South Dade Matters

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

PB: And then there were 4…or, one too many.

Palmetto Bay’s election transformed from a desert to an oasis of options last week when two new (at least new to this election cycle) mayoral candidates entered the race.

As expected, former Mayor Eugene Flinn and former candidate (multiple) Peter England filed papers to take on incumbent Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and current Councilman Patrick Fiore.

Now, a race that looked positively moribund has become a real dog fight…no pun intended.

Here at SDM, we are pleased to see Mr. Flinn back in the mix. We have fond memories of a village that seemed to stay on track. We acknowledge some of his faults (voting with Mayor Stanczyk on the ordinance that sparked the land war with Palmer, for instance) but at the same time recognize his steady leadership. It would be nice to see some fresh faces at village hall, but since nobody seems willing to step up, then an experienced hand will do the trick.

But what do we do with Peter England? SDM notes that as of today Councilwoman Joan Lindsay is unopposed, meaning nobody has announced a run against her. How is this possible given her disruptive and divisive legislative history?

Here is our suggestion: Since Mr. England lives in District 3, he should take a pass on the mayor’s race and take on Mrs. Lindsay. We understand that she’s tough to beat. She works hard and even SDM can find nice things to say about her.

But Mrs. Lindsay must be challenged by a serious and sober candidate. We believe her views on how this village should grow display the worst tendencies of the Not In My Back Yard crowd. If Mrs. Lindsay remains unopposed without having her views challenged, then we can expect four more years of divisive politics masquerading under the misnomer of “neighborhood protection.”

SDM Says: C’mon Peter, give us a slate of candidates around whom we can rally!

 

 

PB: Where Politics is Dog Eat Dog

Eventually this blog will move on from the dog barking ordinance, we promise.

But before we leave this story, SDM wants to bring our readers up to speed on the  Who Shot John.

While most Palmetto Bay residents go about their sometimes humdrum lives, other residents involve themselves in blood feuds with their neighbors. (Think: Councilwoman Joan Lindsay and Palmer Trinity School.)

As these feuds escalate, other neighbors are dragged in. Some are forced and others willingly pick sides. Sometimes these feuds become so intractable or even dangerous that the village administration or police are dragged into the melee.

In the case of the barking dogs, SDM concludes that a neighborhood dispute that once revolved around – of all things – a tennis court, has escalated into a feud over barking dogs.

We have been contacted by folks familiar with the protagonists on each side of the drama and we can’t make heads nor tails of who is telling the truth anymore. (SDM is not going to identify the barking dog guy by name since we get all of our information second-hand.)

Here is what we have gleaned (Caveat: we ain’t the PoPo so take this for what it’s worth):

  • A property owner on Farmer Road who is also running for public office in Palmetto Bay (and has run before) was eventually permitted to build a tennis court on his large estate.
  • Some of his neighbors – at least one family – objected strenuously, claiming the new construction was causing flooding on their property.
  • The tennis court owner either before or after these objections arose took umbrage with Mayor Stanczyk because she supported his neighbors’ claims.
  • So, the property owner ran against her and has vilified her mercilessly since.
  • Fast forward to 2013-4 and the neighbors have decided to alter their strategy. The property owner/candidate owns dogs (said to be well-maintained) but which are barkers. So the neighbors started complaining about the barking dogs. Were these complaints proxies for the prior dispute? SDM cannot say for sure.
  • Enter the village: Either at the request/instruction of Mayor Stanczyk or on its own, the village administration decides to call the property owner/candidate and the neighbors in for a conference. Some kind of agreement is reached and one or all of the parties proceed to break it.
  • According to the neighbors, they continue to attempt to resolve the matter amicably with the property owner/candidate. They tell the village council that he refuses to fix the problem. The village says there’s nothing we can do under the current code.
  • Enter Mayor Stanczyk: She files legislation containing an enforcement procedure straight out of Animal Farm. Namely, any neighbor who hears dogs barking under certain circumstances can file an affidavit against the offending property owner. Former Mayor Eugene Flinn and SDM go nuts when we read this craziness. Why should we disrupt the entire village when this is essentially a neighborhood feud?
  • The offending property owner/candidate says he is being unfairly attacked. He takes care of his dogs and they only bark because the neighbors are inciting his pets. He is the victim in this case, not the half-dozen or so neighbors who came forward to testify to their disrupted lives.
  • Final Act: In a courageous move, Stanczyk withdraws her legislation so that the issue can continue to fester and further divide a deeply divided community.

