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: The Agenda Going Forward

SDM filled every nook and cranny in a binge food bender that is definitely going to leave a mark. We hope you did too.

While loafing on the couch, we got to thinking about Palmetto Bay’s agenda and what we think the council needs to tackle in the next few months. In no particular order:

Palmer Trinity Litigation

Sometime very soon after being sworn into their new roles, the village council needs to get the straight skinny on how to wrap up the Palmer Trinity pending litigation.

We’ve read the primer by Mr. Lehtinen and have no doubt about his legal chops. And, we don’t want to see Palmetto Bay pay legal fees and costs to Palmer if none are likely to be awarded by the courts.

But in fairness to all, this chapter must be closed so the village and Palmer can reconcile their interests and move on in a normal relationship.

We feel comfortable that Mayor Flinn – a competent lawyer in his own right – understands that the time for hardball tactics passed during the last mayor’s tenure. Find a reasonable solution or tell us why we need to fight it out, but for heaven’s sake tell us the unvarnished truth immediately.

Palmetto Bay Village Center – Southeast Fire Station

SDM is dubious about the forest so some serious disinterested third party needs to tell the village council and the Village People if there are endangered pine rocklands on the site and to what extent they ought or must be preserved.

We don’t trust the enviro-whackos to give us their opinion because they never seem to find ANY land to be developable anymore.

Again, this council bears the responsibility of determining whether a deal with the Palmetto Bay Village Center where the village permits limited development in exchange for a fire station location is a good deal for everyone.

Regardless of whether it is or it’s not, tell us why and make your decision. SDM may be speaking for others in town when we say we’re tired of the spinning.

Village Manager Ron Williams

The prior council punted on the decision to extend Mr. Williams tenure, which wisely leaves the decision in the hands of the new council.

We think Mr. Williams deserves to be fairly evaluated should he wish to remain in his post. On the other hand, we also think Mr. Williams – if he is retained – must be given clearer instructions on how to run this village.

SDM and, we think, others want this village to be lean. If this council agrees, then Mr. Williams’ tendency to empire-build must be curtailed from a policy perspective and not just from a budget perspective.

We hope the new council will keep us in the loop on this important decision and not pick a path one way or the other without a public discussion. This is not a topic for behind-the-scenes wrangling.

Palmetto Bay Budget

A corollary to the Williams issue is whether this council intends to exercise budget discipline. We have written extensively about the perpetual growth in the village’s headcount and total budget under the past two councils.

We believe the budget must be restrained so that we are not forced into a tax increase. Tough decisions require real leadership that has been in short supply over the past 8 years.

SDM Says: The budget is a policy document that will tell us how this village council intends to behave for the next few years. Big spending cannot be hidden.

Downtown Redevelopment – Charter School

The former mayor and her administration admitted that failing to develop the Franjo Triangle area amounts to a budgetary death sentence for Palmetto Bay.

At the same time, they continued to fund unnecessary positions in the police department. But the inconsistent message wasn’t limited to the budget. When a major downtown landowner asked for village support for a county grant program, the council deadlocked and failed to send a letter of support.

We fully understand that there are those in this village that want to see the decrepit downtown stay just as it is, to which we say fine, let’s build our budget to live within our current and future means.

On the other hand, if we as a village are serious about allowing healthy growth downtown, then we need to get out of the way and let the landowners build whatever the market will bear.

If the landowner believes a charter school works downtown, then the village should open its arms and welcome the development and the people it will bring. More people downtown will lead to more stores and eventually to healthy development.

SDM Says: The village council can’t have it both ways. You either accept development or you clamp down on it and accept the consequences either way, but making no decision is unacceptable.

Village Election Dates

Why do we have this dumb runoff three weeks after the general election and right before a major holiday?

If a September primary and a November general election work well enough to elect Governors, Presidents, Senators and Legislators, they’re good enough for little old Palmetto Bay.

SDM Says: It’s time to save some money and make the Village People’s lives a little easier.

Coral Reef Park Improvements

One wag suggested that SDM join a gym, which is a good suggestion given the constriction in our clothing today, but we want the option of jogging or walking after work in Coral Reef Park.

