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: Guest Post by David Singer – MailerGate!


New Mailer, Same Lies!

Before I address the new Mayor Stanczyk flyer I received in the mail, I would like to comment on the District 1 race. I, for one, find negative attack ads disheartening when one of the main concerns regarding the current state of Palmetto Bay politics is to bring this community together after years of discord.

As residents of Palmetto Bay, we need to demand civility from those who aspire to be our elected representative prior to and after an election. I think we can all admit we have had enough of the political infighting over the past six years. I don’t know who threw the first stone in the District 1 race, but one of the candidates should have stepped up and been mature enough to defuse the situation. I personally find the latest round of negative advertising sent by “Political Electioneering Communication Paid for by Concerned Citizens for Ethics in Government” completely unwarranted. We live in a small Village, this is neither a state nor national race and I hope for the sake of the residents who live here this is not indicative of the future of politics over the next four years.


• Worked to protect & enhance parks

At last check, Mayor Stanczyk was working to spend taxpayer’s dollars to close Thalatta Park to Palmetto Bay residents so Thalatta could be utilized as a full time wedding venue. This was stopped when the State of Florida stepped in and informed the Village they were not using the park for its intended purpose. The Mayor and Village Manager received a slap on the wrist and were required to open the park to the residents of Palmetto Bay for more than 16 hours per week. It is now open and operating Sunday through Friday as it was originally intended to be when the Village received grant money to purchase the park. If you do not know where Thalatta Park is, it’s located on Old Cutler and approximately 170th Street and is the Villages only public access to the Biscayne Bay.

• Promoted renewable, clean energy and water conservation

Not sure how to address this claim. I’ve been to 95% of the Council meetings over the past three and a half years and no one on the Council, including the Mayor, has ever brought up renewable, clean energy, or water conservation. I would appreciate it if someone would point out when it has been addressed so I can enlighten myself.

• Fought for protection of natural pineland

This is from a Mayor who at the September 22nd zoning meeting sponsored an Ordinance that would permit a change of 22 acres that are currently designated as Parks and Recreation, to allow a developer to build single homes surrounding one of the few remaining natural pinelands in Miami-Dade County. If it were not for the outcry of certain environmentalists and Village residents these natural pinelands would have been jeopardized. What residents may not understand is that it is extremely unusual for any Mayor or Councilmember to seek a zoning change for a developer. It was unheard of in the Village of Palmetto Bay for a sitting Mayor to seek a zoning change on behalf of a developer until Mayor Stanczyk did so on September 22. When a Mayor or Councilmember seek a zoning change, on behalf of a developer, it is a blatant attempt to usurp the checks and balances that were put in place to insure approvals are sought from surrounding neighbors. This is an infringement of homeowners’ rights and an attempt at bypassing neighborhood protection.

Please vote November 4th to end this lunacy.

David Singer


PB: Misleading Mailer – The Two-Faced Mayor

An FOSDM sent us a copy of Mayor Shelley Stanczyk’s “green” (literally and figuratively) mailer. You may find this hard to imagine, but Mme. Mayor’s mailer contains a bald-faced lie! Here are is what Stacnzyk claims she did:

Fought for protection of natural pineland.

And, here is what she actually filed:

Ooops, we are sorry…we can’t tell you what she filed because the village doesn’t keep an archive of past agendas on its website and the minutes are only summaries.

Fortunately, this blog did a contemporaneous post regarding Mayor Stancyzk’s plan to site a fire station at Palmetto Bay Village Center as part of a site plan that included 41 homes located in what some consider to be endangered pine lands. You can read the prior post here: PB: On PBVC, Stanczyk Finds an Acorn.

So now, you are probably scratching your head over two things:

(1) Why doesn’t Palmetto Bay maintain a searchable archive of its meeting agendas so that interested parties (such as SDM) can go back and read what was proposed at the time? (Answer: The village used to keep such an archive but we think the village clerk got tired of maintaining it.) Maybe some of the candidates will commit to creating and maintaining such an archive for future generations.

(2) More importantly, why would Mayor Stanczyk send out a mailer claiming to be protecting natural pinelands when, in fact, she sponsored the Palmetto Bay Village Center’s application that would have located the homes inside the “protected” forest? The two concepts don’t seem to mesh unless one believes as SDM does that locating the homes in the pinelands would not be harmful. (SDM Note: The environmental community – the “green people” Stanczyk is attempting to reach – vociferously disagreed that the homes would not harm the forest, which is why they raised holy hell at the meeting where Stanczyk deferred the item.)

