Martino: Term Limits Vitriol

On display at the November 2nd Palm Beach Gardens City Council meeting was exactly why Term Limits for elected City Council members was supported by 16,000 registered voters when they were finally allowed to vote on the issue. A member of the City Council that long opposed Term Limits and did everything in their power to prevent Term Limits from appearing on a ballot showed his true colors.

In what has been described as an 8-minute “rant” excoriating the current Term Limit Law, this term-limited ex-Council member refused to abide by the 3-minute public comment rule that is enforced for any and all who cares to speak under the “Comments by the Public” agenda section. When the Mayor did not stop the ex-Council member at the end of his 3-minute rant the Public objected. The ex-Council member turned from the public lectern to face the Public with his hands on his hips. With an angry, contemptuous red-face he proceeded to shout, screech and scream, “I have earned this privilege, if you don’t like it you can leave”. Many of the audience left.

Privilege is defined as “a special advantage or immunity or benefit not enjoyed by all”. The ex-Council member does not understand that by simply winning an election one has not “earned a privilege” for oneself but rather one is bestowed a special privilege with which to serve the Public. The very same Public the “ranter” despicably asked to leave the City Hall chambers that belongs to the Public and is not a prerogative, perk, or gratuity that belongs to any ex-Council member.

This ex-Council member’s rant in opposition to the current Term Limit Law is not new. He has been consistent in his arrogance, ugliness, and hostility to the Public’s desire for term limits. The irony that the ex-Council member refuses to recognize is that history’s mirror reflects that he is one of, if not the singular one, who is the culpable cause for their overwhelming success.

Madame Mayor and City Council members, you should be careful not to be the horses pulling this wagon of vitriol.

“You don’t have to game the system to win”

Quoting Eric Jablin  in the Nov 2, 2017 PBG council chambers.

Sorry Eric, the evidence suggests that you do!

I respectfully suggest that all of the Charter Review Committee’s recommendations be opposed. It now seems obvious that the current council is doing the bidding of a very small group of people who are seeking to extract their revenge on those that dared challenge their power with Term Limits.   That said I will attempt to explain that all these proposals represent a move to consolidating power even more within the western gated communities, making it almost impossible if approved, to recover influence for those in the unrepresented older communities. How many residents really understand that?

  • 100% of the current council lives west of Military Trail.
  • 80% live within the walking yardage of the PGA Champion course
  • 60% live in the PGA National

In no particular order this is what we may be asked to vote on.

Plurality Wins – I call this the; the voter can’t buy a lottery ticket with the savings proposal. If you take 3 of the sitting council member + plus Levy they collectively raised at least a $150K in campaign contributions in the last election; but they want us to fret about saving the taxpayers 70K. I ask what else do you got. Investors are always warned that past performance doesn’t equal future outcomes; voters should heed the same advice before surrendering their current rights against future unknowns and reject this tactical move outright.  Be warned going forward; as you hear Charter Proponents using terms like common or uncommon because in this case 70% of Florida cities with Term Limits in their charters that are equal or greater in population to PBG use majority wins. Why are we changing?

Before we get into my thoughts on the two term limit proposals I want to pause and alert you to another trick. For those that had an opportunity to hear Eric Jablins’ rant on the evening of November 2nd, you would know he supports using the Charter process to reopen the subject of Term Limits because as currently constituted it is “ambiguous, poorly crafted and open to misinterpretation.” I would argue that may be true if you don’t like what it says but as the 4th District ruled “it’s two terms and you’re done.”

Now read that paragraph again and then consider, before I get back to term limits, that the council proposal ordering the Charter be rewritten to conform to Florida State Statute and that is being marketed under the banner of house cleaning will close the Jablin Loophole to future citizens because current Charter provision Article XXII Sec. 22-1 (that requires the Charter to be reviewed every Five years) will be eliminated in its entirety.  That’s a big deal folks! : If the only people that can call for a Charter Review in the future is the sitting council and you’re not in the club any challenge to their power will have to go through the petition process every time. Only privileged citizens get the taxpayer funded short cut.

