South Dade Matters

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

Tag: Howard Tendrich

PB: England’s Fightin’ Words

The Miami Herald published online a Soapbox letter from village mayor candidate Peter England. Most of you will see it in your Sunday paper, but SDM thinks you may want to preview it here:

Your June 8 story concerning the site of a new fire station in Palmetto Bay suggests that I might be unhappy with this outcome. Since my mayoral campaign identified the acute lack of Fire/Rescue coverage on the east side of our village as the greatest single public safety concern in Palmetto Bay, how could I be anything but pleased with the proposed 14200 Old Cutler Rd. location?
The issue my campaign raised was the lack of attention being given to this critical issue by the Palmetto Bay Village Council. At no time, either during a council meeting or council workshop, was this issue discussed, in spite of the fact that the Palmetto Bay Village Voice raised the concern at every council meeting.

During the presentation by the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department at the June 2 council meeting, the council received the same new information as I about this new alternative site. They were there as spectators, not leaders. I commend Miami-Dade Fire Rescue for their diligence on this issue, and will continue to demand not one but two new fire stations as a central theme in my mayoral campaign. Only two stations will provide complete coverage of the entire village.

By drawing attention to this crucial issue, my mayoral campaign has finally gotten the council to focus on this public safety issue after 11 years of neglect. Now that they have recognized the importance of this issue, It’s time for the Village Council to step up and get involved.

Peter England, Palmetto Bay

(Emphasis added by SDM.)

Eleven years? Hmmm… Let’s see, who was leading the village during the past eleven years? Answer:

Mayor: Eugene Flinn (2002-2010); Shelley Stanczyk (2010-Present).

Vice Mayor: Linda Robinson (2002-2008); Brian Pariser (2008-2012);John Dubois (2012-Present)

District 1: Ed Feller (2002-2010); Patrick Fiore (2010-Present)

District 2: Paul Neidhart (2002-2010) Howard Tendrich (2008-2012); Tim Schaffer (2012-Present)

District 3: John Breder (2002-2006); Shelley Stanczyk (2006-2010); Joan Lindsay (2010- Present)

You’ve covered a lot of territory there, Mr. England…pretty much every elected official to have set his or her backside on a Palmetto Bay taxpayer-funded chair. Not to mention Village Manager Ron Williams and his predecessors.

SDM Wonders: Are you all going take this lying down?

 

PB: He ain’t heavy…he’s exonerated!

Careful readers may have noticed a recent uptick in guest posts from David Singer and you would be correct!

Mr. Singer sends us comments in the form of posts and when SDM likes them we post them here for your reading pleasure…after some editing. (Mr. Singer has a couple issues with punctuation and the spelling of Councilwoman Joan Lindsay’s last name, but don’t tell anyone.)

Mr. Singer has been on a tear lately over Thalatta “Park.” (We are using quotations, because Thalatta has gradually become more of a commercial operation hosting spectacular weddings instead of the park it was intended to be.)

SDM Sidebar: There was a funny moment in the Monday council meeting at 3:04:45 where Vice Mayor Dubois takes note that “we have a noise problem in Palmetto Bay…I personally get exposed to a significant amount of noise from a disco nearby me…excuse me, Thalatta Park…” He was referring to the loud parties at Thalatta that he can hear from his bay front mansion.

Mr. Singer has been agitating at the council meetings for a couple months now, stating his belief that the village’s use of Thalatta violates the agreement with the State of Florida. Of course, Village Manager Ron Williams in his perpetually dismissive attitude essentially ignored Mr. Singer – a village resident – and said there was nothing to support his claims.

Well, SDM has seen a letter from Jerry Taber of the Florida Communities Trust (the entity that monitors the funds granted to Palmetto Bay for Thalatta) to Fanny Carmona, Palmetto Bay’s Parks Director, that proves Mr. Singer was on point.

Some of you who are unfamiliar with government may read the letter below, of which we have printed the main body, and misunderstand its seriousness since it is written in the gentle language of the career bureaucrat. Make no mistake, this letter says Palmetto Bay is not operating Thalatta as it said it would and the FCT is demanding they change:

While FCT greatly appreciates your cooperation and continued commitment to provide parks for your community, after reviewing the website for Thalatta Estate, it does appear that the park is being advertised as a wedding or special event venue. We realize the importance of generating some revenue during these challenging economic times and FCT does not have a problem with utilizing the Park to hold weddings and private events providing the Park is not closed to the general public during these events. You have indicated that you will extend the hours the park will be open to the public and will be closed on Saturdays and for all private events. After reviewing the calendar on your website, it appears that there is a total of 28 remaining events scheduled in 2014 and 2015 for days, other than Saturday, that the Park should be open to the general public. FCT would like a commitment that the Park will be open to the general public during the posted hours, except for the remaining events on your calendar, and will not be closed on Sundays or weekdays during normal hours for any other private events going forward.

