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: SDM’s Candidate Forum Observations

SDM listened to the entire Palmetto Bay Village Voice candidate’s forum that was held last night. You can tune in if you wish by going to the Miami Hal (Feldman) website. (Thanks Hal. You’re a mensch.) Scroll down to the Local Listings and Stories section and click on the Palmetto Bay Candidates Forum icon.  And, nice job PBVV and David Singer!

Aside: Who says we don’t have a place to hold meetings in Palmetto Bay? Christ Fellowship Church opened its doors to the village for the forum, as it always seems to do when asked, and we taxpayers didn’t have to pay for it!

Ok, enough of that blather, on to SDM’s observations:

Seat 1

David Zisman – Mr. Zisman careens from comprehensibility to inconsistency whenever he speaks and last night was no exception. For example, he identified a critical problem with Palmetto Bay, which is its negative attitude toward business development. He said he wanted to see the Palmetto Bay downtown area have a restaurant row and believes he can best lead the village in that direction. He also said the village budget is unsustainable and needs to be pruned (we’re paraphrasing). SDM couldn’t agree more.

But then, in response to a question on whether the village should be doing special events, he said the village should hold a Fourth of July celebration every year without saying whether taxpayers should be forced to foot the bill. How can a village budget be sustainable when it throws away $60,000 on a taxpayer-subsidized party for village insiders?

Karen Cunningham – Mrs. Cunningham is the yin to the Zisman yang. Where Zisman is all emotion, Cunningham is pragmatic and under control. Where Mr. Zisman wants to make the free keg party an annual, subsidized event, Cunningham wants to plan the event better so that taxpayers won’t have to pay for it. (Imagine that!)

Another example: Zisman, in his closing remarks, implied that since he’s walked the village and listened to voters and presumably knows it all now, a new council just needs to get seated and start making decisions.  Cunningham says we need to calmly, professionally adopt a strategic plan so that we can methodically determine what the community wants and measure our progress toward the goals the Village People set.

SDM Says: We understand that some people find Mrs. Cunningham to be overly cautious and that sometimes her positions lack specificity, but her demeanor fits our bill better than does Mr. Zisman’s. We think Zisman will be  needlessly disruptive and unpredictable. Even though he’d be manna from heaven for SDM, he will ultimately be bad for Palmetto Bay.

Seat 3

Jim Shedd – Mr. Shedd certainly seems to be enjoying himself as he discovers all of Palmetto Bay’s lingering controversies. We note that he is “discovering them” because he seems truly amazed by topics we’ve been harping on since the inception of this blog.

Example: Shedd probably got the biggest applause of the night when he wondered aloud why the Thalatta Estate was so often closed to visitors and residents. Of course, SDM readers know why but it’s always interesting to watch as a newbie learns the truth about our little burgh.

Mr. Shedd rarely offers much insight into his past, which can be forgiven since he spent virtually his entire career as a federal agent. What did he do for the DEA? Well, he caught bad guys, of course. The only problem with this line is that when you Google him, you find that he was – at least for part of his career – a spokesman that handled the media. How much time did he spend in the field? SDM can virtually guarantee we will never know.

When he was asked to cite an act of leadership from the past year, he finally shed some light on his current means of earning a living. Mr. Shedd advised the audience that he consults for defense attorneys and recently helped to exonerate an innocent man. Bravo! Of course, the old saw is that the penitentiary is full of innocent men, but who are we to judge?

Henry Clifford – While Mr. Clifford’s personality is the precise opposite of Mr. Zisman’s, Clifford shares Zisman’s penchant for internally inconsistent positions.

Example: Clifford told the audience that Palmetto Bay may face a serious budget crunch in the near future. He reiterated the position more than once that the village would have to pare its budget. We infer he wants to avoid tax increases since he never mentioned them as a solution.

The inconsistency comes from a later statement where he said he would push for the lowest density possible, presumably in every future development in the village.

SDM Wonders: How does Mr. Clifford’s position on density square with the stated goal of the downtown redevelopment task force of improving the village’s tax base? Answer: It doesn’t.

Where Mr. Clifford is most inconsistent is in a statement he made regarding village parks. He said he wanted to see more lighting at the village’s tennis courts. Now isn’t that an interesting position to take when Mr. Clifford was such a vocal opponent to other lighting proposals, including for Coral Reef Park and Palmer Trinity School?