Returning to the Term Limit questions that are:

Extra 3 year Term  and Sit out a term and rerun – My first reaction is if the current council feels deeply about the need for these two provisions while at the same time they will be telling you don’t worry about eliminating the Charter review provision because we can call for a review any time; then why shouldn’t we make them demonstrate their support for these changes by rejecting these proposals now and force them to make it part of their future re-election platforms?

As far as letting a sitting council person run again after sitting out a term; I’ve now seen enough to know that a couple more term limit flushes are in order before we revisit the topic.  But in case you’re not convinced follow this link from the Clerks web page and examine who is funding the current council’s campaigns and ask yourself what has changed?  My observation is that we already have a process that all but guarantees that those pushing this Charter agenda already have their proxies in place why do we want to certify it?

The hypocrisy of this current charter exercise needs to be highlighted.  Many of the issues could and should have been resolved by recommending that we elect Council members that live in their Districts with a mayor elected at large. 64% of Florida Cites equal in population to PBG or larger who have Term Limits elect their representatives this way.  Look at the opportunity missed to take a lot of the political issues off the table; by having considered this very popular governance model.  We wouldn’t need any of the Term Limit languages because in these cities Term Limited Council members can run for Mayor and vice versa. Would we want or need Plurality when the race is confined to people in your immediate neighborhood who would be accountable by name?

Disappointedly this whole process has been rigged from day one. Creative thinking was contained by Charter  Review Committee  member selection that was manipulated to include those already predisposed to execute the will of privileged insiders; as evidenced by the clever Resolution 49 2017 language that ignores the conflicts of the two lobbyists selected for the committee.

Having listened to all the Charter sessions I can report that the discussion never ventured from City Attorney R. Max Lohmans “Proposed Charter Changes for 2017” Play book. Yes including that Oldie ‘City Manager Residency’ requirement that vanishes with the Charter review language. If anyone tries to tell you that it is not common; I respectfully suggest they might fib to you about something else. My data sample says residency is a requirement in 50% of cities by charter.

Let me close with the observation made several times during the Charter Review meetings by Robert Lee, the paid moderator of our Charter review process, whom by all estimations was eminently qualified. He said that in his 40 years of working with hundreds of cities on charters; he has “never seen a charter process that was scheduled to move as fast as this one.” We should all ask ourselves why before we surrender to these proposals.

Neighbors we can do better. Ask yourself if you can’t name your council person today; just who are you going to work with when the topic someday is about eminent domain?

David L. Parks

Some…Are More Equal Than Others!

And our Mayor and Council apparently agree!

The November 2nd City Council meeting didn’t start with a bang, nor end with one – but the 8 minute ‘rant’ by former Mayor and Council member Eric Jablin (as covered by the Palm Beach Post here) provided for fireworks. It also demonstrated that our Council has one set of rules for some, and another set for others. It would have been interesting to see if Mayor Marino would have allowed some other former Mayors/Council members with whom she didn’t just happen to agree, the same courtesy of speaking longer than the allowed 3 minutes. Perhaps, but more likely, not.

November 2nd

Last month, several opponents of changes to the City’s term limits or allowing those term-limited, to run again spoke at the meeting. So this month, proponents of the proposed Charter changes came out in force to support 3 3-year consecutive terms (all but acknowledging that incumbents are always re-elected) – which is their right – including Steve Mathison (a member of the Charter Review Committee), Meg Shannon (also a member of the Charter Review Committee), David Markarian, Patrick Connors, Anita Carbone, Stan Klett, Bill Champlin (President of Ballenisles Community Association) – speaking for the Community on hurricane relief and personally on term limits, Jane Feinstein and finally Eric Jablin who was conveniently speaking last.  Iris Scheibl asked the Council to make City Manager Residence a separate ballot item, that the Council need not put anything on the ballot, and that they ponder who of the public are clamoring for longer terms in office.  Apparently, to hear the proponents of 3 3 year terms speak – no other City has ever had 2 consecutive Term Limits  (see:  Two Consecutive Terms is Good Enough for PBC Cities)

It was hoped that the Council would use the relatively light agenda to explore the proposed Charter Changes in more depth – however it was not to be. At the end of the council meeting, Council Member Marciano lamented the tone of some of the emails he has been receiving with implied threats of ‘we’re watching you’ – that the Charter Committee consisted of well-respected members of the community and that he welcomed input from anyone who wanted to discuss things whether or not in agreement with him. He insisted that no one is trying to eliminate term limits. Mayor Marino echoed Marciano’s comments and also said the Committee consisted of an ‘independent’ group of volunteers….. But other than that, none of the Council spoke to the Charter. Council Member Lane nominated former Mayor/Council Member Levy to a council position usually filled by one of the Council Members.  City Attorney Lohman saw no issue nor business conflict and Mr. Levy’s membership was voted 5:0.

