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: Did Peter England Just Dis Eugene Flinn?

Will England do what’s best for the Village People?

An FOSDM sent over an email where former candidate for Mayor, Peter England, thanks the Village People for almost getting him into a runoff. In the email, England makes a plea for support for Larissa Siegel Lara – an SDM favorite, by the way.

What the email doesn’t say is who England supports for Mayor now that he has been eliminated from contention.

Will Mr. England support Mayor Stanczyk for re-election? Does his personal antipathy run so deep that he would rather see Palmetto Bay suffer four more years of Stanczyk, the political equivalent to a swarm of locusts?

We have always believed that Mr. England — and the people who surround him — cared deeply for the health and welfare of Palmetto Bay. Is it possible that a personal vendetta might air its ugly head at this critical time for choosing?

SDM Says: Peter England and Patrick Fiore need to stand up and support Eugene Flinn for Mayor. Doing so is in the best interest of Palmetto Bay residents and taxpayers. So what say you gentlemen? Inquiring minds want to know.

The Stanczyk – Clifford Connection Deepens

Some of the commenters on this site continue to argue that SDM is fabricating the Stanczyk-Clifford cabal. Well, we went through their campaign reports and it turns out that in addition to their shared sign design and campaign events, the two share the same political consultant: Political & Media Matters, Corp., which is owned by Irene Secada.

SDM Says: Mayor Stanczyk was adamantly opposed to slates once upon a time…we guess that was just another of her fairy tales.

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

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

Cunningham Wins Resoundingly

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

Mayor’s Race Runoff

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

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

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

Seat 3 Runoff

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

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

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

School Amendment Fails

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

PB: 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.

dresiarczyk-162-OBRAZKY.PL

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: Three Weeks To Election Day

It’s hard to believe, but election day is right around the corner and the tired, tired Palmetto Bay voters just screamed in unison: Finally!

The Money

As of the end of September, the Mayoral candidates stack up as follows in terms of money available:

  1. Peter England $13,000
  2. Shelley Stanczyk $9,400
  3. Eugene Flinn $6,000
  4. Patrick Fiore $5,000

SDM Says: Money, while important, is less of a factor in a small race like Palmetto Bay’s. Nevertheless, whenever a sitting public official, like Mayor Stanczyk, is running for re-election and is being outspent by a challenger, that is a bad sign.

Seat 1 is a dead heat in the money game with Karyn Cunningham and David Zisman heading into the home stretch with an astonishing $30,000 each in the bank. Zisman has raised more overall ($43,000) but Cunningham is close on his heels ($38,000).

SDM Says: We can’t figure out how TWO council candidates each have almost as much money available at this point as do FOUR mayoral candidates. This seat must be setting the spending record for Palmetto Bay.

Seat 3 has three candidates with “normal” sums of money available:

  1. Larissa Siegel Lara $9,000
  2. Henry Clifford $7,000
  3. Jim Shedd $5,000

SDM Says: The smart money has to figure a runoff in this race, which means some donors are likely to hold out to get a bigger bang with runoff money.

It looks on the street like England and Siegel Lara have combined forces just as the color-coordinated Stanczyk and Clifford have done. Really Henry? You want to be hitched to Mme. Mayor so blindly that you can’t even pick your own sign colors?

Fire Stations Remain Controversial

Despite a Herculean effort to ram home the two fire stations before the election by Mayor Stanczyk, both the southern location at the Palmetto Bay Village Center (F/K/A Burger King Headquarters) and the northern site(s) at Farmer Road and Old Cutler Road continue to fester.

Grant Miller, publisher of the Palmetto Bay news, took Mayor Stanczyk to task for her blatant attempt to curry favor with the property owner by circumventing a covenant running with the land:

Under the covenant, the referendum to obtain a minimum of 75% voter approval is only required if the application is submitted by the property owner.”  So what does Mayor Stanczyk do? In the same year her family members have incorporated at least two construction companies located in Palmetto Bay;  she becomes more than a cheerleader, she actually SPONSORS the change, becoming the actual applicant, which robs the residents of their protections of the covenant.

Boy, that stings. It’s funny. SDM thinks the property owner deserves a fair hearing on maximizing the use of his land, especially if the so-called “endangered habitat” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

However, we also think it’s dirty pool by a mayor who is so desperate to make headway on siting the fire station. We understand how the property owner may be using the fire station as leverage to get his site plan amended, but if the deal isn’t good for the environment and the community then why pursue it?

