I think we all know by now that Monroe County government is run on bluster and bull-poop. Their stubbornly truth-averse style has led to all sorts of problems, but they have an unshakable commitment to it regardless of repeatedly poor results. Frankly, they don’t seem to know any other way. A logical, fact-based analysis would melt their brains. Think vampires and garlic.
With that in mind, I thought I’d take a look at the state of the county presentation. I’ve already examined the 2015 State of the County report. It’s not quite as delusional as last year’s, but still misleading. It’s almost like the county has a strange compulsion to hoodwink the public. They just can’t help themselves.
Anyhow, I thought it would be a really good idea to take a look at the presentation as well. Both are mostly content-free fluff, but an exercise like this can be informative sometimes. I’m sure the real bluster and bull-poop is contained within the verbal component. If anyone wants to report back, here’s where you can reach me.
I requested the presentation from the county. You would think it would be a simple matter to just send it on. Nope, of course not, but with a little persistence I did finally get it. Here’s the link. Like I said, it’s fancy-looking but uninformative and context-free. Pretty standard for a county document. Let’s hit the high-lights.
- The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has a mission! They want to provide outstanding service responsive to the needs of their citizens. Great! When are they gonna get started?
- Operating millage decreased by 6.2%! How exciting! But revenues increased by 0.9%. The millage rate may have gone down, but our taxes went up. A lower millage rate isn’t really that great a feat if property values are on the rise.
- The fiscal state of the county is good? Really? How can this be when they’re blowing budgets left and right? I’m sure ripping off Key Largo is a major cornerstone in their financial stability plan. How’s the fiscal state of Key Largo?
- They’re modeling the effects of sea level rise on county infrastructure…again. Didn’t they already do this? Isn’t that why they spent millions of dollars piling dirt on top of Bernstein Park?
- They consider Cudjoe Regional an “accomplishment”. I hate to burst their bubble, but it’s not an accomplishment, it’s a debacle. (Even the FKAA thinks so – or so I’m told.) The county needs to sit down and honestly examine what went wrong. But this crew is never going to do that. It might put a boo-boo on their egos. Can’t risk that. Better to go on soaking the taxpayers.
- Canal restoration – the next great capital project rip-off?
- The Florida Keys Stewardship Act is potentially a good thing. But how good? And good for who?
- STAR Community Rating System. That reminds me of Tom Willi’s Sterling Award. Remember that? Murphy was very proud of putting a stop to that thing and getting Willi fired. Is the iPhone Bandit circling the drain? Has he been reduced to award chasing?
- There are a couple of slides devoted to affordable housing. But they’re context-free. How many units are needed? How many households are impacted? What’s it going to take to resolve this “crisis”? Are we 50% of the way there? 80%? 0%? And what does “low income”mean? “Moderate”? “Very low”? What’s this going to cost? Who’s going to pay?
- Paving projects actually do seem to be bright spot. Comprehensively-planned. On budget. I haven’t circled back to take another look. Hopefully they are still on track. The taxpayers need something to go right.
- Why is the county spending $3.8 million on Higgs Beach, a park located in the incorporated municipality of Key West?
- The Upper Keys courthouse, of course, costs about double what was budgeted. (It’s part of that $25 million in capital projects that now costs $63 million.)
- The swap agreement with the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District is mentioned. It’s presented as a great money-saver for the county. This pretty much encapsulates the county’s dysfunctional and fundamentally dishonest approach to the issue. They fail to mention the reason the swap agreement was necessary in the first place. It’s because of the huge funding disparity created and perpetuated by the county against its citizens in Key Largo. Just like the Cudjoe Regional debacle, the county is very reluctant to face this reality head-on. Expect history to repeat itself.
- Investigate “alternative funding sources for human services and fire/rescue”. We already know very well what that means. This, of course, is the Emergency Services Surtax (ESS) which Carruthers and her staff have already lied so much about. It looks like they’re bound and determined to ram this down people’s throats. See what I said above about history repeating itself. Except this time, Key West citizens will also be hard hit. I hope voters there take note.
Comm. Carruthers, for some reason, thought it would be smart if she ran around giving the state of the county presentation this year. I find this very interesting. She’s done a terrible job as a county commissioner. She was always first in line to increase spending on Cudjoe Regional – no questions asked. She was reluctant to do anything about the funding disparity suffered by Key Largo. She was all too happy to perpetuate it. And now she’s pushing the self-serving ESS that is so detrimental to low-moderate income locals throughout the Keys, including and especially those in her own district.
With her track record, you’d think she’d want to keep a low profile. She doesn’t have a challenger right now. Going around spreading easily debunked misinformation is a good way to draw one. But as Winston Churchill once said:
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
Maybe that’s what Carruthers is counting on. Perhaps she thinks that if she repeats misleading information early enough and often enough, it will solidify as “fact” in people’s minds.