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: David Singer’s Really Pissed About Those Batting Cages!

At the February 3rd Village of Palmetto Bay Council meeting there was a vote held to approve spending $250,000 on four batting cages. Two are to be located at Coral Reef Park and two at Palmetto Bay Park.

This expenditure was approved 4:1 with Mayor Shelly Stanczyk, Councilwoman Joan Lindsay, Vice Mayor John Dubois and Councilman Tim Schaffer voting for this waste of $250,000. Councilman Patrick Fiore was the only one with the common sense to vote against it.

I expected the Mayor and Councilwoman to vote for the expenditure. They have had the time of their lives wasting our money from village coffers during their tenure, so another quarter million bucks is just another drop in the bucket. What was unexpected was the vote by John Dubois and Tim Schaffer.

Councilman John Dubois was elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility. In voting to spend $250,000 for batting cages, he aligned himself with the irresponsible spenders who dominate the council. Dubois’ vote couldn’t be any farther from the fiscal responsibility he promoted and promised on the campaign trail.

Councilman Tim Schaffer also voted in the affirmative. If he stopped admiring himself for five minutes he may have considered the fact a 2,000 square foot house can be built in Palmetto Bay for what the batting cages are going to cost taxpayers. Houses have walls and roofs and floor materials and plumbing fixtures and appliances and electrical systems and air conditioning and a whole host of other things that cause them to cost a quarter million bucks.

Both John Dubois and Tim Schaffer were misled by both City Manager Ron Williams and Parks Director Fanny Carmona. This being the same city manager that I feel would be a perfect fit if they were casting someone to replace Jim Carrey in a sequel to the hit movie Liar Liar.

Spending $250,000 in taxpayer’s money to build batting cages is totally irresponsible – especially at Coral Reef Park. I’m sure we can all recall that there is no longer any organized baseball at Coral Reef Park (besides Palmetto High which has its own batting cages) since the Village terminated our relationship with the beloved Howard Palmetto Khoury League several years back.

So the baseball fields where the batting cages are to be placed by aren’t used. You can be sure that the $125,000 worth of batting cages won’t be used either because Palmetto Sr. High certainly won’t walk across three-quarters of the park to use them when walk five feet from their dugout and use their own.

Spending $125,000 at Palmetto Bay Park is even murkier. The women who play softball do need batting cages but not at a cost of $125,000? These cages could be erected at a cost of less than $75,000, including the storage units they wish to have at the park.

Rather than overspending aimlessly for big ticket items, the Council needs to focus on saving money for some sorely needed deferred maintenance items at Coral Reef Park. These expenses will have to be dealt with within the next six months, and from what I observed, they will be a rather large. I doubt the village has budgeted current or reserve revenue sufficient to cover these costs.

So why wasn’t there a more intelligent conversation on spending the $250,000? I can’t tell, maybe someone from village hall can enlighten us. There have been numerous special council meetings over the last couple of months to discuss spending similar sums for various reports required to advance downtown redevelopment.

There have been presentations to the council and to residents, spending hours and hours on the redevelopment and associated costs. But, the council can find only ten minutes on a quarter million bucks for batting cages? One can only wonder why the same amount of money is treated so differently.

You would think that village officials and politicians would have learned something after spending a million dollars on an over-designed, over-built, over-bearing, under-utilized concession stand in the worst possible location in Coral Reef Park.

You may know it by its friendly name “The Million Dollar Hot Dog Stand.” [SDM Comment: Didn’t Mr. Dubois coin this term?] The cost might be justified if it was functional enough for the village to peddle hot dogs for a buck each. But it’s not even useful for that and it has been sitting vacant and shuttered for years as a symbol of an ongoing lack of leadership and vision.

How to stop wasting taxpayer’s dollars should be the theme in this year’s election. The first step, as I’ve tried to convey so many times in so many ways, is to the terminate Village Manager Ron Williams. The Village Manager and Mayor Stanczyk continue to push irresponsible spending by and it must stop.

Maybe if their heads were ‘clunked’ together ala Groucho Marx they might realize their constituents would rather pay less real estate taxes over out of control spending on the local level.

