Help DeltonaBonaFide.com to be more effective as your community web site by supporting our sponsors!

Subscribe to

FREE DBF alerts!

Email:

First name:

Last name:

Anti-Spam-Bot Verification:

What county is Deltona in?

To contact all commissioners, including the Mayor, click HERE.

HABLA ESPAÑOL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 (enlighten the populous)

Looking for a previous news article?  Click here to visit the ARCHIVES page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

Big Trouble in Deltona's Sister City

The Shooting of Trayvon Martin:  Close-ups of Zimmerman PD video

 

 

To see the police video, click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

Can you imagine, a top notch world class music producer/engineer producing your song?

 

For years Frank Starchak produced major artists such as Tupac Shakur at his Maryland studio, Toyz Recording.

Ten years ago, Starchak relocated to Central Florida's Deltona Arts & Historical Center committed to an extraordinarily unique new vision/mission. Starchak launched Deltona Records, priced to make it affordable for virtually any artist to fulfill their recording dreams.

Nowhere in Florida can artists from beginners to seasoned professionals record with a world class music producer/engineer at such an affordable price. If needed, Starchak can play every instrument on your project.

Nervous? Scared? Chill out! Starchak is also talented in nurturing artists and creating an extremely warm and comfortable studio atmosphere.

Unlike like most studios, Starchak does not charge extra to play instruments on your project. Everything is included in his hourly rate.

Frank Starchak at Deltona Records has played a major role in my music career of touring nationally.” Lloyd Marcus

Go for your dreams. Give Frank Starchak a call at 386-801-9426

 

 

City Commissioner Accused of Misusing City Funds

 

 

 

 

 

2/8/2012 UPDATE:  Commissioner Zischkau cleared of all ethics charges (ethics commission final judgment)

 

                                    State of Florida Commission on Ethics Recommended Order

 

 

 

 

12/08/11 UPDATE:  Commissioner Zischkau has been cleared of ethics charges filed by Bob Bello

 

 

April 27, 2011

 

Enduring great physical pain to do so, today disabled veteran Bob Bello hand-delivered to DeltonaBonaFide.com a copy of a formal complaint he says has been received by the Florida Commission on Ethics.

 

 

The complaint alleges that Commissioner Herb Zischkau misused tax dollars when he attended the 36th Annual Public Employment Labor Relations seminar in Orlando seven months ago, at a cost of $430.

 

Included with Bello's complaint is a copy of an email from the Florida Bar addressed to Gary Cooney, the soon-to-be former City Attorney who just recently tendered his resignation.  The email is an announcement of the September seminar.  Also attached to Bello's complaint is a copy of a city Travel Expense Request form, apparently submitted by Zischkau to recoup the $430 he spent to attend the seminar.  The request form states Zischkau used his personal vehicle to commute to the seminar.

 

 

When Zischkau attended the seminar on labor relation law, the City Commission was preparing to enter into negotiations with the Firefighters' Union.

 

 

Bello told DeltonaBonaFide.com that he thinks the seminar was not a justified city expense, and that Zischkau should pay the money back to the city.

 

 

Zischkau declined to comment, stating that he has not yet received Bello's complaint.

 

 

 

Read Bello's complaint here.

 

 

 

Scholarship Funds Unclaimed, Recipients Needed

 High school seniors: There is money available to help you pay for college

 

 

 

March 25, 2011

 

Deltona Spring Fest is a non-profit organization that celebrates Deltona's diverse culture through Arts, crafts, food and entertainment and all proceeds support local education entities with scholarships being our largest donations. 

 

As of today we have not received a single scholarship application and we are concerned about this.  I am asking for your help in getting the word out to our high school seniors that there is money available to help them pay for college. 

 

I have attached an application for Deltona Spring Fest's Scholarship.  The scholarship is for $500.00 and is awarded to one  (1) senior from each of the following high schools, Deltona High, Pine Ridge High and Trinity Christian respectively.  Next year we will be adding University High as they will have their first graduating class.
 

Thank You for your attention to this matter, as I would rather have to review 100 scholarship applications than not to award the money.  We must have all applications postmarked by April 20, 2011.

 

 

David A. McKnight, Sr.

Deltona Spring Fest

President

 

 

To download the scholarship application, click here
 

 

Deltona Spring Fest is a "Celebration of Cultural Heritage and Education" - a 501(c)(3) organization.   DeltonaSpringFest.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Proposes "No-Flush" Policy on City Toilets,

Mocks Commissioner After Exposed for Spending Tax $$$ on his Expensive Alcohol Taste

 

 

 

September 18, 2010

 

Just days after he was exposed for buying $8 Vodka shots on the taxpayers' dime, embattled Mayor Dennis Mulder released an email in which he mocks Commissioner Denizac for exposing wasteful spending of tax money.  Mulder goes on to attack Denizac in his email, calling her petty, radical, and "most obnoxious:"

 

 

From: dennis2160@aol.com [dennis2160@aol.com]
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2010 9:49 AM
To: Faith Miller; Zenaida Denizac
Cc: Commissioners; Robert Clinger; Dave Denny
Subject: Re: Catalogs

 
 
Faith,
 
Perhaps we could consider instituting a no flush policy on city toilets.  We could have staff flush them once on Friday before leaving for the weekend.  This would save at least a few hundred dollars a year.  I understand the urge to satisfy the concerns of each commissioner, as it is your job and I applaud you for doing it.  That being said, exactly how much time do we intend to spend on these individual issues after the ENTIRE commission has adopted the budget?  I have no problem with commissioners carrying out their fiduciary responsibilities as they see fit.  You can't satisfy every individual, more importantly the subject individual does not wish or intend on any level to actually be satasfied.  Please keep in mind the ENTIRE commission sets policy, not just the loudest, pettiest, most radical, or most obnoxious member(s) of the body, nor the most hypocritical.
 
Thank you
Mayor

 

Deltona taxpayer Andy Perry is outraged at Mulder's aloofness in being caught drinking on the taxpayers' dime, saying "we don't need a no-flush policy - we need a no-lush policy, and we need it to be enforced with the termination of the Mayor."  Mayor Mulder recently claimed that he can't remember whom he met with while dining and drinking with the public's money, nor what the public business was regarding, specifically.

 

Despite Mulder's upset over Denizac's budget scrutiny, in 2007 the Orlando Sentinel reported his contradictory position on the matter:

 

"Two weeks after Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder reluctantly doled out $12,000 in property taxes, he announced plans to eliminate taxes on homes in the city within four years.

Mulder, whose political career started when he was elected mayor in 2005, said Deltona can afford to lose the $8 million to $10 million collected from homes without cutting services or raising fees or the tax rate on other property.

Mulder told his colleagues they could afford the cuts if they better scrutinized spending. They could hire a private firm to boost city efficiency.

"Does that mean we'll have the nicest office chairs in the world? Probably not," he said. "But you don't do it that way at home, and we don't do it in our businesses.""

- Orlando Sentinel

 

 

Earlier this year, Commissioner Denizac began scouring through the city's budget records, looking for ways to mitigate wasteful spending and save tax dollars.  So far, in her open quest, Denizac has uncovered questionable spending of tax dollars on vodka, gifts, technology, daycare plants, and other items.  Unsurprisingly, immediately after learning that Denizac was examining city financials, Mayor Mulder went into a frenzied panic over the matter, citing staff cost concerns.

 

After being exposed for spending tax money on his alcohol consumption, Mayor Mulder offered to reimburse the taxpayers, saying it was a "simple mix-up by the establishment" to have charged his city credit card nearly two years ago for his vodka shots.  But when Mulder presented the expense to the city for reimbursement two years ago, it was reported that the itemized receipt for that transaction had been lost:

 

 

 

 

Mulder claims the vodka shots were purchased after an expensive dinner at Amura's in Heathrow - a dinner that was to discuss the city business of racetrack gambling in Deltona, a subject that Mulder and his associates have discussed on and off over the years.  However, the city's policy on spending strictly prohibits the purchase of alcohol, and - for city staff - it lists the penalty as being termination from city employment.

 

 

Mayor Mulder not a "Joe-Sixpack" when drinking on  tax dollars:

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, the city policy limits dinner purchases to $25 per night, but Mulder's dining exceeded that amount by nearly 200%:

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Mulder has been under scrutiny before for questionable expenditures of tax dollars, some of which are:

 

- Jeff Ensminger

 

 

 

Head Boxing Coach Arrested for

Beating-Up Wife in Drunken Fight

 

8/3/2010

 

Ed Alvarado, Head Coach and founder of Deltona's taxpayer-subsidized Taino Boxing Club, was arrested Saturday evening for allegedly beating up his wife while in a drunken rage.  Alvarado works with at-risk youth at the Taino Boxing Club, which is made possible, in part, through Deltona tax dollars.

 

 

Deltona resident Michael Kiepert says "Domestic violence is a serious problem. Unfortunately, often times friends and loved ones ignore the warning signs of obsessive behavior of the abuser who often thinks of themselves as a self-righteous and above the law... What makes matters worse is that we have become so callus to domestic abuse that many people believe it shouldn’t be talked about."

 

 

- Jeff "Gus" Ensminger

 

 

Below is the official report from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office:

 

 

 

 

 

Return to top of page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

Commissioner, City Manager Accused of

Unlawfully Interfering with Building Official

 

July 22, 2010

 

 

A recently ousted city employee is accusing City Commissioner Janet Deyette and City Manager Faith Miller of unlawfully interfering with the duties of a building official.  Mike Johnson, who worked for the city for seven years, was a building official for the city and claims that he was only doing his job when he pointed out building-code deficiencies with a property managed by Commissioner Deyette's husband Earl "Mac" Deyette.

 

But - according to recent reports - shortly afterwards, Johnson's thoroughness as building plans examiner caused Mac Deyette to complain to his wife, Commissioner Deyette who, in turn complained to City Manager Faith Miller who, in turn, met with Johnson's supervisor who, in turn, gave Johnson an ultimatum to either resign or be fired.

 

The State of Florida has laws that are specifically designed to protect building officials from interference and political intimidation/retribution.

 

Johnson claims that Deyette and Miller may have violated those laws.

 

 

 

More coverage of this news:

 

Mike Johnson conveys his concerns to City Commission, warns of imminent legal action against the city and all persons involved (audio)

 

 

"Former Deltona Worker blames politics for job loss"

Daytona Beach News-Journal

 

 

 

- Jeff "Gus" Ensminger

 

Return to top of page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

King Thrushbeard
a Musical Production



Come enjoy another Live Production by
DelArts Players / Carousel Theatre Company
Summer Theatre Kids Kamp

Saturday, June 26
2:00 PM

Deltona Arts Center / 682 Deltona Blvd / Deltona 32725

 

Deltona Arts Center web site

 

 

 

Quick-acting Neighbor, Deltona Medics, EVAC,

and CPR Save Little Deltona Boy From Drowning

 

 

May 27, 2010

Deltona, Florida: Fire fighters were called to a residence in the 2200 block of Austin Ave earlier this afternoon for the drowning of a 3 year old child.

Firefighters from Deltona arrived at the home in less than a minute of being dispatched to find the home owner holding the three year old child at the side of the road. At the time the child was not breathing. The child’s mother was talking with the home owner and an unidentified woman in the garage when they noticed the three year old missing.

The mother and the unknown woman walked into the back yard when the home owner heard screams. “I ran to the back yard and found the child in the pool” the home owner stated. He told fire fighters he performed CPR for less than a minute when fire fighters arrived on scene. Fire fighters immediately loaded the child in an ambulance transported him to Fish Memorial Hospital in Orange City. Two Deltona Fire Department Paramedics and an EVAC Paramedic attended to the child and within minutes had restored the child’s breathing.

An Engine from Deltona remained on scene obtaining information from the child’s mother and was notified by radio that the child was breathing and crying as he was being wheeled into the emergency room. The child’s mother upon hearing the news broke down thanking everyone that took part in helping her child. The credit goes to the neighbor that performed the life saving CPR.

According to Fish Memorial the child was responding well and was being flown by helicopter to Florida Hospital South for additional care.

 

 

 - Deltona Professional Fire Fighters

 

 

Mayor Fails to Gain Commission, Citizen Support

on his Foreclosure-Mitigation Plan

Meeting Marked by Continued Controversy Over Mayor's Pal

May 17, 2010

Mayor Mulder tonight again pitched his idea to return overtaxed dollars to the taxpayers, this time in the form of $250 rebate checks that Mulder said would be intended to prevent foreclosures in the large residential city.  Mulder wants to return over $3 million that was overtaxed, but under his plan checks would be given out on a first-come-first-serve basis until funds are depleted.  The plan, which Mulder claims to have crafted with the still-unnamed "world's greatest financial minds," would return over-taxed money to only 13,400 residents in a city of over 85,000 residents.    Citizens and commissioners alike passionately spoke out against the Mayor's idea, with some questioning whether or not $250 would actually prevent anyone's foreclosure.  Mulder lost his own home to foreclosure just last year.

 

Mulder then joked that the tax rebate checks could be used for "beer or cocaine." Commissioner Treusch suggested a community pool could be built with the money.  Commissioners agreed to decide how to make use of the surplus money at an upcoming workshop.

 

Mulder first introduced his tax-rebate plan in 2008.  In a bizarre statement at tonight's meeting, Mayor Mulder said "to this point we have not had to cut levels of service." However, the commission has voted to cut law enforcement funding - a vote the commission knew would result in the removal of eight Sheriff's' Deputies from the streets of Deltona.  Two deputies have since been restored to Deltona's streets, not long after DeltonaBonaFide.com ran a story titled Carmolingo Karma Limbo.

 

Also during the commission meeting, Mayor Mulder again took censorship measures to control what citizens could say during their four-minute speaking time at the podium.  While Deltona Youth Soccer Club President Keith Caven was speaking about the legal actions surrounding Mayor Mulder's pal Charlie Vance, Mayor Mulder interrupted to cut him short.  However, Mulder allowed  Vance the opportunity to speak uninterrupted.  Vance is accused of not filing IRS tax forms for five years, stealing thousands from the children's soccer club, fraudulently using the soccer club's tax-exempt federal tax ID number for his own gain,  and of engaging in shady land deals with Mayor Mulder at the expense of the soccer club and the city.

 

Mulder spawned outrage earlier this month when he unexpectedly restricted how many people could speak about the soccer club controversy or Mulder's pal Vance.  In that meeting - after the citizens' upset grew into an uproar - Mayor Mulder had deputies clear the commission chambers of all citizens.

 

Later in tonight's meeting, the commission addressed City Manager Faith Miller's request to increase the budget for the city's law enforcement, as she said the rent and other associated costs of having the Sheriff's Office on Deltona Blvd. has caused the city to have "to pay a lot" of money for "details not anticipated."  After moving the Sheriff's Office to the rental unit two years ago, the city allocated the Sheriff's former city-owned office building to the CLC organization, which is run by Mayor Mulder's associates Michael Kiepert and Bill Tavernier.  The CLC pays a 50% reduced rent for use of the city building, which operates at a deficit.

 

Mayor Mulder was later asked by fellow commissioners to use the electronic voting system available to him when he is tabulating commission votes.  Commissioner Denizac opined that it would provide a fairer voting system, so commissioners' votes won't be influenced by the verbal votes of other commissioners.  Mulder strongly disagreed with the request, saying the electronic voting system is "very difficult" for him to use.

 

Just last year - his fourth as Mayor -  Mulder claimed he is still a rookie Mayor.

 

 

- Jeff "Gus" Ensminger

 

 

 

Listen to the unadulterated meeting audio:

 

The public speaks out on Mayor's tax-rebate plan; Deltona youth Soccer Club officials address the commission

 

Commission discusses budget being over for Sheriff's Office rent and other costs

 

Commission discusses water restrictions and city rule under Saint John's River Water Management District

(due to a broadcast-feed issue, the discussion audio is truncated near the end of the discussion)

 

Commissioners and citizens discuss Mayor Mulder's foreclosure-mitigation plan; commission comments

 

 

To hear details about the accusations against Mayor Mulder's company and his pal Charlie Vance, click here

 

 

 

 

 

Return to top of page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

 

 

Deltona Gets Weekly Radio Show, to Begin This Sunday

 

April 9, 2010

 

Deltona's Jamie Jessup is starting a live talk show, to be aired most Sunday evenings. The first show will be on Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 6:00 pm and will last about 45 minutes long.

Radio show host Jessup says "Deltona Elections 2010 have already started. The race for mayor is heated up. On the first show the following candidates for mayor will participate: Robert Desmond, Jacinto Garcia and David Santiago.  John Masiarczyk has a previous engagement."


Jessup explains "The format is simple:  I will introduce each candidate to you. I will allow them several minutes each to tell us a little about themselves. (During this time, the other candidates will be muted so as to not allow them to interrupt).  Then, we will allow all three candidates participating to freely discuss issues that they believe are important to Deltona."

 

To listen to the show visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/deltona-jamie

 

 

 

Return to top of page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

Mayor Again Plans to Sue Critic, According to His Planner's Blog

Editorial Misinforms on Formal Complaints ; A New Public Records Mystery

 

 

 

April 3, 2010

 

Mayor Mulder's private meeting planner, Michael Kiepert, yesterday published on his swvolusia.com blog an editorial about DeltonaBonaFide.com's recent exposure of taxpayer-funded heavy equipment tours being held privately for the family businesses of Mayor Mulder.  In Kiepert's Editorial, also mentioning three formal complaints filed by Jeff "Gus" Ensminger against Mulder, it's claimed that "Sources close to Mulder say he plans to seek reimbursement of legal expenses as allowed by Florida Law."

 

DeltonaBonaFide.com, having never been contacted by any attorneys, is not aware of any legal expenses incurred by Mulder as a direct result of DeltonaBonaFide.com reporting or as a result of Jeff "Gus" Ensminger's formal complaints to the State.  Over a year ago, Mulder seemed to have abandoned his failed 2009 bid to sue DeltonaBonaFide.com after he learned through his own private attorney that it would be ill-advised to use tax dollars to sue his critics  (according to Mulder, City Attorney George Trovato had earlier told him it was legal to do so).  Several years earlier Mulder stated he was going to represent himself in the investigation being conducted into his campaign financing by the State.  That investigation resulted in 89 guilty counts of Mulder willfully violating the State's campaign finance laws.

 

Kiepert's blog also disputes DeltonaBonaFide.com's loosely-estimated aggregated cost of the multiple tours held privately for Mulder's family businesses, but it fails to provide any alternate cost amount or counter-facts: "It was the embellished and ridiculously foolish number of $10,000 that prompted an investigation of the facts," wrote Michael.

