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Palm Bay: There Are Rules And Then There Are Rules. (Scratching An Itch.)

It had been an itch we could not scratch. As we returned from the Palm Bay City Council Meeting last week, we kept thinking “we’re missing something.” None of us could put our fingers on it, but we knew something wasn’t right.

We finally figured it out.

Last week the City Council passed a “lobbying ordinance” that requires what the City defines as “lobbyists” to register with the City and pay a fee. The ordinance had been proposed by Councilman Calvin “Tres” Holton.

We can debate the need for this type of ordinance all day long. We understand those who think there is a need for it, but the ordinance will catch unsuspecting people out in it and it won’t do a darn thing to help “transparency” within the Palm Bay City government.

Assume for a moment that a vice-president of a company is sent down to Palm Bay to talk to City officials about building a new facility where the company can build world class widgets. The company is looking for tax incentives and things like that. If the vice-president gets concessions and the company moves, he gets a bonus. That Vice President is not considered a lobbyist under the ordinance.

If that same company hires someone in the area to come down and talk to Palm Bay officials about moving here, that person is considered a “lobbyist” under the ordinance. They are performing the same function as the vice-president, but they have to jump through a different set of hoops under the ordinance.

We can’t see a practical difference. If the City is worried about “lobbyists” and “who is meeting with who,” they should keep a database on the meetings. Problem solved. The same accountability for both the speakers and the public employees / elected officials is there which we suppose is the goal. In other words, put the onus to do the right thing on the people making decisions, not just the people trying to convince them.

Yet there is more to this ordinance and it is one of those things that chills us to the bone as generally speaking we are against governmental compelled speech.

The ordinance reads:

SECTION 4. Financial Interest disclosure. A lobbyist who attempts to persuade or influence a Council Member, a Council committee, or the Council as a whole; or an independent agency board member, committee, or the independent agency as a whole; on any project, contract, development, ordinance, resolution, or agenda item, shall, prior to commencing lobbying efforts, file with the City Clerk a disclosure revealing whether the lobbyist has a financial interest in the contract, development or project that extends beyond its approval, and the percent of that interest.

In other words, the person the City defines as a “lobbyist” has to disclose their agreement with the firm they represent to the City. They have to disclose proprietary information to the City with no benefit to the City or citizens.

To quote one of the City Councilmen regarding intellectual property and proprietary information, “[it is] prudent and wise for any private corporation to protect their intellectual property.

So how is it that a Councilman feels that proprietary and intellectual property has to be protected by companies on one hand, then turns around and demands that other companies disclose their proprietary information and intellectual property?

Welcome to the world of Councilman Holton – where leadership means demanding that others do what he will not.

The quote from Holton comes from back in the Homes for Warriors Project debacle and was made during the investigation of the fiasco. When Calvin “Transparency” Holton was asked by several people and news organizations multiple times what services he had performed, he refused to say and responded with “[it is] prudent and wise for any private corporation to protect their intellectual property.

It’s “prudent” for Holton’s company, but not anyone elses company.

And that was our “itch that we couldn’t scratch.” The “hypocrisy itch.”

The sad thing is that this is not Holton’s first “don’t do as I do, do as I say” trip around the block.

A little over a year ago after Holton had authored a “civility pledge,” he was caught violating that pledge and launched into a huff and walked out of a Council meeting. In doing so, he violated Council Policies and Procedures, City Code and State Law. The pledge apparently didn’t apply to him. Policies and procedures didn’t apply to him. The City Code didn’t apply to him. State law didn’t apply to him.

(Sadly, when it was brought up by Councilman Bailey of the depth of the violations, not a single other member of the Council even said “what are you talking about?” And the City wonders why there is a trust issue with its citizens.)

Holton always says that he is for “transparency and accountability” but yet failed to be transparent or follow the law when it came to an public records request for emails that we made. (here, here and here)

Two City Council meetings ago, in violation of his own civility pledge, Holton attacked citizens from the dais.

On June 7, 2018 after making a speech about transparency, Holton did not disclose a meeting with a party as he was required to by law.

On July 19, 2018 Holton claimed there was a recording of people who were collecting signatures for a petition drive and the recording showed them lying to people. When Councilman Bailey asked for the recording, Holton said he would provide it. He didn’t. When people made a Public Records Request for the recording, Holton, who always touts “transparency” told the City Clerk the record did not exist. Not that there were no public records, but no records existed at all.

Palm Bay has a trust issue with the City Council and City government, and the type of hypocrisy and lies we are documenting doesn’t help anyone regain that trust.

What’s the old joke? How can you tell a politician is lying? Answer: his lips are moving.

At the last Council meeting Holton made the statement that Palm Bay was the only City that allowed two public comment times on the agenda. We cover two other cities – Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach – and both Commissions / Councils have in their policies and procedures the ability to have a comment time at the end of the meeting. It seldom happens because of the few people who speak at the meetings, but it is there, contrary to what Holton claimed. The thing that is bothersome is that there was no need to make that statement. There was no need to puff out his chest and misrepresent what other cities are doing. It’s such a small lie that one has to shake their head at the absurdity of it all.

We just don’t like politicians who lie and demand people do one thing while they do another. We can’t stand the hypocrisy.

Deep down, we have an itch that says “people deserve better from elected officials.”



3 Responses to “Palm Bay: There Are Rules And Then There Are Rules. (Scratching An Itch.)”

  1. Third Dimension says:

    EXACTLY! Is Holton the epitome of narcissism and Nepolianism or what!

    Just as the “two day heads up” rule they made about any presentation on the screen. “No surprise attacks on us.”

    Or, “now that I’m elected before I have to run again, let’s invent a Primary for Palm Bay!”

    “No need for a vote of the people, they are not smart like I am, let’s pass a referendum to just take their money.”

    “Hey Mom, do me a favor…… break the law for me”

    WAIT, just wait until you see what Thomas Gaume and I dug up when Kathy pointed something out to us.
    Procurements #4 Here is the link:
    http://www.palmbayflorida.org/home/showdocument?id=20463

    Of course, let’s not forget the double whammy
    NEW BUSINESS: (Ordinance is for first reading.)
    1. Resolution No. 2018-33, providing referendum language for the ballot for the regular
    municipal election scheduled for Tuesday, November 6, 2018, for the Issuance of General
    Obligation Bonds for Road Improvement Projects ($150,000,000)

  2. Carmine Vitale says:

    Mr. Holton does lie, I concur with you sir. It is fact when he opens his mouth, no truth is spoken. He has lost all credibility, especially after considering what he was just accused of doing and is under investigation for. He has no character left and case in point, his continuous ranting and lashing out at constituents, calling out the city attorney, the mayor, and other Councilman only shows his true character. Here is man who demands a pat on the back each time something he rallies for and puts his name to comes to fruition. Yet when it comes to his own civility “pledge”, or him having ensured metal detectors are set up at City Hall, being transparent or held accountable for his own actions, he considers himself to be above the rest. How can anyone in our city honestly believe he is worthy of sitting on that dais and represent us?

    • AAfterwit says:

      Carmine Vitale,

      Thank you for your comment.

      The problem, as we see it, is not just that Holton has issues with the truth. It seems all or at least many politicians have issues with the truth.

      The problem with Holton is that he lies when he doesn’t need to. The cited incident of public comments is a great example. Why bring up comments in other cities at all? Why lie about something so trivial and insignificant?

      It makes no sense unless one starts to think that Holton cannot tell the truth from lies any more or whether he is a pathological liar and his psychological makeup is that of one who lies continually.

      Even his lies of omission are still lies.

      We guess we just have a better moral compass than some.

      Thanks again.

      A. Afterwit.

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