Stop giving tax money to businesses
At first I thought the Community Redevelopment Agency was merely involved in area beautification projects, such as the prettifying of Canal Street and the new entrance to the Myrtle Avenue Park area. Over the last year, I developed a more complete picture.
It started when the story broke that people were resigning from the agency because they were told they could no longer apply for funds for their own businesses. Apparently they could previously apply for a grant to "rehab their store front," declare a conflict of interest and refrain from voting. Naturally everybody passed each other's grant requests. I guess that since these grants were for a thousand bucks or so, no one really cared.
But an Aug. 19 newspaper article caught my attention. It was titled "Competition grows for New Smyrna Beach's dwindling redevelopment funds." It turns out that someone wants to build 23 Key West-style cottages on the North Causeway, someone else wants to build a six-room B&B, and a former mayor of the city wants to build a 63-room assisted living facility, and they all are applying for a grant of my tax money.
According to the article, there are only 540,000 of our tax dollars available to give to these guys this year. But the city gave away a million dollars of our city and county tax dollars last year, and about a half million went to the guy who is refurbishing the former Badcock's Furniture on the corner of Canal and U.S. 1.
Now mind you these are not loans, they are grants. It is bad enough that cities and counties and the state have to bribe businesses to relocate in one place or another by forgiving property taxes, impact fees, etc. But I live in Edgewater, and some of my county tax money is being turned over to businessmen in New Smyrna Beach? And there is no outrage? There are no rants about this?
But wait there is more. On the state level, the situation is more egregious because the dollar amounts are so huge. In the Sunday, Sept. 14, edition of the Orlando Sentinel, Aaron Deslatte reported that during the prior week the animation firm Digital Domain Media Group Inc. shuttered its Florida operation in Port St. Lucie and filed for bankruptcy. The state made a $20 million investment in the company and, of course, it is gone.
According to a Business Week report on Sept. 21, Port St. Lucie sold $40 million of revenue bonds beginning in 2012 to help build a 150,000-square-foot digital animation studio, gave the company $10 million and provided 15.5 acres of land on which the studio was built.
The last cash payment to the company came in February. A few months later the company fired 250 people who worked at the studio and filed bankruptcy.
Now this is no ordinary company. Its founder is known to all of us as James Cameron, the producer, director, editor, etc. of films, such as Titanic, Avatar, Terminator and Aliens. In March this year, he became the first person in a solo descent to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean.
Now how does someone as talented and smart as James Cameron start a company with operations in five countries, bring it public and within a year have a cash crisis that causes him to walk away from it declaring bankruptcy?
And this is not the first multi-million dollar Florida economic incentive deal using taxpayer money to go bankrupt this year.
The latest buzzword in the press this week was "redistribution." This, my friends, is redistribution - from the taxpayer to the businessman. It should be stopped!
Don Picard, Edgewater
Leave the tents up
A misunderstanding of what "We the People of the United States" actually means vs. what it is perceived to mean and why it is important to the Volusia County district races.
The rest of the Preamble is, "in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
The unanimous decision of the existing Volusia County Council to remove tents from private property illustrates their belief that constitutional protections do not apply.
As I understand, one person approached county council member Carl Persis with a complaint, and a year later we have this ordinance, backed by that unanimous decision of the rest of the council.
The ridiculous logic in validating this ordinance should question the constitutional sanity of this council. Something about joggers running into the tents or the turtles becoming disorientated by running into one of the legs of the tents as valid reasons to void private property rights? Beachfront property owners, usually, own half the distance between mean tides.
So how void of reality is this ordinance for the general welfare of our community? Tourism, a mainstay of the economy, now has visitors who may rent a home for a week or month unable to leave up a tent overnight while they enjoy, maybe a family reunion. It is of no comfort that this seized property can then be given to some other entity or even sold as scrap metal and just how many joggers have recorded running into these tents and don't turtle nest pole markers have just about the same size supports as a tent? What we are witnessing is a kind of environmental nepotism vs. the purpose of our Constitution.
Joe Stich, New Smyrna Beach
Homeless should represent
My name is Brad Carter and I founded a non-profit organization - H.O.M.E. of Daytona Beach. H.O.M.E. stands for "Homeless and Others for a Meaningful Exchange." We were founded by the homeless and we are dedicated to helping the men and women living life on the street here in Volusia County. Our Organization was founded two years ago.
H.O.M.E. of Daytona Beach recently had several members who took the important step to join the Volusia Flagler Coalition for the Homeless, the lead agency in charge of overseeing the Continuum of Care, Our members joined in the hopes of working with the Homeless Coalition in order to help bring the suffering of those men and women currently experiencing the indignities of life on the street to an end.
The Homeless Coalition's new policy regarding their board meetings not allowing general members to attend clearly limits its general membership participation and takes away the rights expressly granted to them. Last year the board meetings were open to the public. I am very disappointed with the new policy. I cannot help but feel the coalition's new policy is a direct response to H.O.M.E.'s efforts to get it's homeless membership involved with the Homeless Coalition. Our members joined our local Homeless Coalition in good faith and was subsequently denied the rights of general membership.
This is s an example of our local Homeless Coalitions cavalier attitude towards the men and women that they represent. I as a general member of the Homeless Coalition have taken great offense by my recent treatment. I am saddened by the apparent disregard the Volusia Flagler Coalition for the Homeless has for the men and women living life on the street,
The Volusia Flagler County Coalition for the Homeless should be the agency that stands for hope. The Homeless Coalition should be the organization that brings hope to the men and women living on the street. Corroboration is essential. We must work together to bring positive change. Everyone deserves a safe alternative to sleeping on the street.
Brad Carter, President, H.O.M.E. of Daytona Beach Inc