South Dade Matters

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

Tag: Jim Araiza

PB: When Winning Is Not Enough

In the 2010 election, current Palmetto Bay Mayor Shelley Stanczyk faced candidate Peter England in an epic battle. Stanczyk won by 18 82 votes out of 4,554 cast. Rather than being thankful and feeling blessed by the slim victory, Stanczyk seems to have become embittered by it.

Look at her Palmetto Bay Checks the Record post in which she rips her vanquished opponent:

Palmetto Bay did have reasonable campaigns, once upon a time. I remember when it started to change. In the second campaign for Mayor, Eugene Flinn (whose opponent was the perpetual candidate Jim Araiza, yes I know, again) was able to raise a huge amount of money. Then, in the following election of 2010 the flood gates really opened with the Peter England campaign. He started about a 15-18 months out from the election to win the Mayor’s seat and went over the top with money from the business community. For little old Palmetto Bay? (Posted October 29, 2012)

Funny thing about politicians: it never seems to occur to them that the reason an opponent raises so much money is because a bunch of people really, really don’t want YOU! Meanwhile, when the politician goes out and raises money for herself, well, that’s just evidence of community support. SDM just calls it hypocrisy.

Now take a look at a later post where Stanczyk gives her supposed ally Tim Schaffer a backhanded compliment that is really a dig at her last opponent:

Tim Schaffer is a new person on the campaign and political front. I met him a couple of years ago when he delivered a letter to me opposing the CRA development vehicle that Peter England was supporting. (Posted November 2, 2012)

Later, in the same post, Stanczyk offers a rambling, Nixonian attack on a bunch of her political enemies:

Charter schools and developers now own Dubois and Araiza and Cunningham. Dubois’ property holdings on the US1 corridor and the Triangle in conjunction with his want for an Enterprise Zone tell you how his vote will be used. Enterprise Zones remove the normal controls over development and give tax cuts and other incentives that cost the residential tax payer. Dubois, Araiza, Tendrich (owns US1 property) as well as Cunningham (Flinn’s friends own multiple properties on US1) all have a strong connection to development. The healthy $10.1 million reserves of the Village is (sic) a cache of money that could be drained for developer subsidy. Dubois’ friend Peter England wanted to do it in the last election. Here we go again with our tax dollars and financial security under threat by the big business group. I’m not seeing any concern for the residents and families of our community from them. (Posted November 2, 2012)

Let SDM get this straight so we are all on the same page when Palmetto Bay’s 2014 election rolls around. When Mayor Stanczyk accepts a contribution, that person or entity now owns her. And, assuming Stanczyk has any political “friends” left in 2014, then those friends are all seeking subsidies from village coffers, right? Got it. Warped as they may be, at least we voters know the ground rules now thanks to our “leader.”

And by the way Mme. Mayor, you really need to spend a minute learning about Enterprise Zones and CRAs because your “facts” are all wrong, again. SDM doesn’t have the time or energy today to correct you, but if you continue to lie to the village people we will take you to task on that subject, too.

SDM Says: If politics is like a game, then the metaphor is most relevant to the way winners and losers are treated. Shelley Stanczyk’s narrow victory over Peter England in 2010 was not enough for her. Even two years later she continued to bash her opponent, which reminded SDM of a saying: “It is your response to winning and losing that makes you a winner or a loser.”

PB Guest Post: What a Tangled Web

[SDM Note: SDM reviewed the receipt, which was sent by email to the council and news media. A FOSDM sent us a copy of the email but hopes Mr. Singer will post it on his site so everyone can look at it. SDM will have more to say on this pathetic act in an upcoming post.]

“Oh what a tangled WEB we weave, When first we practice to deceive”
Sir Walter Scott

Every once in a while a piece of paper crosses my desk, that make me wonder “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT PERSON THINKING?!” In this case, it was a PayPal receipt (attached) used to pay for the website “” and it was Mayor Shelly Stanczyk’s. I know this because it details her name, address, email addresses and credit card information.

In case you’re not familiar with, it’s content is the basis for slander litigation due to defamation, accusations and flat out lies it made about John Dubois and Jim Araiza, along with a couple of non-factual comments about yours truly.

After 5 months of research and subpoenas by attorney JB Harris, it turns out that Mayor Stanczyk’s credit card was used to fund Either it was done without her permission or she decided to play fast and loose in her role as Mayor of Palmetto Bay. This is the same Mayor who, at commission meetings, holds herself out in the highest regard with supposedly impeccable character as she demands respect. But apparently her political integrity ranks with that of Richard Nixon.

