South Dade Matters

Looking at the World South of Miami: Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami and Miami-Dade County.

Tag: Brian Pariser

PB: State of the Village Notes Stolen!

SDM Exclusive – Below is a contraband copy of the first draft of the upcoming Palmetto Bay State of the Village address. Of course, it may not sound exactly like this once the Mayor edits the speech.

Welcome to the State of the Village address. My job today is to share with you the state of affairs here since my last address one year ago, and it ain’t pretty.

As most of you know, just after the last state of the village, I handed out campaign information at the polls while wearing my Mayor of Palmetto Bay badge. Because of my hard work, Tim Schaffer was added to the council and Brian Pariser was removed.

We will not discuss the fact that in only three or four months, Schaffer abandoned me to join form a new majority with Patrick Fiore and John Dubois. I think Brian put an image of my face on his family room dart board, but since he forgot to invite me to his Super Bowl party, I don’t know for sure.

Speaking of Fiore and Dubois, they were featured often in my once-anonymous blog “pbcheckstherecord.org,” which was unmasked by a local attorney who may still be suing me. That blog may not have been my best idea last year since neither one of them speaks to me anymore.

We also made some progress on the Palmer Trinity litigation, though not because of anything I did. Despite my demands that we keep our little secrets in the shade and sue those bastards forever, we kept losing in court so the rest of the council voted to settle the issue. What a bunch of wimps. It’s not like it’s their money.

Anyway…last year, we successfully rebuilt the Thalatta estate so that we can hold even more weddings, which also keeps out our pesky residents. (Don’t tell anyone, but we only consider Thalatta to be part of our “park system” so we can avoid paying property taxes.)

Just like every year, we continue to aggressively spend our village savings account. In two years, my budgets have successfully reduced the village reserve from $10 million to $6 million. To give you an idea of how much money that is, our village would have to grow our tax base by about $1.7 billion (or 70%!) to recover that $4 million bucks. Impressive, right?

But I shouldn’t forget about the wonderful meetings I’ve been running for the past two years. On one particularly fun night, my colleague Joan Lindsay’s husband flipped the bird at the entire council. It takes one heck of a chairperson to frustrate people that much!

Finally, on my watch, we were able to end a ten-year relationship with our village attorney. She used to interfere with my management of the meetings so even though I voted against terminating her contract, I was glad to see her go. Toodles!

Now, without my brain regulator, I can irritate all of the Village People like nobody’s business. So my prediction for 2014 is that the State of the Village will be just like the current state of the village…total chaos!

( :) )

PB: Guest Post by David Singer – A Year in Review

It’s been a little over year ago that I started to place a real interest in the political shenanigans occurring in the Village of Palmetto Bay and I can say with certainty it hasn’t been boring. During the past year my house has been egged, I’ve received death threats, I’ve been lied about on fraudulent websites and been lied to by our local politicians. All in all it’s been a very interesting year.

I’ve learned over the past year that the residents don’t fully comprehend what was really occurring in the Village because the individuals running the city are so adept at lying. The real truth, about this Village, is written by an anonymous source that goes by the name South Dade Matters and, at times, articles written by Former Mayor Gene Flinn and Grant Miller.

People who don’t follow Palmetto Bay politics don’t understand our Village has serious issues that are not going away anytime soon. The real test of this Village will come next November when two new Councilmembers are elected along with what will hopefully be the replacement of Mayor Shelly Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay.

My original objective, after educating myself on the Palmer Litigation issue, was the recall of Mayor Shelly Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay. In addition, I felt it was appropriate to replace Councilman Brian Pariser with anyone who could actually think for themselves.

After last November’s election of Tim Schaffer and John Dubois, it was requested of me, even though the Recall documents had been prepared and they were ready for the collection of signatures, to delay the Recall in hopes that the new council would gain some resemblance of decorum and professionalism and come together for the benefit of the community. It hasn’t necessarily moved as fast and far in the direction I believe we Citizens deserve.

Various Councilmembers, specifically Mayor Shelly Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay, are still being manipulated and controlled by a small and extremist faction of the community called CCOCI (Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler, Inc.) This group is a danger for all residents who want to live in a Village where you’re neighbor doesn’t have the right to look over your fence and tell you it’s time to mow your grass or your kids can’t ride their bikes down the street earlier than 8 am on a Sunday morning. They are the crowd that live by the motto “Do as I say, not as I do.”

The CCOCI is being extremely successful in keeping the Shade Sessions regarding Palmer and Charter School litigation secret. They helped in passing the NPO (Neighborhood Protection Ordinance) which can be more accurately referred to as THE PROPERTY RIGHTS REVOCATION ACT. These are bad people with small minds who are trying to tell the residents of Palmetto Bay how they should live, worship and educate their children.

The point of writing this blog is to ask for help. Over the next year you, as a resident, are going to have the opportunity to talk to fellow residents and discuss what has been occurring in the Village in the past 4 to 6 years with regards to wasted money on litigation, finances and less than normal behavior by our Council. I would hope that each one of you would spread the word prior to the next election about your local government and the eventual negative impact on our lives that our elected officials will have on all of us if changes to the Council are not made.

A vote in support of candidates running against Mayor Stanczyk and Councilwoman Lindsay is a vote for the good of the Village. Removing Stanczyk and Lindsay will diminish the toxic effect of the CCOCI and the negative way in which they’ve diminished the quiet enjoyment of our Palmetto Bay. Vote against special interests, vote against divisiveness and vote against small mindedness.

