PB: CCOCI Poisoning the Settlement Well
An FOSDM forwarded a copy of Gary Pastorella’s latest email blast. Pastorella is the President of Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler, Inc., an organization founded by Councilwoman LIndsay that has been the primary instigator of Palmetto Bay’s six-year harassment campaign of Palmer Trinity School (Palmer).
CCOCI has taken such an active role in blasting Palmer that the school added them as a defendant in one of their lawsuits against the city. SDM believes CCOCI has been dismissed from the pending case, but we’re not sure if they are totally out of the woods yet.
Nevertheless, Pastorella and CCOCI’s handful of members are continuing to make lots of dubious claims as they stir up opposition to ending the legal saga that has divided Palmetto Bay for so long. Here are their newest claims along with some snarky commentary by SDM:
It appears the details of Palmetto Bay’s exposure to [Palmer] legal and financial threats has been grossly overstated and misrepresented by some running for village elected positions and the saber rattles of the [Palmer's] attorney attack team. The financial impact of legal fees for the Village is negligible since the Village is represented by legal counsel paid for by the Village’s insurance through the Florida League of Cities.
[This claim contradicts the statement by village attorney Eve Boutsis in her September 9 memo to the council:
Please be advised that insurance coverage by the Florida League of Cities ($5,000,000 policy) only covers liability as to certain claims - the federal claims alleged in the complaint. However, once one claim is acknowledged by the insurance, defense coverage is provided for all the claims. Should the covered claims be dismissed, the insurance defense as to the uncovered claims also goes away. The Council would be responsible for the litigation costs going forward as to those non-covered claims, as well as the liability costs associated with same.
Believe us, we want the insurance policy to pay the legal fees, but the village attorney's statement is not quite the slam dunk Mr. Pastorella claims, now is it?]
The legal opinion of several leading attorneys who have reviewed the lawsuits that [Palmer] filed against the Village is that [Palmer] has no case! The Village insurance companies’ attorney, Jeff Hochman, from the Florida League of Cities, has stated repeatedly in court, that there is no case law supporting [Palmer] lawsuit claims and [Palmer] has not been able to provide any such case law to the court.
[Sure, Palmer's case is a loser...that's why the village has had such great success in court. Not. And, what exactly does Mr. Pastorella expect the insurance carrier's attorney to say in court? That he is conceding Palmer's claims? Maybe some of SDM's trial lawyer readers would like to explain to Mr. Pastorella the concept of aggressively advocating the client's position.]
The only thing the residents have to lose by the Village Council caving into the aggressive demands of [Palmer] is a collapse of all the reasons for which Palmetto Bay was incorporated.
[This argument is not only literally misleading, it is absurd and insulting to those of us who believe incorporation was done for larger purposes. The village did not incorporate just to prevent Palmer from expanding its campus. SDM did not support incorporation to make development here impossible or so distasteful that investors avoid us like the plague. Neither did SDM support incorporation so that small and narrow minded micro-special-interest groups could monopolize the village council and use its coffers as a legal fee ATM. Most of the 80 conditions imposed on Palmer are so unworkable or excessive as to be obviously punitive. The council went way too far and most of us had no idea until we read them just how abusive the conditions are. So please, stop speaking for all of the rest us with your phony characterization of why this village incorporated when what you really want is a blank check for your vendetta.]
Thanks to all of you who wrote emails to your Council members, for all of you who attended Monday night’s Council meeting, and for all of you who stood up to let your concerns be known.
[Yes, thank you Mr. Pastorella for your insulting, condescending comments for which you were barred from further appearances before the body. SDM doesn't like to call regular residents out, but we are making an exception for you. You, sir, are a bully and SDM has had enough of you. And one last thing: you constantly rise and introduce yourself as President of CCOCI, a Florida corporation. Have you registered as a lobbyist as required by the village code? Since you've donated to candidates who are sitting on the council, you are prohibited from lobbying for 4 years. (Sec. 7.6(A), Palmetto Bay Code of Ordinances) Just FYI.]
CCOCI plans to meet with [Palmer] and work on a development order that is “representative of the community” and more importantly protects the community from the negative impact of the expansion.
[SDM is part of the community and you don't represent or speak for us. The original development order is a travesty and its unreasonable conditions should be replaced with reasonable ones that are consistent with the types of conditions normally imposed on similar schools.]
SDM Says: The Village People need to think carefully about which side of this argument you want to be on. The future of this village is being jeopardized by a village council that one wag calls an overblown condo board. Many of us moved to this part of the county to get away from regulate-us-to-death cities like Coral Gables. Please fellow Village People, don’t let a loud, but tiny micro-minority drive the village into bankruptcy with its litigious excesses and anti-business biases.