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: Today, We May Heal

When SDM started this blog in July, 2011, the issue that drove us to write was the travesty that was (and is) the way Palmetto Bay treated Palmer Trinity.

What we’ve learned in the past 3+ years is that the Palmer fiasco was a symptom of a more insidious disease: Stanczykitis.

Never heard of it?

According to SDM’s medi-pol dictionary, Stanczykitis (sometimes confused with its close cousin, Pastorella Syndrome, which is more of a psychosis) is defined as follows:

A fatal disease where paranoia and malaprops drive disgruntled retirees and near-retirees into political madness; indicators include weird ordinances seeking to muzzle Sparky, wild about-faces on issues critical to the health and welfare of the Village People, and a general malaise and government drift.

The cure for Stancykitis is a purge, generally performed by voters but occasionally by political serendipity.

When we first ventured on this quest to rid village politics of this debilitating disease, we felt like the only path to sanity was by replacing the elected officials we kindly referred to as the Three Amigos.

In 2012, SDM urged voters to oust former Vice Mayor Brian Pariser by voting in John Dubois…one amigo down, which left Councilwoman Joan Lindsay and Mme. Mayor.

In a bit of a surprise in 2012, we supported re-election of Howard Tendrich and were saddened when he lost.

We were pleasantly surprised – and those suffering from Pastorella Syndrome much dismayed – that Tendrich’s successor, Tim “Marathon Man” Schaffer, turned out to be an independent and reasonable voice. Thus, serendipity gave an unexpected win to the good guys.

Today, we have the chance to clean out the wound in the mayor’s office by voting in Eugene Flinn. We also have a bonus opportunity to give the current majority a strong and diverse membership by electing Larissa Siegel Lara.

We certainly hope those of you who care about and pay attention to Palmetto Bay’s drifting government will help us cure Stanczykitis once and for all. Pastorella Syndrome is not so easily eradicated…so SDM will remain vigilant.

PB Guest Post by David Singer: He Has A Lot On His Mind

Dirty Campaigning

Could there be even more dirty politics during the final week of Palmetto Bay’s election campaign? I have had confirmation from three sources that fresh off the heels of his loss in district 3, Jim Shedd has threatened to release negative advertising flyers, which remain from his campaign against Larissa Siegel Lara. Apparently, Jim Shedd feels the best way to assure Henry Clifford wins District 3 is to go negative. Go figure?

There is no word yet from Mr. Clifford’s camp, but seeing how well negative ads have gone over in this election, you would think that Mr. Clifford would want to distance himself from Mr. Shedd’s activities.

For the sake of Palmetto Bay, Mr. Clifford should publicly condemn Mr. Shedd’s extracurricular activities. If not, you can just add Mr. Clifford to the long list of other CCOCI members that feel they are entitled to win at all costs no matter who gets caught in the crossfire.

We as residents of Palmetto Bay must finally send a message to candidates who run, that dirty politics and negative advertising will not be tolerated in our Village.

Speak Freely…if you Support the Mayor

Freedom of Speech is apparently only acceptable to those who support Mayor Shelley Stanczyk’s election.

On a Facebook page set up by Village residents Carol Johnson Vega and Diane Spano-Lehmann, residents of the Village have been given free access to support their preferred candidate. But you better not say anything negative about Mayor Shelley Stanczyk or her daughter Katie Gonzalez will be calling you a bully, or worse, a jackass.

Vega and Spano-Lehmann created the page so all residents can freely discuss village politics whether pro or con. But Gonzalez, Stanczyk’s daughter, apparently doesn’t like to hear how a majority of Palmetto Bay residents feel about her mother’s term as Mayor and has actively attacked anyone with a different opinion from hers. I guess the fruit doesn’t fall far from the Stanczyk tree.

Time for a Serious Change in Palmetto Bay politics

No one who lives in Palmetto Bay can say the last four years haven’t pitted village residents against Village Hall: the Palmer Trinity drama; the Neighborhood Protection Ordinance; the Dog Barking Ordinance; Thalatta Park’s sale to the highest bidder; and, the proposed zoning change for Palmetto Bay’s Rockland area.

Mayor Stanczyk has taken no responsibility for any of the upheaval she and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay have wrought over the last four years. They would rather blame Gene Flinn who has not been actively involved in Palmetto Bay politics for the past four years. In psychology this is referred to as transference (an inability to take responsibility for your own actions) and appears to be prevalent not only in Palmetto Bay, but also politics on the local, state and national levels. If we as citizens cannot expect politicians to accept personal responsibility and govern with true honesty in a small town like ours, then how can we demand it at a national level?

