Martino: Kudos to the Gardens’ Police Department!

Police Departments around the country have been front page news of late. Our local County and City departments have not been excluded. As first responders to our health and safety issues they deserve our respect and the benefit of our doubts. Most carry out their job responsibilities above and beyond the call of duty. A rare few do not.

During the week of July 11-16 I was exposed to still another side of policing that gets little to no attention, recognition, notoriety, or too often not even a thank you. I was witness to a public service that our Palm Beach Gardens Police Department performs but does not get enough recognition for, its interest and work with the youth of our community.

My 12-year old grandson, Oliver Jones, participated in a basketball camp at the Palm Beach Gardens High School Gym sponsored and hosted by the Gardens’ Police Department. Basketball is my favorite sport so I attended the 5 afternoon sessions of the camp to watch and encourage Oliver.

The basketball portion of the camp to my pleasant surprise was fantastic. There were approximately 100 boys and girls of all nationalities, skin color, and backgrounds. It featured two former NBA All-Star players, Michael Ray Richardson and Otis Birdsong, as the “coaches”. These two men represent and lead an organization known as Ball Stars Youth Camp. The camp is a free summer program whose goal is to help deserving youth reach their potential. They stress the importance of fundamentals, teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership as part of the skill set necessary for success on the basketball court and also in everyday life. To highlight the life lessons needed for success off the basketball court prominent local business and community leaders are invited to address the kids and share their life experiences. Subjects addressed at the Gardens’ camp by the speakers as they relate to teenagers included, Social Media and the Internet, Drug Prevention and Education, Law Enforcement and Community Involvement, and how to relate with the police when a special situation occurs.

All in all, what a wonderful week of basketball and life lessons was presented to the basketball campers. A special thank you and recognition are in order for Assistant Chief Jim Stormes, Sergeants Dorian Hawkins and Randal Anderson, Officers Orlando Elcock, Darrin Walker, Jason Sharon, and Robert Ayala who were assigned the duty to make this camp the tremendous success that it was. The other members of the Police Department, and in particular Chief Stephen Stepp for his leadership, are to also be congratulated for their daily Community Service to the residents of Palm Beach Gardens.

Once again the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department, in its own inimitable way, has reminded me why I am proud to be a Palm Beach Gardens’ resident. Thank you.

Martino: PBG Truly Has a New Face

Congratulations to Mr. Carl Woods, Palm Beach Gardens new Group 4 City Councilperson. It’s been a long and arduous journey for Mr. Woods to navigate. His journey was an uncharted path of twists and turns littered with obstacles. For Gardens’ residents, it was an intriguing escapade to watch, witness, and wonder why this is happening.

Mr. Woods’ journey began in the latter part of 2015 when 3 candidates qualified to run for the Palm Beach Gardens City Council Group 4 seat, the incumbent David Levy, and the challengers Kevin Easton and Carl Woods. It ended on July 20, 2016 by order of a Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge declaring Carl Woods the winner of the March 14th election by default based on the fact that that Mr. Woods was the only eligible candidate left in the race. In between the beginning and the end the City Charter’s election and term limit language was questioned, lawsuits were filed by the candidates, the City, and the Supervisor of Elections; a candidate withdraw from the race; an ethics complaint was filed; an election was held on March 14th; a winner was declared but then ruled ineligible by the Palm Beach County Court of Appeals; the winner became a loser who resigned to avoid being ousted. Carl Woods, finally, took the oath of office as Group 4 City Councilperson on July 21, 2016.

Mr. Woods has successfully completed his difficult election journey but he now embarks on a new one. This journey is the art of governing. The challenges of governing in a Council-Manager form of local level government as a part-time elected official can be and often are complex and complicated. Creating and maintaining the balance in the chain of command between the residents, the City Council, and the City Manager is complex. The responsibility for the health, safety, welfare, and recreation of all the City’s residents is complicated.

Carl Woods has persevered in the face of adversity. He defended the words and meaning of the City’s Charter against incoherence. He fought for what he thought was his right. These are admirable traits and qualities that will serve him well as he begins his new journey as a City Councilperson.

In Carl Woods the City Council of Palm Beach Gardens truly has a new face.

