South Dade Matters

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

Tag: Shelley Stanczyk

PB: End of an Era

This blog regularly criticized Village Manager Ron Williams though we tried to do so in a spirit of advocacy and not of malice. Our opposition was never personal; Mr. Williams is widely regarded – rightly – as a gentleman of integrity.

Our opposition was rooted in a policy disagreement. Namely, Mr. Williams grew Palmetto Bay’s bureaucracy perpetually, whether the revenue winds blew hard or weak and, for most of his tenure, with little opposition from the village council.

So, when the council took his growth of government mantra to heart and added unnecessary employees to the village police department, Mr. Williams shrugged it off. What could he say, after all, when his own policy was to bring seemingly every activity in-house and to add staff nearly every year? Not much as it turned out.

Nevertheless, we wish Mr. Williams well in his retirement and not because we are glad to see him go, but because he served the village faithfully and without rancor for its entire existence. He leaves behind not a whiff of unseemly behavior and with his sterling reputation intact.

On Wednesday night, the village council will name Building Department Director Ed Silva as a caretaker while they belatedly search for a new manager. One might ask why we ended up needing a caretaker when Mr. Williams’ intentions were pretty clear all the way back in October of last year, but why scratch at an old wound?

(Maybe everyone thinks Mr. Williams is a glutton for punishment and would have stuck around if Mrs. Stanczyk was re-elected? :) )

SDM has only one objection to the council’s plan of naming Mr. Silva: why shouldn’t he be able to apply for the job himself? Mr. Silva exerted more Director-level leadership in this village than any other person we can think of. Why leave him out of the mix now that he has a chance to show his wares?

SDM Says: We believe there are several good candidates out there for this village to interview but the council should be looking to poach the best talent available. Avoid hiring a search firm that will merely bring us the retreads. Don’t waste too much time looking at candidates outside Florida, either. Oh, and let Mr. Silva apply. He’s earned the chance.

PB: Can it be? Comity?

SDM watched the video of the swearing-in and first meeting of the updated village council (yes, we updated by going retro) and came away with just one word to describe it: comity.

No, not funny…though Gene Flinn is certainly much more of a card than Shelley Stanczyk, except when she didn’t mean to be funny, of course.

Comity is where a public body behaves with respect toward one another, where members speak and listen while a colleague answers. We’d almost forgotten what it looked like…and we weren’t alone. At one point, Councilman Schaffer seemed stunned to be asked to make his comments without his having to first interrupt the presiding officer.

But you don’t come to SDM to hear mush, or do you? We didn’t think so.

The truth is that the first meeting after an election is usually lots of sunshine and light as the parties accustom themselves to their roles and colleagues. Nonetheless, we can make some observations:

Mayor Flinn – SDM couldn’t help but notice how pleased Flinn appeared as he took his seat. Even as long-time council watchers, it’s was a little surreal seeing him on film. There were not cameras in the chamber when he was mayor.

The other thing we noticed is that Mayor Flinn v. 2.0 is not merely physically different (we estimate he’s 40 pounds lighter), he’s also more patient. Sure, the quick wit and sharp tongue aren’t gone completely (he’ll get himself in trouble soon enough), but he seems more…what is the right way to describe it? More subdued? More careful in his choice of words?

One aspect of the old Flinn is still there: He is a man on a mission. He has an agenda and he’s going to move it, but v. 2.0 wants to bring his council along with him rather stand behind them and push.

Which causes another word to come to mind: refreshing. We pray version 2.0 lasts.

Councilwoman Cunningham – Describing Cunningham is one word is easier: she is prepared.

Cunningham took to the microphone in her swearing-in speech and methodically thanked everyone and laid out her agenda. If we were being picky, we might say the speech was too long, but then again how many times do you get to thank the people who helped you in two consecutive campaign seasons?

Then on the dais, we could see her working through her list and asking relevant questions. We suspect sitting through hundreds of committee meetings in Tallahassee give one a leg-up on how to behave in a public body and Cunningham clearly benefited from her experience.

And it may not be that Cunningham alone benefits from her lobbying experience. She pushed her colleagues to demand and schedule a discussion immediately to adopt a state legislative agenda because, as Cunningham knows, the legislature waits for no man…er…woman.

Councilwoman Siegel Lara – SDM could almost feel her nerves through the video stream. Campaigning and governing are as similar as riding a bicycle and swimming. You may be using the same parts of your body, but the application is completely different.

Our one word for Siegel Lara: rookie. (Don’t be too upset, Ms. Siegel Lara, everyone is a rookie at being a pol. It’s how you grow into the gig that matters to us.)

Ron Williams – SDM doesn’t buy into David Singer’s view that Williams future is certain. Then again, Singer goes to the meetings and speaks to the politicians so he may have more actual knowledge.

