South Dade Matters

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

Tag: Tim Schaffer

PB: David Singer’s Really Pissed About Those Batting Cages!

At the February 3rd Village of Palmetto Bay Council meeting there was a vote held to approve spending $250,000 on four batting cages. Two are to be located at Coral Reef Park and two at Palmetto Bay Park.

This expenditure was approved 4:1 with Mayor Shelly Stanczyk, Councilwoman Joan Lindsay, Vice Mayor John Dubois and Councilman Tim Schaffer voting for this waste of $250,000. Councilman Patrick Fiore was the only one with the common sense to vote against it.

I expected the Mayor and Councilwoman to vote for the expenditure. They have had the time of their lives wasting our money from village coffers during their tenure, so another quarter million bucks is just another drop in the bucket. What was unexpected was the vote by John Dubois and Tim Schaffer.

Councilman John Dubois was elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility. In voting to spend $250,000 for batting cages, he aligned himself with the irresponsible spenders who dominate the council. Dubois’ vote couldn’t be any farther from the fiscal responsibility he promoted and promised on the campaign trail.

Councilman Tim Schaffer also voted in the affirmative. If he stopped admiring himself for five minutes he may have considered the fact a 2,000 square foot house can be built in Palmetto Bay for what the batting cages are going to cost taxpayers. Houses have walls and roofs and floor materials and plumbing fixtures and appliances and electrical systems and air conditioning and a whole host of other things that cause them to cost a quarter million bucks.

Both John Dubois and Tim Schaffer were misled by both City Manager Ron Williams and Parks Director Fanny Carmona. This being the same city manager that I feel would be a perfect fit if they were casting someone to replace Jim Carrey in a sequel to the hit movie Liar Liar.

Spending $250,000 in taxpayer’s money to build batting cages is totally irresponsible – especially at Coral Reef Park. I’m sure we can all recall that there is no longer any organized baseball at Coral Reef Park (besides Palmetto High which has its own batting cages) since the Village terminated our relationship with the beloved Howard Palmetto Khoury League several years back.

So the baseball fields where the batting cages are to be placed by aren’t used. You can be sure that the $125,000 worth of batting cages won’t be used either because Palmetto Sr. High certainly won’t walk across three-quarters of the park to use them when walk five feet from their dugout and use their own.

Spending $125,000 at Palmetto Bay Park is even murkier. The women who play softball do need batting cages but not at a cost of $125,000? These cages could be erected at a cost of less than $75,000, including the storage units they wish to have at the park.

Rather than overspending aimlessly for big ticket items, the Council needs to focus on saving money for some sorely needed deferred maintenance items at Coral Reef Park. These expenses will have to be dealt with within the next six months, and from what I observed, they will be a rather large. I doubt the village has budgeted current or reserve revenue sufficient to cover these costs.

So why wasn’t there a more intelligent conversation on spending the $250,000? I can’t tell, maybe someone from village hall can enlighten us. There have been numerous special council meetings over the last couple of months to discuss spending similar sums for various reports required to advance downtown redevelopment.

There have been presentations to the council and to residents, spending hours and hours on the redevelopment and associated costs. But, the council can find only ten minutes on a quarter million bucks for batting cages? One can only wonder why the same amount of money is treated so differently.

You would think that village officials and politicians would have learned something after spending a million dollars on an over-designed, over-built, over-bearing, under-utilized concession stand in the worst possible location in Coral Reef Park.

You may know it by its friendly name “The Million Dollar Hot Dog Stand.” [SDM Comment: Didn’t Mr. Dubois coin this term?] The cost might be justified if it was functional enough for the village to peddle hot dogs for a buck each. But it’s not even useful for that and it has been sitting vacant and shuttered for years as a symbol of an ongoing lack of leadership and vision.

How to stop wasting taxpayer’s dollars should be the theme in this year’s election. The first step, as I’ve tried to convey so many times in so many ways, is to the terminate Village Manager Ron Williams. The Village Manager and Mayor Stanczyk continue to push irresponsible spending by and it must stop.

