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: Guest Post by David Singer (With SDM Comments)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[SDM Says: Right on!]

David Singer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PB: England’s Fightin’ Words

The Miami Herald published online a Soapbox letter from village mayor candidate Peter England. Most of you will see it in your Sunday paper, but SDM thinks you may want to preview it here:

Your June 8 story concerning the site of a new fire station in Palmetto Bay suggests that I might be unhappy with this outcome. Since my mayoral campaign identified the acute lack of Fire/Rescue coverage on the east side of our village as the greatest single public safety concern in Palmetto Bay, how could I be anything but pleased with the proposed 14200 Old Cutler Rd. location?
The issue my campaign raised was the lack of attention being given to this critical issue by the Palmetto Bay Village Council. At no time, either during a council meeting or council workshop, was this issue discussed, in spite of the fact that the Palmetto Bay Village Voice raised the concern at every council meeting.

During the presentation by the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department at the June 2 council meeting, the council received the same new information as I about this new alternative site. They were there as spectators, not leaders. I commend Miami-Dade Fire Rescue for their diligence on this issue, and will continue to demand not one but two new fire stations as a central theme in my mayoral campaign. Only two stations will provide complete coverage of the entire village.

By drawing attention to this crucial issue, my mayoral campaign has finally gotten the council to focus on this public safety issue after 11 years of neglect. Now that they have recognized the importance of this issue, It’s time for the Village Council to step up and get involved.

Peter England, Palmetto Bay

(Emphasis added by SDM.)

Eleven years? Hmmm… Let’s see, who was leading the village during the past eleven years? Answer:

Mayor: Eugene Flinn (2002-2010); Shelley Stanczyk (2010-Present).

Vice Mayor: Linda Robinson (2002-2008); Brian Pariser (2008-2012);John Dubois (2012-Present)

District 1: Ed Feller (2002-2010); Patrick Fiore (2010-Present)

District 2: Paul Neidhart (2002-2010) Howard Tendrich (2008-2012); Tim Schaffer (2012-Present)

District 3: John Breder (2002-2006); Shelley Stanczyk (2006-2010); Joan Lindsay (2010- Present)

You’ve covered a lot of territory there, Mr. England…pretty much every elected official to have set his or her backside on a Palmetto Bay taxpayer-funded chair. Not to mention Village Manager Ron Williams and his predecessors.

SDM Wonders: Are you all going take this lying down?

 

PB Guest Post by David Singer: Stanczyk as Nero

Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay fiddle while Village residents lose Property Value.

Property values have been increasing everywhere in Miami Dade County with the exception of the Village of Palmetto Bay. Real Estate increased an average value of 5.6% across Miami Dade County between 2013 and 2014 with Palmetto Bay at a stagnant 2.5%. Increases in other cities include Cutler Bay 4.8%, Aventura 5.8%, Doral 3.3%, Key Biscayne 8.5%, Pinecrest 3.7%, Miami Beach 8.9%, Coral Gables 3.5%, and Unincorporated Dade County 4.1%. In fact, Village of Palmetto Bay had the lowest rate of increase in real estate values as compared to 95% of Miami Dade County.

While our current Council Members, including Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay, continue to be obsessed with Palmer Trinity, NPO and lighting at Churches and Schools, the rest of the county is kicking our butts in economic recovery.

The majority of Village residents will use the equity in their homes as their nest egg in retirement. As most of us know, our homes contain the major source of equity that will eventually either be handed down to the next generation or used during our golden years.

Last year Palmetto Bay residents would have been better investing their home equity in a money market account than the return they received from Palmetto Bay’s housing recovery.

2013-2014 was not the first year that taxable values increased faster in cities like Pinecrest, Coral Gables, Doral, Aventura and Cutler Bay. Practically the same results were seen last year.

I find this unacceptable. We live in one of the nicest areas in Miami Dade County. I was assured during Village of Palmetto Bay incorporation that home values would increase at a faster rate than in Unincorporated Dade.

With the present leadership in Palmetto Bay this just isn’t happening.

