SDM finally digested all of the goodies from the Super Bowl party so our stomachs are sufficiently settled to watch Monday night’s village council meetings.
The Model Was Here!
If it weren’t so serious, it would be funny. First up for the night, after some pleading from residents for the village to (a) slow down on downtown redevelopment until the community starts to understand what’s going on, and, (b) make sure that all members are present when taking up spending on the downtown (doing less is “dishonorable” according to one resident), the council had an odd moment.
The Marathon Man wanted the manager to share some of his projections on how the village would be paid back for investments in downtown. Councilman Schaffer quite reasonably wanted to understand how much new tax and fee revenue the village will yield once redevelopment begins.
Village Manager Ron Williams noted that the Finance Department created a model purporting to show how revenue might return. The model’s inputs will come largely from the studies the village approved at the last special council meeting. Williams also said the model was available at the last meeting, but since Schaffer wasn’t in attendance he didn’t get to see it.
Mayor Stanczyk asked Schaffer if he was satisfied with the model, which the stunned audience and council understood her to mean the table-top display that the DRTF created to show how the buildings might look in a newly rebuilt downtown.
The village manager and Schaffer quickly corrected her Lostness to say they were talking about a financial model and not a physical model!
If you think SDM makes this stuff up, go to 19:00 and see for yourself.
Carts & Horses
As SDM understands the purpose of the proposed projects in the redevelopment area, the village expects after the DRTF studies are completed that taxpayers and the council will know if the public infrastructure investments are made, then the village will receive a revenue yield.
Vice Mayor Dubois seems to hold the same understanding, which is why he asked several pointed questions as to why the village should spend $120,000 on master plan changes before the studies are completed.
The response from village staff was essentially that Mr. Dubois shouldn’t be questioning the wisdom of the process. Mr. Ed Silva nearly jumped across the dais as he protected his turf.
SDM Says: Mr. Silva needs to take a deep breath and listen to Mr. Dubois’ constructive criticism. He is correct that there should be no changes made to the village’s master plan until the planning data is available for review. To do otherwise makes the entire project look like staff is insisting that the cart come before the horse. Staff hostility to constructive suggestions from an elected officials should be ringing warning bells across Palmetto Bay.
SDM Wants To Be An Engineer Intern
Vice Mayor John Dubois raised an interesting point on the traffic study proposal provided by the firm Marlin Engineering. Dubois pointed out that the open continuing services contract with Marlin contained a rate of $110 per hour for work done by engineer interns. (Of course, the Village of Transparency didn’t disclose these rates in the published agenda, for what now seems like an obvious reason.) He also noted that the bulk of the hours assigned to this project would be done by these interns.
Mr. Dubois asked an important and critical question: Why would an intern be billed at $110 when licensed engineers are being billed at $125 per hour?
SDM Wonders: Do these interns get paid by the firms? If this work is so basic that an intern can do it then why can’t the village do the work in house with its own unpaid interns?
SDM Says: Good questions. One thing is for sure: these must be pretty smart interns and Palmetto Bay is fortunate Mr. Dubois is keeping us from looking like a bunch of suckers.
Marathon Man Cuts Loose
At the end of the regular council meeting (1:05:00), Councilman Tim Schaffer read a nearly three and a half minute prepared statement that you must, absolutely must hear for yourself.
With his voice breaking, Schaffer castigated Mayor Stanczyk for comments she made at the unnecessary January 23 special call meeting where she not so subtly accused Schaffer of shirking his duties.
Mr. Schaffer explained that he had been clear when the January 23 date was chosen that even though he initially said he could attend it upon a second review of his calendar he found out that his mother’s 84th birthday party caused a conflict. According to Schaffer, he immediately notified the clerk but the meeting went ahead anyway.
The explosive allegation came at the end when Schaffer accused Stanczyk of saying that Schaffer should have attended because his mother had Alzheimer’s disease and wouldn’t know it if her birthday celebration was moved!
Before Stanczyk could reply, Vice Mayor Dubois asked for a chance to speak and in a bizarre interlude spent a couple minutes discussing the tree committee while the mayor sat and stewed.
When she finally spoke and after a strained explanation of her choice of dates, Stanczyk acknowledged – amazingly – that there was no emergency that required the meeting to be held on January 23rd! Here is what the village code says about setting special call meetings:
Special meetings. Special meetings may be held on the call of the mayor or three councilmembers upon no less than 48 hours’ notice to the public, or such shorter time as a majority of the council deems necessary in case of an emergency affecting the life, health, property or the public peace. Sec. 2-44(b), Palmetto Bay Code of Ordinances. (Emphasis added by SDM.)
SDM Wonders: So why, then, didn’t you defer the meeting as Councilman Fiore requested Mme. Mayor, especially if you knew the meeting was not “an emergency affecting the life, health, property or the public peace”?
SDM Says: One is hard pressed to answer which is more disturbing, that the mayor would knowingly call a special call – emergency – meeting for a non-emergency matte while knowing 40% of her council could not attend, or that she made a disparaging remark about a colleague’s mother. Regardless, Mayor Stanczyk missed an excellent opportunity to apologize. Instead,SDM agrees that she looks like a dictator – to borrow Mr. Schaffer’s words – though SDM would say a poorly trained dictator.
P.S. SDM knows the pain of Alzheimer’s disease having seen it kill a loved one firsthand. For those many families struggling with the pain of watching a parent or grandparent deteriorate and lose his or her memory and sense of self, all we can say is it’s no laughing matter. We hope the mayor didn’t tell that tired joke, but if she did, she should never do so again, especially if she wants to hold public office.