At SDM, we read tea leaves. Williams looks to us to be posturing. We’ve never been sold on his competence, so our vote is to change horses and Williams seems to be open to moving along, too.

In the end, our one word to describe Williams is endangered.

PB: David Singer Opened A Gift Early

An Early Holiday Present

In what everyone in attendance assumed was going to be a twenty-minute introductory Council Meeting actually turned out to be a three-hour sugar-coated, diabetic inducing, love fest. Although it ran longer than expected, it was professionally administered and to portray it as jovial would be akin to describing Santa Claus as slightly overweight.

There were limited interruptions as council members spoke and all were treated with utmost respect. I can promise this meeting was more than slightly overwhelming since the atmosphere was such a stark difference from just 30 days ago.

Various observations from the Council meeting include:

• Even though Mayor Gene Flinn attended Shelley Stanczyk swearing-in ceremony four years ago, she did not have the respect and professionalism to attend his. In fact, neither Shelley Stanczyk, Joan Lindsay nor anyone from the CCOCI crowd joined the residents of Palmetto Bay to welcome the new Council by attending the swearing-in ceremony.

Patrick Fiore who lost his bid for Mayor was honored for his last four years of service to the Village. Mayoral candidate Peter England also attended out of respect for the new Council. In fact, the only candidates who recently ran for office and did not attend were David Zisman and Shelley Stanczyk, all others were there.

• There appears to be a sign posted outside Village Hall, “Palmetto Bay is now accepting Applications for a New Village Manager.” Maybe there is no sign, but it was evident from the Council meeting that Village Manager Ron Williams should probably be dusting off his resume.

Ron is not the only Village department head that should focus on looking for other employment. I would be shocked if within the next six months two or three other department heads were not also shown the door.

Mayor Gene Flinn along with remaining Council members have the opportunity to do something amazing by reinventing the way Palmetto Bay has been operating for the last four years. This would certainly be a huge win for all Village residents. I’m confident they will call a “mulligan” by examining all aspects of Village operations, but the first step is to find a qualified Village Manager.

• Can someone call COW? Nothing appears to be off the table when it comes to Committee of the Whole meetings. The agenda for the next COW meeting appears to be as longs as my son’s Christmas wish list. Anyone who is planning on attending should bring a sleeping bag!

It’s a novel concept, instead of springing a new resolution or ordinance on Village residents during a council meeting, why not at a COW where the Council can receive input from the individuals they serve?

• It’s all about providing public information. Expect a new and improved Village Website, which should have access to Village information an average resident would want to see. I’ve personally spent thousands of dollars on information requests over the past three years and besides the money, there was a great deal of time spent on waiting for the documents. It is going to be great to have instant access. Maybe in the near future they will even make available the 10+ bank statements that are not available on-line. The new Council seems to be prepared to reinvent the Palmetto Bay’s definition of the words “Government Transparency”.

Overall, the Mayor and Council appear to be taking positive steps in ending the four-year nightmare that has occurred in Palmetto Bay. There are still many more issues that need immediate attention, (i.e. fire stations, Palmer Trinity Litigation and Charter review), but as I tell my son during the Holiday Season, you can’t get all your presents at once, what will you have to look forward to on your birthday?

David Singer

PB: Today, We May Heal

When SDM started this blog in July, 2011, the issue that drove us to write was the travesty that was (and is) the way Palmetto Bay treated Palmer Trinity.

What we’ve learned in the past 3+ years is that the Palmer fiasco was a symptom of a more insidious disease: Stanczykitis.

Never heard of it?

According to SDM’s medi-pol dictionary, Stanczykitis (sometimes confused with its close cousin, Pastorella Syndrome, which is more of a psychosis) is defined as follows:

A fatal disease where paranoia and malaprops drive disgruntled retirees and near-retirees into political madness; indicators include weird ordinances seeking to muzzle Sparky, wild about-faces on issues critical to the health and welfare of the Village People, and a general malaise and government drift.

The cure for Stancykitis is a purge, generally performed by voters but occasionally by political serendipity.

When we first ventured on this quest to rid village politics of this debilitating disease, we felt like the only path to sanity was by replacing the elected officials we kindly referred to as the Three Amigos.

In 2012, SDM urged voters to oust former Vice Mayor Brian Pariser by voting in John Dubois…one amigo down, which left Councilwoman Joan Lindsay and Mme. Mayor.

In a bit of a surprise in 2012, we supported re-election of Howard Tendrich and were saddened when he lost.

We were pleasantly surprised – and those suffering from Pastorella Syndrome much dismayed – that Tendrich’s successor, Tim “Marathon Man” Schaffer, turned out to be an independent and reasonable voice. Thus, serendipity gave an unexpected win to the good guys.