The issue is that a couple of our elected officials continue to take their eyes off the ball. Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay have been so wrapped up with their hate for, and litigation with, Palmer Trinity that they can’t govern this Village properly.

John Dubois, Tim Shaffer and Patrick Fiore have had to play defense against frivolous ordinances and resolutions by Shelley Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay against dog owners, churches and schools distracting these Councilmen from accomplishing positive things in our Village. Mayor Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay’s actions could be costing you tens of thousands of dollars you need for retirement.

Which brings me to the resolution that Mayor Shelley Stanczyk is placing on the agenda tonight, Monday, June 2nd. It reads:

“Lighting shall not be installed or used for outdoor recreational areas, except for underwater swimming pool lighting, by religious facilities, private schools, child care facilities or other non-governmental public assembly uses in any single-family residential zoning district. This provision shall be self-executing and become effective upon the date of adoption by the electorate.”

Once again, as her ill-advised dog barking ordinance was (5 barks will cost you $300) a couple of months ago, her resolution is a pandering to the CCOCI and a few local residents who are bothered by lights. This resolution would not only make it illegal for tennis court lighting, basketball lighting but also for ground lighting in landscaping and along walking paths. We’re not talking about restricting 70, 80 and 90 foot light poles, we’re talking about every types of lighting. I remind you that all residential houses are permitted the same lighting that she is trying to eliminate at churches, schools and child care facilities.

This type of legislation is discrimination and idiocy at best. This type of ordinance will bring more litigation to the Village as it is unconstitutional. It is also extremely dangerous as lighting deters crime and helps to reduce “slip and falls.”

So there you have it, a Mayor and Councilwoman who are so worried about dogs barking, shining lights and their disdain for Palmer Trinity that they’ve lost focus on the big picture. Home values  – citizens’ nest eggs – are rising slower in our Village than almost anywhere else in Miami Dade County. Anyway you spin it, it’s a losing situation for Palmetto Bay constituents.

David Singer

PB Showdown: You Can’t Have It Both Ways

Three votes.

That’s all that separates Palmetto Bay from continuing down a path of anti-church, anti-private school and anti-day care alienation or down a path of reasonable accommodation.

Three votes.

The June 2 village agenda contains an item by Mayor Shelley Stanczyk that will place before the voters a measure designed to permanently bar by charter any use of outdoor lighting in recreational areas for non-public gathering places.

The very same agenda contains an item by Councilman Tim Schaffer that changes the village code to permit limited lighting on those recreation areas.

The two items cannot work together; they are mutually exclusive.

The village council breaks down as follows on these items as SDM reads the tea leaves:

  • Stanczyk item: For: Stanczyk, Lindsay; Against: Schaffer; Undecided: Fiore, Dubois.
  • Schaffer item: For: Schaffer; Against: Stanczyk, Lindsay, Dubois; Undecided: Fiore.

Based on our reading, village voters will get the chance to bar lights forever, unless the facility wants to install underwater lighting in a pool.

The curious votes here are those of Dubois and Fiore.

Vice Mayor John Dubois looks to SDM to be a populist. He notes his own suffering from loud music at Thalatta Estate, but he also was voted in by the opponents of the last cabal that ran this village. He insisted that Mr. Schaffer postpone the vote on his item, while at the same time proposing some (perhaps) reasonable amendments to it. We put him in the “no” category for the Schaffer item based on his very negative comments and seeming willingness to “love the bill to death.”

Councilman Patrick Fiore, also a candidate for Mayor, looks to SDM to be fence-straddling. His antipathy to anything Mrs. Stanczyk proposes is palpable to anyone paying attention. Yet, he joined the chorus in demanding that the Schaffer item be postponed. Mr. Fiore’s campaign is on life support already and his votes on these items will either seal his fate as a Stanczyk clone or set him apart as supporting non-public institutions. As SDM notes regularly in this blog, sitting on the fence just gives both sides someone to shoot at.

