PB: Top 5 Worst Charter Amendments

by SDM

Preface:

SDM thinks none of the Charter Revision Commission’s proposed amendments is necessary. If you vote no on all of them, SDM will still call you  friend. :)

The 5th Worst Palmetto Bay Charter Amendment:

Changing Term Limits [Section 2.3(E)]
The Village Charter currently limits the length of service of the Mayor, Vice-Mayor, and Council Persons to no more than two consecutive terms. The Charter Revision Commission suggests an amendment to the Charter to limit the length of service of the Mayor, Vice-Mayor, and Council Persons to two terms in any one position, with no more than a total of three consecutive terms regardless of position.

SDM Says: SDM admits to voting for this amendment, but doing so with a shaking hand because it could be a disaster if it were to permit yet another term of the current Mayor. SDM has faith that the village will find a new leader in two years and this amendment will allow good people to spend a term on the council and then a couple of terms as mayor or vice versa. It’s always in the hands of the voters to make the final decision, which is also a double-edged sword. You can see that SDM is torn between optimism and pessimism on this one.

The 4th Worst Palmetto Bay Charter Amendment:

Neighborhood Protection [Section 10.2]
Creating a provision called Neighborhood Protection whereby: 1) single-family-residential zoned properties shall be protected from the negative impacts of adjacent or nearby non-single-family-residential uses and 2) four affirmative votes of the Council shall be required to approve a zoning change conditional use, or special exception in any single-family-residential district. Excluded are BO (Business Office) Future Land Use, all commercial, business, and multi-family residential districts.

SDM Says: This may surprise some readers, but this amendment is not the worst thing on the ballot as far as Palmetto Bay goes. Because it is limited to the “single-family-residential district,” SDM believes this amendment will ultimately be harmful to a handful of property owners. If you believe in property rights, you will join SDM in voting down this bad idea.

The 3rd Worst Palmetto Bay Charter Amendment:

Nonpartisan Elections – Enforcement [Section 5.1(B)]
The Charter Revision Commission suggests an amendment of the Charter to provide enforcement of Section 5.1(B) of the Charter, relating to nonpartisan elections, through the office of the State Attorney. A judicial determination of a willful violation of Section 5.1(B) shall be grounds for removal from elected office and subject the individual to a fine up to $1,000, per violation, but not to exceed a total of $10,000.

SDM Says: The State Attorney is a woefully underfunded and overburdened enterprise that is responsible for prosecuting serious criminals. Palmetto Bay should not be adding to that burden with niggling disagreements about whether a candidate is running as a partisan. Vote NO on this foolishness.

The 2nd Worst Palmetto Bay Charter Amendment:

Department Head Selection to be Affirmed by Village Council [Section 3.3(1)]
The Village Manager currently hires all department heads. The Charter Revision Commission suggests an amendment to the Charter to reflect the Village Manager may not appoint any department director without first obtaining approval of a majority of the Village Council.

SDM Says: This amendment could easily be the worst of the bunch, especially if the next one is adopted along with this one. Together they constitute an extraordinary power grab by some very small-minded people. The Village of Palmetto Bay is not the U.S. Senate approving a supreme court justice. Palmetto Bay created its balance of power when its residents chose a weak council, strong manager form of government. This amendment allows the council to interfere with the manager’s professional decisions regarding his staff.  The result will be department directors attempting to curry favor with various council members by making promises before their hearing. SDM voted NO and asks you to do the same.

And now, the WORST Palmetto Bay Charter Amendment:

Interaction with Administration [Section 4.2(B)(1) and (2)]
The Charter currently reflects that the Village Council is to enact a resolution in order to investigate or inquire on a topic directly with staff. A finding of interference with administration could be a basis for removal from office. The Charter Revision Commission suggests an amendment to the Charter to remove the penalty, and authorizes the Village Council to make direct inquiries of staff, and to change the title of the provision from “Interference” to “Interaction” with Administration.

SDM Says: This one sounds SO innocuous, doesn’t it? Why shouldn’t a council member be able to “interact” with a staff person? They’re only making an “inquiry.” What’s the big deal SDM? Let SDM paint the picture:

Fred is sitting in his office and Councilwoman Lindsay stops by to make an inquiry. She asks: “Fred, did you have a chance to draft that neighborhood protection ordinance yet?” Now, Fred has been working all day to catch up on work assigned by his boss the Planning & Zoning Director and his boss the Manager. Fred really can’t spare the time to break off and work on the Councilwoman’s latest folly. So, what would you expect him to do?

If he knows what’s good for him, Fred will stop what he’s doing and finish Lindsay’s blessed ordinance. You see, Fred knows that the “inquiry” was like when his Mom asked him, “Fred, have you taken out the trash yet?” Those words may be formed as an inquiry, but Fred knows a directive when he hears one.

Now, Fred faces a choice: do what his direct boss told him to do or do what Lindsay wants him to do. He is in a no-win situation and, if this charter amendment passes, his no-win situation will become perfectly legal.

SDM voted NO, and if you have any respect for the people who work for you at the village, you will vote no, too.

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