Today we continue our series on letting voters know exactly where the Boca Raton and Delray Beach candidates stand as we hear from Boca Raton City Council Seat D candidates. Make certain you subscribe to this column as we continue our local coverage on the campaigns. On Monday we wrote about the Boca Raton Mayoral race and yesterday on the Boca Raton City Council Seat B race. There are three candidates in the Seat D race: Rosetta Bailey, Robert Weinroth and Yaniv Alcalay. Tomorrow we will start on the Delray Beach races for city council and all the races will end with the election on March 11, 2014.
Unfortunately voters will have to do without Alcalay's answers as he chose not to respond, however both Bailey and Weinroth answered fully for voters to decide who appeals to them more regarding the issues.
1) Are you in favor of business licensing laws and ordinances?
Bailey: To encourage new business to come to Boca the regulations should not be to the point of hinderance, this discourages people from starting a business. More freedom less regulation(s).
Weinroth: YES. In a quotation, attributed to US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes Jr, said, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." Every act of the government to regulate and control is not an attack on personal freedom. In the instant case, it could be argued that business licensing is just another excuse to levy a tax upon a commercial activity. I prefer to see the licensing as a way for the governmental unit (albeit state, county or municipality) as a way to protect the public. Coupled with the need to license a commercial enterprise is the requirement that the activity will occur in a place zoned for the business activity. This serves to protect the of abutting neighbors to the quiet enjoyment of their residence. Likewise, a safety inspection of the proposed location (repeated at periodic intervals) protects the people working or visiting the business location.
2) Do you feel the Boca Raton Police Chief should focus and prioritize the department's efforts on crimes where there is an actual victim or continue the way things are?
Bailey: I would have to know more about the crimes and how they are handled in Boca before I could comment on this issue
Weinroth: The Mission Statement of the Boca Raton Police Services Department is to, "enhance the quality of life in the City of Boca Raton through progressive police service in partnership with the community." You could easily roll your eyes and conclude the Mission Statement fails to establish objective criteria for the evaluation the department's performance. I think this would be an unfair assessment of the Mission Statement or the way in which the Police Services officers interact with the residents of our city.
The City of Boca Raton is an attractive target for crime. The easy on and off access to the interstate highway and turnpike allow for easy access and get-away. The sworn men and women employed by our police services office are trained to act in a professional fashion when interacting with the public. The values of Fairness, Integrity, Respect, Service & Trust (both of the city residents and by the city residents of their police department) are components of the department's Value Statement.
The overall program of law enforcement and community outreach have the combined effect of making people feel safe. Public Safety is a highly valued quality of life for city residents. A comprehensive program of enforcement has contributed to the feeling of well being we enjoy as we move about. Without some specific situation being cited where the use of police powers would not seem to be warranted, I am unable to subscribe to the underlying assumption in your question.
3) Would you like to see more gun control in Florida, do you feel we have the right mix of laws concerning firearms or do we need to repeal some laws to be more in compliance of the Second Amendment?
Bailey: Our constitution and bill of rights is the answer. Our second amendment right and the word RIGHT is the answer.
Weinroth: I do not take issue with the current mix of laws concerning firearms. This is not, however, a municipal issue. Our State legislature and the federal government have pre-empted the enforcement of ordinances that conflict with the federal and state statutes.
4) Do you feel a small business in Boca should be able to operate the way they see fit or should city, county, state and the federal government come in to dictate how they should run their business.
Bailey: I am a small government thinking person, the less we have of federal government control the better.
Weinroth: This is really a corollary to the issues addressed in question 1. When you say a business should be able to operate, "the way they see fit," I must assume you would not defend the use of child labor, the creation of "sweatshops" with poor working conditions, a long history of workplace accidents that could have been avoided or a hostile or offensive work environment. I would also be surprised if you did not agree with the need to ensure the safety of the consumer of defective products or services. For these reasons, I would not allow businesses to operate in the way they deem appropriate.
5) Are you in favor of making Internet WiFi available to the entire city if paid either by the private sector or by the city? If paid by the city, would you favor raising any taxes to pay for the service?
Bailey: NO. No more entitlements, the library has the free computers and the free internet service.
Weinroth: The is a case of first impression. As I read the question I cannot see a reason to block the availability of WiFi throughout the city. I would not, however, be in favor of raising taxes for this service. Before voting this up or down, I would press the City Council to investigate how other municipalities have addressed this issue and, where free WiFi was provided, how the system was protected from hackers or viruses, and the mechanism for making the system available without taxpayer contribution.
6) Do you favor corporate welfare? This is the method of giving tax breaks to companies that stay or relocate here in exchange for creating a certain number of jobs to the city.
Bailey: If we give corporate tax breaks someone else has to pick up the cost and usually it is the tax payers.
Weinroth: Terming the Economic Development initiatives that have brought Cancer Treatment Centers of America and Office Depot's world headquarters from IL to FL, as many other success stories which have retained and/or added over 5,000 jobs in the past 4 years "Corporate Welfare" is truly unfortunate. Working with Kelly Smallridge, president of the Businesses Development Board, our city has built a diversified business base. The result has been good paying jobs available for our residents. It is good to know when our children graduate they will not be forced to commute to Miami, West Palm Beach, Boston, NY or LA to get a job the challenges and rewards them.
I am not so as naive to believe that some of the companies purportedly lured to our city would have come without the tax incentives or incentive payments. However, the scorecard for our investment in these new company's demonstrates objective results (job growth and expanding tax base). The "welfare: as you term it, is not allocated to the businesses we are trying to attract without receiving agreement from the company to conditions and benchmarks of performance to protect our investment,
7) How, if at all, do you feel taxes could be reduced for residents and businesses in Boca over the next 3 years?
Bailey: Too broad of a question and this would have to be on a group think and research. We would have to look at the future costs to the city and take it from there. Don't forget that the new railroad crossings 25% will have to be paid by the residents of Boca, the 50% will be paid by the state of Florida (our tax dollars) and 25% by the county of PBC (our tax dollars) that is only one example.
Weinroth: The best way to reduce taxes is to expand the tax base. This will be accomplished by the continued build-out of the areas where construction (both residential and commercial) is possible. There are over 1MM sq ft of commercial space available in Boca Raton. Much of it will need to be upgraded (redeveloped) to accommodate the latest technologies. Fiber optics are rapidly replacing coaxial able for the delivery of data.
Additionally, as our real estate values begin to rise (albeit at a slower more sustainable rate than prior to the bursting of the real estate "bubble") tax revenues will increase unless the City Council rolls the tax rates (millage) back. Hopefully, we will learn from the past that spending those extra dollars embeds additional costs into future budgets (e.g. payroll and maintenance of the facilities acquired during boom times). It is important for our elected representatives to engage in fact based decision making to avert such a result in the future.
8) Are you in favor of red light camera use in Boca?
Bailey: NO NO and NO. The government intrudes on our personal lives enough. This invasion of privacy is getting way out of hand it is bad enough that the license plates have identification.
Weinroth: NO. I am not at all sure we haven't just traded one type of intersection accident for another. Data I have read (from secondary sources) would appear to demonstrate the increase in rear end accidents at intersections with red light cameras has increased faster than the reduction of accidents within the intersection. It is also apparent, the only entities making any money from the red light cameras are the companies leasing the cameras to the county and municipal governments. The municipal police officers must review the video documentation for each alleged violation to confirm a violation appears to have occurred. Likewise, the municipality mist adjudicate the appeals of the red light camera tickets. Given the questionable improvement in safety and the lack of any monetary benefit to the city, I would favor the elimination of red light cameras.