South Dade Matters

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

Tag: Joan Lindsay

PB: Early Budget Meeting Report

You want $20 Million for What?!?!

The council’s only real budget debate centered around an obscure section of the capital plan where the administration proposes future capital projects. Think of this as a kind of “wish list” for politicians trying to sway voters.

Vice Mayor John Dubois took issue with the arbitrary insertion of a $20 million line item for a new multi-purpose complex at Coral Reef Park. To give you an idea of the scale of such a project, note that the entire village hall complex cost a mere $12 million.

So what exactly are they planning for a park that already struggles to offer parking? According to Mayor Stanczyk, she needs a meeting room that can accommodate 65 people. Mr. Dubois suggested using the council chambers (capacity 90+), which costs nothing. SDM was able to find a rendering of Mrs. Stanczyk’s ideal building:

Taj

The fast spending Mayor Stanczyk was unswayed and clung to what amounts to her umpteenth grandiose but unplanned concept. Remember the parking garage/entertainment complex next to village hall? Or, her massive plans for Thalatta Estate? This mayor has never seen a spending project that doesn’t deserve a good fat dose of your tax dollars.

In the end, the council overrode Mayor Spendthrift and halved the project’s budget. Perhaps the next council will look more critically at foolish and wasteful self-aggrandizing monuments.

Time for a Police Review?

SDM can’t say that Mayor Stanczyk is not creative with the uses for your money. In a year where the village is “flush” according to FOSDMs, Mme. Mayor still thinks we have more to give. Last night, she proclaimed that the village needed a separate millage for the police department. Yes, you heard that right.

Why do we need such a thing? Well, she went on to say that during her time in office, police costs had risen from around $4.5 million per year to the current year projection of $7 million. She seemed to think the way to solve this challenge was to add more taxes. Remember, the $7 million figure could jump because the county hasn’t completed its negotiations with the PBA.

SDM checked our neighbor to the north and found that Pinecrest fields a force of 77 (including 32 full time officers) for a cost of $7.9 million. Palmetto Bay’s policing unit is comprised of 46 souls, 35 of which are full time officers.

SDM Says: The next council should establish a task force to see if Palmetto Bay is getting its money’s worth when it comes to police services. It looks to us like we’re getting about half the force we’re due for what we pay. And, please, dump the half-baked separate millage idea.

One more Stanczyk Tax Bites the Dust

SDM failed to notice an ordinance the Mayor put on the agenda for first reading that would have established a new tax in Palmetto Bay. She called it a “Solid Wast Franchise Fee,” which is a tax on your garbage and is especially aimed at commercial properties.

The rest of the council gave the proposal a moment of silence and it failed for lack of a motion.

SDM Says: The Mayor and her Manager wield their authority like a tax and spend wrecking ball. More employees, more unfunded projects, more taxes and more bad ideas…it is really time for a change.

Joan’s Gone

Apparently the rumors are flying about Councilwoman Joan Lindsay’s status given that her Palmetto Bay home is for sale. You can check out the listing here. It looks like a great place and given the nearly $1.5 million price tag, SDM has to wonder whether the Palmer situation really hurt her property values.

JL

SDM Says: The home looks great. Hope it sells fast and for a great price.

Guest Post by David Singer: Election Season Musings

Guess who’s back?

A vacation from writing has a way of clearing and bringing more focus to an individual. I recently took some time off for that reason to prepare myself for the most crucial election in Village of Palmetto Bay’s history and this blog will probably be the most important in a series of topics I will be writing on prior to the election.

Below I have listed five quick reasons not to vote for the current Mayor in November’s election. To some I may be rehashing history, but as George Santayana once said “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

• Mayor Stanczyk single-handedly (with some help from Joan Lindsay) kept the law firm of Figueredo & Boutsis in business. If the Palmer Trinity lawsuit was settled six years ago, as it should have been, the Village of Palmetto Bay would not have spent over $1,000,000 in taxpayer’s money on wasteful litigation. The Village of Palmetto Bay as recently as July of 2014 agreed to basically the same terms as Palmer Trinity offered six years ago and prior to spending the $1,000,000 in legal fees. The firm of Figueredo & Boutsis appears to be no longer in business. It looks as if Mayor Stanczyk and the Village of Palmetto Bay was their largest and maybe only client?

