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Cocoa Beach: There’s Facts And Research, And Then There Are The Lies Commissioners Told.

As we expected, the second reading of the marijuana ordinance passed Thursday night in Cocoa Beach.

One of the things that struck us was how Mayor Malik, and Commissioners Miller and Martinez kept saying “we’ve done the research and we know we are right.”

Let’s examine some of their claims.

1) All three men claimed that a felony conviction for marijuana possession ruins lives. That was one of Malik’s main points – he didn’t feel that a felony conviction for possession was right.

In berating others to “do their homework” as they had done, the three men missed something important:

In the State of Florida, possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor – not a felony.
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Cocoa Beach: High Times.

Tonight the City of Cocoa Beach will hold a CRA meeting starting at 6:30 PM followed by a regular Commission meeting at 7:00 PM. The agenda for the meetings can be found here.

Of interest to us is the second reading of an ordinance that would change possession of marijuana from a criminal offense to a civil offense punishable by a fine. The issue is being pushed by Mayor Ben Malick. In the cover memo for the item, he states:

Existing criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and for the possession of drug paraphernalia used to administer marijuana, are often disproportionate to the severity of the offense. Arrest records can ruin lives.

At the February 7, 2019, the Commission entertained the idea of instituting a citation process for the possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis (marijuana), and/or the possession with the intent to use drug paraphernalia as drug paraphernalia, and consented to placing the item on the Commission Agenda. Citations are an additional tool for the City Police Department to use at their discretion.

Many counties and cities,have instituted similar measures including: Alachua County, Broward County, Hallandale Beach, Key West, Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, Orlando, Osceola County, Palm Beach County, Port Ritchey, Tampa, Volusia County.

Where to begin?
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Santa In A Parade And Lights On The Water!

The Cocoa Beach Christmas Parade is today!

The parade starts at 1:30 PM at the site of the old glass bank building and proceeds south on A1A. We have it on good authority that Santa (or one of his most able helpers) will be in the parade so it is always good to watch the parade with your friends and neighbors lest Santa thinks you are grinch-like and be put on the naughty list.

While Cocoa Beach has their parade in the day, later in the evening the annual Cocoa Beach Boat Parade which is sponsored by the Cocoa Beach Rotary Club.

(image courtesy Cocoa Beach Rotary Club)

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Definitely one of the cooler events in the area, you don’t to live on the river or be a participant to watch this parade of boats “decked out” in festive lights.
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From The Comments.

On Wednesday, longtime reader and commenter par excellence “Hometown” left this comment:

The group of residents fighting to maintain our current 45′ height limit lost out to the pro-development crowd so I guess the big money has spoken. I talked to at least 10 folks who told me that they thought they had to vote yes on Question One to maintain the 45′ height limit so the developers and the city did a good job of misleading the voters. Just kind of a shame that the city didn’t take the time to tell the truth, I had hoped my elected officials would have had more integrity. Well, time to move on.

I do want to say special thanks to ROH and all your hard work for helping to get the real facts out to the residents. Once again, your site has shown its willingness to put out truthful and factual information and discuss issues openly and honestly, kudos to you and your folks.
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Cocoa Beach: Ran Into Commissioner Skip Williams Today…..

We had been noticing some traffic coming from a Facebook page called “Cocoa Beach Vote” following our publishing of some articles on Ballot Question #1.

Today we popped over there just to see what was happening and found this post:

Ran into Skip Williams today and asked why he didn’t speak at either of the “Vote Yes on CB Question 1” events at Coastal Produce and Juice-n-Java. He said no one invited him to speak at either event.

Now, why do you suppose that was?

He also clarified his role in the ballot language only pertained to the FEMA changes after 2004 and measuring from the base flood elevation instead of crown of the road, nothing to do with height added to the top of buildings (which was Mike Miller). And, that he had to start a petition for the FEMA/BFE because the other commissioners refused to hold a discussion about it.

Skip said he voted with the commission only to allow the ballot language to be put to voters to make the final decision.

Be careful believing what the spin masters are telling us.

Clearly this blows up the narrative that the City, the pro-Ballot Question #1 PAC’s and supporters are putting out there.

It also falls back to our original question:
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Cocoa Beach: Questions To Ask About Ballot Question #1.

Tonight at 6:30 PM, there will be a “forum” on the now infamous Ballot Question #1 at 25 Brevard Ave North, Cocoa Beach next door to Coastal Produce.

Commissioner Mike Miller will make a presentation on the ballot question followed by Mayor Malik making a presentation on the City Budget and how the question impacts the City Budget itself.

Following the presentations, there will be a question and answer session which supposedly will be open to the public. We hope that it is, but we have our doubts once certain questions are asked.

Here is a list that we suggest:
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Cocoa Beach: How Can A Small Sign Be A 500 Pound Gorilla?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Three posts in one day? We are busy!

If you live in Cocoa Beach, the other day you woke up to simple red and white signs advocating voting “no” on Ballot Question #1, the question that raises the permissible height of buildings within the City.

No one seems to know where the signs came from, who purchased them, placed them, etc. (We certainly don’t know which means we cannot answer questions as to where you can get one for your home.)

The problem with the signs are two fold.