 

 

A gross inaccuracy found in Kiepert's latest editorial is the claim "Ensminger complaints have all been dismissed, with the same outcome expected for his most recent one."  In 2005 Ensminger filed 41 formal charges with the State's Election Commission - a complaint which resulted in Mulder being found guilty of willfully violating the State's campaign finance laws on 89 counts Willfully.

 

On the matter of DeltonaBonaFide.com's repeated exposure of questionable expenditures of tax dollars, Kiepert's blog goes on to attack the messenger with "Further research shows Ensminger appears to hold some sort of vendetta towards Mulder as the majority of his postings show what some professionals would call an unhealthy obsession," but Kiepert fails to name any of the alleged professionals he references.

 

Several months ago, Kiepert's blog published a similar statement that "experts agreed" that the Mayor's taxpayer-funded investigation into Commissioner Zischkau would prove Zischkau violated the charter.  Kiepert never identified the "experts" he quoted in that editorial, and ultimately Zischkau was deemed to be "clearly" not in violation of the charter.

 

But of larger concern is the blog's claim that the city has held private tours for many daycares and schools other than just Mulder's family businesses.  In question is how did Mayor Mulder's associate Michael Kiepert obtain those public records so quickly?

 

DeltonaBonaFide.com has been trying to obtain those public records from City Hall for two months, to no avail.  The city web site boasts a three-day turnaround for public records requests, but DeltonaBonaFide.com has been getting a two-month run-around from the city.  Yet Mulder's private meeting planner Kiepert seems to have obtained those records in a matter of just days.

 

DeltonaBonaFide.com has encountered many mysteries with Deltona's public records management and handling.  On more than one occasion, City Hall has denied the existence of one or more public records to DeltonaBonaFide.com, but subsequent records acquisitions showed the city to be untruthful.  DeltonaBonaFide.com has even made the exact same records requests numerous times only to get different results every time. On several occasions, even recently, the city has provided DeltonaBonaFide.com with the Social Security numbers of city employees and two local attorneys - even after DeltonaBonaFide.com notified the city of their error and told them to stop providing SSN's with record requests.

 

DeltonaBonaFide.com does not know if the repeated mishandling of public records by City Hall were sloppy cover-up attempts or just plain irresponsible records management, but it seems odd that the Mayor's private meeting planner would get access to public records within days while others must wait months - and are still waiting - to obtain them.

 

 

To read Kiepert's editorial as it was at the time of this writing, click here.

 

Related articles:

Local Blog Site SWVolusia.com Leads Readers to Hackers

 

 


 

- Jeff "Gus" Ensminger

 

Return to top of page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

Mayor's For-Profit Corporation Received

Non-Refundable Fees Back from Taxpayers - Twice

Corporation and it's Officers No Stranger to Controversy

 

 

 

March 28, 2010

 

Recently Mayor Mulder went into a panic when he learned that Commissioner Denizac was diligently doing her commission job of scrutinizing the city's financial records.  In a separate, unrelated investigation, DeltonaBonaFide.com recently discovered some financial records that might explain the cause for Mulder's sudden alarm.

 

In 2006 Mayor Mulder formed a land-development corporation with his wife Heather and Jayne Vance, wife of Charlie Vance.  That corporation, Intrinsic Investments, caused controversy and outrage when it purchased from Charlie Vance's soccer club a parcel of land that was deed restricted to be used only as a city park.

 

The soccer club is now suing Charlie Vance and Intrinsic Investments over the contentious land deal, and Jayne Vance - who engaged in monetary transactions with Mulder's 2005 campaign - was uncooperative with the State Elections Commission in 2006  when they were investigating Mulder for his 89 willful violations of campaign finance law.  Heather Mulder caused taxpayer controversy with her for-profit DTA Academy's periodic tap on taxpayers' wallet.

 

Intrinsic Investments bought the park land from the soccer club because Mulder, admitting he "doesn't have any idea" what he is doing as a developer, wanted to develop the land as a residential project that he said would be smart growth for the city.

 

Intrinsic Investments then submitted a Comprehensive Plan Amendment application to the city, asking the city to allow up to six homes per acre on the 13 acre parcel, and paid the $3,000 Comp Plan application fee.  Citizens became outraged over Mulder's upzoning request, and two months later Mulder withdrew his Comp Plan Amendment application.

 

A refund check for $3,000 was then sent to the address of Mulder's since-foreclosed-on Page Ct. home.  The refund was approved by then Planning and Zoning department head Becky Mendez.

 

In 2009 Mulder and his wife Heather removed their names from the corporation documents filed with the State, and Mulder landlord Charlie Cross Sr.'s name and Shafton address were then added as the company's president.  Cross's Shafton address is where, according to official city records,  the estranged Mayor Mulder lived for much of 2009 and currently resides now.

 

Just one month later, Cross submitted the company's second Comp Plan Amendment application to the city, again asking the city to upzone it from recreational use to low-density residential.  Cross paid an application fee of only $1,000 to the city, despite Chapter 74 of city code mandating a fee of $3,000  for large scale map amendments.

 

Nine months later, in November 2009, Cross sent an email to City Manager Faith Miller asking to withdraw his Comp Plan Amendment application.  Cross asked Miller to refund his $1,000 application fee, and to make sure the refund check was made out to him personally.

 

Planning and Zoning Department head Chris Bowley approved Cross' request and disbursed a $1,000 check made out to Cross.

 

But according to City Ordinance 110-1104, all fees shall be forfeited to the city when an application is withdrawn, and only the city commission may waive such requirement.  DeltonaBonaFide.com found no City Commission meeting minutes documenting that the commission was ever asked to approve Cross's or Mulder's refund requests.

 

But despite the apparent omission of the commission in the decision-making process, Mulder's Intrinsic Investments was twice awarded a full refund for its Comp Plan Amendment applications, totaling $4,000 paid by taxpayers to the business.

 

In the last five years, Mayor Mulder's Intrinsic Investments is the only entity to have received a refund of their Comp Plan Amendment application fee.

 

DeltonaBonaFide.com is currently working to determine how many Comp Plan applications have been withdrawn in the past five years.

 

With questionable disbursements of tax dollars like these to the Mayor's for-profit business, it's no wonder why Mulder is frantically working to limit commissioners' access to the city's financial records.

 

 

 

Related official city records



 

- Jeff "Gus" Ensminger

 

Return to top of page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

Commissioner's Budget Probing Angers Mayor

Mayor Penny-Wise, Pound Foolish

 

 

 

March 27, 2010

 

To support the city's spending habits, the city commission raised property taxes 27% in 2008 and again raised them 31% in 2009.

 

Just last week, after candidates David Santiago and Fred Lowry urged the commission to be more careful about spending, the city commission declined Commissioner Zischkau's proposal to appoint a board of citizens to review the city's budget.  Commissioner Denizac supported Zischkau's motion, saying the city would benefit from having extra eyes on the city's spending.

 

But other commissioners said that watching the budget is the commission's job.  Commissioner Carmolingo remarked "that's what we were elected to do," and Commissioner Deyette suggested commissioners work closer with city staff to identify ways to trim the budget.

 

Commissioner Denizac recently took that job responsibility to heart and began obtaining city budget records so she could inspect them while on spring break from her job as teacher.  She said "As we continue to struggle to meet our basic services for our residents, and at the same time keep our employees, I feel it’s our job to look with a magnifying glass at every expense made to make sure that the 60 credit card holders are spending tax dollars wisely and responsibly."

But Mayor Mulder, just returning from vacation, quickly learned of Denizac’s inspection of the city's financial records and is now angered and frantically working to establish limits for commissioners' access to budget records. Mulder said he's concerned about staff cost to produce the records for commissioners.  Further compounding staff costs, Mulder directed City Manager Faith Miller "
If this request is from a commission member I would like for each of the commissioner [sic] to be copied on the same exact request, page for page."


In just a few days after Mulder learned of Denizac’s budget scrutiny, the city manager was able to quickly provide Mulder with a job cost for the budget research, estimating $4,000. That's incredibly fast accounting, compared to the city's claim that it is currently unable to job cost multiple private tours that were held exclusively for Mayor Mulder’s family businesses in 2008 and 2009.  Based on available documentation, DeltonaBonaFide.com estimates that those multiple private tours cost taxpayers about $10,000 in staff time, goodie bags for Mulder's customers and heavy equipment usage.

Despite Mulder's current portrayal of someone concerned about the city's spending, Mulder had no cost concerns with the $11,000 that was recently spent to pursue his quest to investigate Commissioner Zischkau.  That taxpayer-funded investigation was characterized by some commissioners and citizens as a political vendetta or witch hunt, and it ultimately revealed that Zischkau was right all along.

 

 

The fruitless investigation of Zischkau is not the only instance of which Mulder displayed no concern over the careless spending of tax dollars.  Below is a partial list of instances of arguably wasteful tax expenditures of which Mulder showed no budgetary concern:

 

  • Mulder was aggressive in making sure $11,000 was spent to investigate Commissioner Zischkau on false accusations

  • Mulder evidenced no budgetary concern when he personally spent $700 of tax dollars on a picture frame for his office.

  • Mulder did not object to the taxpayers funding numerous private tours for his family businesses at 100% taxpayer expense.

  • Mulder never made issue about a $25,000 conference table sitting in the employee break room for lunches and staff breaks.

  • Mulder has done nothing to stop perpetual staff costs for the failed Public Market still being held at City Hall every Saturday.

  • Public funds were spent installing a water line on the private property where his wife's for-profit business is, but Mulder was quiet.

  • Taxpayers paid to erect a large Victory Garden sign on the private property where Mrs. Mulder's DTA Daycare is - the sign included Mayor Mulder's face on it but there was no sign of concern on Mulder's face regarding that expenditure of tax dollars.

  • Because Victory Garden Project Manager Mulder failed to recruit any volunteers for his all-volunteer garden project, taxpayers will be burdened with providing labor and equipment to start, finish, and maintain the project that's already one year behind schedule.

  • In 2008 the commission voted to spend $50,000 for political propaganda to promote Mulder's failed police department idea to the voters - an expenditure that Mulder supported with his commission vote.

  • Taxpayers paid thousands to cut and remove trees and overgrowth from directly in front of Mrs. Mulder’s private for-profit business, giving it greater visibility from the nearby busy intersection.

  • When the city laptop that was entrusted to Mulder simply disappeared without a trace or explanation, Mulder did not have enough concern for taxpayers' assets to file a police report or to report it to the city's insurance company.

  • In 2009, Mayor Mulder led the commission into voting to use tax dollars to sue his critics.  After a month of media and citizen outrage, Mulder led the commission to undo that controversial vote, saying that he would pursue the legal actions using his own money.  But over one year later Mulder has not filed any such law suit using his own money.

  • Mulder worked overtime to ensure that the city's controversial purchase of the Cavallaro property went forward, despite paying $7.6 million for a property that was appraised at only half that amount.

  • Mayor Mulder had no qualms about his for-profit Intrinsic Investments residential development corporation receiving refunds of $4,000 in tax dollars for their Comprehensive Plan Amendment application fees - fees which, according to city ordinance, are not refundable without city commission approval (more on this news expected to break soon on DeltonaBonaFide.com).  Perhaps that's one of the budget expenses he doesn't want exposed in a budget probe.

 

Whether or not Mayor Mulder is genuinely concerned about the cost of Denizac’s budget inspection, or if he's panicking over what spending abuses might be exposed by the budget scrutiny, that's the Deltona debate du jour.

 

A year ago cost-recovery specialist Biddle Corporation, hired by the city to find lost money owed the city, was also met with impedance after they began asking for city financials.  Despite having already discovered several streams of money owed to the city, Biddle was fired shortly thereafter for no reason, according to Faith Miller, other than “for convenience.”

 

Likewise, during its recent investigation of of Mulder's family businesses being provided with several private tours on the taxpayers' dime, DeltonaBonaFide.com was met with obstacles such as the City Clerk's office falsely responding that requested financial records did not exist even though DeltonaBonaFide.com was later able to obtain the requested records from the city.

 

Shady record keeping is no new subject to Mulder.  Mulder was found guilty of willfully violating the State's election laws in 2006, for 89 counts of knowingly violating campaign finance laws.




 

- Jeff "Gus" Ensminger

 

Return to top of page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

Mayor's Family Business Enjoys Taxpayer Teat

While City Has No Permits for Daycare Location

 

 

 

March 27, 2010

 

In 2005, mayoral candidate Dennis Mulder claimed it was his daycare management expertise that "overqualified" him for the job of mayor.

 

But earlier this year it was exposed by DeltonaBonaFide.com that the family business now run by his wife Heather Mulder had not filed any permits with the city for their Providence Blvd. location.  In December Cy Butts, of the city's building department, stated that he has nothing related to operating a business for the property located at 1649 Providence Blvd.


In addition, just this week DeltonaBonaFide.com discovered that Mulder's business is operating in a building that was only approved to be used as church offices and Sunday school rooms.   In 2001, the church argued for the city to allow construction of their second building so the church could accommodate more citizens in the growing community.  But Mulder instead uses the building to run a private for-profit daycare on the tax-exempt church property.

DTA Academy came under fire last year after DeltonaBonaFide.com exposed city crews and equipment being used to cut down and remove trees and underbrush from the private property, increasing the daycare's visibility from the nearby intersection.  The cost to taxpayers to remove the trees and underbrush from in front of Mulder's for-profit business was estimated by the City Manager to be in the thousands.

 

The city claims the publicly-funded landscaping work was done in the name of the Mayor's Victory Garden - a public garden project that was to be conducted on a half-acre of land owned by Mulder's landlord, the church. Mulder sold his public-private partnership idea to the commission by telling them he already had "more than enough [volunteer] manpower to get the job done." But project manager Mulder failed to recruit any volunteers, so now the project is on indefinite hold and will be a burden on the taxpayers to start, finish and maintain it.

 

In addition to clearing the trees and brush from in front of Mulder's daycare, tax dollars were also spent to install a new water line at the private property owned by the daycare's landlord.  When Mulder was pitching his Victory Garden idea to his fellow commissioners, he told them "the only thing needed from the city was water," a claim already proven to be untrue with the expenditure of tax dollars to clear land and plant a sign.

 

The only thing that has sprouted at the Mayor's Victory Garden other than weeds, is a large colorful sign with the Mayor's mug on it, with Mulder cradling an armful of vegetables.  The first garden harvest was due to be had this spring, but today the garden still looks like nothing more than an empty field used for church parking.

 

Mulder's DTA Academy was also accused of not meeting the city's parking lot codes, by lacking up to 240 parking spaces.  Mulder had campaigned in 2005 that all the codes should be enforced all the time.

 

DeltonaBonaFide.com has learned that the city is now requiring DTA Academy to "start the process all over" of getting permitted to do business in the City of Deltona.  In a letter to the city, Mrs. Mulder did not seem to be happy that her business was being told to comply with the city code request.

 

DeltonaBonaFide.com also recently exposed the city for numerous private heavy equipment tours that were held, at 100% taxpayer expense, exclusively for Mulder's family businesses and their customers.

 

Just this week Mayor Mulder raised concerns among some commissioners and citizens by launching a personal tirade to control and restrict commissioners' access to city budget records after he learned that Commissioner Denizac was examining the city budget.

 

 

 

 

- Jeff "Gus" Ensminger

 

Return to top of page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

Carmolingo Karma Limbo:

Tired, awake, bothered and waiting in Deltona

 

 

 

 

March 20, 2010

 

Nobody likes invasive noise nuisances after midnight, and most people have been exposed to such at least once in their lives, but imagine calling your local law enforcement to abate the maddening noise, and being told that there are no officers available to respond.

 

Enter Deltona Commissioner Mike Carmolingo, who rang in the new year with an uncanny dose of karma that left him in a bit of frustrating limbo.

 

Rewind to September 2008, when Carmolingo joined Mayor Mulder and Commissioners Deyette and Treusch in voting to cut public safety by eight Sheriff's deputies just before voting for a tax-rate hike of almost 27 percent.

 

Now fast-forward to the very first witching hours of 2010.  As neighboring New Year's reveler's continued to revel, a frustrated Carmolingo was on the phone with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office to report the boisterous backyard noise:

 

 

Listen to Carmolingo's Karma Limbo

 

 

Carmolingo:  They're havin some kind of a party in their back yard, and they're yellin and screamin...

 

VCSO:  Okay we'll get someone out there to tell 'em to quiet down, ok sir?

 

Carmolingo:  Uhhh... how much of a wait do I have, ma'am?  Do you know...

 

VCSO: It's kind of busy tonight, it looks like everybody is busy on calls, priority calls, so it might be a little while.

 

Carmolingo:  It might be a little while?

 

VCSO:  Yeah - unfortunately every single Deltona unit is on a priority call right now.

 

Carmolingo:  Uh-huh... [garbled]

 

VCSO:  As soon as we get someone free, we'll send someone out there.

 

Carmolingo:  Thank you.

 

VCSO:  You're welcome, sir.

 

Facing prolonged frustration before the irritating party noise would be abated, Carmolingo sounded unsatisfied and disappointed that there were not enough deputies immediately available to respond to his distress call.

 

Evidently, Carmolingo hadn't considered this scenario before voting to take eight deputies off the streets of Deltona.

 

Commissioners Zenaida Denizac and Herb Zischkau voted against the 2008 downsizing of public safety.  As a show of compromise, Denizac had even offered to meet half-way, allowing four deputies to be cut so four others could continue patrolling Deltona's streets, but the Mulder-led commission simply would not budge.  Both Denizac and Zischkau fought hard to keep those deputies on the streets, but an impassioned Mayor Mulder led the commission to axe the deputies, with Carmolingo following along. 

 

Denizac, who is running for re-election as District 1 Commissioner, said she will fight to put those eight deputies back on the streets.  She said "Public safety is very important - we need more deputies patrolling the streets!"

 

Three other 2010 candidates have stated campaign platforms that include improving public safety, one of them opposing Denizac in the district 1 race.  District 1 commission candidate and Deltona political newcomer Michael Richards also says he wants to improve public safety, but that he will do so at no additional cost to taxpayers, by developing neighborhood watches.

 

In the 2010 mayoral race, Robert Desmond wants to increase law enforcement presence in Deltona and target gang crime.

 

Former Vice Mayor David Santiago, running for Mayor, vows to work towards improved public safety by putting more deputies on the streets.  Even when he wasn't serving the public as it's commissioner or vice mayor, Santiago often spoke before the city commission to fight for more deputies on the streets protecting citizens.  When Mayor Mulder worked to push the Sheriff's deputies out of town and replace them with a city police force under the authority of the commission, Santiago was there advocating for the citizens petitioning the commission to keep the deputies in Deltona.