Today, we have the chance to clean out the wound in the mayor’s office by voting in Eugene Flinn. We also have a bonus opportunity to give the current majority a strong and diverse membership by electing Larissa Siegel Lara.

We certainly hope those of you who care about and pay attention to Palmetto Bay’s drifting government will help us cure Stanczykitis once and for all. Pastorella Syndrome is not so easily eradicated…so SDM will remain vigilant.

PB: Mme. Mayor’s Desperate Lies

Surprise! Shelley Stanczyk went negative over the weekend in a mail piece that is not only intentionally misleading, but patently wrong in at least one instance.

SDM Note to Readers: If you haven’t seen the mailer, be thankful: this post won’t make much sense to you. We aren’t going to publish her trash here.

SDM writes regularly in these pages about the village’s failure to provide simple, searchable access to meeting records. Mrs. Stanczyk has been mayor of this town for four years and has done zilch to fix the problem. Now, she has the gall to claim the following “successes” as an alleged contrast to her opponent:

Televised meetings; budget, check register, archived meetings, minutes & Agenda, municipal code & all police and crime data on the Village website for access to all.

Isn’t it interesting that her honor takes all the credit for these feats of nothing? Televising meetings is supposed to be some big deal? Almost everyone in this county does it. (Cutler Bay is an exception, but they may get religion under the new mayor)

Putting the budget on the website? Again, almost everyone, including and all of our neighbors, publish their budgets.

Check register? Meh…who really cares? Archived meetings? Yes, true, but they are not searchable. Minutes? Yes, true, but again not searchable so you have to read twenty of them to find the subject and once you locate the meeting, the minutes are only in summary format…very unhelpful.

Agenda? Nope. This is a lie. Village agendas stay up on the web for a week or so before the meetings then are taken down about a week afterward. The agenda backup documents disappear into the clerk’s file cabinet and can only be accessed by public records request, which allows the village to keep tabs on who is asking for what.

Municipal code? Not on the village website, but placed on, which is okay, but not what the Mayor wrote in her flyer. It’s also important to note that until SDM bitched and moaned for about two months, the village hadn’t updated the online version of the code for over a year.

Police and crime data? Yes, there are crime reports online since December of 2013. Of course, there is no data going back to her claim that Mayor Stanczyk (we guess by herself) “reduced violent crime, robberies by 36% in her first year.” Does that statement even make sense? Which category was reduced (violent crime or robberies)? Did they both go down by the same percentage or is this a composite figure? What happened to the other categories of crime?

We also love the fast and loose game Mme. Mayor plays with her alleged increase of reserves. Here at SDM, we pay close attention to the budget and we cannot find the figure Mrs. Stanczyk cites in any of the budget documents. We would call it a lie, but we suspect it is more of a snapshot – citing the total reserves at a particular month’s end, rather than using a year-end figure that is more realistic. In any given period, the “reserves” may be higher or lower than budget, but what does it matter if the funds are scheduled to be spent in the next period?

SDM Says: Ultimately, Mme. Mayor’s choices for her hit-piece are pretty weak and require a pretty detailed understanding of the inner workings of Palmetto Bay’s government. We find her willingness mislead and outright lie to her constituents to be a bigger concern, though not an unexpected one.

PB Guest Post by David Singer: He Has A Lot On His Mind

Dirty Campaigning

Could there be even more dirty politics during the final week of Palmetto Bay’s election campaign? I have had confirmation from three sources that fresh off the heels of his loss in district 3, Jim Shedd has threatened to release negative advertising flyers, which remain from his campaign against Larissa Siegel Lara. Apparently, Jim Shedd feels the best way to assure Henry Clifford wins District 3 is to go negative. Go figure?

There is no word yet from Mr. Clifford’s camp, but seeing how well negative ads have gone over in this election, you would think that Mr. Clifford would want to distance himself from Mr. Shedd’s activities.

For the sake of Palmetto Bay, Mr. Clifford should publicly condemn Mr. Shedd’s extracurricular activities. If not, you can just add Mr. Clifford to the long list of other CCOCI members that feel they are entitled to win at all costs no matter who gets caught in the crossfire.

We as residents of Palmetto Bay must finally send a message to candidates who run, that dirty politics and negative advertising will not be tolerated in our Village.

Speak Freely…if you Support the Mayor

Freedom of Speech is apparently only acceptable to those who support Mayor Shelley Stanczyk’s election.

On a Facebook page set up by Village residents Carol Johnson Vega and Diane Spano-Lehmann, residents of the Village have been given free access to support their preferred candidate. But you better not say anything negative about Mayor Shelley Stanczyk or her daughter Katie Gonzalez will be calling you a bully, or worse, a jackass.