David Singer

Guest Post: David Singer on the Shade Session Transcripts

Occasionally, SDM receives comments that are carefully constructed and thoughtful enough to justify a post of their own. Below is such a post by David Singer:

I spent a few hours reading and reviewing the redacted shade sessions last week and below are some of the facts I discovered in regard to the Villages continuing ligation with Palmer Trinity;

• The shade sessions reveal that Mayor Stanczyk and Councilwomen Lindsay approved spending approximately a million dollars in attorney fees to stop 250 children from attending Palmer Trinity.

• The shade sessions reveal that neither Mayor Stanczyk, Councilwomen Lindsay nor Former Vice Mayor Pariser listened to the advice of the Village Staff who recommended settlement and an increased enrollment at 1,150 students.

• The shade sessions reveal that three attorneys, including the Village Attorney, Eve Boutsis, were present when the Council was warned that there was less than a 30% chance of winning a Palmer appeal. But Mayor Stanczyk and Councilwoman Lindsay, voted to appeal the case repeatedly.

• The shade sessions reveal that Mayor Stanczyk, Councilwomen Lindsay and former Vice Mayor Pariser, voted to waste taxpayer’s dollars on frivolous litigation that should have ended in December 2010. Former Vice Mayor Pariser voted to continue litigation even though he stated he had great admiration for the former Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero who was hired by the Village and who said it would be difficult to prevail.

• The shade sessions reveal Mayor Stanczyk attempted to place blame on former Mayor Gene Flinn for constant appeal failures. That was on July 11, 2012.

• The shade sessions reveal that Mayor Stanczyk attempted to play traffic engineer and attorney during the appeal process both without any success.

• The shade sessions reveal that Mayor Stanczyk and Councilwoman Lindsay voted to retain an attorney at a cost of $650.00 per hour to continue appealing. $650.00 per hour, incidentally, is more money than some residents in Palmetto Bay bring home from a week of honest work.

• The shade sessions reveal Mayor Stanczyk claimed to be trying to “protect” Councilman Howard Tendrich and Patrick Fiore around the same time as the website palmettobaycheckstherecord.org was set up in her name to slander Mr. Tendrich and Mr. Fiore.

• The shade sessions reveal that The Village of Palmetto Bay would not be fighting Palmer today if either Mayor Stanczyk or Councilwomen Lindsay or were not on the Council. They did not create the problem but they prolonged and exploited the litigation for what appears to be political gain. [SDM note: Mayor Stanczyk did, in fact, create the problem when she moved to set Palmer's maximum enrollment at 900, a figure that was not based on competent substantial evidence. Mrs. Stanczyk was told at the time of this legal defect, but proceeded anyway. SDM argues she is the architect of the Palmer fiasco.]

After the council meeting last week Councilwomen Lindsay and I had a brief conversation where she suggested that we meet to discuss her reasons for voting to continue to appeal the Palmer litigation. I thought her overture was gracious and I look forward to a one-on-one meeting.

David Singer

PB: Redacted, Confusing and Clear

Okay, SDM’s getting weary and frustrated reading the shade session transcripts.

Weary because they are redacted to such a degree that one has difficulty following the decision-making process. The village attorney offers very little justification of her unilateral decision to redact other than her public pronouncements (rejected by the Attorney General) that the discussions in the attorney-client sessions cover both a pending legal matter along with the Palmer appeal, which has concluded.

Here’s the question for the council: Have you been given an opportunity to determine if the redactions are valid? Certainly, Vice Mayor Dubois’s motion tonight to release all the shade session transcripts seems even more timely given the heavy hand Ms. Boutsis used to apply her gigantic magic marker.

The frustrating part is that SDM is coming to the conclusion that Ms. Boutsis has failed both the village and the council by not requiring them to stay within the strict boundaries of the sunshine law.

For example, by mid-2011 the council had suffered a couple of defeats at the hands of the appeals panel. The court told the council in clear terms that its decision to limit Palmer to 900 students was arbitrary and that they must correct themselves. Subsequently, Village Attorney Boutsis called for yet another shade session.

At the June 20, 2011 session, former Vice Mayor Brian Pariser – an attorney by trade and one who should know better – strayed wildly off-topic to essentially develop a game plan for bringing back the Palmer item and how the council should manage the public hearing:

MR. PARISER: The Order of Clarification, the only thing that struck me was, there is that Walt decision which has a severability clause in the resolution and ours didn’t. And this Circuit Court Appellate Panel said, I didn’t mean you have to have one, we are quashing it. It doesn’t mean you need to reopen the whole case. In my opinion, they spoke clearly about that.

They said you can’t reopen the whole case; it’s only on these two issues.

The question is, on these two issues how far can you go and whether it’s a full hearing de novo, which with that Irvine case, Florida Supreme Court case vs. the law in the case that you gave me recently, which said on remand, that’s the First District Court of Appeals case that you can only open the issues if there is a change of circumstances with different evidence. I think that it’s change of circumstances actually from what date, from the original way back date or from our most recent date?

[SDM Comment: Mr. Pariser is seeking legal counsel regarding "how far the council can go" with the Palmer re-hearing. Remember, the only permitted topics at these kinds of secret sessions is supposed to be settlement negotiations or strategy sessions on litigation expenses. Mr. Pariser is discussing neither here.]

MR. HOCHMAN: From the date that the quasi judicial proceedings evidence was taken.

MS. BOUTSIS: One year ago.

