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Brevard County Schools And Sexual Predators.

Child-in-corner-ROH(Editor’s Note: We cannot express how deeply we despise those who harm children and who are sexual predators. There are times we wish we had a supply of millstones to donate.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6 NIV)

Last week, the Florida Today wrote that a new security system was being “rolled out” in Brevard County schools.

A new security system in Brevard Public Schools will run an automatic sexual predator check when volunteers and visitors sign in on campus.

Individuals will scan their driver’s license, and new KeepnTrack software will run a check through a sexual predator database from all 50 states.

According to the “KeepnTrack” software site, the software is written by COMPanion Corporation and will use another product – COMPanion’s CBC (Criminal Background Check) database.

The KeepnTrack software not only integrates with the CBC database, but also allows for tracking of staff (including teachers,) tracking of students, and tracking of vendors on school campuses.

(One wonders whether the new software will replace current staff and vendor tracking software or whether the school district will keep the current software for staff and vendors as well as paying for the new KeepnTrack software.)

According to the article, the cost of the KeepnTrack software and license scanners for schools is $136,000. The software will also cost the district $31,500 per year to run.

The background check will cost people $20 every three years.

The idea sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
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All Aboard Florida And Brevard County.

All-Aboard-Florida-ROHAll Aboard Florida, a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries LLC (FECI), is planning on running a high speed train service between Miami and Orlando. The plan is for the trains to ferry passengers through Brevard County 32 times a day without stopping.

Upgrade to the rail lines themselves would offer a short term economic impact of jobs but as the trains would not stop in Brevard, it is estimated that there is little long term economic impact.

There are safety and noise concerns from people within the county.

There are major concerns with the cost of upgraded rail crossings which the county would be forced to maintain on the taxpayer dime.

County Attorney Scott Knox estimates that the cost for the crossing maintenance that Brevard County would be responsible for may rise to $1 million a year indefinitely. That compares with maintenance costs that have ranged between $220,000 and $450,000 a year in recent years.

All Aboard Florida, a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, has said it would pay for track and crossing improvements for the new rail service it hopes to begin in 2016. But, as it is now, the counties and cities along the route would be responsible for maintaining the crossings after service begins.

In an April 27, 2014 article for Florida Today, columnist and editor Matt Reed writes:

This train has left the station.

Within two years, a new privately owned passenger train system will zoom 32 times a day through Brevard County railroad crossings, sounding horns in neighborhoods. Its owners aren’t waiting for voters or armchair economists to bless their venture.

The company, All Aboard Florida, appears all but ready to run trains from Miami to a switch in Cocoa, where new lines will reach west to Orlando International Airport. It already has land and capital for three deluxe stations near commuter rail and bus lines in South Florida.

Its 125-mph trains won’t stop in Brevard.

It doesn’t need your tax money. (emphasis ours)

We believe that depends on the meaning of “your tax money.”
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Richard’s Paints And The Brevard County School District.

Richards-Paint-Brevard-County-Schools-ROH An article in the FloridaToday newspaper dated May 7, 2014 heralds the return to success of long time Brevard County business Richard’s Paint

After brush with ‘Great Recession,’ Richard’s Paint back in the black

When the national housing crisis began in 2007, Richard’s Paint Manufacturing Co. in Rockledge was among the first businesses to notice the slowdown.

The paint business, headquartered at the appropriately addressed 200 Paint St. in Rockledge, began drying up. The family-owned company, which had been in business for more than half a century at that point, saw annual revenues drop by more than 10 percent.

As the “Great Recession” started to reverberate across the nation, Richard’s company laid off more than 20 workers and its managers volunteered to take a 5 percent pay cut.

These days, with the American housing industry bouncing back, the outlook is much brighter at the 60-year-old business.

Richard’s, which employs about 80 people, is expanding and exporting its products to independent paint retailers all over the world. Its profits are at record highs. This year, the company expects revenue to peak near $23 million.

“We’re now shipping to 40 states, including Alaska, and we’re opening up a new warehouse in Texas,” said Eric Richard, the president of Richard’s Paint Manufacturing Company and the youngest of four children of the company’s founder, Edward Richard Sr.

Also, Richard’s has rehired some of those who were laid off. And for those who took salary reductions, the company reinstated those wages and offered full reimbursement for prior pay cuts.

We hope you read the whole thing because it is a great story about a small business fighting to stay alive in a county that was hurting because of the economic downturn in so many sectors.

It would have helped somewhat if the Brevard County School District Richard’s Paint as a valued partner in both the community and as a valued vendor, but the District chose not to.
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Fisher Barks Up The Wrong Tree.

According to the Florida Today, Clerk of the Courts Scott Ellis, got into a war of words with Brevard County Commission Vice Chair Robin Fisher over a remark allegedly made by Ellis at a meeting of the Brevard County Ronald Reagan Club. The confrontation took place when Ellis was speaking to the Commission as a private citizen.

The incident that led to the confrontation dates back to a Jan. 23 meeting of the Brevard County Ronald Reagan Club, where somebody joked that Fisher had killed more dogs that Michael Vick, an NFL quarterback who served time in federal prison for animal cruelty related to dog fighting.

Fisher, a Democrat, was not at the meeting, but did hear about the joke. He was not happy, and fired off an email on Jan. 30 to the person he believed told it: Ellis.

What was a private feud in emails between Ellis and Fisher became public at the County Commissioner’s meeting.

There are a couple of interesting things to watch in the video. The first is that Fisher interrupts Ellis and the Chair of the meeting, Mary Bolin Lewis, allowed him to do so. Secondly, Ellis does not back down. He maintains that he did not make the joke / statement in question. Third, Fisher makes a very odd comment in this exchange:
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Raise Your Hand.

