Martino: Term limits are now a part of political life in PBG

The November 4th election has come and gone. In Palm Beach Gardens the two Term Limits ballot initiatives were both big winners. As the City of Palm Beach Gardens has matured so has the mindset of its registered voters and they have embraced term limits as an asset that will improve the governing of the City.

The Gardens voters’ choice to insert Term Limits into the City Charter as another barometer for City elections affects the current long-time City Council members to some degree. It is understandable and perhaps only human nature that these Council members are undergoing a certain amount of disappointment. However, I would presume that these same Council members would understand that elections and ballot initiatives are part of the consequences of the job they accepted as candidates and officeholders.

In my opinion, the Palm Beach Gardens Term Limits initiatives were never intended to be a referendum on the current City Council Members nor a personal vendetta toward them. Unfortunately, some have made it so, including certain members of the present City Council.

For the City Council members not to facilitate the Term Limits initiative process is one thing, and possibly excusable. But haranguing and disparaging the results, as at least one City Council member has, is an insult to the residents of the City. These noisy, nonsensical, castigating remarks besmear, sully, and undermine the creditability of the City Council members individually and collectively.

The election is over and the results are in. Term limits are now a part of political life in Palm Beach Gardens. The City Council members should graciously accept that fact and move on. There are many pressing issues facing Palm Beach Gardens that need their undivided attention. They should move forward and discuss them.

Vice-Mayor Makes a Statement and Businesses on the Move

The November 6th City Council meeting was relatively short but covered a variety of subjects….

November 6, 2014
  • Council member Tinsley requested that one of the Consent Agenda items – Amendment to Storm Water Infrastructure Mapping – be pulled from Consent and presented to the public. It was a very informative update on what the mapping had uncovered todate, and why additional work was necessary.
  • City Manager Ferris reminded the public about Tuesday’s Veterans Day Ceremony at 11am. Congratulations were also in order for the now award winning ‘Frog-et Me Not’ program initiated by Karen Cobb of the PBG Police Department.
  • The most dramatic moment was clearly the prepared statement read by Vice-Major Jablin during Items of Resident Interest, leading with the phrase “The Trees are Falling” in which he lambasted those who placed the term limits questions on the ballot, the concept of term limits, and those who supported it. Clearly he loves the city and feels that this change is not for the best.  You can watch his statement beginning at minute 1:30 of the Council Video.
  • Ordinance 17, 2014 setting a moratorium on medical marijuana was withdrawn, as expected, due to failure of the ballot question to pass on 11/4
  • The site plan amendment in Resolution 67, 2014 represented the move by Jo-Ann Fabrics to a new stand-alone retail building near Home Depot. While not mentioned during the meeting, this represents yet another business departing from the Promenade Shopping Plaza on Alt A1A and Lighthouse.
  • The signage change covered in Resolution 60, 2014 was for a business moving to Palm Beach Gardens from West Palm Beach – “Garden of Life” – see the Palm Beach Post article about the move.  The Council welcomed the owners to the City.

All Ordinances passed 5:0.

Additional discussion was made regarding coordination with the School District and the desire for a ‘real’ workshop with All Aboard – with real answers, not slick presentations.


Term Limits Passes in a Landslide

Voters answered both Gardens’ ballot questions  with a resounding ‘YES”;  Question 1 received 79% of the vote and Question 2, 68%.  Read Tony Doris’ article in today’s paper for additional background.

Total votes cast back in the City’s March 2014 Municipal Elections was 7167.  (See Analysis post for more details) That was an unusually high turnout at 19% of registered voters.   7-12% turnout is more typical in the Municipals.  The winners’ margins of victory were measured in the hundreds.   When any of our council is elected or re-elected because there is no opponent, or by such low turnouts and close margins it is difficult to say any of them are there by a mandate.  That is not so much a reflection on the candidates as it is voter apathy during local elections, and one reason why we in PGBWatch want to foster citizen participation!

There is no doubt with numbers like those shown below, that a much larger portion of the City’s voters were paying attention.   This time, as in the vote for the Ethics and Inspector General Ordinances in 2010, the residents’ desires were loud and clear!

