Friday, January 3, 2014

FIRST LOOK: 2014 Candidates for Canaveral Port Authority District 3

PORT CANAVERAL, Florida – Two Republican candidates have announced for the 2014 Canaveral Port Authority District 3 position: one-term incumbent Frank Sullivan and Brevard political newcomer Wayne Justice.

District 3 encompasses parts of Cocoa, Rockledge and Viera.  The four-year term pays $10,083.72 per year.

Brevard Times sent a list of four questions to the candidates and asked that the answers be 250 words or under.   Answers for Questions 1 and 2 have been combined.  The candidates' answers are listed alphabetically.

Question 1:  Name the top three challenges that Port Canaveral faces in the next five years and give brief background as to why they are challenges.

Question 2: How will you address these challenges?

Justice:
1.     Cruise Industry growth. Port Canaveral has embraced the growth potential and now has a challenge to rapidly deliver infrastructure to accommodate this growth.  Ensure laser focus on the delivery of new Terminal 1. It's on time/on budget procurement will signal to all concerned the capability of the Port to manage growth and set the tone for next steps.
2.     Cargo Industry growth. Port Canaveral wants to embrace the growth potential for cargo but again has infrastructure challenges including the lack of a rail head.  Set and monitor realistic expectations for more/diversified cargo capacity based on the steadily improving handling capabilities. Improvements should include on time/on budget cranes, re-consideration of the barge/train option, and maximum effort to get the rail line all the way to the Port.
3.     Cove growth.  Port Canaveral has an ambitious Cove Development Master Plan. I believe its success is interwoven with regional businesses successes. Is the Port willing and ready to engage?  Ensure the growth decisions are based on published policies that are supportive of regional interests. "A rising tide floats all boats."

Sullivan:
1.     Continuing the close working relationship we have enjoyed with our major cruise lines.  We as a port work hard to have a smooth, safe, secure and efficient operation of embarking and debarking their passengers.  Happy passengers make happy cruise line executives.  Their ships are given easy in and out access to docking, fuel and resupplies.  We have just authorized staff to engage contractors to build a new terminal complex on the south side of the port to serve new 6000 passenger ships.  We must work diligently to continue that relationship. 
2.     Diversify our business plan to attract a substantial increase in cargo tonnage.  With our soon to be implemented plan on channel widening and deepening, and our new container cranes being installed in 2014 we will be working hard with cargo interest to show the advantage Port Canaveral has to bringing their products closer to their customers.  We have recently expanded our staff in the cargo area to work toward identifying and showing our commitment to new potential customers.  We must continue our working relationship with NASA to extend their rail to the port.  Rail access is a vital part of our cargo expansion.  In the interim our inland port concept will be vital to serve customers until full rail access to the port is completed. 
3.     With a new terminal on the south side of the port and the opening of our new and dramatic Exploration Tower we now need to select a dynamic and experienced developer to take our Cove area expansion to the next level of development.  This will serve our community well by bringing new attention and visitors to the Space Coast.  All our construction will mean local jobs, jobs, jobs and a reason for cruise passengers – currently at 4 million passengers yearly – a reason to spend a few more days in our area or to come back on vacation.  The challenge is continuing to make wise decisions in the Cove expansion.  We have the staff on board to give us their knowledge and experience.  

Question 3   During the last few years, the port has maintained a substantial positive ratio of revenue against expenses – due mostly to the increase of cruise passengers.  As well, the port is a taxing district and could raise additional funds through that.  Why – then- does the port seek federal and state grants when the federal debt and deficit are de-stabilizing the economy and the state budget struggles to pay teacher and first responders a living wage?

Justice:   Port Canaveral is a regional entity whose economic engine benefits thousands of citizens in and beyond the Port District.  Federal and State grants for Port development have been produced for exactly that reason!  The "many" outside of this (and all) Port Districts should support the few Ports this nation has.  Port Canaveral should not take local tax $ from its District, leaving them for the County and School Board to spend (on teachers/1st responders etc.).                