Maybe if their heads were ‘clunked’ together ala Groucho Marx they might realize their constituents would rather pay less real estate taxes over out of control spending on the local level.

My only hope is that John Dubois and Tim Schaffer lost their way for just this one night. Maybe they had a temporary lapse of judgment, or fell off the wagon just this once.

Next time I hope they will ask pertinent questions like: “What groups will use these quarter million dollar batting cages?” and “When will these groups use these quarter million dollar batting cages?” and “How many people are projected to use these quarter million dollar batting cages and over what time period?” and “What are the costs to maintain these quarter million dollar batting cages?”

If those questions had been asked then the expenditure would have been voted down. There are no realistic answers which would support this type of expenditure for four batting cages, two which will be infrequently used.

How about it John and Tim, can you please get back on the right track?

David Singer

PB: Model Mayor?

SDM finally digested all of the goodies from the Super Bowl party so our stomachs are sufficiently settled to watch Monday night’s village council meetings.

The Model Was Here!

If it weren’t so serious, it would be funny. First up for the night, after some pleading from residents for the village to (a) slow down on downtown redevelopment until the community starts to understand what’s going on, and, (b) make sure that all members are present when taking up spending on the downtown (doing less is “dishonorable” according to one resident), the council had an odd moment.

The Marathon Man wanted the manager to share some of his projections on how the village would be paid back for investments in downtown. Councilman Schaffer quite reasonably wanted to understand how much new tax and fee revenue the village will yield once redevelopment begins.

Village Manager Ron Williams noted that the Finance Department created a model purporting to show how revenue might return. The model’s inputs will come largely from the studies the village approved at the last special council meeting. Williams also said the model was available at the last meeting, but since Schaffer wasn’t in attendance he didn’t get to see it.

Mayor Stanczyk asked Schaffer if he was satisfied with the model, which the stunned audience and council understood her to mean the table-top display that the DRTF created to show how the buildings might look in a newly rebuilt downtown.

The village manager and Schaffer quickly corrected her Lostness to say they were talking about a financial model and not a physical model!

If you think SDM makes this stuff up, go to 19:00 and see for yourself.

Carts & Horses

As SDM understands the purpose of the proposed projects in the redevelopment area, the village expects after the DRTF studies are completed that taxpayers and the council will know if the public infrastructure investments are made, then the village will receive a revenue yield.

Vice Mayor Dubois seems to hold the same understanding, which is why he asked several pointed questions as to why the village should spend $120,000 on master plan changes before the studies are completed.

The response from village staff was essentially that Mr. Dubois shouldn’t be questioning the wisdom of the process. Mr. Ed Silva nearly jumped across the dais as he protected his turf.

SDM Says: Mr. Silva needs to take a deep breath and listen to Mr. Dubois’ constructive criticism. He is correct that there should be no changes made to the village’s master plan until the planning data is available for review. To do otherwise makes the entire project look like staff is insisting that the cart come before the horse. Staff hostility to constructive suggestions from an elected officials should be ringing warning bells across Palmetto Bay.

SDM Wants To Be An Engineer Intern

Vice Mayor John Dubois raised an interesting point on the traffic study proposal provided by the firm Marlin Engineering. Dubois pointed out that the open continuing services contract with Marlin contained a rate of $110 per hour for work done by engineer interns. (Of course, the Village of Transparency didn’t disclose these rates in the published agenda, for what now seems like an obvious reason.) He also noted that the bulk of the hours assigned to this project would be done by these interns.

Mr. Dubois asked an important and critical question: Why would an intern be billed at $110 when licensed engineers are being billed at $125 per hour?

SDM Wonders: Do these interns get paid by the firms? If this work is so basic that an intern can do it then why can’t the village do the work in house with its own unpaid interns?

SDM Says: Good questions. One thing is for sure: these must be pretty smart interns and Palmetto Bay is fortunate Mr. Dubois is keeping us from looking like a bunch of suckers.

Marathon Man Cuts Loose

At the end of the regular council meeting (1:05:00), Councilman Tim Schaffer read a nearly three and a half minute prepared statement that you must, absolutely must hear for yourself.