 

On Carmolingo's karma limbo, Santiago said "Our deputies are stretched so thin, they're running from call to call.  Now a commissioner got a taste of what the citizens are feeling."

 

Carmolingo's reasoning for cutting public safety by eight deputies in 2008 was that Deltona could not afford the deputies anymore.  However, just one month after cutting public safety, Carmolingo voted to spend $1.5 million of Deltona's funds on the controversial Thornby park property - a property that nearly two years later is still just an overgrown wooded lot which the area's homeless call home.

 

Carmolingo had earlier said that not one nickel of tax dollars should be spent on Thornby, that spending tax dollars on Thornby would be "the wrong thing to do."  By his own declaration, Carmolingo did "a wrong thing" when he voted to spend 1.5 million dollars on Thornby.  Couple that Thornby "wrong" with his previous act of downsizing public safety to cut spending, and Carmolingo's Karma Limbo results.

 

On a side note, DeltonaBonaFide.com spoke with the citizen who was the subject of Carmolingo's complaint.  The citizen said he simply had a few friends over to celebrate New Year's Eve, but they never "got crazy" or anything like that.  He said a deputy arrived at his home and nicely asked him to turn down his music.  He said he complied with the deputy's request and that was the end of it.

 

Listen to Carmolingo's Karma Limbo

 

 

 

- Jeff "Gus" Ensminger

 

 

 

Return to top of page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

EXPOSED BY DeltonaBonaFide.Com:

 

Taxpayer-Funded Private Events

Add Value to Mayor's Family Businesses

99% of Deltona's Kids Not Invited

 

 

 

March 17, 2010

UPDATED WITH NEW INFORMATION March 18 (throughout the article where it is relative)

 

 

Was your child invited to any of the city's private field trips that your tax dollars funded?  Don't feel left out - less than 1% of Deltona's children were invited.  Over the past two or more years, City Hall hosted special tours so a daycare group of 30 or so children could experience first-hand the wonderment of the city's heavy equipment.

 

Kids got to see, touch, and hear fire trucks, animal control trucks, and heavy equipment trucks that included something that looked like it was out of the movie "Transformers."  The kids got to climb on and in some of the vehicles.  For photos, click on the image at right.

 

The tours were guided by many members of city staff, who demonstrated the abilities of the equipment for the kids.  Staff also provided goodie bags to the daycare so the daycare could give them out to the kids while the kids were at daycare.  City staff took photos of the event so the kids could remember their special day of wonder at City Hall.

 

The small group of children lucky enough to be invited are all of a local daycare and tennis camp run by Mayor Mulder and his wife Heather - D T A Academy and Deltona Tennis Association.  Public notice was not given to the taxpayers for their children to attend these events.

 

How much did the daycares pay the city for the private tours?  Zero, zip, nada.  Taxpayers funded the events 100%.

 

How much did taxpayers pay for the private tours?  Unfortunately, Deputy City Clerk Traci Provini claims the city does not have any job-costing records to quantify the tour costs for taxpayers, specifying that staff time and equipment costs involved would not be reflected on time sheets or work orders.

 

But despite the deputy clerk's claim of not tracking those fun-day costs on time sheets or work orders, DeltonaBonaFide.com was able to obtain time sheets and work orders directly related to the tours.  In fact, all but two pages of those records were obtained through the same deputy city clerk who claimed they did not exist.  Those records are provided for your review throughout this article (click the available links as they appear in the article).

 

Based on the limited available photos and documentation of the numerous tours held for Mulders' private daycare and tennis camp in 2008 and 2009, DBF loosely estimates the aggregated cost to taxpayers to be about $10,000.  The estimation was arrived at using staff time sheets, as well as the city's own work orders with cross-referenced costing fees for the equipment used in the tours, and counting of staff and equipment in the photos (at right).  Those estimates were then extrapolated to account for the multiple tours.

 

Meanwhile, taxpayers like Tom Burbank and his neighbors continue to wait for the city to lay down sidewalks for pedestrian safety, to which the city says it has no budget.  Also citing budget reasons, just one year earlier the Mulder-led commission voted to take eight patrolling deputies off the streets.

 

It is not yet known for how many years the taxpayer-funded tours have been held for Mulder's daycares.

 

How much did Mulders' customers pay to the daycare and tennis camp for their children to attend the taxpayer-funded events?  Mrs. Mulder refused to comment on that question.

 

How much did Mulders' daycare and tennis camp pay the city for the private tours?  Nothing.  Taxpayers funded the events 100%.

 

How does a parent go about getting a free taxpayer-funded tour like these for their children?  According to the City Clerk's office, you need only ask.  Who do you ask, you ask?  Last November Deputy City Clerk Traci Provini said the tours are scheduled through the City Manager's office, but early this March - after DBF was in possession of some related records - she said the tours are set up by contacting the city's administrative assistants.

 

To read the planning discussion held between Mrs. Mulder and Mayor Mulder's assistant Jean Oertli, click on the image at right.

 

 

Another concern uncovered by DeltonaBonaFide.com's exposure of Mulder's continued use of taxpayers resources, is that one of the groups of kids were of Mayor Mulder's Deltona Tennis Association.  Over the last several years Mulder has voted to give that organization thousands of tax dollars and free exclusive use of public parks.

 

According to the Clerk's office, there is no record of who authorized the expenditure of tax dollars for Mulder's daycare tours, and the city commission never voted for the repeated expenditures.

 

Mulder's daycare was the topic of controversy last year after DeltonaBonaFide.com broke the video story of taxpayer crews, trucks, and equipment being used to clear obscuring trees and bushes from in front of the private for-profit daycare building and improving its visibility from the nearby busy intersection.

 

Last year DeltonaBonaFide.com also exposed what appears to be a deficiency of about 240 parking spaces at the daycare, per city code.  In that investigation, DBF also discovered that Mulder's daycare was operating without city business permits.  The city is now requiring the daycare to "start all over again" in complying with the city's business licensing, which means the daycare must meet the city's codes.  In this letter, it is evident that Mrs. Mulder was not pleased with the city's move to hold her daycare compliant with city code.  Ironically, her husband, Mayor Mulder, campaigned in 2005 that "all the codes should be enforced all the time."

 

Just over one year ago, during the first recession of the new millennium, Mulder led the commission into voting to use tax dollars to sue his critics, whom he claims have caused his daycares to suffer from low business.

 

As a further show of favoritism for the Mayor's wife by city staff and at the expense of taxpayers, dozens of event photos were taken, transferred to PC, and mailed on disc to Mulder's D T A Academy.  But unlike Mrs. Mulder, DeltonaBonaFide.com had to pay to obtain the public photos and after obtaining them from the City Clerk, DBF was told that the photos might be exempt from public records law and therefore off limits to taxpayers.

 

The city does not have any waiver or release forms to protect taxpayers from legal action had any of the children become injured while climbing on the city's heavy equipment.

 

On her for-profit business getting free tours for it's paying customers on the taxpayer dime, Mrs. Mulder declined to comment.

 

 

 

 

 

- Jeff "Gus" Ensminger

 

Return to top of page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

Mayor's Associate Accused of Defrauding

Youth Group, City, for $50,000;

Mayor denies alleged relationship

 

Part One - The accusation

Part Two - The commission response

(click for audio)

 

March 1, 2010

 

During tonight's regular commission meeting, Mulder associate Charlie Vance was accused of stealing $50,000 from the City and a youth soccer group.  The accuser also said Vance's soccer club did not file tax forms with the IRS for eight years.

 

 

Related news:

Soccer Club Sues Mayor's associate

(click for full unadulterated audio)

 

On Squabbles Mayor Quick to Spend Tax Dollars

- Slow to Spend His Own

 

 

February 26, 2010

 

Last year Mayor Mulder led the commission to quickly spend tax dollars to pursue what some commissioners called a political vendetta against Commissioner Zischkau.  Being questioned was whether or not Zischkau violated the law when he petitioned his county government to suspend a development that Zischkau said would pose a flooding threat to his home.

 

Mulder's witch hunt proved to be futile, as $11,100 of tax dollars were spent on high-priced attorneys who ultimately concluded that Zischkau was right all along.  Mulder has not yet offered to repay that money to tax payers.

 

Earlier last year, Mayor Mulder caused prolonged outrage amongst Deltona's citizens and media alike when he led the commission to spend tax dollars to sue his critics.  After showing an 18-page presentation of DeltonaBonaFide.com political cartoons and DeltonaInfo.org discussion, Mulder referred to the political expression as being illegal and "possibly criminal."

 

Using pressure to gain access to the city's coffers, Mulder gave the ultimatum that if the commission did not support his request for tax dollars to sue his critics, he would resign.  Commissioners Treusch, Deyette, and Carmolingo voted for Mulder's motion, while Commissioners Denizac, Zischkau, and McFall-Conte voted no.

 

After enduring a month of negative press coverage and angry citizens, Mulder led the commission to undo the blunder vote and he declared that he would instead spend his own private cash to sue his critics.

 

But over one year later Mulder has not sued any of his critics with his own private dollars.

 

DeltonaBonaFide.com writer Jeff "Gus" Ensminger, the sole subject of Mulder's infamous 22-minute sue-the-critics rant, said "Mulder apparently doesn't have enough conviction in his claims to warrant spending his own money on a lawsuit... he was only willing to gamble your tax dollars on it."

 

 

Related documents:

 

Mayor Mulder notifies commission of his intent to use his own private money to sue his critics:

(hyperlinked image added by DeltonaBonaFide.com)

 

 

Sent 2/22/09

 

To City Commission, City Attorney, City Manager, 

I thought it may be a good idea to clarify the motion regarding legal expenses for the protection of the city, city officials and staff.  Further, I have asked the City Attorney to draft a revised motion approved by the legal staff which may better represent the intention of the commission for my comments section at the next commission meeting.  It was always my intent to defend the city itself and all that is involved with the operation of the city.  I read the motion and can truly understand why there may be some misunderstanding of my intentions, thus my request for official clarification via a new motion.  I apologize for not being crystal clear on such an important issue. 

 

I understand why folks who have not been narrowly exposed to this issue may not understand how bad things have gotten and why this is necessary.  For clarification, preceding the revised motion that is upcoming, I want you all to be aware I plan on spending private money to defend myself, family and businesses, not public money.  Public money would be used only to defend the city itself from damages current and future.  The many personal references made in my presentation were made to illustrate the damage and danger of a select few.  Assaulting, slandering etc. our staff members would be a different story of course, as would damages the city itself has suffered. 

 

Again, I agree and plan to clarify the use of public money only where appropriate and not for personal reasons. The public has been amazing in its support for me thru phone calls, home visits, business visits etc.  As a result of this story and the details of my presentation many have come forward with generous offers for assistance on the personal issues we face, my family is grateful and we stand ready to defend ourselves via private dollars.


Mayor Mulder

 

 

 

 

 - Jeff "Gus" Ensminger

 

Return to top of page

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

Updated:  The Cost of Political Witch Hunts

Commissioner Zischkau Deemed Not Guilty

of Violating City Charter or State Ethics

 

 

 

February 2, 2010

-UPDATED February 25, 2010

 

Three months ago when Mayor Mulder led the commission on a 4-3 vote to spend tax dollars on what some commissioners called a political witch hunt and vendetta, Commissioner Zischkau - an attorney - warned them that it would simply be a waste of the taxpayers' money to conduct an investigation of whether or not his petitioning of county government was a violation of law.

 

But despite Zischkau's word of warning, Mulder nonetheless urged the commission to quickly hire an outsourced law firm to investigate the matter.  As is customary lately in Deltona, Commissioners Deyette, Carmolingo and Treusch followed Mulder's lead in voting for the expenditure.

 

As it turns out, Zischkau was right.

 

Zischkau was shown to be undeniably correct on whether or not his actions were legal, as the experts hired by the taxpayers seemed to agree with Zischkau that his actions "clearly" were not a violation.

 

How much did Mayor Mulder's political witch hunt cost taxpayers?  According to this invoice from the hastily-hired law firm, it cost $11,110.30 to prove that Commissioner Zischkau was right.

 

Commissioners Zischkau, McFall-Conte, and Denizac voted against conducting a taxpayer-funded investigation.Commissioner Herb Zischkau III

 

To the $250-per-hour law firm, taxpayers paid about $2,000 just for the firm to review and analyze city documents and commission meetings.  Taxpayers regularly review and analyze city documents and commission meetings without pay.

 

Concerned citizen Rich Hylton, who has seen his property taxes go up significantly over the last several years said "I think it was an unnecessary waste of taxpayers' dollars and a foolish witch hunt against a commissioner who was only looking out for his constituents and trying to do the right thing."

 

On fruitless investigations, local food bank fundraiser Michael Kiepert said "[if the investigation] cost the taxpayers $1, 10 dimes, 20 nickels or 100 pennies it was costly as the end result was everything dismissed, you wasted their time, you wasted the taxpayer’s funds which could have been used to protect children instead of chasing bogus accusations..."

 

Just before the Christmas holidays, City Manager Faith Miller and Mayor Mulder led the commission into voting to hire an outsourced law firm to investigate whether or not Commissioner Zischkau's exercising of his constitutional right to petition his government was a violation of the State's Ethics code or City Charter.

 

At the expense of Deltona taxpayers and by the votes of Mayor Mulder, Commissioners Deyette, Carmolingo and Treusch, the city hired a private law firm to investigate whether or not Zischkau violated the State's Ethics Code or the City Charter when he petitioned his county government to suspend a land development that he said posed a flooding threat to the homes of his constituents, neighbors and family.

 

But before the investigation was launched, Commissioner Paul Treusch had already formed his own personal judgment of Zischkau, calling Zischkau "an insult to this commission, to the city, to your constituents, and that's my opinion.  I think you're a disgrace to your religion, to your profession and to our community."

 

However, now the official results are in, and they do not agree with Treusch's premature judgment of Zischkau.

 

Following their investigation, the independent law firm of Weiss, Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole and Boniske opined that Commissioner Zischkau did not violate the City Charter or State Ethics Code.  They wrote "We find nothing in the City Charter's noninterference provision that would apply to the activities and conduct of Commissioner Zischkau in reference to the property."

 

They continued "We are not able to find any direct interference by Commissioner Zischkau with the performance of the City Manager's employees in reference to [Zischkau's actions] or otherwise."

 

Despite Mayor Mulder's push for the investigation to be conducted into Zischkau's actions, an investigation was never launched into any of the numerous Charter violations alleged to have been committed by Mulder himself.  At that time, Mulder pushed to forego any investigation into his own questionable actions and "not play tit-for-tat."

 

 

To read the full unadulterated legal opinion, click here

 

 

 - Jeff Ensminger

 

 

Related news:

 

COMMISSION VOTES TO INVESTIGATE ZISCHKAU TO DETERMINE IF HE VIOLATED CITY CHARTER

 

COMMISSIONER GIVEN TWO DAYS TO COMPLY WITH MAYOR'S REQUEST

 

CITY HOLDS THIRD EMERGENCY MEETING OVER CONTROVERSIAL LAND DEAL; COMMISSIONER FILES COUNTERCLAIMS AGAINST LAND SELLER

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

Local Blog Site Leads Readers to Hackers

 

 

 

February 20, 2010

 

Local blog site swvolusia.com is out of order today, after it was exposed by DeltonaBonaFide.com yesterday for leading its readers to a web site that hijacks web browsers with redirects and persistent pop-up messages. Today's site outage does not appear to be authorized, as the page is only partially displayed and with exposed code.

 

Readers are warned to be cautious of visiting sites that evidence behavior such as that occurring this week on Michael Kiepert's swvolusia.com blog.

 

Today the blog, despite being in a visibly defunct state, causes its visitors to be subjected to an intrusion hack identified by Symantec as "Fake Antivirus Install Request 4."

 

Yesterday swvolusia.com was found to have on it, following an article about Anderson's ACE Hardware, a comments link that redirected its visitors to drakz.com, where browser hijacks were waiting and ready to pounce on its visitors.

 

The commenting feature used on swvolusia.com is a free service provided to swvolusia.com by third party web site drakz.com.  To use such services, typically the blogger must subscribe to them, agree to their terms, and then put the linking code on their blog.

 

After DeltonaBonaFide.com exposed the public hazards posed by Kiepert's malicious link yesterday, the drakz.com comments portion of the Anderson's ACE Hardware article has since been closed.

 

This morning two visits to swvolusia.com produced the same results: an intrusion attempt from a web site that has what looks like an affiliate id in its hyperlink address.

 

Kiepert's blog regularly hosts numerous rotating affiliate based ads.  Affiliate type ads that rotate are those that feed themselves to the blog site, and automatically change without the control of the blogger once he signs up as an affiliate advertiser and puts their code on his blog.  Sometimes those rotating affiliate ads can lead to malicious third party sites that result in seriously compromised computer security for the duped visitor.

 

Again, readers are warned to be cautious of visiting sites that evidence behavior such as that occurring this week on Michael Kiepert's swvolusia.com blog.

 

 

Out of courtesy and respect to its readers, DeltonaBonaFide.com never uses affiliate type of advertising on its web site.  Likewise, DeltonaBonaFide.com's provided comment links (like the one that follows this article) are not to a third party site - it's operated by Jeff "Gus" Ensminger, who writes for DeltonaBonaFide.com.  DeltonaBonaFide.com values your privacy and respects your computer as being yours.  To that end, DeltonaBonaFide.com takes great care and time to evaluate any and all links and media files placed on it's pages before they are made available to you here. 

 

DeltonaBonaFide.com values your trust and works hard to earn it.

 

 

 - Jeff "Gus" Ensminger

 

Return to top of page

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

Commission Votes to Name Street After

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Other Mtg. News

 

 

February 15, 2010

 

During their regular commission meeting, tonight commissioners voted unanimously to dedicate a Deltona street to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Former Commissioner and Civil Rights Movement activist Lucille Wheatley and other citizens addressed the commission to express their support of the Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Committee's request.

 

Commissioner Zischkau motioned to apply the designation to portions of the city's existing Howland Blvd. and Graves Avenue, but Commissioner Denizac later motioned the name to be applied to the new Howland Crossings commercial development, to which the commission agreed.  The crowd in attendance cheered as the commissioners all voted for.

 

For full audio on the street dedication to Dr. King,, click here

 

Also during the meeting, the Commission denied a request by Family Dollar to have the parking requirements changed for its Doyle Road property.  Commissioners Denizac and Zischkau voted for the request, with Zischkau citing the need to build Deltona's image as being more business friendly, to ultimately attract more jobs fro Deltonans.

