1. What are your qualifications to run as a Hollywood Commissioner.
I have always been involved in politics, including registering to run for a Commissioner seat in San Francisco, CA. I am an advertising executive with one of the world's largest advertising agencies. Over 20 years experience in advertising and publishing gives me a unique view on generating business and tourism interest in the city of Hollywood.
2. What made you decide to run for Commissioner?
Last year's referendum motivated me into action to run for City Commissioner. The mailers sent out by the city claimed that taxes would be raised if the citizens did not pass the resolution. To not raise taxes, vote to pass the resolution. However once the resolution passed, City Hall immediately raised taxes 11%. I felt this to be deceptive advertising.
3. What is your vision/goals for the City of Hollywood?
I see Hollywood as a mecca for technology companies. Close to the airport, but with a small home charm, the city is poised perfectly to take advantage of the new class of technologists that are starting the next world class technology company.
I see Hollywood as the last authentic beach city in South Florida. From Ft. Lauderdale to Palm Beach and from Aventura to South Beach, the beach communities have been taken over by high-rises and big developers, squeezing out families and small businesses.
Hollywood now has the highest property taxes in Broward county, having risen 23% in two years. High taxes chase away business and don't encourage home ownership. I will hold down taxes to allow Hollywood to remain competitive so more companies will choose Hollywood as their home.
4. Why would an AFSCME member vote for you?
I am the only candidate in Hollywood that prints "Pro-Labor" on all promotional materials. Flyers, lawn-signs, website, and print ads. I am proud to support labor and have the endorsement of the Broward AFL-CIO.
5. What are your views on the Financial Urgency declared by the Hollywood Commission for FY 2010/2011?
Years of financial mismanagement, and worse, years of lack of financial auditing let to the declaration of Urgency for 2010/2011. Providing the previous City Manager an $8,000 a month pension after being fired and indicted is a great injustice to the City of Hollywood and the people it serves. Once faced with a $38 million shortfall, the City Commission had to work within it's charter to balance the budget. However, I feel that where careful financial surgery was required, a financial sledge hammer (the referendum) was used instead.
6. Would you make it a priority to restore pay and benefits taken from employees during Financial Urgency?
7. How did you vote on the pension issue and why?
My campaign material states I am "Anti-Tax and Pro-Labor". On a philosophical level, I am more Anti-Tax. So I did not vote down the referendum, expecting to keep taxes from raising. So I feel doubly tricked when a stand I would never have taken otherwise turned out to be based on a false truth - the taxes rose anyway. My anger rose to the level of running to unseat the current commissioner. I am that serious.
8. In light of the budgetary restrictions affecting the city, what creative ideas do you propose?
I propose a line by line review of the budget to see where waste and mismanagement can be eliminated from the budget.
As commissioner I will also work twice as hard to increase business development within the city to increase the tax base. I will step up enforcement of collecting delinquent taxes to ensure everyone pays their fare share.
9. Do you think cutting worker's wages or benefits is an effective way to balance the budget or avoid lessening services? Why?
Proper collective bargaining is the one effective way to adjust workers wages and benefits. Like any corporation, a government must balance it's budget. Occasionally this will be through worker's compensation. Collective bargaining rights ensure that the adjustments are a fair and even. Cutting wages and benefits be decree or referendum is an end-run around the Unions and leads to mismanagement and mistrust of government.
10. What is your opinion on employees retiring from the city and then being hired as a private contractor or consultant in a same or similar job as the one they just retired from?
These shenanigans happen throughout Corporate America and Government. The best option I have as Commissioner is to ensure that once a person retires from a job, the job is posted as an open position and is budgeted.
11. Do you believe that the term "PUBLIC SAFETY" only allies to Police Officers and Firefighters?
While the Police and Firefighters keep us safe, City Employees ensure that street lights are working, water flows, and buildings are safe. This is the less dramatic, but equally important part of public safety.
12. Do you think it was right for the city to declare Financial Urgency in "this fund" but **NOT** "That Fund"? In other words, do you think it's right to declare Financial Urgency because the checking account was near zero will the savings account has plenty of money?
The easy answer is that money is money, and should be used as need to balance the budget. Money from the CRA could have been used to balance the General Fund. Unfortunately, there are complex State Laws that govern how the money can be used, and Hollywood must follows those rules exactly or lose millions from the state. As commissioner, I would review these rules to ensure that money flows more easily between funds.
13. What is your opinion of the reported size of the "Unfunded Liability" in the current pension? Do you feel immediate action is needed? If so… what action is needed?
Like most home owners, my house has thousands of dollars in unfunded liability. I am not worried, because I have a mortgage which amortizes that liability over 30 years. The Unfunded Liability is in the millions, but it too is amortized over times so great they span generations. The only immediate action that is needed to is to meet regularly with the three pension fund managers from each union to ensure returns are within expected ranges and comparable with other cities of our size.
14. What do you think is a reasonable timeline for returning employees pay and/or benefits to the levels they were before Financial Urgency?
I would like to say a year. But I know the truth about the budgets. As commissioner, I would make it a priority to return the levels back to pre-Urgency levels within three years.
15. Do you think it's proper to offer ANY employees not covered under a Collective Bargaining Agreement a raise, while at the same time declaring Financial Urgency?
No. A wage freeze should be universal and fair.
16. What is your opinion of the CRA's (Community Redevelopment Agencies) in Hollywood? (Beach and Downtown)
A very good idea because of the favorable tax status the State of Florida decrees to these entities. However, the CRA boundaries, which define blighted and underserved areas, need to be redrawn from time to time. For example, with the development of the Diplomat Hotel, this area of Hollywood is would never be defined as blighted. The boundaries of the CRA should be redrawn to remove the Diplomat property to allow for that tax income to flow into the General Fund.
17. What is your opinion on privatization?
Privatization is a two-edged sword. It can save money for taxpayers, but end up costing those same taxpayers far more in private fees. Privatization must be addressed on a case-by-case basis and can never be approved as an automatic "good thing."
18. What is your opinion of replacing Full time employees with Part time employees.
Shady. Bad for business and government.
19. Do you like having to go out of Hollywood to known restaurants like Olive Garden and Carrabas… or having to to elsewhere to shop at stores like Macy's, Best Buy, or even WalMart?
We all want more anchor stores in Hollywood. Especially close to downtown. Let's start modestly. A Hallmark Store. A Zales. An Apple store. And grow Hollywood business one store at a time.
20. Do you know/understand that our pension is NOT funded like the state pension? Do you support or oppose further benefit reduction to our pension/pension fund?
Hollywood union workers contribute over 9% of their pre-tax paychecks to their retirement. FRS members do not. We private citizens are encouraged to put money away into our 401(k) for our retirement. If I had put 9% of my pay into a 401(k) for 25 years, I would expect to retire on those returns. That's what we're told, right?
I do not support further reductions. I encourage Hollywood getting back into compliance with State requirements so that 175/185 money can once again be collected. I also support the DROP, because in the long run it's both good for the city and the employee. Eliminating the DROP was the most short-sighted move by the current commissioners.
21. Would you openly support Local 2432 in we support you?
Yes. As the only candidate openly Pro-Labor I will always support Local 2432. I will never be the commissioner to cast the vote against Labor.