PB: Schaffer’s First Move – Shut Out The Public
Following a hostile little exchange between new Vice Mayor John Dubois and Mayor Shelley Stanczyk (31:00 – 33:00) at last night’s first meeting of the new council, new Councilman Tim Schaffer made his first controversial decision: to shut out the public from village “shade” sessions.
Before SDM covers this disturbing act of Amigo-ness, let’s roll back the tape to Mayor Stanczyk’s “welcome” to Vice Mayor Dubois. The Village Attorney asked to schedule a shade session to review the lawsuit involving Palmetto Bay and the company called Shores at Palmetto Bay, LLC, which is proposing a charter school on Franjo Road.
Mr. Dubois acknowledged that he was available for the proposed shade session, but also stated that he opposed holding shade sessions on principle – one that SDM shares. Namely, that the public should be present at attorney-client meetings because village money – taxpayer’s money – is at risk.
By the way, SDM learned something new in the discussion: that the heralded county holds ALMOST ALL of its attorney-client sessions in the sunshine! SDM would think Ms. Lindsay would be jumping up and down to conform the village code to this provision of the county code, especially given her obsession with that body of law. Of course, hypocrisy is nearly invisible to the eye of the hypocrite – even SDM suffers this malady at times.
After Mr. Dubois said his piece, the Mayor – as is her perpetual wont – commented on his comment. Mr. Dubois attempted to rebut her comment but the Mayor rudely cut him off. Her “little gorilla” law is that the best way to manage public discourse is to shut it down on the council or to keep it behind closed doors whenever possible. (SDM Wonders: Will Mr. Dubois stand up to the Mayor’s when she tries to channel her inner little gorilla? )
A few minutes later, new member Schaffer asked if the public was permitted to speak at these shade sessions, which drew a tumult of responses from the Mayor and others. It appeared to SDM that the Marathon Man first learned of the village’s practice of hiding information from the public last night! Amazing, really.
In the resulting hubbub, the Mayor and Councilwoman Lindsay sufficiently intimidated Mr. Schaffer so that he agreed to the shade session, thus making his first important act one that shuts the public out of the village’s decision-making process.
SDM Says: SDM hasn’t walked a mile in the Marathon Man’s shoes, but Mr. Scaffer’s first decision shows his little red truck is not fast enough to avoid being run over by the Two Amigos. But by being unprepared and showing weakness, Mr. Schaffer’s political career is not off to a very auspicious start.