 

The Commission also voted to loosen up some of the City's development codes.  The Commission voted to repeal six City Ordinances that established regulations within the City of Deltona portion of the I-4/SR 472 Area wide DRI, otherwise known as the Deltona Activity Center, to hasten its development.

 

Commissioner Zischkau, discussing the results of the investigation that City Manager Faith Miller and Mayor Mulder initiated into Zischkau's petitioning of his government, warned City Manager Faith Miller that she should dust off her resume.  He said no city manager, in her right mind, would do what what Miller did.

 

In an earlier memo that was catalyst to the investigation, Miller alerted the commission to her concerns that she felt Zischkau - one of her seven bosses - might have violated State ethics or the City Charter when he petitioned his county government to suspend an impending development that he said would pose a flooding threat to his home.  Miller acted on her concerns without first consulting with the city attorney or seeking other legal advice.

 

During an earlier commission meeting, Mayor Mulder echoed Miller's concerns and, based on her memo, moved the commission forward to launch an investigation into Commissioner Zischkau.  An outsourced law firm was then hired to investigate the matter, and Zischkau was later determined to be not guilty of Miller and Mulder's concerns.

 

Commissioner Zischkau said the city needs more investigations.

 

Although he first supported Miller's concerns before the investigation was launched, Mayor Mulder tonight called her actions bold, the results of which, he said, were an unfortunate situation.  Commissioner Denizac called it a waste of taxpayers' money on political vendettas.

 

City Manager Miller could not answer Zischkau's question as to how much the fruitless investigation cost the taxpayers, but an amount of $10,000 was mentioned by more than one commissioner.

 

 

For full audio of the discussion of Commissioner Zischkau's being cleared of the Miller/Mulder investigation, click here

 

 

 - Jeff Ensminger

 

Return to top of page

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

Deltona Youth Soccer Club Sues

Buyer of Controversial Soccer Club Land

 

 

February 4, 2010

UPDATED February 11, 2010

 

Non-Profit corporation Deltona Youth Soccer Club filed legal action yesterday in the Volusia Circuit Civil Courts, naming Intrinsic Investments and Charles Vance as defendants.  Summonses were issued today to both defendants.

 

The legal action was filed as "Commercial RP and Foreclosure greater than $250,000."

 

It was only four years ago that Soccer Club President and Mulder campaign worker Charles Vance visited newly-elected Mayor Mulder at City Hall to demand that park usage fees be cut for his nonprofit soccer club.

 

Just three months after the two met at City Hall to discuss Vance's demands, Mulder - who campaigned that Deltona needs less residential and more commercial development - announced that he was going to try his hand at residential development and to do so he had partnered with Vance's wife Jayne and with his own wife Heather to form the Intrinsic Investments corporation.

 

Like her husband Charles, Jayne Vance had also provided time and services to Mulder's 2005 Mayoral campaign and was later found to be uncooperative during the State's investigation of Mulder's unlawful campaign financing.

 

Through their newly-formed corporation, Jayne Vance and Mayor Mulder purchased thirteen acres of lakefront property from Charles Vance's soccer club for $250,000 under a balloon mortgage payment structure, with the full purchase amount coming due in 2016.

 

Mulder then sought a land-use change for the land to allow for up to six homes per acre on the site, angering residents even further.

 

Many residents and community leaders were in an uproar over the land deal, saying the land was promised to the city for use as a park, in exchange for the soccer club's use of the City's Dewey Boster sports park.  Exasperating the controversy was Mayor Mulder's relentless push for the expenditure of $6.8 million in tax dollars to purchase a separate unrelated property, referred to as the Thornby property, for use as a park.

 

The controversial soccer club land, known as the Outrigger property, dates back to the Deltona Corp., who sold the property for only $100 to the soccer club so the club could build soccer fields on it. The 1986 sale deed  stipulates that the property must be used for a park and that building homes on it was prohibited.  According to the deed, those restrictions cannot be voided until 2016, unless done so by a "successor or assigns" of the Deltona Corp.

 

According to a 2006 news article published by the Orlando sentinel, Earle Cortright - an official with the Deltona Corp. for 33 years who signed the deed between the corporation and the soccer club - said the company sold the land to the club at a cheap price so the soccer club could use it as a "recreational amenity."

"The intent was for this always to remain a park site," Cortright said.

 

Just before the dawning of the new millennium, the soccer club determined that the land was too small for building soccer fields on it, so they partnered with the city to build a lighted six-field soccer complex on Saxon Blvd.  That complex later became known as Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex - home of Vance's soccer club.  Vance also operates a concession stand at the park.

 

Deltona's first mayor, John Masiarczyk, said that he and other city officials entered into the gentleman's agreement with the understanding that in exchange for the development and maintenance of Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex for use as the soccer club's home, the city would receive the soccer club's lakefront Outrigger property for use as a public park.

 

Masiarczyk's recollections are substantiated by the minutes of a 1999 commission meeting, in which "Mayor Masiarczyk stated . . . the Soccer Club owned the land and they were willing to deed the land to the City if the City provides them with other facilities."

 

Additionally, former City Attorney Roland Blossom - who was later asked to resign by Mayor Mulder - told city commissioners that in 1999 the city and the soccer club reached an agreement saying that the soccer club would donate the land to the city in exchange for the city spending cash for six soccer fields on Saxon Boulevard.

 

Nonetheless, Mulder disputed the city's claim on the property and even filed papers trying to remove the deed restriction.  Mulder later said he would wait until 2016 to develop the property, after the deed restriction expires.

 

But Mulder has since removed himself from the Intrinsic Investment corporation, whose officers now consist of only Jayne Vance and Charles Cross.  Charles Cross is currently the president of Mulder's Deltona Tennis Academy and is also the live-in landlord with whom Mulder shacked up in early 2009.

 

Likewise, Charles Vance is no longer an officer of the Deltona Youth Soccer Club.

 

Foreshadowing today's legal action during a November commission meeting, the soccer club's Secretary & Financial Committee Chair Randy Hollensbe cited backroom deals and secrecy, and went on to say that money needed to benefit the community's at-risk children will go to Charlie Vance's pockets instead.  (for audio click here)

 

 

The land deal has been so controversial, it earned Deltona it's first political cartoon from a nationally syndicated cartoonist:

 

 

Cartoonist:  Bruce Beattie

Source:  Daytona-Beach News-Journal 2006

 

 

Read the full lawsuit

 

 

Stay tuned to DeltonaBonaFide.com for more news on this litigation as it becomes available.

 

 

 - Jeff Ensminger

 

 

Related news:

 

Controversy Brewing over Deltona Soccer Clubs

 

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum:

 

 

 

 

Disgraced Former City Attorney George Trovato

Running for County Council District Three

 

 

February 3, 2010

 

Private Attorney George Trovato, fired just last year from his short-lived position as Deltona's City Attorney, has recently filed papers to run for Volusia County Council to replace district three Councilman Jack Hayman.

 

Trovato, whose tenure as Deltona's City Attorney was marred by controversy, confrontation, suspension, and multiple close calls of being fired, is sparking a new controversy with his county council candidacy.

 

In order to qualify as a candidate, Trovato must be a registered voter in Volusia County's district three and he has to have been registered as such for at least six months prior to qualifying for candidacy.  To be registered as such, Trovato must reside in said district.

 

In question is where Trovato actually resides.

 

Trovato owns two homes - one in Volusia County district three's Port Orange and one in Deltona. According to the Volusia County Property Appraiser's web site, Trovato claims homestead tax exemption on his Port Orange home.  State law allows homestead exemptions only on a homeowner's primary residence.

 

But in Deltona, where Trovato runs his private law firm out of his residential property there, city law prohibits running businesses from residential properties unless the business use is incidental and subordinate to the property being used as a residence.

 

Of his two homes, which one Trovato truly resides at is currently unknown to DeltonaBonaFide.com.  Previous attempts to contact Mr. Trovato on the controversies surrounding his home-based occupation have yielded no response from him.

 

Less than one month ago, the City of Deltona considered an application submitted by Trovato for a position on its Planning and Zoning board.  On that application, Trovato listed his Deltona address as his residence and claimed that he has resided there for one year.  His application was rejected.

 

 

 - Jeff Ensminger

 

 

Related news:

 

DeltonaBonaFide.com HUZHU:  George Trovato

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum DeltonaChat.com

 

 

Local Food Bank President Blames Haiti

Relief Efforts for Eating into Revenues;

Fearing a cease of operations, pleads to public for help

 

 

 

February 1, 2010

 

In his Sunday editorial and saying he is speaking on behalf of all local non profits, SWVolusia.com editor and Community Life Center President Bill Tavernier blamed his organization's continued financial hard times on recent relief efforts for earthquake-devastated Haiti. Ravaged by two tremendous earthquakes in January, Haiti has suffered widespread destruction and the death of hundreds of thousands of its people, drawing relief efforts from all over the globe.

 

Michael Kiepert is in charge of donations fundraising for the organization, but Tavernier says that when assistance to Haiti began, donations to his charity have dropped to almost nothing, that operational expenses for rent, insurance, communications and fuel are all paid by donations but have dropped to near zero.

 

The Community Life Center has been serving the community's needy for fifteen years.  But Tavernier says that once again, its becoming doubtful that they will be able to continue operating.  Just six months ago - five months before the Haiti tragedy - Tavernier's organization was already facing similarly desperate financial times.

 

At that time, Executive Director Charity Vickers blamed, among other expenses, rent costs.

 

Earlier, In September of 2008, the City Commission had agreed to discount the organization's rent for their use of public facilities by 50%, on the condition that the organization disclose its financial statements.  DeltonaBonaFide.com does not yet know if the city has received the required documentation from the organization.

 

In addition to rent costs, Vickers blamed the continuing expenses of insurance, vehicle operation, communications equipment, moving expenses and salaries for three employees as the reason their operations have been financially crippled.  She also blamed a dwindled sponsorship from corporations.

 

But today Tavernier is blaming his organization's current money woes on Haiti's catastrophic tragedy.

 

Tavernier says the Haiti relief efforts have caused people to forget about their own neighbors, who need help to pay bills and to pay for prescriptions or food.  He is pleading to the community to help their neighbors.

 

The Community Life Center has a PayPal link on their site so you can donate easily via the web.  You can visit their web site at clcofdeltona.com.

 

Other ways to contact and help the Community Life Center:

 

 

Community Life Center of Deltona, Inc.
1691 Providence Blvd.  Suite 102 
Deltona, Florida 32725
BTavernier@CLCofDeltona.com
Cell (407) 417-3264

 

 

 

 

 

 - Jeff Ensminger

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum DeltonaChat.com

 

WOMAN ROBBED AT DELTONA ATM; SUSPECT STILL AT LARGE

FOR SURVEILLANCE VIDEO FOOTAGE, CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE

 

January 26, 2010
Brandon Haught
Public Information Office

Volusia County Sheriff's Office

The Volusia County Sheriff's Office is investigating the armed robbery of a woman as she was depositing money from an ATM in Deltona Tuesday night. No shots were fired and no one was injured during the incident. Approximately 15 deputies, K9 units and a Sheriff's Office helicopter responded to the area, but didn't find the suspect.

The 31-year-old woman was at the Bank of America, 1241 E. Normandy Blvd., at about 7:14 p.m. She was alone in her car at the drive-thru ATM when a man walked up to her. He held a gun to the woman's head and demanded the cash she had on her. She handed it over and the man then fled. Once he was gone, the woman used her cell phone to call for help. The first deputies arrived on scene in less than two minutes and began their search. A K9 unit was able to track the suspect's scent, but then abruptly lost it, leading deputies to believe he got into a vehicle.

The victim described her assailant as a Hispanic man in his mid-20s, about 5'7" with short black hair. He wore a white shirt and blue jean shorts. Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at (386) 736-5999 or Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida, toll-free, at (888) 277-TIPS. Tipsters can also provide information by texting “TIP231 plus the message” to CRIMES. Anyone who provides information to Crime Stoppers will remain anonymous and can qualify for a reward of up to $1,000. 

Source:

http://volusia.org/sheriff/press/100011.htm

 

The Deltona Arts & Historical Center is accepting applications for the volunteer positions of Secretary and Treasurer.

 

Please apply to this email address or by mail to:
Deltona Arts & Historical Center
682 Deltona Blvd
Deltona FL 32725
 
Cordially,
Mary Parker
Director of Operations
Deltona Arts & Historical Center, Inc.

http://www.deltonaarts.com

 

 

State of the County Address

 

 

January 8, 2010

Volusia County Chair Frank T. Bruno, Jr., will give the annual “State of the County Address” on Monday, January 25, 2010 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach. This status report on County government is required by the Charter, and it is an opportunity for the County Chair to review the accomplishments of the previous year and to outline the area’s future challenges.

This year, in cooperation with the Museum of Florida Arts and the Cultural Council of Volusia County, we will honor Tippen Davidson, the late Chief Executive Officer and owner of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, for his lifetime of achievements which have helped to shape the cultural fabric of our community.

Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. and the event will begin at noon. Lunch will be served. Parking in the Ocean Center Parking Garage will be validated.

There is no charge to attend, but reservations are required. Please RSVP before January 19 by calling the County Manager’s Office at 736-5920 or emailing pehrhardt@co.volusia.fl.us. We look forward to seeing you.

I hope you can join us at this annual event.


Patricia Northey
Volusia County Council Member
District 5

 

DOWNLOAD THE INVITATION

 

Mulder's For-Profit Business

Gets Greater Visibility Thanks to Taxpayers

10/7/2009

Watch the video for full story:

 City landscape crew works Mulder daycare property

Read the statement issued today by the City of Deltona

 

Commission Votes 4-3 to Levy New Limitless Fee on Homeowners

 

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum DeltonaChat.com

 

 

 

$69 Million Debt Question Puts Services at Risk, May Mean Higher Taxes

 

Group Urges Rejection of $69 Million City Expansion

 

 

 

MULDER ASSOCIATE WORKS TO PORTRAY HIM AS VICTIM

 

 

 

 

August 8, 2009

Updated 3:11 pm

 

For reasons that remain unclear, Mayor Mulder's private meeting organizer and information broadcaster Michael Kiepert has recently been working to portray Mulder as a victim.  Referring to the 2005 Mayoral election on his swvolusia.org web site, Kiepert blames a mysterious "political machine" for death threats, damaged property, and reports of breaking and entry into Mulder's home.

 

Perplexing some is what Kiepert is talking about and why he is talking about it.  There are no police reports of any breaking-and-entering at Mulder's home in 2005, only Mulder's short 2005 statement to a reporter that his sister claimed to have seen someone briefly enter Mulder's home. Today - four years later - Kiepert defended himself on the popular deltonainfo.org discussion web site, saying that "nobody has accused [Kiepert] of entering someone’s house."

 

Likewise, there are no police reports of Mulder suffering any property damage in 2005.

 

And although the then-hopeful Mayor - after discussing it for over an hour with his campaign staff - filed an eleventh-hour police report against one of his most vocal critics, accusing him of making a death threat against Mulder, the Sheriff's office investigated and concluded that Mulder's claims of a death threat were unfounded.

 

Kiepert goes on to fault the mysterious "political machine" for exposing Mulder's eighty-nine willful violations of Florida's campaign finance laws.

 

Jeff Ensminger, the individual who filed the formal complaints with the State's Election Commission, said "I alone discovered the concerns with Mulder's campaign financing and I alone drafted the formal complaint that ultimately exposed Mulder's willful circumvention of campaign finance laws - I did not share my concerns or the formal complaint with anyone until after it was filed with the Elections Commission."

 

Ensminger went on to say "I don't know why Kiepert would label one individual as a political machine, why he might be upset that Mulder's unlawful election activity was exposed, or why he feels the need to portray Mulder as a weak victim.  Perhaps the plan is to run Mulder's 2010 campaign on a sympathy platform."

 

Mulder presented himself, his wife, and his private businesses as the victims in a highly-controversial February 2009 vote to use tax dollars to sue his critics.  Mulder later voted to undo that vote, after much public outrage and after his private attorney advised him that such legal action might be an unconstitutional infringement of free speech.  Oddly, Mulder is a card-carrying member of the ACLU, a proponent for free-speech rights.

 

Mulder also claimed to be victim to a bank mistake in December 2008, when court records revealed that he was facing foreclosure on his home.  However, according to court records, the case appears to remain open and active as of this writing.

 

Not too long ago Heather Mulder, who became separated from her estranged husband in May of 2008, claimed that on at least two occasions her home was broken into.  The police report included no mention by Mrs. Mulder of an alleged 2005 break-in.  Following is the entry in the Volusia County Sheriff's daily log:

 

 

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum DeltonaChat.com

 

SUPERMAJORITY VOTE TO BEGIN

TERMINATION NEGOTIATIONS WITH CITY ATTORNEY

 

July 20, 2009

Updated 10:38 pm

 

 

Last week Commissioner Herb Zischkau submitted to the commission a resolution regarding the abandonment of the City Attorney's office by George Trovato.  Zischkau had asked for the resolution to be added to tonight's meeting agenda.

 

 

After missing two pivotal commission meetings while on vacation, and after voting to remove a major item from the agenda, Mayor Mulder tonight tried to lead the commission into procrastinating on the lingering matter of the suspended City Attorney.  But Commissioner Denizac instead moved to discuss the resolution now.  Her motion passed, despite the "No" votes of Mayor Mulder and Commissioners Deyette and Treusch.

 

 

Commissioner McFall-Conte shared research of hers that revealed it is not uncommon for charter officers to be suspended without pay for reasons such as those that Trovato was suspended for.  She went on to describe how her research also revealed that Trovato was using the City Hall address for his private law firm's business listing on the Internet.

 

"Dissolution of marriage is not something the city handles - divorce hearings are not in the scope of what the city does," McFall-Conte said.   She went on to express her lack of confidence in Trovato as City Attorney, citing his threat to sue the city, and suggested that a search for a new City Attorney begin.

 

 

She said politics should be set aside to do what is in the best interest of the people, to get rid of Trovato as city attorney.

 

 

For his defense of retaining Trovato as City Attorney, Mayor Mulder referred to the 2008 election.  In that election, voters voted for an amendment requiring a supermajority of five commission votes to fire the City Attorney or City Manager.

 

 

But Commissioner Zischkau explained that the issue of Trovato's continued employment is not a decision for the commission to make, as the rules of the Florida Bar dictate that Trovato can no longer advise the commission as his client, because he has publicly stated a legal claim against the commission and placed himself in an adversarial position with the commission.

 

 

Zischkau and Mulder tangled after Mulder restricted Zischkau's ability to speak while Zischkau had the floor.

 

 

Commissioner Zenaida Denizac pleaded with Mulder to acknowledge the concerns that commissioners have with Trovato as City Attorney.  Mayor Mulder conceded that Trovato is imperfect.