With his voice breaking, Schaffer castigated Mayor Stanczyk for comments she made at the unnecessary January 23 special call meeting where she not so subtly accused Schaffer of shirking his duties.

Mr. Schaffer explained that he had been clear when the January 23 date was chosen that even though he initially said he could attend it upon a second review of his calendar he found out that his mother’s 84th birthday party caused a conflict. According to Schaffer, he immediately notified the clerk but the meeting went ahead anyway.

The explosive allegation came at the end when Schaffer accused Stanczyk of saying that Schaffer should have attended because his mother had Alzheimer’s disease and wouldn’t know it if her birthday celebration was moved!

Before Stanczyk could reply, Vice Mayor Dubois asked for a chance to speak and in a bizarre interlude spent a couple minutes discussing the tree committee while the mayor sat and stewed.

When she finally spoke and after a strained explanation of her choice of dates, Stanczyk acknowledged – amazingly – that there was no emergency that required the meeting to be held on January 23rd! Here is what the village code says about setting special call meetings:

Special meetings. Special meetings may be held on the call of the mayor or three councilmembers upon no less than 48 hours’ notice to the public, or such shorter time as a majority of the council deems necessary in case of an emergency affecting the life, health, property or the public peace. Sec. 2-44(b), Palmetto Bay Code of Ordinances. (Emphasis added by SDM.)

SDM Wonders: So why, then, didn’t you defer the meeting as Councilman Fiore requested Mme. Mayor, especially if you knew the meeting was not “an emergency affecting the life, health, property or the public peace”?

SDM Says: One is hard pressed to answer which is more disturbing, that the mayor would knowingly call a special call – emergency – meeting for a non-emergency matte while knowing 40% of her council could not attend, or that she made a disparaging remark about a colleague’s mother. Regardless, Mayor Stanczyk missed an excellent opportunity to apologize. Instead,SDM agrees that she looks like a dictator – to borrow Mr. Schaffer’s words – though SDM would say a poorly trained dictator.

P.S. SDM knows the pain of Alzheimer’s disease having seen it kill a loved one firsthand. For those many families struggling with the pain of watching a parent or grandparent deteriorate and lose his or her memory and sense of self, all we can say is it’s no laughing matter. We hope the mayor didn’t tell that tired joke, but if she did, she should never do so again, especially if she wants to hold public office.

PB: Three For The Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you following us?

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

PB: Secret Transcript Revealed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Williams: I am recommending no such thing.

(Long pause)

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

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

+++

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

PB: Guest Post by David Singer- Beware the DRTF?

50 Million Reasons to Follow the Palmetto Bay DRTF

Over the past six months, in a “smoke-filled” back room in a the bowels of the Village Hall of Palmetto Bay, a bevy of professionals have been meeting to help determine how millions of dollars in Village tax revenues will be spent over the next five to ten years.

These professionals consist of attorneys, architects, engineers, bankers, real estate developers, and Ed Silva, the Village of Palmetto Bay Director of Building and Capital Projects. These people are collectively the Downtown Redevelopment Task force or DRTF. Their main goal is to push forward an agenda to redevelop the 330 acre area called the Franjo Triangle. The DRTF will also eventually determine how 2.6 to tens of millions of Palmetto Bay’s tax dollars are spent and allocated on this endeavor.

Upon first glance, this exercise this could be considered very noble: to revitalize an area that has provided little to no tax revenue and is considered blighted. But if you delve a little deeper into the process, you will find Mayor Shelly Stanczyk and Village Manager Ron Williams are playing Russian roulette with the Village’s future since there is no guarantee that expenditures will be offset by revenues in the near term.

Furthermore, it seems as though a few professionals involved in the DRTF have already started purchasing available shopping centers or buildings within Franjo Triangle in hopes of making a quick buck. It’s hard to see how this is anything short of insider trading. [SDM Note: We have no independent evidence of this claim so we respectfully request some hard data proving it.]

