Anjali Vaya calls out Mike Miller on HB-883

I got a call from the Anjali Vaya campaign informing me of a concern regarding Mike Miller and his vote on HB-883.

Remember HB-883.  That’s the horrible, backdoor bill that almost became law which would have allowed urban development within 3 miles of any state university.  It would have been the death knell for both the rural areas in Seminole and Orange Counties. Read about HB-883 here.

Mike Miller is the newcomer to the Orange County District 5 Commission race. We don’t know too much about him yet but according to WikiPedia, he served two terms in the Florida House of Representatives from 2014 to 2018. That was the same time HB-883 came up for a vote. He voted in favor of HB-883. That is cause of concern to any who live in East Orange County as well as East Seminole County because our rural areas are so closely connected.  What happens in Seminole County directly affects Orange County.

On March 6th, 2018, Martin Comas wrote an article in the Orlando Sentinel that reads, 

“Central Florida politicians are joining environmentalists and residents in opposing a fast-changing bill working its way through the Legislature that would do away with rural protections on land within three miles of a state university, including University of Central Florida. That means most land in Seminole County east of the environmentally-sensitive Econlockhatchee River — which has been mostly protected from high-density development after a countywide referendum — would be open to thousands of new rooftops, according to the latest amendments tacked onto the bill Tuesday.”

The article also says, “Constantine said former state Rep. Chris Dorworth, now a real-estate investor from Lake Mary, told him he has a contract to purchase nearly 700 acres of farmland in Seminole’s rural protection area and bordered by the Econ River, County Road 419, the Orange County line and Riverwoods Trail. He said he suspects Dorworth is pushing for the bill’s amendments.”

Anjali Vaya is running for the District 5 Commissioner seat against the incubent, Emily Bonilla and her opponent, Mike Miller. Anjali Vaya has not taken money from developers. Bonilla, who touts herself to be the defender of the rural area has taken $2,000 from Chris Dorworth as well as $3,000 from a developer connected to the “The Grow”. And just recently she received $2,000 from companies owned by John Miklos who owns environmental firms that worked for the River Cross development as well a Sustany. Bonilla has had harsh words for these contributors so why is she taking money from people she so strongly opposed? In fact, before she was a commissioner, she was a party to the lawsuit against Orange County of which “The Grow” was involved.

Orange County District 5 is a non-partisan race or it is supposed to be anyway. But that didn’t stop a Soros backed Democratic PAC. In an article on November 30th, Scott Powers wrote in FLAPOL, “United For Progress spent $96,360 directly to back Bonilla”. Will a SuperPAC swoop in at the last minute to help save her as they did in 2016. According to the Campaign Finance reports, Bonilla is almost out of money. She has total contributions of $68k but has spent $54k. Only 14k in the coffers. Is that why she is accepting money from people she has opposed in the past? Is she compromised?

East Orange County has a huge rural area presence that must be protected. We want commissioners who see the value in that protection and will honor the rural boundaries in both Orange and Seminole County. We also need balance and a commissioner who will work for the entire district, not just one side or the other.

Mike Miller needs to explain his vote on HB-883 to the residents of East Orange County and Bonilla needs to explain why she is taking contributions from people she is diametrically opposed.

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Rent Increases

I agree and disagree with this opinion in the Sentinel Sunday.

I agree likability is a major factor in getting things done at the regional level and agree Bonilla’s fellow commissioners shut her out. I also agree they don’t like working with her.

But I disagree that they shut her out on this issue simply because they don’t like working with her. Bonilla likes to throw out absurd and impossible ideas without thinking them through or understanding the repercussions of the action then asks for a vote. Due process is a concept that Bonilla just doesn’t understand.

Here’s what happened:

She came to the board on June 23rd and gave a 25 minute presentation then asked the board to approve a public hearing for July 7th and direct staff to publicize the meeting which would be for the purpose of drafting a rent stabilization ordinance and ballot language that would go on the ballot for residents to vote on in November.  She thinks the county, in just two weeks, has time to write a legal ballot initiative, notify the public and have enough conversation to draft an ordinance? Can you imagine the outcry from the public for pushing through a ballot initiative in two weeks without proper notice.

And the only way this is possible is if the board finds the housing emergency so grave as to constitute a serious menace to the general public.  The county attorney said that they would have to do research to make sure there is a housing emergency so grave as to constitute a serious menace to the general public.  The attorney could not estimate the time it would take to thoroughly research the issue but did indicate it could not be done in 2 weeks.  The attorney cautioned that the ballot initiative would have to be able to be defended if someone sued the county. The attorney also mentioned that a similar ordinance by the City of Miami was invalidated so he would have to do the research to find out why.

Here’s what the other commissioners had to say:

Commissioner Siplin said she was hesitant to move forward until she has more dialog and doesn’t know if this situation rises to the level of a rent freeze.

Commissioner Vanderley pointed out that passing this will have a detrimental effect on affordable housing as less housing will be available.  She also questioned if rental rates were rising during this pandemic.  She was not in favor.

Commissioner Moore said she is not in support as she doesn’t see rents rising and would like to hear what the Housing Task Force recommends before rushing into this.

Commissioner Uribe said she has more questions than answers and she needs much more information as well as a concern over the legalities.

Commissioner Gomez-Corero said she wanted to see if there were any other avenues that could be taken but did support the initiative.

Mayor Demings said he did not hear a consensus that the commissioners supported the initiative.  At this time, Bonilla tried to jump in and the mayor had to remind her he was speaking.  He also noted that the time for submitting ballot initiatives was June 12th which had passed.  The mayor said he felt as though the board was being asked to rush through something without proper process and being heard from all sides.  The mayor also pointed out that landlords have expenses too and it is not all one sided.  The mayor said he is not supportive of the initiative.  He said he would never want to rush something to the ballot and compared it to the transportation tax that had hundreds of meeting and communication to the public and would never entertain something like this in a time frame of two weeks with no communication to the public.

After all that, Bonilla made a motion to have a discussion on July 7th.  She knew 5 commissioner were not in favor yet chose to make the motion.  The vote was 5-2; motion failed.  I believe all the commissioners care deeply for the residents of Orange County and being forced to vote NO on an issue like this doesn’t sit well. I don’t think Bonilla understands what she did. Something like this puts the commissioners on the spot and forces them to take a stand on an issue where their only option was to vote NO given the circumstances.

We need a commissioner that has the respect of the other commissioners  and can get things done.  After reading this, does anyone still wonder why “they don’t like working with her”?

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