PB: Get Ready for a Long Night
SDM Predicts: Chaos tonight!
Human beings have limitations. No person can give adequate attention to complex, emotional matters for hours on end. This can be especially true when the activities take place in the evening after full day of work.
So why would the village council attempt the following in a single night?
- Conduct the first budget hearing, including adoption of the millage rate.
- Conduct a full, regular meeting of the council that will: adopt a new contract for the village clerk; pay the village attorney nearly $30,000 in legal fees, again; consider a resolution changing election dates and holding a vote on the charter; modify the Art in Public Places funding procedure; and, consider an item dealing with peddlers. [Snarky comment: Will this prohibit the peddling of B.S. to the Village People? ]
- And, oh yeah, that little matter of holding a hearing to settle the Palmer lawsuit.
SDM has some advice to Kaptain Kreepy: Better put an extra memory card into the video equipment and order some breakfast for the council.
Seriously, will some adult defer some of these nonessential items to another date so that the council can focus on the time-sensitive stuff?
As to the substance, SDM believes the village should take the following actions:
- Adopt the flat millage rate and at least start the budget hearing. Inquire about why the reserve numbers look like a Central American Country jumping bean. [SDM is nothing if not politically correct.] If the bottom line is that the reserves are to be drawn down by $6 million, send the manager back to the drawing board with a mandate to reduce that figure by at least 50%. Cut both capital and operating spending to meet the goal. The village shouldn’t be spending its money like drunken sailors.
- On Palmer, it’s time to end the fight. Palmer’s bottom line is fair to the village given the long, tortured history and given that the original resolution imposed dozens of uniquely punitive conditions on Palmer.
Since we have good reason to believe that Councilwoman Lindsay’s husband has been exercising his First Amendment right to rally opposition to the settlement and she herself is still personally litigating against Palmer, Mrs. Lindsay ought to recuse herself from the vote. At the very least, the village attorney ought to state for the record why a sitting council member may vote on an item involving a party that is suing her and where the subject matter is intertwined.
The council ought to ask questions and take public testimony, but they must remain focused on the bottom line: failing to adopt the settlement leaves the entire matter up to judges, which is extraordinarily risky.
The folks in CCOCI ought to address some questions as well:
- If the village declines to settle, what comes next? Endless back and forth with the courts holding the village liable for violations of due process and equal protection? (Palmer is alleging that the conditions placed on their application are materially different than those imposed on similarly situated properties and they have a point.)
- If the village fails to accept the deal from Palmer and gets whacked by a court for millions, will you oppose the re-election of the council members that voted for your position?
- How much more money should the village (meaning, those of us who don’t live next to Palmer) spend defending this lawsuit? $100,000? $300,000? A million?
- How did you get the information on the settlement when the letter wasn’t released to the public? SDM Wonders: Who is your leaker and why are you allowing that person to jeopardize the village’s legal position by accepting the privileged information?
SDM Says: Tonight’s meeting may mark a watershed in Palmetto Bay’s history. The council is facing a major choice on whether this village will maintain its historically strong reserves or weaken us by spending them on continuing obligations. It will decide whether our village will close this tragic chapter and work to rehabilitate the village’s reputation with those who wish to invest here; or, be riven for additional months or years on a lawsuit that can only be finally resolved by the council. SDM hopes a council majority decides to rein in the government as well as those who want to litigate forever.