Political hot potato returns

first_img Passions were raised by county commissioners and employees Monday as commissioners unanimously agreed to place a county assistance sales tax district proposal on the May election ballot, after it had previously been rejected last November.County Judge Ron Eckert presented a number of facts behind the proposed sales tax, and the implications should it be passed, during the regular scheduled commissioners’ court meeting as he pleaded with those in attendance to discard the baggage of apathy and involve themselves in the issues facing their community.“Seems like déjà vu,” Eckert said as he began his presentation on the sales tax.The sales tax proposal, which was initially rejected by voters by a nearly 2-1 margin last November, would create a county assistance district, implementing a 1.25 percent sales tax on goods in unincorporated Ector County, excluding Odessa and Goldsmith, and would only be voted on by residents in that district. The tax can only be used to fund programs and projects such as roads and highways, law enforcement, libraries, museums, parks, and any services determined to benefit public welfare.Eckert argued that the increase in population in unincorporated areas, like West Odessa, which he said has a population of more than 50,000, means the responsibility of infrastructure for these growing areas has fallen entirely on the county, which currently is funded by property taxes and fees.“Ector County is given all of the responsibility, but no resources from the sales tax,” Eckert told the courtroom.To give an example of what kind of impact the proposed tax could have, Eckert talked about the effect it has had in Midland, where he said the tax has increased revenue for the county by millions of dollars, and has led to them overhauling their infrastructure, building a new courthouse, library and events center, and paving all of their county roads.Compared to Midland County’s reserve fund of more than $70 million, County Auditor David Austin said Ector County currently has a reserve fund of around $9 million. Eckert brought up the problems with Ector County’s current budget, which has less than $5 million devoted to highways, and county buildings falling apart.“You have a Midland that is modern, and you have an Odessa that’s getting old,” Eckert said. “You could almost call it ‘Oldessa.’ That’s what this sales tax attempts to counteract.”Austin told the court that with an implemented sales tax, the county could generate almost $16 million in sales tax per year.Precinct 1 Commissioner Eddy Shelton said that this tax is necessary, as it helps cover some of the biggest needs facing this county, such as law enforcement, roads, and health.“It brings revenue into our community by people who use the facilities, but don’t necessarily own property,” Shelton said. “It’s a win-win for the county.”Simmons, who agreed with placing the sales tax on the ballot, told Eckert he felt like there was a lot of grandstanding in his speech, and that he failed to mention Midland had just issued $200 million in debt to take care of their roads. He also said there was a misconception about the property tax.“I think we’re fooling ourselves and the voters if we think we’re going to turn around and reduce people’s property tax,” Simmons told the court. “I think that’s a misconception that we don’t need out there.”Simmons added that the county needs to reiterate to those who will be voting on the proposed tax that these funds will be used for commodities they have asked for, such as improved roads and additional law enforcement on patrol.“I think if you go out and tell somebody in Gardendale, “hey, if you’ll pay more sales tax, I can give Greg Simmons inside the city limits a tax break on his property taxes,” I think that’s not going to be a selling point to them,” Simmons said.Eckert told Simmons that he never said they would lower the property tax, but that they could, and that, had the sales tax been in effect since the option became available in 2007, the property tax may not be at the rate it is now.“If you’re going to ask people to vote for it, you’ve got to put it into something that they can see as a purpose to vote for it,” Simmons replied.Eckert said he had gone out to areas such as Gardendale and took the time to find out the priorities of the people in those communities, and added that he’s never told anyone how to vote and wouldn’t do so. He said it’s up to the citizen to educate themselves, and he’s just providing the information.Austin added that, while the proposed sales tax may not lower the property tax, it could see it stabilized, and potentially lower the property tax in coming years.Precinct 3 Commissioner Dale Childers said he thought everyone in the room knew the tax was necessary, but that they were relying on 22,000 registered voters to accept it. He told Eckert he would have loved to go to the county with him to spread information, but was unable to because of the open meetings act, and emphasized using organized methodology to get information about the sales tax out.