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Marion County Board Of County Commissioners corruption/conflict of interest

 

Sunny Oaks Estates project

[Click on photo to enlarge]

Ocala, Florida — The Marion County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) seem to be retaliating against Sheriff Chris Blair in response to Channel 9 News and Ocala Post running a story about the Sheriff Department’s deteriorating vehicles, and the BCC’s lack of willingness to provide funds for new ones. The BCC is retaliating by threatening to sell the jail to Corrections Corporation of America, claiming the sale will free up funds for the purchase of new vehicles. And as the BCC has done in the past, they are giving Blair an ultimatum, almost forcing him to choose either the jail or new vehicles.

However, the corruption within the BCC is much greater than just the lack of support and attention to the much-needed funds for public safety.

Recently, the BCC voted 4-0 to support adjustments to the Sunny Oaks Estates project, and 3-1 for the Equine Commerce Support District development project, projects that will destroy approximately 300 acres of Marion County horse farmland. The project will be a combination of residential, commercial, and industrial development. A development that will certainly invite more crime, traffic, and population to an already crowded Ocala; it is the city of Orlando in the making. Again, bringing public safety to the table.

Scott Siemens, a developer on the project, was originally cleared for a project that would allow for townhouses, apartments, and a 220-room hotel to be built. Siemens is frequently represented by engineer David Tillman of  the civil engineering firm, Tillman and Associates.

Sunny Oaks Estates project

[Click on photo to enlarge]

Clayton S. Ellsworth Jr. of Dunnellon wrote, “I have been poring over the campaign contributions for all of the County Commissioners. About 50% of these contributions are from contractors developers, engineers, real estate etc. These categories represent by far the single biggest contributors to the County Commissioners. No surprise at all. As I have said before, for years the County Commissioners haven’t met an investor or developer they haven’t liked. Wonder why?” Adding, “Money Talks.

Monetary campaign contributions to commissioners namely come from real estate investors. Also contributing to commissioners’ campaigns are farmers that would benefit from land sales, underground utility companies, engineers, and developers who are directly involved in the recent development projects.

On May 7, 2013, Tillman and Associates gave a contribution to Commissioner Carl Zalak, and on December 20, 2013 to Kathy Bryant. Ciraco Undergound, a utility contractor, also gave contributions to Zalak and Bryant. Scott Siemens gave a contribution to Zalak on June 21, 2013, along with Linda Siemens who gave a contribution to Zalak on October 3, 2013. Companies Rainey Construction, Rainey, Ike (Road Contractor), Rainey Investments, LLC, and Rainey Land Company, have all given contributions to the commissioners’ election campaigns.

It should also be known to Marion County residents that all seven members of the Planning Board have ties to the construction industry;  many are even involved in projects that come before them for review.

Resident Lori Warren called the development deal, “Paving over Paradise in Marion County!”

Majority of Marion County residents, such as Mildred Grisson, agree that the BCC’s involvement in the Equine Commerce Support District and Sunny Oaks Estates projects, is a conflict of interest.

Marion County residents are even more concerned that changes to the Sunny Oaks Estates project were slipped in without allowing input from the public. One resident said, “The meeting was a joke, they clearly had their minds made up before the meeting even started.”

Experts have repeatedly argued that the Cross Florida Greenway and all of its surrounding area needs to remain protected, not to mention the impact the development will have on the county’s water supply. Pleas from preservationists fell on deaf ears as the BCC moved forward with the projects.

Resident Marsha Dallas wrote, “Why does the BCC only seem to want to fix things that aren’t broken? Our jail is not broken as it received perfect scores on their last inspection. Start the petitions, apparently our BCC needs “fixing” as they are obviously broken and no longer serve the Marion County citizens; they have their own agenda.”

Jackalope Oif wrote, “Why are they so intrigued by growth plans and land development rather than Public Safety?”

Pat Hawk wrote, “Marion County Commissioners choose to ignore our water risk and how much more this will increase taxes on existing property owners when there are no impact fees. Who knows what will end up at this location in the Farmland Preservation Area. It was a done deal even before the meeting last night. Yeah, we need 500 homes in that area! Welcome more sprawl.”