For us to do so we need two things: (a) later hours in the park; and (b) lighting in the parking areas and on the walking tracks. If we had our druthers, some of the ball fields and grassy areas would also be lit so that others could use the park, too.

Sure, there are neighbors around Coral Reef Park who believe they were granted a birthright of no-lights-ever, but shouldn’t we all get a voice in this important decision? We don’t remember being asked our opinion.

So, let’s put it to the voters. Here is the question:

Should lights be permitted at Coral Reef Park?

Simple and it misleads nobody.

SDM Says: If the majority of this village wants the park to be dark half the year then SDM can live with their decision.

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: Will Palmetto Bay Turn the Corner?


That’s what Palmetto Bay voters created on Tuesday.

In the two remaining races to be decided on the Tuesday (November 25th) before Thanksgiving, the Village People will choose between the Stanczyk Slate (incumbent Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and her handpicked lapdog Henry Clifford) and the old guard/newbie ticket of former Mayor Eugene Flinn and Larissa Siegel Lara.

Make no mistake: Ticket splitting between these groupings will result in more of the same at village hall.

Thus, we as voters have a clear and unambiguous choice coming up and we must take every reasonable step to vote for Flinn and Siegel Lara.

If you think you and your spouse may be out of town for the holiday, go to the elections department website and request an absentee ballot right now. It will take just a couple of minutes, which will allow you to eat your way across America guilt-free and ready to start that diet on January 1st.

Here is what is at stake if you don’t do your civic duty:

  • Four more years of the Stanczyk curse.
  • Four more years of inane council meetings wasting time on barking dog ordinances.
  • Four more years of tortured negotiations to settle the remaining disputes with Palmer. (Yes, the lawsuits are still out there and we need adult supervision to settle them once and for all.)
  • Four more years of fits and starts as the village lurches from one fire station plan to another.
  • Four more years of growing budgets, more employees, more fixed costs, and eventually, more taxes.
  • Four more years of Gary Pastorella and his tiny band of trouble makers pushing the village council around and wasting tax money on nonsense litigation.

If you think we’ve suffered enough, then give this election some serious thought and plan to cast your ballot.

SDM Says: Your village needs you more on November 25th than it did when we incorporated.


SDM message to the remaining candidates: If you would like to post on this site to get your message out to the Village People, we would like to publish your views. We have three rules: (1) No bashing others (including Gary Pastorella, that’s our job); (2) don’t bore us to death (ever heard of bullet points?); and (3) limit your post to 350 words (the post above is 321). Here are some topics you should address (failing to do so doesn’t mean you won’t get published, but we and lots of our readers prefer substance):

  • How should Palmetto Bay develop the Franjo Triangle and what is the government’s role?
  • What is your view of the village budget and its employee count?
  • How should Palmetto Bay facilitate a new fire station for the southeast section of the village?
  • How should the village balance access to Thalatta Estate with the need to raise revenue to offset the park’s expenses?
  • Will you vote for the village to pay for a Fourth of July celebration? Why or why not?
  • Do you support the use of traffic calming devices and/or traffic circles? Why or why not?
  • Would you push the village clerk to maintain a searchable archive of village documents such as agenda packages? (This item is for those of you who want to suck up to SDM.)

Final note: We will publish your post Mme. Mayor. No kidding, but we will know if Kaptain Kreepy ghost writes it.

PB: Three More Reasons You Must Vote Against Shelley Stanczyk

If you don’t know the mess Mayor Stancyzk made of Palmer, then you can go back and read through some of our posts by searching under “Palmer Trinity.” We also won’t talk about how bloated the village budget became under her tenure. No today we won’t be focusing on those calamities. Today we discuss three more reasons to vote against Shelley Stanczyk, each of which stands on its own.

Thalatta Estate Park

Many Palmetto Bay taxpayers are unfamiliar with the history of the village’s only bay front property, at least that has been our experience when speaking with friends and neighbors.

One possible reason may be that Thalatta was essentially closed off to regular people for most of the week until earlier this year when Guest Poster David Singer raised the village’s behavior to the State of Florida. Now, regular Village People can enter and visit the park more often, though not as often as a regular park.

The reason Thalatta is so remote lies squarely on the shoulders of Mayor Stanczyk. As Mayor, Stanczyk became infatuated with paid events at Thalatta, namely weddings. Glamorous and expensive weddings became so de rigueur at Thalatta that the park has actually been on television!

