. In a way, it is depressing because there seems to be so much out there that needs improvement. That’s why sometimes you see a post that has nothing really to do with much of anything other than giving us a break from fighting all the time about stuff.

Which brings us to the Pasco County, FL firefighters and EMT’s.

It all started one sunny day when homeowner Gene Work was laying sod down for his yard. As anyone who has laid sod knows, the work is labor intensive, exhausting, sweaty and dirty. There is also a small time frame to get the sod installed or else it dies on the delivery pallets rendering all of the sod useless and money wasted.

After laying some of the sod, Work wasn’t feeling well and came inside his home. While he rested, he wasn’t getting better and so his wife called 911. Later, it would be discovered that Work was having a massive heart attack. Pasco County firefighters and EMT’s showed up and took care of Work, rushing him to the hospital where he would later under go heart surgery.

On the way to the hospital, Work kept talking about the sod. He was worried that it would die. He was worried that his Home Owners Association would fine him for not having a yard and leaving the yard a mess.

In and out of consciousness, Melissa Work said her husband continued to worry about the grass. He had pawned his favorite gun to purchase the sod and if it wasn’t put down that day, it would all die.

“While he was having his heart attack, literally in and out of consciousness, he kept begging me to figure out the sod and have it put down because he didn’t want it to go to waste and die,” the wife wrote on Facebook. “I calmed him and kept saying ‘Jesus will help us. It’s OK. Jesus will figure this out babe.’”

They didn’t want to get hit with the HOA fines, and 30-year-old Melissa Work — who needs a bone marrow transplant — had scheduled the painful and expensive procedure for next month. But she continued to reassure him that they would be all right, that it all would work out in the end.

Here’s where the story gets good….really good:

These Clever 24 Zip Tie Home Hacks Make Your Life Easier .

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