South Dade Matters

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

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.

PB Election Update: Games People Play

The Village of Palmetto Bay election just got more interesting.

A new entrant filed for the district three seat currently occupied by Councilwoman Joan Lindsay. Joining unknown candidate James Shedd (Watch out Jimmy, Stanczyk is probably cooking up a special “Shedd” ordinance just for you!) in the race is first-time candidate Larissa Siegel Lara. SDM found a photo online (hope it’s you, Ms. Lara):

LSL

Ms. Lara’s campaign issues are phrased as if they were written by a long-time executive, which she was. She claims in her bio to have had 17-year career at Burger King as VP for Management and Training. Lara was educated as an engineer. According to her democracy.com website post:

The day she takes office, Larissa will hit the ground running. She will provide leadership to build a council that is collaborative and focused on building Palmetto Bay for all residents.  Her skills and decision-making capabilities will be focused on building consensus on the future of the Village.

She will lead the charge to formulate a viable long-term plan for the Village, including goals, fiscal infrastructure, and sound human resources.  The plan will consider both the revenues and expenditures to sustain and improve Village services that benefit our community. By balancing time, money, and people, the Village can develop the appropriate support system to create a better future and long-term services for Village residents.

Hard to argue, but we will want to hear more!

SDM Says: We are fascinated by the game Councilwoman Lindsay’s is playing. Is she running or not? Most sane politicians don’t wait so long that the race fills up with opponents. Ms. Lindsay may find herself in deep do-do if she relies on CCOCI to get her re-elected, especially when she is facing another woman who looks to have solid credentials.

PB: Guest Post by David Singer (With SDM Comments)

The good guys actually achieved a well-deserved win during Monday’s [June 23, 2014] special council meeting when Councilmen Patrick Fiore, Tim Schaffer and John Dubois, voted down what could have been a disaster for Village residents, Churches, Private Schools and Daycares within Palmetto Bay.

It was a grueling experience watching the Monday’s council meeting, but with the exception of Mayor Stanczyk the remaining Council members attempted to reach a compromise on the Charter Amendment. This amendment would have eliminated all outdoor lighting for non-governmental, non-residential or non-commercially zoned properties.

[SDM Comment: We disagree with Mr. Singer's characterization. The proposed charter amendment would have prohibited outdoor lighting of recreational areas (except underwater swimming pool lights) owned by religious institutions, child care facilities, private schools,  and other non-governmental public assemblies located in residentially zoning districts.  We agree that the idea is crazy and will cover lots more lighting than we were told.]

During the meeting the Village Zoning Director confirmed my suspicions that if the amendment had passed it would prohibit all lighting; basketball, tennis, ground, pathway, landscaping, etc. The amendment would supersede any prior Village Ordinance.

[SDM Comment: Mr. Singer is hitting on why this measure and the code provision are so misguided. We've asked before: Does this mean a private school's pool could not have outdoor lights for the pool deck, stairways and pathways leading to it? Is everyone supposed to bring a flashlight? Why allow the underwater lighting in the first place if it cannot be used in any practical sense?]

Unfortunately, as we heard from Mayor Stanczyk the battle is far from over. After the vote was finalized she could be heard saying “We’ll Walk”. I would assume by her comment that she will lead various sullen individuals in an initiative to collect enough signatures to place the Charter Amendment on November’s ballot. Not exactly the Mayor’s responsibility to undermine the governmental process she’s been sworn to uphold, but then again she’s hasn’t shown herself to be very ethical while in office.

[SDM Comment: If you walk away, walk away, walk away, walk away... [SDM won't] follow.]

Maybe if the Mayor spent the time researching various municipalities within Miami-Dade County she would have found there are 19 cities, 6 towns and 9 villages for a total of 34 separate municipalities. These municipalities, along with Unincorporated Miami-Dade, represent 2.6 million residents.

[SDM Comment: What? Me? Do research? I'll tell you what you can do with your stinking research!]

None of the municipalities, including Unincorporated Miami-Dade County have their lighting code defined or guided by a City Charter. It’s just not standard or appropriate.

Could there be something that all the other Municipalities in Miami Dade County know that our Council doesn’t? Could what the Mayor is trying to pass be unconstitutional? Could it lead to more lawsuits for the Village of Palmetto Bay? Could the residents be footing the bill for more legal fees? Isn’t eight years of litigation enough?

What is really driving this venture into unknown and potentially very expensive territory?

Well for one thing, there is the location of Councilwoman Joan Lindsay’s home. Her house is approximately 100 feet away from the Palmer Trinity property line. Joan Lindsay was an original director, president and vice-president of the Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler, Inc. (CCOCI) for years. She has a serious conflict of interest and ethically shouldn’t even be voting on any issues related to Palmer Trinity.

[SDM Comment: This here would be an appearance of a conflict of interest, though not legally a conflict. Just FYI.]

There is also the fact that The Village of Palmetto Bay has spent over a million dollars in legal fees fighting Joan Lindsay’s and the CCOCI’s war against Palmer Trinity, which they would love to continue. Mayor Stanczyk, Joan Lindsay and the CCOCI all know that the Charter change will bring more litigation to the Village.

Unfortunately, we as residents have all experienced a history of Mayor Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay spending taxpayer’s money for Palmer Trinity litigation.

Simply put, all the Churches, Schools and residents in the Village have become collateral damage in a war that has nothing to do with us. Our hard earned tax dollars have become collateral damage. The Real Estate rights of Churches and Schools have become collateral damage, as seen by what happened to Alexander Montessori School when they wanted to expand. Alexander Montessori School has lost thousands of dollars in revenue due to a war which is raging between Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay and Palmer Trinity.

The passing of this Charter Amendment will commence a cycle of new litigation but this time it just won’t be with Palmer Trinity. It will be with the various churches and other educational institutions in the Village.

There are both Federal and State laws which prohibit the type of action the Mayor and Councilwoman are attempting. The Village Attorney has stated on record that this Charter Amendment could bring future litigation.

[SDM Comment: Mr. Singer is being a little misleading here and you know we can't stand such effrontery. The Village Attorney is quite comfortable that the proposed charter amendment was constitutional and permissible under RLUIPA and other statutes. He noted that anyone can sue, but he was clear that he believed such suits would not prevail, though he also stated such suits would not be frivolous. We're not sure Mr. Lehtinen is correct with respect to the level of scrutiny applied to the question: he says strict scrutiny would not apply, where we think it would under RLUIPA's statutory scheme. Anyone attempting to sue has a hard road, regardless.]

If anyone were to question the likelihood of future litigation please look no further than The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. When filed it will takes years to resolve, just as the Palmer litigation has taken years to resolve.

If asked to sign a petition respectfully decline and warn all your friends and neighbors who live in Palmetto Bay not to sign. If the petitioner tells you it’s about stadium lighting don’t believe them as they are not being honest. The Charter Amendment they are attempting to pass is written to prohibit all lighting at institutions which should be respected not discriminated against by the Village of Palmetto Bay.

[SDM Says: Right on!]

David Singer

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