No Way Because No Means

The Ways and Means committee met on Jan 19 and being the first meeting of the year, a chairman needed to be selected.  As in previous years, Jimmy Ward wanted to be chairman.

He and his supporters feel that because he is a CPA he will have a better understanding of the city’s finances and, just importantly, find ways to slash “out of control spending.”  Remember, the city already has an excellent CPA on payroll, Debbie Suggs, and her work is stellar.

Jimmy was put into nomination by a passionate speech from Sandy “Fiscal” Ferencz.  Alas, only she, Jimmy and JimDaddy Carrol voted for him to be chairman.  Mayor Dick Cronin was once again elected to the chairman’s seat and newbie Ted Kinghorn was elected as vice chairman.

Jimmy Ward and his army of 2 seem to feel that if he is chairman he would have the power to cut out all the profligate spending.  First of all, there is not that much of it (and if you think there is, please go on record and point it out) and second, he is only 1 vote.

Of interest, over the past 4 years our city council has had 5 fiscal conservatives who wanted to cut spending.  Buckhannon, Carroll, Ferencz, Loftus and Ward.  Yep, that’s a majority!  They could have worked together and cut out all the waste.  They could have “cut to the bone, baby!”

So, what actually happened?  The budget went up each year!

One final point.  To get things done in a representative democracy, you have to work with people who may not totally agree with you.  You can disagree, but you can’t be disagreeable.  (A perfect example of this on the national stage right now is Ted Cruz.)  Jimmy PPO Ward is just not pleasant to work with according to other council members.  Even when he had a good idea, others are less likely to listen.

So, a new year, some new council members, and the same result.  But that is fine because Mayor Dick Cronin has done an excellent job of leading the committee, and despite some strange misperceptions out there, he has not sneakingly shoveled boatloads of money into Wild Dunes!

A Big “JimDaddy Welcome” to the New Councilmembers


Geez, Carol Rice and Ted Kinghorn don’t get sworn into office for another 4 months and JimDaddy Carroll is already taking shots at them!  Is it any wonder no one runs for a seat on City Council.  Who wants to put up with this crap for a whopping $1500 a year and the opportunity to sit through endless meetings.

Hey, JimDaddy, City Council meetings can be viewed online for like the past 10 years.  It is quite possible the “new ones” are watching the meetings online and quietly contacting Mayor Cronin so they don’t get assigned a seat next to you.

Pat Yourself on the Back

Here is how you pat yourself on the back and take a veiled shot at your opponents:

JC on FB re July 4

As Paul Harvey used to say, here is the rest of the story.

The IOP Fire Department needed to replace its rescue truck.  The replacement was originally budgeted at $229k.  The department submitted a request for a truck upgraded with the capacity to pump water, making it more versatile in responding to a variety of public safety incidents.

The cost of the pumps added $24k to the cost.  Because of inflation and new regulatory requirements, the truck would now cost $352,528.  Fire Chief Graham and the department felt this upgrade was needed to keep us safe.

This was discussed and voted on at the Ways and Means meeting on Feb 17 and at the City Council meeting on Feb 24.

Only 3 councilmembers voted against the truck.  Yep, you guessed it, the hot dog cookers.

Jimmy Carroll

Sandy Ferencz

Jimmy Ward

I could be wrong, but I bet our public safety personnel would rather have the equipment they need to keep us safe rather than someone cooking them some hot dogs one day a year.

The councilmembers who did not show up to cook some dogs voted to give the department the equipment they needed.  The final vote was 6-3, with one hot dog chef, Ryan Buckhannon, voting with the majority.

Put the Cheese on the Cracker*

There is a city council election coming up in November of this year.  If you would like to see some changes, here is your opportunity to find out how sausage is made.

The incumbents up for re-election are:

Ryan Buckhannon

Jimmy Carroll

Mike Loftus

Jimmy Ward

All have picked up petitions to run again.  If you would like to challenge one of them, pick up the voter petition from at City Hall on the second floor.  Your petition must contain the name, address, signature and voter ID number of at least 5% of the registered voters on the IOP.  This will come to somewhere a bit over 200 signatures.  City Hall will be able to give you the exact number.