Results from the Supervisor of Elections website

Next City Council Meeting on Thursday Nov 6th at 7pm

The next City Council Meeting will be this Thursday, November 6th at 7pm at City Hall.

Here are some highlights:

Consent agenda:

  • Setting January 8, 2015 as the date for the January City Council meeting
  • Purchase awards: $249K for 2 play/fitness areas in Mirasol Park Playground, $123K for long-distance telephone service for Police Dept., amendment to existing contract for mowing and landscaping services, additional $92K for repairs to bridge at Lighthouse Drive, and increasing the scope of a contract to map and inspect the City’s water drainage infrastructure and increasing the cost by $247K.

Public Hearings:

  • 2nd reading of Ordinance 16, 2014 which updated the Land Developement Regulations (LDR) text (and will once again set a record for length of the description of the Ordinance)
  • 1st reading of Ordinance 17, 2014 which would impose a temporary moratorium on the approval and/or issuance of any new licenses or permits for any uses that involve the cultivation, processing, and/or dispensing of medical marijuana within the City until October 1, 2015.   Taking this action was discussed at a prior council meeting as necessary in case Ballot Amendment 2 passes on the 11/4 election.
  • Resolution 60, 2014 is a master signage amendment to approve a tenant wall sign at the northwest corner of Northcorp Parkway and RCA Blvd.
  • Resolution 67, 2014 is a site plan amendment for Northlake Commons Shopping Center at the SE Corner of Northlake and Military Trail  I-95.
  • Resolution 68, 2014 is an amendment to the City Centre Planned Unit Development (PUD) which is located on the southwest corner of PGA Blvd and US 1.

The agenda (with links to full detail) can be found here.

See a summary of the October 23rd Growth Management Workshop, and the latest Martino Minute on the PBG Watch website.

We get the government we deserve – and it’s up to us to watch what they do.  Hope you can make it.  If you can’t make the meeting try and watch live-streaming or on-demand.

Martino: Special Interest Money against Term Limits in the Gardens

Is the Palm Beach Gardens term limits ballot initiative a referendum on the present City Council members, as some would say? I would answer, no, not really. However, in the final days before the November 4th election, evidence suggests I may be wrong. A slick piece of literature has showed up in my mailbox. It suggests that, maybe, the present City Council members would prefer to have the term limits ballot questions be about them.

On the City Council’s behalf the sham Political Pac, “Citizens to Protect the Gardens”, has reared its ugly head again, as it did in the March City Council election. During the City Council March election this Political Pac was fueled primarily with money from business oriented organizations and corporations, or as some would say, special interest money. So, speculation would suggest special interest monies are again flowing into Palm Beach Gardens to influence the November 4th term limits ballot questions.The special interest money, as it did in the March City Council election, is underwriting the status quo which equates to preserving the present City Council members.

Rationalizing and recognizing the “Citizens to Protect the Gardens” Political Pac special interest money, as well as, the messaging espoused by its literature and signs for what they are, undoubtedly, is the best course for the residents of Palm Beach Gardens. In my opinion, emphasizing the status quo as the primary argument against term limits, as the literature suggests, is a weak debate position to argue from. But usually, when special interests are happy with the status quo that is where their debate points begin and end.

I am not a Political Pac. However, as a 50 year Gardens resident and a former 20 year Mayor and City Council member, I can offer a reasoned voice to the term limit debate. I think it is reasonable to suggest that it is the height of arrogance for anyone to think and state that the members of the present City Council are the only answer to good leadership for our City. I will forgo all of my other discussion points to speak to some of what I will refer to as “actuals”. Some of these are…

* The “Father of our Country” and our first President, George Washington, self imposed term limits on himself after two terms, and went back to his farm.

* Barack Obama, our current President and the leader of the free world, is term limited.

* Governors, state legislators, county commissioners, local City Council representatives, accept term limits.

I have thought long and hard about the term limits ballot questions. I have home worked and analyzed both sides of the term limits debate. As a result, I am comfortable in saying that it is time for term limits for our City Council representatives.

I will be voting, YES, for both term limits ballot questions. That is my choice. Please make your choice. The term limits ballot questions are on the last page.

Please vote on Tuesday, November 4th.