• Mayor Stanczyk wanted and still wants to debark your dogs. Let us not forget this brilliant piece of anti-animal/anti-dog ordinance that she attempted to pass which would have cost a Village taxpayer an average of $300 fine for every five barks on any given day. I guess Mayor Stanczyk never found a dog she didn’t want to kick.

• Mayor Stanczyk, along with our Village Manager Ron Williams, wanted to turn Thalatta Park into a private enterprise wedding venue which affected the Thalatta Park to be open a total of 15 hours per week to the public. The State of Florida had to be notified and basically stopped Mayor Stanczyk’s and Manager William’s delusions of grandeur. Now all residents are assured that Thalatta will be open a minimum of 40 hours per week, run correctly and under the guidelines that were agreed to by the Village.

• Mayor Stanczyk had four years to secure a new fire station for the Village of Palmetto Bay. She had accomplished nothing until last month to make that happen. The Village has been in desperate need for a new fire station the last six years. Did a lack of action on the fire station cause a Palmetto Bay resident’s death? What we know is that only in the last few months has Mayor Stanczyk really focused on a life and death situation that has plagued this Village for years.

• Mayor Shelly Stanczyk and the Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler, Inc. (CCOCI) have been equivalent to an infection that has plagued the Village of Palmetto Bay for years now. If the Village residents leave Mayor Stanczyk in office for another four years it would be akin to not finishing all your antibiotics that the doctor prescribed and the unfortunate likelihood is the infection will return. This Village cannot sustain another four years of Mayor Stanczyk and the damage she has done to the Village needs to be repaired by a new Mayor and Council.

This was just a small example of how she has led this Village over the past eight years. I failed to mention her fraudulent website during the last election, her demeanor during the Council meetings, her lack of understanding of Roberts Rules of Order, the numerous ethic complaints filed against her while she’s been in office and her lack of respect for opinions that are not her own, I could go on but you get the point. It’s time to move on and bid her a fond farewell.

David Singer

PB: It’s Official – Lindsay’s Out

The Miami Herald reports that Councilwoman Joan Lindsay – perhaps the most controversial figure to occupy public office in Palmetto Bay’s short history – will not seek re-election in November.

As she departs on her travels, she leaves a dubious legacy for the next village council to clean up:

  • A community divided over her relentless attacks on Palmer Trinity School;
  • As many as three separate (and possibly more) lawsuits for the village to defend;
  • A neighborhood protection ordinance and charter provision that will plague Palmetto Bay for as long as they remain on the books; and
  • Numerous amendments to the village code lying dormant like so many computer viruses just waiting to be activated and unleashed on unsuspecting property owners.

On the one hand, we wish Mrs. Lindsay all the best and thank her for agreeing to serve the village. No one should understate how difficult and time-consuming public service can be.

On the other hand, SDM would have liked to see Mrs. Lindsay apply her talents in a more constructive fashion. She, of course, would take umbrage at our characterization of her legislative history.

SDM Says: History will decide if her efforts to “protect neighborhoods” were more about whipping up a public frenzy or were well-founded and implemented in good faith.

+++

Message to Eye on Miami readers: SDM will be taking a look at the development plans for the Palmetto Bay Village Center (a.k.a., the old Burger King Property) before they come up for a vote next time. We thought the objections to the plan were over-the-top given its scope, but we understand our duty here and will review the concept as objectively as we can.

PB: Quick Bites

Land Use Meeting Goes Awry

SDM couldn’t bear to watch the July 21 meeting, though we tuned in for snippets thinking at some point the main event would begin.

But no…instead of finally resolving Palmer Trinity, we were treated to chaos over the Palmetto Bay Village Center. SDM doesn’t know how or why Palmer’s hearing got sidetracked, but we know who wanted the issue to get bogged down once again.

