A Workshop at Last!


The Gardens’ City Council finally had an almost 1.5 hour workshop on December 21st – although poorly attended by the public on the Thursday right before the holidays. There was significant discussion. So all in all having workshops is a practice which the Council should consider more frequently.

December 21 Special Workshop

Unfortunately, the Council spent less than 10 minutes on Ordinance 26, 2017 which is (like question 1, in 2012), a repeal and replace of the entire Charter.

  • The only discussion was on residency of city manager and why it’s important not to limit choice in hiring a city manager, or the future manager’s ability to find a residence in this expensive city. The proposed new charter eliminates all mention of  City Manager residence – and Vice Mayor Marciano  brought up the topic because this was a matter of some resident concern in 2012.  It could be done as part of the hiring contract.  Council Member Woods agreed – and both referenced North Palm Beach and Jupiter as examples. Mayor Marino exclaimed it should be a contract issue not a charter issue.
  • Not debated at all were other changes to the Charter such as: definition of what constitutes a term, how vacancies are filled, the elimination of requirements for charter reviews, the elimination of requirements for city audits, the elimination of city manager evaluations, throwing out actual votes in definition of ‘total votes cast’...apparently nothing to see here as far as the Council is concerned – and the voter won’t be seeing it in the ballot summary language either.

Ordinance 27, 2017 (Term Limits) has two versions of ballot question 2 – A and B and the Council will have to decide on which one to select at the January 4th, 2018 city council meeting. Council Member Lane asked if A and B wording could be combined into one question. City Attorney Lohman didn’t respond to that question but thought Lane meant combining all the charter change language into 1 question and thus it was not considered. (The retroactivity language could have been included in version A to make the wording more comparable.) Lohman recommends B.

Ordinance 29, 2017 (Plurality instead of Majority) – The issue of plurality vs majority took all of about 3 minutes – with City Attorney Lohman lamenting the even poorer turnout for our City’s municipal run-off elections than for regular Uniform Municipal Elections.

The remainder of the workshop debated primarily life-time ban on running again (Ordinance 32, 2017) versus the provision to sit out and run again (Ordinance 28, 2017). The council discussed the pros and cons which would then be considered once again in the Special Meeting which followed after adjournment.


The purpose of the special city council meeting was to discuss specifically the selection of either Ordinance 28, 2017 or Ordinance 32, 2017 for inclusion on the ballot. Public Comment was made by 3 individuals:  Lois Kleinberg, Meg Shannon and Jane Feinstein all recommended that the Council choose Ordinance 28. Ms. Shannon, a member of the Charter Review Committee directed her ire at those residents who disagree with placing the proposed changes before the voter in March. She asked ‘what were they so afraid of? (We would answer – having the votes of 16,000+ voters  from the November 2014 election overturned by possibly 500 or so votes in a woefully attended Uniform Municipal election in March).

December 21 Special Council

The Council then discussed again the merits of each proposal – with the final vote 3:2 (Lane/Marciano against) for Ordinance 28, 2017.

In more detail, Mayor Marino led off and proclaimed that the recommendations of the Charter Review Committee cannot be ignored, spoke out against term limits in concept (citing stability), said it’s for the voters to decide, that the election had to be in March because SOE Bucher says so, and that the Council was being courageous by placing the questions on the ballot. Council Member Litt summarized that a lifetime ban was never intended. Council Member Woods (he of ‘3 terms and you’re out’ verbiage over the last several months) reconsidered and was now for the ability to run again after a sit-out. Council Member Lane disagreed with the City Attorney’s interpretation of the base Charter language on term limits and the retro-activity provision, feeling the current charter language was clear. As explained in the Palm Beach Post article summarizing the meeting results and  the contentious ending to the meeting here, Vice-Mayor Marciano explained his concern with possible voter confusion on the wording in Ordinance 28, 2017 and described Ordinance 32, 2017 (life-time ban) more clearly worded.

Expect the January 4th meeting to have a heavy agenda – however other than choosing the ballot language for Ordinance 27, 2017 (term limits choices A or B) the discussion by Council on the ballot questions will most likely be pro-forma.

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