In the May 3rd edition of the Lake Sun, Presiding County Commissioner Kris Franken made a plea for public support in favor of Article 600. This appeal sought to minimize and marginalize the citizens of Camden County who take exception at having their property inspected for violations that come with heavy fines that can, in some cases, be added to property tax bills. In that article, he attempted to recast the outpouring of public opposition to controversial Article 600 through the use of clever language, half-truths and numerical manipulation. To achieve his goal, Franken sharpened his stubby little pencil, hunched over a legal pad and went to work.
First, Franken focused on a February Planning and Zoning meeting and the public hearing for Article 600. This meeting, as noted by several local media outlets, was marked by the overwhelming amount of public opposition. Franken however, did not mention the standing room only crowd, nor did he mention that, before allowing those in opposition to take the floor, a call was given to those who would speak in favor of Article 600.
Not a single soul spoke in favor of Article 600. Crickets could almost be heard in the halls of the courthouse. This detail must have slipped Franken’s mind while he was furtively rewriting history. He did however, turn a baleful eye toward discrediting those who spoke out in opposition.
By Franken’s accounting, fifteen of the gathered crowd spoke in opposition of Article 600. He neglected to mention that the P&Z board warned the crowd not to be redundant in their statements, reducing the number of people who might speak. He also omitted the fact that public comment against Article 600 lasted over two and a half hours, prompting board chair Jerry Carroll to say: “You have done your due diligence in voicing your opinions here tonight, and we will go back to the drawing board again, and see what we can come up with and then we will schedule another public hearing.”
Of course, no additional comment was taken on Article 600 and despite this outpouring of resentment, the next P&Z meeting saw the passage of the unamended article.
As part of his campaign in support for Article 600, Franken used a strange political formula to reduce those who spoke out against it. He said 20% of those who spoke out “did not live in the district, or had multiple people from the same household speaking”. It is important to note that people who live at the same address do not share a brain. It is also important to note that they are individual voters. Three people made up Franken’s 20%. Process of elimination tells us that the Franken formula breaks down in this way: two people from the same house spoke against 600, as did one person who did not live in the Planning and Zoning district.
The first three letters that appeared in the Lake Sun in support of Article 600 includes a former member of P&Z who drafted Article 600, a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the county in a dispute over noise and the former president of the Camden County Republican Club. The last of these was submitted by a husband and wife team. If Franken’s formula were applied here, the input of Susie and Ron Johnson should be discounted.
The first letter in support, written by Bill Pragman, fails to mention that he was a former member of the planning and zoning board. While Mr. Pragman seems capable of holding a civil tounge in his letter, this was not the case during P&Z meetings he sat in on. Pragman’s bullish behavior, including shouting at citizens during meetings, marked his time on the board and even prompted Franken to bring deputies into a P&Z meeting. His other achievement while sitting on the board: Molding Article 600. Specifically, thanks to Pragman, the citizens of Camden County are faced with the potential of exorbitant fines under his ”every day, a violation” contribution.
The second letter, from Richard Danowski, plaintiff in a legal action against Paradise, presents an argument that doesn’t quite hold water. In it, Danowski states that the 90-day grace period that follows a written complaint is too long and results in the season ending before Paradise can be shown to be in violation of their zoning. This is a falsehood. Paradise is open from approximately mid-March to approximately mid-October. According to their website, their live music schedule runs from May 4 through Labor Day weekend. This equals 119 days. It allows time for Danowski to make his case, contrary to his statement. Additionally, Danowski says in his letter, that the belief that there are only two problem areas on the lake is wrong. To make this fraudulent point, Danowski cites “all the letters and comments by citizens recently”. Unfortunately for Mr. Danowski, this is incorrect. The only businesses to have been specifically mentioned are the aforementioned Paradise and Lazy Gators. Mr. Danowski would seek to use lies and exaggerations to see Article 600 applied throughout Camden County, not just in his cove.
Finally, the third letter, authored by the husband and wife team of Susie and Ron Johnson, attacks property owners concerns regarding Article 600, characterizing them as sheep following Luber’s lead. The Johnsons live in Porto Cima and their choice of residence means they have to abide by stringent restrictions and covenants. They do not however, face outrageous fines if they are found to be in violation of Porto Cima rules. The assertions made by the Johnsons come off as trite and spiteful.
Those people who have come out in favor of Article 600 represent the smallest of minorities. They are, with the exception of the politically motivated Johnsons, lakefront property owners who live near businesses that employ live music. This represents a miniscule fraction of Camden County residents. They would see us all subjected to Article 600 in order to satisfy themselves. They have followed Franken’s lead, using lies and half-truths to pass rules on property owners across our county. To quote the Johnsons, “it’s the same small group of people with the same narrow mindset”.
The Johnsons go on to say, “The intent is to attack anyone who opposed them and then suppress reasonable debate.” This statement could accurately be applied to Kris Franken and his campaign against the rights of property owners in Camden County. Despite overwhelming opposition by the citizens he was elected to serve, Franken continues to advance an agenda that would subject us to minority rule.
The people of Camden County have said no to Article 600. Those of you who would seek to impose your rule over us should take heed of that and understand the consequences associated with pushing an unpopular agenda on your neighbors. The numbers are in our favor.