South Dade Matters

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

The Library Question: What Comes Next?

The Miami Herald reports today that Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez will let stand the proposed increase in the library millage. Libraries, like pets, have their own constituency though admittedly with animal fervor.

SDM has no problem with funding libraries though the last time one of us attempted to access their services it was a miserable failure.

You see, one SDMer received a Kindle as a gift. She learned that she could go to the library, get herself a library card and then download Kindle books for free. Since she is a cheapskate, she figured getting free books would be just the ticket!

The cold truth hit her in the face immediately, however. After logging on to the county system, she learned that every book she was interested in reading was not available.

The alternative, of course, was to activate the Kindle’s online library and purchase the book for $9.99 in about 10 seconds. Ultimately, the cheapskate was beaten by the person seeking immediate gratification.

We understand that libraries are more than just dusty books. They are gathering places, quiet places to while away the hours and escape life for a short time.

But libraries in our modern world are something else today, too. The downtown Miami facility, for example, is a place to loiter and, for some, a place to towel one’s self off in the bathroom. (Yes, we have seen it with our own eyes in years past.)

So the question is not really whether we should support libraries, but what libraries will mean to us in the future. If most people will choose – as they do today – to download a book or movie from a paid service, then who will be the library user going forward?

SDM Says: As part of the increased library spending, the County Commission should direct the Mayor to report back on what the library system will become in the next ten to twenty years. Do we need more or fewer facilities and employees? More or fewer books? More online options? Now is a good time to figure out the future of our libraries and their role in our community going forward.

PB: Quick Bites

Land Use Meeting Goes Awry

SDM couldn’t bear to watch the July 21 meeting, though we tuned in for snippets thinking at some point the main event would begin.

But no…instead of finally resolving Palmer Trinity, we were treated to chaos over the Palmetto Bay Village Center. SDM doesn’t know how or why Palmer’s hearing got sidetracked, but we know who wanted the issue to get bogged down once again.

Therefore, we suspect the usual suspects.

SDM Says: It’s really too bad Palmetto Bay’s election is in November instead of next month. Our relief is tantalizingly close but still over the horizon.

Rumors Running Rampant Regarding Retirement

Sitting Village Councilwoman and moving target Joan Lindsay still has not filed to run for re-election, which is causing speculation all over town as to why.

One SDM commenter floated a rumor that Ms. Lindsay is moving out of town. Others have let fly much less charitable explanations that you did not see and will not see printed here without real evidence.

Whatever the truth is, Mrs. Lindsay has three announced candidates in the race for Seat 3 and SDM thinks at least two of them will stay in regardless of what Lindsay does.

Seat 3 is Getting Crowded

Since our last election update, perennial council public speaker Henry Clifford has joined the race for Seat 3 to succeed Joan Lindsay.

Mr. Clifford is well known to be one of the usual suspects, a CCOCI guy, etc. He hasn’t filed any campaign reports so SDM can’t say whether he will be a serious candidate.

Both Larissa Siegel Lara and James Shedd are showing respectable cash supplies for this early in the campaign so we should expect some fireworks in this now competitive race.

Mayor’s Race: Stanczyk Finally Gets a Contribution – One Contribution!

In the Mayor’s race, the news continues to be bizarre. Sitting Mayor Shelley Stanczyk – the incumbent, with all the trappings of office – finally, in her FOURTH campaign report – disclosed a single $99 campaign contribution. That’s it. Ninety-nine bucks.

Oh and she put in $4,000 of her own money, so now she has about the same cash available as Patrick Fiore…call it about 4 grand apiece. Not a good reporting cycle for the two incumbents…not good at all.

The real mayoral candidates continue to report good numbers: Peter England has about $13,000 on hand and Eugene Flinn, about $10,000, most of which he loaned himself…better step it up!.

Seat 1: The Powers Collide

Karyn Cunningham is motoring along as if she’s done this before. (She has, in fact, done this before and it shows.) Cunningham can be seen most days tooling around town in her convertible while she sits on around $25,000 that will no doubt be unleashed in the last 30 – 60 days of the campaign. If you don’t know all of David Zisman’s foibles by now, you will surely know them by November.

Not to be outdone, David Zisman is sitting on about $26,000 and will be ready to fire back in kind. He too can be seen most days behind the wheel of his golf cart with a gorgeous, bubbly blond who we presume is his spouse (we’re kind of crusty old farts about stuff like that).  In any case, Given Mr. Zisman’s proclivity to incivility at  council meetings, we expect vitriol in the extreme coming from his camp November.