Sullivan:  As a commission we operate our port as a public/private business for the benefit of our port district residents in particular, and the residents of Brevard County in general.  Our excess revenues are used for supporting bond issues we obtain for capital improvements and to use as matching funds for federal and state grants. Because we have kept expenses below budget and revenues strong while continuing expansion as necessary we have not collected taxes from district residents in 27 years.  Our port stakeholders and others in Brevard County send many tax dollars to Tallahassee and Washington.  Port Canaveral needs large influxes of revenue to continue to grow our economic impact on Brevard County, which now stands at 2 billion dollars.  Our state and federal governments see the wisdom of investing what I call our tax dollars back in successful growth and service opportunities.  With our port’s potential for growth and the 17 thousand jobs the port now accounts for I feel it is a wiser investment of our tax dollars than some of the areas on which our government now spends our tax dollars.  That said, as we continue to grow jobs, continue to bring millions of visitors to Brevard, continue to grow our economic impact to our county more dollars will become available to strengthen budgets for others.

Question 4. Why should the voters choose you?

Justice: Throughout my Coast Guard career, I learned and espoused the belief that the heart of attaining exceptional performance is setting high standards, coupled with ensuring people have the training and properly maintained equipment to reach those standards. I strive to maintain that philosophy in leadership positions here in Brevard County. My ship commands; federal policy, acquisition, and capabilities knowledge; extensive law enforcement and security expertise; along with participation in numerous trials and congressional hearings, has provided the broad experience needed to help direct the Port Canaveral Authority.  I supported thousands of Coast Guard men and women during my military service. I would like to continue public service by applying my uniquely suited experiences while supporting the residents and businesses in Brevard County as one of their Port Commissioners.

Sullivan:  As a lifelong resident of Brevard County I have tried to do my part in its growth and development through my business and my years of volunteer service to my community.   Over the years I have given back in time and what talent I have to such organizations as the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Cocoa Village Playhouse, Wuesthoff Memorial Hospital, KBB, 4-H Foundation, Brevard County Fair and my church.  Five years ago Brevard County Commissioners honored me with the Jefferson Award for Voluntarism.    I was always interested in someday serving on the Port Canaveral Commission.  I set some goals for myself.  First, I needed my family to approve because I knew that public office put different pressures on family life.  Second, my only agenda would be to continue to use best business principles to make our port one of the most productive economic engines for Brevard County ever.  Now after one term on the board, one can look at my record and decide whether I have done the job I set out to do.  I look forward to another term as we have great opportunities to bring more business, jobs and economic successes to Brevard County and all of central Florida.        

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Charles Parker: Brevard Schools Needs Strategy Change to Win Half-Penny Sales Tax

I need to tread lightly as I am a school board employee.  But I must speak up – as I have done before – regarding a Brevard Public Schools potential proposed half-penny sales tax.

Even though a similar measure was defeated 52-48% in November 2012, BPS is back – mainly because the problems have not gone away.

They have a deficit in their capital funds and have been using operational funds to band-aid problems.  They have HVAC units that are literally pieced together with duct tape.  They have school buses that high school seniors rode on when they started kindergarten.

But, at the same time, they have serious perception problems and they are, frankly, political peons.

First – the perceptions.  I took a look at my property tax bill the other day.  Using some rounding, approximately 70% of my school taxes go to Tallahassee (of which I assume some comes back).  About 7% goes to local general operating funds.  About 23% goes to capital expenditures.

Reality bites…I am already taxed more on school capital expenditures than I am taxed for the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department.  And now they want more.  And their detailed charts and graphs do not fix the perception that they already get enough of my money…maybe too much.

Next – the politics.  Last go round, they made a political decision to divulge a cut list of people and programs that would go away if the sales tax vote fell short.  However, they didn’t divulge the school closure list.  They said they didn’t want to spark a parochial battle of school v. school.  And, of course, that eventually happened anyway.  And it was ugly.

But, in the end, the sky has not fallen.  The students from closed schools have settled in elsewhere, secondary teachers are figuring out how to do more work with less time like elementary teachers have always done, some busing was eliminated, some programs ended.

So what does BPS need to do to get this tax passed?  Deal with perceptions and change their politics.