Vega and Spano-Lehmann created the page so all residents can freely discuss village politics whether pro or con. But Gonzalez, Stanczyk’s daughter, apparently doesn’t like to hear how a majority of Palmetto Bay residents feel about her mother’s term as Mayor and has actively attacked anyone with a different opinion from hers. I guess the fruit doesn’t fall far from the Stanczyk tree.

Time for a Serious Change in Palmetto Bay politics

No one who lives in Palmetto Bay can say the last four years haven’t pitted village residents against Village Hall: the Palmer Trinity drama; the Neighborhood Protection Ordinance; the Dog Barking Ordinance; Thalatta Park’s sale to the highest bidder; and, the proposed zoning change for Palmetto Bay’s Rockland area.

Mayor Stanczyk has taken no responsibility for any of the upheaval she and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay have wrought over the last four years. They would rather blame Gene Flinn who has not been actively involved in Palmetto Bay politics for the past four years. In psychology this is referred to as transference (an inability to take responsibility for your own actions) and appears to be prevalent not only in Palmetto Bay, but also politics on the local, state and national levels. If we as citizens cannot expect politicians to accept personal responsibility and govern with true honesty in a small town like ours, then how can we demand it at a national level?

It is time to turn the corner and elect individuals who actually have the ability to lead our community in a positive direction and repair the damage that has been caused by Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay. I respectfully ask all resident vote on November 25th for a change and cast their ballots for Gene Flinn and Larissa Siegel Lara.

-David Singer

PB: Mayor Shelley Stanczyk Wants To Muzzle Fido

At the very top of the long, long list of reasons that current Mayor Shelley Stanczyk must be retired on November 25th is the notorious Barking Dog Ordinance. SDM lampooned Mme. Mayor’s insanity a few months back: click here.

In a nutshell, Mrs. Stanczyk’s worst idea yet (debatable, we know) is summarized in the ordinance:

Under current Code, enforcement action may only proceed upon an officer witnessing 20 minutes of continuous barking or an hour of intermittent barking. Often, the alleged incident either passed or was indictable by the time the officer responds to the complaint. The proposed remedy is to permit the complainant to submit a notarized Verified Animal Noise Complaint Affidavit (VANCA) asserting the violation occurred. Such action will result in the officer issuing a courtesy warning. If a subsequent VANCA is submitted within the thirty days of the courtesy warning, the officer will issue a citation. As provided for all code compliance cases, the person receiving the citation shall have the right to appeal. In the event of such an appeal, the affiant will be requested to testify at the appeal proceeding as the existence of the event(s) identified in the VANCA. It then becomes incumbent upon the Special Master to determine whether in fact the Violation existed.

A little political advice from SDM: When government goes so far as to coin a new acronym, you should grab your wallet or purse and run, Forest, run!

Under Mayor-never-knows-a-bad-idea-when-she-hears-one, that little monstrous pooch of yours will finally be forced to shut his yapper (literally – this is the correct use of this word, by the way).

Another SDM Aside: Why is it that everyone blames our little doggies for the world’s problems? We know of at least one neighborhood feline that yowls at the moon when he senses a potential girlfriend in heat. Where is Mme. Mayor’s plan on quieting the mewling mee-yowers? (We know: not a word.) It’s canine discrimination, dammit!

Here’s SDM’s problem: We know of a certain pup (well, she’s over a year-old now, but she’s still a little one in our eyes) that likes to announce her arrival to the world when she goes outside to do her lady business.

Sometimes, she also likes to alert the neighborhood to scary things: thieving squirrels trying to abscond with her acorns, a neighbor’s dog that has the temerity to go out into the backyard, a mail carrier who accidentally wanders across her front yard, and so on.

She is sure in her little brain that we all want to know this nefariousness is occurring and we need to be ready to do something about it! Most of the time when her master tells her to be quiet, she does so…until another squirrel makes a move. Her bark is saying “hey bro, there’s a little dude jumping in our yard, just FYI…don’t worry I’ll let you know if he does it again.”

Thousands of dog years of evolution produced this alert behavior, which someday may actually warn her people to a real threat. But Mme. Mayor doesn’t see it that way.

Mayor Stanczyk would make our little darling’s behavior a federal crime punishable by death…er, a code enforcement violation, which, frankly, is worse than death if you’ve ever tried to clear one up.

Next thing you know, all of us will have to put one of these on our little angels:


Do you always laugh at another’s humiliation? Sure, it’s funny until somebody gets hurt. What if this poor little guy goes out during duck hunting season?

Okay, okay, we’re getting a little silly here, but we’re trying to illustrate a point: Mayor Stanczyk’s plan to muzzle our dogs is a terrible idea. The scary thing is that she even brings such a bad idea to the council in the first place.

SDM Says: If it walks like a duck then it’s probably your puppy trying to follow Mayor Stanczyk’s nutty barking dog ordinance. You know what to do on November 25th now don’t you?


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