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: 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. :)

PB: How to Plan a Park

Palmetto Bay needs to rebuild, restore or replace the main building at Coral Reef Park according to village staff testimony during the recently concluded budget hearings.

Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, outgoing Councilwoman Joan Lindsay and Councilman Tim “Marathon Man” Schaffer all voted to retain a $10 million “place marker” in the capital section of the budget ostensibly for this purpose.

Vice Mayor John Dubois and Councilman Patrick Fiore (a candidate for Mayor) voted against keeping the $10 million line item because: (a) there is zero chance the village will spend the money during the budget year, because (b) nobody knows what this building would look like or what its programming would be.

cart-before-horse-2

As Dubois and Fiore rightly point out, the administration’s proposal puts the cart before the horse.

Now, there is a better way. Did you see yesterday’s Miami Herald story on the new park proposed for Wynwood? A private individual funded an international architectural competition to come up with a design that would transform his parking lot into an iconic public space. The result is pretty darn cool:

Wynwood Greenhouse Credit Azeez Bakare

The lesson here is that the private individual laid out some general parameters and then asked some clever people to deliver a design that would capture the imagination.

The Village of Palmetto Bay could try something similar. First step is to imagine what the village wants – within reason. For example, we don’t need to build something that competes with private owners (think: gyms, wedding venues, gun ranges :) ). We probably could use a public gathering space for indoor and partially indoor events. As a village we shouldn’t be too quick to jump on any one concept or, likewise, too quick to dismiss realistic options.

SDM Says: Once the Village People decide what we want and have a basic understanding of what we can afford, why not try our own competition and see what the world suggests? Maybe there’s an opportunity for a public-private partnership, too. The point is, while the horse’s ass must be in front of us that doesn’t mean we must be led by one. :)

Guest Post by David Singer: Mayoral Candidates Speak

During the election cycle there are few opportunities for the average Palmetto Bay resident to get to know a candidates objective in running for Council. I had an interesting idea, why not request from each candidate a narrative on what their personal goals will be in their first 100 days of their term if they win their respective council seats. Narratives were limited to 250 words and I pledged to all candidates I would not comment or change what was submitted. As promised please find their essays below:

Peter England’s “First Hundred Days”

The highest priority of my administration as Mayor is to restore inclusiveness in Palmetto Bay. Everyone will be heard, everyone respected. We will conduct Council meetings in an atmosphere of respect and openness for residents and Council members alike. Every member of the Council is elected by and represents the entire Village and we will conduct their business accordingly. As Mayor, I preside over Council meetings, but our success will depend on collaboration to achieve our common goals.

One of the first proposals I will put before the Council is to empanel a new Charter Review Committee to assess this document in advance of a referendum in 2015. We must put discriminatory behavior, and the associated litigation, behind us and ensure that every member of our community has equal standing under our law.

We will conduct a thorough review of our Constitutional officers to ensure they are in synch with the direction of the Village Council.

Finally, we will institute a policy of total transparency, so that any resident can easily obtain any document which pertains to Palmetto Bay’s business. The Village’s current policy claims transparency, but does not provide full access to information and often erects egregious barriers to a resident’s ability to obtain what they want. I will work with the Council to fix this.

We have a great Village with enormous unrealized potential. My pledge is to make Palmetto Bay’s government as good as the people it serves.

Patrick Fiore’s “First Hundred Days”

The primary concern for this Village in the first one hundred days is to ensure that all residents are encouraged to participate in their governmental process. By “participate,” I mean that everyone’s opinion will be considered in a respectful manner, without condescension. I, as Mayor, will strictly uphold the provisions of the Citizen’s Bill of Rights, that is listed in our charter.

During the very first council meeting of the new council, I will introduce an agenda item, on dealing with the traffic issues, and excessive speed issues on our interior residential streets, and the process to resolve them.

As Mayor, I would facilitate the flow of the meetings quicker.

I would like to see added importance given to the Committee of the Whole meetings, especially on items where there is limited time to discuss at a regular council meeting.

