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County Budget, Upended By Deficit of $3 to $4 Million, Sets Off Crisis Mode–and Pitfalls

| June 4, 2012

A combination of lower revenue, accounting errors and unexpected bills widened what had been a $1 million gap to four times that, possibly more, as the county administration went on a hunt for a fix. (FlaglerLive)

Two weeks ago today–on May 21–the Flagler County Commission had scheduled its first budget workshop of the season. It was abruptly cancelled. Craig Coffey, the county administrator, contacted commissioners and told them that the financial numbers he was going to present to them had suddenly been upended by the discovery of a much wider deficit than the $1 million he’d originally anticipated.

Various figures were bandied about. By some accounts, the county was out $10 million. By others, $7 million. And still others–the numbers commissioners had heard from Coffey directly–$3 million to $4 million, not including the $750,000 cost of what Coffey had hoped would be the first 3 percent raise for county employees in four years. That’s a large sum in a $65 million budget that, according to people familiar with the developments of the last two weeks, sent the administration into crisis mode, hat in hand.

For county government, what should have been a somewhat easier year, relative to the last four since the economic depression began, is turning into what may be the hardest since 2008. Planned outlays, from raises to a new fire engine to the filling of deputies’ positions at the sheriff’s office, appear to be off the table, with decisions about potential layoffs, cuts in services or tax increases, hinging on policy decisions that will be left up to commissioners at the worst time: in the thick of an election season, with four of the current commissioners either seeking re-election or election to higher office.
Commissioners and the administrator will conduct a subtle–and possibly not so subtle–dance as the administrator will stress the policy role of commissioners to find a way out of the crisis, while commissioners, eager to deflect blame, may wonder why they were suddenly in the midst of an unexpected budget crisis other local governments are not contending with, at least not with the severity of Flagler’s–and why it took an audit to reveal some of the serious challenges. Whatever the source of the surprise, every commissioner’s political opponent has been handed free ammunition.

Last week, the deficit was cut by $1 million when Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming agreed to shave that amount from his budget–the equivalent of a 5 percent cut–without layoffs. “I said to him,” Fleming said, referring to Coffey, “how can you come to me at the last minute and say you’re down $4 million? But I’m a supporter. I play the game.” There will be no raises at the sheriff’s office this year. Fleming said a 6 percent cut in pension costs last year and paying off a lease early helped produce the $1 million, along with eight deputies’ positions he will be leaving unfilled. “It puts a strain on our budget, but we do our share,” Fleming said.

By today (June 4), Coffey said, the gap was at $2 million. “We haven’t heard what Craig is going to propose in order to try to balance the budget,” county commissioner Alan Peterson said on Saturday. Coffey plans to submit a plan to commissioners by Wednesday, giving them time to study his options and recommendations and ask questions or request more information ahead of next Monday’s budget workshops, when the proposals–and the extent of the problem–will be more publicly unveiled.

On May 4, Coffey had sent a letter to all the constitutional officers–the tax collector, the property appraiser, the sheriff, the clerk of court, the supervisor of elections–asking them to “present a below level budget of up to 5 percent to accommodate potential cost of living adjustments and help with our collective revenue declines.” That letter was written before the bad numbers hit the administration.

It was based on the assumption that county tax property revenue would decline by $2 million based on a 5 percent drop in property valuations. Days later, Coffey learned that valuations had dropped by just over 6 percent, adding almost half a  million dollars in revenue losses.

There were other shortfalls, some of them expected, some of them not. The economic development budget, for example, was paid out of reserves last year. That’s just over $400,000. Reserves can’t keep carrying the burden of recurring costs. A helicopter pilot is returning from duty in war zones in December. He has to be paid $160,000 in retroactive retirement, in accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Medicaid accounting may be costing Flagler County much more than it originally projected, now that the state is demanding that Flagler fork over $334,000 more than the county had budgeted. The state is making similar demands to most counties, which have–with Flagler–joined a suit against a state, disputing the state’s numbers. Just those three items add up to nearly $1 million in unexpected outlays.

There’s more. A state audit of the county’s books showed that Flagler County had for years based its EMS budget on ambulance billing (which includes billing of patients flown on Fire Flight, the county helicopter) rather than on what the county collects from ambulance transports.

