Gateway Sun

The Gateway Sun is working on two articles concerning Supervisor Rod Senior.

I don’t often write articles about how I’m working on articles, but these pieces will take time to research and publish – and after yesterday’s GSCDD meeting I can’t just let some of the things that happened stand unchallenged.

In the first piece, we’ll be detailing how Senior led what I would describe as an attack on the Gateway Soccer Association and its Director, Mark Allison. Senior, as he often does, will reject my description and merely say that he’s only doing the job he was elected to do. Which in this case, according to Senior, means forcing the GSA to disclose its financials to the residents of Gateway for the sole and explicit purpose of finding out just how much more of the youth association’s money the GSCDD can help themselves to in order for the kids in the program to continue use the soccer fields.

The second piece will chronicle Senior’s repeated attempts to bring up the topic of whether or not to replace the floodlights at the Sherman Soccer Complex, and his continuous questioning of whether it’s a good idea to replace them due to the high cost. Then suddenly, and inexplicably to many of us who monitor the GSCDD, while Senior was on camera with NBC-2 (or did Senior think he was on WLIE?) he said, smirking, “I’m not here to tear the floodlights down, no. I’m a major soccer fan and I wouldn’t do that.”

He wouldn’t do that? Oh yes he absolutely would do that, in my opinion. If he had the support to do that, he would do it in a second.…. More on that later.

Meanwhile, at yesterday’s GSCDD meeting, when Allison was clearly flustered by Senior’s financial probing and Allison said he wasn’t prepared for those questions because he was there to talk about the floodlights, Senior acted surprised that the floodlights were even an issue. Senior certainly wasn’t there to talk about the floodlights, he said.

Except that at the October 15, 2015 GSCDD meeting when Senior directed Operations Manager Scott Connell to summon the Gateway Soccer Association and Gateway Flag Football League, Senior said: “Our budget for 2016 to maintain the soccer complex is over $200,000. And over the next 5 years, at least until recently, we are planning to replace the floodlights to the tune of $79,000 per year for the next 5 years, which is a huge expense. I’m concerned about it. These contracts, there are only 2 major users. That’s the Gateway Soccer Association and the Flag Football, and we are receiving from those organizations only $20,000 in total. And there is a user fee attached to that complex of course but that doesn’t come to us. So my suggestion would be, can we get the organizers of those to come and talk to us about this before November the 15th?”

So, 5 seconds before he announced he wanted to speak with the youth leagues, he was expressing “concern” about the floodlight costs.

Yes, Senior did want to talk about the contracts for the youth leagues. But the catalyst for inviting the youth leagues to the meeting was because they’ve got to make a decision on whether or not to replace the lights, and Senior wanted to learn more about their operations. Nobody, except Senior, knew the Supevisor would change gears and begin the process of reaching deeper in to the GSA program’s pockets.

Anyway, as you’ll see in our upcoming article it’s not the first time Senior has wanted to discuss removing the floodlights. And by the way, at yesterday’s meeting the Supervisors were still calling in to question the long-term future of the lights.

However, the Board essentially guaranteed the existing lights would stay up for both youth league’s spring seasons – so that’s good.

But for Senior to take the position, both with NBC-2 and at yesterday’s CDD meeting that he wouldn’t dream of taking down the floodlights is utter baloney.

If he’s changed his mind and wants to replace the lights, great. But I take extreme issue with him acting as though the thought never crossed his mind.

But here’s the thing: Senior will say that he never specifically said he wanted to tear down the lights.

Because that’s how he operates, as though everybody else in the room is stupid. What Senior does is calls everything in to question, whether it’s worth the money, whether the community really needs it or even wants it – and when it’s clear he’s in the minority he backs off and says he’s just doing his job.

And when he’s called out by us for his constant and repeated questioning of the value of the amenities, he objects.

If you go back and read our coverage, you’ll see that Senior has so far questioned whether Gateway should have – or should alter to the detriment of the people who use it – the Sherman Soccer Complex, the Gateway Commons Pool, the basketball court, the soccer floodlights, and now he’s picking on the Gateway Soccer Association.

I’m sick of it.

Senior tells everyone that he’s just doing what he was elected to do. But he isn’t … because nobody elected him to think of ways to downgrade Gateway’s amenities.

One last piece of information, and this is mostly for the people who were at the meeting, because our coverage was called in to question.

The GFFL’s George Hrunka told the Supervisors that he contacted us because the Sun incorrectly reported that the flag football league only pays the GSCDD about $3,900.

Yes, we reported that the GFFL pays the GSCDD $3,912 per year for use of the fields. And yes, Hrunka contacted us about it. And yes, it appears that was incorrect information.

But what nobody from the GSCDD bothered to tell Hrunka at the meeting was that we got that figure from the GSCDD itself.

The GSCDD are the ones who published the exact figure of $3,911.60 on November 13, 2015 on page 41 here:

http://www.gatewaydistrict.org/download/meeting_books/Agenda%20Cover(4).pdf

And again on page 36 on October 9, 2015 here:

http://www.gatewaydistrict.org/download/meeting_books/Revised%20Meeting%20Book%2010.15.15.pdf

Once again on September 11, 2015 on page 22 here:

http://www.gatewaydistrict.org/download/meeting_books/Cover.pdf

And on page 10 on August 14, 2015 here:

http://www.gatewaydistrict.org/download/meeting_books/Agenda%20Cover.pdf

It’s in other places too but I trust I’ve made my point. And nobody pointed out that once Hrunka contacted us, I emailed Connell and cc’d Hrunka and Senior to pass along Hrunka’s concerns about the incorrect figure the GSCDD is publishing.

Not only that but on October 31, 2015 the Sun published this in a News Digest piece:

…. when the district says that it gets $3,900 per year from the Gateway Flag Football League in field usage fees, we assume it’s accurate. But when we publish that figure and the GFFL contacts us and says “yeah it’s more like $7900” ………. We’ve asked the GSCDD Operations Manager to look in to this, and to see if they’ve perhaps understated the revenue from the Gateway Soccer Association as well.

So we corrected our mistake, and asked the GSCDD to correct theirs. Yet they still had not as of November 13, 2015 when the most recent Meeting Book was published by the district. I’m not sure what more we could have done, and I cannot stress enough that we were basing our report off of information provided by the GSCDD.

Circling back to Senior, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to me he’s up to something. That he has a goal.

And that you’re not going to like it.

Stay tuned.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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