According to Florida statute, electors have the right to fight back. County commissioners are elected to work for the people, not personal agenda. According to officials, registered voters can contact Governor Rick Scott at 850-717-9337 or visit his website; information that Governor Scott’s office receives will assist in determining if an investigation is in order.  Information on a Municipal Recall can be found here.

A list of BCC campaign contributors can be found here.

According to records, the BCC has already submitted the project plans to the state for approval. Preservationists said,” If residents do not want Ocala to become Orlando and If Marion County residents want to make a difference, now is the time.”

We want to hear from you. Do you think this issue should be taken seriously and investigated?

Published by on Jan 28 2014. Filed under Featured, Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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  • Itsabouttime

    This is crazy, I knew that bitch Kathy Bryant was the devil. And Zalak looks like a fat troll. He thinks hes slick, I hope he loses everything.

    • Brian Bly

      Please be respectful and use appropriate language. They may be good people even though we do not support their views.

      • Kyle Arnett

        Thank you! Sincerely, the Commissioners Family

        • Guest

          I think the way he acts Arnett is imbreed.

          • Kyle Arnett

            Im sorry you were raised to be so rude, im sure your family would ve dissapointed in the way you act on a public forum, have a nice life god bless you , and your food stamp family (democrats)

          • Mark

            Being rude is not the right way to act I agree, but causing people to lose their jobs and homes not to mention what their families will be suffering is criminal and the ones responsible should be held accountable!

          • Kyle Arnett

            What they are doing is creating jobs but thats okay im done on here, the uninformed will stay uninformed…

          • Mark

            Creating jobs? Where? I see many people Marion County citizens without jobs now they going to put more people out of work and ruin Marion County. The BCC have violated their own ethics, they are not protecting the citizens their just out to make money on the backs of the citizen! It sounds like some people may have a bias opinion ……uninformed? I think not

          • Gina Summers

            There is definitely a disconnect in how the county commissioners and planning commission operate. The public is NOT informed, sunshine laws may not apply. Would someone like to ask Commissioner Arnett why he has two houses, he has a main house in one district and has a second house in another district that he ran in. Supposedly they kept the main house as “headquarters” I I think commissioners should reside in their district for at least a year before applying for office.

            We really need voting reform, examine contributions and who gets rewarded. Why does Kathy Bryant take money from out of town-state contributors for example?

          • larry1952

            typical political doublespeak – if you don’t agree with me – you are uninformed

  • Itsabouttime

    I am emailing the gov. right now. come one people do what is right.

    • Justin Brown

      I don’t think it’s going to do any good contacting the governor as we all know he’s a criminal too.

      • nldel5

        ALL the politicians are corrupt… NOT a ONE of from from either party give a hoot about the US. Its all for MONEY in their own pockets.

  • Alicia Garafola

    I support an investigation into the Marion county Board of Commissioners and their agenda as it relates to the question of is the development of more than 300 acres turely the best thing for our area or is this decision being determind by campaign contributions and personal agendas?

  • Brian Bly

    Resolution: Hit the poles when the time comes and vote them out. Let us find candidate s who are willing to put the safety of the public first!!!! Kathy Bryant and Carl Zalak are up for re – election this year. I believe they are districts 2 &4 respectively. Enough with their mashed up words….let us take action as a community.

  • Mark

    I believe that the county commissioners and the county administrator have an agenda of their own and it’s not for the benefit of the county nor it’s citizens. Selling the property of the jail will create a debt when right now there is none…meaning more money spent! These land deals too, wake up people! I believe the BCC needs to be investigated the people of Marion County need to contact the Governor and whom ever else that can stop this blatant if not criminal injustice the BCC is doing!

  • Rob0722

    $75,000… Not bad for a part time job, I do think they just got a raise, so even better! Yes folks, that is what they make!

    • Kyle Arnett

      Part time job?… Okay.

      • Justin Brown

        Yes it is a part time job that is how they still have time to do there dirty deals on the side to fatten there wallets.