I plan on proposing more reductions in our permitting fees, although changes were made, there is still more to do.

I will institute a “Mayor for a Day Program”, based much on my “Councilman for a Day” events I have held since 2011, where residents get first hand, close up knowledge of issues within the Village, especially infrastructure/public works, and quality of life issues.

The Mayor, and the Council should work closer together with our County, State, and Federal partners to ensure that Palmetto Bay is aware of all the resources available to assist us on big item issues, like road projects, protecting our natural resources, and environment, outreach would begin as soon as the new council is sworn in.

Patrick Fiore, candidate for Mayor of Palmetto Bay.

Eugene Flinn’s “First Hundred Days”

FDR coined the term, “First 100 Days,” and in that time, he passed fifteen bills which formed the basis of the New Deal. I want my first 100 days to be productive in establishing this community, and I have a solid record of experience in my eight years as Palmetto Bay’s founding mayor to back it up. Working with residents and staff, in my First 100 Days, we will:

• Hold roundtable meetings with officials, residents, and local business owners to identify our mutual goals and give everyone a voice in updating the long-term Master Plan;

• Review the condition of the parks to restore the fun that has been stripped from the play lots. Get the concession stands reopened for regular hours and repair any broken park equipment;

• Conduct a personnel audit to so village government functions at peak efficiency;

• Set committee goals and set up a system to view the goals and minutes of our existing committees, including the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force;

• Create and appoint a youth advisory committee. Reestablish a special events committee, create more events that residents will attend. Why not bringing back an annual Art Show in our village?;

• Reinvigorate the budget and finance committee to identify opportunities to improve spending decisions; and

• Improve the village website for ease of use, improve content and simplify payment features. Keep an accurate and easy to locate document archive. Restore the online services to our village permitting department and WiFi in our parks, which are no longer available for unexplained reasons.

I will maintain an online diary of so everyone can constantly monitor our progress and offer suggestions.

Go to eugeneflinn.com for the full plan.

Mayor Stanczyk’s “First Hundred Days”

1. My first 100 days will begin by working with the unsuccessful candidates on incorporating some of their ideas into Village plans. The efforts and their supporters should be part of the positive direction of our Village.

2. Enact a strategic planning process that will provide for efficient resource allocation for Parks improvement, the continued advancement of the Down Town Redevelopment/economic development program, and capital improvements. This will be an inclusive process for residents, Council and staff to share the best information, and incorporate resident input into priority setting and future goals so that the Village will continue to set high standards of service delivery for the next 10 – 20 years.

3. Traffic and speed are the most commonly mentioned concerns. Traffic mitigation is frustrated by County standards. I will renegotiate the County agreement to allow the Village to determine solutions to traffic and speed issues. While traffic always exists, it can be improved.

4. The two Fire Stations found locations. The building, manning and equipping of the stations is a priority that a re-invigorated Fire Board can work to bring to completion.

Our Village is entering a new phase; we are into our second decade. Planning is important to ensure that we continue striving for excellence in service to residents. However, the reasons we incorporated remain true and are the reasons I am running: a safe community, enhanced quality of life, protecting our residential character, great parks, low taxes and control of our zoning. This I will always deliver.

+++

My disclosure…… I have not endorsed either of the candidates or their positions.

David Singer

PB: Meet the Candidates

Local Realtor Miami Hal (a/k/a Hal Feldman, RE/MAX Advance Realty) offered an excellent service to our community when he videotaped the Palmetto Bay Business Association’s candidates forum. Click here to watch. SDM will augment the service by providing a cheat sheet to find some candidates of interest (time on the video in parentheses):

County Commission District 8

Daniella Levine Cava (7:38)

Lynda Bell (10:15)

Palmetto Bay Mayor

Peter England (13:07)

Patrick Fiore (15:34)

Eugene Flinn (17:32)

Shelley Stanczyk (20:36)

Palmetto Bay Seat 1

Karyn Cunningham (24:12)

David Zisman (26:48)

Palmetto Bay Seat 3

James Shedd (29:09)

Larissa Siegel Lara (31:44)

Henry Clifford (34:26)

SDM Says: The candidates did a creditable job of presenting themselves. A couple of standouts: David Zisman used some of his time to level legitimate criticism of the past village council, especially focusing on the nonsensical dog barking ordinance. Henry Clifford wins the award for most boring presentation. Karyn Cunningham and Larissa Siegel Lara come off as most polished. The mayoral candidates are going to go at it hard, but Flinn and England have to be the frontrunners.