What is actually pushing this project is that Palmetto Bay, unbeknownst to Village residents, has been forecasted by the Director of Finance, Desmond Chin to lose $5 million annually in the near future. These numbers have not been released to the public yet. Apparently, its due to the fact Village Manager Ron Williams does not want the community to know the dire financial future of the Village.

The DRTF strategy is to redevelop the Franjo Triangle and bring in major development. This is intended to increase commercial real estate taxes and revenue with the benefit of not increasing residential real estate taxes.

The plan, although admirable, is fraught with prickly issues, not the least of which is that DRTF meetings have not been advertised effectively and are essentially not open to the public as one would expect. In addition, public participation in the form of comments and questions is prohibited by a decree from Village Manager Williams. [SDM Note: Again, we have no independent corroboration of this allegation. Anyone want to support this accusation?]

I know that first-hand because I attended one of the meetings and was informed of the rules when I walked into the conference room. Another insult to the public is that no records or notes of these meeting have been published or are available for public review.

It is also surprising to find that our elected officials have not been engaged in this process. Those we elected to protect the Village as our representatives are not actively participating.

To compound the problem, the Village Manager has advised all Village department heads that they are not permitted to meet with members of the Council unless the Manager has been noticed and is present. [SDM Note: This is wise on the part of the Manager. He is the point of contact for the council and staff can be put into an untenable position when they meet directly with the council members.]

To mask what’s really going with the projections of capital costs and revenues the DRTF has been withheld from Council Members, at the Village Managers orders, even though Council Members have repeatedly requested them.

No council member has been advised if there will be any return of investment on the millions of dollars that the DRTF is planning on spending. Let me repeat myself, NO RETURN ON INVESTMENT has been shown to the Council for what could ultimately be $50 million in tax expenditures.

Vice Mayor John DuBois has become so frustrated in the process that he has even called for numerous town hall meetings in an attempt to embarrass Mayor Stanczyk (whose husband is a DRTF member) and Village Manager Williams into releasing some of the financial information that has been withheld for months.

I’ve also spoken to an attorney who has foreseen litigation which will make the Palmer Trinity fiasco look like a trip to small claims court in comparison due to the lack of information that is being released to the public.

These DRTF meetings are certainly not ill-advised in theory. I agree with the idea that redeveloping a blighted area for additional tax revenue is extremely commendable. It’s just that the DRTF process is failing in practice.

Keeping financial projections from the Council and having no public oversight should be an ethics violation at best when the Village is discussing a Public-Private development project that could exceed a cost of $50 million in public money.

There appears to be no checks and balances presently in place for stupidity within our Village. John DuBois is the only Council member who has spoken out publicly against what is shaping up to be a DRTF debacle.

One would hope that Councilman Patrick Fiore, who plans on running for Mayor in 2014, and Tim Schaffer would start demanding answers from the Village Manager and Ed Silva before they vote to approve one cent being spent on the Franjo Triangle redevelopment project.

I suggest anyone who is so motivated to write Mr. Fiore and Mr. Schaffer and demand that they push for financial transparency in the DRTF process.

David Singer

PB: David Zisman, Really?

An FOSDM sent us a copy of an email David Zisman circulated over the weekend announcing his campaign for the Palmetto Bay Council. For those of you who’ve never heard of Mr. Zisman, SDM feels the need to enlighten you on some of his history.

Mr. Behind-The-Scenes

You may not know this fact, but Mr. Zisman is part of a group of the Village People who decide who runs for office and who doesn’t. And you thought voters made these decisions? Not in Mr. Zisman’s world.

SDM posted on this subject in a blog back in November after the village primary (see PB: How To Lose An Election). Mr. Zisman made this hubristic comment:

Thank you SDM for coming to the correct analysis of who to support in the runoff. There should not even have been a runoff except for the efforts of our not so endearing X Mayor. His two candidates went down in a blaze. Howard had already decided not to run back in August when our X Mayor convinced him he would win outright. As for Karyn, she seems nice enough but the lingering distaste for the X Mayor lives on long after his stunning defeat against Lynda Bell. Karyn, next time you run for something, stay far away from Gene Flinn. I can only imagine the support that he promised you and I assume he delivered you nothing.

