This is a complete, verbatim transcript of the "debate" held Tuesday, October 8, 2002, at the Community Center during the PSJ HOA meeting. There are some areas that the words are not clear due to noise in the background, podium pounding, or due to the speaker speaking very quickly and making the words indiscernible. I have indicated those areas; you will know what is indiscernible. But what is clear, is written word for word out of the speakers' mouths. I did not change anything in substance, style, presentation, nor indiscernible words.
The transcript is followed by a little bit of my opinion. If you do not like that; do not read that part. Although, it does have an important warning in it. Thank you.
This is a Paid Political Advertisement. Paid for and approved by Linda McKinney 6025 Keystone Ave. Port St. John, FL 32927. Independent of any group, organization or committee.
Note: Remember that a quote is not finished (closed) until you see the close quote at the end of a paragraph, or at the end of several paragraphs. When you see the opening quote at the beginning of each paragraph, that means that that person is still talking and does not finish what they said until you see the close quote. When you see [sic] that means that it is EXACTLY as it is on tape; even though the speaker made a blunder.
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"Okay. Tonight we're here to talk about incorporation. Let me explain the... the agenda so that we know what's going on. First of all we're very honored to have two speakers. One for each side. If you could stand up, um, we have Bill Bender from the Port St. John for Tomorrow who will be speaking first. (clapping) And then, somewhere around here, Peter Costello from the Port St. John Civic League. (clapping) They will both be speaking for fifteen minutes. They will then be followed... The Port St. John for Tomorrow is going to go first; the Civic League will be speaking last. Because they said that the only way they would come, is if they could go last. So... We were going to flip a coin because that's what the Homeowners have always done for all of our... things. But we decided this is a very important event. We really wanted both sides to be here. So we're glad that they're here.
"Okay. The.. the speaking forum. I need you both to use the microphone so everybody can hear. We only have a total of forty minutes for people to hear what... what they're saying. People ask me why... why can't we have questions at this forum? Have you been to any of the meetings that we've had? (laughter from the audience) We've had meetings where we've had the police called because people felt in danger of their lives. (audience groans and protests) Two weeks ago, one side was standing by the side of the road -- I'm not going to say which side -- but one side was standing by the side of the road with a sign, saying what they believed in. A 72 year-old lady standing down at Bridge Road. Guys went by in a truck. They threw a full Coke can at her. Broke her glasses, knocked her down. This is the level that we've had of what's been going on in our community. So, the reason we're not having questions tonight is questions need to be handled in a moderated debate. They need to be moderated by someone outside of the community. They really need to remain fair and impartial. So we need to... We're going to have both speakers; that's what we can do for you tonight.
"Now, the rest of the night normally we'd go into a lot of different reports and we'd spend quite a bit of time. But you are here tonight to hear about the incorporation. That's why you're here and we're glad to have you. So what we're going to do is to spend forty minutes on the speakers. Probably... We're going to try to get our reports down to about five minutes so that you can hear a little bit else of what the Homeowners does. We're going to then... We're going to adjourn. And you may stay and you may speak to everyone in the room. You may get more information. Because that's what we're here for tonight. I promise, you know, not more than half-an-hour. So, it might be forty minutes, but... Okay!
"Now there's a gentleman right in front of me in the striped shirt. Sir, can you hold up the... the... minutes? (Note: Here it sounds like "So if you know like... Peter Costello"... but can't be certain: it's rather fast and garbled) He's going to hold up five minutes, and then one minute. While you're speaking to let you know... Okay! And at that time I will turn over my microphone to Mr. Bill Bender." (clapping)
Mr. Bill Bender of Port St. John for Tomorrow speaks: "Remember: An army of sheep led by a lion will defeat an army of lions led by a sheep. My name is Bill Bender. I'm the operations manager for the photo contract out at the Space Center. I've lived in Port St. John for fifteen years. I live in a community of lions led by lions. We make important decisions. But do you realize that the bottom line decisions are not made made by the people of this community? The final decisions go in front of the County Commissioners. You have the vote of one of those Commissioners. Four of those (so you will understand: holding up his fingers)... let me get the numbers right... Four of those are not accountable to you. You know we've got a reasonable Commission right now. They're rare... They're pretty approachable. But after that they may not be. Every two years they change. Now two years ago, this community voted to support an incorporation study. By a vote of 73 percent we agreed to conduct a study. The study results indicate that it's feasible to incorporate Port St. John. A sufficient tax base is in place.
"Let's talk about the benefits of incorporation. We would have autonomy. We would have independence. We would have freedom! Things continue to change. And if we don't take the responsibility for those changes, we have nothing to blame but ourselves.