SDM Says: Election 2014 will be a wild ride in November so get your popcorn ready.

PB Guest Post by David Singer

The end of a disaster

Over the past six years there have been individuals on this council and in our community who have lectured on the importance of citizen’s rights. These same individuals have held themselves out to be honorable, respectable and trustworthy leaders of the Village of Palmetto Bay. These are the same individuals who maintain they know what Palmetto Bay residents yearn for when it comes to “quality of life”. These are also the same individuals who have stated time and time again they know what’s best for the Village of Palmetto Bay. They are the ones who say “follow me, I will lead you”.

What if tomorrow Palmetto Bay residents actually woke up and found out that these individuals are not who they pretend to be? What if as a community we finally realized that these individuals who were placed in power, whether it’s Mayor Stanczyk, certain council members including Joan Lindsay or a spouse of an elected official, believe they are due an entitlement at the expense of the community? That these individuals have held certain Palmetto Bay institutions to a higher standard then they hold for themselves? That these individuals will bend the truth at every available moment and discriminate against anyone who does not agree with their political agenda? That these individuals believe that laws and rules don’t apply to them? That these individuals have passed zoning laws for the benefit of a small minority of residents because they truly believe in the motto “do what I say, not what I do”?

So here we finally are, remedying an injustice that was perpetrated on Palmer Trinity for the last 6 years. Of course this same group I refer to do not believe that Palmer Trinity should be considered a member of our community. They actually feel that anyone or any institution other than taxpaying residents should not have the same rights as they have. They feel that wasting over a million dollars to stop the expansion of Palmer Trinity was justified when the Village is basically approving the same exact expansion plans they should have approved four years ago.

Presently, there is no legal reason to not approve Palmer Trinity’s site plan and if not approved will certainly bring more litigation to the village. I understand that there are certain residents who would like nothing better than delay or stop approval but these are the same individuals who have cost this Village dearly over the past six years.

So it’s time to put our sordid little past behind us. It’s time to approve Palmer Trinity’s site plan and move on. It’s time to move on and focus on actually improving the quality of life in Palmetto Bay. It’s time to move on to insure our Village is not bankrupt within the next five years. It’s time to move on and make sure our parks are run efficiently, time to move and make sure our tax dollars are being spent wisely, time to move on and elect the best representatives we can to embody what this Village actually stands for.

It’s time to stop the nonsense and begin a new and respectable history for the Village of Palmetto Bay.

David Singer

PB: Have you seen the rest of this man?

SDM received a funny rumor via the FOSDM network. Apparently, a female candidate for mayor was running around town claiming that one of her opponents had a life-threatening illness. The evidence for this bizarre claim can be seen in this photograph:

VPB.4th.2014.01

The guy in the hat is former Mayor Eugene Flinn, some 40+ pounds lighter (maybe more) after what appears to be a serious diet.

SDM’s sources tell us that, in fact, Mr. Flinn is in excellent health but has obviously decided to clean up his act as far as the extra weight he’s been lugging around.

SDM Says: Bravo Mr. Flinn. SDM remembers fondly those early days when calm seemed to prevail in our little burgh. Under the gentle steerage by yourself, Paul Neidhart, Linda Robinson, John Breder and Dr. Ed Feller, Palmetto Bay made great strides at keeping itself a lean. It’s good to see your commitment to being “lean” applies to more than just Palmetto Bay’s budget. :)

PB: What’s up with the mosquitos?

We’ve lived in South Florida long enough to know that this is mosquito season and there’s no getting around it.

But we’ve also lived here long enough to remember seeing mosquito spraying trucks cruising through the neighborhoods late at night killing off the little buggers.

What ever happened to the mosquito sprayers?

For the past few weeks, one can’t even go outside for a minute without being attacked. Meanwhile, our elected officials in Palmetto Bay dither over barking dogs.

Here’s SDM’s idea for the village people: Instead of paying for a July 4th celebration for a few, pay for mosquito spraying for all of us.

 

A different rant today…Medical Marijuana

Normally, we spend our time on this blog focusing on South Dade and especially our beloved Palmetto Bay. Occasionally we venture into the neighboring towns and cities, but mostly we look at how things affect our little corner of the county.

