Response to Sun Sentinel Editorial

The Sun Sentinel newspaper is trying to create Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) regarding “City of Boca Raton Question”. This is the last question on the November 8th ballot. Bocawatch has performed a fact check on assertions made in an editorial the paper ran on October 21, 2016 and is reporting on three significant misrepresentations.

The format we used is the same as the political fact checking site Politifact.com, i.e., assertions are scored using a Truth-O-Meter. The three editorial assertions are analyzed below.

Sun Sentinel Says…

“Then-Mayor Susan Whelchel confirms the city bought the Wildflower site for $7.5 million in 2009 expressly to lease it, so the land could bring in revenue from a restaurant. The land never has been a park.”

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Many sources confirm that this is a ridiculous statement, including:

Then-Mayor Whelchel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuznImftYZg&feature=youtu.be

Then-Deputy Mayor Baronoff

http://bocawatch.org/bocawatch-interviews-peter-baronoff/

Then-Councilman Majhess

http://bocawatch.org/bocawatch-interv…-anthony-majhess/

Also, the City conducted an electronic survey in the summer of 2011 asking citizens for ideas on uses for the Wildflower parcel. The City held a workshop as well in October, 2011 to review the results of the survey and get more input on uses for the parcel. If the decision was to lease the parcel to a restaurant at purchase time, why were the citizen survey and workshop held?

Sun Sentinel Says…

“There is no proposal for development on any city-owned waterfront park.”

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This statement is very misleading since the last ballot question specifies city-owned waterfront land, not parks and there is a proposal for development on city-owned waterfront land. On November 8, 2013 Hillstone submitted a proposal to develop the Wildflower parcel:

http://bocawatchv2.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Hillstone20Proposal20for20Wildflower20property.pdf

Sun Sentinel Says…

“Start with money. In its current version, the lease could generate about $33 million in payments from Hillstone over 45 years. The city would pay the property taxes. If the ordinance succeeded in blocking the restaurant, residents would lose that money.”

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This statement is very misleading because it does not provide a comprehensive view of the lease financials. When all city costs and the time value of money are included in the financial analysis, the lease results in a financial LOSS to the city. That is, the $33 million in payments received are more than totally offset by city costs required in the lease. Also, there is no cap on the ad valorem real estate taxes that the city is required to pay for 45 years. This is also a significant financial risk to the city.

In summary, the Sun Sentinel editorial on the last ballot question contains numerous ridiculous and false assertions. Please do not accept their information without first performing your due diligence. You should also not accept the above information without performing due diligence. All of the information provided above is documented in the bocawatch.org site and the author of this article is willing to help anyone understand the details. Please vote YES for the Boca Raton ballot question and encourage your family and friends to do the same.

Please contact me with questions.