"Let me explain incorporation as I see it a little bit. We won't become part of Titusville. We won't become part of Cocoa. We would be a stand alone community. We'd sort of like have a firewall around us. Issues that affect us would have to come through this firewall. We would be responsive to them. We would be informed about them. The monies that are collected within this community would stay within this community. Now I've heard a lot of arguments about this. I've heard some arguments about regulation. But we can have as much regulation or as little regulation as we want. We can be as flexible as possible. We can set the guidelines. We have to follow State and Federal guidelines, but we can be flexible about rules. Eventually, we would be on equal footing with our neighbors. When this airport extension happened a few weeks ago, we would have been informed about that if we were incorporated, and not find out by happenstance.
"Listen. When I was nineteen years old, I took the responsibility of my life. For my life. This community has matured. We're in the position to take the responsibility. To act as responsible adults. To have a voice for ourselves.
"Now I've heard the arguments about more government. I don't think this is more government. I think it's your government. Actually, it's less government. We wouldn't have the County Commissioners! You would elect your neighbors. You would elect people that you know, that have as much to gain and to lose to run this community as you do. We wouldn't have to deal with L.P.A. - Local Planning Agency. We wouldn't have to deal with the County Planning and Zoning Board. We could make those decisions ourselves that in our best interests! (pounds the podium) What about Roads and Bridge? When was the last time you saw any road work done in Port St. John? We could contract these services! We can take care of this community (pounds the podium)! I'm not saying to be bad neighbors. I'm not saying to be selfish and self-serving. I'm talking about responsibility and accountability, and it starts right here. If you think the County's going to look after you, think again. It's on... They're only going to do so if it's in their self-interest to do it. Let me ask you something. Where are the power plants? They're over here in District One. Where are the prisons (pounds the podium)? They're over here in District One. Where's the landfill? It's up here in District One. Where is the neglect? It's up here in Distict One. Let me tell you something... I know I'm being hard on the County. I apologize. I know they're understaffed. They're under-budget. They're overwhelmed. Just like all of us. But we can do better. Remember what our Mothers told us, 'If you wanna' do something right, do it yourself.' And we can do better.
(Mr. Bender shouts) "Hey let's talk about mega taxes! It's something I've been seeing on the signs. Do you realize that this incorporated area... or proposed incorporated area... spent $750,000 on road taxes last year? Do you realize that Brevard County in all of District One from 528 up to the Volusia County line spent $210,000 last year? That's a difference of over fifty... of half a million dollars. Let's talk about mega taxes. I've looked at the budget. I've looked at the quote budget. All of the funds are accounted for. I'd also like to know where the Civic League talks about four or five changes in the budget. Hey! Listen. It's not your fault if they don't understand. Yes! There will be a tax increase. It's about 0.5 mil. What that means is that every household will be taxed about two or three bucks a month. That would be about twenty or thirty dollars year. (laughter from the audience) But... Now I know that's a lot of money to pay, I'm sorry. But this millage has to be in place to apply for matching state revenues. And if we do incorporate, grant money is available. There's other funds available.
"Now I know this community's not afraid to make an investment. Some years ago we realized we weren't getting the recreational funding that we need in this community. Where do you think this community center came from? The County didn't give it to you. (Mr. Bender shouts) You bought it. What about that sports complex to the south? You bought it. There was tax money left over. We could've put it in our pockets. What'd you do? We bought that two hundred acre lake to the west of Port St. John. For us. You knew you needed a better future. You knew you needed a better quality of life. You made the investment. And I think this is a good investment. Especially when you consider the return of potential tax dollars. The local tax gasses [sic] would stay in this community and not go to Viera. So would our impact fees. Like I said, when was the last time you saw any road work done in Port St. John? You know Cape Canaveral pays ninety-thousand dollars for every mile of road that they resurface. Brevard County pays a hundred-and-twenty thousand dollars. We can contract these services as we need it. We don't have to have a standing work force. Let me ask you something. If you need a trailer for a weekend, do you go out and buy one? No! You go out and rent one.
"Law enforcement's another issue. It's been said that we're going to lose law enforcement. We won't have the protection that we need. The budget that's proposed will have seven officers within a twenty-four hour period -- two on each shift -- there'll be a supervisor and an administrative assistant, I think, on the first shift. In Port St. John all the time. Twenty-four hours a day.
"Now I've heard about bare bones government. I've heard about a loss of services. A lack of services. It looks to me like we've got a lack of services right now. You know, we should have the services we deserve. Or at least, we should have the services that we're paying for. Let me... Let me just say this: Show me the money.