“That’s probably the biggest thing I could point to as far as revenue change,” Coffey said, without specifying a number. But it’s in the millions, and it could enlarge the actual gap, because it was money the county used, on paper, to plug holes going forward. That money is not there.  “I don’t know until I look back at the figures,” Coffey said, when asked to provide a specific amount. “It’s not necessarily part of the $3 or $4 million, but it’s less money that you have to work forward, as far as rolling forward and plugging a gap. Usually you always had some of that rolling forward, and we’ve lost that cumulative effect.”

Every dollar increase in the cost of gas also resulted in half a million dollars’ increase in county costs, though gas prices have eased in the last few weeks.

“What we tried to do is, we’ve plucked some holes, cash carry forward over the years, so eventually that only works for so many years,” Coffey said. “That’s kind of where we’re at. Those are kind of one-time revenues, and the economic downturn has lasted longer than we anticipated. We’ve made some major adjustments probably about four or five years ago, and now we’re going to be faced with making adjustments again. Either we make adjustments in service, or we’re going to have find ways to raise revenue. It’s a decision about what do we do as a county: what’s our service level, what services are we in, what do you want to provide.”

Especially when there’s only so much the constitutional officers can do with their budgets, most of which are either set by the state or driven by fee collection.

Kimberle Weeks, the supervisor of elections is proposing a $30,000 cut in hers. Gail Wadsworth, the clerk of court, is submitting a level budget. “I’m going to go back and talk to them, but they probably can’t cut 5 percent,” Coffey said.  “That’s where we’re at is, our departments can’t all cut 5 percent short of major changes in service. That gets back to are you going to fund it at a certain level and fund the service right, or are you going to get out of the business? The departments, I asked them to come up with up to 5 percent reductions if you can find them.”

Suzanne Johnston, the tax collector, in previous years would collect more fees than she had expenses. “The county is more interested in the amount of money I don’t spend,” Johnston said Monday, “because then they get to use that money.” But over the last few years, even as Johnston has cut costs, the fees she’s collected have not generated the sort of profits they once did. The county has collected $700,000 less in the last few years from the tax collector’s “left-over” budget. And it can’t look to the tax collector this year for extra cash, Johnston said. Or for cuts in her operating budget to create some profits. “I really don’t see how, but I’m always looking at things,” Johnston said.

Same story with Jay Gardner, the property appraiser, who cut his budget 8 percent last year (yielding the county some dollars) without getting so much as an attaboy, Gardner said. “I’ll be lucky if I can cut half a percent this year,” Gardner said.

Raises in the traditional sense may not be feasible, but “there’s a different ways to attack that,” Coffey said. “You can do a one-time stipend of some kind, which doesn’t obligate the county moving forward, but still provides some relief. You can do a staggered type of stipend, and those are things we’ll look at. But again, it creates pressure to an otherwise already pressure situation.”

Reserves currently stand at $7 to $8 million, Coffey said, but he will not be recommending their use too heavily.  “There is no new normal. There is no normal. We’re just going to have to make some tough decisions,” Coffey said.    “It was my hope, it was their hope,” meaning the commissioners, “that we were kind of at the end of some of these tougher decisions but we’re not, and it is what it is, and the only thing I can do is be as truthful and open to them and say, here it is. If you tell me to cut, I’ll cut. If you tell me to come up with a different revenue sources, here it is, but you’ve got to vote for that too. These are big policy decisions.”

Despite the crisis, Coffey and his deputy, Sally Sherman, both left town for the annual Florida City and County Management Association’s conference, which took place all of last week–May 28-June 2–in Bonita Springs on the Gulf.

Coffey defended the trip. “With today’s technology you don’t really leave,” he said. “I probably sent a million emails back and forth throughout the whole day, I was working on the USDA grant. I actually got a grant to cover my training through employment folks, whatever. Sally got a grant last year. So we can go to these things half price, we’ve been able to the last two years,” keeping them economical. “I’m responsible for a lot of this stuff, I think I’ve got to keep my skills just as sharp  as a firefighter or somebody else in the field and I’ve got to continue to learn and grow to help through these situations.”

