South Dade Matters

Looking at the World South of Miami: Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami and Miami-Dade County.

PB: Today, We May Heal

When SDM started this blog in July, 2011, the issue that drove us to write was the travesty that was (and is) the way Palmetto Bay treated Palmer Trinity.

What we’ve learned in the past 3+ years is that the Palmer fiasco was a symptom of a more insidious disease: Stanczykitis.

Never heard of it?

According to SDM’s medi-pol dictionary, Stanczykitis (sometimes confused with its close cousin, Pastorella Syndrome, which is more of a psychosis) is defined as follows:

A fatal disease where paranoia and malaprops drive disgruntled retirees and near-retirees into political madness; indicators include weird ordinances seeking to muzzle Sparky, wild about-faces on issues critical to the health and welfare of the Village People, and a general malaise and government drift.

The cure for Stancykitis is a purge, generally performed by voters but occasionally by political serendipity.

When we first ventured on this quest to rid village politics of this debilitating disease, we felt like the only path to sanity was by replacing the elected officials we kindly referred to as the Three Amigos.

In 2012, SDM urged voters to oust former Vice Mayor Brian Pariser by voting in John Dubois…one amigo down, which left Councilwoman Joan Lindsay and Mme. Mayor.

In a bit of a surprise in 2012, we supported re-election of Howard Tendrich and were saddened when he lost.

We were pleasantly surprised – and those suffering from Pastorella Syndrome much dismayed – that Tendrich’s successor, Tim “Marathon Man” Schaffer, turned out to be an independent and reasonable voice. Thus, serendipity gave an unexpected win to the good guys.

Today, we have the chance to clean out the wound in the mayor’s office by voting in Eugene Flinn. We also have a bonus opportunity to give the current majority a strong and diverse membership by electing Larissa Siegel Lara.

We certainly hope those of you who care about and pay attention to Palmetto Bay’s drifting government will help us cure Stanczykitis once and for all. Pastorella Syndrome is not so easily eradicated…so SDM will remain vigilant.

PB: David Singer Guest Post – A Message Of Hope

My blog is not being written in an attempt to convince anyone for whom to vote. At this point in Palmetto Bay’s election cycle, everyone who reads my blogs should understand why I’m seeking a political change for our Village. Trying to persuade anyone’s political opinion three days prior to the Village’s runoff is probably an exercise in futility.

This week, I had the extreme misfortune in losing a family friend and attending his funeral service. His family, although one of the strongest and tight knit families I have ever known, were overcome with grief at his unexpected passing. Their emotional state was not surprising due to the fact he died suddenly in a motorcycle accident. He was a good friend who passed away years too soon.

I tell you his story not to bring sadness but to honor my friend, his family and the church that held his funeral service.

I have to admit that I am not a particularly religious person, even though I strongly believe in my heritage. At the same time, I experienced something during the funeral service that was extremely emotionally overwhelming. It was nothing less than an overpowering outpouring of love and compassion for my friend and his family. It was as if the whole community came together suddenly to grieve, laugh and heal within a two-hour period. It was a bevy of emotions that just had to be experienced to be understood.

This is not the first time I have ever experienced this array of emotions and interestingly enough it has always occurred at a religious institution. It has either been the celebration of a birth, a wedding or unfortunately a celebration of life at a funeral.

During the past couple of years, I’ve heard many Palmetto Bay residents complain and comment repeatedly about the churches in our community. Complaints regarding traffic, comments that they don’t contribute real estate taxes, or comments that Palmetto Bay should be the Village of homes not churches or schools.

Religious institutions make a community. For those who take advantage they can lift you up and are a gathering place to find hope and healing in the darkest of times. They are a place where the masses can gather to both celebrate and grieve. They are the definition of community.

I know for my friend’s family if it weren’t for the love of his friends, their friends and church it would have made a difficult time much more grim. I firmly believe they felt the love that was in the air from those who attended the service and will continue to feel that love during their healing process.

When you vote on November 25th, please remember we are a community. We are a community that should be there when one of our residents is in trouble or in need. That can’t happen when residents believe we are strictly a community of houses. We need a drastic change. We need to be a community of houses, churches, schools, little league events, parks and tolerance. That’s what makes a community and that’s what Palmetto Bay needs to become.