“What prevented you from having your own meeting,” Eckert asked Childers.“To be quite honest, what prevented anybody else other than me from going out and meeting with their own constituents?” Childers responded, adding that he had no constituents out in the county.Eckert told him that if he had any better ideas, he would like to see them, and said he was the only one to hold any informational meetings out in public the last time the tax proposal was on the ballot in November.Simmons asked Eckert why he was acting so defensive, telling him he was making this into “some kind of a political deal.”“It’s not political at all, I’m not even seeking re-election,” Eckert said. “This is not just going to be a ‘me’ thing. It never was.”Eckert said he wasn’t playing politics, but that he cared about Ector County and wanted to improve it.“I found something that I think could be worth $300-330 million, if not more money than that, to Ector County over the next 20 years, and all of a sudden I’m grandstanding?” Eckert asked. “No, I’m not. I’m not interested in this office anymore after I’m out of this.”Several suggestions were made as to how the county could spread information on the tax. Austin told commissioners the county could send out fact sheets and mailers providing just facts on the proposal, and Health Department Director Gino Solla suggested sending out information to voters through social media like Facebook and Twitter.The commissioners then unanimously agreed to place the proposed sales tax initiative onto the May ballot, which voters in Ector County will be able to decide on when the election is held May 5.IN OTHER BUSINESS, COMMISSIONERS:• appointed Dr. John Rogers and Mark Merritt as members of the Ector County Airport Advisory Board.• received a presentation from Wesley Burnett regarding requested economic development incentives, including property tax abatements, sought by Oberon Solar LLC in connection with a potential solar power project in Ector County.• reviewed a yearly report from Vector Fleet Management and approved the acceptance of a check of $51,079 on the Cost Savings Sharing Plan.• approved the placement of signs in the Ector County Courthouse.• tabled an item regarding proposed notary fees to be charged for notarizing documents associated with game room applicants, to be brought up at a later meeting proposing notary fees county-wide.• approved the 2017 Annual List of Gifts and Memorials to the Ector County Library.• permitted the maintenance director to use betterment allowance or make change orders between commissioners’ court meetings relating to the construction of the jail expansion.• approved the proposed purchase of a new reach-in heated cabinet for the jail kitchen.• approved the use of betterment allowance funds to pay for change proposal No. 1, also referred to as CP No. 1, for the new jail addition.• approved the sale by auction of assets and other items on the attached lists.• approved a proposed resolution approving the bringing of a lawsuit on behalf of Ector County against various drug manufacturers, developers, suppliers and any other potential defendant in connection with a class of pharmaceutical class of drugs commonly referred to as opioids, and approved a proposed retention agreement with Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, P.C. and Robert E. White, Attorney at Law.• approved a request to install “advisory speed” limit signs and “rough road” signs on Westcliff Road from 57th Street to Yukon Road.• approved the following bid specification: Ector County Law Enforcement Waterline Extension.• approved the following bid specifications: Liquid asphalt emulsion, asphalt patching material, graded base material, seal coat aggregate, water and commercial laundry equipment for various facilities.• approved a proposal for the abatement of vehicles.• approved a revised general utility easement for the jail expansion site.• approved a resolution and application for Fiscal Year 2019 and 2020 victim assistance grant Nos. 3288402 and 3546601.• authorized Oncor Electric Delivery, LLC to provide electric facilities to provide electric service for the asphalt emulsion tank located at the Highways and Streets Department for a few of $3,948.64.• approved a proposed change order to replace PVC storm drains to code-approved piping for the Law Enforcement Center jail addition.• approved the proposed renewal of the Social Marketplace Advertising Agreement for an additional six-month social media campaign in relation to the Ector County Immunization Grant.• approved a proposed interlocal application for immunization program funds for fiscal year 2018-2019, and to enter into a contract with the Texas Department of State Health Services for the purpose of providing immunization services to Ector County.• approved proposed step changes for two jailers promoted to corporal.• approved a proposal to set starting pay for TVFC/ImmTrac Program Outreach Specialist at $14.30/hour.