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East County Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2010 11 years ago



+ Reader responds to incorporation meeting
Dear Editor:

I read with interest the March 4 edition of the East County Observer. I am in favor of moving toward incorporation as recommended by the committee. I believe it has the potential to integrate and rationalize better the work and planning of the CDDs, which at the present are too fragmented. As I mentioned at the meeting, I think they have done a good job thus far.

However, I observed an underlying assumption in their assessment. They emphasized that they will have only two employees on the payroll of the city, the city manager and the city clerk. All other functions will be out-sourced.

In my experience as a performance auditor in the public sector, I have reported on many instances of “empire-building” through out-sourcing. This is often done to circumvent mandated “personnel ceilings,” both by hiring additional individuals through personal-service contracts and gaining the services of groups of individuals through a purchase order with a firm who provides a specified number.

I am sure the intentions of the committee are good, and perhaps the budget ceiling will provide assurance that costs will be kept within bounds. But bureaucrats and politicians often find ways of misleading the electorate as to actual costs.

For example, when a new president of the United States receives his (or her) first briefing, he or she will be surprised at the many commitments and constraints that he or she will be operating under. President Barack Obama, for example, is probably aware now we now have private contract personnel in both Iraq and Afghanistan providing security, intelligence, military and support duties approaching the number of our military personnel stationed there. And their salaries are often in the range of three to four times that of our military personnel performing similar duties.

The same or similar practices occur in state, county and city governments. I worked as a government evaluator and performance auditor at the national government and international level for more than 30 years and saw numerous instances of this.

I was saddened that at this meeting, where it was clearly stated at the outset that CDD board members would not be permitted to speak or ask questions, one CDD member violated that rule. Not only that, he remained at the microphone making multiple questions (not allowing the committee sufficient time to answer before rushing into another question) and making politically tainted and derogatory remarks. I think this should be included in your news report for the record. Such abuses are significant violations of both the spirit and letter of constitutional democratic government.

Less serious are all the individuals who grandstand at such meetings to have their day in the sun. They should do it at a karaoke bar and not waste the time of fellow citizens at town meetings. For them, a microphone in hand is like an intoxicating drink — the more they have, the more they want.

At our small neighborhood committee meetings, we agree to limit them to one hour. One past chairman of the SRVA board also maintained this practice. My rule is that on occasions when the meetings go well over this time period for frivolous grandstanding reasons, I politely depart.

Jim Hamilton
Lakewood Ranch

+ Incorporation group earned trust
Dear Editor:

I was at the Feb. 24 incorporation meeting and read your March 4 article in The East Coounty Observer.  
Those who report the events shape the history (think Josephus Flavius).  

1. Those who would come to a discussion like this are most likely there to learn what is going on or are in opposition.

2. It is natural for the committee to be biased in favor of the feasibility of incorporating. Had it decided against incorporation, there would have been no meeting.

3. Much of the discussion was not if we should incorporate but how we should make our determination and how a future governing body should be constructed.

How can those who don’t have residence here voice an opinion? (Have a vote by household to determine if the residents should entertain a vote to incorporate. The business community has a voice in this determination, and those owners don’t all live here.)

Raise the number in the city council to possibly seven. What we are forgetting is that SMR has developed about one-quarter of Lakewood Ranch. I understand that the master plan has been changed to where Lakewood Ranch will have a senior citizen community and also small towns with shopping within walking distance. The future council size has to take into consideration the final demographics.

Although assumptions can be an area of smoke and mirrors and the present recession can distort the best attempts at defining the future, to demand credibility is understandable and necessary. However, it also can be an excellent way to sink a good proposal.

The committee is doing a great job bringing the feasibility before the residents. The thought that responses pro and con should be presented in a fashion so all can view them is an excellent idea. I would trust this committee to edit and present them.

Tom Knierim
Lakewood Ranch


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