So what should we make of this tragedy in multiple acts?

First, Mme. Mayor is far too willing to foment further chaos instead of calmly finding a workable solution to what is essentially a human problem and not a dog problem. Even if the council were to pass her legislation, the problem on 72nd Avenue would not be solved, which is the definition of an ineffective law.

Second, whether right or wrong, the property owner/candidate in this drama is not temperamentally suited for public office. Elected officials have to be peace makers and not law breakers or, worse, agents provocateurs. Even if you give this person the benefit of the doubt, he still looks like  a guy who can’t find a way to settle his disputes with his neighbors without everyone walking away pissed off. Do we need more elected officials like this? Seriously?

SDM Says: We really hope Poker and Blackjack are okay. What we love about our dogs is they never judge us. We leave judging human behavior to voters.

Who’s the real dog?

Sometimes SDM wishes we had an insider at the village who could help us break the code.

We watched last night’s meeting with rapt attention, first hearing candidate David Zisman excoriate Mayor Stanczyk for singling him out. Of course and as usual, he exceeded normal bounds of public communication so that even SDM started feeling sorry for Mme. Mayor.

Then, a parade of folks living on SW 72nd Avenue rose to demand, request and beg the council to relieve them of a bad neighbor who permits his dogs to bark at all hours of the day and night.

Village gadfly Bev Gerald came closest to breaking the code when at the end of public comment she noted that nobody was identifying the person whose dogs are disrupting everyone’s life style and quiet enjoyment of their homes. Ms.Gerald didn’t see this as quite fair given the harsh treatment of the Mayor.

Hmmm…

SDM doesn’t know for sure who the culprit is (though one SDM commenter claimed the dogs are named Poker and Blackjack), but we are getting the feeling that he is right under our noses…and stinking the place up.

Since we don’t know for sure who he is, we are just going to make some observations as to how we think this particular person ought to be treated based on the testimony of several of his neighbors:

  • The village should make public the names of the people who attended the meeting with the village manager and discussed this subject. If minutes or notes were kept, then they are public record and should be released, too. In other words, if the name of this individual has been made public to the manager, then the rest of us should also know.
  • The village ought to take serious and rigorous steps to investigate the neighbors’ claims. Affidavits are not necessary, but everyone living around this property ought to be interviewed to build a record. A summary report of findings should be made available as a public record.
  • The county or whoever enforces the laws against cruelty to animals ought to investigate the conditions in which these dogs are being kept. It very well may be cruel to keep dogs outside at all times of the day and night, especially if the dogs are barking regularly. This could easily be a sign of distress.
  • We, as voters, certainly ought to hold this person accountable if he seeks public office or is participating in public life. One cannot stand before the village council – assuming he does so – and claim to be working toward the betterment of the community while at the same time thumbing his nose at his neighbors. We don’t need any more Jekyll and Hyde council members “serving” us.

SDM Says: We were given some broad hints as to what is going on with the case of the barking dogs, but we doubt we’ve heard the last of this mystery.

The Dogs Barked and the Mayor Turned Tail and Ran

So the village website now tells the “tail” of Item 12 A – Stanczyk’s Barking Dog Law: PLEASE NOTE THAT MAYOR STANCZYK INTENDS TO WITHDRAW THIS ITEM.

Mrs. Stanczyk has wisely decided to let sleeping dogs lie…or to let barking dogs bark?

Funny thing about dog lovers: most of them prefer the company of their pets to anyone else on the planet. So when some petty politician creates a nonsensical plan to muzzle their furry little friends, these dog lovers (SDM included) start to snarl.

(Can you stand anymore of SDM’s puerile puns?)

But let’s be fair, too. Mayor Stanczyk is responding to a serious problem. Some pet owners are oblivious when their dogs go outside and bark for hours on end. SDM doesn’t understand how people can allow this to go on, especially at night, but clearly just as in every other aspect of life, in every bushel there are a few bad apples.