My only hope is that John Dubois and Tim Schaffer lost their way for just this one night. Maybe they had a temporary lapse of judgment, or fell off the wagon just this once.

Next time I hope they will ask pertinent questions like: “What groups will use these quarter million dollar batting cages?” and “When will these groups use these quarter million dollar batting cages?” and “How many people are projected to use these quarter million dollar batting cages and over what time period?” and “What are the costs to maintain these quarter million dollar batting cages?”

If those questions had been asked then the expenditure would have been voted down. There are no realistic answers which would support this type of expenditure for four batting cages, two which will be infrequently used.

How about it John and Tim, can you please get back on the right track?

David Singer

PB: Pet Shop Boy #2 – Will The Real Conservative Please Stand Up?

SDM had a big plan today. We were going to opine on the council’s handling of an ordinance on truck backup noises and a couple on variances, but we got lost in thought after watching the land planning discussion on pet stores.

Vice Mayor Dubois introduced a measure banning pet stores from selling dogs and cats. The ordinance obviously only applies in Palmetto Bay and was passed despite the fact that no stores currently sell dogs or cats in our little burgh.

So, the question asked by Councilwoman Lindsay struck SDM as particularly apt: What’s the rush with passing an ordinance banning a practice that’s not going on here?

Now, before the animal shelter people have a conniption fit, please understand that your SDMers are owners of both pure bred and adopted dogs. We are dog lovers to a fault and find it tragic that local shelters kill tens of thousands of healthy dogs and cats each year, while at the same time pure bred animals continue to pour into the local marketplace.

It is tragic and desperately sad that so many people irresponsibly breed and then discard dogs and cats so that they become essentially feral and breed in the “wild.” This situation leads animal lovers like Vice Mayor Dubois to sympathize with the movement that seeks to limit the number of dogs and cats introduced to the local market in any concrete way they imagine will do so.

But…and you knew there was a “but” coming…Councilwoman Lindsay courageously raised a serious – and frankly conservative – objection on whether the measure being proposed would actually achieve the stated objective. Mrs. Lindsay – who receives rare praise here as we all know – read aloud a letter from a group that represents the pet industry.  Instead of addressing the letter’s contents with a countervailing argument, Vice Mayor Dubois resorted to the ad hominem fallacy, noting that the industry group is represented by dreaded lobbyists.

Aside: SDM always finds it amusing that when your business appeals for relief to the government, you think it’s  a proper exercise of the right to petition the government. Yet, when the person hired to make the argument is in a competing business or another industry, her appeal to the government is somehow dirty or untoward. Too often, where you sit is where you stand.

The industry lobby raised several good points despite their wicked status. They noted that some people want a dog or cat of a certain breed. (SDM is familiar with a friend who purchased a specific breed because its coat produced less dander, which allowed an asthmatic child to better tolerate a puppy.) The association also noted that sometimes people take home a dog or cat from a shelter only to find that the dog has serious health problems (i.e., expensive ones), which could have been bred out by a reputable breeder.

People in a free market often make specific choices when purchasing a pet. They want an animal of a particular size; one that is energetic or lazy so that it will match its owner (yes, SDMers are the latter); one that is protective or docile; one that has short hair or one that has long hair; and so on and so on.

To try to meet these market demands and to allow for a comparative purchase, some pet stores try to offer a range of breeds in a single retail setting. The trade off for this convenience is that these retail shops are often – and probably correctly – accused of buying their dogs and cats from “mills.”

But, as the letter read by Mrs. Lindsay noted, these large breeders are regulated by the state and federal governments, a fact SDM did not know. Contrast these allegedly vile breeders with the numerous private breeders all over this country who follow precisely zero standards and are completely unregulated.

Aside: When one SDMer purchased a pure bred dog, she went well into North Florida to find a reputable breeder that would certify the dog to the greatest extent possible to be free from hip dysplasia. Trying to find such a breeder in Miami was nearly impossible for the breed she preferred.

But directly to Mr. Dubois’ point, will his ordinance meet the stated objective of reducing the number of dogs roaming Palmetto Bay’s neighborhoods? We would argue that it does not. Consider the provision of Mr. Dubois’ ordinance, which is directly designed to prevent the “mills” from selling their dogs through a retail outlet located in our town:

Section 30-60.31. Retail Sale of Dogs and Cats.