First, electioneering signs like this are required to have a disclaimer which is specified in the Florida Statutes, Chapter 106.143:

(c) Any other political advertisement published, displayed, or circulated before, or on the day of, any election must prominently:
1. Be marked “paid political advertisement” or with the abbreviation “pd. pol. adv.”
2. State the name and address of the persons paying for the advertisement.
3. State whether the advertisement and the cost of production is paid for or provided in kind by or at the expense of the entity publishing, displaying, broadcasting, or circulating the political advertisement.

Secondly, the signs have, in some cases, been placed on private property without the permission of the property owner. That’s something that we can’t condone either.

We have covered the lies, misrepresentations, legal issues, and the City’s actions on this issue extensively and it would be hypocritical of us to demand that those supporting the Ballot Question #1 should be treated differently than those who are opposed to it. So while the red and white signs have suddenly become a 500 lb. gorilla in the room, we have to say that whoever made and distributed the signs missed the mark and were not complying with the law.
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Cocoa Beach: If It’s Such A Great Idea…..Part 4 – The Duck Version.

Sometimes people can get lost in conspiracy theories. We read some research on the subject which said that people are drawn to conspiracy theories because it often means that they have information or beliefs that others don’t. At the same time, not all conspiracy theories are wrong. Part of what comes in to play is both Occam’s razor and the ol’ adage “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

In regards to Ballot Question #1 in Cocoa Beach, we are going to put out some things that disturb us in regards to the City’s role in all of this. You are going to have to decide whether they are ducks or whether we are quackers. (See what we did there?)

In this month’s issue of the Cocoa Beach Explorer, there are several things that make us go “what?”

For example, on page 5 under the “Mayor’s Message,” we find this:

If passed, the language that the Ballot Question would replace is found in section 6.04 of the City Charter which reads:
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Cocoa Beach: If It’s Such A Great Idea …….. Part 3.

We have great readers and commenters here at Raised on Hoecakes. Generally speaking, comments are polite, well written and often factual.

Comments made by people often lead us into another direction. As you can imagine, it is impossible for us to be everywhere, see every thing, and know all that is going on. We often rely on tips or suggestions from readers.

Such is the case with a comment from “Hometown” to our post Cocoa Beach: If It’s Such A Great Idea………. Part 2.

I was looking at the state database for political action committees and noticed that the Cocoa Beach Hotel and Motel PAC made a $1000 donation to this local PAC (on 9/19/2018) that also was not reported to the city in their financial reports.

We decided to follow up on that.

Information on the Cocoa Beach Hotel and Motel Political Action Committee can be found here. This is a screen shot of their organization from the Florida Department of Elections:

On September 19, 2018, the Cocoa Beach Hotel and Motel PAC did make a contribution of $1000.00 to the Protect & Preserve Cocoa Beach PAC. Please notice that the address of the Protect & Preserve Cocoa Beach PAC listed on the activity report is the same as the address for the Protect & Preserve Cocoa Beach PAC given to the City of Cocoa Beach when the PAC registered. (PO Box 320106, Cocoa Beach.) We say that because we want people to see that it is same PAC.
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Cocoa Beach: If It’s Such A Great Idea………. Part 2.

Ballot question one is the hot topic in Cocoa Beach. This is the ballot issue that, despite the ridiculous claims of some to the contrary, allows for higher building heights within the city. (It would also effectively allow for a greater density within a given plot of land as more people could live within the same footprint of the taller building. The legal limit to the density does not change, but practically, more people would live in the same plot of land.)

In our post the other day, we wondered “if the ballot question is such a good idea, why the need to lie about it?” Why lie about the particulars, the facts and the effects if the proposed ballot issue were passed?

In that post we mentioned that a Political Action Committee (PAC) was pushing for the passage of the ballot question.

We have questions about this group as well.

The laws covering PAC’s are found in Chapters 97-106 of the Florida Statutes, the Florida Constitution, various Court opinions, State Attorney General rulings and even local ordinances. As you can imagine, that can get somewhat confusing at times, so the Florida Division of Elections puts out a handbook on PACs, including instructions and regulations on registration with the the applicable government entity, reporting requirements, etc. The wording is easy (or at least easier) to understand and probably could be called “PAC’s Made Easy,” “PAC Primer,” or (jokingly) “PACs for Dummies.”

All that brings us to the PAC called “Protect & Preserve Cocoa Beach.”

PAC’s are required at least to register with what can be called “the lowest level of government” for the issue or candidate they are supporting. By that we mean while a group advocating for a local town council candidate could register with the State of Florida, because the candidate is not running state wide, the PAC can register with local town. Such is the case with this particular PAC as the ballot 1 question applies only to Cocoa Beach.

On August 14, 2018, the PAC presented to the City of Cocoa Beach their registration papers as per the instructions in Chapter 4 of the Political Committee Handbook. On August 15, 2018, the City received another form called “Registered Agent Statement of Appointment.”

With that accomplished, the “Protect & Preserve Cocoa Beach” PAC was set to go 13 days before the primary election which was held on August 28, 2018.

Since that time, the PAC has put out signs, sent mailers, and purchased ads on Facebook.

Political signs that you see along the side of the road during elections are not cheap. Any candidate can tell you that. A mailer to voters in the City of Cocoa Beach is not cheap. Ads on Facebook are not terribly expensive, but they are an expense nonetheless.

Yet somehow this PAC managed to do all these things without spending a dime.

Well, that is what they are telling the City and the voters at least.
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