MR. PARISER: 2010.

MR. HOCHMAN: Just so you understand. The idea of law of the case is a kind of a practical doctrine that says, an Appellate Court makes a decision with all of the facts and decides something, and it sends you back down, you are kind of stuck within those parameters. And the exceptions are, unless the facts change so much that you are really dealing with a new set of facts, or unless the law has changed so much in that interim, that it would be manifestly unjust to stick with the old law that’s no longer the case.

MR. PARISER: The interesting thing on the law of the case, the First District’s Opinion was, there was an…

MR. BOUTSIS: The Family Parker Trust Case.

MR. PARISER: The Family Parker Trust Case where there was a concurring opinion which basically says , quasi judicial hearing, you better do it right the first time because a lot of people are not going to be able to do it. If you don’t dot all of your “i’s” and cross all your “t’s” and bring your experts, you are basically stuck with what’s there, and it goes back on remand, but they still left open whether there would be a substantial change of circumstances.

The only thing, I don’t know what somebody could say, but you probably have to open the hearing to have people express for a substantial change of circumstances.

As far as Raoul Cantero, what I would look for hi m, if anything, and I know Raoul, very straight guy, straight shooter, competent attorney, very smart guy, but short of an appeal, is just to run it by him and say, look Raoul, this is the situation.

A, do you think that we have an appeal? And the only appeal I see is whether this Appellate Court Panel and the Circuit Court is interpreting something that the Third DCA has said has to be a severability clause.

Yes or no, does there have to be a severability clause? And is this order at this point in time appealable? Well, Raoul, what do you think?

[SDM Comment: The discussion on whether to hire Cantero involves a litigation expense. This kind of discussion is permissible and wise.]

And if not, if it goes to hearing, do we open on these two issues. Because they only appealed the two, they’re probably stuck with the 80 that they agreed to.

So two, how much or to what extent can we solicit evidence, I guess would be the number of students. The other one, the 30-year prohibition would be no basis for that.

[SDM Comment: In the two preceding paragraphs, Pariser reverts to a discussion of how "we" (meaning the council as a group) will restrict public comment at a public hearing, which constitutes an impermissible taking of "decisive action in violation of the Sunshine Law." See Zorc v. City of Vero Beach, 722 So. 2d 891, 900 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998).]

MS. BOUTSIS: We have to strike it.

[SDM Comment: Ms. Boutsis fails to remind the council of the prohibition on deciding on how they will act together at the public hearing.]

MR. PARISER: That’s not even an issue. And ask him, is it worth his opinion. And he is a pretty good opinion, he is a well respected guy. And if he tells us or gives us some direction, at least we have a second opinion. Because I am afraid of going to the hearing, right at the beginning of the hearing there [are] arguments. You hear everything, you don’t hear everything, we have to, I guess, give some direction at the beginning of the hearing, what’s going to be allowed to be testified to by both sides.

I want to know going in, I don’t want to leave it to the day. I want to have an opinion that I can rely on from a reliable source, from a Village Attorney or a second opinion, what the parameters of the hearing are going to be.

[SDM: The purpose of the shade session is to discuss - on a very limited basis - the appellate case, not to decide how a public hearing will be conducted.]

MS. BOUTSIS: After the research I have done and all of the City Attorneys that I have talked to, I have also spoken to State Attorneys, County Attorneys, et cetera, I am inclined to be Harry Stewart.

MR. PARISER: Stewart says…

MS. BOUTSIS: It should be based upon the record that if you decide not to, the Broward case versus G.B.V, is the case to support that proposition . And if you do so, you should put on the record that what is the competent substantial evidence that shows that there is a change in circumstances or manifest injustice. That’s the safest route. That’s the clear cut safest route.

MR. PARISER: You have to open up the public hearing for somebody to at least put forth why there has been a change of circumstances. I think you just can’t say, “we don’t see it.” That’s what the public hearing is for.

MS. BOUTSIS: That would be for the public hearing portion, yes.

MR. PARISER: You would have to announce a standard. We are going to open this part of it up, but the standard is there has to be competent substantial change of circumstances significant since the last time, and people will say, A, B, C. It’s up to the Village Council to determine if there isn’t any competent substantial change of circumstances , then we are stuck with the record from before . Is that how it goes?

MS. BOUTSIS: Pretty much.

MS. STANCZYK: Pretty much we are going to be stuck with the record from before anyway.

[SDM Comment: Here, Mayor Stanczyk concedes to the public hearing plan Pariser and Boutsis have constructed in the secret meeting. The rest of the council goes along with their leaders, apparently thinking they are allowed to develop a decisive plan of action outside the public's view.]

SDM Says: Up to this point, SDM has been bouncing back and forth on whether Ms. Boutsis has done a satisfactory job representing the village. But these transcripts paint a very troubling picture when it comes to her willingness to stretch the definition of a shade session essentially to an opportunity to have lengthy, private legal strategy sessions where the council can develop plans of action outside the sunshine. Putting the village attorney’s contract out to bid gives the council an opportunity to quiz other lawyers on how they would handle these sessions.

PB: Shade Sessions Are Out

Thanks to SDM’s hero, David Singer, the notorious Palmetto Bay Village Council shade sessions have been released to the public. After reading two of the transcripts, SDM can safely observe the following:

Kress Court Reporting, which may or may not be an entity related to the village’s communications director who SDM refers to as Kaptain Kreepy, has a great gig doing these transcripts. Nice to see the village keeps the business in the family. :)

On a more serious note, the session SDM will excerpt today follows a long discussion where former Justice Raoul Cantero explains what the court did in ruling against the village and explains that he believes the village has a 70% chance of failure should it decide to appeal further.

