Former Mayor Martino’s perspectives on the July 10th City Council Mtg

I attended the July 10th Palm Beach Gardens Council meeting and I was glad that I did. I was pleasantly surprised as I witnessed my nephew’s son, Joshua Wilkes, receive acclaim in conjunction with his other PBG Police Explorers mates. I proudly watched as my son, Steven, reminded the Mayor and City Council that we do have some problems in the older sections of our fair City that require their attention.

I listened to a Council member opine about the Scripps Research Institute and its recent newsworthy problems. It was difficult to follow this conversation and what the member’s conclusions were. Let me offer my conclusion, Scripps has problems. How severe or deep they are we do not know at the moment but we better find out. The North County and our City have a lot riding on Scripps. As I articulated in a recent letter I wrote even though Scripps has met internal hiring expectations the promise of 50,000 local jobs from spin-off companies has been minimal, at best. Local governments have planned development around these spin-off promises, the Briger acreage in Palm Beach Gardens is an example. With all of this in play, plus $579,000,000 in incentives from state and local governments on the line, this “drama” could transition to crisis.

Then there was the normal agenda routine of proclamations, resolutions, public hearings, ordinances for approval, etc. To my surprise there was very little, if any, serious conversation by the City Council as they voted unanimously for all of these items. However, an ordinance banning the sale of dog and cats in the City did generate a lot of comment and conversation by the Public. There were emotional expressions in favor of the ordinance and against its passage. This forced the City Council to express their thoughts which they did and then voted 5 to 0 in favor of the ban.

But the meeting wasn’t over yet. There were still term limits to deal with. When it was term limits turn we again heard the voices of our Council members. It was obvious that the Council members were not happy about this resolution but to their credit all said they did not want to thwart the democratic process and voted to place the term limit proposition on the November ballot if the Citizen Petition drive met all legal hurdles.

The next to last item on the back end of the agenda was the City Manager evaluation. That’s all the agenda identified, evaluation. The City Council did not appear to have any reference materials or forms to fill out; apparently it’s to be a verbal evaluation only. Generally, all of the council members’ comments were effusive in their verbal evaluation and praise for the City Manager. However, the more the members evaluated the more interesting the evaluation became…

1. One council member was more restrained and questioned the City Manager’s communication skills and tied them to the transparency issue that the City is somewhat mired in.

2. Another council member lobbed some softballs at the manager’s performance. Then this member tried to hit a home run by raising the baseball stadium fiasco, defending the City Manager’s role in not being more forthcoming with the public on the issue, and suggesting us residents should believe that due diligence was done. Based on these comments this member would have us believe that the City Manager is the superhero that saved us residents from the disaster that the baseball stadium would have been.

I thought the verbal evaluation discussion was over. All of a sudden a council member sounding like an agent for the City Manager moved to extend the City Manager’s current contract for 2 more years, apparently, until 2018. A second to the motion was made and then discussion ensued. So without regard for the agenda listing only an evaluation, a 2-year extension to the City Manager’s contract had been moved, seconded, and discussion began…

1. The agent for the City Manager, excuse me I meant council person, who motioned the contract extension, commented that our leader, the City Manager (I thought the City Council were our leaders), should be able to stay here as long as he wants. Rambling, this member said, we control the City now but alluded to term limits changing that, we owe it to the City Manager because of his future plans, no one has heard from this man…

2. Discussion from other council members revealed that at least two of them had never seen or read the contract; therefore, they did not know its content or conditions, and a third member said he had not seen or read the contract in a long time.

3. We finally hear from the City Manager and he was not a happy camper. Perhaps, not appreciating the discussion, the City Manager, uttered some incoherent comments ending with a suggestion he did not want to be part of this ”turmoil”, which quieted the City Council briefly.

4. Here comes the agent, I did it again, I mean council person, to the rescue. The agent or council person, take your pick, defends the Manager’s comments by suggesting that they were released “out of emotion”.

5. Finally, the council member who seconded the motion to extend the contract withdrew his second, so the motion dies.

6. Subsequently, the City Council decided to review the manager’s contract for consideration of a 2-year extension at the September City Council meeting.

In conclusion, the City Manager evaluation was by far the most interesting part of the meeting and worth the wait. Hopefully, the City Council will be transparent enough to put the original City Manager contract with all its extensions and additions since its inception, along with the new proposed contract on its web site for the public’s consumption.


Michael Martino



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