 

 

Commissioner Janet Deyette read aloud a letter blaming the good 'ol boy network and went on to say that the commission's prior vote to suspend Trovato was not legal or valid.  She then accused Zischkau of practicing law from the dais.  As of this writing,  the Florida Bar is reporting that Zischkau is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida.

 

Deyette characterized Trovato as the victim, that the commissioners need to stand up for him.

 

 

Vice Mayor Carmolingo called for a special meeting to terminate Trovato.

 

 

Trovato, whose salary as City Attorney is $123,000, was not present at the meeting.

 

 

Commissioner Paul Treusch noted that Trovato should be at the meeting.  Mulder agreed, and offered to personally meet with Trovato to negotiate Trovato's exit.  Zischkau argued that the commissioner to negotiate an exit agreement with Trovato should not be the Mayor who originally negotiated the generous employment contract with Trovato.

 

 

McFall-Conte moved to designate both herself and the acting City Attorney to meet with Trovato to negotiate the severance terms of his employment termination.  She suggested that those terms prohibit Trovato from speaking despairingly about the city commission in the media and that a suspension with pay be sustained during that time.

 

 

The motion passed with a supermajority, with only Commissioners Deyette and Treusch dissenting.

 

 

Several citizens spoke on both sides of the issue, but most interesting was Damien Fraser, a citizen claiming to be speaking on behalf of outgoing George Trovato.  Fraser attacked Zischkau for his Christmas Eve defense of his private business property from a trespasser, calling it unprofessional.  Fraser went on to attack Denizac and McFall-Conte for their comments made when the commission recently voted 4-0 to suspend Trovato without pay.

 

LISTEN TO THE UNCUT COMMISSION DISCUSSION AND THE VOTE

LISTEN TO THE PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

 

 

 

CITY COMMISSION TO DISCUSS ABANDONMENT OF CITY ATTORNEY'S

OFFICE BY TROVATO, LITANY OF OTHER CHARGES

 

 

 

July 18, 2009

Updated 6:49 pm

 

 

On Monday July 20, City Commissioners will discuss the mushrooming matter of beleaguered City Attorney George Trovato's continued employment.  On July 6 the commission voted to suspend Mr. Trovato's employment, with pay.  But just three days later, they voted 4-0 to suspend Trovato's pay, accusing him of violating the terms of his suspension by visiting City Hall and meeting with other city employees.

 

Now Commissioner Herb Zischkau is asking the commission to resolve the matter of Trovato's abandonment of office of City Attorney, and to take action in the public interest.  With the proposed resolution are eight pages of allegations and charges against Trovato, ranging from contempt to unlawfulness.

 

Zischkau asserts Trovato abandoned his position as City Attorney when he publicly announced that he had a legal claim against the city and that he had an adversarial position with the majority of the commission.  According to Zischkau, by law Trovato cannot be both advocate against the City Commission and legal advisor to the City Commission.

 

Trovato is blamed for interfering with city employees by asking them to commit unlawful and unethical acts, or by terminating severance payments that were ordered by the commission.  In addition, he is alleged of violating the Florida Bar regulations by failing to produce legal opinions requested by his client, the City Commission.

 

Trovato is also accused of:

  • Failing to disclose legal advice to all commissioners

  • Misrepresenting the advice he gave to Mayor Mulder on Mulder's highly controversial vote to use tax dollars to sue his critics

  • Treating commission members disparately and with contempt or lack of respect

  • Violating the state's open-government laws by not maintaining or producing the legal opinions he authored

  • Withholding key information about his private law firm from commissioners so they could not accurately assess whether or not Trovato's private business is in conflict with his full-time city job

  • Operating a business in a residential property in conflict with the city's laws

  • Expending over $100,000 of public tax dollars on outsourced legal services while using his time to operate his private law firm that is located just a short distance from City Hall on Providence Blvd.

  • Taking a pay raise without commission action during a time when other city employees are losing their jobs due to budget tightening (Trovato's current annual salary is $123,000)

  • Damaging the city by as much as $4.6 million:  Ordering a property appraiser to change his opinion of value of the controversial Cavallaro property from $3 million to a hypothetical value of $7.6 million in order to falsify the average value, effectively circumventing the statutory requirement of a supermajority vote on such a high dollar land purchase

  • Advising City employees to violate a City ordinance granting churches and schools exemptions from the local business tax

  • Unlawfully requesting an Attorney General's Opinion concerning the actions of the commission without having the prior approval of the commission

  • Causing false information to be transmitted to the Attorney Generals' office in relation to a citizen seeking access to public records

 

Commissioner Zenaida Denizac feels it is time for Trovato to go, saying "I have absolutely no trust in our City Attorney. He is too politically involved, and does not represent the entire commission." she continued  "Any attorney with any sense of dignity would resign."

 

When the previous City Attorney did not have full commission support, Commissioner Janet Deyette had said then that she "would not want to go on if [she] did not have 100% support from [her] employers - [she] would choose to resign."

 

Longtime Deltona resident and watchdog of City Hall Larry DeMatteo said "I think the best thing would be for Trovato to just resign, get his severance pay and move on."

 

George Trovato has not responded to our request for comment.

 

In related news, DeltonaBonaFide.com has received an unverified tip from a respected source that on the matter of if the commission may or may not terminate Mr. Trovato's employment,  City Manager Faith Miller has recently requested the legal opinion of an outsourced human resources attorney.  Questions are now brewing over who directed Miller to take the alleged action to question the commission's authority, and why.

 

The City Manager and City Attorney both work under the City Commission.

 

 

 

Read the full resolution here

 

 

 

 

SUSPENDED CITY ATTORNEY TROVATO EDITS HIS PRIVATE WEB SITE AFTER

DELTONABONAFIDE.COM EXPOSES POSSIBLY MISLEADING ADVERTISING

 

 

July 10, 2009

 

 

Recently DeltonaBonaFide.com broke the story of questions arising over embattled City Attorney George Trovato's use of a Deltona residence for his private law firm, and whether or not he has staff there in violation of city law.  But just one week after that story was published, his web site has been edited to remove the potentially incriminating portions of text:

 

 

CITY ATTORNEY VIOLATES TERMS OF SUSPENSION - PAY SUSPENDED

THREE COMMISSIONERS ARE NO-SHOW FOR MEETING

 

July 9, 2009

 

Today the City Commissioners met to discuss the City Attorney position from which George Trovato was recently suspended on a 4-2 vote.

 

 

Just three days after his suspension began, Trovato was accused by Commissioners McFall-Conte and Denizac of violating its terms by attempting to set up personal meetings with city commissioners and staff members.  They went on to chastise Trovato for often sitting silently at commission meetings, but recently choosing to trash one of the commissioners in the media.  The City Attorney works under the authority of the City Commission.

 

 

Denizac quoted Commissioner Deyette who, after the 4-3 2007 vote of confidence for former City Attorney Roland Blossom, said "If I worked for a group who did not give me a 100% vote of confidence, I would not even want to continue.  I would choose to resign."

 

 

Commissioner Zischkau reiterated his allegation that Trovato violated the rules of the Florida BAR when he took it upon himself to request a legal opinion from the Attorney General on a city matter without the authorization of the City Commission, and for withholding documents requested by Zischkau.

 

 

Zischkau moved that the commission resolves that Trovato is in breach of his employment contract and that his salary payments be stopped immediately.  Denizac quickly seconded the motion.  The commission then voted 4-0 in favor of Zischkau's motion.  Trovato's annual salary is over $123,000.

 

 

Zischkau thanked Miller for her prompt execution of the termination of Trovato's computer access following Monday's suspension vote.

 

 

Also discussed was City Manager Faith Miller and City Attorney George Trovato's full access to all city staff and commission emails, and whether or not Trovato's broad access has effectively been terminated per the terms of his suspension.

 

 

Commissioner Denizac conducted research of other cities' policies and discovered that it is uncommon for the City Manager or City Attorney to have full access to all city employees' and commissioners' emails.  She noted that previous City Manager Steve Thompson did not have such access.  Characterizing their unrestricted email access as intimidating to city employees, Denizac continued "...leadership and management here wants to intimidate our employees.... they want to know what everybody's writing so they have complete control of our employees and everything that moves and breathes around City Hall.  As a matter of principle, it is wrong."

 

 

The commission also voted 4-0 to accept the City's Special Magistrate Charles Cino as acting City Attorney at the market rate of $165 per hour.  During Monday's meeting, however, Trovato had advised the commission that the hourly rate for a replacement to do his job was between $300 and $350 per hour.

 

 

Commissioners Deyette, Treusch and Mayor Mulder were absent from the meeting.  Mayor Mulder's absence was excused due to a scheduled vacation.  Commissioner Treusch and Deyette were both absent without the commission's prior knowledge or consent.  Commissioners McFall-Conte and Denizac claimed that one of the absent commissioners was seen leaving City Hall just 15 minutes prior to the meeting commencement.

 

 

In Mulder's absence, the meeting was chaired by Vice Mayor Carmolingo, who said the assistant City Attorney was called back from his vacation to assist during the transition period.

 

 

The commission is scheduled to meet July 20 to decide Trovato's future city employment after Mayor Mulder returns from his vacation.

 

 

 

FOR UNCUT AUDIO OF THE MEETING CLICK HERE

(a short feed interruption resulted in the loss of about one minute of dialogue by Mr. Cino)

 

 

RELATED NEWS:

 

Deltona attorney suspended with pay

 

Deltona city attorney suspended for two weeks

Pay withheld for suspended Deltona city attorney

Suspended Deltona attorney now unpaid

Deltona Votes To Stop Paying Top City Official

CITY COMMISSION BLASTS CITY ATTORNEY, SENDS HIM AWAY

QUESTIONS BREWING OVER CITY ATTORNEY'S HOME-BASED BUSINESS

 

 

CITY COMMISSION BLASTS CITY ATTORNEY, SENDS HIM AWAY

July 6, 2009

In his first employee performance evaluation since being hired as City Attorney of Deltona, tonight rookie George Trovato was accused of being unprofessional, neglectful of his responsibilities, and argumentative towards the commission who are his collective boss.

 

Commissioner Zischkau accused Trovato of refusing to produce public records.  Zischkau had requested Trovato produce copies of the legal opinions he has written for the city, but Zischkau felt Trovato has been evasive and uncooperative in his response.  Zischkau also expressed his concern over how Trovato silently watched as the city commission voted to use tax dollars to sue their critics, which resulted in a month of controversy and outrage by citizens and media alike.

 

Commissioners Deyette and Treusch expressed their appreciation of Trovato and his accomplishments. In response to their voiced support for Trovato, Commissioner Denizac made mention of "people owing people favors for campaign support and helping certain commissioners' businesses."  Previously, Commissioner Deyette had expressed how elated she was that Trovato, as one of his earliest acts as City Attorney, expedited the filing of business paperwork for her.  Trovato admittedly has been involved politically with several City of Deltona Commissioners, one of which being Commissioner Treusch.

 

Commissioner Deyette called the meeting a "public flogging" of Trovato, but Commissioner McFall-Conte responded that State law requires that they conduct an employee performance review, "call it what you want."

 

Zischkau accused Trovato of acting without the direction of the commission when he took it upon himself to ask the Attorney General for a legal opinion.  Zischkau made numerous mention of "loose cannon," saying that the commission does not need a City Attorney acting on his own without commission direction.

 

The commission voted 4-2 to suspend City Attorney George Trovato for two weeks, with Deyette and Treusch dissenting.  Per the vote, Trovato is to cease contact with other city employees, to stay out of the city's email system, to remain off of the city premises, and to remove his personal affects from his city office.

 

Immediately following the vote, Trovato hastened his exit from the commission chambers, at which point Carmolingo asked him to turn in his keys to city hall.

 

The city's Special Magistrate Cino was chosen by the commission to act as interim city attorney in Trovato's absence.

 

Mayor Mulder, who was absent from the meeting, had previously said that to allow an employee to stay on, after the employee's departure is initiated, in his experience that is never productive even if all parties act in good faith.

 

Commissioners Denizac and McFall-Conte thanked Vice Mayor Carmolingo for doing a good job of running the commission meeting in the Mayor's absence.  Many citizens are praising Vice Mayor Carmolingo for his show of leadership during the meeting.

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR UNCUT AUDIO

(missing from the audio clip are the first couple of minutes, where Commissioner Deyette sought to avoid a public evaluation of Mr. Trovato by saying that is not how other cities do it, but McFall-Conte quickly pointed out that this is how Deltona did it for former City Attorney Roland Blossom and for former City Manager Steve Thompson.)

 

 

QUESTIONS BREWING OVER CITY ATTORNEY'S HOME-BASED BUSINESS

July 2, 2009

City Attorney George Trovato runs his private law firm from his recently purchased Deltona home, and citizen concern is brewing over whether or not he is abiding by the city's laws on home-based occupations.

 

The City of Deltona has strict prohibitions on having employees in home occupations, but according to his firm's web site Principlelegal.com, Trovato's business has a "diverse" staff of paralegals and attorneys who have "a broad spectrum of experience and knowledge in many areas of law."  The web site goes on to boast that "Members of our staff speak Spanish."

 

But according to the Florida BAR, Trovato's law firm has a firm size of only one.

 

Some citizens are questioning if his web site's references to Principle Legal having staff and attorneys are deceptive advertising for a law firm that is listed as a firm of one and and that is prohibited from having employees who are not immediate family members.

 

Deltona's Code of Ordinances also prohibit making modifications to the exterior of the home-based business, other than for placing a small unlighted sign, but according to the city's permitting department, Trovato recently added additional parking space to his two-car-garage residential property.

 

In addition to prohibiting non-family employees in home-based occupations, Deltona also has a law restricting client traffic to the residence.  Trovato has recently claimed that he does not welcome clients to his for-profit law firm, which represents corporations, partnerships and individuals from both Florida and North Carolina.

 

Some taxpayers are questioning how Trovato can possibly run a law firm that serves two states, entirely on his own and without staff while he works his full-time position as City Attorney for the City of Deltona.

 

Currently Trovato - who works under the City Commission -  draws an annual salary of over $123,000 as city Attorney.  Because of a loophole in the employment contract negotiated between himself and Mayor Mulder, the rookie City Attorney Trovato was recently given a pay raise without undergoing a performance evaluation from the City Commission.

 

The penalties for violations of Deltona's ordinance Sec. 110-807 "Home occupations" can include revocation of the home occupation permit.  Between 2005 and present, there have been 448 home occupation cases processed by the City's code enforcement department.

 

Trovato has not responded to our request for comment.

 

The Florida BAR lists Mr. Trovato as a member in good standing since 2004, in the areas of Environmental and Land Use Law, Government Lawyer, City County and Local Government Law, Real Property Probate and Trust Law, Trial Lawyers, and Young Lawyers Division.  He graduated from Regent University School of Law in 2002.

 

All investigative photos below were taken during the weekday, between the business hours of 9am and 5pm.

 

 

South West Border Crossed with Chili Cook Off!

Dunk the Mayor and dunk Jamie Jessup!

 

 June 11, 2009

 DELTONA-  DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia has stated that he intends to enjoy Sunday afternoon, June 14 tasting the best chili that West Volusia offers.  "Supporting such a worthy cause, and the DeBary entries, creates a great feeling of bringing our communities together."  "Hopefully we can continue and work together in fostering community and outreach services."

 

There is no doubt that Mayor Garcia believes he has a sand bagged winner in the event.  Four Towns Moose Lodge Chef Owen Kingsley, as one of his two chili presentations, plans a bison with anazavi (Navajo for the ancient one) beans chili.  "The anazavi bean, originally grown by the Anazavi Indian tribe is only cultivated in the four corner region of the western US."  "We specially ordered these beans from Utah.  And being organically grown they have a less severe effect on the gastric system (low gas)."

 

We also expect fierce competition between the Volusia County Sheriff and Deltona Fire and Rescue.

 

Mayor Garcia also looks forward to taking a few shots at Deltona Mayor Mulder.  "I might spend $100 trying to dunk him, but hey, it's all in fun for a great cause.  He's really a super guy."

 

Riverside Bank has committed to cooking the best hot dogs available for $1.00.

 

 

Give the gift of life at the Bloodmobile and re-nourish with tasting 30 +different chilies  for $5.00, a hot dog,  a baked good for desert then wash it down with water provided by Federal Trust Bank.  The Deltona Chamber of Commerce invites you to stop by and inquire about membership while enjoying their best offerings.

 

Music festival and chili begin at 1:pm until 5:pm.  Deltona City Hall Courtyard.  Event sponsored by the City of Deltona and Community Life Center of Deltona  http://clcofdeltona.org 

 

For further information contact: Michael Kiepert at 386-789-1092  mkiepert@clcofdeltona.org ,

or Bill Tavernier at 407-417-3264, BTavernier@clcofdeltona.org.

 

 

 

Updated news:

Deltona's 'oasis of creativity' Arts and Historical Center fights financial woes

 

 

 

Cultural Arts Under Funded In Deltona!
Deltona Arts Center Seeks Funding


 

Updated July 2, 2009

 

Deltona is the largest city in Volusia county. It is one of the fastest growing and on the list of Top 100 cities to live in the U.S.

 

While ripe with sports facilities, Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex, Wes Crile Park and more, little attention and funding is given to quality of life enhancement related to the arts.
 

Deltona Arts Center is an oasis of creativity in a cultural desert known as Deltona, Florida. It is a 501c3 non profit which does not receive operating funds from the city.
 

Astonishingly, in their 3,000 square foot building at 682 Deltona Boulevard, DAC hosts concerts by national and local acts including the Frankie V Big Band Jazz Orchestra, a Comedy Club, Open Mike, Songwriters Guild and Family Karaoke night. DAC offers music lessons on numerous instruments, two recording studios, art classes, dance classes, acting classes and art exhibits. It provides rehearsal space for the Hispanic American Youth Dance Group of Deltona.

 

Due to it's high visibility and respect in the community, NBC-TV program, “America's Got Talent” asked DAC's assistance with their Central Florida auditions. The DAC Mark Miller Art Gallery has hosted international art exhibits from China and Puerto Rico.

 

The Red Cross awarded DAC for their Katrina Aid Concert and CD which raised funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Deltona Arts Recording studio organized Central Florida singers to record “Save Gabi” a song which raised funds for seven year old Gabrielle LaVerde suffering with Neimann-Pick C (childhood Alzheimer's disease).