• approved a proposed MHRC Jones Landscape to serve a 2.61 acre tract of land in Section 31, Block 41, and a proposed MHRC for 2.93 acres on 3537 and 3545 N. Mercedes Westgate Acres.• approved the transfer of a copier, from postage and reproduction, to post-sentence monitoring, and with the proposed line item transfers to post-sentence monitoring, copier lease contract in the amount of $1,332, to post-sentence monitoring, office supplies in the amount of $100 from postage and reproduction, copier lease contract in the amount of $1,165, from post-sentence monitoring, departmental furniture and equipment in the amount of $167, and from postage and reproduction, copier supplies in the amount of $100.• approved proposed budget amendments to general fund, OOG Grant- sheriff’s office body armor program, and to sheriff’s office law enforcement supplies, in the amount of $24,540, and a proposed budget amendment to coliseum fund, subscriptions from unreserved fund balance in the amount of $6,000, and a proposed budget amendment to capital improvement fund, road construction from unreserved fund balance in the amount of $98,600.• received the accounts payable fund requirements report for Feb. 12, 2018 to review county financial statements and reports. 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December 1, 2003 On the Move

first_img December 1, 2003 Regular News December 1, 2003 On the Move James T. Demarest has been promoted to partner of Quarles & Brady, L.L.P., with relocated offices at 1395 Panther Lane, Ste. 300, Naples 34109, telephone (239) 262-5959. He concentrates in commercial litigation, business law, and bankruptcy. Jennifer Sweeting has become an associate of Banks & Morris, P.A., with offices at 103 N. Gadsden St., Tallahassee 32301, telephone (850) 681-1010. She concentrates in marital and family law. Paul Freedman and Joel A. Kaplan of Kaplan & Freedman, P.A., and Cindy Niad Hannah announce the formation of MediationOne, with offices in Ft. Lauderdale, Aventura, Dadeland, and at 44 W. Flagler St., Ste. 900, Miami 33130, telephone (305) 329-2522. Melissa G. Thorn has become a partner with Arnstein & Lehr, L.L.P., with offices located at 201 S. Biscayne Blvd., Ste. 400, Miami 33131, telephone (305) 374-3330. She concentrates in the areas of environmental law, land use, real estate, commercial litigation, and administrative law. April West has joined Kirwin Norris, P.A., with offices at 338 W. Morse Blvd., Ste. 150, Winter Park 32789, telephone (407) 740-6600. She concentrates in construction law. Kelly S. Hughes has joined Whelan, DeMaio & Kiszkiel, P.A., with offices at 1401 Brickell Ave., Ste. 500, Miami 33131, telephone (305) 374-0506. Jill Ellen Kelso has joined Akerman Senterfitt, with offices at 255 S. Orange Ave., 17th Fl., Orlando 32801, telephone (407) 843-7861. She joins the firm’s bankruptcy group. Robert Sellars has joined ARC Mediation, with offices at 777 S. Flagler Dr., Ste. 800, West Palm Beach 33401, telephone (561) 515-6044. Monique A. Parker has joined the Law Office of Murray B. Silverstein, P.A., with offices located at Bank of America Tower, One Progress Plaza, Ste. 2200, St. Petersburg 33701, telephone (727) 822-7750. Charles T. Moore has become a shareholder with the newly named Knopik Varner Moore ; Offices are located at 406 S. Morgan St., Tampa 33602, telephone (813) 221-3131. The firm practices in medical malpractice, personal injury, wrongful death, commercial litigation, business torts, and securities litigation. David M. Platt has joined Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., with offices at 1715 Monroe St., Ft. Myers 33902, telephone (941) 334-4121. He practices in the areas of estate planning, estate and trust administration, and elder law. Amelia “Mel” Rea Maguire has become a partner with Steel, Hector & Davis, L.L.P., with offices at 200 S. Biscayne Blvd., Ste. 4000, Miami 33131-2398, telephone (305) 577-7000. She practices in the firm’s corporate and securities finance group. John C. Hanson II and Luis A. Espino have joined Arnstein & Lehr, L.L.P., with offices located at 201 S. Biscayne Blvd., Ste. 400, Miami 33131, telephone (305) 374-3330. Hanson practices in complex civil litigation, eminent domain, commercial contracts, and sexual torts. Espino practices in commercial litigation and real estate law. Ross L. Bilbrey and J. Tracy Cowan, both formerly of the Naval Legal Service Office Central at Naval Air Station Pensacola, announce the formation of Bilbrey & Cowan, P.A., with offices at 200 E. Government St., Ste. 210, Pensacola 32502, telephone (850) 438-3338. The firm practices in the areas of family law, estate planning and probate, civil and commercial litigation, and criminal law. Kathryn M. Fried has been named a partner with Lash & Goldberg, L.L.P., with offices at the Bank of America Tower, 100 S.E. Second St., Ste. 1200, Miami 33131, telephone (305) 347-4040. She practices in the areas of commercial litigation, health law, and employment law. Audrey Kaplan Brisgel, formerly with the National Association of Securities Dealers, has become an associate at Hagen & Hagen, with offices at 3531 Griffin