PB: Dysfunctional Decision Making Continued…
This will be the last post on the transcripts from the Palmer shade sessions that have been released so far. We’ve covered most of the interesting stuff in there and what follows is another example of willfully ignoring advice of competent legal counsel. But let’s take a minute first to discuss what’s not in the transcripts and what’s deleted and remains hidden from the public.
In the discussion that follows, readers will see how often the village attorney exercised her discretion to remove significant sections of the transcripts. Her basis for the extensive redactions is apparently that the council is discussing another case. The village attorney does not tell us the case discussion she is hiding from us – not even a footnote.
SDM Wonders: When did Palmetto Bay become the National Security Agency? And when did “just trust my judgment” become the standard for a municipal attorney withholding public records?
Here’s the other thing you won’t see in this last shade session: any direction to the manager to settle the suit. Now, some of you are saying: SDM, the court was getting ready to rule. It’s too late to settle, isn’t it? Well, no…most trial lawyers, especially those dealing with expensive, complex cases will tell you that settlements often occur at the last minute. Courts prefer that parties resolve their disputes “amicably” or at least without forcing the court to make the decision.
The last thing missing in the sections of the transcripts released is any discussion giving direction on future litigation expenditures. The only discussion you will see is a complaint by Councilman Fiore regarding the money already paid to the village’s outside lawyer.
So, while you read the excerpt below (and when you’re not gagging on the Mayor’s comments), ask yourself why this discussion was held out of the public’s view in the first place.
Background: The discussion below mentions two figures: 600 and 1,150. The 600 figure was the default level of students Palmer had been permitted to educate before beginning expansion plan. 1,150 was the figure recommended by the planning staff and rejected by the council. Instead, on motion by Mayor Stanczyk, the council invented a maximum student population of 900, which began six years of litigation.
SDM snarky comments are in bold italicized brackets.
MR. FIORE: Where are we on the appeal?
MR. CANTERO: On the appeal we are just waiting. We have all filed our briefs and we are waiting for the Court to rule or set us for oral argument.
MR. FIORE: And if they rule at six hundred which means basically no expansion or they are going to rule at 1,150?
MR. CANTERO: Correct.
MR. FIORE: And they are probably going to rule at 1,150. [Remainder of statement redacted by village attorney.]
MR. CANTERO: I think there is a reasonable likelihood that we’ll win and there is a reasonable likelihood that we’ll lose. [Doesn’t this sound like 50/50 to you? Flip a coin! Place all your money on red!]
[Remainder of statement redacted redacted by village attorney.]
MS. LINDSAY: I reiterate, like you said, the council members approved 1,150 and it’s my understanding that the Court doesn’t have the authority to pick a number.
MR. CANTERO: I’m on your side on that; the problem is that I am not deciding the case. [Ding, ding, ding! Warning bells!]
MS. LINDSAY: I understand that but you wrote a great brief. [Not good enough as it turns out.]
MR. CANTERO: Thank you.
[Exchange between Lindsay and Cantero redacted by village attorney.] [SDM is looking forward to reading some of this deleted material. We suspect it relates to whether Lindsay should have recused herself at the hearing, but only the village attorney, the manager, the lawyers, the council members and the insiders at CCOCI know for sure.]
MR. CANTERO: And the problem that we have is that motion that they filed is before the same judges that considered the original case and so what Mr. Price is trying to do is to inflame the passions of that panel and tell them how we were so disrespectful of the Court that we disregarded what the Court ordered and did whatever we wanted. So I have no idea if he is going to be successful. I hope that I was able to address that in the brief, but there is no way of knowing, I can’t get into their minds. There is a potential liability that we’ll lose. [Hellooo??? Does this guy have to slap you over the head???]
MS. LINDSAY: That’s why you have the Third District Court. If the judge doesn’t follow the law and you take it to the next level. [So easy when it’s not your money, huh Joan?]
MR. FIORE: How much more money are we going to spend on that?
MS. LINDSAY: Patrick —-
MR. FIORE: I don’t want to hear it. It’s been going on six years. We just cut you a check, sir, for $42, 000, with all due respect. I admire that, I think that’s great, but I bring this up every meeting and — let me talk, please. We are at half a million dollars on this. Six years. I want to see this end and I am sure my colleagues do too. I mean, it’s getting to the point where it’s 2023, 2016. [What do you admire in spending $42,000 on a wasted lawsuit? SDM’s not following…]
MS. STANCZYK: Patrick it’s my turn now. You know what, the other night on the dais you were very disrespectful. You were disrespectful to your other council members by alluding to the fact that someone else, but —- [Can someone tell SDM what the hell this has to do with the shade session? What is the possible justification for keeping this comment hidden from the public unless the purpose is to keep the Mayor’s inane behavior quiet? And by the way, accusing someone else of being impolite when he is merely stating his opinion is not only impolite, it is way outside the boundaries of your job as Mayor. Geez…]
MR. FIORE: I don’t even know what you are talking about. I am not even going to pay attention to you. [One sentence redacted by village attorney.]
MS. STANCZYK: Then maybe we should adjourn if you can’t be polite.
MR. FIORE: I am being polite.
MS. STANCZYK: You are not being polite and considerate. [OMG, please by her husband a drink next time you see him. Or maybe a trophy…or earmuffs…]
MR. FIORE: What have I said here? What did I say here?
[Here, the village attorney redacts more than 20 pages of material!]
MR. WILLIAMS: It’s possible that we have a court decision before we get out of here tonight.
MR. CANTERO: Right. Let me give you the worst case scenario because as your lawyer I need to tell you. The worst case scenario is, not only does the court say you should have approved 1,150, we are now ordering you to do it, but you get an opinion lambasting the council for disregarding the Court’s order and possibly issuing sanctions. That’s worst case scenario. I am not saying that’s likely, but it’s possible. [Happened almost exactly as he predicted…too bad your Palmetto Bay leaders weren’t paying attention.]