By: Sharon Aron Baron
In a heated city commission meeting on Wednesday, commission members addressed a recent article in The Forum where Candidate Howard Melamed called them a “gang of four,” and said they did not have the skill sets required to move the city forward in the right direction.
“They are trying, but their best is not good enough.” said Melamed who is running for city commission in November to The Forum (article below). “They lack experience, especially business experience. They are not fiscally responsible. You got to be independent; these people are not.”
Melamed also said that the City does not need to carry a $28 million debt for the new city hall. “If I’m elected, my motion would be to reduce spending on City Hall to $18 million.”
Vice Mayor Larry Vignola disagreed, and at the City Commission meeting on Wednesday said to Melamed, “As far as $28 million, I’m glad you’re coming close to the number now. But the City Hall itself will be $23 million. The garage would be the rest. Hope you go ahead and look over the numbers. Look over carefully, and in the future I would hope you look at the numbers and use the correct numbers as we go forward.”
In the article, Melamed said that the City should have provided relief to residents and businesses by adopting the roll back rate for the new fiscal year.
“What we have this year is a five percent [tax] increase. Many of our residents are hurting financially. Melamed expressed his concern that the city manager’s office announced that they had a $1.8 million surplus and then said that they would not adjust the budget, since a million dollars is really not a lot of money.
At the meeting Melamed told the commission that a million dollars is a lot of money and the extra money could have been used to purchase computers for all of the schools, add more Police SRO’s to the schools, or rebate to every homeowner in Coral Springs $250. Melamed mentioned a possible stimulus plan, where the $250.00 can be given only if spent on businesses in Coral Springs.
After reading the article, Mayor Vincent Boccard wanted to set the record straight.
“You want to be the best, look the best? You’re going to get the best, and I think that’s important. I’ll continue to support moving this City forward, whatever it needs to do. In spite of doing this, we’re fiscally responsible. We didn’t raise the taxes this year. People say give the money back. I won’t support that. We need that money down the line. We generated more money this year because of that tax increase.”
“A few years ago when I ran for Mayor, my whole platform was about continuing the City in a direction we were going,” said Boccard. “We’re flat, we were a stale City, and we were going nowhere. We got through a recession, which we struggled. We were financially prudent. We got through that. Now it’s time. The economy is coming back. We’re in competition with every other City in Broward County. We’re looking to draw the residents and big business that rebuilds the tax base, we bring jobs and pride back to the City. We lost our way. We’re doing nothing different than anybody wouldn’t do. We’re reinvesting back into this increase.”
Boccard then addressed the article where Melamed referred to four of the commissioners as “The Gang.”
“I’ve heard over and over and seen it in publications and I’ll respond to this: describing Vincent Boccard, Vice Mayor Vignola, a gang of four,” said Boccard. “I think Claudette would be a part of the gang and would be proud of the accomplishments we’ve created as a team. We’re not a gang.”
“We represent the citizens of Coral Springs. You make decisions based on what you believe is right as we all do. I don’t know how you feel about that, Claudette, but you’re a part of this team as well because you’ve made great decisions along with all of us. There’s no gang up here.”
Commissioner Dan Daley said he was a little fired up himself because he felt he was personally attacked.
“This is an election cycle. People are throwing things out there, and you know we’re seeing a lot of misinformation coming out. It’s just throwing stuff against the wall. You dig down and see what Coral Springs is all about, we’re the most transparent commission, mostly engaged with all of our citizens. We have public meetings. We roll things out with the public in mind. We just didn’t decide to build the City Hall because it was the right thing to do or something we wanted to do. I won’t serve in that City Hall, but it’s the right thing to do for Coral Springs.”
Daley was especially concerned with employees at city hall, and apologized for statements in the article by Melamed.
“I want to apologize for staff because you didn’t sign up for that. You put in more hours than any employees I’ve seen. I’ve worked at State government. You put in time and effort that I’ve never seen before to try to make this community better, and it’s not fair to you to have someone take cheap political shots at the direction this city is headed.”
“When people are going out there and making up information, it’s a really, really sad state of affairs. It really is,” said Daley. “That’s not how we do things in the City of Coral Springs. We don’t put other candidates down. We don’t talk trash about our City. If you love it so much, stop making up information. Stop trying to burn it to the ground.”
When I contacted Daley to clarify what information is being made up and what he meant by talking trash about the city, he replied he was too busy to talk, and would reply if to any questions via email.
City Commissioner Claudette Bruck did speak after the meeting and said that she wasn’t even aware of the Forum article. “I saw the article today, but hadn’t seen it prior to the meeting. I’m there to just be myself, and to do the next right thing for the community.”
Bruck did tell say she was concerned about the new City Hall. “What I’ve heard is that people are concerned they aren’t being able to make a decision about the City Hall. My question is, how will we pay for this City Hall? I’m looking forward to the information that will be provided at the next workshop.”
In a phone interview Melamed said, “They’re upset because I’m bringing to the attention of the citizens of Coral Springs their poor decisions and lack of respect of the citizens right to decide on major purchases, like a $28 million dollar City Hall…including the parking garage.”
“There was nothing personal in my attacks. The current gang simply lack the skill set it takes to run a business, let alone the business of a city with a $100 million dollar budget. That is why they are attacking me since they cannot handle the truth.”