The accusations made on regarding John Dubois and Jim Araiza are beyond serious in nature and will eventually cost numerous defendants dearly as the case is decided. One accusation was that candidate Jim Araisa’s was a felon. This bald face lie might have had a great deal to do with Jim’s election loss and will likely follow him for years to come. While political speech is free in our great nation, slander can be extremely costly. The perpetrators of will find that out the hard way.

While was set up to promote the candidacy of Tim Schaffer and Brian Pariser, Tim Schaffer acknowledged during a recent deposition that he wasn’t even aware of the majority of information which was presented on his behalf. One example is that Tim Schaffer was reported to be a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), which is a total fabrication according the Tim. Publishing the fact that Tim Schaffer was a CFP, could have gotten him in serious trouble since he is not now nor ever been a member of the association.

Leaders lead and liars lie. This community desperately needs a Mayor who does not do the latter. During the election, the Mayor promoted, she sent emails that she signed as Mayor which in included a link directing recipients to visit and its defamatory lies disparaging political opponents. What we do know is there are ethic rules that define how political action is to be conducted. It doesn’t seem as though those rules were followed. What type of example does she set for the Village of Palmetto Bay employees? Unethical leadership leads to unethical organizations, or as the old saying goes “the fish stinks from the head.” We have some great individuals who work at Village Hall and they deserve better – a lot better.

It’s time for Mayor Stanczyk to resign. She has no credibility as Mayor and is an embarrassment to the Village. She has damaged this community’s reputation and has disgraced the office of Mayor. As the investigation and depositions continue further evidence of questionable activity is going to be revealed.

At this point the Mayor’s Recall is a slam-dunk. I suggest that she not put this community through the Recall process. I call on her to offer her resignation at the next council meeting May 6th. Nobody would mind if she engaged in one last political deception and denied wrong-doing, but decided to bow out for the good of the Village so it wouldn’t have the distraction. She could say she wants to spend more time with her family or at her Second Hand Store. It would be a win-win: she saves face and the Village gets the chance for a better Council without her. If you are so moved and as disgusted as I am, I recommend that you call her office or email her and request that she resign. To call her office, dial 305 259-1234. To call her store, dial 305 969-0696. To email her, write Be sure to cc the other Palmetto Bay councilmembers to ensure they too are aware of your disgust in dirty politics.

Part two next week — When are the ethic violation complaints going to start to fly and were the members of the Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler involved in the website.

David Singer

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: 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?

PB: Guest Post – A Gentlemanly Reply

After a minor contretemps broke out over some misguided and politically harmful comments by a supporter, Vice Mayor candidate John Dubois proves he’s a gentleman:

Dear SDM and blog readers,

This is the first time since I’ve been a candidate that I have felt compelled to respond to any media or online comments because I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion and I believe strongly in freedom of speech. However, in this instance there is an implication that David Zisman speaks for me or represents my campaign and I that is not the case.

David Zisman is a good personal friend of mine, however, we have very different approaches and points of view on politics. Furthermore, I do not and cannot control what comes out of his mouth.

Howard Tendrich and Karyn Cunningham are two exceptionally nice people that, like Jim Araiza, Tim Schaffer, Brian [Pariser] and me, have the right and should be encouraged to engage in the political process by running for office. In the race for Vice Mayor, Karyn ran an excellent campaign with integrity, focus, and very hard work. If Karyn had a few more weeks campaigning, I believe she would have closed the gap and been in the runoff. I think she will be good addition to our council in the future and I would not only encourage her but also support her in such endeavors.

Our former mayor [Eugene Flinn] also has as much right as any of the rest of us to engage in the process. Blaming him for causing a runoff is wrong. I only blame myself for not being able to break 50% to avoid a runoff. Characterizing the two candidates that did not make the runoff as going down in a blaze is derogatory and uncalled for.

Best regards,

John Dubois

See how that works? Don’t throw your friend under the bus and be generous to your opponents and colleagues. SDM feels proud to support Mr. Dubois and hopes former Mayor Flinn and Ms. Cunningham endorse him, too.

SDM Says: Come together…right now…

PB: Post Election Review

Palmetto Bay voters cast about 1,500 more ballots in 2012 than they did in 2010 but about 2,500 fewer than in 2008. These results are consistent with the overall county turnout. SDM is convinced that the lengthy ballot combined with fewer early voting days and lessened voter intensity explain the delta. It will be interesting to see how the pundits and political scientists dissect these numbers.

Ready for some runoffs?

Village voters split their vote in thirds, setting up runoffs between Jim Araiza and Tim Schaffer for District 2 and John Dubois and Brian Pariser for Vice Mayor.