The firefighter remark was not coincidental: last weekend several Flagler County firefighters were in the Czech Republic, taking part in an international competition–and winning it for the third time in four years, a feat Coffey recognized at this morning’s county commission meeting–in part under the guise of getting more training, though the firefighters got no county money for this year’s trip, which was paid for through fund-raisers.

When the crisis first broke, commissioners said, Cofey was genuinely disturbed. “I was upset,” he said, “because I really care for our employees and I believe personally they deserve a raise. They work very hard, we have a ton of special employees, and when that’s in jeopardy that doesn’t make me feel very good as a supervisor.”

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44 Responses for “County Budget, Upended By Deficit of $3 to $4 Million, Sets Off Crisis Mode–and Pitfalls”

  1. PJ says:

    Coffey is a bright manager and he will have a great rebound if the Commissioners gives support and not start point fingers as to who’s falult this one is.

    The commissioners need to be constructive not destructive.

    We are not stupid residents and do understand that the ecomomy has a role in this breaking budget times.

    Let’s see who starts throwing Coffey under the bus and that is the one we all need to vote out.

    Good Luck Mr. Coffey we are lucky to have you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. John Smith says:

    HA, HA, HA guess the almighty Flagler County is just not as perfect as they put out there. I wonder if there world champion medics will come back and be satisfied with a cut in pay instead of a raise for getting there trophy to put on a table.

  3. Tim says:

    You are going to have to cut Coffey, live within your means. First place to cut is economic development. Get rid of the $150,000 lady and rawls. Have the chamber do the meet and greet, and send out the welcome packages. Let Doug Baxter run economic development and save the tax payers a half a MILLION dollars a year!

  4. Angela Smith says:

    @Tim: You do NOT respond to this kind of crisis by eliminating the position of someone whose job it is to attract NEW BUSINESSES to the area (that’s TAX-PAYING businesses, as in INCREASING REVENUE!).

  5. Angela Smith says:

    BTW; why was this “shortfall” only discovered by an AUDIT?

  6. Jack Cowardin says:

    Let’s not despair. There’s always the education budget that’s an easy target.

  7. Vanessa Cheesewright says:

    Because tomorrow evening Mr Liguori and fed-up taxpayers are going to be protesting tax and spend policies so the city have to justify their decisions and sway citizens their way with voodoo stories and economics…They thought the housing market/economy was going to turn around by now? Keep thinking and acting like the Greeks and we will end up like them. Throw in Spain too.

  8. Justice for All says:

    How interesting that there is a projected shortfall. Anything in print for the public to actually look at, or is this typical talk amongst the bureaucrats to scare us all and then congratulate themselves when they save us? Posturing for some raise (one time stipend)? Why not form a CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE to address budget issues. Palm Coast should do the same. Oh, wait, your government really doesn’t want to hear from you or let you know what is going on.

  9. gatorfan1 says:

    keep wasting money….the sheeple don’t care….STOP WASTING OUR FREAKING MONEY OR YOU WILL BE VOTED OUT OF OFFICE!!!! (actually you won’t because nobody votes and you know it…sad.

  10. ric says:

    How can you be 300 to 400% off. It’s another example of worthless county leadership starting with Coffey.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Holly shit, $160,000. in retroactive retirement pay for a Reservist returning from duty in Iraq, deployment is usually for one year, the County must be paying this guy several million a year to require $160,000. in funding his retirement. Someone needs to further explain this line item.

    • Bridgetender179 says:

      Must be from the same money tree, the Sheriff’s Office promotions came from last week. But according to the article they will be down 8 spots. Maybe not a need for more bosses with that group.

  12. Art Woosley says:

    What is it that all of our local elected officials do not understand ?

    This is not rocket science, this is all part and parcel of an international (global) financial melt down in tandem with very poor management at the local level. It’s time for you to give up on all the grandiose schemes and ideas, and understand that nobody in the near future is going to bring any meaningful corporation here under present conditions.

    Now is the time to make the hard decisions that you are there to make, first of all, stop wasting money on the frills. Get rid of ALL non-essential (want to haves) things which only serve to inflate our budgets. For example, things like Economic Development, CRA and all the other agencies / groups, studies etc. which continue to throw our tax money down the drain, this is what your constituents expect from you, not increased taxes.