SDM Says: Make no mistake: these votes on Monday will be pivotal in deciding the character of Palmetto Bay going forward. We as residents cannot expect private property owners – especially those with religious foundations – to go gently into that good night when their rights are being trampled. Sure, Palmer may decide to take half-a-loaf today just so they can proceed, but that does not mean that other facilities will be so willing to meekly stand down. The larger question is whether those of us with kids who also work late should be able to use non-public facilities after sunset. Or, does a small group of neighbors get to decide that nothing happens after dark in Palmetto Bay? Mr. Fiore and Mr. Dubois will decide on Monday night.

PB: Guest Post by David Singer: Robin says “haters gonna hate!”

Tuesday night’s town hall meeting had the vigor of a rally where about two or three dozen local residents rallied in opposition to churches, schools, lights and traffic. It was like watching a room full of Donald Sterling’s yelling “not in my neighborhood”.

“Those lights, those lights, they shine through my window when they’re on at night!” Sorry, what normal household doesn’t see their neighbor’s lights when they are on? At times I have to close my blinds at night because my neighbor’s lights have a tendency to shine directly into my living room. Such is life when you live in a community with neighbors.

You want to complain about traffic, sell your car and take public transportation because you are part of the problem. If you don’t want to sell your car, stop the whining.

The issue isn’t actually about lights or traffic, it’s about hate. There are about 50 individuals who live in Palmetto Bay who just love to hate. They hate churches, they hate schools, they hate kids, they hate laughter and they hate traffic (well, who doesn’t?).

Two of those haters serve on the council and are up for reelection in November. Mention Palmer Trinity and you can feel the hate leaching through their pores. I actually believe “the hate” is probably the only thing keeping those two individuals alive.

Guess what, with the help of a councilwoman’s spouse they have now started conspiring how to take additional rights away from churches and schools because, as they repeat over and over again, they don’t pay into the tax base. Councilwoman Joan Lindsay has said herself that those institutions don’t contribute to the community and she’s here to protect everyone’s quality of life.

Not to disagree with the Councilwoman but there is more to contributing to a community than paying Real Estate taxes. Churches and schools serve a very important part in the foundation of society and the definition of quality of life is subjective. Can you imagine some people actually can appreciate churches and schools and hearing children’s laugher?

Jerry Templer (husband of Councilwoman Joan Lindsey) has now proposed placing a Village Amendment on the November ballot which would prevent any lighting associated with outdoor activities at all churches and schools even though lighting is permitted at Village Parks and residential homes. Doesn’t Mr. Templer’s proposal smack of discrimination?

Mr. Templer’s explanation for the discrimination is that Village Parks are open to the general public and churches are exclusionary. I may be incorrect but I didn’t realize churches were in the business to turn away parishioners.

Churches and schools are our neighbors that need protection as much as any individual resident. Whether Joan Lindsay or Shelly Stanczyk care to admit it, they also contribute to our Village in a meaningful way. The services they provide are vital to a healthy, prosperous community.

Our three remaining councilmembers, John Dubois, Tim Schaffer, and Patrick Fiore along with the remaining Village residents need to stand up and work together against these narcissistic individuals who stand against fair treatment of these institutions. Surely as a community we are better than the narrow-mindedness of the vocal few who seem to make the most noise to protect their own interests while robbing others of their rights.

David Singer

PB: Budget update – Dubois rattles cages; Robin chimes in

PB Budget Update

SDM watched the tape of last night’s budget workshop. The largest takeaway: The guys really wanted to get the meeting finished so they could watch the Heat game. Councilwoman Joan Lindsay was also uncharacteristically quiet, so maybe she wanted to escape early, too.

SDM did take note that the council is already looking to spend more money on the police department, so get ready for another Police pandering budget. The village manager reminded the council that PB police write lots of tickets, so Finance Director Chin gets a nice check from the county every month!

The rest of the budget discussion, which lasted about 30 minutes, was a snoozer until Vice Mayor Dubois spoke at the very end. Dubois said two things that caught SDM’s attention:

1. Vice Mayor Dubois reported that “the village will increase its operating budget by 22% this year.” (33:40) [SDM Snarky Question: BTW, did you shave before the meeting, John?]