Howard Tendrich’s homespun campaign just couldn’t compete in the intensive environment of a Presidential year. SDM will miss Howard’s gentlemanly ways as much as his humanity. You did a good job for Palmetto Bay, Howard, thank you for your service.

SDM was very impressed by Karyn Cunningham. She came into the race late and really had no name identification in Palmetto Bay, but her showing was impressive nonetheless. SDM hopes she will seek office again.

The runoff will be held on November 20th and it will be a totally different race. Only 30% of voters participated in the 2010 runoff so SDM figures that fewer than 5,000 votes will determine the composition of your village council.

For SDM, the choice is clear: Dubois and Araiza

Now that SDM-favorite Tendrich has been retired, the only rational choice is to vote for John Dubois as Vice Mayor and Jim Araiza as Councilman in District 2. Both need to win to turn back the Three Amigos and their handlers.

Dubois narrowly bested Pariser yesterday. Cunningham’s unusual success probably kept Dubois from winning outright.

Araiza and Schaffer were separated by 52 votes or .55%. That’s close people, but the general election results are immaterial now.

Because only about a third of voters will vote on the 20th, your vote counts even more in a runoff. You can be damn sure the SOPs and the CCOCIers will show up.

Charter amendments pass, except for one

All the silly charter amendments passed, except for one that SDM took particular issue with: Interacting with Administration. This amendment would allow village politicians to circumvent the manager and pressure individual employees. Bravo, Palmetto Bay, for rejecting it.

The term limit amendment passed, which means that Mayor Shelley Stanczyk can now seek re-election. SDM wishes to thank the Blog deities for this gift. SDM promises not to waste this unexpected munificence.

SDM Says: It may be up to village voters to limit Stanczyk’s term.

PB: SDM Quick Bites

Irony thy name is Shelley

SDM received a smuggled copy of an email Mayor Shelley Stanczyk sent under her personal address to village residents. Along with an excerpts, SDM will provide you some snarky comments in brackets as usual:

The notices have gone out to everyone that one of the huge numbers of public records requests made by the Recall Palmetto Bay Group is for the email list for e-currents. [Funny how you conveniently fail to mention that you yourself requested the very same list, Mme. Mayor. Hypocrisy, meet your match.]

I know that many of you are extremely upset over this invasion of your privacy. [People are allegedly upset over receiving an email because it’s an invasion of privacy. And you say this in an uninvited email? Hmmm…]

I am sorry that they have brought this attempt at personally sabotaging the Village and the Council so close to all of you. [The village is being sabotaged by an email? Has Recall Palmetto Bay unleashed the Stuxnet virus? Someone call James Bond.]

If you are offended by the content, I urge you to request being eliminated from their list. [The Mayor doesn’t trust the Village People to read other views and draw their own conclusions. How about you stop sending out emails first?]

I will however tell you, that the emails that I have received have had no truth to them. The authors have taken facts and then re-invented them for their own intent.

SDM Says: When a political figure can’t argue her position, she will make a broad generalization like “the emails that I have received have had no truth to them” without citing a single statement she disputes. This is the intellectual depth of your leader, Palmetto Bay. Are you proud?

Is this an election for prom king?

And speaking of our mile-wide and inch-deep fearless leader, SDM spy David Zisman reports that Mayor Stanczk was banned from an early voting site after she allegedly cussed out a voter. SDM can’t confirm the incident but Zisman claims eyewitnesses were present.

Then, SDM got a report from other eyewitnesses that a council member’s husband was cited by county police for vandalizing a political sign at the same voting location where the Mayor had her outburst. If true, then by SDM’s count the Three Amigos have notched a Mayor-banning and two election-related police reports.

(Recall that Vice Mayor Pariser supporter Elizabeth Williams was cited for stealing John Dubois’s signs back in August. Dubois chased Williams to North Miami so that her sign purloining would not go unpunished.)

SDM Wonders: Are these people actual adults? They appear old enough but SDM’s seen high school prom kings that behave better.

Promising trouble

SDM acquired a copy of a mailer put out by candidate Jim Araiza in which he promises to “abolish special interests.” Now why hasn’t Congress, or the State Legislature, or the county commission, or even our lowly Palmetto Bay village council thought of this idea?

Perhaps because doing so would be unconstitutional on its face. (Litigation alert!) Most of us learn about the constitution’s protections in a high school government class. Maybe Mr. Araiza was absent that year.

SDM Says: Beware candidates who make crazy promises…they might just try and keep them.


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