Martino: Council Too Often Abuses Constituents’ Sacred Trust

The lack of sensibility and sensitivity to RESIDENTS concerns demonstrated at various Palm Beach Gardens City Council meetings that I have attended in the last two years is both disappointing and disconcerting. The stifling of any and all reasonable conversations about substantive issues raised rightfully by anxious RESIDENTS is forcing the abandonment of trust in the current City Council. But I am not surprised. In my opinion the building blocks for the perpetuation of these indignities began 25 years ago.

The City Council and its “defenders” will probably cry foul saying the above is anything but factual. Well, in my opinion facts are not foul. Consider the following current issues and the Council responses…

* Amid the swirl of controversy surrounding the validity of the results of the March 15th, City Council Seat #4 election because no candidate received a majority of the votes cast, the City Council, without any cause for concern, without any questions of the City Clerk or the City Attorney, voted to accept the certification of the Seat #4 election results even though the certification violated the intent, integrity and trust of the City Charter. In Article IV: The City Council, Section 4-1. – Election, of the City Charter, it clearly states the requirement for a candidate to receive a majority of the votes cast.

* The “Special Meeting” of April 20th was advertised as an agenda specific promise to display preliminary sketches and plans for the Shady Lakes Drive extension with a presentation of same and a with a question and answer period to follow. Instead of listening and fully answering the RESIDENTS questions and concerns the City Council rumbled into a vote to approve half-of-a-road based on these so-called preliminary sketches and plans even though a vote was not clearly articulated by the agenda. Some of the City Council members’ comments to the RESIDENTS were patronizing, rude, and antagonistic.

* For a year or more residents of the Mirasol developments have raised the Health and Safety issue of understaffing at Fire Station 64 which serves their area. The City Council has sloughed the issue to the side by having the Administration meet and cajole with the RESIDENTS to soothe their anxieties without success. A new budget year came and went without staff increases for Fire Station 64 based on Administration recommendations that the City Council swallowed hook, line, and sinker. The RESIDENTS continued to bring the staffing issue to the forefront. Magically, at a recent Council meeting the well-intentioned Fire Chief and his top echelon were induced by the City Manager to present a full blown dog and pony show attempting to justify the below level staffing of Fire Station 64 as acceptable practice. Almost two years after the issue first gained traction, and two days before the dog and pony show, the City Administration contracted with an outside agency to help solve the staffing problem. Once again an issue of significant importance to the RESIDENTS is manipulated by the City Council in collusion with its Administration. The RESIDENTS are patronized by the Council with the smokescreen promise that an unnecessary outside study of all Fire Rescue service needs will answer the Fire Station 64 staffing problem.

There simply are no excuses or justifications for the inaction and inattentiveness to the above issues by the City Council of Palm Beach Gardens. In my opinion, however, there are a myriad of reasons why this unresponsive attitude pervades. Palm Beach Gardens has a “lazy” City Council. It is the only municipal government in Palm Beach County that has only one regular meeting per month and no scheduled workshop meetings. The Council is driven by Administration recommendations and, at least in public, does little in the way of original thinking or policy making of their own. The Council gives short shrift and little or no attention to everyday resident concerns and complaints.

A City Hall is the seat of local government where a municipal body that has been bestowed the sacred trust of a constituency through a secret ballot election, conducts legislative and administrative powers, such as, setting policy directives, passing ordinances, and appropriating funds, on behalf of that constituency. Inherent with this conferred trust and power is the regulating of the health, safety, and welfare of the enabling constituency, thereby, establishing a quality of life. The City Council of Palm Beach Gardens is such a municipal body. From my perspective, however, it has abandoned much of its powers to govern to the administration, and, all too often abuses its constituents’ sacred trust.


One Response to “Martino: Council Too Often Abuses Constituents’ Sacred Trust”
  1. samuel meshberg says:

    Thanks for the blog. It is most appreciated.

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