Sunday, June 04, 2017

Politics of self interest plagues the Beach

Florida's Constitution Revision Commission needs to propose a statewide version of the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. First proposed in 1789, finally ratified in 1992, the 27th Amendment provides that if Congress votes a pay raise, it can't take effect until after the next election. Restore Madisonian democratic republican principles. No more self-awarded, effective-immediately pay raises for public officials.

Posted June 4, 2017 12:02 am
St. Augustine Record
Politics of self interest plagues the Beach
Clay Say
St. Augustine Beach

Recently, the St. Augustine beach City Commissioners voted themselves into the city health care system, saying it was discrimination if they were not allowed participation as city employees.

This amounts to a 100 percent raise to them and a 70 percent bonus to their dependents, which are not elected officials. Their pay for the year amounts to about $6,500 and this health care policy, paid 100 percent by the city — you, the taxpayer — is more than $7,000 each and at 70 percent for their dependents. That is an additional $4,900.

This is outrageous behavior by local small-town politicians. Multiplied by the five Commissioners and their dependents, that could be almost $60,000 a year from the city budget.

Yet, it happened, as Mayor Rich O’Brien who, along with his wife, own multiple properties, including the Fiesta Falls Miniature Golf Course, La Fiesta Falls Ocean Inn &Hotel, Beachfront B&B, the two homes on F street that are currently facing review for violating the construction setbacks, plus many more rental properties in St. Augustine Beach, voted for and has already indicated his desire to take advantage of the program. It is not like O’Brien and wife, Laura Ringhaver, (yes, that Ringhaver) need the taxpayers’ help. O’Brien is also a licensed Realtor and is required to take an ethics class for license renewal. This behavior indicates he needs a refresher course.

Then there is Undine George, married to Eddie George, a previous beach Commissioner. Undine, an attorney, introduced the suggestions as a last minute meeting agenda item for discussion and that took off into a motion and resulted in the passing of the inclusion of the board members onto the taxpayers’ back.

A simple records search shows the George family owns several homes and an office at the Beach. Does it sound like they need our taxpayer money?

Who has forgotten the voter fraud issue with her father years ago and the recent lawsuit against Obrien for campaign violations, which he was found guilty and fined?

Gary Snodgrass and wife live in gated Sea Colony in a $2 million home, have second home in Marsh Creek, a third home in Lions Gate, plus a rental beach condo.

Snodgrass came to town several years ago and has been a Commissioner far too long. Anyone remember when he gave the 2nd street parking lot to the Sea Colony Garden Club? It sounds like they need the money too for their health care. Not!

Margaret England, new to the commission also lives in the gated Sea Colony neighborhood in a 3,000 square foot home. Any sympathy for her situation yet?

Margaret Kostka is also new to the commission. Not much can be found in a public records search but her association with an ice cream store she listed when she ran for office — again, a working business owner with the same access to health care as many of us have.

It is right for her to accept taxpayer health care for a part-time elected official job that she wanted? I think not.

When these people ran for office (several of them many times), they all knew health care was not a perk of the job. So they voted it for themselves. Easy solution. Not so fast!

So a few questions, what happens when they leave office? Does the health care continue, and at what rate? What about past commissioners, can they make a case that they should have been included and sue the city of inclusion as past employees? The Beach residents, citizens and taxpayers should revolt against them in the upcoming commission meeting scheduled at 6 p.m. June 5. See you there !

Seay is a Realtor in St. Augustine Beach

No comments: