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2016 PBG Council Candidate Forum Synopsis


On February 25, PBG Watch, along with the Palm Beach County Tea Party, the Palm Beach Gardens Residents Coalition, the Republican Club of the Northern Palm Beaches, the Republican Club of the Palm Beaches, and the North County Democratic Club hosted a candidate forum for the City Council election. In Group 4, Vice Mayor David Levy and challenger Carl Woods shared their thoughts with us on a variety of prepared questions and some from the audience, and we heard a statement from Council Member-elect Maria Marino.

A Word about the Video


The video of the event, recorded for youtube by PBG Watch, can be viewed in full HERE. The video icons in the table below are links into the full video that start at the question of interest. If you have trouble viewing any of it, you can click on the “youtube” link under the video frame and view it there using the index provided.

Moderated by 12 term Gardens Mayor Michael Martino, the candidates were asked a set of questions about current issues facing our city, some of which proved to offer a real choice between the candidates.

Present for the forum was Gardens Mayor Eric Jablin and Council Member Marcie Tinsley, along with former County Commissioner Karen Marcus and former Gardens Mayor Linda Monroe..

The meeting was kicked off by PBG Watch Co-founder Fred Scheibl, who introduced the leaders of the other sponsoring groups including Mel Grossman, President of Palm Beach County Tea Party, Kevin Easton, President of Palm Beach Gardens Resident’s Coalition, Marilyn Parmet, President of the Republican Club of the Northern Palm Beaches, Rob Shannon, Outreach Chairman for the Republican Club of the Palm Beaches and Iris Scheibl, co-founder of PBG Watch. Timekeeping duties were performed by Barbara Grossman of the Palm Beach County Tea Party.

Below you will find a summary of the event, with the questions that were asked, and a link to a video of that section of the forum.

Forum Questions
Opening Statements:


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Maria Marino:
Question 1: Term Limits – The voters overwhelmingly approved of term limits for Council, and made them retroactive. The spirit of the charter change is that no Council Member can run for re-election if they have been elected to two consecutive terms. One of you is interpreting it differently – assuming that completion of the two terms is the criteria and resigning shortly before an election establishes a sufficient “gap” to allow a new run for the seat. Please state your opinion on how the new charter limits should function.


David Levy:
Carl Woods:

Question 2: Council Salaries and Perks – Most Council members have “day jobs” and will tell you that being on the Council is part-time. While they certainly work more than the 3-4 hours a month in a Council meeting, it is supposed to represent public service, not a livelihood. Currently though, each Council person receives over $60,000 per year in salary and benefits, and over $90,000 per year when other perks (memberships, seminars, office supplies, etc) are included, and this amount is subject to automatic cost of living increases. What is an appropriate compensation for this position, and should a part time position get pension and health insurance benefits?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Question 3: “Ex-Parte” meetings – Prior to quasi-judicial hearings, the Council disclose their ex-parte communications with petitioners, but not what they discussed. Many residents where outraged at the conclusion of the Avenir meeting when after hours of public input on the proposal that had been recommended by staff, Mayor Jablin announced that he had negotiated a reduction in the allowed units in return for his support. Should this have been either disclosed at the outset or discussed in front of the public? What is your view of what occurred at that meeting?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Question 4: Growth in Spending – With property valuations continuing to rise, there is less pressure on programs and tax rates. Assuming this continues, how can we prevent the explosion of spending that occurred during the last period of rising property values? With low expected inflation and modest population growth, how do you decide what is an acceptable level of spending growth?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Question 5: Intergovernmental Grants – The county funds a lot of its operations and capital budget through state and federal grants, in excess of $500M in 2012, down to $315M this year. Palm Beach Gardens has not sought nor used intergovernmental grants very much in its budget, but lately has applied for some HUD grants for housing, as we are eligible as a city over 50,000. Since it is not really “free money” and grants usually come with strings. What is your view of this kind of grant use?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Question 6: County-wide Sales Tax – This month, the county commission has begun to consider a staff proposal for adding 1 cent to the sales tax (worth $2.3B over 10 years) to fund infrastructure projects for both the county and the School District, and provide money to the Cultural Council for expanding museums, theaters and other cultural attractions. This would have to be approved by the voters on the November ballot. The cities would get 40% of this if passed. What do you think of the county proposal, and what should be done with the PBG share if it is passed?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Question 7: Older Neighborhoods – The City of Palm Beach Gardens is 57 years old. The original platted areas of the City are starting to show their age. These plats do not have Homeowners Associations to provide neighborhood and property value upkeep but depend on the City’s codes and services to protect their neighborhoods and property values. How would you as a councilperson protect these areas from degradation and property value deterioration?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Question 8: Sober Homes – The City of Palm Beach Gardens has a growing number of Sober Homes (Drug Rehabilitation Businesses) and Assisted Living Homes infiltrating many of the City’s older neighborhoods. These are private businesses enabled and allowed by certain State legislation. These private businesses are setting up shop in residential single family neighborhoods which can and often do have a deleterious effect on property values and neighborhood tranquility. As a Councilperson what would you offer as safeguards to the residents of these affected neighborhoods?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Question 9: Deteriorating Properties – There are currently a significant number of multifamily duplex apartment units in certain areas of the older neighborhoods of the City of Palm Beach Gardens. In most cases these duplex apartment units are rental properties in the hands of absentee owners. These units often are not maintained to the standards of Palm Beach Gardens’ codes and ordinances, thus, causing neighborhood deterioration and a deleterious effect on property values. As a Councilperson what, specifically, would you offer to improve this situation?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:


Question 10: Cut-through Traffic – Traffic is a significant problem in the City of Palm Beach Gardens. Northlake Boulevard, PGA Boulevard, Alternate A1A, Military Trail, Hood Road and even Burns Road are the major roadways that most residents think of when vehicular traffic is part of their conversations. However, another traffic contagion, cut-through traffic, is commanding almost equal attention for problem solving. Cut-through traffic is turning residential neighborhood roads which are not designed for the increased traffic counts into major collector thru-ways posing safety, noise, and other traffic attendant problems. As a Councilperson how would you combat this growing residential traffic problem?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Question 11: Shady Lakes Extension – The city wants to improve traffic flow on 117th around Timber Trace and Duncan and the City owned sports complex by running Shady Lakes Drive through from PGA to 117th. The neighborhood is mostly against it and a lawsuit may be in the works. An alternative is acquiring 117th from the School District and widening it. How should the city proceed to solve the traffic issues and also satisfy the concerns of the neighborhood?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Question 12: Incentives – Attracting businesses and jobs to the city can be approached in a number of ways. One is to provide tax incentives and outright payouts for infrastructure development like the county did with Scripps. Another is to subsidize private business directly. Another way is to make the city attractive as a place to create or expand a business by reducing the tax burden and simplifying the permitting process. What is your preferred approach to economic development?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Question 13: Business DevelopmentProcess – A couple of years ago, the one issue that generated the most controversy in the city was the matter of the stadium proposal for 117th street. Public opinion was divided – business interests supported it, neighborhoods in the immediate vicinity did not, but many residents wanted to hear a full proposal before deciding. The way the city conducted the process – in secret and through misleading statements by both staff and Council, was a large part of the problem. Although the Business Development Board requires confidentiality for its projects, those of large impact must have early public involvement. How would you propose that projects like this are handled in the future?


David Levy:
Carl Woods:
Audience Questions on development in Brigar, trucks on MacArthur, I95 / Central interchange, daily rental of houses, people skills of the candidates, land use restrictions at Avenir, Panama Hattie’s property, climate change, and the Congress Avenue extension.

Closing Statements


David Levy:
Carl Woods:

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