[ PRINT ]

“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

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