Brevard's Civil War

It's not the war between the states, but it may as well be. Given recent developments with the Brevard County Commission, there can be no other conclusion. The factions are divided North and South. We even have the analogy of Republican brother fighting brother (and sister) in this battle for political control.

It's evident in the desire of Commissioner Jim Barfield-Bolin-Lewis to divide road monies evenly between districts in spite of need or level of damage. This soviet style delivery ensures all people are treated equally regardless of need. It also ensures continued bad road conditions for as long as we can anticipate.

It's evident in the continuing ploy to hand monies to favored charities. While this was ready to fall last week, Barfield-Bolin-Lewis suddenly had an idea to save the giveaway- let's reduce it by 20% a year over 5 years...AFTER this year. It's an idea he could have had during his term as Chair, but somehow saved it until this year when 3 others were ready to kill the theft and reallocation of our tax dollars. He was supported by D-1's Rita Pritchett. The two Southern commissioners were ready to kill the plan altogether.

The Northern ploy swayed our Border State in the Civil War, District 4. Curt Smith has a head, and in this case, sadly, a heart. Last year Smith had warned the charitable organizations to be ready to see these dollars disappear. There is no indication they made any such preparation as they are back at the government trough this year. So, instead of enforcing the previous year's warning, Smith bought the step-down idea as more humane, I suppose.

Then there is the CRA/EDZ issue that is also clearly divided by our own Mason Dixon Line which appears to be Viera Boulevard. Northern Commissioners Barfield-Bolin-Lewis and Rita Pritchett are all in on this one and she appears to be aligned with the former and still largely Democratic Commissioner on every issue.

To the South are rookie commissioners John Tobia and Kristine Isnardi. He, the rabble-rousing Confederate Jefferson Davis or Stonewall Jackson to Barfield-Bolin-Lewis' General Ulysses S. Grant. And Isnardi, the General Robert E. Lee carrying out the battle plans wth skill and leadership to Pritchett's Harriet Tubman crossing the border, not to free slaves, but dollars rightfully belonging to the south and the rest of the county. Yet, 2-2 does not win the battle, much less the war.

And that's where my friend Curt Smith comes in. It hurts me to say it, but I am sadly disappointed in his positions on these issues and his perception that he is there to do something (even if it is wrong). I understood this on a commission where he and former Commissioner Trudie Infantini were outnumbered by the Robin Fisher faction on any vote. He compromised where appropriate then. It is politics after all. Now, that is unnecessary and a truly conservative agenda could be at hand. But, it's not.

When the Border State could be leading as Chair, the factions fight and he sits in the middle weighing the issues and so far, coming down mostly on the status quo side. Curt ran to bring change to the commission. There is true opportunity to do so and the chance is being squandered. Curt is smart enough and strong enough to not be stuck between the factions but to see his political allies and use the Chair to drive the changes he sought.

With budgeting still under way, I hope to not see this opportunity squandered. Tobia and Isnardi are digging as Smith asked and finding previously unseen resources for roads. It's a start.

The real Civil War hurt the entire country. Brevard's Civil War has the potential to do the same to the whole county. Reasonable restrictions on CRA's and EDZ's are a good beginning. You can not simply slash and burn every program, although some are deserving. Stopping charitable donations of tax dollars is a good idea. At least, if it's adhered to by subsequent commissions, we have a start in eliminating that theft of tax dollars for commissioners' pet charities.

Road needs should be prioritized by the most severe damage, regardless of district. It's the only way allocation of these funds makes sense. Dividing them by district only serves to let bad roads get worse and cost more in the long run. The South is clearly the leader on this idea and deserves the win in this battle.

Oh, and a County Commission, our elected representatives to oversee county government, should be strong enough to wisely select a County Manager to oversee daily operations without wasting money on a search firm to find candidates. The North won this battle in the conflict.

My home state of West Virginia was born of conflict in the American Civil War. It became a Border State in that war. There we sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Dixie with equal passion. It gives me unique perspective to Curt Smith's position on the County Commission in our own war between the North and the South.

It's my hope that this analysis helps him in seeing the correct path as the commission executes the war plans for each side. Otherwise, we will see massive casualties in our tax dollars and direction for Brevard government. It truly is an opportunity to lead.

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