Backwards Is Not The Direction We Were Hoping For.

The speeches were heartfelt, the transition was smooth and the cake was yummy.

That could be the summary of the meeting(s) held at the Scotty Culp Municipal Center on Wednesday, November 28, 2012. In case you weren’t there, “meeting(s)” is correct.

The first meeting of the night started at 5:30 PM and was the CRA Board voting to approve a resolution to accept changes in their budget and to accept final budgetary numbers for fiscal 2011 – 2012. The entire meeting took approximately 4 minutes.

The next meeting was that of the City Council who voted to accept the results from the election of November 6, 2012. That was a meeting of about 1 minute in length.

At 6 PM the outgoing City Council met to approve the final city budget which included the CRA budget that had just been approved. With that, the city closed their financial records on 2011 – 2012.

After a few more items, out going City Councilmen French and Rhodes spoke concerning serving on the City Council. There was one comment made by Councilman French that bothered us, and we’ll get to that in a moment.

In one of the more touching moments we have seen in awhile, Mayor Ferrante spoke on being a Mayor of the city. His comments, as expected, were gracious and heartfelt. After he spoke, the assembled crowd rose to give the mayor a standing ovation which brought a tear to the man’s eyes.

Councilmen Rhodes and French were presented with a nicely framed picture of the council on which they served. Mayor Ferrante was presented with framed picture of the Scotty Culp Municipal Center which had been signed by the staff of the City.

The new members of the City Council, Lorraine Gott and Mark Brimer were sworn in followed by the swearing in of new Mayor Frank Catino.

Following the swearing in ceremony, there was cake for all with goodbyes and welcomes to new and old Council members.

The new Council was seated and the new members were asked to make comments. Mark Brimer’s comments centered on what he hoped to accomplish and echoed the issues he campaigned upon. Mayor Catino wanted to eliminate the division of “Old Guard” and “New Guard” and bring the city together.

Which brings us to the comments by Councilwoman Lorraine Gott.

Councilwoman Sheryl Denan.

One of the things we learned on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at the Satellite Beach City Council meeting has nothing to do with the normal political rancor and conversation.

As the City Council was trying to plan a meeting at which they could interview candidates, Councilwoman Denan mentioned she was unavailable for any meetings on December 5 and 6. Her stated reason was that she was “medically unavailable” or she wasn’t going to be at the Council for “medical reasons.”

We have no personnel knowledge if this “medical reason” is for Mrs. Denan herself or a member of her family. It makes no difference to us.

If her medical absence is for a family member, we wish them a speedy recovery. If it is for Councilwoman Denan personally, we want to extend our best wishes and prayers for her rapid recovery as well.

Hostess Revisted.

Back on November 19, 2012, we wrote concerning the demise of Hostess Brands. In the article we wondered why 8,000 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, would strike and sacrifice not only their jobs but the jobs of 12,500 more workers.

We were certainly not the first to cover this issue and we knew we wouldn’t be the last. Unlike some articles we did not mourn the death of Twinkies because the recipes and trademarks are all part of the assets which would be sold off to pay creditors.

After our article was posted, we received a comment from an “Ian Altscribe” who disagreed with us and wrote:

The bankruptcy judge did not agree with your anti-Union sentiments and found that the Management had repeatedly acted in bad faith and the pension fund was deliberately raided for cash. More lemon capitalism. The days of these crooks are numbered. Binding mediation has been ordered and the bankruptcy DENIED.

Mr. Altscribe was not only wrong in his opinion, he was wrong on the facts as we demonstrated in our response to him.

More importantly, Mr. Altscribe seems to think that if only the company were run the way unions were run, everything would be honky-dory. His sentiments echo that of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka who said:

“What’s happening with Hostess Brands is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America, as Bain-style Wall Street vultures make themselves rich by making America poor,” Trumka said in a public statement. “Crony capitalism and consistently poor management drove Hostess into the ground, but its workers are paying the price.”

In the minds of unions and union workers, it is always the CEO’s and Board of Directors of companies that are evil and at fault. The unions and their leadership are always as pure as the driven snow.

As Rod Stewart Sang, “Tonight’s The Night.”

Tonight the City of Satellite Beach will install two new city Council members in Mark Brimer and Lorraine Gott who were elected on November 6, 2012. At the same time, Frank Catino will take the oath of office as Mayor of our fine little city.

With the new members of the Council, we will be saying “goodbye” to Lloyd French and Scott Rhodes. We have repeatedly said the office of a City Councilman is time consuming, arduous and requires a high level of dedication. We have often disagreed with Messrs. Rhodes and French, but we will not demean or denigrate their time, service and devotion to the City of Satellite Beach. Both men served through a contentious time in the City’s history. It can be argued that they themselves contributed to that contention, but we see no value in doing so at this time.

Instead, in the spirit of healing and gratitude, we wish to thank both men for their service on the City Council and wish them, and their families well in their future endeavors.

We will also be saying goodbye to Mayor Joe Ferrante. There are times when we wished Mayor Ferrante ran a little “tighter” meeting and held more to Roberts Rules of Order for discussions on issues from the dais, but there is no doubt in our mind that Joe Ferrante is a fair, decent and caring man.

One of the best examples of this was when during a recent Council meeting, Council members were talking about increasing the work load on a staff member who is already overworked. Certain Council members were speaking of this staff member as if they were not in the room and in essence, criticizing their performance. The staff member said something under their breath and Mayor Ferrante heard it and in the “Ferrante way,” spoke to the staff member in a genuinely caring and respectful tone. He could have let the comment slide. He could have ignored it. Instead, he wisely chose to address the comment not only as the Mayor of the City, but as a human being.