The northern site is shaping up to be a headache for the next Mayor and Council. On the East side of Old Cutler, you have the endlessly hyperbolic Gary Pastorella who may actually suffer a stroke if the fire station is installed at the opening to his cul-de-sac. And, on the other side of Old Cutler you have candidate Zisman – who may become Councilman Zisman – and who has flip-flopped from supporting the station site on his side of the road to now opposing it.

SDM Says: Welcome to Palmetto Bay! The Village of Lawsuits.

Have You Seen The Avmed Commercial?

Former Channel 10 front man Dwight Lauderdale appears in a commercial touting Avmed and guess who is one of the spot’s stars? Yep, none other than mayor candidate Peter England. The ad below is another in the Peter England body of work, but his speaking role seems to have been cut out:

PB: Miami Herald Background Checks Slam Zisman, Fiore, England & Shedd

From the Miami Herald, which for some inexplicable reason is running under the “Pinecrest” section of the local news:

 

Palmetto Bay Village Council candidate David Zisman, running on his “40 years of business experience,” has had two business bankruptcies.

That was one of the findings from routine background checks conducted by the Miami Herald of the candidates up for election next month.

The Herald also found that mayoral candidate Patrick Fiore, when he was on a local zoning board, made at least $180,000 flipping properties he had purchased from a developer who routinely appeared before the board.

Mayoral candidate Peter England, when he worked at a local nonprofit group, was once accused by a former coworker of pressuring other employees to donate to political candidates and then reimbursing them through the nonprofit. The accusation came in a lawsuit against the nonprofit. England was not sued personally, and the case was settled out of court.

And candidate James Archie Shedd, who previously ran for Miami-Dade County property appraiser, was found by the state elections commission to have violated a rule on campaign-finance reporting, but not fined.

Background checks of the other five Village Council candidates found no issues of note.

DAVID ZISMAN

Village Council candidate David Zisman has been touting his business acumen during the campaign.

“I’m here to pledge to you tonight — I’m never going to raise taxes,” he said at a Sept. 30 candidate forum. “We don’t need to raise taxes, we just need to manage our finances. We need to bring a business point of view to this council — and that’s what I bring. Forty years of business experience.”

In 2012 and 2013, Zisman filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcies on two of his businesses, which deal in barbecue equipment, Jacuzzi baths and kitchen appliances.

The 2013 bankruptcy, filed in November, was for Evening’s Delight Inc. According to Zisman, the bankruptcy was purely “administrative.”

“Evening’s Delight has never been in financial trouble. Ever, ever, ever. [It’s] all about consolidating the corporations,” he said.

But before that bankruptcy was filed — the proceedings are still ongoing — two creditors named in the bankruptcy filed lawsuits for unpaid debts and received judgments in their favor.

Vent-a-Hood, a Texas-based kitchen hood manufacturer, won $62,313 plus $12,882 in attorney’s fees in October 2010 when it sued Evening’s Delight in a Texas state court.

Samuel, Son & Co., a metals distributor, won $29,171 in damages from Evening’s Delight in June 2013.

Asked about the lawsuits, Zisman said they did not indicate he had any problem paying back vendors. He said he had called to let them know he would be filing for bankruptcy, and that they had opted to sue just to make sure the bankruptcy wouldn’t allow him not to pay them back.

“I let them know what was going on; they were merely protecting themselves. And they did that. And if you pull the court records, you’ll see I didn’t even have a defense. I just let them do what they wanted to do,” Zisman said. “They’re getting paid back as we speak.”

According to Vent-a-Hood president William Miles Woodall III, Zisman filed for bankruptcy after Vent-a-Hood tried to prove that Zisman had shifted assets to another Evening’s Delight company to get out of paying the debt.

Vent-a-hood did not sue because Zisman had warned them of the bankruptcy, Woodall said. It’s the other way around, he said.

“He filed for bankruptcy because we started deposing his family,” he said. “There’s no question he did it to get out of what he owed us.”

Pressed as to why the vendors were not paid between the time they received judgments in their favor and when the bankruptcy was filed — just over three years elapsed between Vent-a-Hood’s initial judgment and the bankruptcy filing — Zisman stopped answering questions.

