In the June edition of the Delray Newspaper, we wrote an open letter to Commissioner Mitch Katz. We invited him to respond to our editorial. Below find his response and on the next page find our editorial for the month of July. Have a happy Fourth of July from the Delray Newspaper.
By: Commissioner Mitch Katz Special to the Delray Newspaper
First thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to the editorial published in the June 1st Delray Newspaper. I feel honored that I was worthy to receive almost an entire page dedicated to discuss Mitch Katz. In the article, you stated that you did not agree with a few of the decisions I made. While I know that every member of the community will not agree with every decision, I can assure you I am making those decisions based on what I believe is in the best interest of all Delray Beach Citizens and Taxpayers from the information so many have shared with me these past 2 1/2 years.
Your article also questioned my decision to disagree with the CRA granting over a million dollars in incentives to the iPic project. The decision to hand over millions of taxpayer dollars was egregious and a waste of taxpayer dollars that could instead have been used in many needed areas of the CRA district to accomplish the CRA’s state mandated mission to eliminate blight. The lack of concrete progress in the NW-SW area over the last few years concerns me and I think we can and should do better.
And here’s more proof of the wrong doing on the part of the CRA Board:
1.The iPic project was approved well over a year before the CRA decision to give even more incentives so there was no reason to provide the extra perks to the IPIC developer.
- During the approval process the IPIC developer offered (under oath in front of the city commission) to build and pay for 90 public parking spaces.
- When it came time to complete the land purchase the CRA Board offered the developer of iPic $400,000 in incentives to pay for the parking and a minimum of $85,000 per year to maintain the parking spots. You stated in the article that the math shows this is a good deal when Delray taxpayers must now pay millions a year after a deal had already been reached without incentives!
Your article then went on to question my social media blog on makeabetterdelray.com When I ran for office I campaigned and have lived up to a promise of open and transparent government. Since I was sworn in here’s a tally of what has occurred:
- All our public meetings held at city hall are now streamed online.
- I have held quarterly town hall meetings.
- I pushed for a city commission office on the first floor of city hall to encourage meetings with residents.
- The blog I started opens yet another dialogue with my constituents.
I believe decisions such as the iPic million-dollar handout should be discussed in the open with tons of sunshine. We have seen many deals made behind closed doors that do not serve the citizens and taxpayers and I am shining a light on those deals. I won’t apologize for my willingness to explain my positions on the dais, social media, and television news because, “In a free society, transparency is government’s obligation to share information with citizens. It is at the heart of how citizens hold their public officials accountable.”
Over the past two years since my election, I have met with a multitude of residents, business owners, and potential investors in our city. Together we are making Delray Beach a better place to Live, Work, Learn, and Play.