Mr. Clifford comes to this race as a puppet of Mayor Stanczyk and her crew so not unsurprisingly he has adopted their inconsistent position on who gets to play into the evening and who doesn’t: In Palmetto Bay, people with red signs get to make this decision, not the property owner.

Larissa Siegel Lara – Mrs. Siegel Lara, like Mrs. Cunningham, is a person of structure. She kept emphasizing the need for methodical decision making, planning and holding people accountable to measurable outcomes. Be still SDM’s heart!

Mrs. Siegel Lara’s biggest downside is that she has virtually no experience with government, which means she could fall prey to the disease currently affecting the Marathon Man (Tim Schaffer): staff-infatuation-itis. On the plus side, she comes off as a decision maker who does her own research and makes decisions based on her own process.

SDM Says: While green as hell, Mrs. Siegel Lara is the best choice for Seat 3. We can’t predict exactly how she will vote on property rights or how she will balance the demands of neighbors vs. the rights of  individuals, but we like her approach and see a big upside to having her on the council.

Mayor’s Race

Soon to be eliminated from consideration:

Mayor Shelley Stanczyk – SDM is long on record on why Mrs. Stanczyk must be retired. As usual when she opens her mouth, she just gave us more ammunition last night.

Forget her re-writing of the history of the fire stations and Thalatta Estate. Forget her inane statement that the problem with the village manager is his contract (huh?).

The newest and best reason for voting against Mme. Mayor is what she said last night about the village’s reserve fund. No, it’s not that she uses the figure of $13.6 million as the amount of the reserve…she may be right that today we have that much in reserve. The fact that it’s not a figure reflected in the budget is just a case of manipulating of statistics.

No, the latest best reason to voter her out of office came during her closing statement. Mayor Stanczyk clued us all into the real danger she poses when she said the reserve is a fund that can be used for future village projects. Yes, you are reading that right. In Mme. Mayor’s view, a reserve is a pot of money one can use to pay for, oh we don’t know, a $10 million unfunded building at Coral Reef Park?!?!

SDM’s Educate-the-Mayor Moment: A reserve fund’s purpose is to protect the village from an emergency (unbudgeted) downturn in revenues or uptick in expenses. Think: A hurricane hits and the village’s revenue is severely depleted for several years while expenses for police and municipal services skyrocket. Also think: Rating agencies demand reserves so that if a bond or other debt obligation cannot be satisfied from its intended revenue source then the agencies can be satisfied that the village has sufficient revenues to cover the debt service. A reserve is not a capital fund to be used for future projects and our budgets don’t reflect that those funds will be used this way.

The fact that Mme. Mayor has attended 12 years of budget meetings and doesn’t understand the purpose of the reserve immediately and on its own disqualifies her from further service to this village.

Patrick Fiore – SDM likes Mr. Fiore but we don’t get why he’s running for Mayor. Sure, we understand he wants to be the public works mayor who fixes the potholes, but that just isn’t enough for us. We also understand that Mr. Fiore takes credit for spending approved by the councils upon which he sat. What he doesn’t say is that he regularly voted against at least some of those budgets.

Taking credit while not deserving it is nothing new to politics, but that’s not why Mr. Fiore falls short. Palmetto Bay needs a Mayor who will lead us to better functioning traffic, not just to smoother roads, a difference that seems to escape Mr. Fiore.

The Contenders:

Peter England – There’s something soothing about Peter England’s approach. He’s perpetually upbeat even when he’s leveling criticism. His obsession – locating two fire stations – is admirable and necessary. That he can offer his time in abundance to village matters is also a big plus.

But there’s also something missing from Mr. England’s latest quest for Palmetto Bay public office. SDM went back over our notes and couldn’t find one comment he made last night that stood out. No major plan. No critical issue – other than the fire station. No real controversial comments and – sadly – no real vision, except for his commitment to comity. (Not to be confused with comedy – that is Mme. Mayor’s area of expertise.)

Eugene Flinn – Where England is bland, Flinn is busting at the seams with enthusiasm mixed generously with barbs against his opponents. Flinn said he is fit and ready to come back to restore Palmetto Bay’s dignity. He wants to work with neighboring municipalities – which is a not-so-subtle knock on Mme. Mayor’s inability to gain the respect of her fellow mayors in Pinecrest and Cutler Bay.

