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Kilsheimer: “We were focused on the benefit we were trying to provide, and the good we were going to do.”

In February of 2017, Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer and three partners formed a for-profit social purpose corporation (SPC) called Certified Second Chance Inc. (CSC). One of the partners is Allan Chernoff, who is the chief operating officer of the City of Life Foundation, a non-profit organization in Orlando which is being funded by the City of Apopka to manage a program to improve Apopka-area schools.

CSC is designed to give felons re-entering society a chance to prove themselves through third-party verification of obligations they meet in order to gain employment. CSC is seeking $500,000 from the State of Florida to begin the company through a request introduced by State Senator Randolph Bracy of Orlando.

The actions Kilsheimer and CSC took to request funding from the State have gained attention on social media because of two posts by a Central Florida blogger that alleges either legal or ethical wrongdoing by Kilsheimer.

In conversations with The Apopka Voice, Kilsheimer denied that CSC would in any way impede his ability to govern as mayor, or that anything he did was illegal or unethical. He references an email sent to him by City Attorney Cliff Shepard in September of 2016.

The email begins by Shepard citing the Apopka City Charter:

Section 2-37 (of the City charter) – Office of mayor to be full-time; salary of mayor. The office of mayor of the city shall be a full-time job, and the mayor shall pursue no other occupation in such a manner while serving as mayor as to interfere with his official duties and obligations. 

“Please note the provision that I have bolded,” Shepard writes. “As written this would mean that having other business interests or even another job would be okay unless said interests were to interfere with his official duties and obligations as Mayor. This also seems consistent with the manner in which this provision was interpreted by former Mayor (John) Land upon his well-known outside business pursuits. Essentially, this means that if there is a conflict over any of his Mayoral duties and his other business interests the Mayoral duties must prevail. Other than that he is ‘good to go’ under the code.”

According to Shepard, an Apopka mayor can own a business or even hold a second job as long as the duties of mayor come first. Kilsheimer said he would work on CSC after business hours.

“I may take an occasional call (for CSC) when I am in my car on the way somewhere, but the vast majority of my work (for CSC) will be after 5pm and not during City functions,” said Kilsheimer.

Shepard also told Kilsheimer that, “The Mayor must avoid business interests that do business with or are regulated by the City.”

This puts light on Chernoff. The City of Life Foundation, which Chernoff is COO, has received a total of $55,000 from the City of Apopka to manage the “Apopka Begins and Ends with A” program for the past two years.

Last year Kilsheimer proposed the contract with Chernoff not only be continued but that the annual funding be increased to $70,000.  He was unable to convince the rest of the City Council, but they did agree to budget $35,000 for the program.

The question being raised focuses on the fact that Kilsheimer, who has obtained $55,000 in tax-payer funding for Chernoff’s organization, would be a business partner with Chernoff if CSC were to receive funding from the State and become a working business.

 The Apopka Voice asked Kilsheimer if he believed it was a conflict to go into business with Chernoff, but Kilsheimer looked beyond that potential conflict-of-interest to point to the greater good CSC would do.

“This is a project beyond my role as mayor of the city of Apopka,” Kilsheimer said. “This is a project I’ve been working on since before I was elected mayor, even before I was elected as a city commissioner. We were focused on the benefit we were trying to provide, and the good we were going to do.”

For-profit social purpose corporations are a relatively new filing option in the state. In 2014, Florida joined the growing number of states that permit special types of for-profit corporations to pursue substantial public interest goals at the possible expense or deferral of profit maximization, the traditional corporate goal objective. A social purpose corporation (SPC) is a type of for-profit entity that enables corporations to consider social or environmental issues in decision making instead of relying only on profit-maximizing goals.

According to Kilsheimer, it’s easier to raise private money through an SPC.

“It’s better for investors because they can own stock in the company,” he said.

Kilsheimer said he wrote the business plan for CSC eight years ago after volunteering in the St. Petersburg mayoral election for Deveron Gibbons – one of the partners involved with CSC.

“I was sitting in the campaign office when a man came in and asked Deveron (Gibbons) for a letter of recommendation,” he said. “He was well-dressed and well-spoken, but he had a criminal record and had been incarcerated. As the conversation evolved he explained that it is virtually impossible to come out of prison and get a good job. ‘The moment you check the box (that you have been convicted of a felony), the distrust begins. All felons deal with this,’ he told Kilsheimer.

It was after that encounter that he thought of the idea.

“I’ve been working on this since 2009,” he said. “This is a long-held interest of mine and a long-held passion of mine. Our society is built on third-party verification. That’s what CSC does for felons. Everything they do is tracked and documented. If they have drug testing or restitution, CSC verifies it. Now their good record is documented.”

Despite writing the business plan in 2009, the timing of the filing coincided with the election of Bracy.

According to Kilsheimer, criminal justice reform is a priority for Bracy. The first-term state senator represents much of west Orange County, including Apopka. Kilsheimer attended Bracy’s swearing-in ceremony and heard him speak about criminal justice reform. When Kilsheimer heard Bracy’s passion on the subject, he approached him about CSC. It was Bracy’s idea to request the funds to start a satellite project in his district.