PB: Quick Bites

Land Use Meeting Goes Awry

SDM couldn’t bear to watch the July 21 meeting, though we tuned in for snippets thinking at some point the main event would begin.

But no…instead of finally resolving Palmer Trinity, we were treated to chaos over the Palmetto Bay Village Center. SDM doesn’t know how or why Palmer’s hearing got sidetracked, but we know who wanted the issue to get bogged down once again.

Therefore, we suspect the usual suspects.

SDM Says: It’s really too bad Palmetto Bay’s election is in November instead of next month. Our relief is tantalizingly close but still over the horizon.

Rumors Running Rampant Regarding Retirement

Sitting Village Councilwoman and moving target Joan Lindsay still has not filed to run for re-election, which is causing speculation all over town as to why.

One SDM commenter floated a rumor that Ms. Lindsay is moving out of town. Others have let fly much less charitable explanations that you did not see and will not see printed here without real evidence.

Whatever the truth is, Mrs. Lindsay has three announced candidates in the race for Seat 3 and SDM thinks at least two of them will stay in regardless of what Lindsay does.

Seat 3 is Getting Crowded

Since our last election update, perennial council public speaker Henry Clifford has joined the race for Seat 3 to succeed Joan Lindsay.

Mr. Clifford is well known to be one of the usual suspects, a CCOCI guy, etc. He hasn’t filed any campaign reports so SDM can’t say whether he will be a serious candidate.

Both Larissa Siegel Lara and James Shedd are showing respectable cash supplies for this early in the campaign so we should expect some fireworks in this now competitive race.

Mayor’s Race: Stanczyk Finally Gets a Contribution – One Contribution!

In the Mayor’s race, the news continues to be bizarre. Sitting Mayor Shelley Stanczyk – the incumbent, with all the trappings of office – finally, in her FOURTH campaign report – disclosed a single $99 campaign contribution. That’s it. Ninety-nine bucks.

Oh and she put in $4,000 of her own money, so now she has about the same cash available as Patrick Fiore…call it about 4 grand apiece. Not a good reporting cycle for the two incumbents…not good at all.

The real mayoral candidates continue to report good numbers: Peter England has about $13,000 on hand and Eugene Flinn, about $10,000, most of which he loaned himself…better step it up!.

Seat 1: The Powers Collide

Karyn Cunningham is motoring along as if she’s done this before. (She has, in fact, done this before and it shows.) Cunningham can be seen most days tooling around town in her convertible while she sits on around $25,000 that will no doubt be unleashed in the last 30 – 60 days of the campaign. If you don’t know all of David Zisman’s foibles by now, you will surely know them by November.

Not to be outdone, David Zisman is sitting on about $26,000 and will be ready to fire back in kind. He too can be seen most days behind the wheel of his golf cart with a gorgeous, bubbly blond who we presume is his spouse (we’re kind of crusty old farts about stuff like that).  In any case, Given Mr. Zisman’s proclivity to incivility at  council meetings, we expect vitriol in the extreme coming from his camp November.

SDM Says: Election 2014 will be a wild ride in November so get your popcorn ready.

PB: Guest Post by David Singer (With SDM Comments)

The good guys actually achieved a well-deserved win during Monday’s [June 23, 2014] special council meeting when Councilmen Patrick Fiore, Tim Schaffer and John Dubois, voted down what could have been a disaster for Village residents, Churches, Private Schools and Daycares within Palmetto Bay.