It is time to turn the corner and elect individuals who actually have the ability to lead our community in a positive direction and repair the damage that has been caused by Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay. I respectfully ask all resident vote on November 25th for a change and cast their ballots for Gene Flinn and Larissa Siegel Lara.

-David Singer

PB: Cunningham Wins; Mayor and Seat 3 Go To Runoff; School Item Fails

Well, that was quite an election wasn’t it? Rick Scott was re-elected, thereby saving the state from having a shape-shifter as governor. Carlos Curbelo ousted Joe Garcia, which is a public service in and of itself. And, here in our little burgh, order is forming from chaos.

Cunningham Wins Resoundingly

In her second attempt at holding Palmetto Bay office, Karyn Cunningham demolished David Zisman’s campaign, which became increasingly ugly over the past two weeks. SDM thinks the voters made the correct choice here and we are anxious to see if Ms. Cunningham will live up to our very high expectations.

Mayor’s Race Runoff

Former Mayor Eugene Flinn handily earned the top spot to face current Mayor Shelley Stanczyk in the November 25 runoff. Palmetto Bay voters will suffer three more weeks of electoral mania while we prepare for Thanksgiving.

Mrs. Stanczyk, while certainly relieved to have made the runoff, must be quaking in her boots to see that 75% of the Village People selected “anyone but Shelley” yesterday.

Peter England came close again. He ran a very competent campaign, but we have always felt his platform lacked sufficient specificity and punch. Patrick Fiore performed as we anticipated. We will miss his consistent voice on the council.

Seat 3 Runoff

Larissa Siegel Lara topped the contenders for Seat 3 but couldn’t muster enough votes to avoid a runoff against Stanczyk clone Henry Clifford. (It was interesting to note that Clifford earned more votes than his political soul mate, Mayor Stanczyk.)

We think Ms. Siegel Lara continues to be the best choice and expect the residual England campaign machine to rally with the Flinn folks to push both Flinn and Siegel Lara to victory later this month.

One thing is certain: Lots of people want the Stanczyk era to end and they voted that way in droves.

School Amendment Fails

The only dark moment in the Palmetto Bay results came when SDM saw the school amendment failed. What a shame. Even as she packs her bags for other parts of Florida, ex-Councilwoman Joan Lindsay’s handiwork will continue to plague Palmetto Bay.

PB: Fire Station = Violation of Neighborhood Protection?

We need churches, we need schools, we need fire stations… – Joan Lindsay

In the end, however, Councilwoman and soon-to-be ex-Palmetto Bay resident Joan Lindsay voted against locating a new fire station next to perpetual gadfly Gary Pastorella’s house. The fire department aims to purchase approximately two acres owned by Old Cutler Presbyterian church located on the southeast corner of Old Cutler Road and SW 142nd Terrace.

Mr. Pastorella hired an attorney to interrogate village staff and anyone within swinging distance last Monday night. After what amounted to an expensive rant against siting the fire station, Pastorella’s lawyer warned that if the council voted in favor of the fire department’s application, he would appeal it on Pastorella’s behalf.

SDM can’t figure out if this is ironic – given Pastorella’s repetitive whining at council meetings about his being sued – or karmic since he led the forces who pushed a charter amendment that will not “rescue” him (sorry for the pun):

All non-single-family-residential developments, structures, or use (that is/are a direct or indirect result of that development, structure, or use) in, adjacent to, or nearby any single-family zoned properties shall not disrupt or degrade the health, safety, tranquility, character, and overall welfare of the adjacent or nearby single-family residential properties by creating negative impacts on those properties such as density, intensity, noise, light, glare, dust, odor, vibration, traffic or run off that exceeds that of adjacent single-family properties. Nothing herein should be construed or applied to abrogate the vested rights of a property owner.

Mr. Pastorella’s attorney stated pretty clearly that the so-called neighborhood protection charter amendment would be the basis of his suit. His somber reading of the amendment appeared calculated to frighten the council by the “obvious” takeaway that a fire station would run afoul of its provisions.

Of course, Mr. Pastorella’s presumptions about the charter amendment are logically unsound: How can a life safety necessity like fire rescue “disrupt or degrade the health, safety, tranquility, character, and overall welfare of the adjacent or nearby single-family residential properties”? By definition, a fire rescue station does exactly the opposite.

The other “no” vote came from Mayor Shelley Stanczyk who apparently couldn’t say no to Pastorella since he forms the last remaining element of her neighborhood support. That the site was $200,000 less and a savings to taxpayers would not sway Mme. Mayor. She seems to have bought the line that if the county pays the money then you as village taxpayers don’t. Huh?

Stanczyk was also unswayed by the site’s easy ingress and egress for vehicles. Then again, the site across Old Cutler has the advantage of being a poke in the eye to her nemesis David Zisman, so maybe her vote against fire and rescue protection for northeast Palmetto Bay makes sense.