First, the perceptions.  We already know that they are using some funds from the operating budget to prop up the capital budget.  So they need to make a grand statement that they are spending the operating budget wisely so they can justify the transfer and win trust.

What should that grand statement be – you ask?  BPS needs to make a major overhaul in their organizational chart to be more efficient in management and delivery of programs.  If I were Superintendent Dr. Brian Binggeli, I would call in executives from Harris Corporation, Health-First, and some other major players and ask them to develop a new structure that is leaner and meaner.

It doesn’t even have to have a lot of cost savings.  It just has to show the reluctant voter that BPS is serious about streamlining government bureaucracy.  I guarantee a move like this would sway some moderate hearts and minds.

Second, the politics.  They need three actions in this column.

Number one – they need to put out another cut list – and this time they need to name the schools that will close and how it will impact other schools.  Parochialistic fights be damned.  If they really want this money, it is time to play hardball.

Number two – Binggeli needs to lighten his tone and change his tune.  His doom-and-gloom, almost threatening attitude does not ring true for his target voter – middle-aged retired folks who may not have kids in school. They are already suspect of the politics of intimidation by others that always say kids and old people will starve and cops and firefighters won’t show up.  As well, air conditioners and buses are not sexy.  Stop talking about them.

Number three – they need to run this like a political campaign because that is what it is.  They should take out advertising and have yard signs.  Maybe have a pithy saying or two.  And they need someone other than themselves to run this campaign.

Wait…I have an idea…How about they give a politically-knowledgeable teacher a leave-of-absence in 2014, a stipend and modest budget and let him run the campaign for them…wonder who that could be?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Charles Parker: Back On The BlueWare Beat

I spent the better part of a year reporting on the BlueWare/Mitch Needelman/Rose Harr/Matt Dupree/Scott Ellis/scanning contract story.  In case you haven’t been paying attention, Needelman, Harr and DuPree were arrested for bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, and bid tampering in September.

On November 5, 2013, Needleman and his attorneys filed a motion to move the trial out of Brevard County.  In his “Motion for Change of Venue,” many articles from Brevard Times were noted because of Ellis’ frequent and unencumbered characterizations of Needelman, Harr, and DuPree.  Needelman says he cannot get a fair trial in Brevard because of this.
Quickly, let’s take a look back at the coverage.
The first story I wrote was an opinion column in May 2012 about a debate between Needelman and Ellis.  I’m sure BlueWare was mentioned in the debate…however, I did not mention it in the column.  I recall Ellis had begun to bang the BlueWare drum, but it seemed too much speculation and too few facts.

Next, I wrote two columns in June 2012 about the two candidates.  In Needelman’s story, BlueWare was not mentioned by name.  However, he did reference his interest in scanning court documents.  And he said, “We are still negotiating a contract for these services. This would be an incredible advancement for my office.”

Potentially problematic…

In the column I wrote about Ellis’ candidacy, he talked about BlueWare…again and again and again.  He said, “The whole office is for sale. Everything he touches is corrupt. The whole point is to give Blueware millions of dollars. Digitizing those old records is a waste of time and money.”

Prescient…

From July 2012 until September 2013, I wrote about 20 news stories and four opinion columns referencing the case, including the inclusion of the Brevard County Economic Development Commission’s role (or lack thereof) in the mess.

During that time, I was accused of being on Needelman’s side and then of being a lackey for Ellis.  I was invited and then dis-invited to both a tour of the BlueWare facility and then also to a BlueWare garden party.
And now my name is appearing in the court documents.
There are other issues as well that Needelman claims in his filing - Ellis’ role as caretaker of court documents and his relationship with local judges - to be specific.  But much of the motion for change of venue references comments by Ellis and those of Brevard Times readers.

While other media outlets came to the fete late with videos of perp walks and recountings of stories Brevard Times had published months prior (including some of our direct work product without attribution, but that is another story for another time), Brevard Times was always out in front as the publication-of-record.