It was a grueling experience watching the Monday’s council meeting, but with the exception of Mayor Stanczyk the remaining Council members attempted to reach a compromise on the Charter Amendment. This amendment would have eliminated all outdoor lighting for non-governmental, non-residential or non-commercially zoned properties.

[SDM Comment: We disagree with Mr. Singer's characterization. The proposed charter amendment would have prohibited outdoor lighting of recreational areas (except underwater swimming pool lights) owned by religious institutions, child care facilities, private schools,  and other non-governmental public assemblies located in residentially zoning districts.  We agree that the idea is crazy and will cover lots more lighting than we were told.]

During the meeting the Village Zoning Director confirmed my suspicions that if the amendment had passed it would prohibit all lighting; basketball, tennis, ground, pathway, landscaping, etc. The amendment would supersede any prior Village Ordinance.

[SDM Comment: Mr. Singer is hitting on why this measure and the code provision are so misguided. We've asked before: Does this mean a private school's pool could not have outdoor lights for the pool deck, stairways and pathways leading to it? Is everyone supposed to bring a flashlight? Why allow the underwater lighting in the first place if it cannot be used in any practical sense?]

Unfortunately, as we heard from Mayor Stanczyk the battle is far from over. After the vote was finalized she could be heard saying “We’ll Walk”. I would assume by her comment that she will lead various sullen individuals in an initiative to collect enough signatures to place the Charter Amendment on November’s ballot. Not exactly the Mayor’s responsibility to undermine the governmental process she’s been sworn to uphold, but then again she’s hasn’t shown herself to be very ethical while in office.

[SDM Comment: If you walk away, walk away, walk away, walk away… [SDM won't] follow.]

Maybe if the Mayor spent the time researching various municipalities within Miami-Dade County she would have found there are 19 cities, 6 towns and 9 villages for a total of 34 separate municipalities. These municipalities, along with Unincorporated Miami-Dade, represent 2.6 million residents.

[SDM Comment: What? Me? Do research? I'll tell you what you can do with your stinking research!]

None of the municipalities, including Unincorporated Miami-Dade County have their lighting code defined or guided by a City Charter. It’s just not standard or appropriate.

Could there be something that all the other Municipalities in Miami Dade County know that our Council doesn’t? Could what the Mayor is trying to pass be unconstitutional? Could it lead to more lawsuits for the Village of Palmetto Bay? Could the residents be footing the bill for more legal fees? Isn’t eight years of litigation enough?

What is really driving this venture into unknown and potentially very expensive territory?

Well for one thing, there is the location of Councilwoman Joan Lindsay’s home. Her house is approximately 100 feet away from the Palmer Trinity property line. Joan Lindsay was an original director, president and vice-president of the Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler, Inc. (CCOCI) for years. She has a serious conflict of interest and ethically shouldn’t even be voting on any issues related to Palmer Trinity.

[SDM Comment: This here would be an appearance of a conflict of interest, though not legally a conflict. Just FYI.]

There is also the fact that The Village of Palmetto Bay has spent over a million dollars in legal fees fighting Joan Lindsay’s and the CCOCI’s war against Palmer Trinity, which they would love to continue. Mayor Stanczyk, Joan Lindsay and the CCOCI all know that the Charter change will bring more litigation to the Village.

Unfortunately, we as residents have all experienced a history of Mayor Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay spending taxpayer’s money for Palmer Trinity litigation.

Simply put, all the Churches, Schools and residents in the Village have become collateral damage in a war that has nothing to do with us. Our hard earned tax dollars have become collateral damage. The Real Estate rights of Churches and Schools have become collateral damage, as seen by what happened to Alexander Montessori School when they wanted to expand. Alexander Montessori School has lost thousands of dollars in revenue due to a war which is raging between Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay and Palmer Trinity.

The passing of this Charter Amendment will commence a cycle of new litigation but this time it just won’t be with Palmer Trinity. It will be with the various churches and other educational institutions in the Village.

