South Dade Matters

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

Tag: Patrick Fiore

PB: And then there were 4…or, one too many.

Palmetto Bay’s election transformed from a desert to an oasis of options last week when two new (at least new to this election cycle) mayoral candidates entered the race.

As expected, former Mayor Eugene Flinn and former candidate (multiple) Peter England filed papers to take on incumbent Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and current Councilman Patrick Fiore.

Now, a race that looked positively moribund has become a real dog fight…no pun intended.

Here at SDM, we are pleased to see Mr. Flinn back in the mix. We have fond memories of a village that seemed to stay on track. We acknowledge some of his faults (voting with Mayor Stanczyk on the ordinance that sparked the land war with Palmer, for instance) but at the same time recognize his steady leadership. It would be nice to see some fresh faces at village hall, but since nobody seems willing to step up, then an experienced hand will do the trick.

But what do we do with Peter England? SDM notes that as of today Councilwoman Joan Lindsay is unopposed, meaning nobody has announced a run against her. How is this possible given her disruptive and divisive legislative history?

Here is our suggestion: Since Mr. England lives in District 3, he should take a pass on the mayor’s race and take on Mrs. Lindsay. We understand that she’s tough to beat. She works hard and even SDM can find nice things to say about her.

But Mrs. Lindsay must be challenged by a serious and sober candidate. We believe her views on how this village should grow display the worst tendencies of the Not In My Back Yard crowd. If Mrs. Lindsay remains unopposed without having her views challenged, then we can expect four more years of divisive politics masquerading under the misnomer of “neighborhood protection.”

SDM Says: C’mon Peter, give us a slate of candidates around whom we can rally!



A Tale of 3 Democrats

SDM supports charter schools and we do so unabashedly. Why?Because they are less expensive to operate and save taxpayers money. Because they force public school districts to innovate. Because they’re nimble and respond to the marketplace, rather than to teacher’s unions. Because they work.

So you probably think SDM is a right wing nut, huh? If so, then so is Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York.

You see, Governor Cuomo – scion of a famous New York DEMOCRATIC family (his father ran for President) – sided yesterday with New York City’s charter school movement. His decision to oppose New York City’s “progressive” (read: far left liberal) Mayor Bill de Blasio who closed several of the city’s best schools merely because they were not traditional public schools.

Cuomo’s decision was touted in the New York Post:

Some years ago, brilliant author Midge Decter warned against sitting on the sidelines during important political and cultural battles. “You must join the side you are on,” she declared.

Gov. Cuomo did just that yesterday. He shook up the charter war by joining the side he was on.

Cuomo’s late-morning decision to speak at a rally in Albany was the shot heard ’round the school universe. He put icing on the cake by throwing an elbow at the union during a short speech before a raucous crowd of students, parents and teachers outside the Capitol.

But his decision to show up spoke far louder than anything Cuomo actually said. Just by being there, he tips the scales toward decency and away from Mayor de Blasio’s obscene attack on charters and the mostly nonwhite children they serve.

For those of us in South Dade, New York politics is a million miles away. But the struggle going on in the Empire State mirrors teachers-union-backed anti-charter school attacks all over the country, including right here in our little hamlet of Palmetto Bay.

The New York battle is for the intellectual soul of a Democratic Party that controls one of America’s largest and most important states. Cuomo – following in the footsteps of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg – is reacting both opportunistically and realistically: he sees a chance to slap a political foe while also backing up poor children and their families. Once upon a time, Democrats said they were concerned for the poor, but it looks ever clearer that union jobs count for more – Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave.

The sad reality is that union control of education has been disastrous all over this nation. In Florida, the union-backed “educracy” continues to fight against competition in public education because they know charter schools work. Ask yourself this question: since charter schools in Dade only educate fewer than 13% of kids, why are they considered such a threat to the school district? Answer: Because they’re cheaper and they work.

Here in Palmetto Bay, our very own Mayor Stanczyk – also a Democrat – unsurprisingly has taken up the de Blasio banner. Just Monday she convinced her sheep-like colleagues to endorse the school district’s union-backed war on local charter schools. This at the same time she and her colleagues are supposed to be sitting in judgment of a charter school applicant in a few short weeks.

Apparently, the village council has taken a side, just as NYC Mayor de Blasio did: against school competition and more efficient spending of tax dollars. While Stanczyk’s liberal leanings have been evident for a long time, SDM is continually surprised at the rest of the council’s willingness to blindly follow her.

SDM Says: Too bad we don’t have even a single person with the courage of Andrew Cuomo on our council. And you want to be Mayor Mr. Fiore? Baaaaaaa!



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: Model Mayor?

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.