 

Since opening in 1998, DAC has survived economy down turns and threat of foreclosure to become a vital asset to the community. This “little arts center that could” has launched music and art careers fulfilling the dreams of many with minimal staff, volunteers and very little funding. It's altruistic mission is to provide an extremely unique opportunity for working class artists to fulfill their creative dreams. Also, to educate, inspire, uplift and unite cultures via the arts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The driving force behind DAC's mission and future vision is the passion of it's president, Lloyd Marcus. Marcus is a renowned singer/songwriter and fine artist. As an African American child growing up in the ghetto of East Baltimore, Marcus experienced the life changing impact of exposure to the arts. Marcus fondly remembers his dad taking him and his three younger siblings to see the movie, “The Sound of Music” in a beautiful theater downtown. “They had just begun admitting blacks”, said Marcus. He left the theater remembering every song. Marcus said, “I was the only kid in my neighborhood singing Edelweiss”. The film broaden Marcus' horizons. The experience inspired Marcus to launch the DAC Horizons Project youth outreach program.

 

Plans are underway for a new Deltona Arts & Performance Center where Marcus plans to continue impacting lives and broadening horizons. He will offer free matinees of the “Nutcracker” and other performances to school kids.

 

With DAC busting out at the seams with activities, Deltona is in desperate need of a new arts and performance facility. Retired developer, Gary Paduch, has donated a site plan and architectural renditions for a new 30 million dollar arts and performance center.

 

 

DAC is seeking funds to keep its doors open, pay off the current $240,000 mortgage and begin building the new facility. You can help by becoming a member ($25 annually) and/ or making a one time, monthly or annual financial contribution. NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL. Please consider DAC in your Will and Estate planning. Also, volunteers are always needed. Your support is greatly appreciated.


 

Cordially,

 

 

Lloyd Marcus, President, DAC.

954-934-9588

DeltonaArts.com

Deltona Arts & Historical Center, Inc. is a 501c3 non profit.

 

 

 

Updated news:

Deltona's 'oasis of creativity' Arts and Historical Center fights financial woes

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, May 1, 2009

 

 

CONTACT:

Nancy Schleicher,

Chairman

Deltona Citizens Action Committee, Inc.

1460 S. Baton Dr

Deltona, FL 32725

(386) 574-5664

 

Deltona takes first steps to new taxes and fees

 

Deltona, FL – Deltona officials unveiled their rough draft of next year’s spending plan last Saturday calling for a new $60 per year fire fee for all property owners and a tax increase of up to 12 percent. Residents in older homes could face staggering increases of nearly 40 percent according to an analysis performed by the Deltona Citizen’s Action Committee.

 

Meeting in jeans and shorts, Deltona commissioners and officials heard a presentation by Robert Clinger, Finance Director. The DCAC was on hand Saturday to cover the informal work session for residents.

 

Mr. Clinger had little good news for commissioners… or taxpayers.

 

“We are hoping that if there’s a decline in taxable value, it will not be greater than 12 percent,” Mr. Clinger said. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and it will only be five.

 

In order to maintain the same level of spending, Mr. Clinger said the property tax rate will need to be adjusted to a “rollback rate.” In times that the city’s taxable value increases, that rate declines. But as values recede as they have for the past year, that rate must increase to maintain budgeted income levels.

 

In an effort to balance the declining revenues, Mr. Clinger said all city departments were instructed to decrease spending by 10 percent, resulting in a $630,000 trim in spending.

 

Mr. Clinger said the budget proposal calls for 17 fewer employees than last year. City Manager Faith Miller said the reductions will primarily be reached through attrition and retirement. Mr. Clinger noted the staff reduction will continue a trend begun two years ago when staffing levels peaked at 392.

 

Mr. Clinger also noted general city services spending has decreased since 2008, when a peak of $38.4 million was budgeted. Last year, spending was budgeted at $32.5 million but actual spending will be closer to $31.5 million, he said.

 

The average Deltona home was valued at about $145,159 last year according to information provided to the DCAC by staff of Morgan B. Gilreath Jr.’s Property Appraiser’s Office.  After Homestead and other exemptions, the average taxable value for a single family Deltona home was $77,279. The taxable value is the amount used to calculate taxes on an individual property. That homeowner paid about $321 in city taxes. If the rollback rate drives the rate up five percent, that resident will pay $337 assuming no change in taxable value. That same resident will pay nearly $377 if the rollback rate increases by 12 percent.

 

Now, factor in the $60 per home fire fee and even with no change in the city taxes, the overall bill increases 19 percent! With just a moderate five percent rate increase, the impact to the resident increases by nearly 22 percent!

 

Owners of lower-valued homes will get hit hardest. Residents living in their own $100,000 home with a $50,000 exemption could see a 32 percent increase with a five percent rollback rate and the fire fee. Should the rollback rate be 12 percent, that same resident may see a nearly 40 percent increase in city taxes and fees.

 

City commissioners put in place the process to create a fire fee earlier this year. The fee will be used to fund fire operations including salaries. The fee, which requires no voter approval, is expected to raise about $2 million per year according to Mr. Clinger. A portion of the revenues will be used to finance the new Public Safety Center near Courtland Boulevard. The building is expected to cost $10 million or greater.

 

The DCAC opposes this fire fee, calling it little more than a tax and spend “shell game.”

 

In addition, the city will increase water rates by 17 percent this year in the second of a five-year “catch up” program.

 

However, Mr. Clinger defended city spending. “I’d like to put this in perspective,” he said, “that the spending level for the general fund represents one dollar per day per resident. In exchange for a dollar a day, we provide fire, parks, public works, code enforcement, construction services, etc.: A dollar a day.”

 

The average resident pays 39 cents per day in property taxes to fund municipal services, Mr. Clinger noted. Sheriff Ben Johnson was due praise for keeping their budget request low, Mr. Clinger said.

 

However, in documents provided to the DCAC by Capt. David Brannon, Deltona’s District Commander, the Sheriff’s Department is seeking to replace eight deputies cut last year by Deltona Commissioners. The documents show a request for an additional $1.2 million for three sergeants, seven deputies and one office assistant.

 

Mr. Clinger took the informal worksession to criticize the previous administration, led by City Manager Steve Thompson. “I think looking back now, historically, it seems pretty clear the commission was probably not led in the right direction in the 07/08 budget,” Mr. Clinger said. “This commission was led to believe we could drastically ramp up expenses and lower property taxes in the same year. Put another way, what this means is we went from long history of budgeting surpluses…. to ‘08, actually budgeting an operating deficit.”


Mr. Clinger also said the city anticipates state shared funding, sales taxes and service taxes will decline by five percent. Mr. Clinger said Deltona property taxes do not pay the full cost of the city’s Public Safety services. This year, the city will spend an estimated 17.5 million for law enforcement and fire safety services.

 

Formal budget discussions will begin this summer.

 

Materials from the work session materials can be found here.

 

 

The Deltona Citizen’s Action Committee, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization formed by a group of Deltona residents concerned about negative publicity and negative politics. Inquiries can be made by writing the DCAC, Inc. at 1460 S. Baton Dr., Deltona, FL 32725 or calling (386) 574-5664. The group maintains a website at deltonacac.org which offers up to date information on current issues.

 

--30--

 

Ongoing News coverage of Mayor Mulder's "anti-free speech" motion

 

 

 

MAYOR MULDER ATTACKS FREE SPEECH (AGAIN),

PUBLIC BUSINESS CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE

 

April 21, 2009

 

Only two months after his embarrassing attempt to squelch citizens' free speech went down in flames, last night Mayor Mulder remained consistent with his highly controversial February 2009 attack on free speech, with his new quest for permission to use the City's legal Department to look into restricting how long other commissioners can speak during city meetings.

 

Confessing that he rarely knows who his friends are, Mayor Mulder expressed his desire to limit the amount of  input other commissioners can have in public business.  Mulder, saying he hates to step on free speech, said "when one or two people do 75% of the talking I don't think it's productive or fair."

 

Because of Florida's open-government laws, the City Commission can only discuss public business during public city meetings - but Mulder wants to explore limiting that process.

 

Listen to the unadulterated audio (audio clip approximately two minutes in length)

 

Related

 

 

MAILBOXES, MARKET, MORATORIUM, OH MY!

COMMUNITY MAILBOXES, PUBLIC MARKET,

TEXTING BAN AND IMPACT FEE MORATORIUM

SIGNAL CHANGE HAPPENING IN DELTONA

 

 

April 20, 2009

 

In a heated 2005 Mayoral election, the voters ultimately spoke loud and clear:  they wanted change.  During that election a young Mayoral candidate Dennis Mulder promised change, and tonight the Mulder-led commission unanimously voted for change.

 

During tonight's City Commission meeting, commissioners unanimously voted to outlaw private mailboxes on select main roads in Deltona, which would be replaced with community mailboxes and maintained at the expense of the United States Postal Service.  Affected roads were listed as being Fort Smith Boulevard, Howland Boulevard, Normandy Boulevard, the south end of Providence Boulevard, the west end of Saxon Boulevard, and Deltona Boulevard.

 

Also unanimously passed was the City-hosted Public Market proposal, which will provide a taxpayer-funded Public Market, hosted every Saturday in the parking lot of City Hall.

 

The commission then voted to prohibit themselves from cell phone texting and email usage during commission meetings, with only commissioner Zischkau dissenting.  Zischkau defended his position saying he is entitled to free speech.

 

On the motion of putting Mayor Mulder in charge of enforcing the proposed text/email ban, Zischkau said "that's sort of like putting the fox in charge of the hen house - who's going to watch the Mayor's cell phone?"

 

Hoping to lure more businesses to Deltona, the commission voted to temporarily suspend impact fees for commercial development in Deltona.  Commissioner McFall-Conte, saying the city had zero commercial building permits in the past two weeks, voted along with Mulder, Carmolingo, Deyette, and Treusch to temporarily fund the impact of commercial development without collecting impact fees.

 

The one-year non-residential impact fee moratorium was rejected by Commissioner Denizac along with Commissioner Zischkau, saying it will expose the City to lawsuits from existing developments who might feel they've been discriminated against, through the fees levied by the City.

 

Commissioner Denizac asked staff how the lost impact fee revenue will be replaced, and if the moratorium would negatively impact the level of service provided to the public, such as police and fire services.  Chris Bowley, Director of the City's Planning and Development Services, responded that the "lion's share" of non-residential impact fees are levied by the County, not the City, but conceded that it is a concern.

 

During the public comments portion of the meeting, local youth boxing club head Ed Alvarado - whose group was recently granted free use of taxpayers' resources - said he does not care too much for some of the commissioners and he does not really care for some of Deltona's youth.

 

Alvarado, describing a group of young Hispanic males he recently saw shopping at a local hardware store, said "there's a lot of young people that are moving into the city that I don't really care for."

 

As Mayor Mulder quietly listened on, Alvarado verbally attacked Commissioners Denizac and Zischkau  for voting against providing free taxpayer resources to Alvarado's boxing club.  (click here for uncut audio of Ed Alvarado's comments)

 

Local gadfly Bob Bello, sans trademark ponytail and augmenting his new look with a neatly trimmed beard and moustache,  blasted commissioner Zischkau for not providing his meeting notes, accusing him of being anti-government.  Mayor Mulder did not allow Zischkau to respond to Bello.  Bello continued his tirade by complaining about local privately-owned web sites.

 

Michael Williams, Deltona's Affordable Housing Advisory Committee member, expressed his concern over the city's mysterious and unprecedented firing of the City's Community Development Manager Lori Serino.  Williams said the firing was a devastating loss and jeopardizes ALL Federal & State Programs that Mrs. Serino successfully administered, specifically the CDBG grants and the most recent HUD NSP Grant of over 6.6 million that had just obtained congressional approval prior to her termination.

 

Williams claimed that during a phone call to Chris Bowley, the department head over Ms. Serino, Bowley said he did not know why Ms. Serino was let go.  "Who's really running the city of Deltona?" Williams asked the commission.  Williams blames office politics and City Attorney George Trovato for the firing of what he calls an employee with a glowing record.

 

Vice Mayor Carmolingo, also expressing concern over Serino's firing, said the "termination of Lori Serino is absolutely negative for the City of Deltona. I'm so sorry to see us go back into a negative mode."

 

Commissioner Zischkau, after learning that local watering restrictions are blanket rules ignorant of geographical differences, asked the Water Authority of Volusia representative to see if they could get more lenient watering restrictions for his dry and scorched district two, which is typically drier than surrounding areas due to it's quick-draining terrain.

 

 

 

PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST REVEALS COMPROMISED CITY LAPTOP

MAYOR MULDER UNABLE TO EXPLAIN MISSING PUBLIC PROPERTY;

CITY HAS NO RECORD OF LAPTOP LOSS OR ITS REPLACEMENT

April 15, 2009

In what appears to be either a sloppy cover-up of his tracks, or the irresponsible stewardship of a City laptop on loan to him by the tax payers, Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder is either unable or unwilling to produce the public property that was entrusted to him.  Even more concerning, both Mulder and the City are unable or unwilling to produce public records related to the loss of said public property.

In June of 2008, DeltonaBonaFide.com asked Mayor Mulder to produce public records that resided on his City-issued laptop.  The state's open-government laws - laws that Mulder swore to uphold - obligate Mulder to producing the requested records.

But Mulder did not produce the public records.

The open-government laws also dictate that Mulder must provide the requestor a response stating any legal exemptions that preclude him from producing the requested public records.

But Mulder did not respond to the requestor stating any exemptions.  Until this week - 10 months later - Mulder did not respond at all to the requestor of public records of which he was the sole custodian.

It was not until two months after making the ignored records request that DeltonaBonaFide.com's persistent research uncovered an email, sent by Mayor Mulder to his assistant Jean Oertli, in which Mulder made mention of the laptop.  In the email, Mulder claimed to have mysteriously lost possession of the laptop in Georgia's Atlanta airport before April, 2008.

Mulder does not know if the City's laptop was stolen from him or if he simply misplaced it.  He filed no police report.

This week Mulder told DeltonaBonaFide.com "I did not file a police report because I won’t file a report that might even possibly be false."

Mulder said he reported the missing public property to his assistant Jean Oertli and to the City Manager, but other than one short email between Mulder and Oertli, the City has been unable or unwilling to produce any such records for DeltonaBonaFide.com.

So where are the insurance forms, inventory-loss reports, and related records for Mayor Mulder's missing city laptop, and where is the receipt for the Mayor's replacement laptop?

According to Mayor Mulder:  "The staff may be of more help.  I am unsure how the City Manager handled processing the loss."

According to the City Clerk's officeThere are no reports or records that can be provided while in Mayor Mulder's possession.

Still unknown is the monetary value of the Mayor's missing laptop, or of his replacement laptop.

It is not known if the Mayor's compromised laptop contained sensitive or secure data, or what measures have been taken by the City to protect itself against malicious use of the cached user profile(s) and login(s) that might be resident on it.

Stay tuned to DeltonaBonaFide.com for more news as it breaks

Related

 

 

DELTONA COMMISSION VOTES TO BAN THEIR USE

OF TEXTING DEVICES DURING CITY MEETINGS

April 06, 2009

In an unusual almost-unanimous vote during its April 6 meeting, the Deltona Commission voted in favor of restricting the commissioners' use of technology while serving the public.  Citing the lack of public records available to the people from commissioners' texting communications, Commissioner Denizac proposed a new ordinance that would prohibit the commissioners from texting during commission meetings and workshops.

Denizac - proudly referring to herself as a servant to the public - said she is "doing this for the public."  She went on to say that an employee of the city should not be texting while working for their boss.

Commissioner Treusch said he has never seen any texting at the dais during commission meetings, but Commissioner Deyette disagreed, saying that she has seen other commissioners texting during commission meetings.  Vice Mayor Carmolingo and Commissioner Treusch both said they have never texted during commission meetings, but both agreed with Denizac's motion to ban texting from commission meetings.

Commissioner McFall-Conte said the residents deserve openness in City business.

With only Commissioner Zischkau dissenting, the vote passed after much debate and with an eventual revision that would not prohibit use of cell phones for emergency purposes.  Commissioner Zischkau pointed out that blue-tooth enabled phone calls, like texting, also do not produce public records.  Commissioner Denizac suggested the City install a dedicated phone line to the dais for emergency purposes. 

 

 

DELTONA VOTERS CHOSE WISELY

WHEN THEY CHOSE VOLUSIA SHERIFF

March 23, 2009

LAW ENFORCEMENT ASSESSORS PRAISE THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Confirming its commitment to law enforcement excellence, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office earned the top grade during its recent accreditation review and made a little history in the process.

Accredited agencies are reviewed every three years by an independent commission that ensures the agency and its policies, procedures, programs and facilities comply with national law enforcement performance standards. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office has been internationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) since 1991.

During its last CALEA review in 2005, the Sheriff’s Office was selected as one of just a handful of law enforcement agencies around the country to be designated a Flagship Agency. The special designation is based on an agency’s overall professional standing in the public safety community and is intended to recognize agencies that implement some of the best practices for complying with professional standards.

After recently undergoing another rigorous review of the agency’s operations, policies and programs, the Sheriff’s Office has been reaccredited and once again designated a Flagship Agency. The designation was announced during a CALEA conference in Raleigh, NC on Saturday. With Saturday’s announcement, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office became the first Sheriff’s Office in the country to earn the special Flagship designation two times.

“A Flagship Agency represents an extraordinary example of excellence in public safety and is recognized as a potential resource for future and current CALEA clients,” said CALEA’s executive director, Sylvester Daughtry, Jr.

The Sheriff’s Office also was awarded the CALEA Meritorious Award for being accredited as an agency for more than 15 years. The successful review means the Sheriff’s Office will retain its status as an internationally accredited law enforcement agency for another three years.

Sheriff Ben Johnson said the agency has worked hard to maintain high professional standards and is proud that the Sheriff’s Office was singled out once again for excellence by CALEA. “I firmly believe that we have one of the best law enforcement agencies in the country,” said Sheriff Johnson. “And it’s incredibly gratifying to have our commitment to excellence and professionalism validated by an independent law enforcement commission. This is a wonderful recognition for our employees and their hard work, professionalism and dedication to public service. 

 

 

 

 

Related articles

 

 

 

Nearing Fourth Year of Five-year Term, Mayor Blames 'Rookie Mistake'

and ill-advice for Unwittingly Making Unconstitutional Anti-Free Speech Rule

 

Seeing First Amendment Rights as an 'impediment' to City business,

Mayor hoped new rule would combat small group of vocal citizens

 

February 27, 2009

In what appears to be a shifting of fault to the City Attorney, Mayor Mulder is blaming his recent missteps on ill-advice being given to a rookie Mayor.  Mulder, approaching his fourth year of a term that was originally to be only four years before voting himself an extra year,  claims he is a novice to political leadership and that he first consulted with City Attorney George Trovato before making a motion to use tax dollars to sue his critics.