Therefore, we suspect the usual suspects.

SDM Says: It’s really too bad Palmetto Bay’s election is in November instead of next month. Our relief is tantalizingly close but still over the horizon.

Rumors Running Rampant Regarding Retirement

Sitting Village Councilwoman and moving target Joan Lindsay still has not filed to run for re-election, which is causing speculation all over town as to why.

One SDM commenter floated a rumor that Ms. Lindsay is moving out of town. Others have let fly much less charitable explanations that you did not see and will not see printed here without real evidence.

Whatever the truth is, Mrs. Lindsay has three announced candidates in the race for Seat 3 and SDM thinks at least two of them will stay in regardless of what Lindsay does.

Seat 3 is Getting Crowded

Since our last election update, perennial council public speaker Henry Clifford has joined the race for Seat 3 to succeed Joan Lindsay.

Mr. Clifford is well known to be one of the usual suspects, a CCOCI guy, etc. He hasn’t filed any campaign reports so SDM can’t say whether he will be a serious candidate.

Both Larissa Siegel Lara and James Shedd are showing respectable cash supplies for this early in the campaign so we should expect some fireworks in this now competitive race.

Mayor’s Race: Stanczyk Finally Gets a Contribution – One Contribution!

In the Mayor’s race, the news continues to be bizarre. Sitting Mayor Shelley Stanczyk – the incumbent, with all the trappings of office – finally, in her FOURTH campaign report – disclosed a single $99 campaign contribution. That’s it. Ninety-nine bucks.

Oh and she put in $4,000 of her own money, so now she has about the same cash available as Patrick Fiore…call it about 4 grand apiece. Not a good reporting cycle for the two incumbents…not good at all.

The real mayoral candidates continue to report good numbers: Peter England has about $13,000 on hand and Eugene Flinn, about $10,000, most of which he loaned himself…better step it up!.

Seat 1: The Powers Collide

Karyn Cunningham is motoring along as if she’s done this before. (She has, in fact, done this before and it shows.) Cunningham can be seen most days tooling around town in her convertible while she sits on around $25,000 that will no doubt be unleashed in the last 30 – 60 days of the campaign. If you don’t know all of David Zisman’s foibles by now, you will surely know them by November.

Not to be outdone, David Zisman is sitting on about $26,000 and will be ready to fire back in kind. He too can be seen most days behind the wheel of his golf cart with a gorgeous, bubbly blond who we presume is his spouse (we’re kind of crusty old farts about stuff like that).  In any case, Given Mr. Zisman’s proclivity to incivility at  council meetings, we expect vitriol in the extreme coming from his camp November.

SDM Says: Election 2014 will be a wild ride in November so get your popcorn ready.

PB Guest Post by David Singer

The end of a disaster

Over the past six years there have been individuals on this council and in our community who have lectured on the importance of citizen’s rights. These same individuals have held themselves out to be honorable, respectable and trustworthy leaders of the Village of Palmetto Bay. These are the same individuals who maintain they know what Palmetto Bay residents yearn for when it comes to “quality of life”. These are also the same individuals who have stated time and time again they know what’s best for the Village of Palmetto Bay. They are the ones who say “follow me, I will lead you”.

What if tomorrow Palmetto Bay residents actually woke up and found out that these individuals are not who they pretend to be? What if as a community we finally realized that these individuals who were placed in power, whether it’s Mayor Stanczyk, certain council members including Joan Lindsay or a spouse of an elected official, believe they are due an entitlement at the expense of the community? That these individuals have held certain Palmetto Bay institutions to a higher standard then they hold for themselves? That these individuals will bend the truth at every available moment and discriminate against anyone who does not agree with their political agenda? That these individuals believe that laws and rules don’t apply to them? That these individuals have passed zoning laws for the benefit of a small minority of residents because they truly believe in the motto “do what I say, not what I do”?