PB: Three For The Show

As SDM expected, only three of the village council attended last week’s special call meeting to adopt the initial projects for the downtown redevelopment project. SDM hasn’t watched the entire video yet – can you blame us? – so we don’t know how Mr. Fiore voted.

We hear talk that he voted no, but immediately told his followers that by attending the meeting he didn’t allow the project to get sidetracked. If so, Mr. Fiore will have officially joined the political rank and file – rank being the operative word. We’ll get back to you on this profile in courage once we know for sure what happened.

The reason we stopped watching was – well – the mayor hurt our delicate feelings. You see, local activist Stanley Kowlessar rose at the start of the meeting during public comments and referenced your humble bloggers. He said he had read about the potential absences of two members – Dubois and Schaffer – on this very site. He wanted to come to the council to tell them to defer action until a later date when the two absentees could make it.

You know what happened next? This blog’s beloved  mayor said she didn’t think “the anonymous blog” (meaning SDM) supported the village!

Yes, you read that correctly. Mayor Stanczyk has conflated herself with the Village of Palmetto Bay. Egomania is alive and kicking in our little burgh.

Of course we support the village – if such a thing really matters. What we don’t support is this current mayor. We don’t agree with ramming “economic development” spending down our throats when – conveniently – the council’s most vocal critic is home recovering from surgery.

You read that right, too. Mayoral candidate David Zisman – a Dubois confidante – explained that the reason the Vice Mayor couldn’t come to the meeting was that he was at home recuperating and was “in great pain.”

The Marathon Man’s excuse for not attending was a little flimsier – it was his mother’s birthday. Then again, we here at SDM have lost a couple mothers and you really can’t make up those opportunities once they’re no longer around. We certainly don’t begrudge a person for choosing his family over attending a totally unnecessary meeting.

But let’s get back to the mayor’s slap at your servants here. SDM supports the village by paying lots of taxes and some of us were involved in creating this village long before her highness showed up. Because we are invested financially and by deeds,  that means we don’t gag ourselves when we see somebody running the village into the ground.

The fact is that the decisions made on January 23rd were important and deserved to be vetted fully. SDM would go further to say that the mayor missed an opportunity to put her political opposition on the spot. Neither Mr. Dubois nor Mr. Schaffer has to defend their votes on the downtown spending now. Your constituents cannot hold them accountable, Mme. Mayor because you let them off the hook.

Are you following us?

SDM Says: When SDM engages in the contact sport of politics, we seek to serve Palmetto Bay…not its politicians.

PB: Secret Transcript Revealed!

SDM got hold of another super secret transcript of a telephone call from a week or so ago. For your eyes only:

Williams: Bad news Madame Mayor, everyone is available for the January 22 special call meeting. You know that John is going to raise a stink about our rushing out these contracts without bidding them properly. Even Flinn is pointing out in his blog that we took those shortcuts.

Stanczyk: Don’t listen to that blowhard…nobody reads his blog or that other pile of crap SDM either.

Williams: Well, forget the blogs. We can’t bring these items up to the council on the 22nd because I will get crucified. I’m already nervous about these three guys…Schaffer tried to run me over in his fire truck the other day.

Stanczyk: Ron, you worry too much. Look, I have to get this money flowing to the Triangle or I can’t go home again…you getting me? Plus, a couple of my supporters are buying property downtown based on this money flowing into the area. We have to get this done. Don’t give me problems, give me solutions.

Williams: (Grumbling) I have a solution you pain in the…

Stanczyk: What?!? I missed that last part.

Williams: Nothing, my cell is running out of battery. My suggested solution is that we cancel the meeting so you can go out and convince the village that we need to spend this money now. We really need your leadership.

Stanczyk: That’s your solution?!? You know Ron, you are the manager here and this project was your brainchild – or at least it came from your administration. Now we have some very important people – at least one of which is very near me, at all times, capiche? – who are expecting action not leadership. Maybe I’ll exert some “leadership” at your next contract review.

Williams: Okay, okay, I get it…no need to get nasty. (Pause) I did hear one thing but it may look a little fishy.

Stanczyk: Everyone knows I have no problem with fishy. What is it?

Williams: Well, the Marathon Man and Dubois both said they couldn’t do the special call under any circumstances if we held the meeting on Thursday,  Jan. 23. Both have prior business appointments.

Stanczyk: Are you recommending we change the meeting from the 22nd to the 23rd so that we can control the votes on that night?

Williams: I am recommending no such thing.

(Long pause)

Williams continued: Besides, moving the meeting might not work if Fiore either didn’t show up or left before we could hold a vote. The blogs would love that.

