As written in last week’s Town-Crier, at the June 16 meeting of the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council, Councilman Jim Rockett had a request for proposals (RFP) placed on the agenda for a new town management firm. He also made the motion to approve it, which was seconded by Councilman Ryan Liang and approved by Councilman Ron Jarriel.
During discussion, Rockett attempted to mislead the public and insinuated that the current firm, Underwood Management, expected a lifetime contract. He failed to mention the real “lifers” — the town’s law firm and the waste monitor vendor. The mayor correctly stated that Underwood was the fourth management group in nine years. So not “lifers.” The town’s attorney confirmed that management services did not need to go out for RFP, as it is a professional service.
Here is what the public needs to know and remember:
• Immediately following the March 10 election, Liang publically confirmed on television that his campaign engaged in voter fraud.
• Rockett was part of that campaign.
• Yes, Liang is allowed to retain his seat, while Florida Department of Law enforcement conducts their investigation and a judge makes a ruling.
• The town’s law firm must defend Rockett for his questionable role on the canvassing committee to certify the election. They are not required to represent him in his role in collecting absentee ballots and possibly intimidating voters.
If we, the public, do not voice our objections, these councilmen will state that since no one complained, the public must agree with them.
As a member of the town’s Finance Advisory & Audit Committee (FAAC), I publically stated my disapproval at the council meeting. I also stated it at this week’s FAAC meeting. Serving on this committee does not require me to avert my eyes from questionable financial decisions or stay silent. It is interesting to note which members did not state their disapproval, and perhaps their personal and business relationships with councilmen Liang and Rockett need to be investigated.
What can the voters and landowners of Loxahatchee Groves do? They can ask that this vote be placed back on the agenda by one of the members of the majority that approved it and another vote taken.
Stop by our new town hall at 155 F Road and ask for a copy of Mr. Underwood’s resume and bio. You will learn that Bill Underwood has over 30 years of government finance experience. He presents seminars to Florida municipal elected officials at the Institute for Elected Municipal Officials, to the Florida City/County Managers Association, to government finance officers at the GFOA and FGFOA, and Florida Association of City Clerks participants. He is well-versed in Florida Statutes and the proper expenditure of funds.
Also, ask how many staff members they provide to the town. The answer is more than has ever been provided. Also, ask about Mrs. Underwood’s skills at uncovering fraudulent billings and standing up for residents when they were not receiving services from the LGWCD.
So, in conclusion, the Town of Loxahatchee Groves is fortunate enough to have a well-qualified town manger and his staff, who have taken the time to learn every detail of our town, and yet these three councilmen want to throw out the transparency and detail that we now have. The question is why?
Virginia Standish, Loxahatchee Groves