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with a municipality attempting to earn income as a mechanism to lessen the need for taxpayers to fund repairs and maintenance, but over time Thalatta became virtually unavailable to the general public. Even today, weekends are occupied by large events that are not subjected to the village’s noise ordinance.

Stanczyk, in her zeal to turn Thalatta into a publicly-owned business, proposed that the village council authorize a huge addition to the historic house on the property for the purpose of facilitating yet more weddings and events, neighbors be damned.

The last village council torpedoed Stanczyk’s grand vision when former Councilman Howard Tendrich joined Patrick Fiore to vote against modifying the village master plan, which was a necessary step to adding the controversial addition.

The Thalatta episode showed Mrs. Stanczyk’s true colors as Mayor. She wanted to bask in the glow from these weddings and events despite the fact that doing so restricted the park’s use to just a chosen few.

Fire Station Failures

While Thalatta represents a loss to the Village People in the quality of life category, Mayor Stanczyk’s failure to site even one fire station over the last four years is a life and death issue, most literally.

In Palmetto Bay, the Mayor plays a significant role in formulating and initiating public policy. Without active and skilled leadership, controversial matters such as siting fire-rescue facilities linger and drift.

The two sites proposed for Palmetto Bay will never, ever satisfy all the people. By their very nature, such facilities are nuisances…unless the siren is heading for your house in a moment of need, that is.

True leadership means that one is willing to lose an election if it means making the community safer and healthier. But even that sacrificial standard cannot be met when the controversial items don’t even get to a vote by the council.

Stanczyk’s last attempts to site the North and South fire-rescue stations ended ignominiously without a substantive vote being taken!

One of the Mayor’s basic functions in Palmetto Bay is to shepherd items through the agenda process and Mayor Stanczyk cannot do it, even when she is holding the lives of the residents of three municipalities in her hands. Keeping this mayor in place would be a political tragedy that could result in an actual tragedy. Think your vote doesn’t count?

The Barking Dogs Ordinance

We’ve written extensively here about Mayor Stanczyk’s proposed ordinance to muzzle barking dogs, which we always viewed as fanciful. What’s amazing is that every Village Person we meet knows about this dumb idea, though they may never have heard of the fire station controversies or Palmer or the misuse of a village park.

There is something visceral when a political figure goes after the family pet. We know that SDM’s pets are by far the most popular members of our families, so the reaction should come as no surprise.

Yet, there is something more to the story that lots of  Village People don’t know or understand: the origins of the dispute.

You see, Mrs. Stanczyk has been in a feud with Seat 1 candidate David Zisman for years. We are told the trouble started when Zisman had some issues with a tennis court on his property. The end result was a political brawl between Stanczyk and Zisman that has spanned almost her entire tenure as a village politician.

Before he threw his hat in the political ring – again – and before he adopted his current mild-mannered facade, Zisman was known to stand before the village council and berate Mayor Stancyzk. The videos are hard to watch, but you can find them by searching “Zisman” on this blog…you will learn more him than you want to know!

So, as SDM sees it at least, when the mighty Mayor found out that one or more of Zisman’s dogs were keeping his neighbors awake at night (seriously, how rude can one be?), she pounced.

The only problem was how to draft a village-wide ordinance that would hurt her nemesis but be seen as “reasonable” by the rest of the Village People. Answer: You can’t draft such an ordinance without freaking out all normal pet owners and Stanczyk reaped the whirlwind.

One shouldn’t legislate based on anecdote, or so goes the old saw, which surely means one shouldn’t legislate to exact revenge on a political opponent. Yet, here is the Village People’s Mayor doing just that. Pitiful and pathetic are words that rush to mind, though our neighbors who learned of the idea on the evening news just figured we were a bunch of fools led by the chief fool.


SDM Says: We have our favorite in the Mayor’s race and have made that view clear; however, we are even more adamant on this point: Stanczyk must go unless you want to live in a village where your parks are closed off from the public; where your family is vulnerable to dangerously long wait-times for fire-rescue; and where your precious pooch may be monitored by big brother every time she is excited by a squirrel. It may sound funny, but it ain’t no joke.

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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