    Concentrate on saving only the essential services, it’s now time for a serious reality check guys and gals, time to pay the piper, for past errors in judgement. Real leadership is needed to right this ship, so please step up to the plate and show that leadership before worrying about your own re-election, or seeking a higher office, thank you

  13. Joe says:

    Wow! How can your budget be this far off? No wonder why you are blackmailing the city.

    go back to basic service police and fire; close any unneeded services. AND for GOD shakes CLOSE the economic development department DOWN. This is an $400,000 savings on day one. Have the chamber handed this role. Like most other communities! And don’t give any money to the chamber for this role either.

    i can’t believe we are burning the emergency reserves on these over paid economic development people.

  14. palmcoaster says:

    @ Art W. and all. You are totally correct we are half way into the year and so far I do not hear any results (attracted new businesses creating jobs) from the current County ED and its committee.Why don’t you learn from our realtors. Look at Jerry Masiello got us the News Journal offices in town, restaurants, even open shop at the European Village, etc. ED committee chair Revels approved a bid request for an ED Advertising Consultant…for how much..? Then she attacks and votes against funds for the SOE. Don’t come and tell us that ED takes time because we been in this loosing game with Enterprise before, just compensating big salaries to the elite and wines and dines, to no avail since I moved here in 91. And please do not even get there to switch and pay the local Chamber Doug Baxter for ED…look at the waste directed to them with TDC about 850,000/year, for what? Go and ask the smaller hotel owners the benefits they get for the TDC bed tax collected and turned in..
    Last I knew Coffey spent 1.5 million in Princess place…stop buying her jewels that very few enjoy. Stop these BSing consultants at king ransom rates that achieve only their compensations on us. Rent the empty spaces inside that Taj Mahal. Partition that palatial Justice building into needed jail cells for less violent criminals, seating in the county jail now. Stop wasting money in lawyers, suing good constitutional elected officials just because you dislike them or do not abide by your special interest patterns. Stop “matching grants” for the airport in our pockets. If they get a grant from the Fed or DOT….make sure is not subject to be locally matched $$. Commissioners and Mica should look instead for a real public transportation grant that will provide us a Votran like connection that already comes to our county line in A1A, at least to Volusia. Look at some of the salaries paid in 2010 in this county where the median income of those paying for them is little over 39,000/year on a typical household:

  15. palmcoaster says:

    Also for those that believe the mirage that the Flagler County Airport is run as a separate self sufficient entity…yeah! Please take the time to read thru the 2011-2012 county approved budget. I also read in the previos presentation of the budget on the meeting of September 8th 2011 that the monies reserved for the “new economic development council were 460,000 taken from the Aid to Private Organizations account, plus 400,000 from the ED account. Total 860,000 to Mrs Revels council to “attract businesses/create jobs, etc” We paid in advance then …where are the jobs, Barbara?

  16. palmcoaster says:

    I would say that 860,000 of my taxes on 2011 county ED could have created 21, $34,000/year jobs including benefits?
    Local unemployed hired to serve us better in government paid openings, in education, general services public works etc. If this local hospital, banks, chamber and government entities stop outsourcing jobs and supplies contracts, could actually create hundreds of local jobs for the unemployed as well. If we use the local banks to keep our savings and personal accounts and use/ and volunteer for the Adventist Florida Hospital, why don’t we demand they keep their contracts local to help the community that makes them succeed? If city will end up reducing the impact fees to promote more commercial building of free standing enterprises, why don’t we put a clause that they need to contract for man and supplies in this county or cities first? Just what we did in the NJ counties were we lived before and worked!

  17. Gia says:

    These yoyo’s can’t ad or subtract, they don’t know the difference between 3 & 4. Only excuses to raise tax.

  18. John Liccardo says:

    Easy solution………cut expenses or raise taxes. They should be taken to task for not seeing ahead of time the trend developing. A competent owner or manager in private industry would know up to the minute what was transpiring in his organization. No excuse for this incompetence here or anywhere else. Do you get it?