"Now let's talk about sewers. This is an issue that keeps coming up. It's haunted this community for about fifteen years. (Uncertain, but sounds like, Which is longer than I've known.) It's a difficult issue to talk about. Back in 1992, I went up to Tallahassee with Frank Grisly (sorry if I misspelled the name), Truman Scarborough, Don Williams and John Hinkle. We went to talk to the HRS folks which is now DCA - the Department of Community Affairs - to discuss the sewer issue. Because at the time, it was the County who was trying to force the sewer issue upon Port St. John. Now we managed to work a compromise out. We managed to offer alternatives: a maintenance program, an inspection program, but the County never enforced this compromise with the State. Now it's been said that the septics in Port St. John are contaminating the Indian River. There was a Horsley-Writley -- Horsley-Whitney -- study done about three years ago that proved that we're not doing; or there was no evidence that we're doing it. We're looking at test wells in Port St. John, there's nothing leaching in anywhere. The test wells are coming up clean. There's no outbreaks of hepatitis in our community. Incorporation or not, sewers need to be addressed in a comprehensive land use plan. As an incorporated community, we can negotiate with the State for the best approach. We can write that comprehensive plan. You and I. One that best suits our community. This community... Let's see... Let me say the County will not stand between the State of Florida and Port St. John (garbled) to thrust upon us. They don't have the resources. They don't have the time. They're going to say like everyone else, sewers are better. Now two months ago, the Civic League said that it would require a fifty million dollar sewer plant. This month they say it's going to be a sixty million dollar sewer plant. I'd like a little consistancy with these numbers. And I'd like to see the supporting documentation that says this. I'd like to see where our budget is out of line. Can they prove it to us? I'd like to see where it's going to cost sixty million to build this... To build the sewer. There's other alternatives. You know, we can buy the services of Titusville. Commend [sic] to what they're going to want in return. Councilman Jeff Raney stated that Titusville can reduce its rates by getting new customers. But as an incorporated community, we could negotiate better rates with Titusville. We would have the decision on this important quality of life issue. As an incorporated community, we would have three years to write a new comprehensive land use plan. To negotiate with the State on the compromises that we put in place, or the ideas that we put in place close to ten years ago. Who do you want to make that decision? You? Or somebody else?
"Now I know this isn't a debate, but I do have a few questions. There was supposed to be a debate last week, but the Civic League opted not to debate. Now they said, or they cited that no more precious County tax resources be expended on a subdivision issue. I think that 9,000 homes is a rather large subdivision. And I don't think we're being taken seriously. If we look at ourselves as a subdivion, we're not looking at ourselves properly. And is it a waste of resources to provide information to voters on an issue that's as important as this? Have you changed the fate of the community? Is it important to hold back that information? Is it important to have the truth: you seen the cards, you've got them right there! If the truth stands, how come they wouldn't come out and debate? Let me tell you what Ross Perot says. He says that if it's a good deal, it'll sell itself. And I think incorporation's a good deal.
"You know when you examine the contribution list of the Civic League, I noticed that a local developer contributed $895 to their campaign. They said it's for signs, or I've heard it's for signs. But that's hearsay. I'm trying to deal with fact. But $895. You know, people don't give that kind of money for good government. Sure people send 20 [sic], $30; $50; $100 even. This is trying to buy an outcome. Why would a developer not want you to have the say so in how this community runs? Why would a grassroots campaign accept these kinds of funds? You don't buy better government, you make better government. And we can make better government. Now I've seen the signs. You've seen them too. At the corner of Fay and Grissom. Prime areas for commercialization. Is that what you want? I think you'd rather have this residential community stay residential. You know if we lease these... lose these areas to commercial development, we'd be setting a precedent for um... for the Commission to compare zoning issues to and they'd be like dominoes starting to fall. We can't afford to lose the ground we've gained over the years. I'm afraid we'd be taking a great step backwards.
"The airport issue. That's something else that occurred recently. I'm sure you're aware of that. An incorporated community would have been advised of the proposed changes from the onset. There had already been a few meetings by the time we found out about it. The outcome could have potentially affected the residents along Kings Highway and around Atlantis Elementary School. Port St. John for Tomorrow took an active roll. County School Board took an active roll asking to table these items. When the Civic League had an opportunity to speak on these items, they didn't. They didn't take action. They won't debate. They declined to work with Port St. John for Tomorrow to defeat this issue. Now that the issue's interactive [sic], the Civic League's saying Port St. John for Tomorrow overreacted. Airport expansion placing a portion of our community and the school over [sic] a landing path, doesn't warrant the attention of the community. This is overreacting. This is head-in-the-sand leadership. This is being asleep at the wheel. The Civic League won't debate and they won't stand up for you. When issues occur, we need to face them. Head on, with courage and determination. Not fall back and conduct a study. Let me tell you something, you don't study in the middle of a test. (knocks podium)
"Listen. We're a community of lions, we need to be led by lions. And not by sheep. This comm... And I know I'm probably being a little bit unkind and harsh. But you know, this community's done remarkable things. When it came to four-laning Fay Boulevard, the community worked with the County to make it as attractive and practicle as possible. Those of you who live on Fay Boulevard may not agree, but I think it was done in the best interests of the community. As I mentioned earlier, when we realized we weren't getting our recreational funds, we taxed ourselves for this facility and other important facilities to improve our quality of life. We created a special district as the Advisory Board makes recommendations on land use issues. First of its kind in the State. And they're elected representatives, not appointed. I think the facts speak for themselves.