(Editor note:  If you would like to see a timeline of the election see Sarah Peter’s article here.)

Subdued Council Passes All Items 4:0 and Showers City Manager Ferris with Praise

Much of the discussion during the July Council Meeting centered on subjects not originally on the agenda. All Ordinances and Resolutions passed 4:0 with the result that:

  • Property tax revenue will increase by 6% if millage is not lowered during the September Budget hearings. Maximum millage is set during July meetings throughout the state. The only usual proponent of lowering millage on the Council, Council Member Premuroso, stated that he saw no way to lower millage in the fall given upcoming Police and Fire/Rescue contracts, and city growth. He also said that the goal should be to continue to maintain flat millage. (Note – this means that as property valuations increase, your property taxes will go up accordingly – at differing rates depending on whether or not you own a homesteaded property). Save the date – September 8, 2016 at 7pm for the first 2016/2017 Budget Hearing.
  • PGA Station PUD amendments were approved. See a summary in Sarah Peters’ article here.
  • Resolution 52, 2016 – added to the Agenda at the meeting, allows for the City to call a Special Election concurrent with the November 8, 2016 General Election. This is a place holder should Circuit Court Judge Colin find for the City in the Levy/Woods Litigation conclusion within the next couple of weeks. The August City Council meeting would be too late to open candidate qualification. Should the judge seat Carl Woods, then the Council would withdraw Resolution 52 in August.  More detail below.
July 8, 2016

Mayor Tinsley began the meeting with a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub attack. She then brought up former Mayor/Council Member Levy’s resignation and read his resignation letter. She brought forward the City Attorney report to the beginning of the Agenda, so that Mr. Lohman could describe briefly the litigation time-table, enforcement of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the Charter’s Term Limits retro-activity and Levy’s ineligibility to have run for office. Resolution 52, 2016 was added to the agenda. More detail here .  (NOTE:  PBGWatch was present at the most recent hearing – it is Max Lohman, on behalf of the City, that is arguing for a Special Election – otherwise Judge Colin would not be considering it.  We recommend that the Council read the transcript obtained by their attorney, and here is our summary of that hearing).

Presentations included Recognition of the City’s Spirit Team, and the  Sponsors of the Gardens Cup, which raises funds that are used to put on morale raising events for City Staff.

Comments From the Public included:

  • Tom Cairnes, of the PGA Corridor Association thanked David Levy for his contributions to the City, especially in all things environmental. He also hoped that the citizens wouldn’t end up regretting their actions comparing the term limits vote in 2014 to Brexit.
  • Ross Wilcox and William Papageorge, both residents living on Gardens Glen Circle, raised a Code Enforcement issue with a vehicle with trailer parking on the city street at all times. Mayor Tinsley and City Manager Ferris were reviewing the problem.
  • Carol Courtney of 40th Terrace N. cited concerns with how the City implemented the Sunset Dr/40th Terrace improvements without respect for environmental impacts.
  • Kevin Easton and Marilyn Parmet both asked that Resolution 52, 2016 not be voted on, that there not be a Special Election (ranging in costs up to $80K) and that Carl Woods be declared the winner of the March election.

Mr. Ferris began his City Manager Report by implying that the two residents didn’t understand that Resolution 52 was just a placeholder and that the Special Election would only cost $15K. (editor’s note – he was not understanding that they were saying the Council could end the need for such an election by seating Mr. Woods!)

Also included in the Mr. Ferris’ upbeat report was:

  • Well earned recognition for Km! Ra, Purchasing and Contracts Director, for a prestigious Excellence in Achievement Award for the 3rd year in a row. As Mr. Ra IS the Purchasing Department – he achieved a round of applause!
  • Congratulations to the City’s Police Explorers who one 1st place in the 2016 Law Enforcement Challenge for the 3rd year in a row.
  • Thanks to the Police Foundation for donating 40 infrared thermometers which can be used to detect temperature in parked vehicles.
  • Recognition by the City by interim Fire Chief Keith Breyer and the City to Juan Nunez, lifeguard at the Recreation Center for saving a toddler unresponsive in the swimming pool – see Lifeguard Receives Hero Award for more details.
  • The Chief also Recognized Km! Ra once again – this time for getting a $43K FEMA grant for 120 Personal Safety/Rescue Bailout System for the Fire Department.