So Gene Flinn will cost Palmetto Bay about $50,000 for the runoff election that “Never Should Have Been.” Well that’s still cheaper then having him in office.

The back story here is that Mr. Zisman and his cabal had essentially talked (threatened?) former Councilman Tendrich out of running for re-election so that Zisman’s guy would have a chance to finally win a seat. In the end, both Tendrich and Zisman’s guy lost, but the village ended up a winner because Tim “Marathon Man” Schaffer was elected and has been a positive force on the council.

So much for Mr. Zisman’t puppeteer abilities.

Mr. Impolite Makes a Silly Mayor Look Good

SDM reported back in October, 2012 during a hearing on the infamous Stanczyk NPO ordinance that Mr. Zisman’s impolite and hostile public comments made Mayor Stanczyk look good by comparison:

Perhaps the Mayor’s distractedness can be explained by the unusual and outrageous broadsides leveled at her by a Mr. Zisman of Recall Palmetto Bay fame. Zisman got up and instead of commenting on the ordinance on the table spent his three minutes blasting the Mayor over the location of her shed, which he claims is illegal.

The shed ordinance is another bad piece of legislation passed by a council that spends far too much time thinking up new ways to interfere with residents’ lives. The fact that the Mayor got caught up in the shed ordinance thicket makes her just like hundreds of other similarly situated Village People.

After seeing how Mr. Zisman treated the hapless Mayor, SDM can’t imagine him on a dais, regularly raging against his other imagined enemies. One has to observe a level of public discourse that honors the forum and Mr. Zisman’s history argues against his ability to do so.

Mr. Absentee Commission Member

SDM went back and reviewed our notes on Mr. Zisman’s actions during his tenure on the village’s Charter Revision Commission.

While in some instances, especially regarding the NPO charter amendment, Zisman stood up to the onslaught from the Three Amigos’ appointees, on other issues he faded into the woodwork.

One example is his silence on, if not support of, a charter amendment that now requires a four-fifth’s vote of the council to permit a zoning change. Such a procedure places an unfair burden on the very same many small businesses the village wants to attract in the Franjo Triangle and elsewhere. Yet, SDM can’t find a single instance in the charter commission minutes where Zisman – a business owner – makes this case.

SDM Says: Mr. Zisman has every right to run for office and we will wait to see his platform before rendering a final judgment. However, one cannot look at the available parts of his record and his pattern of behavior without wondering whether he has displayed sufficient leadership skills or the requisite temperament of a council member for our wonderful little burgh. SDM hopes some other Village People come forward and give us a good alternative.

PB: Manager Lies? Traffic Study Dies.

SDM finally got some time to watch the November 4th village council meeting. Long story short: it was a bad night for Village Manager Ron Williams and his already cracking credibility.

Permit SDM to set the stage. At each council meeting, the manager takes some time to update the council on projects and issues he deems important. On Monday night, the manager decided to use some of his time for a presentation on the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force (DRTF). More specifically, the manager was trying to control the discussion on the traffic study SDM highlighted in an earlier post (PB: Franjo Work Begins – Has Ground Work Been Laid?).

After Mr. Williams made some comments followed by additional remarks by Ed Silva, the village’s Director of Building and Capital Projects Department (and designated spear catcher), Councilman Tim Schaffer gently urged that the council be brought up to speed on the task force’s activities. The Marathon Man had an unmistakable message: some of us up here feel left out of the loop and we should be your champions.

Because subtlety rarely works in the village, Vice Mayor Dubois decided to take a more direct approach and demanded to know the assumptions behind the proposal to spend $39,725 on the downtown traffic study.

But before we get to the fireworks, SDM decided to go back and pull up our archived copy of the item to find out the purpose of the traffic study:

The purpose of this request for proposals is to identify a consultant to study the impacts of some of the downtown Palmetto Bay street closures on the surrounding roadway network and intersections based on the new design being planned for Downtown Redevelopment Task Force (DRTF) preliminary project area.