  19. Dorothea says:

    John Liccardo, with due respect, reviewing private industry and its recurring need for bail-outs, I can’t see where you think private industry is more competent than government entities. Didn’t government save their bacon when private industry failed? It’s almost funny, but really sad to see you all blaming local governments for budget shortfalls. Have you considered also blaming banks and other private business managers who brought us to the brink in the first place, while making personal fortunes for themselves?

    • Linda H. says:

      Dorothea, with all due respect, just how does a Manager lose $3-4 million and discovers it in an audit.

      Where did that money go? The taxpayers have the right to an explanation. This is not private industry; these are our tax dollars.

    • Think first, act second says:

      Are you saying we should compare this government with other governments in other areas to get a true picture? Which other county government would you compare us with? The government did not save much bacon, solyndra is a prime example of government gone wild. John Liccardo is absolutely right, private industry managers would go out of business if they spent like drunken sailors too (No offense to sailors, but yes offense to the government “leaders”. You say it is sad to see the local government being blamed for shortfalls, ok then who do you blame the owner of the McDonalds or Wendys? Who is running this government, if it is fact being managed. Coffey is the administrator who works at the direction of the commissioners and now we have pointed to the problem, the commissioners who do not spend enough time working for the money we pay them looking out for us.
      Justice for all, you recommend an advisory group. You can go the the budget workshops, but you can’t even speak at them, they feel they don’t need advise, they have all of the answers, and other than Dorothea I don’t see anyone in these posts who agree with that philosophy.

  20. Rick says:

    Dorothea, the government “saved the bacon” by printing money out of thin air and committing my children to paying back the debts. To suggest that all of “private industry” needs bailouts is a huge misrepresentation of the facts. The need for a bailout was caused by a few large corporations that were greedy, unethical, and irresponsible. Our government allowed this to happen and is therefore just as guilty.

    Art Woosley is right… this story represents a global meltdown coupled with poor local level management.

  21. Dorothea says:

    Rick, if you read my comment carefully I did clarify that I meant specifically those mega corporate industries that reaped a huge profit while ripping us off. I did not mean to include all private industry. However, in view of John Liccardo’s comment, which I was replying to, the expectation that private industry managers could do better is dubious.

    But we can both agree that these mega corporations are greedy, unethical and irresponsible. We should both also agree that more specifically the deregulation of these private industries has come about from the huge political contributions these same corporations made and are making to the Republican Party who in turn are touting the need for even more deregulation.

    Nor did I absolve Flagler County government, again specificallly, of mismanagement. However, and this is directed to Linda H., the county government entity responsible for management of the county budget is the Clerk of Court, not the county manager. Since we Flagler County voters repeatedly vote in the same Clerk of Court, year after year, in spite of years of proven mismanagement, you might say the voters also share in the blame.

    “In Florida, the Clerk of the Circuit Court is a constitutional officer created by Article V, Section 16, of the Constitution of the State of Florida. The Clerk is not only Clerk of the Circuit Court, but also the County Treasurer, Recorder, Auditor, Finance Officer and ex-officio Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners.”

    • Linda H. says:

      Dorothea, I’m certain you think that Mr. Mazzie will be the answer to all our problems. That said, we do have an election coming up. Thus far, all I have heard from Mr. Mazzie are personal attacks, but I am hopeful of hearing more of what he would do differently.

      While the Constitutional officer in charge may be the clerk, I think we all need to hear just how this happened, don’t you? This time it is OUR money.

      What are we paying Mr. Coffey to do?

    • Think first, act second says:

      It is the five members of the BOCC who “AUTHORIZE” the bills to be paid. The clerk does her ministerial duties as guided by the board, not at her own volition.

  22. Dudley Doright says:

    There is no excuse for this! I was under the impression that Commissioner Alan Peterson was the “watch dog” on fiscal matters. That was his campaign promise. Thank God he is up for reelection so we can send him packing. What a failure! Time for new blood and Charlie Ericksen is the man of the hour.

  23. Dorothea says:

    @Think first, Act second:

    Your response appeared after I posted, but my answer is pretty much the same as I have already posted.

    I would also add that the Federal government has spent less not more since Obama took office, even with the stimulus package. If their ever was a “drunken sailor” it was George Bush who put his entire budget for two wars on a credit card to be paid by the Obama administration and for lying Republicans to now place the onus for this debt on Obama and the Democrats, not themselves.