Please don’t forget to vote on November 25th.
David Singer

PB: Is CCOCI Making Us Fat?

As Thanksgiving (the best holiday ever invented) approaches, many dread the inevitable end to the holiday season: exercising and dieting to lose those holiday pounds.

Some of us try to mitigate the inevitable weight gain by keeping up our walking, running, biking, etc. Man it can be tough to stay on a schedule with the parties, the shopping and the goodies that sweet lady in accounting brings in every Friday, damn her.

So we rush home to exercise – or we get up early and get the agony out of the way – either way we are captive to the elements if we exercise in the beautiful fall days of Miami.

For those of us who like to exercise after a long, stressful day of work, we are faced with some of the darkest days of the year. Fall always seems to bring evenings of complete darkness that is upon us even before we get in our cars to drive home.

In fact, sunsets range from around 5:30 after the time change on November 1st to about 6:30 on March 8th when we change the clocks again.

If you are like the majority of us at SDM, you work downtown until 5:30 or 6 or later, so until the clock changes again you nearly always end up exercising in pitch black darkness.

SDM’s Evil Other Side Responds: Why risk exercising in the scary darkness? Wouldn’t it be better to stay home and try out that new double chocolate chip cookie recipe? Better yet, let’s go to happy hour at the Hole in the Wall! You only live once!

Of course, if you can ignore your evil other side, you could go to your neighborhood park and walk or run on a path under the lights, right? Uh…no SDM, you can’t do that in Palmetto Bay – at least at the largest park in town – because Coral Reef Park is closed at sunset.

Why is Coral Reef Park closed to anyone who doesn’t play tennis or handball – or whatever is currently lighted? Because a small group of park neighbors have decided that their “quality of life” will be impacted if, after dark, joggers are permitted to use the facilities they paid for at Coral Reef Park.

This same group of neighbors has made the park off limits for kids playing football, softball, baseball and soccer, too, so don’t feel oppressed if you are a walker looking for a safe place to exercise. These people want to see your kids get fat, too.

You may be asking yourself, isn’t there a reasonable compromise on this subject?

SDM Wonders: Why not allow lighting that stays on until 9:00 pm so anyone who wants to use the park’s path can do so safely? Or, maybe light the jogging path and parking lots but limit use of the fields until 8:00 pm?

Would allowing use of a public facility until these hours actually impair a neighbor’s ability to quietly enjoy her home? Twilight ends at almost 8:00 pm on most Spring evenings, so how would lights at the park be any different?

We are told over and over and over by the NIMBY (and CCOCI) caucus in Palmetto Bay that we are a village of single family homes. Well, many of us single family homeowners work late and would like a safe place to exercise. We pay for these parks and for the months of the year when the sun sets early we don’t get anything for our tax dollars.

The next village council ought to consider a referendum on a reasonable lighting plan for Coral Reef Park. Let the residents decide if they want to stay lean and mean during the holidays.

SDM Says: Don’t let CCOCI make us fat! :)

PB: Peter England Says Vote For Flinn, Siegel Lara

Former mayoral candidate Peter England released an email endorsement last night naming Eugene Flinn as his candidate for Palmetto Bay Mayor. England also endorsed Larissa Siegel Lara for Village Council. England wrote:

Your vote will decide whether we stay on our present course of discord and wasted potential, or if we reclaim the promise of incorporation by voting for rational governance by individuals dedicated to serving the entire community.

SDM couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

 

PB: An Unlovely Endorsement

Perhaps we should say the endorsement is unhelpful, but we couldn’t resist the word play.

Oh, you don’t know what we’re talking about because you have a life?

Well, the Miami Herald posted an “endorsement letter” for Henry Clifford that is a must-read. Because we know you are busy, we will share the key section below:

His pleasant attitude, common sense and ability to be a team player by far outweigh his opponent, Lasissa Siegel Lara. While she provides a summary of her key skills and experience as a Burger King Corporate Executive and “Independent Thinker” we believe our city needs just the opposite; a thinker that will listen to & collaborate with the council, staff, and the residents they were elected to represent, on a peer non-corporate level.

