Why do Politicians Always Break your Heart?

It’s so disappointing.

What is it about political office that turns rational human beings seeking public service into tone deaf politicians out of touch with those who elected them?

None of the PBG Council has been in office longer than 19 months, three for only 7 months. None of them would be there if not for term limits. During their brief tenure, they have gathered respect and appreciation from a citizenry that is willing to give them the benefit of a fresh start after years of arrogance and lack of transparency from the Council they replaced.

So why are they willing to sour the relationship so soon? Why are they picking a fight with the very citizen activists who helped them succeed?

Term limits did not come easy. It took several attempts over years of effort. It took standing on corners and going door to door to get petitions signed. It took a lawsuit to force the city and the Supervisor of Elections to put it on the ballot. It took money and hard work.

Even when 16,000 voters gave term limits a resounding “YES” in 2014 by a 4 to 1 margin, the fight was not over. A candidate who was ineligible under the new rules ran anyway, and the city seated him. It took a lawsuit and an appeal to the 4th DCA to get the city to obey the law and seat the rightful winner Carl Woods.

Now the Council wants to throw all that out and redraw the charter to give themselves 9 years of eligibility instead of the 6 year limit the voters approved. They want to change it again to allow those term limited out to run again. And they want to tinker with the election process to throw out votes cast for withdrawn candidates and not require a majority to win.

As someone who put time and money into this effort, I feel betrayed. As someone who supported Carl Woods and contributed to the effort to seat him in the lawsuit I feel doubly betrayed as he makes the rounds of media appearances telling all who will listen that “everyone I know wants me around for 9 years”. No Carl, you ran with the understanding that 6 years was the limit. Perhaps in your case it should be only 3.

If the Council goes ahead with this it will all appear on the ballot in March of next year (2018), at a time when no candidates are up for election and the turnout is expected to be very low. You can bet that the council and the city will do all they can to drive their cronies to the polls to support this betrayal of the voters, and those who believe in term limits will have to spend more time and money to defeat it.

So sad. And so avoidable.

Good turnout for PBG Election

Congratulations to the winner in Group 1, Dr. Mark Marciano, who dominated the race with 66% of the vote over challenger Michael Paolercio, and in Group 3 to Matthew Lane who topped 50% in a three way race by 13 votes to avoid a runoff. The Group 5 race moves to a runoff between Rachelle Litt and Joe Russo who captured 37% and 34% respectively in the 4 way race.

Election results last evening were somewhat sporadic, with the Supervisor’s website lagging some of the other reporting sites. Accurate vote counts were not available at pbcelections.org until this morning. At one point during the evening, the wrong candidates were reported in various places as having won or advancing to the runoff. For some reason, Palm Beach County still has difficulty with election results and we really haven’t shaken the “curse of the hanging chad.”

Turnout for the three races averaged about 6200 – about 14% of the registered voters. Although low by November election standards (72% of the Gardens voted for President), it was near the top of the range for a March election. The record was reached in 2014 when 7085 turned out for the Jablin /Peragine race. To find another that surpassed this year’s turnout you need to go back to 2005 when 6400 voted in the Jablin / Sartory contest.

The runoff election will be held on March 28. Historically, turnout drastically declines in runoffs. The last March runoff election in the Gardens was in 2004 when David Levy defeated Carl Sabatello in Group 4. Although 6552 voted in the original contest, only 3850 showed up for the runoff. Mr. Levy got 74% – 2864 votes, which was down from the 2909 he got in the first race. Mr. Sabatello’s votes declined from about 1340 in the first contest to about 1000, so turnout (or lack thereof) can have dramatic results. Mr. Russo and Ms. Litt will have to keep their supporters focused to prevail in two weeks.

There was another runoff in 2004, when 6 candidates competed coincident to the August primary election in Group 1. Three times the August vote turned out in November, giving Hal Valeche a narrow victory over Jodie Barnett. It was the presidential election of course that drove that turnout.

Here are the results as reported by the Supervisor of election:

Gardens $3M, 6.5% Tax Increase – is it Justified?

At the last Council meeting on the budget, with the big jump in property valuations providing a windfall in city taxes, several members of the public suggested that some of it should be returned to the taxpayer in the form of a millage reduction. On the Council, only Mayor Premuroso acknowledged that the outlook is favorable, and the city can afford to do so, proposing that $500K be taken from the “budget stabilization fund”.

Is this appropriate?

Several on the council objected on the basis of the city’s “5 Year Plan”, which calls for the millage to remain at 5.74 for the next 5 years. The Plan is really about revenue and expenditures though, not millage.

Three years ago, in the 2012 budget, the “5 Year Plan” forecast ad-valorem tax revenue in 2015 to be $45.6M. Today’s budget, is in fact $49M, up $3.4M or 7% above the “5 Year Plan”. When including revenue from all sources, it is up $8M or 12.5% above the “5 Year Plan”.

More to the point, in 2012 the “5-Year Plan” projected the 2015 undesignated fund balances (ie. reserves) would be 22% of expenditures – instead we are at 32% – relatively flush with cash.

So it seems that the Mayor is correct – the city certainly has the ability to reduce the millage by some amount.

If you believe that growth in the size of government should be only undertaken with careful consideration, then any increase in spending above what is dictated by population growth and inflation (currently about 1% and 2% respectively) requires an explanation. Holding to that measure would suggest that half of the windfall should be claimed by the city, the other half returned, resulting in a millage of about 5.56.

Any increase above that level should be justified on the basis of specific needs that are immediate and cannot be deferred until future years.

Council Election Results

Congratulations to David Levy for winning another 3 years on the City Council. Congratulations also to James D’Loughy for running a good campaign and making the race unusually competitive. The voters have spoken (although only 11% of them did so), and it was good that they had a choice in this race.

From the graph below, you will see that David Levy maintains a strong base of support in Ballen Isles and PGA National, while Mr. D’Loughy picked up support in Frenchman’s Reserve and Creek, coming within 6 votes there.

Click on the map segment for detailed results for that precinct or refer to the table below.

Precinct Registered Cast Levy D’Loughy % Turnout
1186 1459 153 67 86 10
1188 787 47 17 30 6
1190 2358 215 81 134 9
1192 1438 97 56 41 7
1194 1875 482 244 238 26
1238 1541 222 131 91 14
1240 2484 236 154 82 10
1242 2491 322 204 118 13
1244 1502 183 122 61 12
1246 2140 133 59 74 6
1248 1491 210 106 104 14
1250 70 13 9 4 19
1252 2272 726 573 153 32
1254 442 59 46 13 13
1260 1298 126 49 77 10
1264 7 0 0 0 0
1266 563 11 6 5 2
1268 302 8 6 2 3
1270 12 0 0 0 0
1272 1898 183 75 108 10
1274 1602 163 63 100 10
1280 436 30 13 17 7
1284 2268 119 101 17 5
1288 38 7 6 1 18
1290 2143 151 84 67 7
1292 61 9 3 6 15
1296 727 17 10 7 2
1306 8 0 0 0 0
1310 4 0 0 0 0
1324 1304 40 22 18 3
1326 588 52 25 27 9
1340 14 0 0 0 0
1352 2067 125 69 56 6
1360 932 72 19 53 8
1372 149 6 3 3 4
TOTALS 149 4217 2423 1793 10.9