Martino: The New City Council – What We Expect

The City Council of Palm Beach Gardens elections for 2017 are over and my mailbox now has room for my bills. Let me add my congratulations and best wishes to the new Council members, Ms. Rachelle Litt, and Messrs. Mathew Lane and Mark Marciano. They join with Council members, Ms. Maria Marino and Mr. Carl Woods to form the first 5-member City Council since the overwhelming passage of term limits in 2014. At their first meeting the new Council elected Maria Marino as Mayor and Mark Marciano as Vice-Mayor.

So what should be this new City Council’s imminent priorities one might ask? Is it traffic, is it All Aboard Florida, is it development, is it sports fields, is it concerns for our older neighborhoods, is it sober homes, is it fiscal responsibility, is it health, safety, and welfare? The answer to all of those questions is a firm, YES. However, in my opinion, the most pressing subject facing the new City Council is Council protocol. What will be their modus operandi? How will it differ from the past?

From my perspective, embedded in the discussion of protocol are the problems of transparency, Council-Manager relationship within Charter boundaries, agenda framework, more City Council meetings, among other concerns. Accountability for transparency is only assured by communicating with the public the ideas and thought processes of the collective governmental body that go into the consideration and making of policy decisions in the openness of an advertised meeting. The City Charter spells out the interface that must pervade between the City Council and the City Manager, particularly concerning policy directives and initiatives. Preparation of an agenda format that is more business and resident conscious is a needed modernization. City Council workshop meetings on a regular advertised basis to discuss all City issues among the five Council members in public before the regular meetings for final vote are a vital component in the protocol process.

It is my observation, that the passage of term limits by an overwhelming 80% of the Palm Beach Gardens voters was not based solely on a “changing of the guard” mentality. It was also a desire for refreshment. It was a hope for new ideas and innovative approaches to our local government with more consideration for the concerns of the residents. It is my suggestion that our new City Council members consider these premises.

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