        • Kyle Arnett

          You dont have to believe me but I am honestly telling you that it is not a part time job, my grandfather is ther mon-fri. 9-5 having meetings and reading over work, most of the time he brings it home with him and when we were on vacation he spent hours everyday reading ordinances, emails and making phone calls. The county commission works more than most people think, they are constantly driving to other people to make it more convenient for the constituents. Also There are no dirty deals. After the campaign was over we donated all of the campaign money to charitys throughout marion county, the biggest one being marion literacy council…ttheir wallets are not getting “fat” because there are sunshine laws preventing insider trading between gov. Officials and private companys. Believe me if there walltes were fat they wouldnt be driving 1990’s vehicles…if you have any more suspicions please feel free to ask!

  • bubba

    Where were all of you four years ago? Zalak and Bryant were in the developers pockets when they first got elected, and they both chanted the “no taxes, no spending” mantra. The Democrats had two pretty good candidates then too. As long as we elect 5 Republican commissioners, this is what we get.

    • nldel5

      They are all the same demo or rep We need entirely NEW BLOOD in there!

  • Itsabouttime

    Taking money from the people involved in development, then all 7 members of the planning committee having ties to the construction industry is a conflict of interest any way you look at it.

    • nldel5

      AMEN!!!! This is just it… NO way should we allow ANYONE who has any personal interests or would benefit in ANY way to. serve on any seat, in the county. This is just wrong and where this whole corruption thing starts. How can someone who makes TRIPLE of what the average person in Marion Country makes really know what the people want? Their life styles are not even the same as the common working man in this county. Cut the salaries of these commissioners, at the very least in half, Make it law that, NO one can serve on a seat that had anything to gain from development. voted on my the majority

      • Itsabouttime

        Agreed

    • nldel5

      It should be illegal to do this. The thing that really bothers me the most is seeing the pictures of them all praying together YET, do not seem to question the HUGE salaries,plus benefits they receive,while the average people in the county struggle to survive. I do not find it to be a very humble stand nor a very righteous one. The decisions that are being made by these VERY same people! I left the republican party for this very same reason. I find it VERY hypocritical to spout off you love God yet continue to ripe people off. Not just these commissioners, but MANY government officials.Way to many have been sucking the system dry and no one has said NO to them. PEOPLE wake up and start to DEMAND that our government officials SERVE US and NOT the other way around..

  • nldel5

    I hate to admit it, because I know some of these people personally, but I must agree about the special interests.. I will say, it is NOT just them, we need to start at the local level, to get the corruption out,if not we can ever move state wide, nor federal. I find it OUTRAGEOUS that these people make triple if not more, then that at these positions. This is just one thing that shows what is wrong with our government . These people should be making 1/3 the salary they are and much more inline with what the average person in Marion Co makes. To treat these people as gods as deserving, above the norm in our community, is telling the average people that once again no one cares about them ,PLEASE when are we going to get people in office that are not just looking to built their business from their decisions,but really care about the majority Sadly, I have yet to see anyone who doesnt have some special interest to benefit from while in office. My son,has a four year degree in law from a college and does not make HALF of what these commissioners do.I wonder how many of them have any kind of degree what so ever. SHAME on Marion County! Nancy Lee Delonge NE Ocala FL

  • Pat Hawk

    We definitely need to monitor politicians at the local level if we expect honest in the system. I’ve seen several sets of county commissioners here and the scary thing about this one is how much in lock step they are. (Previous commissions were consistently split when voting and regular citizens were better represented)

  • Pingback: Marion County Corruption Or Simply Greed? - Ocala Post | Ocala Post

  • Julia

    Jobs are needed in Marion County with benefits, not more housing at this time.. Horse farms are beautiful but if people had no jobs with benefits, housing plummeted , as we have seen.. Crime Rises… Known facts… Officials need to wake up and smell the coffee brewing , pay cuts for them. I would love to see how they would feel living check to check. Many are not making enough to even live paycheck to paycheck. Medical coverage … Whats that?? Its a right to work state. Well, Marion county there is no work!! Stop pocketing money for your own personal wants and hear the people. Yes, horse farms are beautiful but they do not put the bread on many tables in Marion County. More Housing?? What for? We still have thousands of homes sitting in foreclosures. Officials of Marion County for once, Do The Right Thing!!! OR GET OUT….

  • kenneth r lowe

    Hope everyone comes to the zoning commission public hearing on 04/28/2014 @ 5:30pm to help stop residential land being turned into a commercial parking lot ! 601 se 25th ave Ocala Fl.

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