SDM Says: Mme. Mayor Stanczyk is a fairly typical politician in that she wants her cake and to eat it too. She is claiming falsely to be protecting a forest and locating a fire station in the southwest part of the village when in truth she has accomplished neither feat. The reason she failed is that she didn’t have the guts to satisfy one constituency while pissing off the other. Now, cynically, she is misleading BOTH constituencies and SDM caught her on video going door to door:

Scary right? Happy Halloween.




PB: Fire Station = Violation of Neighborhood Protection?

We need churches, we need schools, we need fire stations… – Joan Lindsay

In the end, however, Councilwoman and soon-to-be ex-Palmetto Bay resident Joan Lindsay voted against locating a new fire station next to perpetual gadfly Gary Pastorella’s house. The fire department aims to purchase approximately two acres owned by Old Cutler Presbyterian church located on the southeast corner of Old Cutler Road and SW 142nd Terrace.

Mr. Pastorella hired an attorney to interrogate village staff and anyone within swinging distance last Monday night. After what amounted to an expensive rant against siting the fire station, Pastorella’s lawyer warned that if the council voted in favor of the fire department’s application, he would appeal it on Pastorella’s behalf.

SDM can’t figure out if this is ironic – given Pastorella’s repetitive whining at council meetings about his being sued – or karmic since he led the forces who pushed a charter amendment that will not “rescue” him (sorry for the pun):

All non-single-family-residential developments, structures, or use (that is/are a direct or indirect result of that development, structure, or use) in, adjacent to, or nearby any single-family zoned properties shall not disrupt or degrade the health, safety, tranquility, character, and overall welfare of the adjacent or nearby single-family residential properties by creating negative impacts on those properties such as density, intensity, noise, light, glare, dust, odor, vibration, traffic or run off that exceeds that of adjacent single-family properties. Nothing herein should be construed or applied to abrogate the vested rights of a property owner.

Mr. Pastorella’s attorney stated pretty clearly that the so-called neighborhood protection charter amendment would be the basis of his suit. His somber reading of the amendment appeared calculated to frighten the council by the “obvious” takeaway that a fire station would run afoul of its provisions.

Of course, Mr. Pastorella’s presumptions about the charter amendment are logically unsound: How can a life safety necessity like fire rescue “disrupt or degrade the health, safety, tranquility, character, and overall welfare of the adjacent or nearby single-family residential properties”? By definition, a fire rescue station does exactly the opposite.

The other “no” vote came from Mayor Shelley Stanczyk who apparently couldn’t say no to Pastorella since he forms the last remaining element of her neighborhood support. That the site was $200,000 less and a savings to taxpayers would not sway Mme. Mayor. She seems to have bought the line that if the county pays the money then you as village taxpayers don’t. Huh?

Stanczyk was also unswayed by the site’s easy ingress and egress for vehicles. Then again, the site across Old Cutler has the advantage of being a poke in the eye to her nemesis David Zisman, so maybe her vote against fire and rescue protection for northeast Palmetto Bay makes sense.

Make no mistake, the entire hearing on Monday night radiated with election year political intrigue. Nobody wants that fire station near their home…unless you were the woman who testified about her husband dying in the rescue vehicle parked in her driveway. She recounted waiting 17 minutes before hearing that wailing siren, which turned out to be too long.  SDM can’t even imagine her grief, but we can surely commend her bravery and sense of duty. Based on her testimony, which very likely carried the day, the majority could say Please In My Back Yard .

SDM Says: Bravo to the three gentlemen who decided for the fire station: Messrs.  Fiore, Dubois and Schaffer. They would not sit by idly and allow the NIMBYs to put thousands of people at further unnecessary risk. All three showed what forceful leadership looks like when life and death matters are at issue.

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.


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: Guest Post by David Singer – Where did all the money go?

I never thought anything could ever surprise me in the Village of Palmetto Bay. Then it happen, something so misleading, something so financially irresponsible, something…something…so typical for this current administration, why would I be surprised?

Let us all take a step back to when Palmetto Bay Village was incorporated, the year 2002. Back then, when a municipality (Palmetto Bay) broke from the ranks of Miami-Dade County they were required to pay a mitigation fee to the city. The mitigation fee was designed to (1) maintain police services in the unincorporated areas proximate to the Village; and (2) to provide a municipal assistance retainer enabling the Village to obtain certain advice, expertise. training, financial planning and technological services, and other assistance from the County. The mitigation fee being paid annually to Miami-Dade County fluctuated from approximately $1.4 to $1.6 million dollars during fiscal years 2002-2006.