Road, Ft. Lauderdale 33312, phone (954) 987-0515. She concentrates in commerical and securities litigation, real estate transactions, and family law. Brian L. Lerner, Allyson Renee duLac, Jeffrey R. Geldens, and Javier A. Reyes have become associates at Hogan & Hartson, L.L.P., Miami Office, Mellon Financial Center, 1111 Brickell Ave., Suite 1900, Miami 33131, phone (305) 439-6500. Lerner concentrates on defense of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims, duLac in commercial litigation and healthcare, Geldens in transactional matters in Latin American and litigation, and Reyes in international litigation. Nichole M. Mooney, Joseph “Jay” Van Heyde II, Stephen R. Looney, David A. Gunter, and Mark R. Leavitt have become shareholders of DeanMead. Mooney, Van Heyde, Looney, and Leavitt practice in the firm’s Orlando office at 800 N. Magnolia Ave., Suite 1500, Orlando 32803, phone (407) 841-1200, and Gunter practices in the firm’s Melbourne Office at 8240 Devereux Drive, Suite 100, Melbourne 32940, phone (321) 259-8900. Kevin J. Vander Kolk has joined Harrell & Johnson, 4735 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville ????? He concentrates in represention of individual plaintiffs in personal injury cases. René L. Arbuckle has opened an office at 677 N. Washington Blvd., #110, Sarasota 34236, phone (941) 952-5810. She concentrates in arts and entertainment law. Ryan M. Cardoso and Sarah E. Spector have become associates at Schumaker, Loop & Kendrick, L.L.P. Cardoso will work in the firm’s commerical litigation practice, while Spector will be in the firm’s real estate practice. Christopher J. O’Rand has become an associate with Markowitz, Davis, Ringel & Trusty, P.A., Two Datran Center, Suite 1225, 2130 S. Dadeland Blvd., Miami 33156-7849, phone (305) 670-5000. He concentrates in commercial litigation, assignment of benefit for creditors, probate and guadianship litigation, preference litigation, and corporate transactions. Caria Burgess Diaz has become special counsel with Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann, L.L.C., 546 Carondelet St., New Orleans, LA 70130-3588, phone (504) 593-0953. She joins the firm’s litigation section. L.A. Perkins has become an associate with Buckingham Doolittle & Burroughs, L.L.P., 2500 North Military Trail, Suite 480, Boca Raton 33431, phone (561) 241-0414. She concentrates in commercial litigation, employment law, creditors’ rights, and real estate. Cynthia I. Rice announces the opening of Cynthia I. Rice, P.A., at 23201 Northeast Coachman Road, Suite 102, Clearwater 33765, phone (727) 799-1277. The firm concentrates in estate planning, wills, trust, probate and trust administration, guadianships, residential real estate, and corporate law. Melissa Paul, former in-house counsel for Federal Express Corporation, has joined Sandler, Travis and Rosenberg, P.A., 5200 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 600, Miami 33126, phone (305) 267-9200. She practices in the firm’s international trace and customs practice. Richard P. Lee has joined Lutz, Webb, Bobo, & Eastman. The new firm name is Lutz, Webb, Bobo, Eastman & Lee, P.A., with offices at 2155 Delta Blvd, Suite 210-B, Tallahassee 32303-4209, phone (850) 521-0890.The Law Offices of Troy D. Ferguson, P.A., announces the relocation of its offices to 3001 SW 3rd Ave., Miami 33129, phone (305) 858-0888. The firm concentrates in criminal defense, commerical and civil litigation, appeals, trials, and class action suits.Bull and Associates announces a name change to Bull and Romero, P.A., with offices at 111 N. Orange Ave., Suite 950, Orlando 32801, phone (407) 843-5291. LaShanda R. Dawkins, formerly of the Duval County School Board’s legal staff, has joined the Office of General Counsel for the City of Jacksonville, at 117 W. Duval Street, Suite 480, Jacksonville 32202, phone (904) 630-3456. She works in the General Litigation Department. Vivian de las Cuevas-Diaz has become associated with Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Guedes Cole & Boniske, P.A., at 2665 S. Bayshore Drive, Suite 420, Miami 33133, phone (305) 854-0800. She concentrates in commercial real estate transactions, condominium conversion, commercial lending, and corporate creation. Richard A. Serafina, formerly senior trial counsel and litigator with the U.S. Department of Justice, has joined Greenberg Traurig, L.L.P., at 401 East Las Olas Blvd., Suite 2000, Ft. Lauderdale 33301, phone (954) 765-0500. He practices in healthcare, white collar crime, civil fraud defense, and securities. Edward A. Doskey has become a partner in the Kimsey Law Group, at 3816 W. Linebaugh Ave., Suite 412,Tampa 33618, phone (813) 265-9292. He concentrates on disability insurance law and ERISA, as well as employment law, insurance law, and workers’ compensation. Doreen S. Young, formerly of Holland & Knight, has become vice president in the legal department of Morgan Stanley DW, Inc., at 240 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, 34236, phone (941) 957-5583. V.A. Edwards-Cordoba anounces the opening