Martino: Consent Agenda Demonstrates Why Council Needs a Monthly Workshop

I just reviewed the City of Palm Beach Gardens August 6th agenda. Under the Consent Agenda item the City Council is spending nearly 9.4 million dollars of taxpayer money without any discussion among themselves or presentation to the residents. How disappointing. But that’s par for the course in Palm Beach Gardens. It’s business as usual the less the public knows the better.

In any event, my criticism is with the City Council’s process. My concern is with the City Council’s lack of scheduled public meetings.  It is not with the expenditure or the result the expenditure might yield. There are six different expenditures listed for consent only consideration. Apparently of the six disbursements, four have been competitively bid, one is under an existing contract, and one is a piggyback/access contract.

Should the Administration been given instructions concerning these expenditures by the City Council in a public forum? Should the City Council review these disbursements with each other while the public is in attendance? The answer to both questions is a loud YES. Was that done? Not with the specificity that each deserved and with the openness, transparency, and accountability that the public expects. In my opinion, all six of these subject expenditures should have had a detailed work-shop-type scheduled public meeting at the very least.

To reiterate, please bear in mind it is process, procedure, and the lack of public meetings that I am critical of. For clarification of my thought process I will discuss the Police Training Facility which is an expense exceeding $3,000,000 on completion. $2,582,000 of that cost is on the Consent Agenda for August 6th with no discussion on the vote. For the record there has been some minor discussion on two prior occasions that I can recall concerning only the cost of building the Facility of around $1,500,000. There have been no public presentations scheduled or otherwise, showing the location of the Facility, drawings or sketches, training equipments or apparatus that will be inside the Facility, who will be doing the training and teaching with associated costs, continuing costs, insurance exposures, and so forth. Lastly, why was the Request for Proposals a Design/Build contract and not separate issues?

From my perspective, the public has a lawful right to and the City Council has a duty and responsibility to, provide any and all pertinent information concerning City business, and in particular, expenditures. To be both transparent and accountable the City Council must process in open public forums relevant facts concerning City business, prior to any Consent Agenda vote or any other regular meeting vote.

My suggestion to the City Council to alleviate any lingering misperceptions about the lack of transparency in the governance of the City of Palm Beach Gardens is a simple one, more scheduled meetings with the public. I have said it before and I will say it again, there are four Thursdays in a month, not just one.

In the short term, perhaps I could suggest that a Council member consider pulling one or more of these important expenditures from the Consent Agenda for discussion. Any takers?

Eric Jablin, David Levy, Bert Premuroso, Marcie Tinsley, Joe Russo



One Response to “Martino: Consent Agenda Demonstrates Why Council Needs a Monthly Workshop”
  1. This is sloppy governance at best and validates the decision of the electorate to boot this council.

    It would be interesting to hear from candidates whom are running or planning to run, to replace those who have been term limited, on your observations. Perhaps you can reach out to them for a reply.

    Thanks for your site and efforts to inform the community. Just because citizens are not in routine attendance at scheduled monthly meetings doesn’t mean we aren’t paying attention PBGWatch is my favorite short cut in this regard.

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