Inforation for Voters - 27 FEB 2016

Everyone knows that the developers control both the Board of County Commissioners and the School Board.  That insures that the developers can get just about any land development project approved and can keep impact fees down or absent.  Not even one cent of school impact fees has been collected since 2008.  Manatee County has been severely damaged by the unethical practices of the developers under the guise of “growth” and job creation.  They were instrumental in getting the school half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2002 by disguising the fact that much of the revenue from that tax would be used to pay for school infrastructure that should have been paid for by developers in the form of school impact fees.  It is estimated that the developers have profited as much as a half-billion dollars (yes, billion with a “B”) over the past twenty years to thirty years.

So, how have the developers been able to gain and keep control of the County developersand the School System?  It isn’t that complicated.  By funding the election campaigns of certain individuals who were pro-developer or who were selected by the developers, they have been able to influence election results.  It has been impossible for other candidates to come close to matching the money provided by the developers to their chosen candidates.  It is ironic that the money the developers are not paying in impact fees is actually being used against us. Our tax dollars are being used to subsidize them by paying for roads and other infrastructure that impact fees should have covered.

There is a $1,000 limit on how much any person (companies are considered people) may contribute to a candidate “for countywide office or in any election conducted on less than a countywide basis”.  Developers often set up multiple companies called LLC’s each of which may contribute $1,000.  Some developers have over fifty LLC’s.  Developer family members, friends, and employees are also “encouraged” to make contributions to certain candidates.  That could add up fast!!!!

The developers also tell their employees and subcontractors that their jobs depend on voting for certain individuals.  That isn’t true since millions of people want to move to Florida and will want new homes.  What is true is that the developers will make less money for themselves, and they will continue to pay their employees and subcontractors as little as possible, and that depends on what the employees and subcontractors will accept.  The developers are not going to give their employees or subcontractors more because they don’t have to pay impact fees, but those same workers will have to pay higher taxes to pay for new infrastructure required because of new construction, if the developers don’t pay impact fees which is the reason they want to control the BoCC and School Board.

Candidates that are not funded by the developers can’t afford the expense of thousands of yard signs, billboards, mailers, and other advertising that is necessary for at-large commissioners and all school board seats.  Voters just don’t have time to study the qualifications of all the candidates so many of them depend on the advertising and name recognition.  The developer’s candidates have a huge advantage that isn’t fair.  They can afford to spend over $100,000 to insure their candidates win.  It is a good investment for the developers because they know that their candidates will vote in their favor regardless of what the taxpayers want or how much it deprives our children of a better education.

The developers actually go out and interview the candidates and if they don’t like what they hear, they won’t support them financially or will only support them a little to make it look like they are unbiased.  In addition developers have had enlisted sham candidates to make it look like there are choices in an election, to discourage others from running, or to close an election that would otherwise be open to all voters rather than just those in a specific party.  They did that to Joe McClash and Michael Gallen.

We here at “Our Manatee” don’t have the resources to support the candidates financially, but we will research each one.  We will share that information on this website, so you may make voting decisions that are in your and your family’s best interest.  When it comes right down to it, votes are more important than campaign contributions, so it is extremely important that everyone register to vote and make sure you go and vote.  If everyone does that, we will all win.

The next election is on August 30th to elect three members of the School Board.  Every voter in the county gets to vote for one candidate in each of Districts 1, 3, and 5.  You can see how the system is rigged.  Who has time to study all the candidates in three districts even though you may not live in any of them?   Most taxpayers don’t know how important that vote is.  The School District’s budget (over $600M)  is actually larger than the County budget.  Because the School Board is controlled by developers no school impact fees have been collected from the developers since 2008 thus costing taxpayers as much as 100-million dollars.  And, revenue from the half-cent sales tax has not been fully accounted for.  That alone accounts for over 400-million dollars.

It is time for voters to elect representatives who will reflect their wishes, representatives who will support great schools and who will do what is right for the residents of Manatee County.  Plan to vote on August 30th and again in November when we will elect four new commissioners.

Check this website before you vote to see where the candidates stand.