(a) As of December 2, 2013, pet stores, shops or care centers shall be precluded from displaying, selling, trading, delivering, bartering, leasing, renting, auctioning, give away, transferring, offer for sale or transfer (sic), or otherwise dispose of (sic) dogs or cats in the Village of Palmetto Bay, except as provided below:

(1) A person or pet store that sells, delivers, offers for sale, trades, barters, leases, rents, auctions, gives away, or otherwise transfers or disposes of dogs and or cats that were bred and reared on property owned by and zoned for the person or pet store.

Do you see the gigantic hole in this ordinance? SDM would argue that a breeder or a group of breeders could organize themselves as a pet store (or more simply as a corporate “person”) and continue to sell dogs and cats with a certificate that shows the person bred the animal on property “owned by and zoned for the person.”

Imagine this example: A puppy mill in North Carolina owns and breeds ten different types of miniature dogs on its property, which is properly zoned for the purpose. That owner enters into a retail agreement with a store located in Palmetto Bay. The retail store offers the puppy on a commission basis, but the person who is actually “selling” the animal is the Georgia “person.”

Does this ordinance clearly prohibit such a practice? SDM would say that the answer is not clear, thereby making it unenforceable. SDM would prefer to see an ordinance that required certification from the seller that the puppy was bred to remove certain breed specific diseases and that if the animal becomes ill the store must permit a return and/or restore the pet to good health by paying the vet bills.

But there is a larger question at issue here, which is whether it is Mrs. Lindsay or Mr. Dubois who is exhibiting the more conservative approach to regulating businesses in this community.

Let’s stipulate for a second that the selling of puppies injects significant emotion into a regulatory scheme. Yet, there are other goods and services that cause emotional responses: guns and ammunition; abortions and other medical procedures like butt lifts; alcohol and tobacco sales (SDM bets that electronic cigarettes will be next on the regulatory hit list); strip clubs; and even certain types of educational alternatives.

So the question that strikes SDM from the perspective of a voter is which of these two council members will tend to treat fairly a business whose goods and services are controversial in some quarters?

Mrs. Lindsay displayed an admirable penchant to at least give the matter further consideration before making a final decision. In contrast, Mr. Dubois was hell-bent on pushing through this regulation even in the face of legitimate philosophical, practical and consumer-based arguments showing it is either unnecessary or won’t achieve its central objective.

SDM Says: We have been supporters here of Mr. Dubois, believing him to be more friendly to business and more responsible when it comes to halting excessive spending. We have also held Mrs. Lindsay up to withering criticism for what we see as unfair regulatory proposals. It surprises us then that, on balance, we cannot say whether Mr. Dubois or Mrs. Lindsay is the local elected official hewing most closely to SDM’s conservative view of the role of government. As we approach the next election, perhaps voters with a similar philosophy will delve more deeply into this important question.

PB: SDM’s Early Agenda For 2014

Since several candidates have raised their craniums above the Palmetto Bay din, SDM figures it’s time to think about what we want those candidates to do for our little village.

Before getting into specifics, let’s recount the known (including incumbents) and rumored (denoted with an *) candidates:

Mayor

Shelley Stanczyk (i)

Patrick Fiore*

Peter England

Super Secret Candidate Number 1*

District 1

Karyn Cunningham

David Zisman

District 3

Joan Lindsay (i)

Super Secret Candidate #2*

We know you’re dying to learn the names of the SSCs, but SDM has not been told these folks are actually running so we’re not going to blow their cover today. We can say that if either or both decide to run, these races will become instantly more interesting.

Palmetto Bay’s Shrinking Reserves

The first and most important item facing the next council will be the financial disaster the current administration left to future generations.

At one time, Palmetto Bay enjoyed more than $10 million in reserves. We’ve attempted in these pages to explain just what that represents by showing how much growth is required to replenish such a sum. (See Everyone’s Rich on Friday.)

The truth is that Palmetto Bay is not going to grow itself back to financial health, especially if the village government continues to spend more each year than it brings in. This is precisely what your village manager has recommended in the past two budgets and, shamefully, he has gotten the votes he needed.