    You don’t seem to know much about Solyndra, so let me give you a few facts, not the lies as spun by Romney and Fox News.. Solyndra was one green energy company out of approximately fifty that received US government loan guarantees in the stimulus package and the only one to fail. The government gave out $528 million on behalf of Solyndra, out of $18 billion alloted for loan guarantees and given to the other 49 green energy companies. Solyndra failed because China flooded the solar market with a substantially cheaper product.

    Paul Krugman has an interesting commentary in the New York Times.

    • Linda H. says:

      Is the federal government going to bail us out as well, Dorothea?

      When you’re talking energy companies and loan guarantees, you might take a good look at that greedy corporate giant that sits on the White House cabinet, General Electric. I hear they don’t pay many taxes.

      Is this true, Dorothea? I expect you will know the answer.

    • Think first, act second says:

      Please give the link to the alleged $18 Billion to green energy companies? The link you provided does not go into that facet and there is no independent link that refers to it in google. Allegations do not make facts!

  24. tulip says:

    Some of you need to read the article carefully, not just skim it. No body “lost” the money. The cost of doing business rose higher than expected, the house values dropped a little lower, the unexpected cost to the county too pay the helicopter pilot’s retirement, retroactively, very high medicaid bills for the indigent, et.

    Sort of like when unplanned things happen in a household budget–shortfall.

    These are things that happen and neither Mr Peterson nor Mr Ericksen or anyone else would”ve had any insight that these things would happen as much as they did, especially when trying to estimate the overabundance of medicaid bills, retroactive retirement, etc. Maybe some of you should take a deep breath, sit back, and think things through, rather than be like sheep following every derogatory remark that’s made and going along with it just because.

    I don’t approve of everything that goes on either—but I will tell you–in comparison to what the BOCC was a few years ago–they deserve a lot of praise for their efforts, and in comparison to a certain political club shutting out a potential 40,000 Democrat and Independent flagler county voters from voting in 3 races, 2 commissioner and clerk of court races, a shortfall on the budget is the least of concerns.

  25. Dorothea says:

    @Linda H.

    General Electric, like many mega corporations paid no taxes, but I wasn’t aware that they needed a government bailout, which is what we are talking about: i.e. mega corporation that had to be bailed out by the taxpayers after they ripped off the taxpayers for billions and lined their own pockets. Speaking of American jobs, GE employs 133,000 American workers, all contributing to the economy, not ripping it off.

    • Linda H. says:

      Dorothea, I was referring to a financing agreement. GE is busy outsourcing these jobs to China, just like everybody else.

    • Think first, act second says:

      “Not ripping it off” really Dorothea, read this link
      For the others it says this “Last year, the company paid nothing to the government. Instead, the government paid GE $3.2 billion in tax breaks.
      I know that despite the fact that 60 percent of GE’s revenues are outside of the United States, I personally and this company share in the responsibly and the accountability to make sure that this is the most competitive and productive country in the world,” Immelt said in January.
      But he neglected to mention that GE’s offshore operation also allows it to avoid paying most of its taxes to the federal government.”
      You may not think of this as a ripoff, but I and most intelligent other Americans do!

  26. Dorothea says:

    @Linda H.

    Regarding your comment on Mr. Mazzie. My comment had nothing to do with Mazzie, but meant to be informative about who is responsible for the county budget.

    • Linda H. says:

      I know that. I was tugging at you but I guess it came out sounding like a potshot. My apologies. I really do like your posts.

      Hope that and the apology helps.

  27. Dorothea says:

    Linda H.

    Thank you Linda, I accept your apology. But I should inform you that the 133,000 GE jobs that I referred to are Americans working at GE. I did not include any outsourced jobs in the count.

  28. Dorothea says:

    Think First Act Second

    So what gives? On one hand you right-wingers are calling President Obama an anti-business, socialist, Kenyan and when it suits your rhetoric he suddenly becomes Capitalist Obama catering to a mega-corporation that does what all mega-corporations do, use whatever tax loop-holes are available for the benefit of their share-holders. It’s not illegal or even immoral, just business as usual. Fix the loopholes.
    Oh that’s right, I forgot, all the Republican politicos have signed the pledge not to raise taxes, so fixing loopholes that would raise revenues is forbidden by their supreme leader, Grover Norquist.

