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Randy Fine And The “Exchange To Nowhere”

In case you missed it, last week State Representative Randy Fine attacked the City of Palm Bay for “incompetence” on the part of the City that he described as “breathtaking” concerning the so called “exchange to nowhere”

Several publications covered Fine’s pronouncement and take on the situation:

When Fine’s office asked Palm Bay city officials when the connecting road would be completed, they were unable to provide an immediate answer and said they needed to hold meetings to determine an answer.

“The level of incompetence here is so breathtaking that it is almost beyond comprehension,” said Fine.

“Palm Bay agreed with FDOT to build this connecting road in 2013, and to not get it done over six years – while asking the state and federal government to spend $27.8 million – should be criminal. To not even be able to say when it will be finished is unconscionable. If you can’t build a road, you shouldn’t rule a city.

And an almost duplicate story from FloridaPolitics.com:

The city told Fine, whose south Brevard seat encompasses the entirety of Palm Bay, it doesn’t know when the so-called “interchange to nowhere” will get the connecting road it’s waiting on. City officials said they would need to hold meetings before they could give an answer.

Fine is livid — to the point he’s questioning whether Palm Bay should even be a city.

“The level of incompetence here is so breathtaking that it is almost beyond comprehension,” Fine said.

“Palm Bay agreed with FDOT to build this connecting road in 2013, and to not get it done over six years — while asking the state and federal government to spend $27.8 million — should be criminal. To not even be able to say when it will be finished is unconscionable. If you can’t build a road, you shouldn’t rule a city.

“This is the most egregious failure of home rule that I have seen in my time in office, and it comes on top of the Mayor and City staff recently refusing to fully cooperate with the Auditor General of the State of Florida on a special audit I called for two years ago due to home rule abuses. That audit should be released any day now and cannot come soon enough,” he continued.

How much is this true and how much is it spin (including the charge that the City refused to fully cooperate with the JLAC review?

As it turns out, not much of Fine’s accusations are true.

According to City Manager Lisa Morrell, when Fine questioned her on the date the road being opened, she had the date, but Fine wanted and demanded additional information which Morrell did not have at her fingertips – nor should she. The depth of the questions and the varied departments the questions encompassed would naturally require a meeting for Morrell to give Fine facts, and not conjecture.

Palm Bay officials said the Dec. 2 date was readily available, but Fine asked for a breakdown of delays, construction cost and other information. A written response was sent to Fine on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re not avoiding the situation, not reacting to it. But certainly, we do want to respond to all our constituents’ concerns,” Morrell said.

While this appears to be a bit of a “he said, she said,” the question is “who gains more by not telling the whole truth about the situation?”

It doesn’t seem to be Morrell as she has nothing to gain by being less than honest. Morrell walked into a bad situation exacerbated by people previously on the City Council and in City government, saw a mess, and came up with a plan ti solve the issues. It makes absolutely no sense that Morrell wouldn’t have known the approximate date of the road opening and not tell Fine.

Hold your hand up if you think that Morrell would not have simply said “we are looking at opening the first week in December.”

Fine, on the other hand, has been attacking the City of Palm Bay (rightly or wrongly) ever since people he supported and who supported him were kicked to the curb.

While Fine claims he initiated JLAC review, that’s not accurate either. He made a request for the review to the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, of which he was a member at the time (but is no longer.) There is a huge difference between making a request and initiating an actual audit.

“I’d like to …..” is not the same thing as “go do it….”

It should also be noted that the original request included a forensic financial audit which did not happen. As of this writing, despite many people asking what happened to the forensic audit, Fine has not explained how his promise failed to materialize.

From the FloridaPolitics.com article, there is this statement from Fine as well:

…Mayor and City staff recently refusing to fully cooperate with the Auditor General of the State of Florida…

That’s a distortion of the facts.

As part of their procedures, JLAC meets with the City Manager and Mayor of a town like Palm Bay, goes over the initial findings and waits for the response from the City which then becomes part of the final report.

JLAC offered the City two specific dates originally, and the City said they were not available at that time due to other commitments. (One of those dates was that Morrell was going to be on vacation.)

JLAC replied with “okay, we can do this data and this date and this date,” which is what happened.

If JLAC thought the City was being uncooperative, they can simply release the findings and go from there. As it was, Morrell and the Mayor met with JLAC two weeks after the initial days could not be met.

Two weeks.

It should be remembered that both the City and JLAC have other events and things on their plates. Neither the City nor JLAC was only doing a singular review on Palm Bay and nothing else.

Unless you are living in a fantasy world like Fine or trying to paint something or someone in a negative light, a scheduling conflict is not the same thing as “not fully cooperating.”

But there may be something else as well.

Despite campaigning on the need for “home rule,” which is the concept that local governments are better able to handle laws, policies, etc., than state or federal entities, Fine expected the City to drop everything when JLAC called. His comment that the exchange was the “the most egregious failure of home rule that [he has] seen in [his] time in office,” shows another attack on home rule.

Fine wants more government and is rumored to be seeking Bill Posey’s seat in the US House of Representatives. It makes sense that he wants to take power and authority away from local rule and move it first to Tallahassee and then 1000 miles north to Washington, DC.

We are also going to speculate that Fine wants the “road to nowhere” issue front and center as it takes away from those people who have noticed that Fine no longer lives in the district which he represents as required by Florida Statutes.