The consultant’s role will be to identify potentially significant traffic impacts, possible mitigation measures for those impacts, evaluate any changes to the circulation network proposed by a high density residential development along SW 97th Avenue between Hibiscus Street and SW 184th Street and evaluate how the DRTF project will affect traffic operations, turn movements permitted to and from the various sites to be developed, locations of nearby traffic signals, and proposed roadway closures. (Emphasis added by SDM.)

SDM reads this project description as forward-looking and based on some pretty specific assumptions, but then again, SDM reads the words that are actually written on the paper like the Vice Mayor apparently does. Oh how wrong we were!

After Mr. Dubois’s comments, Mr. Williams decided he would set the record straight…or, rather to muddle the matter until his deputy could bail him out. In their own words:

Williams: (1:19:49) Secondarily, this obviously has to relate to the “what is” situation… We are planning a project; we have not started working on a project. There are a number of plans that will have to come before you that will result in the development of a plan direction. These are not off-the-shelf items. … I think the council grabbed that when we made these earlier presentations, but we’ve got folks that’s working on planning this process and an integral part of that is the traffic situation so that we know where we need to go from there.

Dubois: Are you saying this is a study of existing traffic today or future expected traffic after the development is done or at some phase of the development?

Williams: Today.

Dubois: Today?

Silva: And what the level of service that those streets can support.

Dubois: But aren’t we rebuilding the whole downtown with $3 million worth of new infrastructure for streets and…

Silva: Vice Mayor, I wish the $3 million would be able to allow us to build the infrastructure for the whole new downtown but unfortunately that’s not the case. This…

Williams: I don’t think we’ve ever presented that number. I’m not sure where you get that number from.

Dubois: Well, it was close to $3 million that we talked about during the budget process that would be used for this downtown redevelopment project this year. $2.6 or something to that effect…we had $1 million of new funding and we had $1.6 million of leftover (or $1.8) or something in that range…it was over $2 million…

Williams: That’s my point. Let’s not guess at what the numbers are. We’re bringing you back a plan…

Dubois: I’m not here to play games. These are serious questions…legitimate questions to ask…

Williams: And we want to present factual data. We don’t want to try to duck and dodge from accusations with no firm basis.

Dubois: There aren’t any accusations. I’m trying to find out why we are spending $40,000 to analyze traffic in an area that is going to change 100% from where it is today and you’re telling me that this traffic study is for the traffic patterns of today. And what I’m saying is…and I would have assumed by reading this that it was a traffic study for some anticipated development in the area based on the task force plans.

Silva: Vice Mayor, so I can clarify this. This is a combination. This is going to capture what we have today. However, it does take into account certain assumptions going forward that we have to understand. If some of these assumptions were to go through…if we were to close some of these streets, what’s the impact on the current streets that are going to stay open and not? Those numbers are the ones that are really going to be able to tell us in terms of planning what we can and cannot support in terms of level of service for these streets. This traffic study goes in conjunction with the planning side. You can’t do one without the other. We can’t do planning and come forward and say if we are going to do “X” amount of units when the street patterns are only going to support “Y.” We need to know what the street patterns are going to support so we also understand exactly what kind of density we are going to have eventually in the downtown area. Because the last thing we want to do is be in front of this council and say we did a great planning study guys but we don’t have the level of service in the street so therefore we are going to have to either widen all the streets or have to live with a level of service that’s horrendous for the residents. That’s the last thing that the RTF is trying to do.

Dubois: That’s a different answer than I was given by the manager that this is to include future impact issues and I’m going to get back to my point that I was making earlier that I want to see a few months in a row of COW meetings with explanation in detail of exactly what we are doing in this downtown development area before we invest in studies that make assumptions that we haven’t agreed upon yet as a council. Maybe you’ve agreed upon them as a task force – or the manager and the task force have agreed – but I haven’t seen this stuff. I’ve been asking for it for six months now in the form of our COW meetings because this forum is not adequate to be spending an hour which is I think the bare minimum we need to talk about the downtown redevelopment plans each month in order to get a good feeling and a good idea of what this whole program is about because I don’t have that feeling yet.