The next hearing in this case will be in January 2014 when the judge considers the change of venue request.  I think I’ll take a day off of my day job and show up at court. 
Stay tuned…

 

 


 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Charles Parker: Obama Feckless and Reckless

Today I was accused of hating President Obama because I am critical of his foreign policy.  For the record – I do not hate him.  But let me elaborate on his policies regarding Middle East intervention.

When President Obama was a US senator, he said consistently that a president needs congressional approval before engaging in warring activities.  I actually give him a pass for that misgiving for two reasons.
First, it was one of the few times he actually took a stand on anything when he was a US Senator.  And second, it is historically accurate that most folks who become president find out that the job is much different than they expected when they get in there – and thus, much of what they said prior is exposed as simple political posturing.

After he became president, his tune, however, certainly changed. 
He ordered our military to strike at Libyan air defenses and government forces without the approval of Congress.  He sent them a letter.  The letter said he did not need their approval because averting the humanitarian crisis in Libya was within the scope of our national security goals and interests.

I will not even go into the mess that that created (can you say “Benghazi?”).
Then, he turned an eye to Syria.  He had already drawn the red line and President Assad had already crossed it.  But he drew it again….and Assad crossed it again.

So, Obama had to do something.  He made a couple of calls to allies while at the same time directing his surrogates to leak that he would bomb Syria – without seeking congressional approval.  Prime Minister Cameron got on board, called his legislators back from holiday and then abruptly disembarked after Parliament said “No.”
Obama then took a walk with his Chief of Staff (yeah – that’s the guy who gives him political advice).  He quickly decided that this situation was not so urgent, that he would seek congressional approval, and that he would wait a couple of weeks to give Congress a chance to hold hearings, hold floor debate, and vote.

When asked what Obama would do if Assad crossed the line a third time – while he is waiting for Congress to give him something he and most don’t think he needs – Secretary of State Kerry said he was sure Obama would act quickly and not wait for Congress to vote.  What?
I have heard others call this debacle “Amateur Hour.”  However, I am a writer and love words.  “Feckless” comes to mind…and maybe a little reckless too…

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Charles Parker: Is Xun Energy the EDC's Next BlueWare?

It is time to take a closer look at another deal brought to you by the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast now that former Brevard County Clerk of the Court Mitch Needelman and BlueWare, Inc. CEO Rose Harr have been arrested on bribery and other charges related to an ill-fated $6 million scanning contract.

To review - the EDC offered BlueWare a confidential package to lure the company to Brevard from Michigan.  As the case has unfolded over the past year, the EDC has refused to disclose their offers to BlueWare, even though the company has been in the midst of scandal - and BlueWare certainly has not lived up to its promises.
But – as with most everything in the BlueWare case – when the onion was peeled back there was even controversy in the confidentiality.  Clerk of the Court Scott Ellis accused the EDC of tampering with documents so that they could keep the BlueWare deal secret. That ball is still up in the air…somewhere.

But - now – enter Xun Energy, Inc.
The EDC is proposing that the Brevard County Commission offer a tax abatement deal to this energy company.   In a recent story in Brevard Times, it was said that “according to documents prepared by the EDC, Xun Energy, Inc. is a manufacturer of flywheel technology for the storage of electricity including frequency regulation that is considering locating at 425 North Drive in Melbourne, Florida with plans to create 308 new jobs with an average wage of $82,750 and invest $22,000,000 in new capital expenditures.”

Red Flag Number One – Nowhere on www.xunenergy.com – does it mention “flywheel technology.”  In a related search, the NY Times notes that “Xun Energy, Inc. (Xun Energy) is a development stage company. The Company is engaged in the business of oil and gas exploration and production of crude oil. The Company has three oil and gas leases in the State of Kentucky and 30 oil drilling locations in Pennsylvania.”
Red Flag Number Two – Xun Energy admits that it is not in a very good financial spot – even though they have told the EDC that they will make a $22 million capital investment in Melbourne if they open up shop.  On its website under the title “Risk Factors,” it says, “We have extremely limited assets and ceased generating revenue. We have little assets and have had limited revenues since inception. We will not receive revenues until we complete funding through debt, equity, or Joint Venture financing…We will need to raise additional capital...”