There are both Federal and State laws which prohibit the type of action the Mayor and Councilwoman are attempting. The Village Attorney has stated on record that this Charter Amendment could bring future litigation.

[SDM Comment: Mr. Singer is being a little misleading here and you know we can't stand such effrontery. The Village Attorney is quite comfortable that the proposed charter amendment was constitutional and permissible under RLUIPA and other statutes. He noted that anyone can sue, but he was clear that he believed such suits would not prevail, though he also stated such suits would not be frivolous. We're not sure Mr. Lehtinen is correct with respect to the level of scrutiny applied to the question: he says strict scrutiny would not apply, where we think it would under RLUIPA's statutory scheme. Anyone attempting to sue has a hard road, regardless.]

If anyone were to question the likelihood of future litigation please look no further than The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. When filed it will takes years to resolve, just as the Palmer litigation has taken years to resolve.

If asked to sign a petition respectfully decline and warn all your friends and neighbors who live in Palmetto Bay not to sign. If the petitioner tells you it’s about stadium lighting don’t believe them as they are not being honest. The Charter Amendment they are attempting to pass is written to prohibit all lighting at institutions which should be respected not discriminated against by the Village of Palmetto Bay.

[SDM Says: Right on!]

David Singer

PB: Stanczyk – And the mob will rule…or maybe not

Palmetto Bay’s village council took up a controversial measure proposed by Mayor Shelley Stanczyk on June 23rd, which would prohibit by charter any form of lighting to be installed on religious facilities, daycare centers, private schools and other nonpublic facilities.

Immediately upon her measure losing – even after a heroic effort by Councilman Patrick Fiore and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay to find a compromise – Mme. Mayor Stanczyk’s true reason for pushing the measure surfaced. After the vote went down 3 to 2, “we’ll walk it,” she said.

There you go. Incumbent Mayor Stanczyk, who has so far failed to report a single contribution for her re-election, has a re-election strategy of walking door-to-door to scare the public in person. We can only imagine what Mme. Mayor and her minions intend to say to the village people as they canvass unsuspecting residents.

We have sufficient reason for trepidation given the Mayor’s long questionable history regarding telling the truth to those who may wish to vote for her.

In a very recent effort, Concerned Citizens Of Cutler Inc. and Mrs. Stanczyk told hundreds if not thousands of residents that Palmer Trinity wanted to install “stadium lighting” on its athletic fields. This lie is most egregious since Mrs. Stanczyk knows that the code does not permit such lighting and would never be approved by a village council.

What also troubles us is the mob mentality that permeates village politics. Mrs. Lindsay and Mrs. Stanczyk claim that the village charter is the people’s document. Implicit in their statement is an acknowledgment that schools like Palmer Trinity are somehow excluded from the charter because of their non-person or non-taxable status (as former candidate Bev Gerald and village gadfly Warren Lovely shamelessly remind us at every meeting).

Mrs. Lindsay and Mrs. Stanczyk endorse the majority’s ability to legislate away the property rights of religious, nonpublic facilities. (If you doubt the master plan, note that both Mrs. Lindsay and Mrs. Stanczyk parroted the line that “hundreds of people sent emails” against the red herring stadium lights. Not much of a big deal given that the village has thousands of residents, but plenty for the purpose of scaring those who fail to pay attention to what’s really going on.)

Fortunately, three courageous members of the council (Mr. Fiore, Mr. Dubois and Mr. Schaffer) decided against placing on the ballot Mrs. Stanczyk’s divisive and politically motivated charter proposal.

SDM Says: Which leaves the decision up to us… If you think we should be zoning by charter and that we ought to create second class property owners based on religious or nonpublic status, then by all means open your door to Mayor Stanczyk. No doubt she will leave her re-election literature with you, too. However, if you think our village is being drawn once again into a state of perpetual strife, then you can tell Mrs. Stanczyk that you disagree with her plan to further divide this village and that you will be looking for different leadership this fall. You can also tell her to leave our dogs alone.

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