During Items for Council Discussion, the Council did their annual City Manager Evaluation. It also happened to be Mr. Ferris’ birthday. He couldn’t have asked for a better present than the effusive praise, minimal critique if any, and the standing ovation given him by the Council and his staff….

Term Limits Affirmed – Levy Removed from Council

David Levy

As you may know, the 4th District Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge’s ruling that only a current term of office would count against the two term limit, and that 4 term Concilman David Levy had been eligible to run. The 3 Judge panel sent the case back to Trial Judge Martin Colin for action.

Today, Judge Colin ruled on one of two issues – that David Levy should be removed from office.

The second question – as to how the seat will be filled will be decided in the near future.

Plaintiff Carl Wood, the only remaining candidate from the March election after Kevin Easton withdrew and David Levy has been ruled ineligible, argues that he should be seated immediately.

The City on the other hand, represented by Attorney Max Lohman, is arguing that a special election is now required, open to any and all candidates interested in running.

Judge Colin has asked that written arguments and precedents in case law be supplied on the second question by next week and he will decide it in an expedited manner.

Seating Mr. Woods now seems like the obvious course of action to us. It is true that none of the three candidates on the ballot received a majority of the votes, and the judge previously decided that votes for Kevin Easton (who had withdrawn) should be considered in the totals implying a runoff election was necessary. But the runoff would have been between Levy and Woods. Now, with Levy ineligible, there is only one candidate remaining – so he should be declared the winner, much as Maria Marino was declared the winner when Takeeta Pang withdrew.

The city though has a different view – they appear to be so opposed to seating Mr. Woods that they are willing to spend even more taxpayer money on a special election on top of what they have contributed to the legal fees incurred in support of David Levy. It is not clear to us why the city even has a dog in this fight. With term limits decisively affirmed, and Mr. Levy removed, what do they seek to achieve?

Woods/Levy Litigation Hearing Wed 7/6 at 8am

FYI – in case you’d like to attend and show your interest in the case!

Where:  Main Courthouse at 205 N Dixie, West Palm Beach, Courtroom 10D – Judge Martin Colin

When:  Wednesday, July 6th at 8am

Note:  Parking meters along Quadrille.  There should be plenty of metered parking on the west side of the courthouse that early in the morning.  The security lines shouldn’t be too bad either.  Plan to allow 10 minutes to get through security and up the elevator from the time one arrives at the courthouse.


Next City Council Mtg on Thursday July 7th at 7PM

The next City Council Meeting will be this Thursday, July 7th, at 7pm in City Hall.

Consent Agenda includes 3 Purchase Awards:

  • Ancillary Health Benefit Plans – Openly competed – 2 year contract valued at $296K. “The City has a self-funded Group Health Plan that is administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Inc. The Group Health Plan is supplemented by various other Ancillary Health Benefits Plans that are available to employees and qualified dependents, including domestic partners. The current Ancillary Health Benefits Plans are: Life Insurance and Accidental Death & Dismemberment; Dental Insurance; Employee Assistance Program; Vision Care; and Long-Term Disability.”
  • Bunker Gear for Fire Rescue Department – Piggyback Contract – $99,990 upon delivery
  • Repairs to Allamanda Water Control Structure – Piggyback Contract – $292K

City Manager Report – no details listed

Public Hearings and Resolutions:

  • 2nd Reading Ordinance 5, 2016 – Police Pension Amendment.
  • Resolution 37, 2016: Tentative Maximum Millage rate will be set for Fiscal Year 2016/2017– it can be adjusted downward during the September Budget Hearings
  • Resolution 39, 2016 – Attention Sunset Drive/40th Terrace North/Brenna Lane property owners “Adopting a non-ad valorem special assessment roll for the design, construction, and installation of water utility and road improvements on 4Qth Terrace North, Sunset Drive, and Brenna Lane. ” Note: In accordance with the requirements of Section 197.3632(4), Florida Statutes, all affected property owners have been notified of the need for the special assessment, its cost, payment schedule, the effect of non-payment, the identities of the Benefitted Parcels, the right to appear and participate in a public hearing at the July 7, 2016 City Council Meeting at which this resolution is considered for adoption, the right to file written objections, and all other relevant information concerning this special assessment.
  • Two Art in Public Places resolutions – Harborchase Assisted Living Facility (Resolution 41, 2016) and Northlake Gardens, located in PHASE II of the Banyan Tree PUD (Resolution 42, 2016)
  • Resolution 45, 2016 – PGA Station Planned Unit Development (PUD) Amendment – A request for
    PGA Design Center