Red Flag Number Three – It is important to note that they have recently raised some capital, but it is through a precarious venture called “reserve equity financing.”  I’m not smart enough to know what that is so I looked it up.  According to Will Gish of EHow, Reserve equity financing constitutes a specialized form of equity financing in which an investment firm enters into a long-term relationship with a fledgling or otherwise small company looking to develop and generate capital through public markets. Reserve equity occurs only when a small business does not possess the resources to publicly trade equity.”
So basically, just within the last month, Xun has made a deal with AGS Capital Group to receive funds in exchange for the selling of up to $15 million in company stock to AGS.  I’m not a stock market guy, but currently Xun Energy is selling at $0.0015/share.  Either AGS is really smart…or…

Red Flag Number Four (and you can’t make this stuff up) – the proposed site of Xun Energy is about two miles from the current site of BlueWare. Not Titusville, not Merritt Island, not Palm Bay…basically the same industrial area in Melbourne.
A purported $1.2 million in tax breaks for these guys?

We should be saying to Xun Energy and others…if within one year you make the capital investments, hire the people, pay them what you say you will pay them – then we will give you the tax breaks retroactively to your start-up date – and also even give you a free membership to the Chamber of Commerce and a seat on the EDC board.

For more from Brevard Times on this story, click the following link:

http://government.brevardtimes.com/2013/08/tax-abatements-for-two-companies-on.html








Saturday, August 3, 2013

Charles Parker: State Education Disarray Offers Chance For "Deep Breath"

Last week, news broke that Florida’s Commissioner of Education – Tony Bennett – had been accused of changing the school grade of an influential Republican’s charter school back when he ran the education system in Indiana.

Many of my liberal friends on Facebook gloated at the news.  (They had had little to say previously about Anthony Weiner or Eliot Spitzer, but they are education wonks so I give them a pass on that.)
I responded to them that it seemed that Bennett had discovered a flaw in the state’s school grading system after being alerted by the aforementioned Republican donor/charter school maven.  However, as I also said to them, when he fixed the charter school’s issue, many schools benefitted from the fix.

A couple of days after my social network networking, Bennett resigned from Florida’s top spot, claiming innocence and noting he didn’t want to be a distraction to Governor Rick Scott’s education agenda.  (This, of course, in political terms means he was pressured to resign by someone on Scott’s team.)
Sources from Indiana (yes, I have friends in Indiana) tell me that there may be more smoke and maybe even some fire coming – so I think his resignation is a good thing.

Governor Scott has a lot on his education plate right now: FCAT writing scores last year were a hot mess, Common Core State Standards are supposed to be in place by next year and the test is not ready (and neither is anyone else), new teacher evaluation systems are in need of tweaking, and the list goes on.
Many state Democrats and the state’s teacher’s union want Florida to go back to electing the state’s education chief.  I haven’t really thought much about that except that if they want it, I probably don’t.  I generally think to the winner goes the spoils – so the governor should be able to appoint most of his team to implement his agenda.

Locally, we’ve had schools closing, teachers threatening to jettison their union, parents forming political advocacy groups, and an ongoing old-fashioned food fight between the school board and the county commission.
It's been a dificult spring and a hot summer.  A new school year will start soon and the white boards will be clean and the bulletin boards will be colorful.  Everyone really needs to take a deep breath.

Scott has named Pam Stewart an interim.  She is the current K-12 overseer who was formerly the interim before Bennett – and she seems to have credibility with most folks.
Let’s give her some space – and maybe the job for real – and see if she can straighten things out.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

FIRST LOOK: 2014 Candidates for County Commission District 4

MELBOURNE, Florida - Though the 2014 elections are over a year away, many candidates are already qualifying, raising money, and campaigning.

Brevard Times will be visiting with them throughout the next year as they try to make convincing arguments to Brevard voters.

Following are the candidates running for Brevard County Commission District 4 – to replace retiring two-term commissioner Mary Bolin Lewis.