The fact that the council decided to continue with the appeal given this stark probability is troubling on its face. More troubling, however, is that most of the attorney/client shade session was discussing matters not related to settlement and certainly not related to litigation expenditures.

SDM would argue that village taxpayers would have benefited from Mr. Cantero’s analysis of the court’s opinion and that there was no reasonable explanation as to why the council kept the attorney’s legal interpretation of the court’s order and reasoning secret at the time.

Below, SDM has excerpted the very end of the transcript dated January 7, 2012. This session occurred right after the court returned a devastating order essentially demanding that the village grant Palmer Trinity 1150 students.

Before we get to the actual words, SDM wants to share a part of a legal case that talks about the limits of what councils can do in shade sessions. Keep these words in mind as you read the careful tap dance as the council comes to a consensus and a likely violation of the sunshine law.

The Sunshine law “simply provides a governmental entity’s attorney an opportunity to receive necessary direction and information from the government entity. No final decisions on litigation matters can be voted on during these private, attorney-client strategy meetings. The decision to settle a case, for a certain amount of money, under certain conditions is a decision which must be voted upon in a public meeting.” Sch. Bd. of Duval County v. Florida Pub. Co., 670 So. 2d 99, 100 (Fla. 1st DCA 1996) Emphasis added by SDM.

Now, let’s move on to the entertainment for today. Do you hear a final decision being made or not? [Snarky comments in brackets.]

MS. BOUTSIS: I don’t think that he is including the zoning. It’s the Petition, it’s the Motion to Enforce Mandate, our Motion for Clarification, their response to the motion to that and this one. It’s five times that the Eleventh Circuit has heard this matter, it has nothing to do with the rezoning that went up to the district.

And I ‘m sorry Councilwoman Lindsay, since you were conflicted, what is your position?

Right now I don’t have three votes it seems yet to go forward. Consensus. [Remember, no final decisions on litigation matters can be voted on during these private, attorney-client strategy meetings.]

MS. LINDSAY: Just as I said a few moments ago, when I came here today I had not made a decision. I decided that I would listen to Justice Cantero and take his advice. The strongest advice that I am hearing from him is that he feels that the Court did not uphold the law and I think that it is my bound and duty to the people who elected me to move forward to see that the Court upholds the law, so I would vote for an appeal. I’m sorry, my consensus, I am not voting I used the wrong word, excuse me. [Nice save!]

MS. STANCZYK: Thank you for that correction.

MR. PARISER: Is this going t o come for a vote in front of Council?

MS. STANCZYK: We are just going to announce that the appeal is going forward. [No final decision here, please move along.]

MR. FIORE: I prefer a vote.

MR. TENDRICH: I’d ask for a vote.

MR. FIORE: I am going to say it anyway, I don’t care.

MS. STANCZYK: It wasn’t meant to be less than transparent or to hide the fact. [Oh no, definitely not.]

MR. TENDRICH: I think it does hide the fact by not having a vote.

MS. STANCZYK: That’s fine, Howard, the point was to protect you two guys. [Hmmm...when was this decided?]

MR. FIORE: I don’t need anybody’s protection.

MS. STANCZYK: Go for it.

MR. FIORE: And in the end here what did we win? Nothing. The taxpayers lose. Have a good day.

MS. STANCZYK: The meeting is not adjourned, Mr. Fiore. [Is this where she learned to jump up and run out before a meeting is adjourned? :) ]

MR. FIORE: It is for me.

MS. STANCZYK: Please make a note on the record that Mr. Fiore is going to leave the room.

MR. FIORE: I haven’t left yet, I am going to get some water.

MR. PARISER: To what extent does it go before we cancel this discussion, can we say based upon the advice of counsel?

MS. BOUTSIS: Yes. I would ask that no substantive discussions be had on the dais, that’s the whole reason for a shade session. And I don’t want to have that privilege waived, but the decision to move forward can be announced on the dais and/or voted upon on the dais. The only thing I ask is please don’t get into the merits of the litigation.

MS. STANCZYK: What exactly would be the merits of litigation? In other words, how far can their opinion be expressed without having opened the door to the attorney/client session and discussing the merits of the litigation?

Because I want that clear since we have two people that want to vote and a vote has usually got an opinion expressed and discussion. [Have you ever heard of anyone who wants to control others more than this lady?]

MR. TENDRICH: When we have a vote for anything it’s yes or no, we don’t discuss it.

MS. STANCZYK: Sure we do. I am trying to get you safe, Howard, and you are walking a thin line. [Pot meet kettle.]

MS. BOUTSIS: You can take a motion to vote for it yes or no, and please refrain from further discussion.

MR. TENDRICH: Fine, I agree with that.

MR. FIORE: I don’t agree with that. I am going public and I am going to state this is my opinion and I am against this appeal. [Damn straight, Patrick. The public needs to know!]

MS. STANCZYK: How can we sanction him for breaking attorney/client?

MS. BOUTSIS: That’s not breaking it, he is against the appeal.

MS. STANCZYK: We don’t know how far he is going to go , he says he is going to discuss it.

MR. FIORE: I am going to go public and say I am against the appeal.

MS. STANCZYK: That’s what your vote says.

MR. FIORE: That’s what I am going to say in the meeting on Monday.