    PGA Design Center

    approval of a PUD Amendment to modify the 30.03-acre PGA Professional and Design Center PUD to allow a conversion of uses for a revised development program of 415,401 square feet of Professional Office, 49,279 square feet of Medical Office, 11,777 square feet of Retail, a 111 room Hotel, and 3,000 square feet of Restaurant, along with modifications to the master plan, landscape plan, sign program, and architecture.

  • Resolution 46, 2016 – The Applicant is requesting approval of two (2) temporary modular structures located on the Zimmer Biomet site (formerly known as Biomet 3i, Inc.) at the South Park Center Planned Unit Development (PUD) in the Northcorp Planned Community Development (PCD). Staff recommends approval of the request.

Items for Council Action/Discussion – the annual City Manager Evaluation

(Editorial Note – Noticeably absent from the published agenda is any discussion of the recent Fourth District Court of Appeals Court ruling that David Levy was ineligible to run in the March 2016 City Election. Mr. Levy’s name appears on the list of Council Members on the Meeting Agenda – see the latest Palm Beach Post article here.   A hearing is to be scheduled with the original judge, Judge Colin, in the near future.)

Check the agenda to see if any additional items have been added before the meeting here.

Martino: Levy and Council Outfox Themselves

Why does it take the Circuit Court and the District Court of Appeals to read and understand the City Charter of Palm Beach Gardens? Is the answer because the City Council of Palm Beach Gardens, its records’ keeper the appointed City Clerk, and its legal adviser the appointed City Attorney – CANNOT! No, I’m sure they all can read and understand the Charter language. But do they want to is the significant question? As written does the Charter language fit with their power agenda? Does the Charter language meet their obvious desires to maintain the status quo? The answer to those questions and others similar to them is, NO!

The City Council, its City Clerk , and its City Attorney, have tried to distort and misrepresent the Charter language as it applies to the City Election of March 14th, particularly, the Seat 4 results. First, they allowed the 4-term incumbent, David Levy, to be placed on the ballot as a candidate even though the Term Limit language in the Charter determined him to be ineligible. Second, when the election results were tabulated and none of the Seat 4 candidates gained a majority, as the Charter mandates, the City Clerk declared David Levy the winner based on faulty assumptions and imperfect Charter application.

The challenger, Carl Woods, filed suit as was his right. The Circuit Court ruled a runoff election should be scheduled while upholding the City Clerk’s interpretation that Levy was an eligible candidate. Thus, at this point both Levy and Woods have a victory. Levy beats the term limit retroactive eligibility provision and Woods gets the runoff election he sued for. So both candidates are in the ballgame and all they have to do is compete.

But competition and fairness is not good enough for Levy or the City Council. Levy appeals the Circuit Court decisions to the District Court of Appeals. The City Council votes to join the appeal process, in my opinion, without cause. The Appeals Court overrules the Circuit Court and sustains the Term Limits provision of the City Charter. The District Court of Appeals Judges clearly mandates that David Levy was and is an ineligible candidate. Thus, he should not have been on the ballot in the first instance. The decision renders all other issues moot. The case is sent back to the lower Court for final declaration which is pending

So it appears the City Council’s political shenanigans resulted in failure. It looks as if David Levy’s appeal is for naught and he is remanded to the sidelines instead of competing in a runoff election. What’s further distressing is that the residents of Palm Beach Gardens are not being dealt with seriously, truthfully, and responsibly by the City Council they elected to do just that. Instead, the residents are being dealt with cunningly, circuitously, condescendingly, and arrogantly.