for Mayor of Ponce Inlet
Passion - Experience - Proven Leadership
Let's reunite the town for a better tomorrow!!
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July 18, 2015
Epps identifies communication as a key issue in council race
I believe citizen input is crucial. I will bring back the casual "town chats" that I initiated in 2005. Informality and lack of structure help ideas flow. The chats were just between me and other concerned citizens who wanted to share our ideas for our preferred future in a public, but informal, forum. The current leadership has been unwilling to engage in open dialogue. New leadership will have the opportunity to have a positive impact on our town as plans evolve for the important pieces of property that will be developed in the near future.The governing body must be actively engaged in developing the vision for those specific parcels with citizen input - now.
August 16, 2015
A PACETTA PRIMER: THE UNSETTTLING STORY OF A LEGAL DISASTER.
I have spent countless hours digesting the myriad of facts about the Pacetta tragedy that we were thrust into by my successors on the Ponce inlet Town Council in the late 2000’s. The most startling and troubling recent development is that, nearly unknown by many Ponce Inlet taxpayers, there are actually TWO PACETTA TRIALS.
TRIAL 1 The first trial was heard in the Florida court. On one count of the 4 counts, a jury trial was ordered to determine damages, if any, to be paid by the Town. As we now know all too well, a jury of twelve unbiased jurors, after 5 long days of testimony, determined that the Johnsons were entitled to $30,000,000 in damages and interest. The town naturally appealed, and one part of the appeal was successful, but the exposure to the $30,000,000 continues in appeal with the strong likelihood that the fines will stand.
TRIAL 2 What the current council doesn’t like to talk about is the second trial, which almost exactly mirrors the first trial, but will be heard in Federal court. The Johnsons have already filed this action, and it presumably would proceed if the award from the state trial should be eroded on appeal. According to my legal advisors, the outcome of the federal suit would likely be at least as damaging as the state judgement due to the more stringent federal guidelines in these kinds of actions. Certainly the cost in legal fees and time spent would be equivalent to the state action. Add to that the continued distraction and anxiety that would also result, along with the potential additional financial hit we taxpayers would have to pay down the road.
In the big picture, my legal friends tell me that the damages to the town in a federal action could go as high as $50,000,000, not counting legal fees. With this huge liability looming over our town, it’s easy to see why prominent lawyers always advise clients to negotiate a settlement if at all possible rather than throw one’s fate into the hands of the courts.
This has never been truer than in this situation, where the Johnsons have in the past made numerous gestures suggesting that the whole matter might be settled for substantially less than the standing award. But the current council has spent years refusing to even talk.
That’s not all they have spent. The town is nearing $4,000,000 in legal fees to date on Pacetta alone. This outrageous amount is the result of the council following the advice of lawyers who stand to continue to be enriched as long as this action continues.
It’s no surprise that the lawyers have strenuously persuaded the Council to only pursue appeals rather than negotiate. They stand to continue to make huge fees if the appeals in the state action succeed and the Johnsons then pursue the federal action, regardless of the potentially disastrous financial outcome to the town either way.
This madness must stop. Of course the appeal process needs to keep moving forward, but every bit as much energy should be spent on trying to figure out with the Johnsons how to end this tragic saga as soon as possible. We relinquish no rights of the appeal to be negotiating at the same time, but the benefit could be profound. There are many potential ingredients in a settlement that could dramatically soften the financial blow to us taxpayers while fairly compensating the Johnsons for the shameful wrong committed on them by my successors on the Town Council. The unfortunate thing is that we could have possibly ended this situation several years and several million dollars ago if we had followed the wisdom of negotiation. But that aside, we now still have time try to steer our ship away from the typhoon.
Please elect me Mayor on August 25 so that I, and the many reasonable people who want this tragedy to end, can start to find a just finish to this mess and return our town to the wonderful, warm town spirit we enjoyed before Pacetta.
THE ELECTION IS AUGUST 25.
PLEASE VOTE FOR NANCY EPPS FOR MAYOR
FOR A BETTER TOMORROW
THANK YOU for attending the Candidates Forum on
Please see my responses to the League of Women Voters of Volusia County’s questionnaire at the League’s website at http://www.lwvvc.org/Elections2015/Responses/Mun-PonceInlet-Mayor-Epps.pdf
The responses will be posted until Election Day.