2. Dubois noted that since the village is raising expenses so drastically, perhaps they ought to consider reducing their own salaries, which are set by charter. Dubois asked the village attorney if the council could reduce its compensation without amending the charter. The village attorney did not reply, but the answer is no. Here is the offending provision:

Council members and the Vice-Mayor shall receive compensation in the amount of $1,000.00 per month and the Mayor shall receive compensation in the amount of $2,000.00 per month. These payments shall be increased or decreased solely by amendment of this Charter. Sec. 2.6, Palmetto Bay Village Charter.

SDM Says: We are shocked the village is considering such a spending spree, Mr. Dubois. If the police expenditures are so important, perhaps we should be considering cuts to other departments to balance things out. On the salary issue, we like the way you are thinking, though we doubt Mme. Mayor finds you very amusing. :)

Robin Chimes In

David Singer (the Robin to SDM’s Batman according to one SDM wag) provided us a comment today that we decline to print. The allegations made are not sufficiently supported to warrant verbatim transcription here.

However, Mr. Singer makes an important point (also echoed by Councilman Tim Schaffer) that we have not discussed sufficiently in this blog. Namely, Palmetto Bay seems bent on retaining for another term its current auditor, despite a significant question about their handling of the Palmer litigation vis a vis the village’s annual financial reporting.

SDM claims no expertise on the question of whether the Palmer litigation should have been reported as having a “material adverse” effect on the village’s financial situation. But we agree with Mr. Singer that the issue deserves a serious review by a competent third party.

If you think this issue is nit-picky, consider that the City of Miami is (or was) under federal investigation for improper reporting of its financial status. Bonds are priced according to a municipality’s financial condition so if a city misstates its position, then investors might be taking more risk than they bargained for. In some instances, such a misstatement could constitute fraud.

Palmetto Bay is coming to the fork in the road with Palmer if the last meeting is any indicator. Either the village will find a way to settle the lawsuit or the council will roll the dice with our tax money. Under either scenario, those who invest in Palmetto Bay’s financial instruments ought to be told what the potential downside could be for the village’s finances.

SDM Says: The question of whether the village should retain its auditor should be partly decided on whether they stated completely the village’s financial condition…if not for the benefit of the village people, then at the very lease for the benefit of our creditors.

PB: Hysterical and Condescending…and more on lighting.

SDM finished watching the painful Monday village council meeting. Our local government is shifting into gear for the election, no doubt about it.

Before we get to the hysterical Mayor and the Condescending Councilwoman, let SDM weigh in on this lighting issue once more. We’ve given the matter some additional thought since our post yesterday.

First, understand that in 2012, Councilwoman Lindsay led the redrafting of the village code to single out schools and churches and other non-public places of assembly…this is just a fact and the code proves it.

As we noted yesterday and have pointed out repeatedly since 2012, Palmetto Bay’s code treats the certain activities at private schools and churches differently than it does the same activities held at public parks and schools. Doing so is discrimination and Councilwoman Lindsay believes she is in the right when she drafted the code this way.

Second, the village code prohibits absolutely any lighting on athletic or recreation fields at private schools and churches. The code also regulates lighting everywhere it is permitted in the village, and SDM believes this regulation is relatively strict as compared to the county, for example.

So, when Mrs. Lindsay – again, the author of these code provisions – says that merely allowing a private school or church to have any lighting whatsoever would result in “stadium lighting,” then she is either lying or the village code she wrote permits stadium lighting. Which is it Mrs. Lindsay?

Third, the code provision that Mr. Schaffer wanted to change needs to be amended; it’s a mess and Mrs. Lindsay knows it. She railed against Mr. Schaffer’s proposal as if he wanted to amend the Ten Commandments! Shame on you, Mrs. Lindsay.

If you think SDM is being too hard on Councilwoman Lindsay, we dare you to tune in to the council meeting and fast forward to 4:08:10 where she begins her lecture with the condescending words: “There’s a real learning curve up here…”

SDM is as tired of listening and rebutting Mrs. Lindsay’s red herring arguments just as she is sick of defending her discriminatory legislation.