Before making his February 16 critic-muffling motion, Mulder said he consulted with City Attorney George Trovato two days earlier.  Mulder claimed that Trovato informed him that it is an issue that Mulder will have to vote on, which he did.  Repeating Mulder's folly like lemmings jumping off the proverbial cliff, Vice Mayor Carmolingo, and Commissioners Deyette and Treusch also voted to use tax dollars to fund their personal defenses against critics.

 

Through his attorney, Advocate's Legal Clinic, concerned citizen Jeff Ensminger later filed a formal complaint with the State Commission on Ethics accusing Mulder of voting to use tax dollars for his own personal gain.  Mulder then consulted again with the City's legal counsel, who opined that Mulder's actions were both legal and ethical.

However, seeking advice that is not what he calls "opinions colored by the toxic political environment," Mulder has since consulted with a private law firm to get a second opinion of his actions.  Mulder, although admittedly disappointed with that second opinion, is now asking the City Commission to repeal his controversial motion, which he now calls a mistake.

In a recent statement, Mulder said that perhaps he unwittingly had not considered the constitutional implications of his action - that "often political leaders must face the reality that the First Amendment may stand as an impediment to their desire to deal with problems quickly, efficiently, and to their liking."

Mulder went on to say that he had hoped his motion could be used to "combat the distractions brought up by this small but vocal and mean-spirited partisan group."

Ensminger responded "Of the group of vocal citizens protesting Mulder's ill-advised actions, I am personally aware of registered Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and Libertarians all united together.  They all seem to agree that Deltona is currently plagued by incompetent and damaging leadership, and they have had enough of it.  Apparently, incompetent leadership is not a partisan issue."

Through community feedback received by DeltonaBonaFide.com and opinions expressed on the web sites and radio stations of other local media outlets and discussion forums, there appears to be an uprising of citizens calling for Mayor Mulder to resign and for George Trovato to be fired for leading the Commission to blunder its way into an embarrassing First Amendment nightmare.

Even Mulder's friend, Lake Helen City Attorney Lonnie Groot, who Mulder and Deyette sometimes get advice from, is asking the embattled Mayor to resign.

The community outrage is so great, papers were recently filed with the City of Deltona to launch a sweeping recall effort.  Named as the targets of the recall were Mayor Mulder, Vice Mayor Carmolingo, and Commissioners Deyette and Treusch.  A web site dedicated to the subject of a recall is http://recallmulder.com .

Since Dennis Mulder assumed the office of Deltona Mayor in 2005, the City has been embroiled in three freedom-of-speech controversies, including prayer, paintings, and now public criticism of government.

The Commission's next public meeting is scheduled for March 2, 2009, at 6:30 pm in Commission chambers at City Hall.

 

DCAC Supports Mayor’s Pledge to Resign

 

March 1, 2009

 

Deltona, FL – The Deltona Citizens Action Committee is alarmed at the ongoing drama and embarrassment Mayor Dennis Mulder attracts to our community with his recent conduct. In the light of his apparent lack of understanding of the First Amendment’s right to personal expression, the DCAC will tonight ask commissioners to completely rescind their Feb. 16 decision to sue citizens and looks to Mayor Mulder to comply with his promise to resign in response.

 

In his Feb. 25 Press Release, created and issued using property taxes, Mayor Mulder made several remarks that it was criticism from the press that led him to get an opinion from an unnamed “law firm that specializes in First Amendment and constitutional issues.” Mayor Mulder further stated that he had really wanted those lawyers to tell him “that it was possible for the City of Deltona to marshal its resources to defend those who have been attacked for merely wishing to serve the City’s greater good.”

 

The DCAC thinks Mayor Mulder doesn’t get it.

 

It bears repeating that late in the evening of Feb. 16, Mayor Mulder, along with Vice Mayor Michael Carmolingo and Commissioners Paul Treusch and Janet Deyette, voted to commit property owner’s hard-spent taxes to sue individuals who make “slanderous or libelous comments… wherever the mayor feels is necessary.” Commissioners Zenaida Denizac, Herb Zischkau and Michele McFall-Conte, opposed the measure and opted out from its provisions.

 

It also bears recalling that Vice Mayor Carmolingo spoke up and made sure he was included so he could sue residents as well. The DCAC is alarmed Vice Mayor Carmolingo also places himself before public duty.

 

In his Feb. 25 press release, Mayor Mulder declares “I made a rookie mistake.” Astonishingly, this “rookie mistake” was not for placing his personal interests before the community, but for not reaching “outside of the community for opinions.”

 

But just two days before, in another press release created using taxpayer’s funds, Mayor Mulder sought to “clarify the use of public money only where appropriate.” Mayor Mulder still wanted to sue citizens for their opposition of city officials and employees.

 

Mayor Mulder doesn’t get it. The Mayor, along with the six other City Commissioners, has responsibility for a $66.5 million city budget in a year that is perhaps one of the worst since the Great Depression. And we have an admitted “rookie” in control.

 

This is not a time to create the image of Deltona as one of turmoil, controversy and disdain for its citizens. This is the time, perhaps more than any other time in its history, to develop the atmosphere that Deltona is a great place to live and create jobs. By placing self-interest before the public's, Mayor Mulder has failed to do so.

 

Mayor Mulder’s apologies are not good enough. The DCAC accepts Mayor Mulder’s pledge to resign tonight and looks to help building a better future for Deltona, its economic development and its citizens.

 

 

The Deltona Citizen’s Action Committee, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization formed by a group of Deltona residents concerned about negative publicity and negative politics. Inquiries can be made by writing the DCAC, Inc. at 1460 S. Baton Dr., Deltona, FL 32725 or calling (386) 574-5664. The group maintains a website at deltonacac.org which offers up to date information on current issues.

 

 

ONGOING NEWS COVERAGE OF

 

Mayor Mulder's Controversial "Anti-Free Speech" Motion

"The Mulder Gang" makes Deltona history as

most embarrassing city commissioners ever

Deltona: Put slander suits of city officials on taxpayer tab

(Orlando Sentinel 2/20/09)

 

 

36 embarrassing news articles for Deltona in less than 30 days, courtesy of Mayor Mulder, Vice Mayor Carmolingo, Commissioners Treusch and Deyette, and City Attorney George Trovato:

(most recent news on top)

 

Deltona commissioner wants city attorney fired

(Orlando Sentinel 3/15/09)

[Commissioner Zischkau] told the Orlando Sentinel on Friday that Trovato failed to give the commission proper legal advice when he allowed Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder to introduce a possibly unconstitutional motion Feb. 16 that would have used taxpayer money to fund slander and libel lawsuits for city officials.

 

"That is one of the reasons that got us into this mess on Feb. 16," Zischkau said of Trovato's actions.

Trovato, who became city attorney in 2007 after the previous city attorney was fired, told the Sentinel that Mulder did not seek legal advice from him before introducing the motion.

 

 

Deltona offered free speech resolution

(Daytona Beach News-Journal 3/13/09)

DELTONA -- To make sure everyone gets the point, Deltona City Commissioner Herb Zischkau is proposing that city leaders adopt a resolution in favor of free speech.

The resolution, which Zischkau has asked to be put on Monday's agenda, asserts the city's and commissioners' commitment to ". . . allow the expression of views and ideas and to encourage public participation in all of its hearings, meetings, processes, programs and operations."

 

 

Commissioners blast city attorney

(Orlando Sentinel 3/8/09)

City Attorney George Trovato was also chastised for his role in Mulder's motion to use taxpayer money to fund slander and libel lawsuits for city officials. Commissioner Zenaida Denizac called Trovato incompetent for not telling the commission that Mulder's motion could be viewed as unconstitutional and a threat to free speech. State Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, wrote a letter to the commission days before Mulder's motion was repealed on March 2. Plakon, who owns a publishing company in Deltona, wrote: "I suggest that the City Commission review the qualifications and competence of the city attorney as soon as is practicable and consider replacing him."

 

 

Freeman Examiner

(3/8/09)

 

 

Deltona’s 180 doesn’t silence critics

(West Volusia Beacon 3/5/09)

“Outrageous” and “the ultimate insult” were the ways Richard Hylton described the idea of suing citizens who object to municipal officials or policies.

“This is not the kind of leadership our city needs,” Hylton said.

“If you won’t resign, we’ll have to recall you,” said Mark Buckley, who is spearheading a drive to recall Mulder and the commissioners who voted with him: Vice Mayor Michael Carmolingo, and City Commissioners Janet Deyette and Paul Treusch.

“Enough is enough,” J. Mark Barfield told Mulder. “It’s time for you to go, sir.”

“Mr. Mayor, I think you’ve done a lousy job, and I think it’s time you did resign,” said Mildred White.

 

 

We think: Deltona's better off without Mayor Dennis Mulder's buffoonish behavior

(Orlando Sentinel 3/4/09)

Professional athletes are considered rookies during their first year in a league.

But to the mayor of Deltona, "rookie" has a much longer shelf life for politicians.

Dennis Mulder, who bullied the City Commission last month into letting the city bankroll lawsuits against its own residents, described his epic error in judgment as a "rookie mistake."

This from someone who was elected in 2005. And whose missteps have been so frequent and so consistent that you'd think by now he would have learned something from them.
But not Sideshow Dennis, who...

 

 

Deltona Mayor Won’t Resign Amidst Calls For His Removal

(CH13 3/3/09)

Buckley and his neighbors claimed irresponsible spending of taxpayer's money and bad decisions have gotten out of hand, and that it is time for  Mulder, 30, to leave office.

"Each time they spend money, or they try to stop people from criticizing them, whatever they do seems to be a new blunder that gets more and more people upset," Buckley said.

 

 

Deltona repeals motion on taxpayer-funded lawsuits

(Orlando Sentinel 3/3/09)

After community uproar, the Deltona City Commission voted Monday to repeal a motion that would have used taxpayer money to fund slander and libel lawsuits for city officials.

The commission voted 6-1 in favor of rescinding the motion, with Commissioner Janet Deyette opposing the measure.

Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder, who introduced the original measure during a Feb. 16 commission meeting, voted to repeal it.

"I'm sorry for all the commotion we created," Vice Mayor Michael Carmolingo said.

 

 

Deltonans demand mayor's ouster

(Daytona Beach News-Journal 3/3/09)

Resign or face a recall: That was the ultimatum given to Mayor Dennis Mulder by several residents Monday night.   The residents showed up for Monday's commission meeting carrying signs demanding a recall of Mulder, Vice Mayor Michael Carmolingo and Commissioners Paul Treusch and Janet Deyette.

Mark Buckle, chairman of The Deltona Recall Committee, said Mulder's original motion was "just one more in a long line of incompetence and arrogance."

 

 

Deltona city leaders under fire (with VIDEO)

(WOFL FOX35 3/2/09)

Chairman Mark Buckley filed the paperwork last week as part of his plan to recall Mayor Dennis Mulder along with city commissioners Paul Treusch, Janet Deyette and Michael Carmo-Lingo.

Buckley’s plans for a special election have to do with the way the city leaders have spent money during the past few years. Buckley said the four voted to use taxpayer dollars to pay for possible lawsuits city leaders would file against people who spoke out against them.

 

 

DCAC Supports Mayor’s Pledge to Resign

(DCAC 3/1/09)

The Deltona Citizens Action Committee is alarmed at the ongoing drama and embarrassment Mayor Dennis Mulder attracts to our community with his recent conduct. In the light of his apparent lack of understanding of the First Amendment’s right to personal expression, the DCAC will tonight ask commissioners to completely rescind their Feb. 16 decision to sue citizens and looks to Mayor Mulder to comply with his promise to resign in response.

 

 

Group forms to force Mulder recall

(West Volusia Beacon 3/1/09)

A firestorm in Deltona touched off by Mayor Dennis Mulder not only burned him, but may spark a municipal election a year ahead of schedule.

A group demanding the recall of Mulder and three city commissioners has submitted papers at City Hall to lay the groundwork for a special election.

"We want to recall the mayor and the commissioners in Districts 4, 5 and 6," Mark Buckley said.

 

 

Couple seek to remove Mulder, 3 others

(Orlando Sentinel 3/1/09)

Buckley, a real-estate and stock investor, said Mulder and the commissioners — Paul Treusch, Janet Deyette and Michael Carmolingo — should lose their jobs because they say they've supported measures that are fiscally irresponsible, including Mulder's recent slander and libel motion.
"We can control the local spending by firing people who don't know the value of the tax dollar," he said.

 

 

Mayor Blames 'Rookie Mistake' and ill-advice for Unwittingly Making Anti-Free Speech Rule

(DBF 2/2709)

Seeing First Amendment Rights as an 'impediment' to City business, Mayor hoped new rule would combat small group of vocal citizens

 

 

Deltona mayor apologizes for 'rookie mistake,' wants lawsuit motion repealed

(Orlando Sentinel 2/27/09)

Mulder wrote a letter, released Wednesday by Deltona City Hall, in which he called himself a "political novice" who made a "rookie mistake."
"I was not prepared for the partisan and caustic attacks that often come along with positions of political leadership," Mulder wrote in the letter.
Mulder, elected in 2005, said his motion was legal and ethical, but uproar from the community and reaction from the media had caused him to reconsider it. He is asking the City Commission to repeal the motion at its March 2 meeting.

 

 

Advice behind Mulder's apology 

(Daytona Beach News-Journal 2/27/09)

Of more serious concern is a discrepancy in legal advice that Mulder revealed in his statement. "Our legal staff has found that our actions were both legal and ethical," Mulder said of City Attorney George Trovato. If Trovato is not providing the sort of advice that protects the city and its mayor from making poor judgments and voting on constitutionally suspect motions, that's a greater problem. Commissioners shouldn't just repeal the Mulder motion. They should confront what the controversy revealed and endures: the commission's vulnerability to poor legal advice.

 

 

Deltona mayor sorry for anti-critic measure

(Daytona Beach News-Journal 2/26/09)

The Advocate's Legal Clinic of Deltona, a law firm, responded Monday by filing a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics against Mulder, charging that his vote to use taxpayers' money to defend his government and employees from critics was unethical.

Mulder, in a prepared statement released Wednesday, said he since sought the opinion of a First Amendment attorney and realized his proposal was not constitutional.

 

 

Mayor Mulder asks Deltona City Commission to reverse citizen-lawsuit vote

(West Volusia Beacon 2/25/09)

Mulder’s latest statement revealed he had been advised by a First Amendment attorney that the Feb. 16 action was ill-advised.

 

 

Mayor issues statement for discussion at March 2 Commission meeting

(West Volusia Beacon 2/25/09)

Mulder wrote: "I must say that upon reading this opinion, I was disappointed. This is not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that it was possible for the City of Deltona to marshal its resources to defend those who have been attacked for merely wishing to serve the City's greater good. However, my attorneys have advised me otherwise.

 

In a free society, often political leaders must face the reality that the First Amendment may stand as an impediment to their desire to deal with problems quickly, efficiently, and to their liking. In this situation, I had hoped that we could use this mechanism to have the City combat the distractions brought up by this small but vocal and mean-spirited partisan group, so that we could move forward with the business of governing Deltona in a manner that is most advantageous to the greatest number of its citizens."

 

 

Mayor Mulder requests to repeal controversial motion

(2/25/2009)

Prior to proposing the defamation measure, I sought advice from various individuals; however, I made a rookie mistake. I failed to reach outside of the community for opinions that would not be colored by the toxic political environment that brought about this measure in the first place.

After reading the reactions by the media and by my fellow citizens, I determined that perhaps I had not considered the constitutional implications of such an action.

 

 

Deltona mayor: Let's revote on libel-slander motion

(Orlando Sentinel 2/25/09)

On Sunday, Lake Helen's city attorney, Lonnie Groot, sent an e-mail to the Deltona City Commission calling on Mulder to resign and asking that the commission introduce a new motion that would defeat Mulder's original proposal.
Groot, a Deltona resident, asked the commission to "admit their error and reverse their vote" and urged Mulder to resign.
"We really need to move past this as a community," Groot said. "I don't think we're going to be able to until there are some changes in hearts and attitudes on the City Commission, starting at the top."

 

 

Mulder's misguided crusade:  Deltona residents will be the losers in legal fight

(Daytona Beach News-Journal 2/25/09)

Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder isn't getting it.

During a Deltona City Commission meeting last week, Mulder delivered a 22-minute recitation of unspecified harms done him, his family, his day care business and the city by unnamed critics. He then submitted a motion calling on the city to spend taxpayer money to defend him or the city in legal actions against critics, "past, present and future." He threatened to resign if the commission didn't pass his motion. He then resumed chairing the meeting and called for a vote. The motion passed, 4-3. He provided the tie-breaking vote.

Mulder's improprieties were numerous. Legality aside, spending public money on vague witch hunts against critics would be rash, expensive, distracting and self-defeating: Short of outright malicious libel that recklessly disregards the truth, public figures may be criticized broadly and fiercely. Those who can't stand the criticism should stay in the private sector. But Mulder's self-pity, on display last week, rivals his self-absorption.

 

 

Deltona mayor comes under fire

(Daytona Beach News-Journal 2/23/09)

Jaime Jessup, the legal advocate group's director of government relations, said the mayor is backtracking on what he initially intended to say and his clarification does not change anything.

"It's like robbing a 7-Eleven store and then coming back 30 minutes later and saying he didn't mean to do it," Jessup said. "He ought to do the right thing and that's to get the commissioners to tank what they've done, to trash the proposal and rescind themselves."

 

 

Deltona resident files state ethics complaint against Mayor Dennis Mulder

(Orlando Sentinel 2/23/09)

DELTONA - A Deltona resident today filed a state ethics complaint against Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder, arguing that the mayor violated state law when he and and other City Commission members passed a measure that allows city officials to use taxpayer money to pay for lawsuits against slander or libel.
Jeffrey Ensminger, who runs DeltonaBonaFide.com, a Web site that often criticizes Mulder, filed the complaint through Advocate's Legal Clinic in Deltona.

 

 

 

Mayor Mulder clarifies his anti-free speech motion

(Mayor Mulder 2/22/2009)

I thought it may be a good idea to clarify the motion regarding legal expenses for the protection of the city, city officials and staff. Further, I have asked the City Attorney to draft a revised motion approved by the legal staff which may better represent the intention of the commission for my comments section at the next commission meeting.

 

 

Open Letter asks for State Investigation of City's Attack on Free Speech

(DBF 2/22/09)

As to whether or not Mr. Mulder has legal grounds for filing lawsuits for slander and libel is not my concern. What is my concern is that Mr. Mulder wants to use public funds to engage in private lawsuits for personal reasons, of which only he would benefit, not the city, nor its citizens.