Later in the meeting, Mr. Williams began counting heads and decided to withdraw the traffic study so that it could be brought back at a later date. But before he pulled the item, the manager stumbled upon why the council was resisting his push for the study:

Williams: (2:28:55)So I guess, if I understand your answer, it’s…you would like to not proceed with any planning until you feel comfortable with the broader scope…I’m just trying to…I don’t want to bring these items…let me finish please…I don’t want to bring these items – be they $25,000 or $20,000 – to you if you’re not ready to…or you’re not fully briefed where we’re trying to go. So, I just want to know so that I don’t have staff working on these items until we know that you are fully up-to-speed on where we are trying to go.

SDM has seen this movie before and our guts are telling us there’s a back story here. The manager put forward an item that assumes a future “high density residential development along SW 97th Avenue between Hibiscus Street and SW 184th Street.” Yet, when pressed by Vice Mayor Dubois, he characterizes the traffic study as a look at the traffic situation in the Triangle today.

SDM Wonders: What exactly is going on here? Hmmm…

Our village needs some good development in the Triangle, but we have to go about doing the project the right way. Did the task force make up out of whole cloth this high density development  (which SDM would support, by the way)? Or, is someone proposing a project that the council has not been briefed on?

It’s pretty obvious that Mr. Williams failed to lay the proper groundwork for the traffic study proposal, which surprises SDM a little given the length of his tenure here. A basic principle of city management in a strong manager form of government is that the council has to be kept in the loop if a manager is going to get the votes he needs. That Mr Williams seems to have forgotten a basic management rule is surprising, but it was his answer to Mr. Dubois’s question that truly shocked us.

This blog has taken Mr. Williams to task on a number of occasions, but this is the first instance we can recall where he answered a specific question with a blatantly false answer. The traffic study item clearly contemplated a study of future traffic patterns based on a hypothetical development concept. Instead of admitting this fact, the manager said the study was a look at today’s traffic patterns, which is a demonstrably untrue statement.

But don’t let us be the judge and jury. Do you think the manager lied to the council?

SDM Says: We can’t escape the feeling that somebody isn’t being fully transparent at village hall and Mr. Williams is standing directly in the firing line. As Ricky said to Lucy, (Mr. Williams) you’ve got some splainin’ to do.

PB: Post Office Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

PB: State of the Village Notes Stolen!

SDM Exclusive – Below is a contraband copy of the first draft of the upcoming Palmetto Bay State of the Village address. Of course, it may not sound exactly like this once the Mayor edits the speech.

Welcome to the State of the Village address. My job today is to share with you the state of affairs here since my last address one year ago, and it ain’t pretty.

As most of you know, just after the last state of the village, I handed out campaign information at the polls while wearing my Mayor of Palmetto Bay badge. Because of my hard work, Tim Schaffer was added to the council and Brian Pariser was removed.

We will not discuss the fact that in only three or four months, Schaffer abandoned me to join form a new majority with Patrick Fiore and John Dubois. I think Brian put an image of my face on his family room dart board, but since he forgot to invite me to his Super Bowl party, I don’t know for sure.

Speaking of Fiore and Dubois, they were featured often in my once-anonymous blog “pbcheckstherecord.org,” which was unmasked by a local attorney who may still be suing me. That blog may not have been my best idea last year since neither one of them speaks to me anymore.

We also made some progress on the Palmer Trinity litigation, though not because of anything I did. Despite my demands that we keep our little secrets in the shade and sue those bastards forever, we kept losing in court so the rest of the council voted to settle the issue. What a bunch of wimps. It’s not like it’s their money.

Anyway…last year, we successfully rebuilt the Thalatta estate so that we can hold even more weddings, which also keeps out our pesky residents. (Don’t tell anyone, but we only consider Thalatta to be part of our “park system” so we can avoid paying property taxes.)

Just like every year, we continue to aggressively spend our village savings account. In two years, my budgets have successfully reduced the village reserve from $10 million to $6 million. To give you an idea of how much money that is, our village would have to grow our tax base by about $1.7 billion (or 70%!) to recover that $4 million bucks. Impressive, right?