1. Name the three biggest challenges facing Brevard County right now.

Richard Charbonneau: A. Balance the Brevard budget, but not at the expense of increased taxes to the voters or by reduced services to the voters. Future medical benefits and retirement benefits could be a serious consideration.  B. Increase not the only amount of business dollars, but the number of businesses in total, because if business is increased then tax revenues will increase without the millage increasing.  Increasing home sales prices and the number of new home starts would follow as part of the plan.  C. Institute more transparency in Brevard government and separate Brevard type governing from Federal type governing.
Bill Klein: As the county seat, continued development of the Viera area is essential to ensure the efficiency of government services.  Planned community development will enable the area to grow while supporting the government services located within the area. County ordinances should be responsible yet unobtrusive.  The foundation of the counties zoning ordinances should reflect the needs of the community including that of our business partners.  Common sense should be the measurement upon which zoning is patterned.  We need to aggressively look at expanding our workforce opportunities by bringing in other private industries not dependent of government contracts and congressional budgeting.

Lisa McDermott:  A. Insuring government rules and regulation do not prohibit businesses from bringing jobs to Brevard, to help us reduce unemployment; B. Meeting the needs of the community while keeping taxes low; C. Finding the right balance of tax cuts with services.
Adam Perez: One of the largest challenges facing Brevard County right now is unfunded transportation project. This item under capital improvements totals approximately half a billion dollars, with road maintenance making up 77 million dollars of that amount. Currently there is no sustainable funding source for maintenance. Even though District 4 is blessed to have quality roads, some areas of the county are not as fortunate, with the northernmost and southernmost portions of Brevard feeling the brunt of this issue. I believe it is important for commissioners to work together to improve the county regardless of district bounds.

Curtis Smith: The three biggest challenges facing the county are bringing new jobs and industry to the Space Coast, focusing on needs instead of wants, and an overall lack of vision.  With the end of the Space Shuttle Program, Brevard has lost thousands of jobs which have not been replaced. The County Commission must pursue job creating goals to make the Space Coast attractive to new businesses. We must adopt a philosophy that scrutinizes every penny the Commission spends by focusing on the tasks that the County must do, as opposed to what it would like to do.

2. If $1 million needed to be cut from the county budget immediately, what spending would you cut and/or what revenue would you raise to match $1 million.
Charbonneau: A. Number one would be the elimination of the costly $6.2 million dollar purchase (Commissioner Infantini’s figures) of two AS-350 helicopters for mosquito control. B. As my campaign suggests I will work for $1.00 an additional savings of about $58,000.  C. The idea of keeping Howard Tipton as county manager @ $185,000 a year when he expresses the wish to leave and also keeping deputy manager Stockton Whitten who claims he is ready to manage now… is a travesty of fairness to the voters or Brevard.

Klein: Without sitting down with each department head including the county manager and his staff and analyzing each department’s budget, I am hesitant to single out a line item to be cut.  Obviously the last place I would look at in diminishing staff and or services would be in public safety.  The quality of life experience we enjoy in Brevard is dependent on how well our public safety departments operate.
McDermott: One million dollars given to the Community Based Organizations could be cut, there are funds being dispersed to those who raise their own funds. They don't need tax dollars.

Perez: A plausible source of revenue that intrigues me would be the transitioning of some of the County’s tax-exempted parcels over to the private sector. Of course the question of “Are these properties necessary to retain in order to preserve a sensitive environmental system” must be asked and answered. This transition would not only provide a one-time source of revenue, but an annual cash flow due to the removal of the properties’ tax-exempt status. In addition, investment opportunities in the private sector could be created.
Smith: If $1 million had to be cut from the budget immediately, I would ask the Commission to identify 15-20 vacant county positions that do not have to be filled this year. We would then advise the County Manager to not hire those positions and the cost savings in the current year should exceed $1 million. The average county employee's salary, health care insurance, retirement contributions, and other benefits approaches $60 thousand per year. In the long term, this strategy will yield real year to year financial benefits.