Today will be different.

SDM views the world from right to left, meaning our political leanings start with a strong Libertarian bent, mixed with some traditional conservative (a.k.a. classic liberalism) views while being peppered with pragmatism. We view the Republican party’s perspective as most like our own, though definitely not all of those party planks make sense to us. (Please, stay out of our bedrooms and doctor’s offices as a start.)

Thus, SDM makes no secret that we think legalizing marijuana fits our political philosophy.

Our libertarian perspective tells us that what one person smokes is not our business so long as she is not hurting other people.

Our conservative perspective says that government should only regulate and tax chemicals, foods and drugs that are so harmful that government force is the best alternative. In other words, the lighter touch is appropriate for marijuana where a stronger government hand is necessary for heroin.

Finally, our pragmatism says that government cannot control the growing, selling and using of marijuana in our contemporary society, which views the substance as relatively harmless. In fact, the cost of regulating and enforcing marijuana laws exceeds the value received.

Given all of the above, and understanding that many, many Republicans would hold similar views to those of SDM, then what should the Republican Party of Florida be doing regarding marijuana?

Well, not what they are doing today. For example, in anticipation of approval of a ballot initiative that will legalize marijuana for medical uses, the Florida legislature (wholly in control of Republicans) is choosing a highly regulated market for medical marijuana.

Instead of open, free markets, Florida Republicans are proposing a tiny number of licenses (read: crony capitalism) to be dispensed by a bureaucratic functionary or by some kind of pot lottery where a lucky few will participate in the market.

Is Friedrich Hayek rolling over in his grave right now?

SDM Says: We long ago gave up on political parties. Sure we continue to support right of center candidates in the hope that one day they will actually vote according to their alleged philosophy. One good place for Republicans in Florida to start is to create a free, open market for medical marijuana – unlimited licenses, for example – where the best business plan prevails. Some day, we may also see a party give the people a choice of what they want to do with their bodies – or is that the Democrats?

PB: Levine Cava and Stanczyk Agree (Watch Out)

Okay, so SDM has been a little absent for a week or so; to paraphrase the words of a certain elected official, so sue us!

Seriously, the SDM crew took off for the holiday and left the blogging alone. Of course, once we got back to the real world, life and business were waiting to be managed so our dereliction of duty has continued into this week. We’d apologize but, according to Palmetto Bay’s Mayor, nobody reads this blog anyway.

Nevertheless, we will begin our commentary on the July 7th village council meeting with an observation about Mme. Mayor and candidate for county commission, Daniella Levine Cava.

Ms. Levine Cava was granted an unusual two-fer at the council meeting when she was granted double opportunities to address the council during public comments. Her first comments were a fawning congratulations for the village fireworks giveaway…er, extravaganza. Ms. Levine Cava noted that one of her campaign staffers won the hot dog eating contest by consuming 10 of the buggers.

But it was the second commentary (Are you reading this, Mr. Singer? You are now allowed to speak twice in public comments!) that caught our attention. Ms. Levine Cava stated her support for Mayor Stanczyk’s resolution urging the county commission to fully fund the pet’s trust.

The reality is that a Village of Palmetto Bay resolution to the county commission urging them to spend money is an exercise in pandering. Anyone who is following the budget discussions at the county knows that they are facing a $64 million deficit and are planning to close a golf course, cut jobs and generally give everyone over there a well-deserved haircut.

So where, pray tell, will Ms. Levine Cava find the ten or so million necessary to meet all of the alleged demands of the voters who approved the pet’s trust?

Well, let SDM tell you. The county commission can balance the budget using its collected tax revenue at the current tax rates, or, it can increase one or more of the rates to generate additional money.

If the commission chooses to keep rates flat, which is what Mayor Gimenez has recommended, then the commission must take money from one part of the budget to pay for the pet’s trust spending.

The old saying rings true here: Money doesn’t grow on trees.

SDM Wonders: Do Ms. Levine Cava and Mrs. Stanczyk support raising the county tax rates? Or, will they suggest ideas of which departments should bear cuts sufficient to pay the costs of the pet’s trust? Or, maybe they want to increase the fees charged to those who rescue the animals or on those damned dog licenses?

Free advice from SDM to Ms. Levine Cava: Think carefully before you agree with the pandering mayor of this little village. She rarely thinks these things through.

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