The Edwards-Cordoba Law & Mediation Practice, P.L., at 1800 N. Federal Highway, Suite 106, Pompano Beach 33062, telephone (954) 784-3127. Rachel Albritton Lunsford has joined Albritton & Associates Lawyers, P.A., at 100 Madison St., Suite 300, Tampa 33602, phone (813) 229-3481. The firm practices in civil litigation, wills, and probate administration. Lunsford also has become of counsel to Albritton & Sebring, a firm practicing in the area of personal injury, medical malpractice, and nursing home abuse cases. Michael J. McCluskey has become a full partner in Fox, Wackeen, Dungey, Sweet, Beard & Sobel. The firm name has been changed to Fox, Wackeen, Dungey, Sweet, Beard, Sobel & McCluskey, L.L.P. He concentrates in ad valorem tax litigation, collections, commercial litigation, and construction litigation. Cynthia Simpson, formerly of the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, has become associated with The Law Offices of Aronberg & Aronberg, at 2160 W. Atlantic Ave., 2nd Floor, Delray Beach 33445, phone (561) 266-9191. She practices in the firm’s litigation office. Dashia N. Thomas, formerly of Stiles, Taylor and Grace, P.A., and Jordan M. Cohen have become associated with Rakusin & Plotka, P.A., at SouthTrust Tower, One East Broward Blvd., Suite 444, Ft. Lauderdale 33101, phone (954) 356-0496. The firm concentrates in commercial, construction, creditors’ rights, and probate litigation. Foley & Lardner recently expanded its Florida offices with the addition of five new attorneys. Eric J. Eisnaugle and Dulcy A. Miller recently joined the firm’s Orlando office. Eisnaugle will assist in state and federal trial preparation, appellate representation, arbitration, mediation and alternative dispute resolution services. Miller will focus her practice on real estate development and environmental law. C. Ryan Maloney has joined the firm’s Jacksonville office as a member of the litigation department and general commercial litigation practice group. Megan J. Ellis and Amanda M. Uliano have joined the firm’s Tampa office. Ellis will practice in the business law department and Uliano in the litigation department.Heinrich Gordon Hargrove Weihe & James, P.A. has changed its name to Gordon Hargrove & James, P.A., upon the retirement of Eugene L. Heinrich, one of its founding partners, who is establishing his own Ft. Lauderdale mediation firm. Bruce A. Weihe remains a shareholder with the firm, which has offices in Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando. Geil S. Bilu announces the opening of Geil S. Bilu, P.A., with offices at 10 Fairway Drive, Suite 304, Deerfield Beach 33441, phone (954) 596-0669. Larry A. Strauss has become associated with Schwarzberg & Associates, with offices in the Esperante Building, 222 Lakeview Ave., Suite 210, West Palm Beach 33401, phone (561) 659-3300. Daniel A. Hoffe has joined Kirk-Pinkerton, P.A., with offices at P.O. Box 3798, Sarasota 34230, phone (941) 364-2400. He practices commercial and residential real estate law. Andrew A. Bokan and Marianne H. LePera has become associates with Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A. Bokan will practice in the area of general commercial litigation and employment law in the Ft. Myers office. LePera will focus her practice in the areas of business, technology, and communications law Bonita Springs office. Kevin R. Lottes has joined Quarles & Brady L.L.P., as a partner and John C. Clough has joined the firm as an associate, with offices located at 1395 Panther Lane, Suite 300, Naples 34109, phone (239) 262-5959. Lottes will focus his practice in the areas of real property, construction, business and commercial, and banking law issues. Clough will focus his practice on the areas of commercial litigation and business law. Janpaul Portal, formerly of Seiden, Alder & Matthewman P.A., in Boca Raton, has joined Ratzan & Alters P.A., as an associate, with offices at 200 S Biscayne Blvd., Suite 2990, Miami 33131-2310, phone (305) 374-6366. Portal will focus on cases involving medical malpractice, wrongful death, catastrophic personal injury. Whelan, DeMaio & Kiszkiel, P.A., has relocated to Brickell Bayview Centre, 80 Southwest 8th Street, Suite 1830, Miami 33130, phone (305) 374-0506. Derek Brett has joined The Law Offices Horwitz & Fussell, P.A., as an associate, with offices located at 17 E. Pine Street, Orlando 32801, telephone (407) 843-7733. The firm concentrates in the area of litigation. Carmen I. Tugender has joined Akerman Senterfitt as an associate in the litigation department of the firm’s Miami office. Tugender will consentrate her practice on appellate, class actions, and commercial litigation. Francisco A. Rodríguez has become an associate in Akerman Senterfitt’s Miami office. Rodríguez will concentrate his practice in commercial litigation. Annette M. James, formerly the judicial law clerk for Fourth District Court of Appeal Judge Bobby W. Gunther, has rejoined Carlton Fields as an associate in its St. Petersburg office’s Appellate Practice and Trial Support Practice Group.last_img read more