“I told you already, this is a story about nothing. You and the Herald are trying to do a hatchet job on me. I don’t appreciate it. Please do a story on a real event. My business is in business; I’m doing well. Thank you very much.”

In response to Zisman’s comment that Vent-a-Hood was in the process of being paid back, Woodall said he had just talked to his lawyer, who had been in touch with the bankruptcy trustee. Zisman is offering $25,000. “A small pittance,” he said, compared to what he’s owed.

According to the bankruptcy filing, outstanding debts to Vent-a-Hood now total $89,480.

The 2012 bankruptcy, filed that April, concerned Luxury Kitchen Hoods LLC, a company Zisman incorporated in 2010. He said he sold the assets of the business to a competitor before the bankruptcy filing, and the competitor took on a large chunk of the $600,672 in liabilities listed in the filing. Zisman would not say who had bought Luxury Kitchen Hoods’ assets, citing a “non-disclosure agreement.”

PATRICK FIORE

The Herald also found that when mayoral candidate Fiore was chairman of the West Kendall Community Council, he made at least $180,000 flipping properties he had purchased from a developer who routinely appeared before the council for zoning changes.

Fiore is now a Palmetto Bay Village Council member.

The ethics commission looked at it and found no probable cause to move forward,” Fiore said last week when asked to comment.

That is in line with what Fiore told the Herald in August 2006. But at the time, the Herald found that while Fiore had asked the ethics commission for an opinion on the matter, he had not told it that the vote would take place while he was currently under contract with the developer.

The ethics commission has repeatedly ruled that officials can vote on matters that affect parties that they have done business with so long as that business is not ongoing during the vote.

Robert Meyers, then the director of the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, also told the Herald in 2006 that it was unknown how the commission might have ruled.

Fiore declined to answer whether he would vote again on a developer’s proposal in a similar situation.

PETER ENGLAND

The Herald found a lawsuit against Camillus House, a nonprofit agency serving the homeless, where mayoral candidate Peter England was director of government relations until 2009. England was not a defendant in the suit, but was mentioned in it.

In March 2005, Tyrone G. Hart, a former director of development of Camillus House, accused the nonprofit of wrongful termination and alleged that England routinely pressured employees to donate to political candidates and then reimbursed them through the agency.

Hart accused England of directing him to donate to a candidate, and said he received a check from Camillus House in the same amount about two weeks later. He said he refused to take the money.

Camillus House and Hart settled the case out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Asked about the matter during an elections interview earlier this year, England called Hart a “disgruntled former employee” and said, “There was nothing to it, there was never anything to it. I don’t know how the suit was settled.”

JAMES ARCHIE SHEDD

Council candidate James Archie Shedd has run for political office once before, in 2008, when he lost in Miami-Dade’s first election for property appraiser. In 2010, the Florida Elections Commission found that he violated election laws when he went into overdraft to pay for campaign expenses and failed to report his qualifying fee as a campaign expenditure.

He said in May during an elections interview that he took full responsibility in front of the commission.

“They said, basically, ‘Don’t do this again,’ and that was it. No fine, no penalty. They decided that because I had spent so much money on a losing campaign, that was enough punishment. Which it really was,” Shedd said.

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: SDM’s Candidate Forum Observations

SDM listened to the entire Palmetto Bay Village Voice candidate’s forum that was held last night. You can tune in if you wish by going to the Miami Hal (Feldman) website. (Thanks Hal. You’re a mensch.) Scroll down to the Local Listings and Stories section and click on the Palmetto Bay Candidates Forum icon.  And, nice job PBVV and David Singer!

Aside: Who says we don’t have a place to hold meetings in Palmetto Bay? Christ Fellowship Church opened its doors to the village for the forum, as it always seems to do when asked, and we taxpayers didn’t have to pay for it!

Ok, enough of that blather, on to SDM’s observations:

Seat 1

David Zisman – Mr. Zisman careens from comprehensibility to inconsistency whenever he speaks and last night was no exception. For example, he identified a critical problem with Palmetto Bay, which is its negative attitude toward business development. He said he wanted to see the Palmetto Bay downtown area have a restaurant row and believes he can best lead the village in that direction. He also said the village budget is unsustainable and needs to be pruned (we’re paraphrasing). SDM couldn’t agree more.