MS. BOUTSIS: It’s not taking it any further.

MR. WILLIAMS: Eve, you and the Justice are going to get together on a budget on this so that I can bring that back to the Council?

MS. BOUTSIS: Just so I am clear, he is authorized to start working?

MS. STANCZYK: Yes.

MR. FIORE: No. [Consensus?]

MS. BOUTSIS: So Justice Cantero is authorized by consensus, the majority consensus, to proceed with the appeal, but we will also in the interim prepare a budget, so we need to amend my legal fees budget accordingly.

Alright, we are adjourned. It’s quarter to 12.

SDM Says: Now we understand why Mayor Stanczyk fears these transcripts worse than her words on pbcheckstherecord.org. They are damning in so many ways.

Programming Note: We only read two of the 23 transcripts so there is definitely more to come. It’s going to be a long summer Mme. Mayor.

PB: Mayoral Scandal Rocks Palmetto Bay

It’s probably not the first time a sitting public official anonymously blogged, but the news astonished us here at SDM. David Singer disclosed on this blog that Palmetto Bay Mayor Shelley Stanczyk owned and operated a blog called pbcheckstherecord.com, which she used to trash candidates in the most recent election.

Mayor Stanczyk may have taken her dirty little secret to the grave had she not published defamatory material. But there it is in black and white on the Recall Palmetto Bay website: Stanczyk used her Paypal account to purchase the website. That deed makes her responsible for the content of the blog, which included these gems:

  • I am getting a lot of emails regarding the election. While some candidates have a ton of money to throw into the race, Last reports show Dubois well over $100,000 with an anti Gay Christian Coalition PAC contributing more. (Posted November 17, 2012)
  • Writing about Vice Mayor Dubois: When he says he has lived in this county for 10 years I begin to understand that he has been violating environmental laws for the entire time he has lived here in Palmetto Bay. … John, your case is not dismissed. They are filing to continue going forward. Becoming a Vice-Mayor is not a tool to use to avoid prosecution. Just be honest about your legal troubles. Lying is so much worse. (Posted November 13, 2012)
  • Again writing about Dubois: The Village’s last [mitigation] payment to the County was made in 2010. The Charter Amendment regarding mitigation changes was voted on and passed successfully during the summer 2009 write in ballot. If you did not know that, your credentials as a resident to this village should be revoked. And as I suspect that you did know, your (sic) very dishonest way of campaigning is certainly not a credit to you and makes you untrustworthy. (Emphasis added by SDM.) (Posted on November 11, 2012)
  • Dubois’ campaign contribution list began with the 12 attorneys from the firm Bilzin and Sumberg. Yes, the name is familiar. It’s the law firm that represents Palmer Trinity. It is also the same group on the same night who gave Araiza his first group of contributions. While the law suit is winding down I am sure there is more for them to get from the Village in terms of concessions. Surely they are counting on a compliant council to back off of the many stipulations they agreed to. (Emphasis added by SDM.) (Posted on November 2, 2012)
  • [Vice Mayor candidate Karen] Cunningham’s PAC and out-of-state contributions…will total over $100,000 for her many mailers, newspaper ads, paid campaign workers, campaign managers, and more. Her out-of-state contributions include lobbyists, bankers (union money), unions, politicos, charter schools, and of course her family. She is a UTD Labor Organizer. One would think that the teachers are supporting her campaign. They are not. (Posted on November 2, 2012)
  • Referring to a mailer she didn’t like: It was sent under the name of Tell the Public the Facts, Inc. The groups behind this PAC are all inactive businesses with a long history of political campaign…involvement so it is difficult to see exactly what individuals are involved although Cunningham’s main supporter, [Former Mayor Eugene] Flinn has been suggested as the spearhead of this PAC activity (this may be one of his PAC’s from his last election)(Emphasis added by SDM.) (Posted on November 2, 2012)
  • To supplement her funding and to make up for the discretionary money of Dubois, Cunningham is running the old style negative union style campaign. She has intimidated residents into putting her signs in their yard by showing them copies of the sign ordinance and saying that it permits her to place a sign in their yard without their permission. Of course it doesn’t. Her main platform is that she is a widow, and that the budget of the Village smells funny. Her door to door against Pariser is old style lie and intimidate. (Emphasis added by SDM.) (Posted on November 2, 2012)
  • Tendrich’s platform then was to have more code enforcement and code compliance officers. He’s the anonymous caller if you ever have the code officer visit you and he tells you a complaint was made. … It’s always political with him. He doesn’t like the Mayor or Lindsay or Pariser. If they vote for something he votes against it and has said so. I am wondering if he has cut a deal to get the votes from Araiza at the run-off.  (Emphasis added by SDM.) (Posted on November 2, 2012)
  • Recall Palmetto Bay is supporting Dubois, Araiza, Cunningham, and Tendrich. David Singer of Berkowitz Construction is the leader of the Recall Movement. His support clearly states the agenda and the future of development in Palmetto Bay. As someone told me when they read about the Recall movement, if Singer and Berkowitz Development is involved there’s something big to build and money to be made. (Posted on November 2, 2012)
  • What surprised me about the questions to Karyn Cunningham was that no one asked about her door to door activity of recording addresses where Pariser signs are located and then sending them the FAMOUS ANONYMOUS LETTERS FILLED WITH COPIES OF FLINN AND SDM BLOG PAGES [ :) ]WITH A HAND SCRAWLED XEROXED LETTER TELLING PEOPLE TO TAKE THEIR SIGNS DOWN. Talk about intimidation tactics. Her daughter and Karyn both denied doing it to those who asked her personally but… The truth is in the handwriting. I am no handwriting expert but if I was a betting man I would say it was a match. (Emphasis in the original.) (Posted on October 21, 2012)
  • Flinn ambushed Stanczyk when she made the motion for 900 students. As an attorney he knew that by making the statement that the 900 was arbitrary when he did, that could be used against the Village and would never stand up to appeal. Flinn’s determination of arbitrary is the stated reason the judges have used to rule against the Village and is cited by Palmer attorneys repeatedly in the filings. (Emphasis added by SDM.) (Posted on October 21, 2012)
  • Flinn is stirring this pot as fast as he can in hopes it will bring him back to power. This is what we need, an arrogant official using the Village as a stepping stone, again. He fell off the pedestal once, Cunningham will help him back up just to let him leave us with another mess. (Emphasis added by SDM.) (Posted on October 21, 2012)
  • Under the heading “Re-Elect Brian Pariser Supported by Mayor Stanczyk in Letter to Palmetto Bay”: This letter came by email.  Other letters that I received in support of other candidates were negative and not accurate.  The accomplishments listed are verifiable.  Read on. (No date shown.)
  • In a comment on the charter amendment changing term limits: Voting Yes would allow a council member who has served 1 term to serve 2 full terms as Mayor or Vice Mayor utilizing their knowledge and experience to the benefit of the Village residents. Dissatisfaction with the individual of course would be determined at the polls and the point becomes moot. Term limits have a somewhat negative connotation in Dade County because of the controversy regarding our County Commission.  However, that discussion denies the facts of the very steep learning curve for those who are elected to this part-time volunteer job in the smaller municipalities. (No date shown.)

