Privatize/Public Private Partnership/Splitting Hairs

Whether West Palm Beach Elected Officials agree to enter into a contractual partnership with a private sector company, to provide water service to the residents of this city or to hand over ownership or control of our water to private enterprise, will earn It’s rightful place among the construction of an excessive city hall and FSU Digital Domain, as some of the most egregious, costly and stupid moves any municipality can make.

A private firm, Poseidon Resources, is a New England based firm, who wants to be the water provider for WPB, building a new plant to replace the city’s 110 to 120 year old complex. Poseidon says they will design, finance, build, operate and maintain the new facility and would then sell the water to WPB. Poseidon Resources is the company that both Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell and Shanon Materio are pushing hard for a presentation before the commission. Neither one of the two commissioners wanted a special city commission meeting scheduled prior to the water presentation, on January 12th. Votes can be taken in a special city commission meeting and the opportunity for the commission to vote, prior to the presentation is what the two commissioners appear to be adamantly against. Maybe the tag team are afraid the majority commission might vote Poseidon out prior to the much anticipated presentation from Poseidon.

In the Jan 5th Commission Meeting, during commission comments, Commissioner Mitchell seemed puzzled regarding talk of her wanting to privatize the city’s water. She suggested it might be a political move and she’s not sure where the accusations are coming from.  As a matter of fact, Mitchell said, “I want to talk about water for a second, and just so It’s clear to everybody here and everybody who’s watching. I have never said I would like to privatize our water . . ever. In fact, , nobody’s ever asked me . . . would you like to privatize your water?. So I’m not sure how that started but just in case there’s any confusion, I’m not supportive of privatizing our water.” Ms. Mitchell goes on to say, “I am part of a voice on the commission that is not promoting one version or another” So maybe . . . just maybe, the loop hole for her spiel, assuring the public that she is not in favor of privatizing our water is the word “Privatize”? Does PPP (Public Private Partnership) sound a little better? Now this is beginning to smell like politics indeed.

Ms. Mitchell also stated in her comments that she sometimes don’t get It right but when you don’t get It right Ms. Mitchell, the responsible and honest thing to do is acknowledge failure and atone. Digital Domain was a publicly funded train wreck that Kimberly Mitchell was largely responsible for and instead of her stepping up to the plate like city leaders in Port St. Lucie did, the moment they realize they had been duped, Ms. Mitchell say’s she would do It a million times over. If Digital Domain were a private investment of hers, I doubt her response would have been the same. Heck, It’s just tax payers monopoly money . . . there’s more where that came from. In the meantime, some of our residents are struggling to keep their water running.

Instead of responsible leadership and being good stewards of tax payers dollars, In an effort to make ends meet, our city leaders are choosing to allow developers to have their way. From violating their own master plans and allowing over development to contemplating handing over control of public services to private corporations, under the premise that private corporations are often able to run operations more efficiently than governments. Why is the city strapped for cash and pimping itself? A contributing factor would be the unbudgeted purchase of the 8111 S. Dixie property that commissioners agreed to pull $2.9 million dollars out of reserves to pay for It and have been sitting on It since October 2012.

Commissioner Mitchell is no stranger to talks of outsourcing city services, like our Sanitation Department and our Internal Audit Dept to the Inspector General’s authority. Commissioner Mitchell  seems to think different opinions is an indication of a lack of understanding on another’s part. It Couldn’t be her who misunderstands or get’s It wrong, It just has to be somebody else.

Ms. Mitchell states she doesn’t want to be a part of $700 light bulbs and I am sure, the public would much rather pay for $700 light bulbs than the millions we had to pay for Digital Domain or the $7,325 fleeced out of the public to resolve her home cable service.  No Punch Line, No Spreading of Fear and No Politics Here!