South Dade Matters

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

Tag: Palmer Trinity

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.

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 “,” 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: David Singer Sends Mayor Stanczyk a Letter

A open letter to the Mayor,

Forget about not following Roberts Rules of Order. Forget about setting up fake websites to your defame and discredit your political rivals. Forget about having ethic charges filed against you. Forget about storming out of council meetings because you didn’t get your way. Forget about constantly reinventing the truth. Forget about going down in history as the worst Mayor that will ever serve the Village of Palmetto Bay, if not South Florida. Madam Mayor, your behavior at last Tuesday night’s council meeting has outdone all of your past transgressions.

Madam Mayor when you are in a position of power and you expect respect you need to give it to those around you. Even those with whom you disagree. You apparently missed that lesson.

Shaking constituents hands does not make you a good Mayor.

The way you disrespectfully berated and demeaned, from the dais, two individuals who happen to be on the Board of Directors for Palmer and are residents of Palmetto Bay was unwarranted and an embarrassment to the audience, Council members and Village Staff who were in attendance. Not to mention the disrespect it shows to your Mayoral position.

The residents who were sitting near me were cringing in discomfort as you made your unfounded accusations and acted more like a prosecutor grilling a murder suspect than an honorable Mayor.

You were manipulative when you discussed the Attorney General’s opinion regarding the release of the Shade Sessions. Once again you misstated facts to advance your personal agenda.

You are, in fact, unfit to serve one more day as Mayor of the Village of Palmetto Bay. You owe the entire Village, Staff and Council members an apology for your behavior. It’s time for you to realize that you serve at the pleasure of the residents of The Village of Palmetto Bay and not for your own personal goals.

I respect the fact that Tim Schaffer immediately disassociated himself with your actions, comments and behavior. He has only been a Council Member for six months and has learned more about treating his constituents with respect than you have in the past seven years.

I would recommend anyone who is going to vote in next year’s election to watch the Mayor Shelley Stanczyk’s behavior at Tuesday’s Council meeting. The link is here fast forward to: 1:57: 20 and watch for the next five minutes.

David Singer

Shade Sessions: SDM Was Right!

In August, SDM wrote PB: SDM Disagrees With Village Attorney Boutsis regarding the village attorney’s advice to the council on whether they could release the shade session transcripts before the Palmer litigation concluded:

SDM happens to agree with Ms. Boutsis that “the clear direction of the state legislature that you have this exemption through to the end of the litigation.” Where we diverge is on the question of whether the village has the option of releasing its transcripts whenever a majority of the council decides to do so.

Opining that the council must only release transcripts at the conclusion of the litigation violates the Sunshine Law’s basic principle that the public be granted the greatest access possible under our state’s constitution and laws.

Well, Attorney General Pam Bondi agrees with SDM. David Singer provided SDM a copy of an AG opinion letter dated September 12, 2013, which answers the question this way:

Therefore, it is my opinion that the Village of Palmetto Bay, as the collegial body to which it applies, may waive the exemption provided in section 286.011 (8), Florida Statutes, and release the transcripts of meetings held to discuss settlement negotiations or strategy sessions related to litigation expenditures prior to the conclusion of litigation. The waiver of this exemption would not constitute a violation of section 286.011 (3), Florida Statutes, as the early release of these transcripts would satisfy the requirement in subparagraph (8)(e) that the transcripts be made a part of the public record. (Emphasis added by SDM.)

SDM Says: The coast is clear. Release the shade sessions!

SDM will now attempt to deflate our already massive egos. :)

PB: Get Ready for a Long Night

SDM Predicts: Chaos tonight!

Human beings have limitations. No person can give adequate attention to complex, emotional matters for hours on end. This can be especially true when the activities take place in the evening after full day of work.

So why would the village council attempt the following in a single night?

  • Conduct the first budget hearing, including adoption of the millage rate.
  • Conduct a full, regular meeting of the council that will: adopt a new contract for the village clerk; pay the village attorney nearly $30,000 in legal fees, again; consider a resolution changing election dates and holding a vote on the charter; modify the Art in Public Places funding procedure; and, consider an item dealing with peddlers. [Snarky comment: Will this prohibit the peddling of B.S. to the Village People? :) ]
  • And, oh yeah, that little matter of holding a hearing to settle the Palmer lawsuit.

