Participation in the elective process is the number one responsibility of citizens in our system of democracy. Election year 2016 will be very challenging in this regard. Federal, state, and local elections along with a number of local referendum initiatives are scheduled to be held in the next six (6) months. The big challenge is to keep residents active and interested; to keep their participation level at fever pitch…and, to encourage the resident to GET OUT AND VOTE….
SO WHAT’S NEXT….
Scheduled for August are the primaries for many elected offices, both statewide and local. Also in August, Boca Raton residents may face important referendum votes on items like 1) raising the compensation levels of the City Council; 2) redefining how a vacancy on the City Council is filled; and, 3) how city owned land on the west side of the intracoastal is to be used.
Along with these issues and in a related matter will be the final election of a majority of the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District Commissioners. The Beach and Parks District is a special taxing district comprised of five (5) elected officials. These elected officials run district wide in non-partisan races. Their directive, in general, is to insure the preservation and operations of all the beach and parks within the District for the enjoyment of the public; a function that has been fulfilled remarkably well over the years.
Yes, as what seems to be the usual political circumstance, controversy dominates. The controversy involves the relationship between the City of Boca Raton and the Beach & Parks District. To listen to the City’s argument, the District is obstructing efforts by the City to improve the scheduling of, and use of, the District’s facilities. According to some at the District, the City is engaged in a ‘power grab’ to exclude the District’s participation in determining its operations and a ‘money grab’ by the City for the approximate $20 million dollars raised yearly through the District’s taxing authority.
In the center of the controversy is a Master Operations Agreement (see link below) advanced by the City to the District in November, 2015. Now, in June, 2016, the agreement is being responded to by the District with significant changes proffered by the District’s legal counsel and it’s Board.
WHY THE DELAY…
To listen to the City, the District has been reluctant to set a date for these governing bodies to get together and finalize the agreement. According to the District’s chairman, the delay is attributed to the City’s reluctance to meet with him over the last eight (8) months in the District’s effort to reconcile the agreement’s language. The District’s chair, at their last meeting, read a prepared remark into the record outlining all his efforts to date in this reconciliation process.
Who’s right and who’s wrong may never be realized. What is apparent is that there is an election coming up in August for what will be a controlling majority vote on the District’s board. That is troubling but necessary.
With the candidates’ filing deadline of June 24th, there may be a rush by candidates to qualify in the next few days.
Rumor has it… that there are others interested in entering this race. Rumors are rampant with allegations of city related individuals trying to influence the District’s future. It is no secret that the City’s leadership is not happy with the District’s actions. Replacing a majority of the board would be a way to gain control over the District’s activities.
BocaWatch looks forward to the end of the filing deadline. Once the deadline ends, BocaWatch will provide a process to interview the candidates and provide residents with recommendations of those best equipped to serve the District’s goals.
Elections should not be a popularity contest. Nor should it be a vote in the dark. The Greater Boca Raton Beach & Parks District is not as well known by the voters in the District as are the elections in the City of Boca Raton. Make no mistake however, members of the City Council have clearly demonstrated the desire to gain control over the District. This has been widely publicized.
BocaWatch will attempt to bring a heightened awareness of the issues and the concerns the public should have in electing the future policy makers of the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Parks District.
YOUR VOTE IS YOUR VOICE…..DO NOT LET YOUR VOICE GO UNHEARD….