It is also true that cutting the budget is hard and causes pain to residents and employees, but are we prepared to raise taxes to support a perpetually growing government? Whatever happened to “government light” as former Mayor Flinn called it?

Just last year, the village paid for two additional police officers that were not requested by the department director. That makes two years in a row your village council has purchased services that they were not willing to pay for out of current revenue. Instead, they raided reserves.

SDM Wonders: Since we know where the incumbents (Stanczyk, Fiore and Lindsay) stand on these expenditures, what do the challengers think about them? Will they continue to eat the seed corn laid in by previous administrations or will they curb the ever-increasing appetite of the Ron Williams machine?

Franjo Triangle

Part of the Williams master plan is to take our eyes off the ball by pushing the very necessary development of the Franjo Triangle as a budget balancer.

The only thing SDM can say about this idea is that it’s the right thing to do for the wrong reason.

We’ve shown that even the most optimistic scenarios for the Franjo Triangle will not save Palmetto Bay’s budget. In fact, we see nothing in the record that even attempts to quantify the administration’s claim that its plans for the Triangle will result in a healthier budget over any given time period.

But…and this is a big but…SDM supports fully the idea that Palmetto Bay should be trying to transform the Franjo Triangle. We should undertake this activity because it will create a center of gravity for our town: a place to go for food and entertainment.

At the same time, the village must honor the residents who choose to stay in the Triangle. We think they deserve the chance to preserve their lifestyles to the greatest extent possible while also recognizing that change is coming.

SDM sees the Triangle as a Coconut Grove where there is a “downtown” of high rises integrating into a funky neighborhood of old Florida homes. Maybe over time the homes convert to small businesses and restaurants… who knows?

One thing we do know is that no amount of central planning will necessarily cause the change we imagine. The change can be helped along by careful thinking, marketing and public investment that is linked to actual private investment, but in and of itself, no government can force the change to happen.

And, they certainly shouldn’t be building future budgets on what are at best wild hypotheticals.

SDM Wonders: How do the candidates see the Triangle’s development? Will they support the changes proposed by the committee? How will they integrate the needs of the current residents?

Our Crumbling Community Dialogue

Though our economic challenges are serious, SDM believes our community dialogue is in far worse shape. Sure, some of you would love to blame SDM for the deterioration, but do you really think it’s all our fault? (We’re not talking to you Kaptain Kreepy.)

We try to be careful with our language here, though we admit to poking fun at certain easy targets. But in the end, this site is just a little blip on the radar compared to the commentary at council meetings, for example.

Frankly, we believe that the folks over at CCOCI and those working with Mayor Stanczyk on her website deserve a larger share of blame for bringing us so low. We believe their tactics of pitting homeowners against private schools and churches was politically motivated and socially corrosive from the start.

BTW, we also think the current mayor runs a terrible meeting, which doesn’t help matters.

So SDM Wonders: How will candidates try to bring harmony back to Palmetto Bay? Can we have a dialogue that respects individual points of view while encouraging a healthy dialogue on the serious issues confronting the village?

PB: Candidates Rising

Former Vice Mayor Candidate Karyn Cunningham Announces for District 1

Close on the heels of David Zisman’s announcement that he is running for a seat on the village council, former Vice Mayor candidate Karyn Cunningham just announced she will challenge him for the right to replace current Councilman Patrick Fiore.

Cunningham surprised the insiders last year when in her first run for public office she garnered a very respectable 30% of the votes in the general election.

SDM likes Cunningham’s chances against the mercurial Zisman.

SDM Wonders: Where is Mr. Fiore going? The rumor mill says he runs for Mayor, but will he take the risk? If he changes his mind, do Cunningham and/or Zisman stay in the race against him?

SDM Says: Mr. Zisman has pushed his buddy Fiore into a bit of a box by limiting his options and has done so very early in the process.  What a pal.

Fiore vs. Stanczyk: Now wouldn’t that be interesting?

SDM is not sure whether we should cheer or fear this race. Mr. Fiore votes the right way most of the time. In fact, he is probably the most consistent vote for our viewpoint.

But to be fair, Mr. Fiore does not exactly stand out on the council. He is quiet and sometimes gets confused, largely due to Mrs. Stanczyk’s meeting management, no doubt.