So here is SDM’s suggestion on fixing (or do we say neutering?) this problem. When a code enforcement complaint comes in, check with some other neighbors in the area to confirm whether the barking is serious. If it turns out that a particular home is causing a problem, then send the code enforcement team out to talk to the owner.

Our experience is that perpetually barking dogs is likely to be an indicator of a bad owner who may be neglecting the animals. As a society, we cannot allow pet owners to abuse their dogs by leaving them outside all night barking.

Explain the rules and let them know their neighbors are complaining. If public shame won’t change the behavior, then gradually escalate the pressure to fines. Instead of affidavits, multiple complaints over a period of time should be enough to open a case.

SDM Says: The last result we should want is for innocent, caring owners to be penalized for a noisy dog. At the same time, reckless and uncaring owners deserve the village’s intervention to ensure those animals are not being abused.

Update on SDM’s New Business

In yesterday’s post, SDM discussed our new business. As soon as the village council passes its new anti-barking-dog legislation, SDM will launch SDM’s VANCA Affidavit Service (SVAS).

According to the new law, a homeowner will face a $500 fine for the first violation and $1,000 for the second. (Presumably, the dog will go to doggy jail on the third offense.)

So here is how an SVAS contract will work:

  1. A homeowner – let’s call her “Mrs. Stanczyk,” to randomly choose a common surname – will finally tire of her neighbor’s barking dog. (We will call the neighbor “Mr. Zisman,” another common last name.)
  2. Mrs. Stanczyk will call her best friend SDM and pay SVAS $100 to submit the first VANCA affidavit against Mr. Zisman. (You see, Mrs. Stanczyk doesn’t like Mr. Zisman so she doesn’t want him to know she’s complaining about him. She can stay anonymous…hmmm…this sounds familiar. :) )
  3. SDM will go to Mr. Zisman’s house while he’s at work (say between 10:30 a.m. and early happy hour – 3:30 pm) and bring along a recording device. SDM will stand at Mr. Zisman’s gate and call the dogs. If they fail to bark, SDM will shake the fence or bring along another barking dog. If none of these tactics make Mr. Zisman’s dogs bark, SDM will just use some stock audio of dogs barking.
  4. SDM will then send Mr. Zisman a nasty gram, probably by email so we can attach a copy of the barking dogs file. SDM will demand $350 dollars from Mr. Zisman or else SDM will submit the affidavit.
  5. If Mr. Zisman pays, SDM will refund Mrs. Stanczyk her $100 and pocket $250 gross profit. (SDM’s time is worth something!)
  6. If Mr. Zisman tells SDM to take a hike, SDM will submit the affidavit and proceed to the next step, which involves shaking down Mrs. Stancyzk. (Don’t want to get into our business plan here. You might steal this idea!)

SDM Says: Mme. Mayor Stanczyk really thought this idea through, but she never encountered the sick minds here at SDM!

David Singer Guest Post on Barking Dogs

Mayor declares war on Palmetto Bay Dog Owners

Our reviled and loathed Mayor Shelley Stanczyk has once again proven just how out of touch she is with reality. Could November’s Mayoral election get here any quicker? Apparently, tired of attacking schools and churches she has now turned her attention to attacking her constituent’s pets, dogs in particular.

She has sponsored an Ordinance scheduled to be read at Monday’s Village Council meeting which will effectively fine every resident of Village of Palmetto Bay if their dogs barks more than five times in an hour.

I affectionately call it the “Five Bark Penalty”. If it wasn’t so incredibly offensive it might actually be humorous.

It’s too bad this ordinance hasn’t been in effect during Council meetings over the last three and a half years while she’s been Mayor.