In 2016, when hurricane Matthew skirted the coast of Florida and more specifically Brevard County, Fine claimed his house was damaged by the storm. Even though relatives living in the home sent out messages on social media claiming the occupants and the house were fine, Randy Fine claimed his house was a total loss.

FEMA’s “after action” report of Hurricane Matthew shows that there were 11 homes destroyed in Brevard County due to Matthew. Noe of them were in the southern part of the County (south of the Pineada Causeway.)

Yet fine applied for and was granted a waiver to use the address in the district as his home address and also the address for which he took a homestead exemption. Such a waiver is common for people to maintain residency while their home is being built or repaired. He then moved to Melbourne Beach and out of the District. The waiver allowed him to maintain his residency and say that he was an elector in the District, which meant he was eligible for office.

However, the property recently sold. With the sale went Fine’s homestead exemption on that property, and most importantly, his residency within the district which he represents.

While attacking Palm Bay, Fine seems to be hoping that people won’t notice that he is not eligible to serve in the Florida House due to residency requirements.

While media outlets are covering the fight between Fine and the City, they aren’t doing any work on Fine’s residency problem.

(There is a certain irony in Fine screaming that Palm Bay can’t build a road in years when he can’t build a house in almost the same amount of time. People with dirt slabs shouldn’t throw stones.)

In short, Morrell’s statements ring true as she has no reason to be deceptive at this time that we can think of.

Fine, on the other hand, has a history of being deceptive and not telling the entire truth in order to leave a less than honest impression with the listener.

There is no doubt there were issues with the road initially, but Fine’s mis-representation of where the road is now in its construction, his attack on the City’s response and what the City told him says far more about his honesty than that of Morrell.




6 Responses to “Randy Fine And The “Exchange To Nowhere””

  1. Thomas L Gaume Jr says:

    1.) ALL (as in every single one) of the issues with the road are the direct responsibility of the prior City administration mentioned above. Thanks to their actions we actually have a $9M loan to pay off in order to build the road. Previously it was going to be built for $6M in impact fee credits by the developer. A financial swing of $15 put on the back of the City’s taxpayers.

    2.) On the day the property sold, Fine listed his residency at the Fairfield Inn in West Melbourne until the closing a Condo in Melbourne Beach. A 1,282 square foot condo unit.

    His wife and kids are going to be in for a huge lifestyle change if they’re actually going to live there and not in their $2.5M home with 8,478 square feet, just down the beach.

    Truth is, I don’t believe that’s really going to happen. The condo is just a place for him to hang his residency while he continues to actually live outside of the district and separated in so many ways from the constituents he was elected to serve.

    1,282 square feet? Is that even enough room to install the charger for his Tesla?

  2. Mike Reitano says:

    Just another self righteous pompous windbag that needs to go.

  3. Carla says:

    Thank you for this article. Randy Fine’s hypocrisy is evident as he accuses Palm Bay of wrongdoing while representing a district evidence shows he doesn’t even live in. I see on the Brevard Clerk of Court website that the Warranty Deed for the sale of his in-district homestead property was transferred on October 7, 2019. I don’t know how you found out about the sale, but I’m glad you did. I just wish something could be done to rectify Mr. Fine’s getting away with not living in the district he serves, thereby disrespecting the law and all his constituents.

    One minor clarification – the JLAC stands for Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, not Joint Legislative Accounting Commission.

    Again, thank you for being a watchdog on this subject.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Carla,

      Thanks for the comment.

      We have no idea how and why we screwed up the name of the Committee.

      We have corrected it now.

      Thanks for letting us know about it.

      A. Afterwit.

  4. Dave Not says:

    Why don’t we call it what it is: Graft in what is known as one of Florida’s most corrupt cities.

    1) Interchange originally planned and approved to be built by developer at no cost to citizens.
    2) Palm Bay injected itself and got the connecting road moved into Pam Bay city limits – the reason for the S-turn in the road. Why? It certainly wasn’t in the citizen’s interest.
    3) Shady dealings with the road contractor. $1M more than a competitor’s bid?
    4) Damn little work since about April 19?
    5) They need MORE money.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Dan Not,

      Thank you for the comment.

      We agree with you on the corruption but we would disagree with the assessment that Palm Bay is “one of the most corrupt cities in Florida.” Trust us when we say there are plenty of other cities that lead that race including Jacksonville, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, etc. We aren’t willing to rank the cities because the bottom line to us is that any corruption in any city is too much corruption. If there was corruption in Mayberry, NC, where someone outside of the government gave Barney a new bullet without getting the gift approved and vetted, that is too much corruption for us.

      In publishing this article, we have received some backlash saying that Fine is only looking out for Palm Bay.

      We disagree and as we said, we believe that Fine is looking out for Fine, but that is another story.

      We believe that too many times people think that in a two party dispute such is as occurring between Fine and Palm Bay that if one party is a saint, the other is scum and vice versa. In this case, we believe that both Fine and the City are less than honest and neither truly care about the people they are supposed to represent and support. We can talk degrees of corruption, but in the end, corrupt is corrupt.

      Thanks again for the comment.

      A. Afterwit.

  5. […] our last post on the charges leveled by Representative Randy Fine concerning the “exchange to nowhere,” we were attacked by some Fine supporters who said […]

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