Perhaps Mr. Fiore’s best argument is that he has consistently supported a settlement of the Palmer matter while the Mayor has consistently interfered with resolving the litigation.

SDM Wonders: Will Fiore demonstrate the charisma necessary for a Mayor’s race? Can he knock off a damaged incumbent? Will anyone else join the party?

Rumors Running Rampant in District 3

SDM understands a major candidate is waiting in the wings, gauging support for a run against the very vulnerable District 3 Councilwoman Joan Lindsay.

SDM Says: If the rumor turns out to be true, Ms. Lindsay will face a serious, experienced challenger, which is good for democracy and very good for the Village People.

Quick Bites

Joe Garcia Paid $50,000 to Disgraced Staffer

In case you missed it, South Dade Congressman Joe Garcia is reported to have “paid his former adviser $25,000 for consulting work months after he was fired amid an election-fraud scandal,” according to the Miami Herald. The story goes on to state that the money was requested in invoices conveniently dated between January 1 and March 31, 2013.

These consulting fees were to be paid on top of a “campaign win bonus” of $25,000 paid just a few months ago, according to the Herald.

So, let us get this straight: Garcia wins his election last November in the year 2012. In the summer of 2013, his campaign manager gets accused of an absentee ballot scandal that may implicate the good Congressman. Then in the fall of 2013, the generous Mr. Garcia turns around and pays his accused-staffer some $50,000. Hmmm…

SDM Wonders: Does anyone still believe this town doesn’t deserve its reputation for dirty politics?

Palmetto Bay’s Attorney Selection Mess

SDM spent some unproductive hours watching the October 16 special village council meeting where the sole topic of discussion was to review the recommendations of the village attorney selection committee.

For the record, the committee ranked former Village Attorney Eve Boutsis number 1 and the firm Gray Robinson as number 2. (The third ranked proposer didn’t bother to show up at the meeting.) Despite the rankings, the council terminated Boutsis and hired Gray Robinson on a temporary basis while the village goes out to bid again.

Huh?

SDM Says: The correct procedure, if you don’t get a sufficient number of responsive bids, is to throw the results out and re-bid. Terminating the village attorney and bringing in temporary counsel seems to SDM to be the worst of all worlds. Now, the village has to bring a new lawyer up to speed and hope that we don’t have to do the entire thing once again after the next bid comes in.  This council looks like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

FPL Offers Palmetto Bay A Rare Opportunity

Former Mayor Eugene Flinn reports in his newsletter and blog that FPL intends to convert its property into residential use. Flinn argues persuasively that the village ought to engage FPL for a park and fire station, which SDM thinks makes sense, though more could be done.

For instance, we have been told that our village budget is heading towards financial disaster soon thanks to the overspending of the village council and manager. As a tonic for their self-imposed deficit disease, the village wants to redevelop the Franjo Triangle to bring in more tax revenue – a plan SDM supports, but doubts will fix the problem.

Given our budget reality and the size and location of the FPL site, let’s toss another log on the fire. The FPL site is 25-30 acres, which means the village could allow about 40-50 homes to be built there. If the homes sell for $800,000 a piece, the village could see an increase of our property tax roll of around $40 million. Not taking into consideration exemptions, the village coffers could expect new property tax revenue amounting to about $98,000 per year.

But what if the village were to permit a six or seven story high rise with 200 condominiums? High end condos could average over a million dollars a piece with a bay view like this location offers. With a new $200 million development, the village could be looking at $500,000 a year in new revenue! (Given the fact that condos tend to have fewer parking spaces per unit, one might expect the car traffic to be similar single-family residential. That would make the village’s traffic consultant Joan Lindsay very happy. :) )

SDM Wonders: Are the Village People willing to be bold and take a positive step toward financial solvency? Or, will the negative nabobs at CCOCI keep us on a track toward higher taxes and fewer services?

Rubber. Meet road.

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: Attorney Gets The Boutsis

At Tuesday night’s Village of Palmetto Bay Council meeting a vote was held to terminate the Village Attorney’s services within the next 30 days.    The vote was  3 – 2 in favor of dismissing Village Attorney Eve Boutsis and hiring law firm Gray Robinson to serve as acting Village Attorney until a new Request For Proposal is released for a permanent replacement.  Vice Mayor John DuBois, Councilman Tim Schaffer and Councilman Patrick Fiore voted for termination while Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay voted to retain Ms. Boutsis’ services.