But then, in response to a question on whether the village should be doing special events, he said the village should hold a Fourth of July celebration every year without saying whether taxpayers should be forced to foot the bill. How can a village budget be sustainable when it throws away $60,000 on a taxpayer-subsidized party for village insiders?

Karen Cunningham – Mrs. Cunningham is the yin to the Zisman yang. Where Zisman is all emotion, Cunningham is pragmatic and under control. Where Mr. Zisman wants to make the free keg party an annual, subsidized event, Cunningham wants to plan the event better so that taxpayers won’t have to pay for it. (Imagine that!)

Another example: Zisman, in his closing remarks, implied that since he’s walked the village and listened to voters and presumably knows it all now, a new council just needs to get seated and start making decisions.  Cunningham says we need to calmly, professionally adopt a strategic plan so that we can methodically determine what the community wants and measure our progress toward the goals the Village People set.

SDM Says: We understand that some people find Mrs. Cunningham to be overly cautious and that sometimes her positions lack specificity, but her demeanor fits our bill better than does Mr. Zisman’s. We think Zisman will be  needlessly disruptive and unpredictable. Even though he’d be manna from heaven for SDM, he will ultimately be bad for Palmetto Bay.

Seat 3

Jim Shedd – Mr. Shedd certainly seems to be enjoying himself as he discovers all of Palmetto Bay’s lingering controversies. We note that he is “discovering them” because he seems truly amazed by topics we’ve been harping on since the inception of this blog.

Example: Shedd probably got the biggest applause of the night when he wondered aloud why the Thalatta Estate was so often closed to visitors and residents. Of course, SDM readers know why but it’s always interesting to watch as a newbie learns the truth about our little burgh.

Mr. Shedd rarely offers much insight into his past, which can be forgiven since he spent virtually his entire career as a federal agent. What did he do for the DEA? Well, he caught bad guys, of course. The only problem with this line is that when you Google him, you find that he was – at least for part of his career – a spokesman that handled the media. How much time did he spend in the field? SDM can virtually guarantee we will never know.

When he was asked to cite an act of leadership from the past year, he finally shed some light on his current means of earning a living. Mr. Shedd advised the audience that he consults for defense attorneys and recently helped to exonerate an innocent man. Bravo! Of course, the old saw is that the penitentiary is full of innocent men, but who are we to judge?

Henry Clifford – While Mr. Clifford’s personality is the precise opposite of Mr. Zisman’s, Clifford shares Zisman’s penchant for internally inconsistent positions.

Example: Clifford told the audience that Palmetto Bay may face a serious budget crunch in the near future. He reiterated the position more than once that the village would have to pare its budget. We infer he wants to avoid tax increases since he never mentioned them as a solution.

The inconsistency comes from a later statement where he said he would push for the lowest density possible, presumably in every future development in the village.

SDM Wonders: How does Mr. Clifford’s position on density square with the stated goal of the downtown redevelopment task force of improving the village’s tax base? Answer: It doesn’t.

Where Mr. Clifford is most inconsistent is in a statement he made regarding village parks. He said he wanted to see more lighting at the village’s tennis courts. Now isn’t that an interesting position to take when Mr. Clifford was such a vocal opponent to other lighting proposals, including for Coral Reef Park and Palmer Trinity School?

Mr. Clifford comes to this race as a puppet of Mayor Stanczyk and her crew so not unsurprisingly he has adopted their inconsistent position on who gets to play into the evening and who doesn’t: In Palmetto Bay, people with red signs get to make this decision, not the property owner.

Larissa Siegel Lara – Mrs. Siegel Lara, like Mrs. Cunningham, is a person of structure. She kept emphasizing the need for methodical decision making, planning and holding people accountable to measurable outcomes. Be still SDM’s heart!

Mrs. Siegel Lara’s biggest downside is that she has virtually no experience with government, which means she could fall prey to the disease currently affecting the Marathon Man (Tim Schaffer): staff-infatuation-itis. On the plus side, she comes off as a decision maker who does her own research and makes decisions based on her own process.

SDM Says: While green as hell, Mrs. Siegel Lara is the best choice for Seat 3. We can’t predict exactly how she will vote on property rights or how she will balance the demands of neighbors vs. the rights of  individuals, but we like her approach and see a big upside to having her on the council.