If you want Port St. John to remain as it is, we must make that happen, not someone else. I think the issues that draw us together are more potent than the issues that drive us apart. This community has always stood on a common ground for better quality of life. We've stood for it and we've worked for it. But our opportunity is now. And I urge you to get your information -- not from the sign -- but to read the facts, to weigh the facts. And I hope the Civic League tonight brings forth the facts. Let me tell you everybody, the sky's not falling (pounds the podium); the sky's the limit. We can do this because we've already done this. We've already shown the County that we have leadership. We can set a model for other communities. (pounds the podium) We can get things done. We can have a great present. And an even better future. Where is the sign that says, 'Save Port St. John'? Well I encourage all of you to join with me on November 5th and vote yes for incorporation. Thank you." (clapping)
Mr. Peter Costello of the Civic League of Port St. John speaks: (clapping) "Never had to make a spectacle of myself before so many people before. Uh... Well, thank you for inviting me here tonight. Uh... The Civic League of Port St. John is glad to put our case up in front of people. And, uh, I'm pretty much gonna' read what I've got here so that I don't overlook anything.
"Um, When I moved here in 1979 I really never would have imagined that 23 yrs later I would be standing here trying to defend the Port St. John lifestyle, and to protect it from being destroyed by a group of self-appointed political activists.
"Since 1999, or probably before, Port St. John for Tomorrow has been spreading the scare tactic that PSJ residents could wake some morning and become residents of Titusville. They tried to, um, make residents believe the only protection from hostile annexation by our... any of our neighbors would be incorporation. The truth is found in Florida Statute Chapter 171, which I have a copy of here, which protects Port St. John from being annexed. Um, The statute reads, in the short version, "the ordinance of annexation shall be submitted to a vote of the registered electors of the area proposed to be annexed". This is your safety, folks. In other words, Port St. John cannot be annexed by anyone in a hostile manner. We would have to vote to allow us to be annexed. We have to be invited, and we have to accept.
"All right, uh, the Cypress Woods issue. We had, um, quite a bit of discussion right there on that development because, um, it's at the north end of Grissom Parkway. Much has been made of the fact that Titusville sewers are in Cypress Woods. We believe that residents have been misled that Titusville now has a toe in our door, and the next step will be annexation of Port St. John. This is absolutely false. In 1994 the Cypress Woods developer requested Titusville provide services. Uh, I have the agreement right here. The actual recorded agreement. That, um, shows that the developer, uh, asked Titusville to provide the sewer and Titusville agreed provided that the developer arrange with Cocoa to bring in water service. Titusville did not have adequate water to service that development. Um, the bottom line here is that Cypress Woods was not then, is not now part of Titusville. And Titusville could have had a chance to forcibly annex land outside their city limits, this would have been a prime opportunity. And I have here a letter by Titusville Mayor, Ron Swank, (asking his wife, It's actually the original? The original's at home?), uh, which states that Titusville has never had nor has any plans to annex Port St. John. It's really important to restate: Titusville responded to a request by a developer for their sewer service, and they didn't force their way into Cypress Woods.
"On the issue of sewers: Sewer is an environmental issue, and the Florida's Department of Community Affairs, will determine the outcome ultimately. Port St. John for Tomorrow stated that as a city we would have more power to resist being forced onto sewers. Yet Port St. John for Tomorrow knows that this issue would have to be addressed as part of the city's comprehensive plan. A mega sewage treatment... treatment plant, sized to meet the needs of Port St. John, will cost approximately $60 million dollars. That includes the mains. If we want to ensure forced sewer service sooner rather than later, then we should incorporate. If we want the county to continue to stand between us and DCA, then we should not incorporate. (an aside to someone saying, I, uh, I've got it. Then to the audience, Is that working? as he adjusted the microphone) Um, At our Civic League meeting last spring, Florida State Representative Bob Allen, told us we're better off staying unincorporated because the DCA is more likely to force its will onto a new city rather than a community... rather than the County. Also, the five-mile sewer extension/annexation issue can now be exposed as nothing more than another scare tactic. The city of Titusville's own laws prevent sewer from being extended to anyone who doesn't agree to being annexed. And I have here, uh, Titusville's Ordinance 20...21-1. Um, which is... Here's the whole truth, not the half-truth. You need to get the whole truth.
