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CARES Funds Go To County Employees Who Are On The Job And Being Paid.

Last Tuesday we watched as the Brevard County Commission presented grants from the Federal CARES funds that had been sent to the County.

According to the US Treasury Department:

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress with overwhelming, bipartisan support and signed into law by President Trump on March 27th, 2020. This over $2 trillion economic relief package delivers on the Trump Administration’s commitment to protecting the American people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

The CARES Act provides fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses, and preserve jobs for our American industries.

We want to take a small look at the proposals made by Commissioner Bryan Lober.

These were Lober’s CARES Act proposals that commissioners approved Tuesday, by a 3-2 vote, with Commission Vice Chair Kristine Zonka and Commissioner John Tobia voting no:

  • $1.25 million to expand the county’s small-business assistance grant program, with the added $1.25 million targeted for businesses in Lober’s County Commission District 2.
  • $460,000 for fire rescue incentives for tuition reimbursement, leadership training, scholarship programs and officer development.
  • $165,000 for incentives for fire agency first responders, as well as Brevard County Sheriff Officer patrol and corrections officers, for them to get COVID-19 vaccines. Under his proposal, they would receive $75 for each dose of a two-dose vaccine they get, or $100 for getting a single-dose vaccine when it becomes available.
  • $160,000 for indigent burials for people who died of COVID-19 or in which COVID 19 was a contributing factor. The maximum reimbursement would be $5,500, unless the deceased is a military veteran, in which case the maximum would be $8,250.
  • $60,000 for independent pharmacies to help pay for special freezers needed to store the COVID-19 vaccine, with a maximum reimbursement of $2,000 per pharmacy.
  • $40,000 for a forklift and pallet jack for the Hummingbird Pantry, a food pantry in Titusville.
  • $40,000 for the Children’s Hunger Project.
  • $25,000 for Ready for Life Brevard, a program that helps young adults who have aged out of foster care, for use in its housing- and employment-related expenses.
  • $14,704 for plexiglass and acrylic barriers for the public defender’s office.
  • $7,500 for reimbursement of county staff COVID-19 expenses.

In addition to these initial allocations — some of which Lober indicated could be expanded — Lober proposes a maximum authorization of $395,000 for other feeding, housing or nonprofit employment programs, beyond what the county previously allocated.

Two of these proposals popped out at us:

  • $460,000 for fire rescue incentives for tuition reimbursement, leadership training, scholarship programs and officer development.
  • $165,000 for incentives for fire agency first responders, as well as Brevard County Sheriff Officer patrol and corrections officers, for them to get COVID-19 vaccines. Under his proposal, they would receive $75 for each dose of a two-dose vaccine they get, or $100 for getting a single-dose vaccine when it becomes available.
  • The money for training should be part of the union contract and therefore part of the County Budget. We can see no need to add to those funds.

    Wouldn’t it have been better to put those funds into programs that train citizens so they can get the additional skills they need to get a job in this struggling economy?

    This sounds a bit callous, but why is the County Commission throwing more money at the people who have jobs, while people who don’t struggle?

    It is not that we don’t like the Fire Department and first responders. However, the fact remains that the CARES money should go to people that are financially stressed, not those who are employed by the County.

    The same thing applies to the “incentives” for “fire agency first responders, as well as Brevard County Sheriff Officer patrol and corrections officers, for them to get COVID-19 vaccines.” For months the County has been telling people they need to social distance, stay inside, wear masks, etc., and now they want to give an incentive for people who are employed by the County.

    This is assuming that some sort of insurance won’t pay for the vaccine to begin with.

    So why the heck are the taxpayers paying County employees to do what the County is saying they should do? Is Lober going to propose money for every citizen? What about those who aren’t working? Shouldn’t they be getting an incentive too?

    On December 8, 2020 we wrote about the Palm Bay City Council voting to give police a raise and City employees Christmas Eve off. In a time when the City is screaming for money, the Council added over $560,000+ dollars to the budget.

    We viewed that as a clear repayment of the police union for their support the newly elected City Council members and Mayor. The same is true for the money for the employees. It is simply buying or payback for votes.

    At the very least, Lober’s proposed grants follow the same route. While Lober did not run in the last election cycle, he is up for election in the next cycle. It is best for him to get his political ducks in a row.

    The CARES Act is supposed to help those in need – not be a political slush fund as used by Lober.

    In addition to the Lober questionable buying of votes spending, Lober also had approved the use of a public purchasing card to donate $750 to pay for the funeral expenses of a teacher and her mother who died due to COVID.

    Lober was planning to use $160,000 of his $5 million for the indigent burial program. But he also wanted to include in the program the family of a Brevard Public Schools middle school teacher and her mother, who both died of COVID-19 less than 24 hours apart earlier this month.

    The problem was the COVID-19 burial program had not been established yet, and Lober wanted to help the family right away. So he authorized a staff member of his office to use his office’s purchase card — a type of credit card — to donate $750 to the family’s GoFundMe page created to pay for the funeral expense. Lober’s intent was that the expense would be reimbursed from the still-to-be-created $160,000 program.

    [….]

    Brevard County Clerk of Courts Scott Ellis — who already was having a debate with Lober on other matters related to the CARES Act funding process — chimed in as well.

    “You can’t use your P-card for GoFundMe,” Ellis said, adding that, when the bill comes, the Clerk of Courts Office staff that each month monitors bills related to use of the cards probably would reject the charge.

    “I don’t think I’ll find one person up here that thinks you should be able to use your purchase card on GoFundMe,” Ellis said, pointing to the other commissioners.

    Ellis contends that such a use is not allowed, while Lober says there were “extenuating circumstances” in this case, and he doesn’t agree with Ellis.

    [….]

    During commissioner reports at the end of the meeting, Lober came back to the $750 donation for the burial costs.

    “I though it was a decent thing to do … given the fact that I was putting in place a burial program to cover that countywide,” Lober said. “For that to be perverted into something that’s negative is just disgusting to me. To politicize that is disgusting. Now, if it should have been handled in a different way, I apologize. I did what I thought was the right thing to do. I thought I had the authority to do it. If I did that incorrectly, I’m happy to make it right, however I need to make it right. But to try to wield that and bludgeon me with it is disgusting.”

    It is disgusting.

    It is disgusting that Lober thinks that he and his ideas are above the law.

    That’s the point. Lober and others were starting down a path that puts “feelings” and what they – not the County Commission and state laws – say is a right and proper thing to do.

    If Lober felt that strongly about the cause, he was free to donate using his own money. That would have been the proper solution.

    Instead, we see that Lober not only breaks laws and regulations but also presents himself as the victim. That’s just hard to believe.

    Politicians are not above the law.

    Period.




    2 Responses to “CARES Funds Go To County Employees Who Are On The Job And Being Paid.”

    1. Carla says:

      “Politicians are not above the law.

      Period.”

      Agreed.

      Trump included.

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