SDM has some advice to Kaptain Kreepy: Better put an extra memory card into the video equipment and order some breakfast for the council.

Seriously, will some adult defer some of these nonessential items to another date so that the council can focus on the time-sensitive stuff?

As to the substance, SDM believes the village should take the following actions:

  1. Adopt the flat millage rate and at least start the budget hearing. Inquire about why the reserve numbers look like a Central American Country jumping bean. [SDM is nothing if not politically correct.] If the bottom line is that the reserves are to be drawn down by $6 million, send the manager back to the drawing board with a mandate to reduce that figure by at least 50%.  Cut both capital and operating spending to meet the goal. The village shouldn’t be spending its money like drunken sailors.
  2. On Palmer, it’s time to end the fight. Palmer’s bottom line is fair to the village given the long, tortured history and given that the original resolution imposed dozens of uniquely punitive conditions on Palmer.

Since we have good reason to believe that Councilwoman Lindsay’s husband has been exercising his First Amendment right to rally opposition to the settlement and she herself is still personally litigating against Palmer, Mrs. Lindsay ought to recuse herself from the vote. At the very least, the village attorney ought to state for the record why a sitting council member may vote on an item involving a party that is suing her and where the subject matter is intertwined.

The council ought to ask questions and take public testimony, but they must remain focused on the bottom line: failing to adopt the settlement leaves the entire matter up to judges, which is extraordinarily risky.

The folks in CCOCI ought to address some questions as well:

  1. If the village declines to settle, what comes next? Endless back and forth with the courts holding the village liable for violations of due process and equal protection? (Palmer is alleging that the conditions placed on their application are materially different than those imposed on similarly situated properties and they have a point.)
  2. If the village fails to accept the deal from Palmer and gets whacked by a court for millions, will you oppose the re-election of the council members that voted for your position?
  3. How much more money should the village (meaning, those of us who don’t live next to Palmer) spend defending this lawsuit? $100,000? $300,000? A million?
  4. How did you get the information on the settlement when the letter wasn’t released to the public? SDM Wonders: Who is your leaker and why are you allowing that person to jeopardize the village’s legal position by accepting the privileged information?

SDM Says: Tonight’s meeting may mark a watershed in Palmetto Bay’s history. The council is facing a major choice on whether this village will maintain its historically strong reserves or weaken us by spending them on continuing obligations. It will decide whether our village will close this tragic chapter and work to rehabilitate the village’s reputation with those who wish to invest here; or, be riven for additional months or years on a lawsuit that can only be finally resolved by the council. SDM hopes a council majority decides to rein in the government as well as those who want to litigate forever.

Palmer to PB: Show me the Money!

It appears – merely appears – that the Palmer litigation is on the road to a final, out-of-court settlement. We here at SDM feel like we are burying a relative after a long, protracted illness. We’re glad it’s over but we’re going to miss the old bird.

After reading Palmer’s settlement letter (find it here), SDM understands why CCOCI and Gary Pastorella called it a “take-it-or-leave-it” deal. It’s pretty clear that Palmer is in a strong position legally, or at least their attorneys believe this to be the case. Their offer wipes out dozens of ridiculous conditions imposed by the council in 2010. (See SDM’s post PB: My Kingdom for a Grammarian for a discussion of these absurdities.) The result is the kind of resolution that the village would customarily grant were the transaction friendly from the beginning.

Your faithful scribes do not know whether the village sent a message to Palmer saying that they agree to the deal. Probably, the only thing the council could agree to do would be to bring the matter to a final public hearing. September 9 would be the logical date for such a public hearing, but we can’t find any mention of the matter on the agenda. Perhaps a special meeting is being scheduled.

SDM figures dropping the onerous and unworkable conditions saves Palmer hundreds of thousands of dollars. Add in the $200,000 in cash and $600,000 in waived fees and the deal must be worth close to $2 million. Not a bad payday, though it hardly makes up for six long years of torture and bad blood.

