Martino: The Charter is Clear! Why Appeal?

I have a question for anyone who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, and above all, our esteemed City Council. The question is, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the City Council could get acquainted with the City Charter, particularly, its words and their meaning?” Well, in my opinion, apparently with all their “experience” the current Council members have yet to master many of the words and much of the meaning of the City Charter.

Case in point is the bungling and embarrassment surrounding the March 15th 2016 City CouncilSeat 4 election. There were 15,970 total votes cast in this election contest as certified by the election canvas board. David Levy, the incumbent, received 6642 votes (41.6%) and Carl Woods the challenger, received 6256 votes (39.2%). Neither received a majority of the votes cast.

In Article IV: The City Council, Section 4-1. – Election the City Charter clearly states, in plain everyday good old-fashioned English, that it is a requirement for a candidate to receive a majority of the votes cast. When this does not occur, the Charter states a runoff election must be held. When the City Council and its Administration decided to play politics with the results of the March 15th Seat 4 election and not hold a runoff election as the Charter mandates, Carl Woods filed a lawsuit to establish his right to a runoff election. A Circuit Court judge ruled the City must obey its Charter and schedule a runoff election between Messieurs Levy and Woods. But lo and behold, the City Council and its Administration refuse to believe the Judge can read and so they have voted to appeal his decision.

That raises questions, questions, and more questions! Is the City Council dwarfing the will of the people’s Charter by trying to produce a dictatorial end that they, each of them, seek? Why involve the City in continuous, contentious, and costly litigation? I wonder if power has something to do with it. Are the Council members protecting one of their own, David Levy, the City Clerk, or perhaps both? Who is paying for David Levy’s personal lawyer, who incidentally, is affiliated with a law firm that regularly appears before the City Council on behalf of developers?

From my perspective, there is something very ominous in this dereliction of trust in the City Charter by the Gardens’ City Council. Is it a deliberate and direct falsification of the Charter’s words and meaning to support personal power and ambition? Is it a direct attempt to discount the will of the voter by sowing the seeds of discord and confusion? Is it none of this but simply plain incompetence? Only the City Council can give the correct answer but they never do.

This City Council never fails to disappoint. I have said this before, but I shall say it again – and again – and again. Collectively, this is an arrogant City Council that does not respect the sacred trust that was given to them upon their individual election. Palm Beach Gardens’ residents deserve better.

Fire Station 4 to be ‘Fully’ Staffed due to Upcoming Hood Rd Closure

The June 2nd City Council Meeting, with four council members present (Ms. Marino absent), began with recognition of Sherri Pla as PGA Southeast Chapter Youth Golf Development Professional of the year. Next was to be the 2015 Audit Report – but the presenter was delayed and so City Manager Ferris was asked to give his report.

Of impact to City residents: Hood Road at the Turnpike will be closed very soon for a period of 60-120 days, in order to replace the bridge. Fire Station 5 (aka 65) is a backup to Fire Station 4 (aka 64) (which has been the subject of public comment for several months) and access to Mirasol would be impacted by the closure. The City will temporarily staff Station 4 to full capacity for 120 days, using over-time. City Manager Ferris said that data collected during the closure, plus the outside study commissioned to review Fire/Rescue current and future needs, will be timely and sufficient to determine staffing proposals for the 2016/2017 Budget cycle.

June 2, 2016

During Items for Council Action/Discussion towards the end of the meeting, the council voted 3:1 against supporting the Infrastructure Sales Tax. Vice Mayor Jablin reiterated his position from the first vote held a couple of months ago, that the sales tax increase was regressive. Council Member Premuroso also re-stated that the County should be able to handle this through their existing budget or via bonds and that the School Board solutions should be separate. Mayor Tinsley stated that since the County, if millage is held flat, would be gaining $48 million in extra revenue, there should not be a sales tax increase. Council Member Levy voted for supporting the sales tax, since the Cultural Council/Economic development component had been removed from the proposal. All agreed that despite their nay vote the referendum would be on the ballot in November. Also discussed was the probable incorporation vote of Westlake  (formerly Callery Judge Groves) by its four residents purportedly to over-ride density limits currently imposed by the County. While it wasn’t clear that anything could be done, the Council voted 4:0 to oppose the incorporation and to have the Mayor write a letter taking that position.

Also of resident interest, City Attorney Lohman reported on the status of the Election Run-off (see judge ruling details here) and recommended that the City join in David Levy’s appeal, along with the Supervisor of Elections. His rationale was that the City was involved already due to the City Clerk being named in the suit, as well as already being obligated to pay the SOE’s legal fees. Council Member Levy recused himself, and the remaining members voted 3:0 to join the suit.

Public Comment included:

  • Mami Kisner, thanked the Council, City Manager and Police Chief for their accessibility, and responsiveness to Corey Jones’ family and community.
  • A resident concerned about illegal drug sales occurring in a neighborhood in the area NE of Northlake/Military Trail. Both the City Manager and Chief Stepp seemed very surprised by the information and referred the resident to Asst. Chief Shannon at the back of the room.
  • Abbey Baker, Matt Baker, Craig Goldenfarb and Ron Kaplan of Mirasol all spoke on Station 4 staffing, and response time issues.
  • Kathy Beamer, of Shady Lakes, requested that improvements be made to 117th Ct first, then redo the traffic study, prior to modifying Shady Lakes Drive. She stated that the residents’ trust had been breached by no providing a wall, a berm or any real noise abatement in the most recent proposal.
  • Tom Cairnes and Steve Mathison, both of the PGA Corridor Association spoke, with Mr. Mathison specifically appreciating their inclusion in the current review of the Impact Fee process.

The Consent Agenda, Ordinance 5, 2016 and the other 3 Resolutions on the Agenda passed 4:0.