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.

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)


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.

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.

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:

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:

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.

Cocoa Beach: If It’s Such A Great Idea…..Part 4 – The Duck Version.

Sometimes people can get lost in conspiracy theories. We read some research on the subject which said that people are drawn to conspiracy theories because it often means that they have information or beliefs that others don’t. At the same time, not all conspiracy theories are wrong. Part of what comes in to play is both Occam’s razor and the ol’ adage “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

In regards to Ballot Question #1 in Cocoa Beach, we are going to put out some things that disturb us in regards to the City’s role in all of this. You are going to have to decide whether they are ducks or whether we are quackers. (See what we did there?)

In this month’s issue of the Cocoa Beach Explorer, there are several things that make us go “what?”

For example, on page 5 under the “Mayor’s Message,” we find this:

If passed, the language that the Ballot Question would replace is found in section 6.04 of the City Charter which reads:

Cocoa Beach: If It’s Such A Great Idea………. Part 2.

Ballot question one is the hot topic in Cocoa Beach. This is the ballot issue that, despite the ridiculous claims of some to the contrary, allows for higher building heights within the city. (It would also effectively allow for a greater density within a given plot of land as more people could live within the same footprint of the taller building. The legal limit to the density does not change, but practically, more people would live in the same plot of land.)

In our post the other day, we wondered “if the ballot question is such a good idea, why the need to lie about it?” Why lie about the particulars, the facts and the effects if the proposed ballot issue were passed?

In that post we mentioned that a Political Action Committee (PAC) was pushing for the passage of the ballot question.

We have questions about this group as well.

The laws covering PAC’s are found in Chapters 97-106 of the Florida Statutes, the Florida Constitution, various Court opinions, State Attorney General rulings and even local ordinances. As you can imagine, that can get somewhat confusing at times, so the Florida Division of Elections puts out a handbook on PACs, including instructions and regulations on registration with the the applicable government entity, reporting requirements, etc. The wording is easy (or at least easier) to understand and probably could be called “PAC’s Made Easy,” “PAC Primer,” or (jokingly) “PACs for Dummies.”

All that brings us to the PAC called “Protect & Preserve Cocoa Beach.”

PAC’s are required at least to register with what can be called “the lowest level of government” for the issue or candidate they are supporting. By that we mean while a group advocating for a local town council candidate could register with the State of Florida, because the candidate is not running state wide, the PAC can register with local town. Such is the case with this particular PAC as the ballot 1 question applies only to Cocoa Beach.

On August 14, 2018, the PAC presented to the City of Cocoa Beach their registration papers as per the instructions in Chapter 4 of the Political Committee Handbook. On August 15, 2018, the City received another form called “Registered Agent Statement of Appointment.”

With that accomplished, the “Protect & Preserve Cocoa Beach” PAC was set to go 13 days before the primary election which was held on August 28, 2018.

Since that time, the PAC has put out signs, sent mailers, and purchased ads on Facebook.

Political signs that you see along the side of the road during elections are not cheap. Any candidate can tell you that. A mailer to voters in the City of Cocoa Beach is not cheap. Ads on Facebook are not terribly expensive, but they are an expense nonetheless.

Yet somehow this PAC managed to do all these things without spending a dime.

Well, that is what they are telling the City and the voters at least.

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