PB: Steppin’ Out with the Tres Hermanos

by SDM

Ok, so SDM had some very formative years during the musical 1980s. One SDM favorite came to mind while watching the Palmetto Bay Village Council meeting on Monday, April 1st when her honor Mayor Shelley Stanczyk got up and walked out before adjourning the council meeting:

We’re – so tired of all the darkness in our lives

With no more angry words to say can come alive

Get into a car and drive to the other side.

Steppin’ Out, Joe Jackson (1982)

Now the only question for Ms. Stanczyk is where is the other side? In fact, it looked to SDM like the Marathon Man, Tim Schaffer, got into his red truck and drove from the Three Amigos to join the Tres Hermanos along with Vice Mayor John Dubois and Councilman Patrick Fiore.

SDM couldn’t help but notice that the Tres Hermanos coalition – i.e., the private property owners’ rights coalition – joined together to push for some major changes to the badly named “Neighborhood Protection Ordinance.” (In fact, SDM’s first suggestion is to delete this silly name – mark that one down.)

Then, the Tres Hermanos appeared to unite on creating a financial advisory board – though SDM can’t be sure if that idea passed or not. SDM Wonders: Why would the Mayor support having an education committee over which the village has absolutely no jurisdiction but oppose a finance committee that is looking at village finances? Chalk that up to an SDM head scratcher.

The big move – and the one that shot the Mayor from her chair as if she just noticed a meter maid standing over her car – was when the Tres Hermanos joined together to (gasp) put a village contract out to bid!

SDM Wonders: So this is what upsets you Mme. Mayor? Bidding out public contracts?

SDM reads Schaffer’s move from the Three Amigos to the Tres Hermanos with cautious optimism. Perhaps Palmetto Bay’s newest elected official – after gaining a glimpse behind the curtain – sees that the Mayor (figuratively) wears no clothes.

Then again, perhaps this is merely a tactical move by Mr. Schaffer to maintain his independence. Either way, what a breath of fresh air! Bravo and kudos.

The only real lowlight of the night was when Mr. Dubois caved in and withdrew his item on releasing the Palmer shade session transcripts. The Village Attorney changed her previous stance that all the Palmer litigation was “intertwined” to a new formulation that SDM has a hard time describing.

Her idea – as our tiny little brains understand it – is that because Palmer has amended its pending complaint to include certain acts by council members or others involved in the concluded litigation, then those acts somehow render the now-decided Palmer case as not concluded for purposes of the public records act.

In other words, because someone involved in the concluded litigation is now implicated in the pending legislation, the shade sessions will contain facts or data that will hurt the Village’s ability to defend itself going forward.  (SDM Says: Bunk. There is no such exception to the public records act.)

Nonetheless, based on this legal advice, Mr. Dubois withdrew his item. (Next time Mr. Dubois, when you are confronted with changed facts, defer your item so that you don’t have to reintroduce it. Then you can do some homework and if the attorney is right, then you can withdraw it later.)

Of course, the Mayor couldn’t resist putting in her warped two cents again. Both the Mayor and Councilwoman Lindsay analogized the village’s withholding of public records to an individual not disclosing her communications with her attorney.

Newsflash: The Village of Palmetto Bay is not a person. It is a municipal corporation governed by distinct laws. Other sections of state law applies to for profit and non profit corporations  and individuals. (SDM has discussed the public records act ad nauseum so we won’t do so again here.)

SDM Says: The Village Attorney may very well be putting the council members at risk of violating the law, which could cause them to be removed from office….maybe they should get a second opinion.

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