Mayor’s Race

Soon to be eliminated from consideration:

Mayor Shelley Stanczyk – SDM is long on record on why Mrs. Stanczyk must be retired. As usual when she opens her mouth, she just gave us more ammunition last night.

Forget her re-writing of the history of the fire stations and Thalatta Estate. Forget her inane statement that the problem with the village manager is his contract (huh?).

The newest and best reason for voting against Mme. Mayor is what she said last night about the village’s reserve fund. No, it’s not that she uses the figure of $13.6 million as the amount of the reserve…she may be right that today we have that much in reserve. The fact that it’s not a figure reflected in the budget is just a case of manipulating of statistics.

No, the latest best reason to voter her out of office came during her closing statement. Mayor Stanczyk clued us all into the real danger she poses when she said the reserve is a fund that can be used for future village projects. Yes, you are reading that right. In Mme. Mayor’s view, a reserve is a pot of money one can use to pay for, oh we don’t know, a $10 million unfunded building at Coral Reef Park?!?!

SDM’s Educate-the-Mayor Moment: A reserve fund’s purpose is to protect the village from an emergency (unbudgeted) downturn in revenues or uptick in expenses. Think: A hurricane hits and the village’s revenue is severely depleted for several years while expenses for police and municipal services skyrocket. Also think: Rating agencies demand reserves so that if a bond or other debt obligation cannot be satisfied from its intended revenue source then the agencies can be satisfied that the village has sufficient revenues to cover the debt service. A reserve is not a capital fund to be used for future projects and our budgets don’t reflect that those funds will be used this way.

The fact that Mme. Mayor has attended 12 years of budget meetings and doesn’t understand the purpose of the reserve immediately and on its own disqualifies her from further service to this village.

Patrick Fiore – SDM likes Mr. Fiore but we don’t get why he’s running for Mayor. Sure, we understand he wants to be the public works mayor who fixes the potholes, but that just isn’t enough for us. We also understand that Mr. Fiore takes credit for spending approved by the councils upon which he sat. What he doesn’t say is that he regularly voted against at least some of those budgets.

Taking credit while not deserving it is nothing new to politics, but that’s not why Mr. Fiore falls short. Palmetto Bay needs a Mayor who will lead us to better functioning traffic, not just to smoother roads, a difference that seems to escape Mr. Fiore.

The Contenders:

Peter England – There’s something soothing about Peter England’s approach. He’s perpetually upbeat even when he’s leveling criticism. His obsession – locating two fire stations – is admirable and necessary. That he can offer his time in abundance to village matters is also a big plus.

But there’s also something missing from Mr. England’s latest quest for Palmetto Bay public office. SDM went back over our notes and couldn’t find one comment he made last night that stood out. No major plan. No critical issue – other than the fire station. No real controversial comments and – sadly – no real vision, except for his commitment to comity. (Not to be confused with comedy – that is Mme. Mayor’s area of expertise.)

Eugene Flinn – Where England is bland, Flinn is busting at the seams with enthusiasm mixed generously with barbs against his opponents. Flinn said he is fit and ready to come back to restore Palmetto Bay’s dignity. He wants to work with neighboring municipalities – which is a not-so-subtle knock on Mme. Mayor’s inability to gain the respect of her fellow mayors in Pinecrest and Cutler Bay.

Sure, Flinn toots his horn like most politicians, but it feels like there is a purpose behind the self-aggrandizement. Think: “Look at my record. Palmetto Bay worked when I was Mayor.” The purpose is to remind us that back in the day we didn’t always worry about whether we’d have to count how many times our dog barks.

Here’s an example from last night of vintage Mayor Flinn: When asked about whether he would keep the current village manager (a Flinn hire), Flinn noted that when Village Manager Ron Williams reported to his council, things got done. He cited traffic calming and funding for drainage as examples. Then, to sink the nail deeper into the current mayor’s electoral coffin, he said the village manager should be graded on the assignments he’s given by the council.

The not-at-all-subtle subtext: The last several councils under the current mayor weren’t properly managing the manager, so what do you expect from the guy? Ouch!

SDM’s Bottom Line: We think England and Flinn will face each other in a run-off. We’ll take Flinn this round and then watch the fireworks. :)

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