Hold-Your-Hand-Up-ROH We have been following the proposed agreement between the CRA / the City and the County. Now that the agreement has passed the CRA Board, it will be presented for approval to the City Council during the regular meeting on June 19th, and then supposedly head to the County Commissioners for their meeting July 9, 2013.

However, something else has come to light that took place while the City and the County were in discussions on the issue.

The dollar amounts originally given to the County by the City were wrong.

The initial numbers sent to the County were as follows:

Exhibit A Original Resized

After realizing the City hadn’t included all of the funds due back to the County, the City went back and reworked the numbers to be what is now within the agreement:

Payment Schedule

After discovering this, we asked ourselves this question:

“Would the numbers initially being presented to the County have been wrong if they were calculated by former Finance Director Brenda Raver?”

Of course, such a question is hypothetical and amounts to discussing “how many angels fit on the head of a pin?” Yet we are left with the feeling that Raver – a 17 year employee and winner of “City Employee of the Year” – most likely would not have made this error. Anyone can make small errors in something of not great importance, but when it came to big issues – such as this one – we cannot remember Raver ever making this type of mistake.

It is impossible to escape the conclusion that in it’s first big task under the City’s new re-organization plan, the new structure initially failed.

In a June 3, 2013 email to the County, City Attorney Jim Beadle says there is a delay in the sending the County the final proposed agreement due to “fine tuning of the numbers,” which is a nice, professional way of putting things.

Later that night, City Manager Courtney Barker sent the revised numbers to Jim Beadle, the County Attorney Jim Knox, and other County officials.

Her email reads:
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The CRA / City Audit – Why It IsThe Same, And Why It Is Different.

SatelliteBeachCRALedger-ROH On Saturday, we posted a letter from the Clerk of the Courts for Brevard County informing the City of Satellite Beach the County was initiating an audit of the city’s financial records to insure County monies contributed to the City’s CRA funds were not misspent or misappropriated.

We posted the letter without comment as we felt it was important to let the people of Satellite Beach know what was happening within the city.

Several commenters responded basically saying that this audit was the same or highly similar to that initiated by the State of Florida in 2011. The commenters are correct to a large extent, but there are also distinct differences that need to be stated.

First, the initial request in 2011 by the State to audit the City’s books was announced at both the City Council meeting and the CRA meeting immediately after the letter from the State’s Joint Legislative Auditing Committee (JLAC) initiating the audit process was received by the City. The letter from the Brevard County Clerk of the Courts was not mentioned at either of the two Council meetings which took place after the receipt of the letter and was only given a cursory mention late in a CRA meeting. How the two letters have been handled in regard to public notice is a substantive difference.

Secondly, commenters noted that JLAC’s initial investigation “resulted in no sanctions, penalties or fines levied against the City/CRA.” This is factually correct. In addition the commenter noted JLAC advised the City Council that the City may want to seek an opinion from the State Attorney General as to whether the expenditures were within the law. That too is factually accurate.

The JLAC letter dated October 6, 2011 states:

Chapter 163, Pmi III, Florida Statutes (F.S.), the “Community Redevelopment Act of 1969,” provides the governing stlUcture for community redevelopment in the state. As you point out, there is a difference of opinion as to whether the City was authorized to transfer restricted CRA funds to the City’s General Fund and expend the funds on such general government expenditures as fire protection and police services. To resolve this issue, we suggest the City Council, sitting as the governing board of the CRA, request an opinion from the Attorney General regarding the transfers in question. The City Council should ask the Attorney General the following question(s): (1) Is the use of the CRA funds for such expenditures allowable under Ch. 163, F.S.? and (2) if not, should the City restore the funds to the CRA?

The October 6, 2011 letter was sent by JLAC after the City had sent it’s initial written response to the Committee explaining why the City felt the expenditures were within the law.

Given that context, the October 6 letter neither rejected nor accepted the City’s position. This was not a clear “victory” for the city and its policies.
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Hurricane Sandy Hates Carnivals.

Although we here in Brevard County are taking some bad weather from hurricane Sandy, the storm should mostly be gone by the time you read this post.

That means that you and your kids will want to get out and do something exciting. What better thing is there than a carnival?

Two local churches – Our Saviour’s Catholic Church in Cocoa Beach and Holy Name of Jesus in Indiatlantic – are both hosting carnivals to benefit their schools and local outreach programs.

Carnivals are always a lot of fun for families and children of all ages. Take your kids, your date or relive your past at these worthy events.

(Don’t eat too much cotton candy. Trust us on that one. We speak from experience.)

Have fun.



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Needleman / Ellis. A Study In How to Turn Off A Voting Population.

By this time next week the election for a Clerk of the Circuit Court for Brevard County will be over.

While the election will produce one winner who garnered the most votes, the loser in this election will be the 540,000 plus residents of Brevard County.

It has been quite some time that the residents have had to endure an election between candidates that has seen the depths of animosity and hatred as this one.

Charges, counter-charges, lawsuits, fists fights, and general childishness has characterized this race.

The two men can’t even begin to agree on the issues before the people, much less who is the better person for the job.

We actually have interviewed both Mitch Needleman and Scott Ellis and asked them the same question: “How does the animosity and rancor between you and your opponent serve the people of Brevard County?”

Despite being intelligent and passionate in their positions, neither man had a good answer for that simple question.

In our mind, that says a great deal. If you don’t know the job of the Clerk of the Courts is for the people of the county, and you can’t articulate how your conduct in an election has benefited those citizens, perhaps it is time to reconsider the path and direction of your campaign.

Instead, both men have defended their slash and burn style of campaigning.
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