SDM Says: What a self-serving, back-biting hack.

PB: Council Meeting Quick Bites

New Village Council Members

Tonight’s village council meeting will see two new faces sworn-in: John Dubois as Vice Mayor and Tim E. Schaffer as Councilman.

It’s not clear how the village’s political landscape will change given that Mayor Shelley Stacnzyk is joined at the hip with Councilwoman Joan Lindsay. These two dragged former Vice Mayor Brian Pariser into a series of difficult votes on controversial subjects. SDM believes Mr. Pariser was retired from office precisely because he failed to distinguish himself from Stanczyk and Lindsay.

On the other side sits Patrick Fiore (who is making noises about running against Stanczyk in two years). Dubois benefited from Fiore’s support in the past election, though Fiore couldn’t pull his candidate Jim Araiza across the finish line. Therefore, Palmetto Bay’s second new face is the unknown Schaffer. (SDM calls him Marathon Man because of his fuel purchasing habits.)

So what exactly can residents expect from this new council? SDM suspects Mr. Fiore and Mr. Dubois will work in tandem and that Stanczyk and Lindsay will stay in their camp. This will leave Schaffer to either join the Amigos, to stand independently, or to join the Fiore-Dubois group. Schaffer owes his election to the Stanczyk-Lindsay operation so early money says he will step directly into Brian Pariser’s empty loafers.

SDM Says: If Schaffer becomes the third Amigo, nothing much will change in Palmetto Bay. Property owners will be under the gun of the crazies that support Stanczyk and Lindsay and village government will continue on its intrusive, hyper-regulatory course. If the Marathon Man breaks from the Amigos, residents might see a more reasonable government…and Schaffer will grow a target on his back from the SOPs and CCOCI folks.

Decorum Rising

In addition to swearing-in the new members, the village council will take up the crucial issue of reading the decorum statement before each meeting starts. If adopted, the decorum statement will be read as the second order of business, right before the Mayor starts handing out her proclamations and honors every local sports team that wins anything.

SDM Wonders: The decorum statement is pretty straightforward but it is incomplete because it is not addressed to the council itself. From SDM’s perspective, most of the indecorous behavior at village meetings comes from the dais and from the spouses of those on the dais sitting in the back of the chamber. Let’s hope the council listens to the decorum statement and applies it to themselves.

Misapplying the First Amendment

The minutes of the November 5, 2012 council meeting (Item 12A) contains an interesting misapplication of this provision of the U.S. Constitution:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Village Attorney Eve Boutsis’ was asked a question about the village’s sponsorship ordinance:

Councilman Tendrich noted that on page 4 of 9, line 36, to state that an illegal business would be prohibited from advertising seems obvious. He asked about churches that volunteer in Palmetto Bay.

Attorney Boutsis explained that this is a matter of separation of church and state. (Emphasis added by SDM.)

 SDM Wonders: How would a church’s purchase of a sponsorship of a village event “establish a religion” or “prohibit the exercise” of a religion? Of course, it wouldn’t and Ms. Boutsis should know this. In fact, SDM would argue that by singling out churches, the village is actually preemptively prohibiting speech based on content, which is a constitutional no-no.

SDM Says: Most village churches by now have zero interest in supporting the village’s events, but Palmetto Bay leaders cannot say with a straight face that they support local churches while at the same time they limit their freedom of speech.

 

PB: Hello and Goodbye

Hello Tim

By now, most Palmetto Bay watchers know that John Dubois and Tim Schaffer were elected to the village council last night. Dubois’s victory was narrow, but a win is a win. Schaffer trounced Jim Araiza.

