PB: A Long List of Bad Ideas

by SDM

Cop Politics

Here at SDM, we are big fans of county police. The officers who don the uniform – in our experience – are competent, well-trained and professional. They’re also expensive compared to other local agencies.

Palmetto Bay’s indolent administration appears so contented with the county police contract that they’ve offered the barest-of-bones analysis of why the village should continue the arrangement for another five years.

Considering that the police contract devours nearly half of the village’s operating budget, one would think that village elders would at least inquire on potential options for alternatives to the county contract. But no, item 10-c on tonight’s agenda devotes a scant two paragraphs of staff “analysis” on a contract of more than 40 pages.

The “fiscal/budgetary impact” section of the cover memo merely refers back to the village budget and provides not even a mention that the 2013-14 police budget grew by more than 13% over FY 12-13 (more than $800,000 of additional spending!) estimated final budget amount.

SDM Says: We’ve blogged to no avail in this space about this village council’s inability to take on cop politics. When a municipality or county merely adopts a budget and extends a contract without any pretense of testing the market, then the taxpayers are guaranteed to swallow double-digit cost increases. And, when our village manager gives the public virtually nothing to review in terms of his professional opinion, we must conclude that the fix is in.

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School Politics

Once again, Mayor Stanczyk is spending – wasting? – valuable staff and council time on issues over which she has no jurisdiction and SDM believes little knowledge. Tonight, just as last year, Mayor Stanczyk is asking her colleagues to support the school district’s legislative program hook, line and stinker.

Item 10-F and 10-G represent MDCPS’s ongoing campaign to weaken the district’s only real competition in the education marketplace: charter schools. Mayor Stanczyk is very open in her disdain for giving children and parents an option to escape failing traditional schools and she is now asking her colleagues to follow suit.

SDM Says: The village council ought to send Mayor Stanczyk a message tonight. The council should reject items 10-F and 10-G and tell the Mayor to run for the school board if she wants to engage in district politics. You all have plenty to chew on here at home.

Weakening Ethics

Mayor Stanczyk is also asking her colleagues to support “ethics” legislation that the Florida League of Cities is pushing. SDM read the resolution and noted that the legislation actually weakens current ethics laws. For example:

  • Authorize political subdivisions to adopt, by charter or by ordinance, ethics requirements more stringent than those prescribed in state statute only for officers and employees of that specific political subdivision (i.e., a county could not impose ethics requirements onto municipal officers or employees).
  • SB 606 repeals a requirement to report any gift valued over $100 if the gift has not been otherwise prohibited or reported under current law as being from a lobbyist, vendor, or political committee.

So Mrs. Stanczyk doesn’t want to be bothered with the county’s ethics code so she will use the state legislature to bypass its requirements? SDM maintains grave reservations about the county’s ethics code – it is written poorly and administered unevenly – but it does help restrain our county’s perverse political class somewhat. Why shouldn’t city residents have their elected officials held to a reasonable standard?

And what’s with changing the gift law? Is Mrs. Stanczyk trying to avoid disclosing gifts from lobbyists?

SDM Says: We can’t be sure that the resolution represents the actual legislation, but what we see in the council agenda raises alarms. Under the guise of ethics, Mayor Stanczyk looks to be pulling another fast one on village residents.

Blank Water Check

Let’s just put this on the record: SDM supports clean water. Apparently, so does Mayor Stanczyk because she introduced yet another resolution supporting the “Florida League of Cities and the Everglades Coalition in their efforts to urge protective legislation concerning water quality and quantity.” Not nebulous enough for you? Maybe the Everglades Coalition website can shed some light on what exactly they want:

Protect Water Quality as a Critical Economic Resource: One in three Floridians depend on the Everglades for their drinking water; waterfront  economies depend on good water quality. The State needs to increase its investment in its water quality infrastructure. Strong pollution standards and controls should stop pollution at its source and local control should never be preempted. Wildlife and public health impacts should be tracked and addressed.

SDM Wonders: Does anyone know what the heck this means? What does it mean in economic and regulatory terms to “stop pollution at its source” and to never preempt local control? Does this mean local governments should be able to force all of us to hook up to the sewer system and abandon our polluting septic systems?

SDM Says: Once again, our illustrious Mayor has become enthralled by the latest political hot button. SDM suspects she wants to be able to run around town claiming she helped clean up our groundwater by supporting the Everglades Coalition. We hope village voters can see through such blatant tomfoolery.

Stanczyk Endorses a Tax Increase

In her resolution 10-I, Mayor Stanczyk openly asks for a tax increase. Currently, many internet-based transactions are not subject to Florida’s sales tax. The tax and spend crowd hates this savings so much they call it a “loophole.” (Anytime a government can’t easily stick its hand in your pocket is a loophole.)

So Mrs. Stanczyk and the Florida Chamber of Commerce have decided to support legislation “closing the Internet sales tax loophole.” (See page 22.)

SDM Says: Next Christmas, when you buy your grand kids that new swing set on-line, you can thank your local mayor for the extra 7% cost. Unless of course, you wake up and vote her out of office in November.

Some Stuff to Support

  1. Item 10-D by Dubois requires the village clerk to post notice of sunshine meetings (meetings between council members) on the village website.
  2. Item 10-K by Stanczyk that supports a delay in the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.
  3. Item 14-A. Establishment of a Financial Advisory Committee by DuBois.

  4. Item 14-

    B. Drafting of a law to prohibit anonymous Code Compliance complaints by Dubois.

SDM Says: All of the above deserve council support. Number 2 above proves the old adage: Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

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