3. Should changes be made in the relationship between Brevard County and the EDC, CRA's, and EOZ's?
Charbonneau: County Government should have a strong tie to the EDC, but with some qualifications.  In the federal government the president appoints his cabinet members BUT with the advice and consent of the Senate. The same limits should be with the relationship between Brevard County and EDC.  While I support and agree with the idea of the agency (CRA) in general I see the potential for abuse and favoritism. I see some overlapping in the missions of the EOZs and CRAs, but like in the CRA’s I would tend to look favorably to continuing the relationship. with oversight and transparency.

Klein: The relationship between the BoCC and the various community development committees or authorities should remain consistent with the state statutes that establish such agencies.  Direction by the commission should reflect the needs of the county based on the intended vision and strategic plan.

McDermott: A. I think the EDC is a vital part of Brevard's Economic Growth, so I don't think there should be any changes made with the EDC; B. YES, there should be changes made to the CRA'S. They should be sunsetted long before the 20 or 30 years they are given now. They take million of dollars from the general fund each year, but the commission only has semi-control; C. YES, I think there should be a change.  The economy and jobs in Titusville are important, but the county must be careful with funneling too much money into one district.

Perez: It would not be right for me to pass judgment on these commissions without personally working in depth with them. With any business decision there will be an opposing view, and these commissions have done a great deal for Brevard. In general I am not a fan of companies receiving tax abatements that don’t fulfill their end of the bargain. These abatements should also be at a competitive value, we should not mistakenly use tax payer’s money to bring businesses to Brevard. In addition, I do not favor long term holding of usable properties by the government.
 
Smith: In light of recent reports regarding local CRAs, the relationship between Brevard County and these redevelopment zones has to change. First, there is no real oversight of the money spent by Brevard's CRAs. Also, since the unincorporated parts of the County have to incur the burden from the lost revenue created by CRAs, the County must ensure Brevard's taxpayers are getting a fair deal. With regards to other non-governmental agencies, I think the Commission should provide greater scrutiny of the dollars spent and the level of service received.

4. Why you?

Charbonneau: I will do the job for $1.00 (one dollar) and I doubt that any other candidates will do the same.  I have lived a life believing and practicing that successful people owe to pay back or pay it forward to their community. I’m dedicated to make a difference and not have a financial motive for doing so. I also have a unique experience in bidding, and successfully managing construction jobs in my own company for many years.  I will never ever vote or let a vote pass while I can still speak out that cuts law enforcement or fire fighting. 

Klein: As a former Law Enforcement Officer and Firefighter I am uniquely qualified in understanding public safety issues.  Besides my public service career, other life experiences include serving as a Department Chair at Brevard Community College, operating a private security company, retail business experience and assisting government agencies across the United Sates with emergency planning procedures.  Additionally, as a Vietnam combat veteran, I have a great appreciation for those in our community who have served in our military.   My platform is to build on past achievements while addressing issues not yet resolved.

McDermott: I will improve and develop the economic growth of Brevard County by reaching out to and encouraging our large and small businesses, I will minimize regulations that strangle businesses, support tax incentives for both new and existing businesses, promote the growth of Port Canaveral, help local businesses grow and thrive bringing more jobs to Brevard County, support law enforcement, educators, and firefighters, respect our abundant senior citizen population.

Perez: I am not going to sit here and tell you a bunch of cliché campaign selling points from government transparency, smaller government, economical development, budget reduction, and/or lower taxes. Those should be the obvious goal of any commissioner. I believe that the core of the government should be focused around community and the people within it. As commissioner you have many county and advisory boards which you are responsible to make appointments to, it is important that people of exceptional moral and ethical standards are on them. In addition, I will bring a monthly open house to District 4.

Smith: Background, qualifications, and experience. I am a husband, father, and grandfather. I've owned and operated a business in Brevard for 26 years. My wife Linda and I have employed many county residents and served 34,000 customers in Brevard. My philosophy is "conservative" and I believe we should spend less than we take in. I've done that in my personal life and in my business and it has worked well for both. I know the County can do the same--being debt free. This creates a model for successful living: focusing on needs rather than wants.
 
Other candidates David Armstrong, Randall Brungart, Gregory Jones, and Matt Nye did not respond to repeated attempts by Brevard Times in relation to this story.