Pursuant to the approved Management Plan, page 5, the 5th paragraph states “The project site will be identified in all literature and advertising as acquired with funds from the “Florida Communities Trust” and operated as a natural conservation area, outdoor recreation area or other appropriate descriptive language. It doesn’t appear that FCT or the project site is mentioned as being operated as a natural conservation area, outdoor recreation area or other appropriate descriptive language on the Thalatta Estate website. We would recommend that the website first be used to advertise Thalatta Estate as a park and museum with weddings as a secondary event, this would help in complying with the intent of the FCT program.

There is also a minimal amount of interpretative signage at the park, FCT would like to see more signage or a kiosk designed to educate visitors about the historical resources, native vegetative and animal communities that are unique to the area. FCT understands the Village is in the process of providing more signage.

Since the museum was completed in September of 2013, FCT understands that the Village is looking for partners to conduct the required educational programs. Please revise the Priority Schedule in the Management Plan to show when facilities were completed and an estimate of when the Village will provide the required 12 annual educational programs.

Please revise Section 4.0, Site Development and Improvement, of the Management Plan identifying the specific word changes […] on the affected pages of the Management Plan.

With these minor changes FCT finds that the Village is in Compliance with the approved Management Plan and Declaration of Restrictive Covenants. Please provide a response to our concerns by June 9, 2014.

SDM Says: Palmetto Bay now has a problem at Thalatta. Either the village opens the park to visitors during special events or it must make the weddings secondary to the park use. Whether wedding planners will continue to use the facility while party crashers wander the grounds is anyone’s guess. What we know for sure is that the grand plans of Mayor Stanczyk and Village Manager Ron “Hubris” Williams must be subjected to serious review by the council, especially since the both championed the improvements to Thalatta that were intended to make it a better wedding location. Thankfully, the last council, under intense pressure from former Councilman Tendrich, scaled back the wedding planner’s seven-figure fantasy or we would have wasted even more precious tax dollars on the Thalatta debacle.

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: 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: Who is Shelley Stanczyk?

Watching last night’s Village Council meeting struck SDM as surreal. SDM was trying to imagine what was going on in the minds of Mayor Stanczyk’s colleagues and we decided they must be asking “who is this lady sitting next to me?”

Vice Mayor John Dubois must sit there steaming; he certainly looks like it. The woman sitting next to him created a fictitious persona and website to accuse him of a crime! Mayor Stanczyk’s website posted copies of some nasty fliers that claimed Mr. Dubois “illegally” cut down mangroves on his property. When one claims in writing that another person did an illegal act, that can constitute defamation under Florida law.

Here at SDM, we vet every post and comment to make sure we don’t cross the line. And, we will take down material that amounts to defamation – if we agree – when a damaged party makes a request.

Mrs. Stanczyk’s claims against Dubois are particularly troubling because they are so uninformed. The fact is that trimming mangroves is a regulated, legal activity subject to interpretation by the county. If the county determines that mangroves were trimmed in violation of state law, then they can impose fines and ultimately sue to collect outstanding monies due.

For any person who has ever faced an enforcement action, you know that the government isn’t always right. Mr. Dubois finds himself under fire from the county and eventually will come to some resolution with them. Does that make his conduct illegal? Not necessarily and Mrs. Stanczyk knows better. In fact, SDM doubts she’d have made the accusation if she thought it would catch up to her. How’s that for political courage?

SDM Wonders: How does Mr. Dubois sit on that dais next to someone who seems to think that no act in a political campaign is beneath her? SDM wrote last month that village politics is not a war…unless you are the Mayor, apparently.

Speaking of code enforcement violations, how do you think former Council Member Howard Tendrich feels after re-reading the website now knowing that his one-time ally wrote that “he’s the anonymous caller if you ever have the code officer visit you and he tells you a complaint was made.”

Really Mme. Mayor? Your statement is either an outrageous lie or a truth without any substantive evidence in the record. If the latter is the case, then produce the inside information and the staffer who is leaking it because we are told that code enforcement violations are called in anonymously.  If the former is the case, you have no shame.

SDM Wonders: How do the Mayor’s allies on the council and in the community view this politician now that they know what she’s been up to? She seems to have no compunction to say anything once an ally disagrees with her. Better watch your back Council Members Lindsay and Schaffer; you may be next on her hit list.

SDM Says: We understand there is another shoe to drop in this scandal – perhaps several more, in fact. Therefore, we have no choice here at SDM but to wait and watch as this wonderful little experiment in self-government is smeared by a forgettable, small-minded political flyweight. The next election can’t come soon enough.

Final note to our readers: For those of you out there saying, but SDM, you anonymously blog and say some pretty tough – sometimes nasty – things about the village people. What gives you the right to judge the Mayor? Here’s the difference between SDM and the Mayor: SDM is written by outsiders. No one is elected to diddly squat. Even if you don’t believe it, SDM gains nothing by writing this blog except the satisfaction that another perspective is being published. Someone has to point out the other side of the village story and that’s what we try to do here. No defamation…just carefully researched facts and opinions derived from our best efforts at understanding what is going on.

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: 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?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 58 other followers