    You can’t equate taking legal tax breaks with breaking the law to rip off consumers. My biggest complaint with Obama is that his Justice Department has failed to criminally prosecute the corporate whores who did actually rip us off.

  29. John Liccardo says:

    It appears that the voters seem to have a dim view about the performance of government. A timely example is the result of the Wisconsin election. Conversely, business existed long before governments were ever concieved. The first wapum that was ever exchanged for a necklace of beads was unknowingly the start of American business.
    Governments were an entity structured to serve the public not the other way around, as you know. Government owns nothing, not so much as a paper clip. The taxpaying public supplies all of the funding one way or another which should be disbursed responsibly and efficiently. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case as we see from our exploding national debt.
    Since you and I are both set in our beliefs about this matter I will not elaborate any further. You have danced around the perimeter of the issue but have not put your foot in the water with explanations. Therefore, I will conclude by saying that I will consider more seriously your opinion if you will come up with the name of just one corporation who has the trillions of dollars of debt reaching the projected debt of 20 Trillion by the year 2016, as our government.

  30. palmcoaster says:

    @ Linda H. First of all as maybe was you, I want to thank you for attending and speaking against the franchise tax on Tuesday night City Council meeting. I hope our next elections brings out to vote the same multiple numbers of interested tax payers. I respectfully have to remind you that if Obama has GE Emmet in his cabinet…so far I haven’t seeing any contracts for GE from Obama administration yet. In comparison Bush Vice Cheney organized a good war based in lies of WMD and being the recent former VIP of Halliburton engeniered all perfectly to give the wars contract to Halliburton with NO COMPETING BIDS. You may google it and find out how many billions that still being channeled to Halli…far over whatever Solyndra got. See next and link:
    Halliburton has become the object of several controversies involving the 2003 Iraq War and the company’s ties to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney retired from the company during the 2000 U.S. presidential election campaign with a severance package worth $36 million.[40] As of 2004, he had received $398,548 in deferred compensation from Halliburton while Vice President.[41] Cheney was chairman and CEO of Halliburton Company from 1995 to 2000 and has received stock options from Halliburton.[42]
    In the run-up to the Iraq war, Halliburton was awarded a $7 billion contract for which ‘unusually’ only Halliburton was allowed to bid.[43] Acually this pales Obama’s Solyndra deal.

    • Linda H. says:

      palmcoaster, each side has their own deals which is why I think Americans are so worried about this next election. We are all looking for leaders who realize we must rebuild our own infrastructure and manufacturing in this country, whereas we have been drifting (being pulled by both sides) towards a global economy. We used to be the engine of that machine and now it has gone to China, leaving us to be a consumer state. Further, China’s economy is now slowing down because we no longer have the money to buy their goods. I don’t mind paying taxes, but at some point I cannot afford it and clearly we have many here who have reached that point and more will be following. I am fearful this could be the tip of the iceberg. Why is government always the last to realize they have no clothes on?

      Mr. Meeker told me that Mr. Liguori’s plan works. Hopefully, they will consider it among their options.

      The up side of all this is many more are paying attention to government now and that makes for better government, I think.

  31. sj says:

    I have a REAL HARD TIME understanding why the county thinks it needs a raise! People who work in construction and self-employed do not get paid insurance, holiday days, free ACCULIMATED days, sick days, retirement UNLESS THEY PLAN FOR IT OUT OF THEIR OWN PAYCHECK! NOT TAX PAYERS MONEY. It is so hard to be around goverment employess and feel sorry when they have a steady income but no raise. They should work and try to pay health insurance and live on a CUT BUDGET with no emergency fund. THEY SHOULD BE THANKFUL THEY HAVE A JOB!

  32. palmcoaster says:

    @Linda H. I am glad that maybe even from different political affiliation or beliefs we can still discuss and agree in the main issue and solutions in a civilize manner. After all we are discussing the betterment for Americans and America, that sometimes within partisan rethorics, we forget!

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