"Now we... we would deal with the next thing: another layer of government. Port St. John for Tomorrow is telling Port St. John residents that city government allows us.. will allow us to be autonomous. You know, it takes substantial economic resources to run an effective and viable government. It takes lots of money to be autonomous. You know, a hobo has all the freedom in the world to be autonomous, but he can't afford to do anything. And... and that's what we would wind up being. By definition, a bare bones city just couldn't be autonomous. They don't have the money.
"Now Don Griffin, uh, the Rockledge Development and Grants Coordinator, made the following statement to me today, "I do not endorse the Port St. John for Tomorrow proposed budget in its entirety. There are serious omissions on the expense side. Certain expense items are not shown adequately." And at other times he said, "It will be Palm Bay all over again". Recently, Don Griffin was also quoted in the Florida Today paper saying, "If a city doesn't have an adequate business base, it will have to tax its residents to death." Port St. John has a number of businesses; they're mostly Mom and Pop businesses. But there just isn't a serious business, uh, tax base here in Port St. John.
"Um, Port St. John for Tomorrow is telling residents we can have a city government for little or no tax increase, because taxes collected in Port St. John will stay in Port St. John. Well, seriously guys, if all the taxes stayed in Port St. John, then why would we only have a "bare bones" city? Our answer is: Brevard County provides us with far more services than we can afford on our own. Logic says 1 + 1 = 2. Yet Port St. John expects you to believe that adding a new layer of government will just cost a few more dollars. Something that I've never, ever seen that... They tell you a few more dollars, but do they ever stay there? Excuse me, I need a drink. Okay. Um... Port St. John for Tomorrow also tells us we can receive federal grants to help fund our new city. Well, the facts are, grants are not easily handed out these days, and when they are handed out, they often have strings attached and lots of difficult regulations.
"If you believe your taxes won't skyrocket, then take a look at all these tax notices on the wall. These are all... You probably saw all of these one at a time in the newspaper over the past couple of weeks. Here's Rockledge, Palm Bay, Cocoa, Melbourne. We've got some there as high as 28%. Um, I want to point out to you that Merritt Island is not on that list. They have a tax base many times that of Port St. John, and yet they voted down incorporation 3 times! They are a thriving community, they have excellent police protection, and their roads are paved. Merritt Island has said it loud and clear, they don't want a city government. If Merritt Island doesn't need to be a city, why does Port St. John want to become a city and open this Pandora's box?
"Port St. John for Tomorrow an incomplete budget that they say is reasonable. It's actually been 4, or maybe even 5, budgets because they constantly change. Port St. John for Tomorrow's proposed budget includes a surplus of $234,000+. All it would take to go through that is just one of two things: maybe an unexpected lawsuit or a hurricane. Expenses come up fast, and $234,000 just isn't a lot of money today, in today's economy. Their incomplete budget does not even fill two typewritten pages. I have it right here. A Port St. John household budget probably it would be longer and more detailed than this list. I've got the Cocoa budget right here. It's a book! (giggling) About a little over an inch thick. Probably weighs a pound-and-a-half or two pounds. This is a real budget from a real city. Look at the size of it and ask yourself if there's even a shred of credibility in this list. There's none! There's none. It's so incomplete, there's holes in it. It's not... It's not a budget in its form; it's not a budget in substance. It's not realistic. Budgets must be in balance, otherwise they're purely gambles.
"Here's an invoice right here for the cost of advertising Cocoa's recent tax increase. Uh, that would be this one right here, 28.6. Just the cost of printing that particular notification in the newspaper, right here: $2,387. Port St. John for Tomorrow in their little budgetary list here, has $100 a year for legal advertising. (giggling) Ever so slight... That's a costly mistake.
"On the income side, the proposed Port St. John budget, uh, shows revenue from building permits to be more than $320,000. In contrast, Cocoa's total receipts for building permits and licenses in 2001 were $95,800. That's a huge discrepancy! A difference of $225,000. Poof! There goes that surplus!
"Please understand -- an elected city council has no obligation whatsoever to accept or use any proposed budget. And that's this page-and-a-half, two page document. If we become a city, everything is all up for it. Everything is on the table. They don't even have to look at this proposal.
"Um, As far as we know, no one is aware... As far as we're aware of, no one on the Port St. John for Tomorrow board has experience running, uh, a city. Uh... Uhoh, I'm out of order here. Four, five... (giggling) We'll all tap dance (giggling) (audience member comment: I can't catch) Okay. What would the consequences be if we incorporated and Port St. John budget estimate was way off? Port St. John for Tomorrow board members would have no consequences to pay, they can just walk away and say, 'Oops! We made a mistake.' (audience comment: That's right.) Again, consequences. Life is full of consequences. You, the taxpayers will bear the burden, the consequences for whatever mistakes they make. Once we're a city, we don't go back. It's a horrible risk to take. We can't afford it. It's a risky scheme that Port St. John for Tomorrow is attempting to force on us.