So here we finally are, remedying an injustice that was perpetrated on Palmer Trinity for the last 6 years. Of course this same group I refer to do not believe that Palmer Trinity should be considered a member of our community. They actually feel that anyone or any institution other than taxpaying residents should not have the same rights as they have. They feel that wasting over a million dollars to stop the expansion of Palmer Trinity was justified when the Village is basically approving the same exact expansion plans they should have approved four years ago.

Presently, there is no legal reason to not approve Palmer Trinity’s site plan and if not approved will certainly bring more litigation to the village. I understand that there are certain residents who would like nothing better than delay or stop approval but these are the same individuals who have cost this Village dearly over the past six years.

So it’s time to put our sordid little past behind us. It’s time to approve Palmer Trinity’s site plan and move on. It’s time to move on and focus on actually improving the quality of life in Palmetto Bay. It’s time to move on to insure our Village is not bankrupt within the next five years. It’s time to move on and make sure our parks are run efficiently, time to move and make sure our tax dollars are being spent wisely, time to move on and elect the best representatives we can to embody what this Village actually stands for.

It’s time to stop the nonsense and begin a new and respectable history for the Village of Palmetto Bay.

David Singer

PB Election Update: Games People Play

The Village of Palmetto Bay election just got more interesting.

A new entrant filed for the district three seat currently occupied by Councilwoman Joan Lindsay. Joining unknown candidate James Shedd (Watch out Jimmy, Stanczyk is probably cooking up a special “Shedd” ordinance just for you!) in the race is first-time candidate Larissa Siegel Lara. SDM found a photo online (hope it’s you, Ms. Lara):

LSL

Ms. Lara’s campaign issues are phrased as if they were written by a long-time executive, which she was. She claims in her bio to have had 17-year career at Burger King as VP for Management and Training. Lara was educated as an engineer. According to her democracy.com website post:

The day she takes office, Larissa will hit the ground running. She will provide leadership to build a council that is collaborative and focused on building Palmetto Bay for all residents.  Her skills and decision-making capabilities will be focused on building consensus on the future of the Village.

She will lead the charge to formulate a viable long-term plan for the Village, including goals, fiscal infrastructure, and sound human resources.  The plan will consider both the revenues and expenditures to sustain and improve Village services that benefit our community. By balancing time, money, and people, the Village can develop the appropriate support system to create a better future and long-term services for Village residents.

Hard to argue, but we will want to hear more!

SDM Says: We are fascinated by the game Councilwoman Lindsay’s is playing. Is she running or not? Most sane politicians don’t wait so long that the race fills up with opponents. Ms. Lindsay may find herself in deep do-do if she relies on CCOCI to get her re-elected, especially when she is facing another woman who looks to have solid credentials.

PB: Guest Post by David Singer (With SDM Comments)

The good guys actually achieved a well-deserved win during Monday’s [June 23, 2014] special council meeting when Councilmen Patrick Fiore, Tim Schaffer and John Dubois, voted down what could have been a disaster for Village residents, Churches, Private Schools and Daycares within Palmetto Bay.

It was a grueling experience watching the Monday’s council meeting, but with the exception of Mayor Stanczyk the remaining Council members attempted to reach a compromise on the Charter Amendment. This amendment would have eliminated all outdoor lighting for non-governmental, non-residential or non-commercially zoned properties.

[SDM Comment: We disagree with Mr. Singer's characterization. The proposed charter amendment would have prohibited outdoor lighting of recreational areas (except underwater swimming pool lights) owned by religious institutions, child care facilities, private schools,  and other non-governmental public assemblies located in residentially zoning districts.  We agree that the idea is crazy and will cover lots more lighting than we were told.]

During the meeting the Village Zoning Director confirmed my suspicions that if the amendment had passed it would prohibit all lighting; basketball, tennis, ground, pathway, landscaping, etc. The amendment would supersede any prior Village Ordinance.

[SDM Comment: Mr. Singer is hitting on why this measure and the code provision are so misguided. We've asked before: Does this mean a private school's pool could not have outdoor lights for the pool deck, stairways and pathways leading to it? Is everyone supposed to bring a flashlight? Why allow the underwater lighting in the first place if it cannot be used in any practical sense?]

