Last week, I wrote about one of the largest groups in Orange County being ignored for appointment to the county redistricting board.
It’s apparent that the exclusion of Puerto Ricans from the county redistricting board is a drop in the ocean, when it comes to questionable county appointments and,that the whole process altogether is broken.
What I witnessed this morning when I tuned into the Orange County Commission meeting on Orange TV (a wonderful service by the way) was a spotlight shined on one of the ugliest problems that I thought we had taken a step away from, with the past elections.
Board appointments used to gain favor with special interests and used as social calls to hang out with buddies.
As expected several members from the Puerto Rican community appeared before the Orange County Commission. They’re concerns were heartfelt, points valid, and they produced facts that really bothered me and lowered my confidence in Orange County Government.
Everyone on the commission had something to say. If not out of genuine concern, definitely for political survival. It’s best to go right down the line.
Mayor Teresa Jacobs:Announced that she was forming an oversight task force and that there was a Puerto Rican on that board and that one of her redistricting appointees was married to one. She brought up her campaign promises and that she wanted to work with all members of Orange County.
District 1 Commissioner Scott Boyd: He was actually prepared to move on but, had a short statement voicing his concern on the topic.
District 2 Commissioner Fred Brummer: He mentioned that it’s pretty hard to live in District 2 and not get appointed. He gave out his personal email and the name of his contacts and said that anyone that was interested would be able to serve.
This simply isn’t true.
I applied to serve, when I lived in Brummer’s district. Communication is difficult with his office. I called his office to asked about the possibility of saving a shelter, that assists battered women and his assistant didn’t take down any of my information and couldn’t sound less interested.
District 3 Commissioner Lui Damiani:The Governor Charlie Crist appointee didn’t comfort many of his constituents, providing excuses instead of solutions. “I like to work with people I know” he announced.
If you’re working with the same people all of the time, aren’t you shutting out the new voices that want to serve? Do we need to start looking at term limits, when it comes to volunteering at county government?!
District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Thompson:Someone, who I have defended on this blog before, was behind the most disturbing mistake of this entire process. District 4, which has the largest Hispanic population in Orange County had the most questionable appointees.
Not Puerto Rican? Fine, but from the largest Hispanic district in Orange, they are from the culture right?
No? Okay, well I understand. They are everyday, concerned citizens who want to make the county better right? No!? Then who are they?
Commissioner Jennifer Thompson appointed a chamber of commerce colleague and an attorney who is employed, from a major advocate of developers.
Commissioner District 5 Ted Edwards:My experience with Commissioner Edwards is that he can be very blunt and straight forward. He was actually quite concerned and touted his work with a diverse group.
Commissioner District 6 Tiffany Moore-Russell:Confessed that her appointees were African-American but was very receptive to the concerns of the speakers appearing before the board.
Mayor Jacobs closed on the issue stating that the group in attendance “should not walk away” from the process.
Well, when everyday, concerned citizens, want to serve and get pushed aside for developers and golfing buddies, that’s what they do. Good people are discouraged and ideas that make a community stronger are lost.
When they say they are concerned, I don’t believe them. Perhaps, I was naive to believe them in the first place. I hope they can prove me wrong.
My heart goes out to the speakers of that meeting today. They fought the good fight, but when the special interests pull out the checkbooks and start making lunch reservations…Well.. The battle was lost before it began.