Let us have the edge on local government
Corporations that really mean to last are daily working with the long-term vision of leaving the biggest and most powerful mark in the communities they serve. However, an institution that solely exists to improve the lives of the public, our City of Tamarac, while purposely adopting the operational practices of for-profit organizations, recklessly underestimates the value of social responsibility because its top leaders just focus on leveraging their positions of power, the most they can, while it lasts. I am not only talking about the elected officials, though.
They do such a poor job and do not even seem to care. In the first few weeks of the lockdown, just when the people were being laid off and many had to resort to food banks, the city of Tamarac rushed to approve a tax cut for the real estate corporations. They fast-tracked the decision to exempt them from paying millions in impact fees during the year 2020.
Let this sink in, in Tamarac, during a pandemic that threatens the residents integrally, the real estate corporations were bailed out before any consideration was given to funnel serious cash to help the residents confront the catastrophe.
Moreover, the next priority for our politicians was to authorize a budget increase of 100% to favor a recommendation by their art suppliers of a $100,000 chandelier to be hanged on the ceiling of their new banquet hall, where they plan to entertain the city’s noble guests.
In June of 2020 was when they finally made it about helping the people, they met to approve a laughable fund of $250,000 to give $5,000 to families impacted on their capacity to pay for housing.
I think is laughable because in May of 2018 they set aside road paving and defunded an economic development reserve, to redirect $3.7 millions to build a more aristocratic Colony West castle-house. Then in May of 2020 they duplicated the original amount budgeted, so they could also bring majesty to its interiors with a $100,000 chandelier.
Do you want to continue paying for the lords’ new castle?
Would you continue to pay for the services of the city if you had other choices?
Would you wear a city of Tamarac T-shirt or Polo?
In today’s economy, if the city of Tamarac was a corporation competing in an open market, it will already be out of business because they have negative brand equity. The city has fully exhausted their trust account.
They get away with that because the residents are captive. The evaluation of their performance takes too long, and, in the meantime, they can exploit their positions as much as possible. We are captive because we are not just their customers, we are also shareholders. We must tolerate that their focus shifts away from the residents from term to term and thereafter, we must live with the liabilities they leave behind.
They feel no constraint to fast-track budget hikes for the wrong reasons, I would even say selfish reasons. The known media organization Tamarac Talk has an article from May 5th, 2018 that documents the reasons given by our current Mayor to favor the 41% budget increase to build the new Colony West castle-house. Our current Mayor said as reported by Tamarac Talk:
“The idea of money is important and we need to be fiscally responsible. We would be irresponsible if we took away one of the primary benefits for why we were having this clubhouse: for catering events. For having parties here.”
Besides, our current Mayor started the month of May 2020 by voting against the $50,000 sculpture proposed by artist Michele Gutlove, that was selected by the Public Arts committee as the only one that met the agreed criteria. Our current Mayor said, as written by Selene Raj in Tamarac Talk on May 2nd, 2020:
“I do not feel that is what the city is trying to emanate with this new project,” and, as also reported by Selene Raj, the Mayor continued:
“She noted that the Gutlove’s piece was beautiful in and of itself, but wasn’t something she could imagine as the backdrop of her own wedding”. “I thought it was stingrays and seaweed,”
That same month, in the May 27th, 2020 Commission Meeting, the Mayor supported vehemently the approval of the $100,000 chandelier. I assume that a $100,000 backdrop will “emanate” much better in pictures of their parties with the nobility.
In the Medieval times the vassals had to pay taille to sustain the social and castle life of their feudal lords, likewise, Tamarac residents will pay with wealth and with quality of life to sustain the castle-house when the other revenues of the crown are insufficient.
Now that they invested $11 million in their castle-house, so they could possess a two-story banquet hall, they need to guarantee its sustainability. Therefore, they have started using their power to ensure that Colony West monopolizes all golf play and will also put their thumb in the scale to go after all catering, weddings, parties, and corporate events in Tamarac.
They are actively bringing close to one thousand rental apartments to maintain a steady flow of temporary residents that usually live, play, consume and move along with their lives without getting involved with local politics.
Paving over the two golf courses in The Woodlands is part of their strategy to sustain their new bastion of wealth, power and clientelism. In The Woodlands, they will infill 397 extra families that, with no more than a patch of grass in their backyards, will need to drive to Colony West to experience real open green space and will spend their money there.
However, they are creating something that will make losing their political position more painful, and we have the power to take it from them.
In Tamarac we have seen the politicians vote in block consistently against the interests of the residents to show to other audiences that they will pass unpopular legislation without fear. Sometimes, they also play the constituency by letting the one whose district will be affected to save face. If all the voters of all the districts could agree to vote in block and deny them reelection when they perform less than perfect, then the people will have the edge on local government.
The same approach could be extended outside the city limits to improve the performance of county and state politicians. Recently, a Florida House Representative that is popular within his constituency, told one of our neighbors of The Woodlands that it was OK for him to work against the interest of this community because The Woodlands is not in his district. He clearly believes that he is only required to empathize with the communities within his 490 square miles district. We need politicians whose vocation of service to the community is not limited by physical boundaries or financial opportunities.
If we all really commit to participate, we can influence the government to invest in the people instead of investing in expensive perks for our politicians and other city leaders, we can also improve our quality of life. This year we can start changing our city of Tamarac for good in the elections.