"Port St. John for Tomorrow has challenged the Civic League to come up with our own budget. We do not want to be... We don't want Port St. John to become a city for any reason whatsoever. And so, therefore, there's no reason for the Civic League to create a budget for a city that we simply don't want.
"Here's page six. (giggles) Um, the Civic League has... has, uh, been accused of dodging the opportunity to debate Port St. John for Tomorrow. Randy Rodriguez printed a scathing article on the cover of Happenings recently, probably most of you have seen it, and he added the sarcastic remark at the end, "What a crock". Right now Randy Rodriguez has received the full, uh, details of the story and he's in the process of checking it out. Uh, unfortunately, uh, he hadn't, uh, done that, uh, as of, uh, tonight. Um, The whole story is: without ever consulting the Civic League, the Homeowner's Association President, Amy Tidd, who is also a Port St. John for Tomorrow board member, I believe, took it upon herself to request that the Brevard County Board of Commissioners approve and schedule a televised debate. This is an acceptable... There is an acceptable protocol for setting up a debate, and Ms. Tidd ignored it. The required first step for a debate is first, to have both parties agree to do it. Otherwise, it can't happen. It is coercive for one party to arrange everything and then spring the plan on an unsuspecting... uh, on the unsuspecting party. It's almost like getting a call from the hospital saying you're scheduled for surgery. And you don't even know why. What would you say, "No problem, I'll be there", or would you say, "Take me off the schedule, I don't know anything about this"? The Civic League, likewise, told the County Commission to "Take us off the agenda schedule," and that was only to approve uh, the, uh, the venue for a debate. And there's a lot more information I'll have on the Port St.... the Civic League of Port St. John web site and, um, probably recommend that you go there and take a look.
"The Civic League is a grassroots organization that has grown simply by sharing uh, the message that we like our Port St. lifestyle... Port St. John lifestyle and we don't want it changed. Most residents are happy being a bedroom community, and with the form of... the County form government. And we want it to stay that way. We don't want another form... another layer of government. Many residents moved to Port St. John because it is an unincorporated County area. And they see that as a benefit. Many have come from cities to get away from the burdensome taxes, and the city rules, and the city regulations. And if we become incorporated, they'll be reintroduced to them.
"We found that most residents are happy with the services of Brevard County. We believe that incorporation has been fueled by scare tactics, specifically, forced annexation and forced sewers by our neighbors. Now that these tactics have been exposed as false, what is there to debate? An incomplete budget? We can't fix that. Again, what is there to debate?
"The Civic League feels... feels its time is better spent in talking to neighbors and residents. The Civic League will gladly go anywhere we are invited to speak our message. Whether that be a one, uh... (now I'm lost) (giggling) Whether that be a one person, um, or to a group.
"In conclusion, I want to remind you: there is no annexation threat. There is no forced sewer threat by Titusville or Cocoa. These are tactics promoted by Port St. John for Tomorrow in order to scare the residents of Port St. John into voting for incorporation. Imagine a city controlled by these self-appointed power brokers who have used unscrupulous means to suppress freedom of speech and who care not if your taxes increase. Can you trust these people with your future? Will you risk Port St. John's future based on their incomplete budgets? I hope not. I ask you vote no and save the Port St. John we moved here for, and the PSJ that we know and love. Thank you." (prolonged clapping)
End of first fifteen minute statements. At this point, some people got up and left. Ms. Tidd, President of the Port St. John Homeowner's Association, went to the podium and called some of them back, but not everyone came back. I suppose some of them forgot that there were still five minutes left each, or they had heard enough. Whichever it was, the room was not as full as when the meeting started. After a few minutes of disquiet, the room settled back down and the five minute rebuttal period began with Mr. Bill Bender of Port St. John for Tomorrow.
Mr. Bill Bender of Port St. John for Tomorrow: "Thank you very much. (audience comment: Don't scream at us this time, Billy?) Okay. I'll direct my... All right I've got five minutes to review what's been said. I still didn't hear any facts. I heard about sixty million dollars. Where did that come from? (audience comment: yeah) Where did that sixty million dollars for a sewer plant come from? Where did those numbers come from? Okay? I'd like to see them. Just because you say that it's sixty million dollars, does that make it so? Just because you hold up a book and say, 'This is the way it's got to be,' is that the way it's gotta' be? If that's the way it's gotta' be, we woundn't have this commun... community center. We wouldn't have that sports complex. We wouldn't have the lake. We wouldn't have an Advisory Board. This is your community, not somebody else's. You need to make the decisions. They said that if you elect a committee... a council, that they would have no obligation to accept... you electing people from your... you don't... are they implying that they don't trust you to be elected to make the right decisions for this community?
"Anyway, they talk about etiqwet (phonetic spelling) etiquette... etiquette for the debate. Well, to get them to come this evening, they insisted to speak last. Is that proper etiquette? You tell me.
"'Self-appointed power brokers.' Now it's been said that the people of Port St.
John for Tomorrow have a special interest agenda. Now I think they're right let's
take a look at it:
"Now if this is special interests, I think it's in the best interests of this community. These are good citizens, who are working as our Founding Fathers would have. Their commitment is visible. And it's been said tonight that they have no experience. You know it takes a long time to build credibility and respect. And I think these people have done it. We've followed their leads in the past and they've been successful. They've earned my trust, and I think they've earned yours, too. The Civic League makes equal claims. I'd like to hear their track record. You know they talk about all this stuff. What have they done for your community? Can they hold up a list like this and say, 'Hey, we did this for you'? No. They want you to be leaderless. They don't want you to have a voice. I don't know why.
Let me tell you something. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. (audience comment: Like this? and some clapping) Are we getting... No. Let me rephrase that. Are we getting adequate service? I asked it before. How are your roads here? $750,000 and they only spend $210,000 up here? Where is the money going? Do you know? (audience comment: Randy O'Brien gets all the money.) Does he? Well let's tell him... Well he's out this time. Well, we want it back. How's my time? (timekeeper's response: You've got two minutes.) Two minutes, okay. We talked about real budget: real results. You can give yourself results.
That letter from Ron Swank, the Mayor of Titusville. That wasn't a resolution from Titusville's City Council. It was a letter of intent. What happens when he's voted out next time and something happens? We going to hold up that letter and say, 'Hey, the Mayor says we got a letter of intent here.' And they'll say, 'Well, where's the resolution from the City Council?'
People can say anything they want. (pounds podium hard) Let them submit documentations. (pounds podium hard) Let's (covered by podium pounding) backed up. Just because they say it's so, doesn't mean it's so. Let them prove it to you.
The truth is out there. Go to their web site. You can go to the other web site. If you wanna', you can write it down. It's www.psj.us. Go out and take a look. Because it's important to look at both sides of the issues. I know these people feel strongly, and I'm at the point here, I know the Civic League feels strongly about this issue. It's a compelling issue. I wish it wasn't so divisive in the community. But I think we need to get the facts and that's what we're here for. And I hope you get the information. I hope you think strongly about this. Because it really does make a difference in our future. I think we can take a step in the right direction. I think we can lead ourselves. I think we've got the courage to do so. I think we've got the intelligence. I think we have the experience. I've lived in this community for fifteen years (timekeeper: TIME) I've lived in this community for fifteen years and I've seen the right thing (timekeeper: TIME). I think we have a strong commitment to quality of life issues. I think we want... I agree with Mr. Costello we want to keep this residential community residential (audience comment: TIME), and I've run out of time and I've got to go, but I encourage you all to vote yes on November 5th." (clapping)
Mr. Peter Costello of the Civic League of Port St. John: (clapping) "I've got a surprise here. I found the page that I missed. I'm a little dyslexic. (giggling with Mr. Costello) Actually, it's the middle of the page that I missed. Okay. (uncertain, but it sounds like 'I know I've got time for that') Um... Port St. John for Tomorrow has for years maligned Titusville as the big bad wolf. They've been outside our door and they want to blow our house down so to speak. They want to annex us. They want to impose. Now this is nothing but hypocritical. They have absolutely... They have taken and they have, um, extended the borders of Port St. John all the way to Camp Road. That was done without people of that area knowing anything about it. It was... Basically, it was a midnight massacre, folks. (audience comment: That's right.) All right? Now we've got some people back there, um, raise your hand. Okay? Her middle name is Williams. Her daddy is Charlie Williams, the one who Williams Point was named after. Okay? You take away that area, you take away a heritage. Which is a rather significant thing. Now the people who live down in Frontenac, Hardeeville and Brentwood, that area. Would be included in the new City of Port St. John. They want... They want to remain as they are: they're proud of their little areas. Port St. John, the people... the people that I know in Port St. John, do not have any designs on them. They don't; and the people who live down in those areas that I know, they do not want to become part of Port St. John. We're good neighbors and we want to remain that way. Um, I wanna' ask, um, a question which is... (indistinguishable)... But, why do these people, why did Port St. John for Tomorrow, why did the Port St. John Special District Advisory Board, do this and not tell the people down in those areas? Why were they denied their right to vote on this? This is America. This shouldn't be happening today. This is a day of open government. This is not the America that I know about. This is not the America that I learned about. (audience comment: Amen!) And... And... You know, it's... as far as I'm concerned, it's so incredibly immoral. Uh, I don't know if it's illegal, but... who knows? But it's immoral, folks. Paint it any way you want it: it's immoral.
