PB: Election Quick Bites

by SDM

Schaffer sighting

SDM finally found the Tim Schaffer website. Yes, SDM now understands that the website is listed on the candidate’s signs, which are virtually always adjacent to a Pariser sign. (By the way, for all of you Soapbox people: the charter today does not prohibit running on slates. Nonetheless, is it too much to hope that Mr. Pariser would follow the spirit of the proposed amendment he voted to place on the ballot?)

So what does Mr. Schaffer stand for? Following is the sum total of his platform:

  • Quality neighborhood protection
  • Outstanding police services
  • Conservative fiscal policies, low taxes, and lean government
  • Economic development in the business areas

In this era of easy and cheap communication via websites, that’s all Mr. Schaffer is willing to tell the voters of Palmetto Bay. SDM nevertheless will pick at this miserly buffet:

  1. Quality neighborhood protection as compared to what? The non-existent neighborhood protection contained in Ms. Lindsay’s ordinances? Careful Mr. Schaffer: SDM sees a crack of daylight between you and the Three Amigos.
  2. Yes, SDM remembers your call for three extra police officers when the police director requested only one. SDM also remembers the village manager warning that more officers does not equate to “outstanding services.”
  3. Your support for conservative fiscal policies and a lean government sounds hollow to SDM given your willingness to drain village reserves to pay for recurring police services. Conservative officials don’t raid the rainy day fund for these kinds of expenditures.
  4. SDM can’t argue with your last bullet, except to say that the Mayor doesn’t much agree with you. She has essentially dissolved the village’s relationship to our local Economic Development Council. Instead of publishing a bunch of platitudes, maybe you could enlighten the public on what exactly you would do on such a critical subject.

Charter changes galore

It took SDM about 40 minutes to read the absentee ballot and vote. Now, understand something: SDM is obsessed with politics and follows everything from the President on down closely. Yet, all of these charter changes and constitutional amendments present a challenge to even the best prepared voter.

SDM Suggests: Read up on the constitutional amendments and the county and village charter amendments before you go to the polls. You will save yourself a ton of time.

None of Palmetto Bay’s charter amendments are necessary, so if you want to vote no across the board you won’t hear any reproach from SDM. However, if you want to consider them individually, here is SDM’s take on each item:

  1. Neighborhood Protection: This is just more of the same nonsense except that the measure also includes a radical four vote super majority “to approve a zoning change conditional use, or special exception in any single-family-residential district.” Super majorities just increase the power of individual council members, which is both unnecessary and dangerous in Palmetto Bay. SDM voted NO.
  2. Nonpartisan Elections – Defined: SDM doesn’t agree that village elections should be nonpartisan in the first place. This item is just more unnecessary regulation of political speech. SDM voted NO.
  3. Nonpartisan Elections – Enforcement: Just in case the state attorney doesn’t have enough on her plate trying to keep the county’s streets safe, Palmetto Bay wants to add enforcement of political disputes to her agenda. Seriously? SDM voted NO.
  4. Changing Term Limits: This may surprise some people. SDM thinks the current charter is too restrictive in that it forces good people off the council too quickly. SDM hopes the Village People will take the long view and allow good people to serve longer.  SDM voted YES. (SDM is aware that voting yes risks saddling the village with four more years of the Stanczyk administration, but SDM rationalizes such a result as a worst case scenario.)
  5. Interaction with Administration: Palmetto Bay’s form of government forces council members to work through the manager. This item upsets the charter’s balance by legalizing political interference with village staff by council members. SDM voted NO.
  6. Department Head Selection to be Affirmed by Village Council: SDM mused over this item several months ago. Imagine a department head meeting with a council member before the vote. The council member winks saying “one hand washes the other.” We don’t need this garbage in Palmetto Bay. SDM voted NO.
  7. Two Year Prohibition on Village Employment after Leaving Office: Who cares? SDM voted YES.
  8. Requiring Candidates to Run Independently: This is the “no slates” item. It amounts to no more than an  unconstitutional attempt to limit an individual’s right to free association.  SDM voted NO.
  9. Filling of Vacancies by Remaining Council with or without a Quorum: The charter’s term limit language caused a temporary vacancy when former Mayor Flinn resigned to run for the county commission. This item probably fixes the problem. SDM voted YES.
  10. Annexation Process: This is another super majority requirement for annexations. What happens if the village for whatever reason 50 years from now NEEDS to expand? If this passes, residents will have tied the hands of a future council for no good reason.  SDM voted NO.
  11. Composition of Charter Revision Commission: The idea here is to identify representatives from each district to sit on the charter commission, rather than to allow the individual council member to identify his or her own selection. The problem is that only a small group of people both know what’s going on in the village and are willing to serve. This measure only makes it tougher to fill the slots. SDM voted NO.
  12. Technical and Stylistic Amendments: SDM voted YES.
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