Good Old Boys’ Actions Show Why Term Limits Passed

Term Limits pervaded the April City Council Meeting from start to finish, with some City business thrown in for good measure.

Up first on the agenda was the annual reorganization vote – selecting Mayor and Vice Mayor. Palm Beach Gardens has a Council-Manager form of  government so the position of Mayor is largely ceremonial, not elected by the residents. The Mayor does serve as chair of the monthly City Council meetings though, and influences how business is conducted.

April 2, 2015

The Mayor and Vice Mayor positions have been held by all on the council except for newest member (elected in 2010) Marcie Tinsley.  So one could reasonably assume that Mrs. Tinsley, who has not held either office, should get her turn as Mayor or Vice-Mayor, since like Mr. Jablin (who has held both positions many times) and Mr. Premuroso (the incumbent mayor) – they all have 2 years left on their final term-limited term.  She is certainly qualified, but this Council being essentially a “boy’s club”, she was not even discussed for Mayor, and her nomination for vice-Mayor by Bert Premuroso was cast aside with patronizing ease.

David Levy nominated Eric Jablin for Mayor. The ensuing convoluted discussion rationalized his election as if it had always been a done deal, and he became Mayor on a 5:0 vote.

A prevailing assumption by the Council, for several months now, since term limits were first placed on the ballot, is that Levy is eligible for another term (because he resigned for a few months to run as County Commissioner) and that he obviously will be re-elected without any opposition. He could then have another opportunity to be Vice-Mayor or Mayor. But somehow, in even more tortured debate, the men on the Council decided that Levy needed to be the Vice-Mayor to afford continuity on the Council and ensure the city didn’t collapse as the board turned over. While nominated by Premuroso, Tinsley received no support, even from him, as she argued gamely on why she should be Vice-Mayor; Levy was elected 4:1. The arrogance of the discussion was overwhelming; we highly encourage the Council to watch the entire meeting themselves and understand why people voted for Term Limits. 

Term Limits arose again during Items of Resident Interest.  The North Palm Beach Blog of the PB Post had an article earlier in the day suggesting rumors that the Council would take action to over-ride the Term Limits charter change voters supported with 79% of the vote.  68% voted for it to be retroactively applied to the current Council.   While Council member Russo suggested that such an action, taken by the Council, would be a slap in the face of the voters – it was clear that there were others on the Council who did not agree.  Later in the evening, the ‘new’ Mayor suggested that the folks who are against term-limits come in force to Council meetings, thus giving the Council a rationale to take some action to reverse the ballot amendment.

Resident Mark Marciano, speaking during Public Comment on several topics, suggested that the Council should tackle Term Limits, and that the 2 3-year terms, as passed, were ‘not only short-sighted, but even dangerous’. He reiterated a drumbeat, heard mostly by electeds, that people didn’t know what they were voting for, and were just expressing frustration that Congress doesn’t have term limits.

Finally – the last item on the agenda was the City Manager Contract Extension. In previous discussions on the topic, the contract, expiring in 2016, was proposed to be extended by 2 years to 2018. But suddenly, Mayor Jablin proposed a 5-year extension to 2020 – once again citing Term Limits as the reason this had to be done. The clueless new Council that will exist from 2017 on, will destroy the city without the continuity provided by the current City Manager. Normally, Russo said, 5 years is too long to extend the contract – but Term Limits overrides such need for caution. Tinsley encouraged that the time be used for a succession plan for City Manager Ferris’ retirement; Russo said the same. The extension passed 5:0.

As to the Business:

  • Kudos to Riverside Enrichment Center for receiving Apple Accreditation 
  • Kudos to Km! Ra, the City’s Purchasing Director for being awarded a 2015 UPPCC Agency Certificate 
  • City’s Resident Opinion Survey – 400 residents were surveyed in January 2015 and results were compared with the survey conducted in 2006 – with a sampling error of 4.9%. 96% would recommend living in Palm Beach Gardens and cited Family, Weather, and Shopping/Restaurants as why they live here. The results will be posted on the City website on Monday.  Here is the PB Post’s article on the survey.
  • Mirasol ClubHouse expansion passed 5:0 on First Reading
  • Purchasing rather than leasing Golfcourse Maintenance Equipment passed 5:0
  • Council appointments to external and internal boards remained unchanged except for one that requires the Mayor’s participation.

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