Stanczyk: Like I told you, nobody reads that crap. Look, I have to get back to the Garden Club. The old bitties are devouring the cucumber sandwiches like they missed their Alpo last night! What’s Meighan’s extension again?


SDM can’t vouch for the precise accuracy of this transcript but we’re pretty sure it tells it like it is. :)

PB Quick Bites: Dec. 9 Agenda Edition

Noisy back up or fatal crushing?

Vice Mayor John Dubois proposes this month to limit the use of “back up alarms” on trucks during the hours of 9 PM and AM at certain commercial locations close to residential areas. Mr. Dubois is known for his sensitivity to the needs of his constituents and, doubtless, nobody wants to hear those truck noises while they lay sleeping.

But is Mr. Dubois’ idea really a good one? SDM did a little surfing and it turns out that many workers are crushed to death each year because they are walking behind a delivery vehicle (in the driver’s blind spot) when suddenly the vehicle begins to back up without notice.

SDM Says: You may want to give this matter a little more thought Mr. Dubois. You don’t want to be the guy whose legislation causes a deadly injury. Maybe there’s a better way to achieve your objective?

My Kingdom For A Variance

In a cleverly penned memorandum describing pretty much everything anyone would ever want to know about variances, Palmetto Bay’s Planning & Zoning Director carefully avoids endorsing what he calls “an alternative path” for non-administrative variances.

Councilman Patrick Fiore – who wisely has repeatedly expressed his disdain for the village’s current overly restrictive variance standard – has proposed two changes to the village code. The first will allow staff additional latitude when reviewing de minimis proposals to alter the restrictions on a lot. If, for example, a property owner’s site plan required a minor adjustment to a setback (two feet in certain rare cases), then the director of the department could grant the request so long as the neighbors signed off.

Mr. Fiore also proposes to vest additional authority in the village council to consider variances that are generally compatible with the development patterns of surrounding properties. This new variance standard would permit the council to look around the property and determine if the property owner’s request would be beneficial to the neighborhood. Mr. Fiore’s change would be a significant change that is long overdue.

SDM Says: Kudos to Mr. Fiore for bringing forth these sound proposals. The village’s current variance standards were adopted in what SDM calls the village’s revolutionary days. Some of the decisions made then – like the use of the guillotine in revolutionary France – were rash and driven by political pandering to an angry mob. Upon adoption of these changes to the code, Palmetto Bay will become a friendlier place for everyone.

Bonus Post: Why don’t local law firms want to represent Palmetto Bay?

The Miami Herald reports that, “so far, no firms have applied [to become village attorney in the second solicitation], although the village announced the search on Nov. 14.”

SDM’s legal eagle pals tell us that the local legal market is hyper-competitive and gigs that pay a nearly guaranteed fee of $15,000 per month are tough to uncover.

Why is it, then, that our little village ain’t attracting flies? Perhaps qualified firms are conflicted out? Or maybe other firms think Gray Robinson has an inside track and they don’t want to waste time on applying for a closed deal?

SDM Says: Some or all of the above reasons are probably at play here, but SDM can’t shake the feeling that the qualified law firms in the area are looking at Palmetto Bay as an unstable government. Certainly, Palmetto Bay’s Mayor doesn’t offer much to allay those concerns.

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:


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.

PB: Post Office Crisis

SDM couldn’t watch last night’s meeting of the village council (where we are told lots of interesting things happened), but a little birdie also told us a throng of folks who live near the intersection of US 1 and SW 152nd Street (Coral Reef Drive) alternately cajoled, begged and demand the council help them stop the U.S. Postal Service.

Apparently, the residents whose homes are part of ACRE (a homeowner’s association) fear that the post office’s intended move to the old village hall building will make life even more unbearable for those living near Palmetto Bay’s most screwed up intersection.

SDM sees this issue as a big problem for Mayor Stanczyk and to a lesser degree Councilmen Tim Schaffer and Patrick Fiore (their districts share Coral Reef). Here’s the thing for all of these pols: Residents need leadership at a time of crisis more than at any other time and for them this new facility constitutes a crisis.

Any sentient being who has attempted to cross the highway at Coral Reef at congested hours understands what a disaster years of bad planning have wrought. The fact is that this area has been troubled for a long time and the post office facility will make things worse.

So what should the Mayor be doing to fix this problem? Well, our FOSDM tells us she is politely asking the county and state to do a traffic study. Okay…that’s a start, but is it anywhere enough? No. Try these steps immediately:

  1. Send a delegation to Washington, DC. Every local Member of Congress will meet with the Palmetto Bay Mayor, a couple of council members and staff on an issue like this. Alternatively, Read the rest of this entry »

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