Before SDM says goodbye to Brian Pariser, let’s first say hello to Mr. Schaffer. SDM has called Mr. Schaffer the fourth amigo in the past, but SDM’s sources are not sure he will take Mr. Pariser’s spot in the ruling troika. The first indicator is that Palmetto Bay’s mysterious Marathon Man apparently spends a lot of time at the Hole in the Wall Pub. If true, then he is obviously too normal to be an amigo.

On the other hand, Mr. Schaffer was supported by the Stanczyk/Lindsay machine so SDM has to put him in that camp unless he splits from them. We are all going to have to wait and see what Mr. Schaffer is really all about. For today, SDM is giving Mr. Schaffer the benefit of the doubt while keeping an eye out for trouble.

Goodbye Brian

The good news from last night is that Palmetto Bay will say goodbye to Brian Pariser. Given the holiday season, SDM wishes to thank Mr/ Pariser for his service to the community. SDM was no fan, but props are due to anyone who sits on a municipal council.

SDM’s agenda

Mr. Dubois has been a steadfast critic of the three amigos and appears to have the intellectual capacity to challenge the surviving couplet. Assuming Mr. Dubois is up to the challenge, SDM has some suggestions regarding what he ought to do right away:

  1. Set a meeting with the village attorney; just the two of you. SDM wants to see the transcripts of the attorney-client sessions on the Palmer matter and you should be demanding that they be released or you should report to the community as to why they should remain embargoed. SDM can accept that there may be a good reason to keep the records under wraps, but we must be told why. If there is no good reason, then introduce a resolution to release the transcripts now.
  2. When you meet with the village manager, you must ask him whether he is trying to settle the lawsuit with Shores at Palmetto Bay, LLC. (This is the charter school project on Franjo Road.) The Mayor and her anti-school cronies should not be allowed to continue to interfere with a legitimate use of private property. Use your business experience to help the manager find a reasonable settlement so that this property owner can move ahead with his project.
  3. Speaking of settlements, please look into a settlement of the Palmer issue. Again, Palmer is here to stay and both sides need to find a way out of the mess the Mayor created. Maybe you will find that the village’s legal position is strong enough that there is no reason to settle at this point. If that is the case, then tell us why we should stop worrying about a potential $13 million liability.
  4. Hold a workshop on the future of the downtown area. Our community deserves to see a vibrant, exciting Franjo Triangle where businesses are welcomed, rather than shunned. Bring in the Palmetto Bay Business Association and the chambers of commerce and let them know that Palmetto Bay is under new management.

SDM Says: The beginning of a political career is a little like the birth of a child. One never knows for sure what this new person will turn out to be. SDM hopes Mr. Dubois and Mr. Schaffer turn out to be great leaders for our community.

PB: Campaign Law Violation Exposed

Many Palmetto Bay residents found an 8 x 14, yellow political ad in their mailboxes this weekend. Forget for a moment the idiocy of giving normal people such a dense piece of advertising with the expectation that normal people will read it. What should concern the folks behind the political committee called “Palmetto Bay Concerned Residents (PBCR)” is that SDM did read the document. PBCR’s got some explaining to do.

What is a political committee and why are they used?

Political committees like PBCR are formed to allow people to support candidates through expenditures that are independent of the candidate’s campaign. Why use a committee? The primary reason comes from human nature. We do not like to hear negative things said about one candidate directly from the mouth of the opposing candidate.

So, a candidate will ask his friends and supporters to form a committee that can blast the opposition while he himself stays above the fray. According to the mailer, PBCR seems to have been formed for the specific purpose of supporting Vice Mayor Pariser’s re-election and Tim Schaffer’s candidacy for Councilman.

How are political committees regulated?

Florida election law governs all campaign activity. What’s important to understand here is that the term “political committee” carries with it a series of legal requirements that must be followed to the letter. Failing to do so exposes a violator to misdemeanor charges and/or fines. (See s. 106.08(7)(a), Fla. Stat.)

One key requirement of law is that contributions to political committees that support individual candidates may not exceed $500 per person. A political committee may accept unlimited contributions from individuals if it only focus on issues.

How did PBCR violate the campaign finance laws?

Very simply, a person named Jack Fell contributed $3,000 to PBCR and PBCR sent a mailing to Palmetto Bay voters specifically urging a vote for Pariser and Schaffer. Under some circumstances, both the contributor and PBCR may be culpable for an illegal contribution.

Any person may file a complaint with the Florida Division of Elections. Instructions can be found here. SDM knows for a fact that these violations are treated very seriously and will be investigated if a complaint is made.

Fell also donated to Pariser and Schaffer!

Mr. Fell donated directly to Mr. Schaffer on October 1, 2012 and to Pariser on June 5, 2012. Therefore, neither Mr. Pariser nor Mr. Schaffer cannot deny knowledge of Mr. Fell’s activities. PBCR’s reports are published on the village website and the key players at PBCR are also well-known supporters of these candidates.

SDM Wonders: How can a practicing attorney like Mr. Pariser continue to allow (encourage?) his supporters to run rough-shod over the laws he swore to uphold.

Will Palmetto Bay voters notice that Mr. Fell and his cronies at PBCR will go to any lengths to win – including a probable violation Florida’s election laws?

We may find out tomorrow.

PB: Palmer’s Latest News – Positive & Perplexing

SDM sometimes wakes up wondering how the universe functions, especially after reading this momentous article in the Miami Herald:

Court rules Palmetto Bay is not on the hook for Palmer Trinity’s legal fees

By Howard Cohen
The Miami Herald

The Miami-Dade Circuit Court has ruled in favor of Palmetto Bay, which argued it does not have to pay the legal fees connected with its longstanding battle over Palmer Trinity School’s expansion.On Nov. 5 the court denied the school’s request that the village pay its attorney’s fees and costs, which could have totaled more than $300,000.