When The Benefit Of The Doubt Disappears.

We have always tried to give people the benefit of the doubt. This is especially true when it comes to people in public office. It is difficult at times to separate thinking someone is deliberately wrong versus simply disagreeing with them.

In a small town like Satellite Beach, the disagreements can come in many forms. While we have been critical of the actions of some of the members of the City Council, we have tried to always give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the basis for their actions. We have always tried to believe they were acting on facts as they understood them.

As the old saying goes, people are “entitled to their own opinions but not their own set of facts.”

This comes into play because of a very disappointing email sent out by Councilman Lloyd French. Mr. French lost his council seat during the last election and tonight will be his last meeting as a Council member. It is therefore distressing to read his email blast:

From: Lloyd S. French []
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2012 7:48 PM
Subject: City Council Meeting–Wednesday–6PM–WARNING: This is MOSTLY Opinion

Mail Group,

Wednesday evening is the “change-over” evening as Mark Brimer, Lorraine Gott, and Frank Catino assume their positions as city council members and the new mayor (respectively). It is a light agenda, but Item 18 on the agenda is very telling as to what you can expect now that the election is over. Here is a list of what I expect by 5 December:

– The Citizen Advisory Panel for Efficient Government will be voted to disband (3 ayes and 2 nays) … even though it was responsible for finding efficiencies and tax savings

– The city council attendance policy will be changed to only allow “extremely ill” council members to call (or Skype) in to meetings…otherwise it’s a missed meeting (council members who miss more than 4 meetings in a calendar year can be voted off City Council) (3 ayes and 2 nays) … even though this technology is used in successful meetings worldwide.

– Current CRA Board of 7 members will be disbanded (3 ayes and 2 nays) and the CRA Advisory Committee will re-form.

Sometime next year, Councilman Billman will miss his 5th meeting and will be voted off council (3 ayes 1 nay) and the council will vote in a replacement (3 ayes to 1 nay) giving them hand-picked, super-majority following to raise taxes.

Here’s the agenda packet link…

I could be wrong…but I encourage you to look at the changes coming. Elections have consequences.


Lloyd S. French

First, let’s start off with the agenda item Mr. French seems to believe is somehow something people should be leery of.

Agenda item 18 reads:

Neighbors Ordered To Cut Down Trees That Blocks View.

You may remember John Olerud from his playing days as a major league baseball player for four different baseball teams. The two time All Star and three time gold glove winner retired after 16 seasons in the major leagues and decided to build a 6,680 square foot home valued at $4 million dollars in Clyde Hill, Washington. While his house was being built, Olerud and his wife lived in the home of their soon to be neighbors Bruce and Linda Baker for eight months.

The Baker’s property has a lot of trees on it, including a rare 50 year old China pine tree and a spruce tree. We should say the property “had” a lot of trees on it because the Bakers, at the behest of the Oleruds, removed some trees in order for their friends to be able to enjoy the views of the surrounding area, including the city of Seattle skyline.

The Oleruds wanted more. They demanded the Bakers remove the China pine and the spruce tree.

The values of homes in the Clyde Hill are associated with the views from the homes. A realtor the Oleruds hired claims the value of the Olerud’s home would increase by $225,000 if the Oleruds had a better view of the surrounding vistas – a view that was partially blocked by the Baker’s China pine and spruce.

The Oleruds demanded the Bakers remove the trees.

Clyde Hill does have ordinances which cover this issue and surprisingly, they favor not the property owner of the trees, but the person making the demand.

Nothing Ever Seems Easy.

We had a small disaster the other day here at the world wide headquarters of Raised on Hoecakes.

The office chair in which we sit decided that it had had enough and the pneumatic piston on the base decided it no longer wanted to be associated with the actual bottom of the chair. The weld broke and we ended up on the floor.

Depending on how you look at it, this was fortunate or unfortunate as the chair broke on Wednesday, which meant that although stores were closed on Thursday due to Thanksgiving, we thought we might be able to find a decent chair at a “Black Friday” sale. Finding a chair on sale was a good thing. Going out to get it on Black Friday was not exactly our idea of a day in the sun.

We found a chair at Office Depot and in the late morning hours on Black Friday (after the initial rush of customers who were looking for that “SpongeBob SquarePants mouse on sale) we found the store somewhat busy, but not overly so. We asked a few questions of the sales clerk and were pleased with his helpfulness.

“This is not too bad,” we thought.

We ended up a chair that we like and also paid for an extended warranty that covers the chair from top to bottom if anything (including the base) fails. We don’t normally recommend extended warranties but given the fact the chair is not a high end chair, and the base or pneumatic lift cylinder will fail (not may – will) for $7.99 the warranty was a good deal. The cashier / clerk was pleasant which is not always easy on busy sales days.

From the moment we walked into the store to the moment we walked out with a chair in our grimy paws, shopping at Office Depot was a good experience.

It went downhill from there.

Ban On Texting While Driving May Be More Deadly Than Texting While Driving.

An article in the Florida Today newspaper heralds:

In-car texting ban gains following

Issue likely will come up in 2013 Fla. legislature

Pressure is building to add Florida to the list of 39 states that ban texting while driving, but if legislators are waiting on a comprehensive study of the problem, it’s likely not going to happen.

We are not here to dispute that texting while driving is dangerous. It is really dumb when you think about it. In order to text you have to take your eyes off of the road or where the vehicle is going. While texting, a car morphs from a means of transportation to a two ton weapon.

However, while we understand the thinking that banning texting while driving will help lower accident rates, that may not be the case.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that 3 of every 4 states that have enacted a ban on texting while driving have seen crashes actually go up rather than down.

If people pause and think about this, the reason is rather easy to understand:

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