But let’s look at one recurring theme in her commentary: that Palmetto Bay is 92% residential; that we are a residential community. As SDM has said a hundred times, so what? The other 8% has no right to exist and prosper?

Look, we all understand that Mrs. Lindsay lives next door to Palmer and that she has made it her life’s mission to ensure that this private, religious school cannot give its children the same amenities that public school kids get.

In Mrs. Lindsay’s world, these rich kids don’t deserve to attend after-school events where lighting is required. They don’t deserve to have a chapel on the property. They shouldn’t have a jogging path, etc., etc.

We all get it Mrs. Lindsay and we understand you will stop at nothing and say anything to prevent Palmer from building its school on the 35 acres next to your house. Your interest in the “general welfare” of Palmetto Bay is obvious as you spend our tax dollars to protect your backyard.

+++

Now, on to the hysteria of the night. You must go to 3:50:45 – 3:51;40 and watch your Mayor behave as if she were in a kindergarten classroom having a spat with the boy sitting next to her. She claims her opponent in the mayor’s race, Patrick Fiore, is threatening her “under his breath.”

If it weren’t so juvenile, it would be funny.

SDM Says: We can’t hear what Mr. Fiore allegedly said to Mme. Mayor Stanczyk, but the entire episode is just more evidence of a council that lacks civility and a steady hand at the tiller. You  don’t have to agree with SDM on other topics to agree with us that this Mayor is in way over her head.

PB: Neighborhood Protection = Tear Us Apart

According to the online code repository, http://www.municode.com, Palmetto Bay’s code prohibits schools and churches from having lighting on their athletic facilities:

DIVISION 30-110. RELIGIOUS FACILITIES, PRIVATE SCHOOLS, CHILD CARE FACILITIES, AND OTHER NON-GOVERNMENTAL PUBLIC ASSEMBLY USES

Sec. 30-110.7 (9)(d) Lighting shall not be installed (or used) for outdoor recreational areas. (Underwater lighting used for the illumination of a swimming pool, fountain and other water features may be permitted) consistent with section 30-60.6

The above section of the ordinances was adopted by the council in 2012 and lots of us in the community warned that its adoption would be inherently contentious and unfair. This is so because the Village of Palmetto Bay is prohibiting schools and churches in our community from having the same lighting (and other fair uses of their property) that other schools and village parks are allowed to have.

Councilman Tim Schaffer made a courageous choice as part of settling the longstanding public feud that has torn apart this town to amend the above section to state the following:

Lighting shall not be permitted to be installed (or used) for outdoor recreational areas consistent with Section 30-60.6. (Underwater lighting used for the illumination of a swimming pool, fountain and other water features may shall be permitted) consistent with Section 30-60.6.

Instead of calmly evaluating Mr. Schaffer’s provision, which would allow Palmer Trinity, for example, to light their athletic fields, Mayor Stanczyk and Gary Pastorella charged out into the community with their bullhorns. The predictable result was a council chamber filled with ugly personal attacks on Mr. Schaffer’s character and motives.

So here’s the question for those of us who don’t live next to Palmer and are not star gazers who think Bill Sadowski park is their personal property: Do we think having lighted athletic fields (to 10 pm on weekdays and 11 pm on weekends) violates the sanctity of our neighborhoods?

Unfortunately for Mr. Schaffer, a tiny but increasingly loud minority of Palmetto Bay residents have decided that they cannot tolerate lights at Palmer just as they hate the idea of any lights at Coral Reef Park. So for those of us who work late and can’t make a ball game at at Palmer at 4 pm or even 5 pm, we don’t get to watch our kids play.

And for those of us who spend an hour or more behind the wheel, we don’t get to walk or jog through Coral Reef Park for about half the year because the facility must close at nightfall.

And then there’s that little problem of treating private schools and churches differently from the rest of the public assemblies in our community. Some of our elected officials are so confident in their religious discrimination that the see no issue with segregating these uses into a separate section of the code.

One never knows for sure if Palmetto Bay’s regulations constitute reverse spot-zoning prima facie – courts are notoriously inconsistent with zoning decisions. But at least our council has mooted the issue of whether they are treating schools and churches differently; the code is clear on that issue.