Interestingly, it was not DuBois, Schaffer or Fiore who caused the Boutsis termination; rather, Stanczyk and Lindsay and Boutsis herself that bear ultimate responsibility for the end of a ten-year engagement. In fact, the seeds of her termination were planted back on May 4th, 2010 when, at Lindsay’s urging, Stanczyk moved to cap Palmer Trinity’s at 900 students when Village Staff recommended 1150.  Staff correctly made this recommendation based on a prior agreement with Palmer, but no one heard a peep from the Village Attorney.

It is also interesting to note that during the process on Tuesday night neither Mayor Stanczyk nor Joan Lindsay had the leadership qualities to stand up in defense of Ms. Boutsis to say that the Village Attorney had given them the correct legal guidance but they choose to ignore her advice.  When the Palmer Trinity shade sessions are eventually released I suspect that we will find that the Mayor and Councilwoman basically used Ms. Boutsis as a sacrificial lamb for they own political agenda.   Councilwoman Joan Lindsay basically admitted as much at Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Ms. Boutsis’ dismissal was preordained by her relationship with Mayor Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay.  Some may say it was politics that caused her dismissal. Some may say she got too comfortable in her position with the Village. Some may say she was the contributing factor as to why the Village’s litigation with Palmer Trinity has continued endlessly for the past five to seven years.   I personally like Boutsis, but having attended Council Meetings for the past year-and-a–half, I never saw her have the strength or sense of professional duty to speak up when the Mayor was wrong.  Boutsis didn’t even attempt to have the Mayor obey Roberts Rules which is required in the charter.

[SDM Note: Boutsis attempted to hold Robert's Rules training sessions, but the Mayor and Council balked. However, Stanczyk's failure to run a meeting makes everyone on the dais look foolish.]

I can assure you that the Council members who voted for the Village Attorney’s termination take no pleasure and are not celebrating the fact that the Village attorney who served the Village since incorporation has been fired.   They said this process was required and necessary to move the Village forward.

The residents of Palmetto Bay are tired of the political agenda of Mayor Stanczyk, Councilwoman  Joan Lindsay and the approximately 20 misguided residents that they represent to the detriment of the rest of us.   The residents I’ve spoken to are drained by the constant and costly litigation, the divisive Neighborhood Protection Ordinance (which it is not) and the negative tone with which the Village has been run for the last three years.

This termination should be a warning to Village Manager Ron Williams if he’s paying attention.  Mr. Williams take note: everyone is replaceable. This termination should also be a warning to the Mayor and Councilwoman Lindsay that the clock is ticking until they too are terminated in next November’s election. In the meantime there is lots of work to do to keep the Mayor and Councilwoman in check so that we can live in the Village of Parks and not in the Village of Insanity.

David Singer

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

PB Guest Post By David Singer: One Foot in the Rabbit Hole, One Foot Out.

After a week of trying to get through over three-and-a-half hours of the 2013/2014 final budget meeting for the Village of Palmetto Bay, I can finally proclaim success. I’ve got a headache and I’m a little nauseous but I’ve finished a magical journey through the rabbit hole to Wonderland where the characters may change throughout the years, but the results seem to stay the same.

I can tell you one thing: there are no fiscal conservatives in Wonderland, with maybe the exception of John Dubois. Both Patrick Fiore and Tim Schaffer claim to be, but they have not shown the ability to stare down Village Manager Ron Williams when it comes to controlling the costs of the Village. In fact, both Council members, along with Mayor Shelley (I’ve-never-seen-a-dollar-I-didn’t-want-to-spend Stanczyk) and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay, voted for the final 2013-2014 budget with no substantive reduction or any significant cuts to the Village’s operating cost. John Dubois voted wisely against the 2013/2014 budget.