Should the village council fail to agree to the resolution – or to try to amend it – taxpayers will be on the hook for a roll of the dice. Most lawyers prefer to agree to a deal rather than let a judge make the call. Judges can be unpredictable in cases where one side or the other appears to have been unreasonable. SDM is eager to hear the village attorney’s opinion of a low and high figure a court might grant if the settlement fizzles out.

Here’s one thing we feel confident in saying: The settlement letter is dated August 21 and the CCOCI email opposing it dropped last weekend. That email was uncannily accurate with respect to what Palmer was demanding in return for a cessation of hostilities. It’s not hard to conclude that someone leaked Palmer’s letter to them before the shade session was held. Remind us again why the attorney client meetings should be secret, Mme. Mayor?

The other point to note is that the settlement only deals with Palmer and the village. What happens with the other defendants? Councilwoman Joan Lindsay and another resident were named as defendants in the 2008 suit. Is Mrs. Lindsay still a litigant? If so, how can she vote on the new resolution? Seems like she has a pretty obvious conflict if she is still in court with Palmer.

Mayor Stanczyk and Councilwoman Lindsay – if she votes – are surely going to vote against the settlement resolution. So it will be up to village voters next fall to evaluate them. We plan on reminding the Village People early and often about their failure to protect us from an $800,000 loss this year added to years of village legal expenses of at least $600,000. That’s without mentioning the hostile political climate they and their minions continue to foment around town.

SDM Says: Palmetto Bay deserves leaders who don’t piss away $1.5 million and then tell us they want to drain the reserve by $6 million. Something’s very wrong with this picture and we need a change.

PB: Lawsuit Exhaustion

The Miami Herald Neighbors ran an interesting article titled “Nine months after the election, lawsuits linger in Palmetto Bay.” It’s a good read and is covering a serious topic for the community, though most SDM readers are familiar with the subject matter by now.

What struck SDM was the following section of the article:

Frustrated residents

Like many Palmetto Bay residents, Andy Newman traces the division in the village back to a series of legal disputes between the village and Palmer Trinity School. Residents and council members have been divided over the size of the school’s planned expansion, its effect on neighbors, and the costs of litigation.

Newman, who lives near the school, said he will be affected by the expansion, including the increase of traffic. But, he added, at this point he wishes the council would move on from Palmer-related contention and function as a unit.

“It has been a hot potato for quite some time,” he said. “But it’s time to just come together and resolve the situation.”

Florida International University law professor George Knox said the contention in Palmetto Bay could be alleviated if elected officials as well as constituents have an informal conversation together – not at a council meeting or through community blogs.

“The idea is to have a heartfelt conversation, face-to-face. What is it that you are fighting against and why?” said Knox, a former Miami city attorney who teaches negotiation and mediation.

“People have taken sides in the political process and that has impaired the ability to cooperate, to work out solutions to community problems,” said Knox. “And if the citizens resort to the courts to resolve political issues, that seems to say that they don’t have confidence in their political system, and they’ve lost their will to fix it.”

(Emphasis added by SDM.)

As a history lesson, this blog ran its first post on July 25, 2011. The topic? A critique of the village council’s behavior toward Palmer Trinity School. Following is the entire text of that initial post (SDM has become much more long-winded since then. :) ) :

At its July 19 meeting, the Palmetto Bay Village Council voted unanimously to send their dispute with Palmer back to the courts for a resolution.  Councilman Patrick Fiore raised a critical question when he noted that the Village had spent nearly $500,000 to defend its position.  Palmetto Bay tax payers need to ask how much more can they afford to spend?

The truth is that the Palmer issue had already created serious divisions in this community before this blog launched. Mr. Newman’s neighbors created a non-profit corporation called Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler, Inc. (CCOCI). Current City Councilwoman Joan Lindsay was a leader of this organization.

