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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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A Tale Of Two Petitions. UPDATED!

UPDATE: We have Updated this post with a note at the bottom reflecting a comment from one of the Palm Bay petition organizers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our plans for this post and a post on the Waste Management contract in Palm Bay changed dramatically as we started putting them together and started writing them. We believe that the petitions and the Waste Management contract have a common theme – a common story line that runs through them. We will discuss that track in detail. However, this story – the story of two citizens groups in two Brevard County cities – has many twists and turns. It is not a story with one conclusion or one central point. It is a story that has many tracks and destinations, none of which we can answer because ultimately, none of the tracks have a satisfactory conclusion and all tracks leave more unanswered questions. Sit back, take a sip of your coffee and marvel at what is going to be a bumpy ride.

A group of citizens in Palm Bay and Cocoa Beach each had the same desire, but different concerns. Both wanted to put a question on their local ballot this past November. As the respective City Commission and Council would not support the changes, the citizens went the route of collecting signatures on petitions to have their items placed on the ballot.

The Cocoa Beach group wanted to put a referendum on the ballot limiting the height of buildings in the City and strengthening the regulations which citizens had previously approved and were now under attack by four members of the City Commission as well as influential outside interests of real estate agents, hoteliers, and builders.

The Palm Bay group wanted to roll back or restore the language in the City Charter concerning the ability of the City Council to use “special assessments” that voters had changed in 2016. It was felt and argued by many that voters were deceived in 2016 as to the amounts the City Council would tax people in order to build roads in their area. Often times, these were roads that had been promised to the residents before and never built and the tax assessments were in some cases, more than the value of the land itself. People were angry, upset and felt betrayed by members of the City Council and the solution in the group’s mind was to roll the wording of the City Charter back.
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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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