PB: Where Politics is Dog Eat Dog
Eventually this blog will move on from the dog barking ordinance, we promise.
But before we leave this story, SDM wants to bring our readers up to speed on the Who Shot John.
While most Palmetto Bay residents go about their sometimes humdrum lives, other residents involve themselves in blood feuds with their neighbors. (Think: Councilwoman Joan Lindsay and Palmer Trinity School.)
As these feuds escalate, other neighbors are dragged in. Some are forced and others willingly pick sides. Sometimes these feuds become so intractable or even dangerous that the village administration or police are dragged into the melee.
In the case of the barking dogs, SDM concludes that a neighborhood dispute that once revolved around – of all things – a tennis court, has escalated into a feud over barking dogs.
We have been contacted by folks familiar with the protagonists on each side of the drama and we can’t make heads nor tails of who is telling the truth anymore. (SDM is not going to identify the barking dog guy by name since we get all of our information second-hand.)
Here is what we have gleaned (Caveat: we ain’t the PoPo so take this for what it’s worth):
- A property owner on Farmer Road who is also running for public office in Palmetto Bay (and has run before) was eventually permitted to build a tennis court on his large estate.
- Some of his neighbors – at least one family – objected strenuously, claiming the new construction was causing flooding on their property.
- The tennis court owner either before or after these objections arose took umbrage with Mayor Stanczyk because she supported his neighbors’ claims.
- So, the property owner ran against her and has vilified her mercilessly since.
- Fast forward to 2013-4 and the neighbors have decided to alter their strategy. The property owner/candidate owns dogs (said to be well-maintained) but which are barkers. So the neighbors started complaining about the barking dogs. Were these complaints proxies for the prior dispute? SDM cannot say for sure.
- Enter the village: Either at the request/instruction of Mayor Stanczyk or on its own, the village administration decides to call the property owner/candidate and the neighbors in for a conference. Some kind of agreement is reached and one or all of the parties proceed to break it.
- According to the neighbors, they continue to attempt to resolve the matter amicably with the property owner/candidate. They tell the village council that he refuses to fix the problem. The village says there’s nothing we can do under the current code.
- Enter Mayor Stanczyk: She files legislation containing an enforcement procedure straight out of Animal Farm. Namely, any neighbor who hears dogs barking under certain circumstances can file an affidavit against the offending property owner. Former Mayor Eugene Flinn and SDM go nuts when we read this craziness. Why should we disrupt the entire village when this is essentially a neighborhood feud?
- The offending property owner/candidate says he is being unfairly attacked. He takes care of his dogs and they only bark because the neighbors are inciting his pets. He is the victim in this case, not the half-dozen or so neighbors who came forward to testify to their disrupted lives.
- Final Act: In a courageous move, Stanczyk withdraws her legislation so that the issue can continue to fester and further divide a deeply divided community.
So what should we make of this tragedy in multiple acts?
First, Mme. Mayor is far too willing to foment further chaos instead of calmly finding a workable solution to what is essentially a human problem and not a dog problem. Even if the council were to pass her legislation, the problem on 72nd Avenue would not be solved, which is the definition of an ineffective law.
Second, whether right or wrong, the property owner/candidate in this drama is not temperamentally suited for public office. Elected officials have to be peace makers and not law breakers or, worse, agents provocateurs. Even if you give this person the benefit of the doubt, he still looks like a guy who can’t find a way to settle his disputes with his neighbors without everyone walking away pissed off. Do we need more elected officials like this? Seriously?
SDM Says: We really hope Poker and Blackjack are okay. What we love about our dogs is they never judge us. We leave judging human behavior to voters.