South Dade Politics Edition

by SDM

Palmetto Bay Campaign Update

The Miami Herald ran a story today noting that two candidates had filed to run (again) for Palmetto Bay village council. The always colorful David Zisman is attributed as admitting that he ran for mayor in 2010 as a “‘protest’ after the then council voted against granting him a setback variance.”

How odd is it that Zisman would run around the village merely to be a pain in the backside of the other mayoral candidates? SDM doesn’t recall him telling the voters his candidacy was merely a protest.

But what really knocked SDM for a loop was this comment:

Palmetto Bay’s budget is “bloated,” Zisman told the Miami Herald, as more staff has been hired unnecessarily and money has been pumped into projects that are not needed.

“There’s probably $1 to $2 million that has been wasted on hiring people who we don’t need and who don’t do anything for us,” he said.

Huh? Palmetto Bay’s council voted to spend $14.2 million during this budget year, divided one-third to salaries and two-thirds to operational costs. Reducing that budget by 15% would be significant, especially given Mr. Zisman’s commitment to maintain the $2.5 million reserve depletion to be spent on downtown redevelopment.

SDM Wonders: Where would Mr. Zisman cut to achieve a 15% reduction? Or, is he throwing around numbers as a political ploy?

Now just to head off any criticism of this blog, SDM believes Palmetto Bay has grown like a weed under the current management and needs to be trimmed back. However, a 15% cut would be both extremely painful and would fall disproportionately on services that village residents enjoy. To be fair, Mr. Zisman did not say that he would attempt to cut the entire amount in one year, but such a comment certainly deserves further clarification from the candidate.

As to Karyn Cunningham, SDM would like to see something more than nebulous calls for “inclusiveness…leadership and direction.” SDM was very impressed by Ms. Cunningham’s campaign two years ago and we encourage her to clearly and specifically tell us how she is going to make Palmetto Bay’s government better and leaner.

Levine Cava Campaign Kicks Off

Yesterday, Daniella Levine Cava kicked off her campaign to unseat the very beatable Commissioner Lynda Bell. SDM is glad she joined the battle but we’re also extremely worried about Ms. Levine Cava’s beliefs and views.

Ms. Levine Cava founded an organization called the Human Services Coalition, which eventually turned into Catalyst Miami. In a recent Miami New Times story about Ms. Levine Cava (who is identified only as Daniella Levine, interestingly), she says that “Catalyst is an emanation of my soul…and I believe in pulling people in the right direction instead of pushing them.”

So what emanates from Ms. Levine Cava’s soul? Here are some examples from Catalyst Miami’s website:

  • The Penny Wise Campaign: “The Penny Wise Campaign was launched when Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez proposed a budget for FY 2009-10 that would eliminate all funding for community-based organizations in social services, environment and the arts. Thousands of Miami-Dade residents organized in response to these plans, attending planning meetings, signing petitions, demonstrating at rallies and collaborating across organization and sector. Thanks in large part to a strong shared message from community organizations, nonprofits were not eliminated from the budget. Instead, 70% of the previous year’s budget amount was preserved. In 2010, Mayor Alvarez proposed cutting 25% of CBO funding. Again, because we organized, our funding was preserved.” (Emphasis added by SDM.)

SDM Wonders: Will Ms. Levine Cava be a permanent vote for the bloated county social services budget of which she was so recently a beneficiary? If so, this view of the county’s responsibilities will be quite different from that of Ms. Bell and many fed up taxpayers, too.

  • The Harvest Democracy Program, according the Catalyst website “helps nonprofits accomplish their missions by incorporating advocacy and policy analysis into their organizational strategic planning, and by being effective advocates at all levels of government.”

SDM Wonders: Surely Ms. Levine Cava recognizes that 501c3 nonprofits are not supposed to be lobbying, so why would Catalyst be encouraging nonprofits to “contact members of their congressional delegation as needed on issues related to a public policy agenda”?

SDM Says: One would be hard pressed to find an issue that divides the right from the left more than Obamacare and Ms. Levine Cava’s Catalyst is the go-to organization implementing this disaster of a program.

There is more, but you get the picture. Ms. Levine Cava represents a sea change in county commission candidates: a true believer in the liberal/progressive world view of government being the ultimate catalyst for social change. Even the left-leaning, former Commissioner Katy Sorenson couldn’t boast such a frightening record before she entered politics.

SDM won’t be climbing on board this particular train.

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