We have had enough of independent thinkers in Palmetto Bay. Henry knows the residents and will listen to their needs to get the job done, through advocacy and leadership. (Emphasis added b y SDM.)

Now we suppose that Warren and Helen Lovely meant well, but you have to wonder if either of them actually read this letter before hustling it off the local newspaper.

Warren Lovely is not a new face at Village Hall. In fact, one might say Mr. Lovely coined a term for what he demands from the elected officials he supports. Mr. Lovely wants “sheeple”:

My six year old grandson asked me if I was going to do something and I said I needed to talk to grandma nana first. He looked at me and asked, are you going to be like a sheep and do what you’re told or be like a people and make up your own mind? I said, I’m going to be a sheeple until I talk to your nana.

And what does a good “sheeple” like Mr. Clifford do? Well, he must follow the diktats of the nanas. Here is Mr. Lovely lecturing the village council on “neighborhood protection”:

For those folks that want to talk about not-for-profits, we have the largest park system of anybody in this area. We provide it to everybody in South Florida. But our parks system is paid for by the single family home taxpayers. For the not-for-profits that are churches, schools and that sort of thing…sure, maybe they provide a service, but it’s limited and for that, most of them are getting paid. But the village isn’t getting paid because we’re providing all of the services they require without collecting any tax revenue. So, once again, I’m for your idea of restricting the invasion into the single family residential areas and I do think it’s a good idea to get as tight and specific as you can. (Emphasis added by SDM.)

SDM Aside: We are not religious people here at SDM, but we understand the value of spirituality. How can anyone so ignorantly trivialize another’s spiritual path as merely being an avenue toward “getting paid” or that churches and schools are invading the neighborhood? Even heathens like us find this kind of talk to be offensive.

Once you understand what a self-anointed “community leader” like Mr. Lovely wants, then you can understand why he detests independent thinkers like Larissa Siegel Lara. (Imagine someone with the temerity to consider schools and churches as important components of a healthy community. Oh the horror!)

No, what Mr. Lovely and his tiny ilk want is robotic allegiance to the whims of CCOCI and the rest of Palmetto Bay’s NIMBY establishment and Henry Clifford apparently fits the bill perfectly.

SDM Says: We prefer a person with an independent brain, thank you very much. Vote for Larissa one week from today.

PB: Mme. Mayor’s Desperate Lies

Surprise! Shelley Stanczyk went negative over the weekend in a mail piece that is not only intentionally misleading, but patently wrong in at least one instance.

SDM Note to Readers: If you haven’t seen the mailer, be thankful: this post won’t make much sense to you. We aren’t going to publish her trash here.

SDM writes regularly in these pages about the village’s failure to provide simple, searchable access to meeting records. Mrs. Stanczyk has been mayor of this town for four years and has done zilch to fix the problem. Now, she has the gall to claim the following “successes” as an alleged contrast to her opponent:

Televised meetings; budget, check register, archived meetings, minutes & Agenda, municipal code & all police and crime data on the Village website for access to all.

Isn’t it interesting that her honor takes all the credit for these feats of nothing? Televising meetings is supposed to be some big deal? Almost everyone in this county does it. (Cutler Bay is an exception, but they may get religion under the new mayor)

Putting the budget on the website? Again, almost everyone, including and all of our neighbors, publish their budgets.

Check register? Meh…who really cares? Archived meetings? Yes, true, but they are not searchable. Minutes? Yes, true, but again not searchable so you have to read twenty of them to find the subject and once you locate the meeting, the minutes are only in summary format…very unhelpful.

Agenda? Nope. This is a lie. Village agendas stay up on the web for a week or so before the meetings then are taken down about a week afterward. The agenda backup documents disappear into the clerk’s file cabinet and can only be accessed by public records request, which allows the village to keep tabs on who is asking for what.

Municipal code? Not on the village website, but placed on http://www.municode.com, which is okay, but not what the Mayor wrote in her flyer. It’s also important to note that until SDM bitched and moaned for about two months, the village hadn’t updated the online version of the code for over a year.