SDM Says: Some day we might get an answer on whether Palmetto Bay is illegally discriminating against religious institutions. Then again, maybe some day the vociferous folks who want to shout down these schools and churches will themselves be shouted down by fed up taxpayers.

P.S.: For those of you who keep harping on the fact that “these institutions” don’t pay taxes, you really need to contact state and federal officials to require religious facilities to pay property taxes. And one more thing: cities are a composition of those that vote and those that locate their businesses, schools and churches here. You don’t have any right or power to ignore their needs just because it suits your majoritarian prejudices.

Guest Post by David Singer: His take on the chaos at Palmetto Bay

Below is David Singer’s view on the Village Council meeting last night. SDM is still reviewing the tape.

It never ends….

After sitting through the circus of May’s Village of Palmetto Bay Council meeting Monday Night, an important fact was disclosed which once again provides insight into Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay’s ethics.

It was revealed by the Village Attorney that Village taxpayers will be responsible for the lawsuit filed by Palmer Trinity for Twelve Million Dollars. In addition, once two counts of the lawsuit covered by Palmetto Bay’s insurance policy are dismissed, the eleven remaining counts will have to be defended solely by the Village since the League of Cities which has been co-defending the Village will stop its representation. The Village and taxpayers will thereafter be responsible for 100% of the associated legal fees, judgment and damages from taxpayer’s coffers.

For the past two and a half years both Mayor Stanczyk and Councilwoman Lindsay have publicly denied this was the truth. They have denied that Village funds were at risk during their public and personal war with Palmer Trinity. The special interest group Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler, Inc (CCOCI), of which Joan Lindsay was president, has pushed and pushed this litigation to go forward long after a positive outcome for the Village seemed likely.

When Mr. DuBois ran against Councilwoman Lindsay for District 3 in 2010 he outed her anti-Palmer agenda. Mr. DuBois pointed out that years earlier Lindsay personally funded litigation to fight the school before taking control of the Council with Mayor Stanczyk and eventually Councilman Pariser to use the Village as a battering ram against the school. If fighting Palmer Trinity was her sole purpose for running for office she should not have run. At a bare minimum, based on her private activities and her inability to be impartial or properly represent her district, Councilwoman Joan Lindsay should have recused herself from deliberation and voting on all issues relating to Palmer.

As stated by Patrick Fiore at the Council meeting, the Palmer litigation could have been concluded years ago without financial liability to the Village or any snags over lighting, which is the current sticking point. If either the Mayor or Councilwoman would have just voted to approve the original site plan which had requested no light poles we would not be where we are today. They are ultimately 100% responsible for this fiasco.

So here we are approximately two years later, a million dollars spent in legal fees and still fighting with Palmer. Continuing litigation will soon to be at the sole expense of the Village taxpayers with either a twelve million dollar lawsuit hanging over our heads and/or a solution to the lawsuit of changing the lighting ordinance for the entire Village.

During the Council meeting three of the council members, Tim Schaffer, John Dubois and Patrick Fiore attempted to resolve, compromise and conclude what has been and could very well be the most expensive chapter in the history of the Village. All the while Mayor Stanczyk and Councilwoman Lindsay, who created this situation, chastised the council member’s good intentions of finding a solution for what has become an extremely complex issue facing the Village.

Are the Mayor and Councilwoman capable of taking any responsibility for this predicament? Do the morally corrupt ever take responsibility for their actions? Their hatred for the school prevents it and seriously clouds their judgment.

It was evident last night that Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay’s animosity for Palmer Trinity has influenced their ability to finally settle the litigation with Palmer.

My tax dollars should be spent on parks, infrastructure and basic governmental service that improve the quality of life for the in the Village, not litigation.

Next month there will be one more attempt to resolve the lighting issue with Palmer. I hope calmer heads will prevail but with Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Councilwoman Joan Lindsay, I’m expecting the Village to be back in the courthouse for round five with Palmer. All the while the taxpayers are paying the bill for the Mayor’s and Councilwoman’s ongoing blunders.

David Singer

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