Unfortunately, as we heard from Mayor Stanczyk the battle is far from over. After the vote was finalized she could be heard saying “We’ll Walk”. I would assume by her comment that she will lead various sullen individuals in an initiative to collect enough signatures to place the Charter Amendment on November’s ballot. Not exactly the Mayor’s responsibility to undermine the governmental process she’s been sworn to uphold, but then again she’s hasn’t shown herself to be very ethical while in office.

[SDM Comment: If you walk away, walk away, walk away, walk away… [SDM won't] follow.]

Maybe if the Mayor spent the time researching various municipalities within Miami-Dade County she would have found there are 19 cities, 6 towns and 9 villages for a total of 34 separate municipalities. These municipalities, along with Unincorporated Miami-Dade, represent 2.6 million residents.

[SDM Comment: What? Me? Do research? I'll tell you what you can do with your stinking research!]

None of the municipalities, including Unincorporated Miami-Dade County have their lighting code defined or guided by a City Charter. It’s just not standard or appropriate.

Could there be something that all the other Municipalities in Miami Dade County know that our Council doesn’t? Could what the Mayor is trying to pass be unconstitutional? Could it lead to more lawsuits for the Village of Palmetto Bay? Could the residents be footing the bill for more legal fees? Isn’t eight years of litigation enough?

What is really driving this venture into unknown and potentially very expensive territory?

Well for one thing, there is the location of Councilwoman Joan Lindsay’s home. Her house is approximately 100 feet away from the Palmer Trinity property line. Joan Lindsay was an original director, president and vice-president of the Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler, Inc. (CCOCI) for years. She has a serious conflict of interest and ethically shouldn’t even be voting on any issues related to Palmer Trinity.

[SDM Comment: This here would be an appearance of a conflict of interest, though not legally a conflict. Just FYI.]

There is also the fact that The Village of Palmetto Bay has spent over a million dollars in legal fees fighting Joan Lindsay’s and the CCOCI’s war against Palmer Trinity, which they would love to continue. Mayor Stanczyk, Joan Lindsay and the CCOCI all know that the Charter change will bring more litigation to the Village.

Unfortunately, we as residents have all experienced a history of Mayor Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay spending taxpayer’s money for Palmer Trinity litigation.

Simply put, all the Churches, Schools and residents in the Village have become collateral damage in a war that has nothing to do with us. Our hard earned tax dollars have become collateral damage. The Real Estate rights of Churches and Schools have become collateral damage, as seen by what happened to Alexander Montessori School when they wanted to expand. Alexander Montessori School has lost thousands of dollars in revenue due to a war which is raging between Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay and Palmer Trinity.

The passing of this Charter Amendment will commence a cycle of new litigation but this time it just won’t be with Palmer Trinity. It will be with the various churches and other educational institutions in the Village.

There are both Federal and State laws which prohibit the type of action the Mayor and Councilwoman are attempting. The Village Attorney has stated on record that this Charter Amendment could bring future litigation.

[SDM Comment: Mr. Singer is being a little misleading here and you know we can't stand such effrontery. The Village Attorney is quite comfortable that the proposed charter amendment was constitutional and permissible under RLUIPA and other statutes. He noted that anyone can sue, but he was clear that he believed such suits would not prevail, though he also stated such suits would not be frivolous. We're not sure Mr. Lehtinen is correct with respect to the level of scrutiny applied to the question: he says strict scrutiny would not apply, where we think it would under RLUIPA's statutory scheme. Anyone attempting to sue has a hard road, regardless.]

If anyone were to question the likelihood of future litigation please look no further than The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. When filed it will takes years to resolve, just as the Palmer litigation has taken years to resolve.

If asked to sign a petition respectfully decline and warn all your friends and neighbors who live in Palmetto Bay not to sign. If the petitioner tells you it’s about stadium lighting don’t believe them as they are not being honest. The Charter Amendment they are attempting to pass is written to prohibit all lighting at institutions which should be respected not discriminated against by the Village of Palmetto Bay.

[SDM Says: Right on!]

David Singer

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