Police and crime data? Yes, there are crime reports online since December of 2013. Of course, there is no data going back to her claim that Mayor Stanczyk (we guess by herself) “reduced violent crime, robberies by 36% in her first year.” Does that statement even make sense? Which category was reduced (violent crime or robberies)? Did they both go down by the same percentage or is this a composite figure? What happened to the other categories of crime?

We also love the fast and loose game Mme. Mayor plays with her alleged increase of reserves. Here at SDM, we pay close attention to the budget and we cannot find the figure Mrs. Stanczyk cites in any of the budget documents. We would call it a lie, but we suspect it is more of a snapshot – citing the total reserves at a particular month’s end, rather than using a year-end figure that is more realistic. In any given period, the “reserves” may be higher or lower than budget, but what does it matter if the funds are scheduled to be spent in the next period?

SDM Says: Ultimately, Mme. Mayor’s choices for her hit-piece are pretty weak and require a pretty detailed understanding of the inner workings of Palmetto Bay’s government. We find her willingness mislead and outright lie to her constituents to be a bigger concern, though not an unexpected one.

PB Guest Post by David Singer: He Has A Lot On His Mind

Dirty Campaigning

Could there be even more dirty politics during the final week of Palmetto Bay’s election campaign? I have had confirmation from three sources that fresh off the heels of his loss in district 3, Jim Shedd has threatened to release negative advertising flyers, which remain from his campaign against Larissa Siegel Lara. Apparently, Jim Shedd feels the best way to assure Henry Clifford wins District 3 is to go negative. Go figure?

There is no word yet from Mr. Clifford’s camp, but seeing how well negative ads have gone over in this election, you would think that Mr. Clifford would want to distance himself from Mr. Shedd’s activities.

For the sake of Palmetto Bay, Mr. Clifford should publicly condemn Mr. Shedd’s extracurricular activities. If not, you can just add Mr. Clifford to the long list of other CCOCI members that feel they are entitled to win at all costs no matter who gets caught in the crossfire.

We as residents of Palmetto Bay must finally send a message to candidates who run, that dirty politics and negative advertising will not be tolerated in our Village.

Speak Freely…if you Support the Mayor

Freedom of Speech is apparently only acceptable to those who support Mayor Shelley Stanczyk’s election.

On a Facebook page set up by Village residents Carol Johnson Vega and Diane Spano-Lehmann, residents of the Village have been given free access to support their preferred candidate. But you better not say anything negative about Mayor Shelley Stanczyk or her daughter Katie Gonzalez will be calling you a bully, or worse, a jackass.

Vega and Spano-Lehmann created the page so all residents can freely discuss village politics whether pro or con. But Gonzalez, Stanczyk’s daughter, apparently doesn’t like to hear how a majority of Palmetto Bay residents feel about her mother’s term as Mayor and has actively attacked anyone with a different opinion from hers. I guess the fruit doesn’t fall far from the Stanczyk tree.

Time for a Serious Change in Palmetto Bay politics

No one who lives in Palmetto Bay can say the last four years haven’t pitted village residents against Village Hall: the Palmer Trinity drama; the Neighborhood Protection Ordinance; the Dog Barking Ordinance; Thalatta Park’s sale to the highest bidder; and, the proposed zoning change for Palmetto Bay’s Rockland area.

Mayor Stanczyk has taken no responsibility for any of the upheaval she and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay have wrought over the last four years. They would rather blame Gene Flinn who has not been actively involved in Palmetto Bay politics for the past four years. In psychology this is referred to as transference (an inability to take responsibility for your own actions) and appears to be prevalent not only in Palmetto Bay, but also politics on the local, state and national levels. If we as citizens cannot expect politicians to accept personal responsibility and govern with true honesty in a small town like ours, then how can we demand it at a national level?

It is time to turn the corner and elect individuals who actually have the ability to lead our community in a positive direction and repair the damage that has been caused by Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay. I respectfully ask all resident vote on November 25th for a change and cast their ballots for Gene Flinn and Larissa Siegel Lara.

-David Singer

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