Enough of my commentary, here’s some bits and pieces of the Ordinance.
• Barking dog shall mean a dog that barks, bays, cries, howls or makes any other noise continuously and/or incessantly for a period of twenty minutes or barks intermittently for one hour or more to disturb any person, day or night.
• Barks intermittently shall mean a noise disturbance caused by a barking dog which occurs 5 times within an hour. (Would that be 5 short barks or 5 long barks and who decides when the barking begins and stops? I didn’t realize Village Manager Ron Williams has employed Dr. Doolittle on Village staff.)
• Public nuisance animal shall mean any animal or combination of animals that makes excessive noises, including, but not limited to, continued or repeated howling, barking, whining (you get the point) which substantially interferes with and /or disturbs a Village resident’s enjoyment of life and/or property.
• Enforcement responsibility; The Village will now hire a Noise Control Officer (great another Village Employee) who will have primary enforcement responsibility after an affidavit is filed by the complainant to the Village of Palmetto Bay. The Noise Control Officer will then investigate on a “complaint only” basis (don’t really understand what a “complaint only” basis is, but then I don’t understand 99% of what the Village enacts for their personal amusement).
• After an affidavit is filed by a resident, a notice of Civil Infraction is issued by the Village Noise Control Officer with a 30 days correction period (this basically gives you 30 days to visit your Vet and have your dog surgically debarked). If the barking continues you are then penalized, fined and quartered.
• The fine for a barking dog for a first offense is $250.00 (that works out to be $50.00 per bark) with subsequent fines for repeated violations costing $500.00.

If you don’t believe anyone in their right mind would sponsor this type of Ordinance please visit the Village of Palmetto Bay website.

I would assume by reading this Ordinance that Mayor Stanczyk and the Village Planning and Zoning Director Darby Delsalle, hate animals or at the minimum are cat lovers.

Is this nonsense and intellectual ineptitude really what we expect from our elected officials and Village Staff? ? I hope the Councilmembers who vote for this Ordinance realize it guarantees their ouster during the November election.

You always have the option of voicing your displeasure with this Ordinance prior to Monday’s meeting by emailing the Mayor and Councilmembers or calling the Village.

David Singer

Barking Dogs

Have you heard the latest contretemps in Palmetto Bay? Barking dogs. Seriously.

For a good taste of the issue, former Mayor Eugene Flinn’s blog is a great place to read all about it.

SDM is not going to rehash the obvious points; instead, we will focus on the business opportunity this new legislation offers to willing entrepreneurs…especially fearless ones.

Here is how Mayor Shelley Stanczyk’s new ordinance would work:

Under current Code, enforcement action may only proceed upon an officer witnessing 20 minutes of continuous barking or an hour of intermittent barking. Often, the alleged incident either passed or was indictable by the time the officer responds to the complaint. TI,e proposed remedy is to permit the complainant to submit a notarized Verified Animal Noise Complaint Affidavit (VANCA) asserting the violation occurred. Such action will result in the officer issuing a courtesy warning. If a subsequent VANCA is submitted within the thirty days of the courtesy warning, the officer will issue a citation. As provided for all code compliance cases, the person receiving the citation shall have the right to appeal. In the event of such an appeal, the affiant will be requested to testify at the appeal proceeding as the existence of the event(s) identified in the VANCA. It then becomes incumbent upon the Special Master to determine whether in fact the Violation existed.

So here is SDM’s brilliant new business: SDM’s VANCA Affidavit Services.

Say your neighbor is a jerk. You know, he starts his boat at 6 am on a Saturday morning or throws his yard trash over the fence onto your property or he let’s his kids have parties…whatever…SDM doesn’t really care. All SVAS wants to know is if the guy has one of those little terriers that like to bark at the squirrels.

You call SVAS and we submit a VANCA affidavit on your behalf and another one two weeks later. Of course, we will say that the dog was barking at, say, 3 pm when your neighbor is at work. He won’t be able to disprove the charge and will be cited for that felonious little monster he calls a dog.

The best news? Your neighbor can’t pin the complaint on you! SVAS takes the heat and we pack heat in case your neighbor wants to challenge us outside of the courtroom.

Aren’t we smart over here at SDM? Where others see an absurd and ridiculous legislative policy we see an opportunity to earn our bread at the expense of some poor Palmetto Bay resident. Thank you Mayor Stanczyk!

SDM Says: Before moving to Palmetto Bay, one of our writers experienced some badly mismanaged and poorly trained dogs that barked all night. The same writer also had a very dumb dog that liked to bark at a possum who the writer swears used to sit on the fence just to make this very dumb dog bark at him all night. So, at least one of us understands the problem and sympathizes with those suffering from bad neighbors. What we never fully understand is why our lovable lump of a Mayor can’t see her own folly when others see it immediately. The village council needs to put the brakes on Mme. Mayor’s newest brainf… er… idea.

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