In July, the school won the right to expand to 1,150 students and, with that victory, filed a motion to collect legal fees.

In August, Palmetto Bay petitioned the Third District Court of Appeal to reconsider its July order that the village pay the school’s attorney’s fees. In September, the appeals court reversed its earlier ruling that the village pay the school’s legal fees. The case went back to the Circuit Court, which ruled in favor of the village.

“It’s over. The appeal is over and hopefully everyone can get back to doing what we do,’’ says Palmetto Bay Village Attorney Eve Boutsis. “The city continues to be a city and Palmer Trinity already has its development order and will do what it has to do and hopefully everyone can move on,” Boutsis said Tuesday afternoon. “This was a great result for the village and it ends this cleanly.” (Emphasis added by SDM.)

[SDM Question: Does this mean the transcripts of the shade sessions will be released now?]

Stan Price, the attorney for Palmer Trinity, commented on Wednesday. “We’re extremely disappointed. We don’t know what you have to do to prove bad faith on behalf of government entities before you can get fees, but we’ll continue with the litigation and hopefully, at the end of the day, we’ll be totally vindicated.”

The village still faces a civil suit filed by the school, which contends it’s owed more than $12 million in lost tuition and other revenue as a result of the suits. The village is fighting those charges.

Palmetto Bay Mayor Shelley Stanczyk has faced criticism from some residents who formed a political action committee to have her recalled next year along with Council Member Joan Lindsay for their decisions to fight the school. The Recall Palmetto Bay group has also worked against re-electing Vice Mayor Brian Pariser, who faces a runoff on Nov. 20.

The group is upset because the three council members continued to lead the fight against Palmer, after the court ruled against the village. The village has spent more than $600,000 in legal fees since the dispute began in 2006.

The recall group used the Third District Court of Appeal’s strongly worded language against the village as ammunition. The appeals court ruled that Palmetto Bay acted with “willful disobedience” regarding previous judicial instructions. The court had also noted the village’s appeals were “an exercise in superfluousness and futility.”

Village supporters strongly disagreed with the unusually harsh language. The battle has divided the village during the recent Nov. 6th elections. Pariser finished a close second and faces challenger John DuBois in the runoff. Council member Howard Tendrich, who disagreed with Pariser, Stanczyk and Lindsay, lost his bid for reelection. His challengers, Tim Schaffer and Jim Araiza, will be in the runoff.

On Tuesday, Stanczyk expressed satisfaction with the latest court decision. The court did not elaborate on its decision, saying only the motion was denied.

“This ruling continues the statement that the village has not acted with willful disobedience and that our actions were not frivolous,” she said.

First off, SDM wants to say bravo to the village’s legal team for protecting the taxpayers from this cost. Having to pay $300,000 to Palmer would have been a blow to the village, though a manageable one. Palmetto Bay’s lawyers lost the case, but won a critical skirmish over fees and costs and Ms. Boutsis deserves praise for achieving this result.

But the result also sparks questions in SDM’s tiny mind. For example, why are Palmer’s legal fees and costs half the amount the village has incurred in defending the lawsuit? If the village’s financial exposure was $300,000, why didn’t someone try to settle the matter before we incurred more than half-a-million in legal fees and costs on our end?

Perhaps more importantly, did it make sense for the village to spend tax dollars and to drag Palmer through all of this torment over a net difference of 250 children spread over more than 50 acres of land? Earlier posts noted that village staff believed Palmer could have added some 2,000 students based on the code.  (Staff essentially talked them down to their 1,150 recommendation.) Was this result worth all the time and money spent by the village on this lawsuit?

SDM also wonders why the village elders and legal counsel never discussed the dimensions of the village’s financial exposure with residents. With all due respect, the calls for settlement that have emanated from SDM and the Palmetto Bay News for at least 18 months appear well-founded. While the village attorney deserves kudos for this victory, her obsession with keeping the rest of us in the dark looks to have extended this lawsuit. Inevitably SDM must ask: who benefits when a lawsuit drags on?

Finally, SDM wonders how the Mayor can be so clueless. Seriously, does she not understand that the village lost the lawsuit? That the court said specifically that the village’s behavior in the Palmer litigation amounted to “willful disobedience of the court’s instructions”? [Read more at Palmer Litigation: An Exercise in Superfluousness and Futility.] Frankly, SDM cannot figure out why the village lets her speak to reporters.

SDM Wonders: How does Ms. Boutsis conclude that “[t]his was a great result for the village and it ends this cleanly” given the following:

  • The village lost the underlying suit and spent a small fortune defending its position.
  • Palmetto Bay was slapped with a humiliating and harshly worded order questioning the village’s motives. (Judges are human, too, they talk about cases to one another. SDM cannot see how this case was good for Palmetto Bay’s reputation.)
  • One of the village’s most important institutions (and one of its largest employers, too) has been unable to expand for a minimum of four years. (How many kids missed out on a Palmer education, Mme. “Education” Mayor?)
  • Palmer still has a lawsuit pending on damages.
  • A once tranquil village finds itself divided.

SDM Says: This not so great and not so clean “victory” rings a little hollow. Do the candidates for Vice Mayor and District 2 agree with Ms. Boutsis?

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