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Smith VS. Tobia. Round Three. Ding!

This is starting to be a recurring theme. Once again Brevard County Commissioners Smith and Tobia went at it over what essentially can be called “speech” and a “disagreement on statements” that were made. In our opinion, this is one of those cases where neither man is right. Even though the positions taken by Smith and Tobia are 180 degrees apart from each other, their actions are very similar and wrong on many levels.

Oddly, this round goes back to Representative Randy Fine’s proposal and introduction of a bill that would allow money from the Tourism Tax to be used to help clean up the lagoon.

Smith attacked Fine with Smith saying Fine “is shortsighted and long-winded. He doesn’t know what he is talking about.”

Jim Ridenour, chairman of the advisory Brevard County Tourist Development Council, labeled Fine’s bill as being “criminal.” We aren’t sure how a proposed bill can be “criminal,” but we suspect that Ridenour was upset for any number of reasons, including the idea that Fine’s Bill would take money away from a Committee that Ridenour chairs.

We think Ridenour’s comments were over the top, but he has the right to make them.

Ridenour later apologized for the comments, and that’s a decent thing to do. There’s a difference between disagreeing with the proposal and labeling it as “criminal.” Ridenour later came to that conclusion and did the morally correct thing in saying he still disagreed with Fine’s proposed bill, but the characterization that the bill was “criminal” was not right nor accurate.

However, Commissioner Tobia wasn’t pleased with Ridenour’s comments and even after Ridenour’s apology, sought to “censure” Ridenour through a resolution.
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Smith VS. Tobia. Ding!

At the last Brevard County Commission meeting, Commissioner John Tobia raised the issue of expenditures by Commissioner Curt Smith.

Tobia claims the expenditures were inappropriate and according to the FloridaToday:

Tobia cited county administrative orders, a County Commission policy and a Florida Statute for reasons why the various expenses should not have been reimbursed.

Smith, on the other hand, said the reimbursements were all approved by the County’s Finance Department.

To be honest, in the scheme of things we aren’t talking about a whole lot of money – just $337 bucks which includes:

• Reimbursement on a travel voucher for extra legroom on a flight to Colorado Springs, Colorado ($50.12).

• Reimbursement for Smith’s wife’s baggage fee on a trip to Colorado Springs ($50).

• Charging his purchasing card with multiple tickets to a Friends of Sally’s House event ($225).

• Receiving travel reimbursement for mileage to a Republican Women’s Network Luncheon ($3.78).

• Receiving travel reimbursement for mileage to a Brevard Republican Executive Committee Picnic and Straw Poll ($7.56)

• Receiving travel reimbursement for mileage to a Republican Liberty Caucus Constitution Day Dinner ($1.08).

Tobia raised the issue when Smith was not present which led some to say it was “bad form” or “improper to raise the issue” when Smith wasn’t there to defend himself. But Smith was present earlier in the meeting via the phone but the connection died. Tobia had planned his remarks prior to the phone connection to Smith being lost. Without Smith “in the room,” should Tobia have waited? Maybe. Probably even. At the same time, it is not Tobia’s fault or responsibility to make sure Smith was either at the meeting or had a connection to the meeting. We believe a good case be made either way.

No matter how you view how the topic was raised, Smith did not take kindly to Smith’s expenditures being called into question and viewed it as a political attack.
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Paging Commissioner Isnardi. Paging Commissioner Isnardi…..

After we finished our post last week on Brevard County Commissioner Kristine Isnardi and her attack on the content of speech, we decided to write her personally.

We sent her an email expressing our concerns. As always, we not only expressed concerns but offered that if she and other Commissioners wanted to stop all comments that were made at inappropriate times during a meeting, we would be supportive of her actions. What we would not support is her desire to hold people “accountable” for things that were said of which she disapproves.

We got an automated response from her office:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me by email. Each day I review my emails and I use this automated response to verify and acknowledge receipt of your correspondence.

My staff and/or I will respond to each and every email as it pertains to my District or specific questions directed towards me. In order to better serve you and your concerns, it is important to include your name, complete address and phone number.

Should you require additional information or assistance, feel free to call my office and a staff member will promptly discuss your concerns with you.

My office address is
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Blind Squirrel Commissioner John Tobia Finds Nuts – Lots Of ‘Em.

A FloridaToday column written by “Governmental Editor Dave Berman” describes a part of the October 10, 2017 Brevard Board of Commissioners meeting this way:

Political Spin column: Questioning by County Commissioner Tobia like ‘Perry Mason’ show

Brevard County Commissioner John Tobia isn’t an attorney.

He just plays one on the County Commission.

At least that was the impression of some people who attended at the commission’s meeting Tuesday night, when the discussion came to

designating $14.4 million from the county’s 5 percent Tourist Development Tax for five tourism-focused capital projects within the county. The tax is charged to those who rent hotel rooms or other short-term rentals.

Within a span of 20 minutes, Tobia let loose with 34 questions directed at three county department heads about the projects, the application process, the tourism economic impacts of the projects and other potential funding sources. In many cases, Tobia launched into a new question before the county officials finished answering the previous question.

At issue was agenda item VI (B)(1) described as “Approval, Re: Tourism Community Development Plan Capital Projects.” The supporting agenda packet for this meeting can be found here, and the information on this particular agenda item begins on page 1123.

In short, the County is looking to spend almost $14.4 million dollars on five areas around the county using Tourism Development Tax Dollars. Those projects are:

Oars & Paddles Park & Pier ($199,495)
Palm Bay Nature Center & Campground ($1,700,000)
Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage Museum ($500,000)
Viera Regiona l Sports Complex ($5,000,000)
Titusville Multi-Use Sports Arena ($7,000,000)

With the background set, we now want to turn to what exactly happened that October 10th night.

You can watch this part of the meeting yourself starting at roughly 3:10:00 of the video available on the Brevard County site.

Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Eric Garvey starts off the item reading the agenda packet description. That is followed by members of the public speaking in favor of the tax dollars being spent.

At approximately 3:55:00 Commissioner Pritchett makes a glowing comment on the spending (after all, $7,000,000 is going back into her district) and then makes a motion to approve the plan. That motion is seconded by Commissioner Barfield.

The fun and games with Commissioner Tobia 3:55:40.
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