Speaking on unrelated topics during Public Comment were Katie Gettinger on a Solar Cooperative in Palm Beach County , Andrew Heim on PBG Soccer and the Predators, and Kevin Easton on traffic issues and Sunset Drive.

Also on the agenda –

  • The CEO of Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center Dianne Goldenberg on the economic impact of the center
  • students at the Weiss School speaking on their Cube Sat project ( for background see Here’s Why NASA is Sending a Gardens’ School Satellite into Space)
  • presentation on the City’s participation in the FPL Solarnow Program – brought to the City’s attention by Council Member Litt.

City Manager Ferris also thanked two Police Dispatch Supervisors – Kirsten Tucker and Sharlotte Theriault for the grueling 6 days they spent in Marathon working night shifts after Hurricane Irma providing huricane relief.

Passing 5:0 on First reading were Ordinance 20, 2017 to provide for the collocation of small wireless facilities or micro wireless facilities on existing utility poles or the installation of new utility poles to support the collocation of small wireless facilities or micro wireless facilities in City-owned rights-of-way and amending the definitions to be consistent with Florida Statutes, and Ordinance 21, 2017 allowing land development section 78-159 to permit Electric Automobile Showrooms. Tesla will be bringing their proposed showroom before the Council in December.

Next month is already planned to have a heavy agenda – so be assured – the proposed Charter Review ballot items will probably get short shrift on discussion – because it appears that the Council has already made up their minds and not scheduled any kind of workshop on the topic. We hope they prove us wrong.


Martino: Bush League City

Attention, Palm Beach Gardens’ residents, did you know that you live in a “Bush League” city? That’s right; according to our City Attorney’s comment at the October 5, 2017 City Council meeting we have a “Bush League” city charter. The charter is the bible for our City.

By extrapolation then, is the City Attorney with his “Bush League” utterance inferring that Palm Beach Gardens is a second tier, minor league, City? Probably not is my hope, but his other comments also smacked of insolence for the City Charter. Our City Charter has evolved and guided our City over time since 1959, long before our current City Attorney was around to completely understand its history to present day.

Does the City Attorney’s hostility for the City Charter stem from his advice to change it in 2012 which was defeated at the ballot box by Gardens’ voters? Does his antagonism mushroom from his ill-advised advice that a City Councilperson term limited by the Charter still be allowed to stand for election? Does his aggression toward the Charter result from his advice for the City to file lawsuits against its own City Charter to overturn election, vote casting, and term limit charter language, and then, losing the lawsuits in both the Circuit Court and the District Court of Appeals? How about legal advice to not advise the public of a $100,000,000 baseball stadium in the middle of prime residential homes? Does any of this legalese qualify as “Bush League”?

What is further troubling is the City Council did not take umbrage with the City Attorney’s “Bush League” comment. Perhaps that is because their attentions and intentions were fixated on the Council appointed Charter Committee recommendations to change the City Charter by increasing term limits from two three-year terms to three three-year terms, by adding a sit-out/comeback provision of three-years to term limits, by curtailing majority rules in elections, and by eliminating charter provisions to count every vote that is cast. Why the changes, who do they benefit, and what’s the hurry? The Council seemed enamored with their fast-forwarding inspirations to place these charter changes for voter balloting in March of 2018 yet no legal Ordinance has been written specific to ballot language.

There is nothing “Bush League” about the City of Palm Beach Gardens. Not its residents, not its employees, not its services, not its programs, not its elections, not its present term-limit provisions, and certainly not its City Charter.

If anything is “Bush League” it’s the City Attorneys ill conceived metaphor and the City Council’s self-serving push to change the present Term Limit Law.