Summer Roundup

by SDM

dol·drums [dohl-druhmz, dol-, dawl-] noun ( used with a plural verb ): a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art: August is a time of doldrums for many enterprises.

SDM fell into a summer doldrums for several days, but will shake loose the funk and report on local goings on.

Homestead Makes SDM Feel Better About Palmetto Bay

The Miami Herald ran a story this morning titled “Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman under probe over secret consulting deal.” SDM once had high hopes for Mr. Bateman, which may have been just pangs of relief after he surprised South Dade and unseated the intolerable Lynda Bell.

But this story of a secret consulting contract with Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) is nothing if not a scandal. CHI provides health services to the poor and is funded largely – if not totally – by public monies. CHI apparently hired Mr. Bateman to secure the installation of a pump station to serve a facility in Homestead.

Mr. Bateman is reported to have demanded meetings with county officials, including Mayor Carlos Gimenez, under his title as Mayor though in fact he was acting as CHI’s paid consultant. Mr. Bateman was a lobbyist who apparently failed to register or declare his status.

SDM Says: Mr. Bateman is in big trouble and will probably be forced to resign if these allegations prove true. They’re just too easy to prove and once proved are, at best, clear ethics violations. If his clients at CHI knew what he was doing and failed to act, they too may be facing sanctions. Homestead deserves much better.

Cutler Bay Still Trying to Be Palmetto Bay

Last weekend, a Herald Neighbors story titled “Cutler Bay Farmer’s Market Closes, Food Trucks Banned,” caught SDM’s attention. The guts of the story are that on June 9, due to a code enforcement issue related to food trucks, Cutler Bay’s very popular Farmer’s Market closed down:

In early June…an anonymous caller to code enforcement pointed out that a town ordinance prohibits unlicensed vendors at the Farmer’s Market. Seeking immediate attention, the caller also claimed there had been a case of food poisoning from a market vendor. …the town confirmed that some unlicensed vendors had been operating at the market. Officials also discovered that the town had an ordinance which wasn’t being enforced, prohibiting food trucks at the Farmer’s Market.

This story seems to be the norm in the new municipalities in South Dade. You have your ubiquitous “anonymous caller” and a town that didn’t know certain vendors were operating illegally, despite the fact that most of the council visited the market on numerous occasions. Can anyone say “vendetta?”

SDM speculates that the caller might be a disgruntled restaurant owner seeking to get rid of some competition. Another possibility is a nearby homeowner who didn’t like the traffic. A third possibility is that an insider with knowledge didn’t like the fact that town officials were looking the other way. Regardless of the source, the anonymous caller is a party pooper.

Of course, the town’s chief negative nabob, Councilwoman Peggy Bell, jumped on the anti-food truck bandwagon immediately:

We cannot say you can have food trucks at this one event because you’d like to and not others…

SDM Says: Ms. Bell has never met a business she couldn’t imagine shutting down and remodeling to suit her own sensibilities. God only knows what she will do if Cutler Bay elects her as Mayor.

Lindsay’s Lawsuit City

In what SDM sees as a very sad story, a Palmetto Bay’s Alexander Montessori School failed to garner enough votes to add a paltry 59 seats to its enormous 270 student body. As SDM blogged about in PB: Ready for Another Lawsuit?, the Alexander school needed to convince 75% of its neighbors to vote for the school’s expansion.

This crazy requirement comes from a Councilwoman Joan Lindsay sponsored charter amendment, which foolish Palmetto Bay voters adopted after Ms. Lindsay lost her battle against the Palmer Trinity expansion. Ironically, Ms. Lindsay asked the Alexander School’s neighbors to vote for the expansion, though SDM doubts Ms. Lindsay would have  given Palmer a positive vote if it were up to her.

One of the school’s owners told the Miami Herald that they may ask the voters to consider their plan again. SDM has to give the guy credit for being an optimist. The tragedy is that instead of investing his hard earned money in improving his school, the owner is forced to pay for another referendum that he might lose again. Of course, a referendum might be less expensive than a long and protracted lawsuit, especially given the village council’s history of intransigence.

SDM Says: Councilwoman Lindsay often strikes a tone of reasonableness now that her re-election is on the near term horizon. But this referendum requirement that she mothered into existence will eventually be challenged in court on basic fairness principles. In the meantime, children and property owners in this village are suffering. When voters evaluate her record, Councilwoman Lindsay must not be permitted to escape her legacy of litigation.

Stanczyk Gets Ripped by the Miller Brothers

Palmetto Bay Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, the other official expected to appear on next year’s village ballot, was ripped mercilessly in the Palmetto Bay News. You can read the story for your self by clicking Mayor Stanczyk: Time to stop the ugly vendettas. Getting ripped by the Millers is no small problem for the Mayor given that their newspaper played a critical role in fostering the incorporation of the village.

In the editorial, the paper’s publisher asks an important question:

Why do Palmetto Bay residents continue to suffer with a mayor who fails to address ongoing issues due to indecisiveness and pending expensive litigation…?

Mr. Miller fairly blames Mrs. Stanczyk for failing to find an appropriate location for a fire station, an absurd Art in Public Places Program, an unstable property tax base and – most importantly – for the ongoing discontent on the village council.

SDM Says: Mrs. Stanczyk enjoys the discontent when it works in her favor; she really, really dislikes it – to the point of tears – when it goes against her. The truth is that Mrs. Stanczyk is reaping what she has sown.

SDM Wonders: When will a serious Palmetto Bay resident give us an alternative to rally around? We need your leadership now more than ever.

Blog Note: Summer is a slow time for SDM not merely because local government tends to slumber. We will publish when the mood strikes but less frequently than some of you may have become accustomed. :)

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