Make no mistake, the entire hearing on Monday night radiated with election year political intrigue. Nobody wants that fire station near their home…unless you were the woman who testified about her husband dying in the rescue vehicle parked in her driveway. She recounted waiting 17 minutes before hearing that wailing siren, which turned out to be too long.  SDM can’t even imagine her grief, but we can surely commend her bravery and sense of duty. Based on her testimony, which very likely carried the day, the majority could say Please In My Back Yard .

SDM Says: Bravo to the three gentlemen who decided for the fire station: Messrs.  Fiore, Dubois and Schaffer. They would not sit by idly and allow the NIMBYs to put thousands of people at further unnecessary risk. All three showed what forceful leadership looks like when life and death matters are at issue.

PB: Charter Amendment – SDM Says Vote Yes

Palmetto Bay voters may be scratching their heads when they notice the charter amendment on their ballots. What, pray tell is the origin of this question?

Referendum Regarding Expansion of Private Schools: The proposed Charter Amendment changes the requirement that 75% of the electors living within a 2,000 foot radius of a private school seeking to expand student enrollment approve of such expansion in a referendum to a requirement that a majority of such electors approve of such expansion in the referendum. Shall the above described amendment be adopted?

SDM wrote a blog on May 2, 2013 explaining the history of the amendment.  (Hint: You may enjoy the Monty Python reference.) Later in that year, the village held a referendum asking whether the Alexander Montessori School should be allowed to add students. Here is what we wrote in the aftermath of that vote:

Lindsay’s Lawsuit City

In what SDM sees as a very sad story, a Palmetto Bay’s Alexander Montessori School failed to garner enough votes to add a paltry 59 seats to its enormous 270 student body. As SDM blogged about in PB: Ready for Another Lawsuit?, the Alexander school needed to convince 75% of its neighbors to vote for the school’s expansion.

This crazy requirement comes from a Councilwoman Joan Lindsay sponsored charter amendment, which foolish Palmetto Bay voters adopted after Ms. Lindsay lost her battle against the Palmer Trinity expansion. Ironically, Ms. Lindsay asked the Alexander School’s neighbors to vote for the expansion, though SDM doubts Ms. Lindsay would have  given Palmer a positive vote if it were up to her.

One of the school’s owners told the Miami Herald that they may ask the voters to consider their plan again. SDM has to give the guy credit for being an optimist. The tragedy is that instead of investing his hard earned money in improving his school, the owner is forced to pay for another referendum that he might lose again. Of course, a referendum might be less expensive than a long and protracted lawsuit, especially given the village council’s history of intransigence.

SDM Says: Councilwoman Lindsay often strikes a tone of reasonableness now that her re-election is on the near term horizon. But this referendum requirement that she mothered into existence will eventually be challenged in court on basic fairness principles. In the meantime, children and property owners in this village are suffering. When voters evaluate her record, Councilwoman Lindsay must not be permitted to escape her legacy of litigation.

The charter amendment rids the village of the dangerous, arbitrary and totally unfair 75% requirement and grants a majority of neighbors a veto of a privates school’s expansion plan.

SDM Says: We will vote yes because the amendment is an improvement over the status quo, but we still think the requirement violates the school’s due process rights.

PB: Guest Post By David Singer – Shady Sessions

All anyone needs to know…..

If you are still looking for a reason to unseat Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, look no further than the Palmer Trinity Shade Session (available on the Village Website) dated January 7th, 2012. I spent last Saturday reading this particular transcript in an attempt to comprehend how and why the Village decided to appeal to the Third District Court of Appeals, and found a Mayor who was not acting in the best interest of her constituents but acting solely on ineptitude and vengeance.

The players attending the Shade Session included Ron Williams (Village Manager), Eve Boutsis (former Village Attorney), Howard Tendrich ( former Council Member), Brian Pariser (former Vice Mayor), Joan Lindsay (Council Member), Patrick Fiore (Council Member), Raoul Cantero (former Florida Supreme Court Justice) of White & Case and of course Mayor Stanczyk.

The first ten pages start out with legal speak on how they lost the last round of appeals and discussing the Motion to Enforce the Mandate that permitted Palmer Trinity to enroll 1150 students. This is nothing new for anyone who has lived in Palmetto Bay and has followed the litigation.

The interesting and devastating portion of the transcript starts on page 11, where the group discusses the chance of victory in the Third DCA if the Village appeals the lower Courts ruling once again. Raoul Cantero was asked the chances of winning. His response was “I would definitely say under 50 percent, probably around 30 percent”. In addition, he said that if the Village appealed Palmer Trinity would “request attorney fees again”.
The 30% chance of winning figure was mentioned throughout the meeting and discussed at least a half-dozen times by Ron Williams, Patrick Fiore and Howard Tendrich.