Most signers will not know their voter ID number.  City Hall has a master list of voters and you can look up the numbers there.

These petitions must be turned in by August 24, and just like that, you will be on the ballot.

If you are tired of city council’s inability to deal with parking, quit kvetching and do something about it.  There are a lot of talented people with some great ideas on this island.  Sitting on your tookus in front of the TV and complaining changes nothing.  Get out there and make IOP a better place to live.

*If you can name the source of this quote without resorting to Google, you will be prominently mentioned in a future iopobserver posting.  Or not.

Ain’t No Sunshine…with this City Council

Am I the only person frustrated by how difficult it is to see what our city is doing in something approximating real time?

Here is what I mean.  City Council met for its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 23.  Typically council meetings deal with issues that have come up through the committee system.  There are 6 committees and they meet every month.  The meetings are open to the public and are taped.  So you can go to the meeting or you can go to City Hall and listen to the tape.  Who has time for that?  Seriously.

The most time efficient way to know what happened is to read the minutes of the meeting.  The trouble is, the minutes are not put online for months as the following will demonstrate.  Remember, each committee typically meets every month.  As of June 23 the following minutes were posted on the website:

City Council, March 31

Ways and Means, April 21

Personnel Committee, April 8

Public Safety, April 9

Public Works, April 9

Real Property, April 8

Recreation Committee, April 6

So, most of these committees have met twice since their last minutes were published.  Simply put, this is not acceptable.  City Council could easily fix this problem if they wanted to.  Why wouldn’t they want to fix it?  Maybe we should ask them.

Greenspace – Part 2

Lost in Space…..rather, Greenspace!

Danger Will Robinson!! The enlightened IOP City Council spent $474,385 on this amazing 1.07 acre piece of real estate in order to preserve it for posterity. This beautiful lot is adjacent to the new Vet’s office and will be a marvelous pristine, private preserve in perpetuity for island residents to enjoy.

It was remarked by some on Council that this lot in its natural state would serve as a buffer between the houses on 20th Avenue and the commercial district.  Well, there isn’t much of a buffer once all the vegetation was removed.

Come on kids, let’s go have a picnic next to the access road to the new grocery store!  We can watch the trucks roll in to unload beer!

This makes SO much more sense than what the previous council was trying to do. You remember.  Find private funding for an oceanfront lot, a place where you could have a picnic in the shade while watching and listening to the ocean.  Nope.  We needed to develop that lot so it could be added to the tax rolls.  Wow – after a mini-mansion was built on it, it now brings in a couple of hundred extra dollars to the city.

Has anyone seen a single IOP resident use the new greenspace?  I haven’t.

As JimDaddy Carroll so eloquently put it, “Ridiculous!”

Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant

Did you ever wonder why it is so hard to easily figure out what the IOP City Council is doing at the time they are actually doing it?  Yeah, me too.  Currently, the only way to know who voted for what is attend the meeting or spend 2 hours watching the meeting on video after it is posted online the next day.

Most of us just don’t have the time or energy to do this.  I can quickly read a report and find the information I want, often in a matter of minutes.

As it stands now, council may vote on something that you may have an interested in.  But there will be no written record of this until after the NEXT council meeting.  Why?  Because the city wants the minutes approved at the next meeting before posting them online.  So a controversial vote taken in March won’t be on the city website until some time in late April or early May.  Does this make any sense?

A new ordinance goes through 3 readings.  The first reading is almost always perfunctory.  The real discussion and decision making occur at the second reading which is really where it is decided if it will pass or fail.  If it does pass, the third reading tends to be a mere formality.

This is exactly how things happen without the citizens knowing about them.  After a first reading of a controversial ordinance, the second reading and vote will take place before ANY written notification of actions is published by the city on the website.  By the time it is published, in all reality it is too late for you to make a difference by contacting members of council or speaking at the beginning of a council meeting.

Why don’t the members of council fix this by instructing the city to put the results of all votes taken on the website the day after a meeting.  Pretty simple solution.  Maybe too simple and that is why it is not welcome.