Kilsheimer also points out that without funding from the State, CSC is still little more than a business plan.

“It exists only on paper,” he said. “We don’t have a bank account or a federal tax ID number. There is no ‘there, there’.”

15 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe the felons should just stay behind prison walls where we don’t have to worry about them, and where they can sit and file fake tax returns for $$$$, get free room, free medical care, work-out equipment to get in shape, and network their wanna- be- lawyer skills and not go hungry. Maybe they don’t want a second chance………..LOL

  2. Is this the real reason the city council was led to meet with Governor Rick Scott recently, not really the tourism thing, is this why the city council swooned over the gov so much, like” I’ll scratch your back, and you scratch my back type thing? ” Like maybe the gov will back the mayor”s plan and approve of the money from the state that CSC wants, if the city council backs the gov’s tourism kick he is on?

  3. “There is no there there”????? Wow, the Trump’s daily tweets and language style must have rubbed off on someone…….!!! Must be the Bill Clinton influence also…..”it depends on the definition of the word is”…….examples of double talk by politicians!

  4. Huh, maybe I and some others should do a start up business for profit and ask the City of Apopka and the State of Florida for tax payer funds of oh, say about $375,000 dollars for the first year for start up, and file paperwork for a social purpose corporation to help the desperate housewives of Apopka……yeah, sounds like we could be successful! I’m getting stars in my eyes from thinking about it!

  5. Looks like the mayor is greasing some wheels for future income as plan b after losing the upcoming election. 400k seems pretty steep for consulting services with no experience, track record, or qualifications……… Way too dirty, underhanded, and self-serving. Who am I to steal someone’s passion. I can’t bring myself to vote for joe and keep him from his passion. I guess I will have to vote for a challenger……. I want a Mayor who is focussed, committed, and has the City interest at heart. It might be legal for the mayor to work part-time at Burger King, but I don’t want a moonlighting mayor. I won’t vote for someone who is serving other masters. Apopka deserves better. America is tired of profit politicians, time to clean out the old and in with the new!

  6. Actually the exact quote Bill Clinton used was “it depends upon the meaning of what the word is is”. That is literally politician double talk! Here is one example from Trump, in today’s Orlando Sentinel, pageA3, underneath his photo quote, “the plan gets better and better, and better, and it has gotten really, really good” ………..in fact, this is even triple, double politician talk. LOL

  7. Mike, somewhere on one of the social media websites, you asked what business ventures former Mayor Land had. I had heard that he and a business partner owned Blue Rhino company, which have the propane gas tanks filled and used for cookouts and grilling. It was my understanding that he eventually sold that company, and later on afterwards, I think it was the Blue Rhino company that had the on- site accident, where the small tanks blew up, up there in Lake County, and caused a small disaster, I think, if I am correct about all of this. As far as Mayor Land’s passions about things, he was passionate about children who needed medical care and help, as he thought highly of the Shriners Hospital and eventually became a Shriner in his later life. He was also passionate about hunting…..but don’t even go there with me on that one! He may also have done some buying and selling real estate. I believe I am right on these facts, but not sure……….

  8. Actually it was a forklift that struck something and sparked an explosion and a big fire at the Blue Rhino plant in Tavares, in Lake Co. that blew the small propane tanks in all directions……….it wasn’t that the tanks themselves blew up on their own.

  9. I have no problem with passions about things such as sports and charities, but I think it is a long stretch to compare those type of passions that Mayor Land had to this passion of Mayor Joe and for him to ask the Florida taxpayers to fund his passion. I am trying through some other avenues to find what these “well known outside business pursuits” were that Apopka City Attorney Cliff Shepard is referring to. Maybe Reggie Connell or Dale Fenwick may know what Cliff Shepard is referring to??

  10. Yes Mike I understand your point of view. I was just trying to answer your question you posted about Mayor Land’s ” well known outside business ventures”….. I was not trying to compare the two mayors, or be adversarial in any way. The propane tank company that Mayor John Land had an ownership in with a business partner, and a little dabbling in an occasional real estate sale is all I heard of his business ventures. Mayor Land and his family had a crate mill that manufactured wooden slat crates with wire that was used for packing vegetables such as ears of corn, but that was WAY BACK and I don’t even know if he was the mayor then at that time. That is what I heard, as I wasn’t around then ( I don’t think, LOL) I know he was passionate history buff and he planned on authoring a history book, but he didn’t get around to completing that before he died, so I am stumped. I guess the “well known outside business ventures” of former Mayor John Land aren’t so well known after all………?????? Why don’t you ask Cliff Shepard?

  11. I guess after listening to the one gentleman that spoke at a Apopka city council meeting who talked about if you don’t ask, you don’t receive. He stated that if he drives through the drive thru at McDonalds, when he desires a Big Mac, and if he drives up to the window, and if he doesn’t ask for what he wants, he doesn’t receive what he wants…….there you go, that is the answer. I know Mayor Kilsheimer was listening to him as he spoke at the podium at that city council meeting….LOL

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