But I shouldn’t forget about the wonderful meetings I’ve been running for the past two years. On one particularly fun night, my colleague Joan Lindsay’s husband flipped the bird at the entire council. It takes one heck of a chairperson to frustrate people that much!

Finally, on my watch, we were able to end a ten-year relationship with our village attorney. She used to interfere with my management of the meetings so even though I voted against terminating her contract, I was glad to see her go. Toodles!

Now, without my brain regulator, I can irritate all of the Village People like nobody’s business. So my prediction for 2014 is that the State of the Village will be just like the current state of the village…total chaos!

( :) )

PB Guest Post by David Singer: Attorney Gets The Boutsis

At Tuesday night’s Village of Palmetto Bay Council meeting a vote was held to terminate the Village Attorney’s services within the next 30 days.    The vote was  3 – 2 in favor of dismissing Village Attorney Eve Boutsis and hiring law firm Gray Robinson to serve as acting Village Attorney until a new Request For Proposal is released for a permanent replacement.  Vice Mayor John DuBois, Councilman Tim Schaffer and Councilman Patrick Fiore voted for termination while Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay voted to retain Ms. Boutsis’ services.

Interestingly, it was not DuBois, Schaffer or Fiore who caused the Boutsis termination; rather, Stanczyk and Lindsay and Boutsis herself that bear ultimate responsibility for the end of a ten-year engagement. In fact, the seeds of her termination were planted back on May 4th, 2010 when, at Lindsay’s urging, Stanczyk moved to cap Palmer Trinity’s at 900 students when Village Staff recommended 1150.  Staff correctly made this recommendation based on a prior agreement with Palmer, but no one heard a peep from the Village Attorney.

It is also interesting to note that during the process on Tuesday night neither Mayor Stanczyk nor Joan Lindsay had the leadership qualities to stand up in defense of Ms. Boutsis to say that the Village Attorney had given them the correct legal guidance but they choose to ignore her advice.  When the Palmer Trinity shade sessions are eventually released I suspect that we will find that the Mayor and Councilwoman basically used Ms. Boutsis as a sacrificial lamb for they own political agenda.   Councilwoman Joan Lindsay basically admitted as much at Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Ms. Boutsis’ dismissal was preordained by her relationship with Mayor Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay.  Some may say it was politics that caused her dismissal. Some may say she got too comfortable in her position with the Village. Some may say she was the contributing factor as to why the Village’s litigation with Palmer Trinity has continued endlessly for the past five to seven years.   I personally like Boutsis, but having attended Council Meetings for the past year-and-a–half, I never saw her have the strength or sense of professional duty to speak up when the Mayor was wrong.  Boutsis didn’t even attempt to have the Mayor obey Roberts Rules which is required in the charter.

[SDM Note: Boutsis attempted to hold Robert's Rules training sessions, but the Mayor and Council balked. However, Stanczyk's failure to run a meeting makes everyone on the dais look foolish.]

I can assure you that the Council members who voted for the Village Attorney’s termination take no pleasure and are not celebrating the fact that the Village attorney who served the Village since incorporation has been fired.   They said this process was required and necessary to move the Village forward.

The residents of Palmetto Bay are tired of the political agenda of Mayor Stanczyk, Councilwoman  Joan Lindsay and the approximately 20 misguided residents that they represent to the detriment of the rest of us.   The residents I’ve spoken to are drained by the constant and costly litigation, the divisive Neighborhood Protection Ordinance (which it is not) and the negative tone with which the Village has been run for the last three years.

This termination should be a warning to Village Manager Ron Williams if he’s paying attention.  Mr. Williams take note: everyone is replaceable. This termination should also be a warning to the Mayor and Councilwoman Lindsay that the clock is ticking until they too are terminated in next November’s election. In the meantime there is lots of work to do to keep the Mayor and Councilwoman in check so that we can live in the Village of Parks and not in the Village of Insanity.

David Singer

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