At the same time, I found while visiting Wonderland, you can’t get a straight answer from either Ron Williams or Finance Director Desmond Chin. I guess bureaucracy runs as wild as a pack of cards where no one wants tell the real truth. A question: is telling a half the story when being asked a question considered a lie or is it just covering their bureaucratic butts? I watched various council members question Ron William and Desmond Chin who both hopped away as fast as any rabbit I’ve ever seen to avoid telling a full story. Their tails were never really caught until a second or third follow up question.

In Wonderland, if Councilwoman Joan Lindsay ever fell off the Queen’s mile-high soap box she’d probably lose her head.  It’s amazing that anyone who disagrees with the Councilwoman gets a teacher-driven rant and rave that you’d only see in a 7th grade class (review 2:55 minutes into the Final Budget Hearing.)  Her condescending schoolmarm tone against her fellow council members is only common to strict and old-fashioned pedagogues in need of controlling classrooms of prepubescent teenagers.

Residents of the Village should be greatly disappointed in the Council, the Village Manager and the overall budgeting process. As stated at the meeting, the Council seems to feel that Village reserves will be completely depleted in the next 5-7 years. The only potential revenue-producing savior is a redevelopment plan to the Franjo Triangle, which could possibly take over 10 years to result in the benefit from an increase in the commercial tax base.

The absolute fact is the Council let us – the residents of the Village of Palmetto Bay – down.  With the exception of John Dubois, they voted for an inflated budget with the full knowledge it was indeed inflated.  It was even discussed during the Council meeting by various council members that it had the potential to be inflated so the Village Manager would look better if actual expenses at the end of the year beat expectations set by the budget. This is an old trick used by budgeting personnel who need to look good to their employers for evaluation purposes. The problem is that even if Mr. Williams beats his numbers, he’s still over-spending.

Afterwards, so happy were they for pulling the Mad Hatter’s hat over the Council’s eyes, it was rumored that Ron Williams, Desmond Chin and the Dormouse rejoiced over a spot of tea to revel in their victory.  As for us, the residents of Palmetto Bay, we are left to swim in a sea of tears.

SDM Note: Mr. Singer’s commentary aligns well with SDM’s view of the village budget process, but we cannot help but elaborate a little. One cannot consider a village’s budgeting practices to be professional unless revenues and expenditures are realistic. The village’s end of year surplus never seems to match even remotely that which is projected at the beginning of the budget year. So the obvious question is why should village taxpayers contribute more money to village coffers than the government will realistically expend? A corollary question is – assuming the expenditures were necessary and desirable when the budget was adopted – why can’t the village manager successfully implement the spending he projects?

SDM Says: Either the budget includes items that are not true priorities or the village lacks competent management to implement those priorities. SDM tends to believe the former is true, though more and more the latter seems to be the actual case. Perhaps the Vice Mayor should include a section on achieving spending goals as part of the village manager’s review process.

PB: What’s Up With Fiore?

SDM caught most of the initial public hearing on the South Motors expansion project last night. The Council voted to amend the master plan and change the zoning, both on 4:1 votes. Guess who voted no twice?

Correct, Councilman Patrick Fiore. What?

Mr. Economic Development has now converted to Mr. NIMBY. SDM is joining a growing chorus of Village People who are asking this question: What’s up with this guy?

One possibility is that Mr. Fiore really hates car dealerships. Another is that he’s got a problem with South Motors, which clearly has not been the best of neighbors over the years.

However, SDM tends to agree with those who see Mr. Fiore as merely a cynical politician posturing himself for a mayoral run. Say it ain’t so, Patrick! Some of us mistook you for a principled politician.

SDM Says: If you think you can beat the current mayor by playing her game, you are in for a rude awakening.

SDM wants to give credit to the “Rational Four” – at least they were rational last night. Instead of pandering, Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, Vice Mayor John Dubois, Councilwoman Joan Lindsay and Councilman Tim Schaffer supported South Motors while holding their feet to the fire.

The four of you deserve credit for being fair and for sending a message to the investor community that when a property owner works hard and does his or her best to satisfy the community (writ large), then Palmetto Bay’s government will help your business succeed.

You sent a message that you understand that by helping a business improve itself, our village benefits from an increase in tax revenue and an improved appearance, including the bonus of a neighborhood park.

SDM Wonders: Will Patrick Fiore’s ambitions turn his once admirable voting record into a mystifying mushy muddle?

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