Sure, Flinn toots his horn like most politicians, but it feels like there is a purpose behind the self-aggrandizement. Think: “Look at my record. Palmetto Bay worked when I was Mayor.” The purpose is to remind us that back in the day we didn’t always worry about whether we’d have to count how many times our dog barks.

Here’s an example from last night of vintage Mayor Flinn: When asked about whether he would keep the current village manager (a Flinn hire), Flinn noted that when Village Manager Ron Williams reported to his council, things got done. He cited traffic calming and funding for drainage as examples. Then, to sink the nail deeper into the current mayor’s electoral coffin, he said the village manager should be graded on the assignments he’s given by the council.

The not-at-all-subtle subtext: The last several councils under the current mayor weren’t properly managing the manager, so what do you expect from the guy? Ouch!

SDM’s Bottom Line: We think England and Flinn will face each other in a run-off. We’ll take Flinn this round and then watch the fireworks. :)

PB: How to Plan a Park

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

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

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

cart-before-horse-2

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

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

Wynwood Greenhouse Credit Azeez Bakare

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

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

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

PB: Budget Review I – Mailing It In

Why Some of Us Don’t Trust Village Manager Ron Williams

As SDM noted in several earlier blog posts, we have some experience in deciphering government budgets…not as much as some people, but definitely more than the average Joe.

So we can sympathize with Vice Mayor John Dubois. Starting at about minute 25:00 and going through Councilman Schaffer’s analysis ending around minute 43:00, anyone can see why regular people are frustrated and don’t trust the numbers coming from the village manager and his administration.

The first topic was the $10 million place holder for a “Design Build Community Building.” Vice Mayor Dubois asked a simple question: why does the budget say that this project is proposed for the 2014-15 fiscal year (i.e., next year) when everyone from the village manager to the groundskeeper at Coral Reef Park knows it won’t happen?

The answer was straight out of Wonderland: That’s not what the budget says, Mr. Dubois. Oh really? Mr. Dubois pointed to a page in the Capital Improvements Element (a budget document) that stated specifically that the community building is proposed for 2014-15. SDM also found the same statement on page 2 of the Capital Improvement Plan. (“The capital projects proposed (including roll over projects) by Parks and Recreation for Fiscal Year 2014-15 are…” and the community building is listed among a list of projects.)

SDM’s Message to Mr. Dubois: We realize that sometimes you feel like the ranting funny uncle when you challenge the village manager. In your mind, you may be shouting “doesn’t everyone else see this nonsense for what it is? Hello?” We hear you brother…keep it up…you’re fighting the good fight.

The fact is that fixing the building at Coral Reef Park is probably a good idea. But doing the project in the order it is currently contemplated is obviously bass-ackwards, if you know what we mean. You budget the money AFTER you know how much you need to spend to achieve the objectives. Simple…except for bureaucrats. They want the money identified in the budget even though the money doesn’t exist yet. Makes perfect sense if you sit in a government building long enough.

The second topic that rankled the Vice Mayor involved the police budget. As we reported here a month or so ago, the police budget went up this year because of the county union. We were told that we would be taking an $800,000 hit, so Mr. Dubois noticed that the police budget only went up by $200,000 from last year. What happened to the other $600,000?

SDM Translation of the administration’s answer: We have no darn clue. We listened to the discussion twice (the limit placed upon this activity by our psychiatrist) and we still don’t understand what the answer means. Even with Mr. Schaffer’s analysis, we are still lost on the subject.

Aside to the Marathon Man: you can love the hell out of the MDPD Mr. Schaffer, but please don’t accept their budget numbers as gospel. They fatten their bottom line just like everyone else.

So why do some residents lack trust in Mr. Williams? Pretty much every staffer available attempted to answer Mr. Dubois’s inquiries EXCEPT FOR the village manager.

SDM Wonders: Does Mr. Williams know what’s in his budget? Did he read the words on the pages? Why must Mr. Chin sit there and try to explain that crap about the police budget without any assistance from the top administrator? And why is the Planning Director attempting to cover for the Parks Director by alleging that Mr. Dubois suddenly lost the ability to read black and white text?

In a village the size of Palmetto Bay, the village manager MUST know it all – from the lowliest employee on the totem pole to the underlying arguments for increasing the bond rating. When Mr. Williams sits there, mailing in his budget, even casual observers recognize a short-timer. Maybe the word is out and all those department heads were auditioning? If so, count SDM as unimpressed.

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

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