There are also numerous pages discussing the fact that in the small likelihood (under 30%) of the Village winning the appeal to the Third District Court, a another Village hearing would be required and the likelihood the Court would rule Joan Lindsay and Mayor Stanczyk would be required to recuse themselves from voting on the enrollment issue.

If you read between the lines, former Village Attorney Eve Boutsis, Judge Raoul Cantero and Village Manager Ron Williams attempted on numerous occasions to stop the madness and end the appeals. All including Council Members Patrick Fiore and Howard Tendrich had their legitimate reasons as quoted below.

Eve Boutsis – “There is a good chance that we can get the same panel and that the Third District opinion really crucifies us. I want to put that on the table out there because it’s a risk”.

Eve Boutsis – “The only reason I raise the panel at all is because their opinion didn’t go into that, their written opinion did not go into that at all. And their opinion crucifies us, period. The opinion itself crucifies us.

Ron Williams – “Mayor, you have to admit though, when all of us were here, so that everybody’s memory is clear, the Justice asked whether or not we would consider a counteroffer and we wouldn’t even consider a counteroffer, as all of us recall, and I am sure the record is clear.”

Ron Williams – “I think the Judge put it clearly, we have both been entrenched. Not to be repetitive as some of us are here, we didn’t even consider their last offer. I think if we had countered, at least….”

Raoul Cantero – “I think there is a 30 percent chance it will be minimal.”

One of the more interesting quotes of warning came from Raoul Cantero who stated “Even worse, worse case scenario, we get an opinion affirming what the Circuit Court did and slamming the Village for what it did and saying, of course you knew what you were supposed to do, it was obvious what you were supposed to do and you deliberately disobeyed an order of the Circuit Court, and that’s going to get published in the reporters that stay there longer than all of us will be alive.” As history has shown, this is exactly what happened.

In the end neither Mayor Shelly Stanczyk, Brian Pariser, nor Joan Lindsay took the advice and/or listened to Eve Boutsis, Raoul Cantero, Ron Williams, Patrick Fiore or Howard Tendrich when they voted to pursue another appeal. Once again, as we all know this foolish appeal resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees paid by the Village and Eve Boutsis losing her job as Village Attorney.

This transcript is a direct indictment against those who voted for the appeal. Toward the end of the transcript you can understand Mayor Stanczyk’s mentality when she states, “That’s fine Howard, the point was to protect you two guys” when she realized that neither Patrick nor Howard would drink the poison punch she was serving. This is a lesson the whole Village has had to learn while Mayor Stanczyk has been in office. Let’s stop drinking what she’s serving!

David Singer

PB: An Endorsement to Ignore

In the “no surprise there” category, outgoing Councilwoman Joan Lindsay issued an endorsement of Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, which Mme. Mayor posted on her campaign site. Mrs. Stanczyk, er, Mrs. Lindsay makes a couple of claims that SDM decided to evaluate and analyze.

According to Lindsay:

Under her leadership as Mayor, Village reserves have grown to $13.6 million from $9 million in 2010…

The truth about the village’s unassigned fund balance (i.e., the “reserves”) is that they are expected to be about the same as the year Mrs. Stanczyk first took office (the first budget for which she is listed is FY 2006-07):

Year                      Fund Balance
FY 06-07             $9,034,987 (Actual)
FY 07-08             $13,589,615 (Actual)
FY 09-10             $15,502,780 (Actual)
FY 10-11             $8,573,042 (Actual)
FY 11-12             $9,500,714 (Actual)
FY 12-13             $10,453,169 (Actual)
FY 13-14             $10,035,468 (Estimated Final)
FY 14-15             $9,054,468 (Proposed Budget)

It’s hard to figure why Mme. Mayor wants to tout these figures, or even from where she is drawing them in the first place. Perhaps a better set of figures to look at is the ever-increasing number of employees Palmetto Bay residents pay for under the Stanczyk era:

Year                           Full Time           Part Time
FY 06-07 (Actual)          22                          20
FY 14-15 (Proposed)      53                          30

So, in about 8 years, Palmetto Bay almost doubled the number of regular employees. SDM can’t help but wonder why Mrs. Lindsay isn’t touting Mme. Mayor’s incredible ability to bloat our local bureaucracy.

As we’ve said in the past, we will miss Mrs. Lindsay’s intellect on a council that is in short supply of the quality. However, we won’t miss her selfish use of the village resources to wage the war on Palmer Trinity School, surely the most divisive campaign in the 10 year history of our little burgh. And, we won’t miss her incomprehensible slavish devotion to this failed mayor.

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