CCOCI began a political campaign against Palmer and urged the village council to adopt an extraordinarily hostile posture towards the school – there is no other charitable way to put it. At some point, before Lindsay joined the council, she convinced Mayor Stanczyk to offer a poison pill amendment to the Palmer development approval, which is the now-notorious 900 student limitation that the court found to be so objectionable. (Village staff had recommended a maximum student population of 1,150.)

Apparently, CCOCI figured that the rest of the community would lie down and let them spend the village into poor house over a differential of 150 students spread over 30+ acres of property. Thus began the division in the community between the anti-Palmer faction and those of us who wanted the council to cease and desist.

Now, after years of litigation, the Palmer saga looks to be coming to an end. (It might have ended sooner had the council adopted Mr. Knox’s idea of having a heartfelt conversation face-to-face, but we will never know now.) We still don’t know what the cost in dollars will be to Palmetto Bay, but SDM can’t agree more that “people have taken sides in the political process,” as Mr. Knox said.

Where we disagree is with the notion that communicating through blogs is somehow not part of the natural political process. Would the opponents of CCOCI’s take-no-prisoners attitude know what was going on inside village hall – what’s really going on – without this blog and others acting as a resource? SDM thinks not.

Certainly there are those inside village hall that wake up every morning praying that SDM has retired. With all humility, SDM is sure that they prefer the pre-SDM world to today’s. Pre-SDM, village insiders did whatever they wanted and virtually none of the Village People knew what the CCOci’s puppets were up to. Now, at least some of us are a little better informed.

SDM Says: Sometimes the courts and public speech are the only way to rein-in a government run amok. We’ll shut up and bow out of the conversation when there’s nothing left to report – or when we retire.

SDM Aside to Mr. Knox: Your idea of a community dialogue outside village chambers, with elected officials present, strikes SDM as a violation of the sunshine law as well as an attempt to escape the webcam. Might want to rethink that one…

PB: The Settlement Stakes

SDM attempts to read the attachments to the agendas. The Clerk posted the September 9 regular council agenda on the village web page. The village attorney’s report contained a startling paragraph under the Palmer litigation section that SDM did not recall seeing before:

Please be advised that Insurance coverage by the Florida League of Cities ($5,000,000 policy) only covers liability as to certain claims – the federal claims alleged in the complaint. However, once one claim is acknowledged by the insurance, defense coverage is provided for all the claims. Should the covered claims be dismissed, the insurance defense as to the uncovered claims also goes away. The Council would be responsible for the litigation costs going forward as to those non-covered claims, as well as the liability costs associated with same. The Village does have liability protection as to state tort common law claims under 768.28, Florida Statutes, the “sovereign immunity” statute, provided liability limit of $200,000/$300,000 person/incident, unless a special bill is enacted by the State legislature for a greater amount.

(Emphasis added by SDM.)

Here is what we know: Palmer filed a complaint alleging a violation of the school’s constitutional right to due process, which would be a federal claim. It appears that the constitutional claim would be covered by the policy up to $5 million. SDM also understands that Palmer filed other claims. If the federal claim was dismissed, the insurance policy would not cover damages from the remaining claims. Furthermore, to the extent the village is shown to have tort liability (abuse of process or malicious prosecution?), then state law would cap the damages.

Given the above, SDM speculates:

  • The League of Cities may have made a determination that they prefer to negotiate a settlement rather than continue to burn legal fees on this matter.
  • Alternatively, Palmer may have decided its legal position on the federal claim is weak and it may take a quick deal with the League so as to focus its attention on the village with the League’s attorneys out of the way.
  • The village might conclude that if the League settles, then the village’s financial exposure jumps based on the viability of the non-federal, non-tort-liability claims. This exposure could be substantial enough that a majority of the council will elect to cut their losses and settle their way out of the suit.
  • CCOCI and the others involved could be left as remaining defendants with neither the village nor the League interested or allowed in their fiduciary capacities to continue assisting the other parties.

SDM Wonders: Wouldn’t it be tragically ironic if the Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler Inc. (CCOCI) and its leadership – the initiators and proponents of endless litigation – wound up stuck in the litigation trap while the village sails off into the sunset?

SDM Says: No wonder they are squealing for a “global settlement” all of a sudden.


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