Someone in the Village must have gotten wise to the legality of these mitigation fees in 2006 and filed suit against Miami-Dade County. Then Mayor Flinn also went to Tallahassee along with the mayors of Doral and Miami Lakes to have the State stop Miami-Dade County from opposing this tax. Both the Florida House and State Senate acted favorably on these efforts, ultimately forcing Miami-Dade County to negotiate and remove these fees. Flinn’s efforts along with the mayors of Doral and Miami Lakes paid off for the taxpayers of Palmetto Bay as litigation apparently ended in 2009.

Per the Palmetto Bay 2008-2009 Financial Statements, “the Village and Miami-Dade County came to a settlement for the litigation involving the legality of the mitigation payment. According to the settlement, the mitigation payment totaling $4,631,723 for fiscal year 2006-2007, fiscal year 2007-2008 and fiscal year 2008-2009 was paid to an escrow account which was held by the County Attorney and was released to the County on June 25, 2009.”

If you review the Palmetto Bay Village financials, you will notice a 1 million to a 1.5 million decrease in the General Government Expenditure line item in years 2007, 2008 and 2009. You will also find the settlement payment of $4,631,723 and a General Government Expenditure of $2,911,097 in the year 2009.

Commencing in fiscal year 2010 General Governmental Expenditures seem to balloon. Under the Shelley Stanczyk and Ron Williams tenure as Mayor and Village Manager, respectively, the mitigation savings of $1.6 million all but disappeared after year 2011. The General Government expenditures increased from $2,911,097 in 2009 to $3,429,396, in 2010, $3,700,958 in 2011, $4,701,490 in 2012 and $4,713,967 in 2013. All this information can be found in the 2013 audited financial report located on the Village of Palmetto Bay website.

So where did the money go? The Village Manager ballooned the budget so fast that not ONE resident received any tax savings which should have trickled down to them after mitigation fees ended. In addition, and to add insult to injury Mayor Stanczyk and Village Manager Ron Williams have not only increased operating expenses within the Village but continue to gloat about having a balanced budget for the past four years.

Criticizing Mayor Stanczyk and Village Manager Ron Williams does not excuse other Council members who have served since 2010 and have voted to approve annual budgets. There should have been someone (anyone) in the last four years who asked the question, where did the $1.6 million dollars in savings disappear to?

In actuality, annual saving of $1.6 million over a four-year period without decreasing real estate taxes should have increased Palmetto Bays reserve approximately $6.5 million dollars. Logically this would have delayed any increase in Real Estate taxes that according to the Village is projected for in the near future.

Once again, as numerous Village residents have pointed out, we have a Mayor and certain Council Members that are not fiscally responsible. The Mayor and Village Manager have proven repeatedly that they have the ability to waste taxpayer’s dollars. Just look at the Art Sculpture just purchased at Village Hall, which costs approximately $50,000, or the $10 million dollars that they voted to spend for a community center at Coral Reef Park.

David Singer

PB: Ethical Campaign Practice?

Stanczyk Re-election Mailer Unethical?

SDM recently reviewed a campaign mailer from Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and found it to be a problem. No, it wasn’t that Mrs. Stanczyk couldn’t spell Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s first name correctly (she wrote “leana”); that’s just a dumb typo.

The problem is that the mailer displays two photos that imply endorsements. The top photo is of the mayor and Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen who is a popular and powerful Republican. The bottom photo is of the mayor and recently elected “Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava” (actually, she’s “Commissioner-elect” but Mrs. Stanczyk never weds herself too closely to the truth of a matter).

The mailer does not state that either Ros-Lehtinen or Levine-Cava endorsed Stanczyk, but many voters might get this impression. SDM checked one of Stanczyk’s websites and found that neither of these political figures are listed as having endorsed Mrs. Stanczyk.

Putting a photo of yourself with a well-known political figure sends a message. Here, Mrs. Stanczyk has been careful not to overtly claim an endorsement, but then what message is she sending? That she knows these people? That she works with these people?

Perhaps she wants Palmetto Bay voters – especially Republicans who would normally tend to dislike her tax and spend ways – to say, gee, Ileana likes her so we will like her, too. Before Republican Village People jump to that conclusion, consider the following.

Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s husband earns a portion of his living by serving as village attorney at the pleasure of the Mayor and Council of Palmetto Bay.

SDM Wonders: Did Mayor Stanczyk receive permission from the Congresswoman before plastering her photo all over a political mailer? If so, was it really fair for a liberal Democrat like Stanczyk to even ask the Congresswoman’s permission when Stanczyk knows that Ileana’s husband is employed by the Mayor and village council? Does every member of the council get the same privilege?

SDM Says: These types of ethical quandaries are subtle and we doubt Mme. Mayor even considered them for a moment. In Mrs. Stanczyk’s world, the end justifies the means. It is up to us as voters to penalize Stanczyk for unethically forcing the honorable Congresswoman into a no-win situation.


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