You don’t hit a home run every time you’re at bat that’s for sure. The Reporter published an editorial with their recommendations for the November 8 election. Not their best work.
They recommended Sue Heim and Steve Gibbs for the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District (District) board. I can get behind Sue Heim. She’s involved. She’s knowledgeable. She cares. She’s not afraid to ask questions and speak her mind. She’s got the potential to be a good commissioner.
Unfortunately, I have to disagree with their recommendation of Steve Gibbs. I think Steve is a decent enough person, but he’s wandered off into the wilderness lately. Here’s how the editorial characterized Gibbs’s outlook on his role as a board member.
Gibbs has a governing philosophy of choosing a strong chief of staff and letting that person, for the most part, control his or her operation. He often clashes with Commissioner Andy Tobin, who feels the commissioners should be more involved with managing staff. We feel both commissioners’ views on the topic have merit, but at times, each can go too far. At the same time, ratepayers are well served by both commissioners, and the two men balance each other out on the board.
I think the Reporter, who Gibbs used to work for, is soft-peddling his position so they can justify their recommendation. They’re helping out a friend. When Gibbs himself described his position, he was quoted as saying this…
“There are two different philosophies on the board. Mine is to pick a captain to run the ship, and once you’re at sea, the captain’s word is God. The captain rules,” Gibbs said.
That’s quite extreme, don’t you think? After all, a board member’s job is to provide oversight. How do you properly oversee someone you regard as “god”? If Gibbs is doing his job properly, there are going to be times when he comes into conflict with the General Manager. Maybe they disagree on a customer issue. Maybe spending is increasing. Or maybe, to use a real life example, there’s a concern about the qualifications of top-level staff. Is Gibbs going to question “god”?
Fortunately, there are better alternatives. My recommendation would be Gary Bauman. As the editorial says…
Bauman served on the dais during the taxing district’s infancy, as it journeyed from a model of efficiency as a major, multi-million dollar construction project on its way to a smooth-running utility. Clearly, he has the track record to represent ratepayers.
Couldn’t have said it better. The District needs a no-nonsense leader who is going to take them into the future. Gibbs is all about paying down debt. That’s fine, but it doesn’t go far enough. That’s going to happen no matter who is on the board. Everybody pays their debts, right? Well, maybe not everybody.
The real issue is financial relief for the ratepayers. Rates and assessments need to be lower, and to achieve that funding equity is needed. That means having a plan and going to bat for the ratepayers. Gibbs is unwilling to rock the boat. He’s not going to get us there.
Here’s what the editorial had to say about the clerk of courts.
We’re split on this. Madok has a lot of numbers experience. Saunders has decades dealing with negotiating, honing people skills. In this race, we believe residents would be served well by either candidate serving a four-year term.
The Reporter is missing a huge piece of the puzzle here. Character. It matters. I’ve discussed Madok’s issues at length. Here’s the two biggies.
- Lied on his resume. Indicated that he was a CPA when he was not. That is actually a crime – first degree misdemeanor.
- Lied extensively in Emergency Services Surtax (ESS) “white paper”. This makes his resume embellishment seem like child’s play in comparison. This was an apparent attempt to mislead the voters into supporting a plan that was detrimental to their own interests. It doesn’t get any worse.
Nobody asks much about what Madok has done since he left the clerk’s office. He’s been the “Strategic Planning Director” for Monroe County for the last four years. What does that mean? I wish I could tell you. Better yet, I wish the Reporter would tell all of us. After all, they’re halfway endorsing the guy. One thing I do know – the county’s long-term debt has sky-rocketed in the past four years. And Madok, the “numbers guy”, sat there and watched it happen.
Besides, Madok has been tied in with the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for the past twelve years. He spent eight years reporting to Danny Kolhage at the Clerk’s office. Kolhage became a county commissioner in 2012, and Madok has been with the county since then, too. How can Madok possibly be the independent watchdog that taxpayers need in the Clerk’s office?
Ron Saunders had a very successful run as the Keys representative at the state level. He brought home the first $50 million of the Mayfield Grant, among other successes. His political acumen and knack for getting things done is exactly what the Clerk’s office needs right now. Besides he’s not beholden to anybody on the BOCC. Saunders definitely has my support for Clerk of Court. It’s a no-brainer.
re Reporter endorsements –
first, thanks for your words about me. some of your blog opinions about Board influenced my public comments.
second , Gibbs worked for Free Press.
third, the Clerk race has a lot of talk in Upper Keys. No clue of outcome from my part of county.
forth, you said something else in a another blog so I’m asking for more info – something about Amy Heavlin finding and fixing wastewater (reporting ?) errors… could you pls elaborate ? Tks.
You’re welcome. I think you will do a good job. The Clerk’s race is definitely interesting.
Here’s a link to the post where I talked about Heavilin correcting some accounting errors regarding the ww projects. I clipped the note out of one of the CAFR’s. I believe it was 2013.