"All right, there's one thing, uh, this is the page that I earlier missed. Okay. Port St. John has printed on their fliers that the, uh, Civic League, "is funded by greedy developers and outside special interests". We have our campaign treasurer's report here, our contribution report with us. It's available at my house. It's available at the County Commission. The outside special interest they accuse us of being influenced by is the Frontenac Flea Market. Uh, back here several months ago, I talked to those people and they said they were opposed to incorporation. I asked them if they would allow us to, uh, set up a, uh, a booth over there on Sundays and pass out information. And they were glad to do it because they believe in our cause. They believe incorporation is bad for Port St. John. Um, Port St. John for Tomorrow called them up and demanded that they give them a booth. And then, when they... when they were, uh, told that, 'No, we're not going to give you a booth, you can... you can purchase a booth I suppose if you want.' Uh, they actually threatened the, uh, Frontenac Flea Market. (Maureen Rupe, Vice President of Port St. John for Tomorrow, can be heard in the background saying, 'That's a lie. That's a lie.') And the person down here that's trying to jabber is the one who was doing it. (Maureen Rupe, again, 'That's a lie.') (audience comments; gavelled to quiet) If you think... If you think that I'm not telling you the truth, ya'll call up the Frontenac Flea Market tomorrow morning, or go over there and stop by the office.
"Okay, Patti Generale, State Farm agency, was threatened that if she didn't take down the Civic League signs -- that she asked me, I didn't ask her, she asked me to put them there in her front yard -- she was threatened that she would lose some business. Um, folks, these have been... people have been threatened by the zany incorporation group. This is utterly pathetic of Port St. John to stoop to such low politics.
"Now what's next? We've got one developer here (they talk about 'greedy developers'): Jim Messer. Is Jim in the room here? I wish he'd come tonight. (audience comments about whether Jim was there.) Jim is here? Nobody is waving at Jim Messer, right? Jim has built hundreds of homes in Port St. John, probably some of the homes you live in. He's been an important asset to our community. Jim Messer built the second baseball field at Fay Park. He's been building in PSJ for longer than the 23 years that I've lived here. And Jim lives in PSJ, he is not a greedy outside developer. Greedy outside developers don't live in a community very long. They get out of town, they get out of town fast.
"I think it supplies a sad commentary (timekeeper: TIME) that they resorted to malicious name-calling just to sway your votes. And I want to thank you for your time." (clapping: Mr. Costello takes a bow)
---- My comments: First, I must comment on Mr. Bill Bender's opening remark. "An army of sheep..." Do you know what that army of sheep is going to be? It's called lunch, folks. The truth is that army of lions led by a sheep is actually a dead sheep, and the army of sheep led by a lion is being led straight to the other army so that they can all feast. Thanksgiving and Christmas meals combined would have nothing on those two armies. Think. Don't let cute phrases turn your head. Lunch awaits.
Well, folks, that's how it went. One side said a whole lot of nothing and the other side countered it with numbers and law. One side pounded the podium (excessively) and the other side was just a bit nervous. One side went up for rebuttal and said they hadn't heard any facts, but they must not have been listening. Compare the two speeches. Look for FACTS. Notice the number differences: PSJ4T "budget" allots $100 for legal advertising for a whole year. Reality: Cocoa spent $2,387 on one legal ad. PSJ4T's "budget" claims a Revenue of $320,000 from building permits in one year. Reality: in the year 2001, Cocoa pulled in a whopping $95,800 for building permits. Consider the claim against remaining unincorporated: that our tax money is not being spent here. Look at Mr. Bender's speech where it says that road work money is not being spent in District One. He claims Brevard County spent $750,000 on roads and only $210,000 came to District One. Do the math: $750,000 ÷ 5 districts = $150,000 each. Looks to me like District One got more than its fair share with $210,000 coming here. Palm Bay, Melbourne, etc., should be complaining. Want to see some more of PSJ4T's List of Nonsense Numbers? Check out my Compare Budget page.
Port St. John for Taxes is trying to dupe you with their accusations and with their repeated lies. What is the current thought on lying: "If you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth"? Is that what PSJ4T is trying? I think so. But remember, IF THEY HAVE TO LIE TO YOU, THEY MUST THINK YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO FIGURE IT OUT FOR YOURSELVES. Do you like being thought of as stupid? Because that's what they must think of you if you are believing them. And if they can get away with it, why not lie? At least they don't have to worry about doing the actual work. BTW, have you ever noticed that PSJ4T has "fall guys"? Ms. Tidd with her worthless piece of budgetary faux pas will be the one to go down with the "budget" numbers. Carmine Ferraro became a greedy developer as they tarred and feathered developers (and after he left their group). Others will go down as they are needed. If you are helping them, believing in them, following them, when will it be your turn? If they -- PSJ4T -- are the lions, when will you be lunch?