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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Time to end 'free ride' for the Broward Legislative Delegation on Broward taxpayers' back; they should pay ALL costs of an office few citizens know of

Below is a copy of an email that I sent Friday afternoon to Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry about a longstanding problem that I first noticed many months ago.

I also cc'd Broward County Commissioners Sue Gunzburger -who represent my part
of SE Broward on the Comm.
- Barbara Sharief, Chip LaMarca and Florida State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale, who in 2010, as a House member, was the Broward delegation's head, and who was a leader in the fight for stricter and more meaningful ethics legislation, as I have noted many times here previously.

Theoretically, I could have sent her the email at any point within the past four months and been just as correct as I was yesterday.
But a recent confluence of events: catching up on some noteworthy news articles I'd once seen and set aside to read again some day, plus, perhaps, some plain common sense kicking-in, had caused me to re-examine some public policy principles and look at them in a new light.

One of them concerned govt. officials who believe that it's perfectly reasonable for individuals who use certain govt. services not generally used by everyone else to pay their fair share.
Shouldn't that principle extend to the elected officials themselves?

Here. my logical conclusion is that if a service being provided by govt. is not available to other parties, it's only fair for elected officials who use it to pay for the true costs of the service themselves in proportion to some agreed-upon standard.

And yes, in case you were wondering, this is precisely the very problem that I alluded to earlier in the week in my post about the Florida House voting to repeal the red-light camera legislation they only approved just last year, and the nearly-invisible support for Broward County taxpayers by the Broward legislative delegation

May 6th, 2011

Dear Ms. Henry:

Problems continue to exist on the website of the taxpayer-supported
Broward Legislative Delegation Office.

To cite but the two most obvious ones, the pdf map used to show the
individual House and Senate districts have the names of some FORMER
members listed, NOT the current ones, for instance, Ellyn Bogdanoff,
David Rivera and Jeff Atwater are still listed.



Is it really too much to ask that it actually be current, accurate and
meaningful for Broward taxpayers?
I mean seriously, today is, supposedly, the last day of the 2011 session.
Shouldn't the info have been accurate BEFORE the session ever started?
It's worse than embarrassing.

Given the current state of the public purse in Broward County, perhaps
there needs to be a change instituted, wherein that particular office
is paid for DIRECTLY out of the individual legislative member's office
accounts, rather than through the wallets and purses of Broward

My experience the past few years is that despite what it may say on
the website, the office seems to exist almost exclusively for the
professional benefit of the individual legislative members and NOT
the Broward public it's supposed to represent and benefit.

In what TANGIBLE ways do the people of Broward actually benefit?
Instead, it seems like an abstract, unfunded mandate from Tallahassee.

I make my suggestion for the most obvious reason: if the individual
legislative delegation members were forced to pay for it themselves,
they'd have more incentive to actually make sure that it was accurate,
timely, professional and actually worthwhile to the public, but because
it isn't, it's exactly what it looks like right now -completely useless.
In this case, a self-evident useless mess that costs money.

I defy you to find any current relevant information on the site
at all.
In fact, I'd be very interested in knowing exactly when the last
two additions to the site were actually even made.
From the looks of things, my own guess is that it'd be sometime
between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I look forward to your response, Ms. Henry.

Despite it being a Friday, to her great credit,
Ms. Henry quickly responded and wrote the following:

I have forwarded your email regarding the Legislative Delegation Office to its executive director, Sandy Harris. As to not having the information on the County’s website up to date, the appropriate staff will contact Ms. Harris to get corrected information.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

I'll post whatever response I get, obviously, but the larger issue is NOT the incorrect names that are on the map but whether it's at all appropriate for Broward County taxpayers to be paying for a service that ONLY benefits state legislators.
I do not believe it is.

I don't want to do away with Ms. Harris' job, rather I simply want Broward legislators to pay ALL the costs associated with the office they currently have provided for their use, which includes her salary and benefits, whatever that happens to be.

An office that probably ought to be physically located elsewhere, don't you think, so that space in the Broward County Govt. HQ can actually be used for something that actually BENEFITS the Broward residents who own it?
Yes, the days of providing free or reduced office space should be over.

Under this new financial scenario, that will likely mean that some of the Broward legislators will have to make some hard choices about how they use their office accounts, and may well have to do without something they previously used.

So be it.

Join the crowd.

So as to this new "user fee," d
ivide all the costs associated with that office -personnel, rent, equipment, office supplies, et al- by the number of people living in Broward based on the 2010 U.S. census.
Having now arrived at the cost to each citizen, multiply that number, X, by the number of Broward residents in that legislator's particular district, Y, and you arrives at the amount that legislator must pay, Z.

If they collectively want to spend more or less, fine, but as they're already using taxpayer funds in the first place, now, they'll have to take full financial responsibility for what level of service they want, and they will feel and bear the true cost directly.
No more using the Broward County taxpayer as the 24/7 ATM that's always loaded with cash.

Very simple.
As easy as X,Y, Z.

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