LETTER TO CITIZENS FROM MARTIN COUNTY

Publish Date: 
Thursday, June 18, 2015 - 10:45am

June 17, 2015
 
Dear Martin County citizen:
 
As a subscriber to Martin County's general information email list, we thought you would be interested in receiving periodic updates on Martin County's activities related to the All Aboard Florida project. If you do not wish to receive these periodic updates, simply reply back and we will promptly remove you from these communications.
 
Martin County's initial lawsuit remains in place.
 
Martin County continues to pursue the lawsuit it filed in April against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) challenging DOT's allocation of $1.75 billion in private activity bonds (PABs), for the proposed All Aboard Florida (AAF) passenger rail project. While AAF has claimed their project would be privately financed, the request for these bonds is a form of taxpayer-subsidized financing and would be the largest PAB issuance in DOT history.
 
Last week, we were disappointed to receive notice from U.S. District Court JudgeChristopher Cooper denying Martin County's request for a preliminary injunction against the issuance of these bonds. In his ruling, Judge Cooper found the County had not yet met a certain threshold of standing in asking for an injunction.
 
"While we respectfully disagree with the Judge's ruling, we are now determining our next steps. The fight to protect the residents of Martin County is not over, it is just beginning," said Steve Ryan, Martin County's Washington D.C.-based attorney.
 
"Martin County made a strong case in demonstrating AAF will not be able to obtain conventional funding for the project. That's why AAF is fighting so hard to obtain these bonds and corresponding public subsidy. We will do our best in discovery to provide additional proof that AAF cannot fund this project without the bonds," added Ryan.
 
Martin County remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting its citizens against the negative impacts of the proposed All Aboard Florida project.
 
In February of this year, the Martin County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to allocate $1.4 million dollars to fight the $3 billion AAF project. Martin County's concerns with the project relate to public safety, marine impacts, our environment, our economy, and impacts to our quality of life.
 
Martin County is a conservative steward of taxpayer dollars. Expenditures related to fighting AAF are brought before the Board of County Commissioners for review and approval.
 
Martin County continues to pursue the Florida Development Finance Corporation on governance and transparency issues.
 
Also last week, Martin County learned that a public hearing of the Florida Development Finance Corporation (FDFC) that was scheduled for June 10 had been cancelled for a second time. At this meeting of this quasi-state agency, funding for the AAF project was to have been addressed publicly. Martin County made multiple attempts to seek improvements to the public comment portion of the meeting. In response, FDFC has responded that the County's and other opponents will be granted an opportunity to provide an organized set of facts and argument which had not been provided at FDFC's April hearing on the subject.
 
Martin County hopes the FDFC will provide sufficient advance notice if and when the FDFC sets a new hearing date. To date, it has not been rescheduled.
 
In letters to the FDFC sent earlier this month, Martin County's legal counsel raised additional issues of concern, including that the FDFC directors have not filed their required financial disclosure forms, may not have a properly constituted board and at least one board member had a potential conflict of interest related to the AAF project. To date, the FDFC has not responded to Martin County's correspondence on this issue.
 
More information on the web.
 
Martin County has a created a webpage where the public can view AAF-related materials. Please visit www.martin.fl.us and click on Hot Topics.