 

 

Throw Deltona Under the Bus

(Real Radio 104.1 FM - Philips Phile 2/20/09)

People in the City of Deltona:  This is a blatant attempt, by Mayor Mulder, and a majority of the City Commission, to do what?  Squelch public criticism... If you think that the Mayor's a nitwit and is doing a crappy job, you're allowed to stand there on public property and say so... What - are you people in Deltona out of your mind?  How'd you elect this goofball?  Where'd this nutjob come from?  Who are these nutjobs who agreed with the Mayor?  Did any commissioner say "you can't get away with this?"  What is this guy - the Dictator of Deltona?  Deltona has it's collective head up its ass... where'd you find this knuckle brain?  ...I didn't know he was such a douche.  The people of Deltona are stupid for electing him.  He' s a putz, he's a goofball.  ...if that's the truth, he is a putz, and the rest of the council that voted with him... and all their sycophants and ass-kissers... their bootlicks.  Man-up!  I think Mayor Putz is having a bad day... I think he has thin skin.  Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!

 

 

Deltona: Put slander suits of city officials on taxpayer tab

(Orlando Sentinel 2/20/09)

Darren Elkind, DeLand's city attorney, said Mulder's request for legal fees is the first he's heard of like it.  "I've never heard of that being done anywhere in Florida," Elkind said. "The idea that government would spend money to quiet political dissent is counterintuitive."

 

 

We Think: Democracy took a bullet when Deltona opened the door to suing critics

(Orlando Sentinel 2/20/09)

When he marched from the dais to the public podium Monday night to make a presentation -- blurring the lines between his role as mayor and citizen -- Mr. Mulder threatened to quit if he didn't get his way.
If only Deltona had only been so lucky.
At least three city commissioners had the sense to vote against this naked attempt to muzzle the public.
Sadly, it wasn't enough to overcome a vote offering further evidence that Deltona might have the most dysfunctional government in Central Florida.

 

 

Crazy days in halls of power

(Daytona Beach News-Journal 2/19/09)

They should've let him resign.  Deltona Mayor Dennis Mulder gave his colleagues an ultimatum -- use taxpayer dollars to sue his detractors or he would step down.  The City Commission made the wrong choice.

 

 

Caution: Criticizing the mayor can get you sued

(Daytona Beach News-Journal 2/19/09)

Mulder's self-pitying performance at the end of a City Commission meeting Monday, culminating in a bullying threat to resign if the commission didn't approve a measure that would have taxpayers footing commissioners' -- but primarily Mulder's -- legal witch-hunts against commission critics, raises a question. Why didn't commissioners take him up on his threat?

 

 

Local Attorney to Represent Mayor's Threatened Critic

(DBF 2/19/09)

Mayor Mulder seemed to blame Mr. Ensminger for the bad press the City has received since he has been elected.    Mulder ought to make some changes in the man in the mirror and not use taxpayer money to persecute honorable citizens such as Mr. Ensminger.

 

 

Deltona critics could find legal KO

(Daytona Beach News-Journal 2/18/09)

Zischkau described it as an attack against free speech. "It is a violation of the federal and Florida laws that guarantee a right to free speech," he said. "(You) have abused governmental power to freeze political dissent."

 

 

Deltona to use city funds to defend mayor against attacks

(Orlando Sentinel 2/17/09)

"The four [commissioners] on this floor have used their political power to silence dissent," Zischkau said. "Don't ask the overburden taxpayers to pay for your legal bills."

 

 

DCAC Condemns City Decision to Sue Dissidents

(DCAC 2/17/09)

 “Our Country was formed with the freedom of speech for all,” said Nancy Schleicher, DCAC chairman, “not the freedom of speech for only those who agree with us.”

 

 

Team Mulder votes to use your tax dollars to fight community web sites like this one

(DBF 2/16/09)

During a February 16 commission meeting, Mayor Mulder gave a lengthy presentation that was mostly about his critic Jeff Ensminger, and consisted partly of political cartoons, along with negative State reports relating to his daycares.

 

 

Team Mulder votes to use your tax dollars to fight community web sites like this one

 

UPDATED: February 22, 2009

DELTONA - In the past, Mayor Mulder has used his authority as Mayor to put limitations on what the other commissioners can say to the people, he has put limitations on what the people can say to the commissioners, and he has even complained to a newspaper on how they report news.

 

 

Now Mayor Mulder wants to use tax dollars to defend himself  from what citizens say to other citizens.

 

During a February 16 commission meeting, Mayor Mulder gave a lengthy presentation that was mostly about his critic Jeff Ensminger, and consisted partly of political cartoons found here, along with negative State reports relating to his daycares.

 

Afterward, Mayor Mulder and Commissioners Deyette, Carmolingo, and Treusch  all voted to use your tax dollars to combat what you say about them.

 

Commissioners McFall-Conte, Zischkau, and Denizac all opted to be removed from the provisions of Mayor Mulder's motion, saying they did not want to use public tax dollars  to fight their personal battles.

 

Click here to listen for yourself

(unadulterated audio from 2/16/09 regular commission meeting)

 

Mayor Mulder's motion, which passed 4-3, was:

 

“I move for the city to provide reimbursement and expenditures of legal fees, to protect both proactively and reactively, the city as a government including its employees and its mayor from material loss, damages, slanderous or libel comments or claims, and unsubstantiated allegations, past, present and future, where the mayor feels is necessary and that a report of fees expended be made available to the public for their review.”

 

Open Letter asks for State Investigation of City's Attack on Free Speech

 

February 22, 2009

  

Attorney General Bill McCollum

Office of Attorney General

State of Florida

The Capitol PL-01

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050 

  

 

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

 

On the 16th of February, 2009, during the regular commission meeting of the City of Deltona, Mayor Dennis Mulder proposed a resolution before the city commission that he be reimbursed with city funds for costs and legal fees associated with him filing private lawsuits for slander and libel against other private citizen. Mr. Mulder stated that he consulted the City Attorney about the proposed resolution a few days before. The mayor also threatened to resign if the resolution was not passed.

 

During his PowerPoint presentation before the other commissioners, the reasoning that Mr. Mulder used is that he is only being slandered and libeled because of his official position as the mayor of Deltona, that those who are supposedly engaging in slander and libel against him are hurting his family and his private daycare business in Volusia County, and that the City of Deltona should therefore pay his legal fees.

 

The mayor and three of the other six commissioners voted to approve the resolution. The three commissioners who voted to approve the resolution, Commissioner Treusch, Commissioner Deyette, and Vice Mayor Carmolingo, asked to be included in the resolution to be reimbursed with city funds for costs and legal fees associated with filing private lawsuits for criticism they receive in their official capacity from other private citizens. The City Attorney, City Manager, and other city employees were added on to the resolution, so that they too could be reimbursed with city funds in order to engage in private lawsuits against private citizens critical of them in their employment with the city.

 

The other three commissioners, Commissioner Denizac, Commissioner McFall-Conte, and Commissioner Zischkau, voted against the resolution and asked to be excluded from it.

 

As to whether or not Mr. Mulder has legal grounds for filing lawsuits for slander and libel is not my concern. What is my concern is that Mr. Mulder wants to use public funds to engage in private lawsuits for personal reasons, of which only he would benefit, not the city, nor its citizens.

 

In the “After Action Agenda” of the meeting, available at the city’s web site, it states that the “reimbursement and expenditure of legal fees (is) to protect both proactively and reactively the City as a government” from “slanderous or libelous comments or claims and unsubstantiated allegations past, present and future where the Mayor feels is needed,” yet in his initial presentation the mayor stated that the resolution was necessary to protect his family and his private daycare business. The addition of the words “to protect … the City as a government” was an afterthought added to the wording in an attempt to justify and add legality to the resolution.

 

In the City of Deltona Charter, Under Section 5, Subsection 6, Paragraph (a) Compensation and Paragraph (b) Expenses, it clearly states that “compensation shall not include benefits,” and that commissioners can only be provided “reimbursement of actual expenses incurred . . . while performing their official duties.” Therefore, I believe that the resolution itself is illegal.  As a matter of fact, even though the commissioners can sign up with the city’s health insurance plan, not even the health insurance premiums are paid by the city; and since not even a health insurance premium benefit is provided to the commissioners, I cannot believe that it is legal for the commissioners, on a 4 to 3 vote, to approve themselves a legal fee reimbursement benefit. The only way that the commissioners can receive such a benefit is by asking the voters to approve a change in the city’s charter to include such a benefit.

 

Furthermore, I believe that Mr. Mulder is using the authority of his office and of the resolution to misappropriate public funds for personal use, abuse the power of his office, and infringe upon the constitutional rights of free speech, all of which are a breach of the public trust of his office.

 

Therefore, to determine if any laws have been violated, I respectfully request that you look into this matter on behalf of the citizens of the City of Deltona and that, if warranted, you take whatever action necessary to protect us from those who have forgotten who they serve and who willfully breach the public trust of their office.

 

If, on the other hand, the mayor has not violated any laws, and my interpretation of the City Charter is in error or the City Charter is unenforceable as law in the eyes of the justice system, please let me know.

 

Thank-you very much for your time and consideration of this matter!

 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Lawrence M. Cassidy

 

[Deltona Citizen]

 

 

Local Attorney to Represent Mayor's Threatened Critic
 

February 19, 2009
Deltona - Recently, Mayor Dennis Mulder asked the Deltona City Commission to authorize spending tax dollars to provide reimbursement of his legal fees to proactively bring litigation against those who the mayor feels have wronged him.    The City Commission gave the mayor sole discretion in deciding how those tax dollars will be spent.  

It is no surprise to see Vice Mayor Michael Carmolingo and Commissioners Paul Treusch and Janet Deyette relinquish their duties in support of giving this mayor cart blanche authority.  This unprecedented authorization is reckless and provides for no checks and balances and can possibly be used to persecute citizens who disagree with the mayor.

This firm proudly represents Jeff Ensminger, who serves up news, commentary and video for the community at DeltonaBonaFide.com and is an apparent target of Mayor Mulder's proposed litigation.  Mr. Ensminger is the citizen responsible for the successful complaint to the Florida Elections Commission that resulted in Mayor Mulder being fined for more than eighty election law violations.   He recently brought to light a vendor's accusations that City Manager Faith Miller used a racial slur and City Attorney George Trovato threatened the vendor's future ability to procure government contracts.    Mr. Ensminger believes that Mulder's threats are retaliatory and pretextual.
 
Mayor Mulder seemed to blame Mr. Ensminger for the bad press the City has received since he has been elected.    Mulder ought to make some changes in the man in the mirror and not use taxpayer money to persecute honorable citizens such as Mr. Ensminger.   Mulder's political problems more likely are a result of his unpopular support and approval of unpopular policies including increased government spending, 2000 apartments in the activity center and his initial act to remove prayer from the commission meetings.

However, in the event Mulder follows through on his apparent plan this firm stands ready to vigorously defend Mr. Ensminger and other like citizens.   Other citizens can join in Mr. Ensminger's fight to hold this mayor and city leaders accountable by donating to his free speech defense fund by contacting me as follows:



Michael L. Boswell, Esq.
ADVOCATE'S LEGAL CLINIC
A Private Law Firm
813 Deltona Boulevard , Suite A
Deltona , FL 32725
386-574-3044
386-845-9240 - Facsimile


Donations to the legal defense fund are not tax deductible.

# # #

 

Deltona Commission Votes 4-3 to Levy New Limitless Fee on Homeowners

Watchdog Group Warns Citizens to be Wary of City’s Fire SAD Proposal

February 3, 2009

Deltona, FL – Despite reassurances by Deltona Commissioner Janet Deyette in yesterday’s News-Journal, the Deltona Citizen’s Action Committee urges city taxpayer’s to be wary of the proposal to create a new special assessment taxing district (SAD). Last night City commissioners voted 4-3 to create a new taxing district .  Commissioner Paul Treusch said the SAD is needed "to have a paper trail for the money."

 

Yesterday, News-Journal reporter Nicole Service quoted Deyette as saying “ ‘It's not a final decision on it. It is to give staff the go ahead to look into it. We are just looking into it at this point.’ "

 

However, the city’s proposed Resolution No. 2009-03 states the following, “WHEREAS, the City intends to use the uniform method for collecting non-ad valorem special assessments for the cost of providing fire protection services to property within the incorporated area of the City…” The draft resolution further states “The City hereby determines that the levy of the assessments is needed to fund the cost of fire protection services within the incorporated area of the City.”

 

“Intends to use” suggests greater purpose than “not a final decision,” as Commissioner Deyette would have us believe.

 

Using the fee, the city could carve much of the $8.7 million Fire Fund spending from property taxes and then use those ad valorem “savings” to actually finance other spending. It becomes another way to increase taxes on residents using a “shell game,” a confidence trick.

 

“It’s like putting a horse in a starting box for a race that hasn't even been scheduled,” commented Nancy Schleicher, DCAC Chairman, “unless of course it plans on running anyway.”

 

City commissioners granted themselves the authority to create Special Assessment Districts in a late night vote last year. That action was required by the state before they could impose the special district fees. The state allows local governments to create the districts and impose fees without prior voter approval under Chapter 197.

 

Under the state provisions, the assessments are separate to city taxes and other fees and aren’t restricted by the 1995 Save Our Homes limit on property value increases or last year’s Amendment 1. The assessments are often applied at the same level for all homes, regardless of assessed value. Homeowners facing devalued homes will likely pay the same rate as new home owners.

 

Rather than finding ways to save property owners money, the city continues to create new burdens on taxpayers. Last year, while city officials said they made some cuts in spending, they raised property taxes a staggering 27 percent and water fees 17 percent, the first rate hike in 13 years. According to city figures, more than 10 percent of all Deltona homeowners have lost their homes to foreclosure or are about to face that tragedy.

 

The article can be found by clicking here.

 

DCAC Urges Residents To

Monitor City’s Proposed  Fire SAD

January 27, 2009

Deltona, FL – Deltona officials propose to add another fee to the already burdened Deltona property owner. Next month, city commissioners will consider creating a new fire fee to pay for services. Few details have been made public, but Deltona City Manager Faith Miller wrote DCAC Vice Chairman Rich Hylton the fee could be used to pay for “new fire stations and/or fire vehicles, and operational costs of fire services. Such assessments cannot be used to cover emergency medical services provided by the Fire Department, but they can be used to cover annual operating expenses for fire protection services.”

 

The Deltona Citizen’s Action Committee encourages all residents watch fire fee developments closely and keep close contact with their commissioners to let them know their thoughts. City Commissioners are slated to consider the proposal at their February 2 meeting.

 

“Call it whatever you wish,” said DCAC Chairman Nancy Schleicher, “if it is on my tax bill it is a tax!”

 

Shortly before midnight on July 7 last year, the City Commission gave themselves the authority to create Special Assessment Districts in a 5-2 vote. That action was required by the state before they could impose the special district fees. The state allows local governments to create the districts and impose fees without prior voter approval under Chapter 197. Under the state provisions, the assessments can be made separate to city taxes and other fees. Commissioners are not restricted by the 1995 Save Our Homes limit on property value increases or last year’s Amendment 1 which increases the Homestead Exemption. The assessments are often applied at the same level for all homes, regardless of assessed value. Homeowners facing devalued homes will likely pay the same rate as new home owners.

 

“My concern about imposing any assessment is that under the law an assessment does not have a cap on its increase and it can be imposed without voter approval,” Schleicher said. “This is clearly a slap in the face of those who worked hard to get the Save Our Homes restriction on tax increases.’

 

Rather than finding ways to save property owners money, the city continues to create new fees. Last year, although the city said it made some cuts in spending, they raised property taxes a staggering 27 percent and water fees 17 percent, the first hike in 13 years. According to city figures, more than 10 percent of all Deltona homes are either foreclosed and about to become so.

 

Schleicher said the city is not in touch with the residents. “At this time all government officials should be looking into how to improve the system within current budgetary boundaries and not add additional assessments or taxes at a time when people are struggling to afford those currently imposed,” she said.

 

The DCAC will provide updates on their website, www.deltonacac.org, as soon as they are available.

 

 

The Deltona Citizen’s Action Committee, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization formed by a group of Deltona residents concerned about negative publicity and negative politics. Inquiries can be made by writing the DCAC, Inc. at 1460 S. Baton Dr., Deltona, FL 32725 or calling (386) 574-5664. The group maintains a website at www.deltonacac.org which offers up to date information on current issues.

 

 

$69 Million Debt Question Puts Services at Risk,

May Mean Higher Taxes

 

Group Urges Rejection of $69 Million City Expansion

 

December 13, 2008

 

Deltona, FL – The Deltona Citizens Action Committee urges all Deltona residents to oppose the city’s $69 million proposal to go deeply into debt to pay for an expansion of city construction and facilities.  The plan calls for:

 

·   $25 million for the Public Safety Complex, including a new Fire Station

·   $22 million for a new wastewater treatment plant

·   $15 million to purchase the county's Deltona North Water and Wastewater System

·   $7.5 million for drainage projects

 

The plan will tie up city revenues for years to come, at a time when the economy has reached its lowest since the Great Depression. Many Deltona homeowners are at risk of losing their homes because of rising costs and declining incomes. The city has already increased property taxes 27 percent and utility rates 17 percent while cutting crime protection and other city services just this year.

 

"While the city certainly has many critical needs that should be funded, fire protection and flood prevention chief among them, it is not the time to indebt the city with unneeded construction and utility expansion at a time when taxpayers and businesses are least capable of affording them," said Nancy Schleicher, DCAC chairman.

 

"Should city revenues continue to drop, commissioners will likely need to continue to increase property taxes and other fees to pay for the debt, placing other city operations at risk," Schleicher said.

 

The city’s Debt Policy states the following: “The decision to issue debt has far-reaching consequences by committing the city's revenues for future periods, and hence, limiting the city's flexibility in responding to changing service priorities, revenue inflows, or cost structures.”

 

Deltona Commissioners should heed their own policy and not approve this plan. They will take the first steps of approval this Monday, December 15 at City Hall. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

 

 

The Deltona Citizens Action Committee, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization formed by a group of Deltona residents concerned about negative publicity and negative politics. Inquiries can be made by writing the DCAC, Inc. at 1460 S. Baton Dr., Deltona, FL 32725 or calling (386) 574-5664. The group maintains a website at deltonacac.org which offers up to date information on current issues.

 

 

Discuss it at Deltona's online discussion forum DeltonaChat.com

 

 

 

Copyright © 2013 THOUGHTEATER TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS, INC.  All rights reserved