Council Forges Ahead to Change Term Limits and Elections 4:1

In their zeal to put proposed Charter changes on an expected very low-turnout, no-candidate electon in March, the Council spent more time debating whether or not an issue City Attorney Lohman found with ballot wording and the existing Charter for allowing term-limited council members to run again than they did the significant changes that reside not just in term limits, but in the base charter. Only Council Member Lane, voting against all four proposed ballot questions, raised significant issues with ballot language, the failure of the Council to conduct workshops or actively debate the changes, and need for such a rush to make these changes with so little debate and so early in the new council’s incumbency. His comments were met with derision and offense taken by the remainder of the Council and the City Attorney. Shame on them!

December 7th

We make no attempt to be objective on this issue – Matthew Lane was taking the correct position and raising precisely the issues that should have been raised at this meeting. He should be commended for taking a stand. While Mayor Marino proclaimed that the Council was to there to make policy and not legal arguments, the Council once again hid behind their appointed Charter Review Committee and avoided discussing the issues inherent in the ‘cleaned-up’ charter. It’s the often quoted “Let the People decide” which the weak use when unwilling to debate the issues and make difficult decisions. It is possible that some on the Council don’t even recognize that there ARE issues.

PBGWatch – as a blog, was formed in 2012 directly as a result of the actions that the (different) Council then attempted to take in introducing significant policy modifications in the guise of modernization. Sadly, history is repeating itself – although with a little more transparency but not much more deliberation by the current Council.

As in 2012, the proposed charter is a total replacement. As such, it is totally reorganized and renumbered. Whether originating in the work of the Charter Review Committee and/or the City Attorney, the voter will not know about the details within. Nor will those details have been discussed at any length or at all by the Council. There are changes that affect how elections are handled and how votes are tallied – but the voter will NOT know that.

While there were many members of the public speaking for and against extending term limits, allowing term-limited to run again and for/against majority vs plurality wins – not much new ground was broken on either side. Nor did it matter as the Council was already firm in their positions.

NOTE – THERE WILL BE A SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING TO DISCUSS AND CONDUCT FIRST READING ON ORDINANCE 28, 2017 REGARDING TERM-LIMITED COUNCIL MEMBERS RUNNING AGAIN ON DECEMBER 21 AT 7PM. COMMENTS WILL ONLY BE ACCEPTED SPECIFIC TO THIS ISSUE AND NOT ANY OTHER TOPIC OR NON-AGENDA ITEMS.

Expect Council votes to be pro-forma on these ordinances in the January 4th, 2017 City Council meeting since this council feels it has adequately addressed the issues.

The December 7th Council meeting was a long one – starting at 6pm. The first two hours were spent on the presentations, items of resident interest and board/committee reports, and other agenda items, all passing 5:0.

A more detailed list of items within the proposed replacement charter – Exhibit A in Ordinance 26, 2017, will appear as a separate future blog post.

Here is a link to the Charter discussions during the meeting. And here is the Palm Beach Post article on the topic.

Next PBG City Council Meeting on Thursday Dec 7th at 6PM!

The next City Council Meeting will be on Thursday December 7th at 6pm.  Note the changed start time due to a very lengthy agenda.  Note also that first reading of the Ordinances related to Charter and Term Limits changes (Ordinance 26-29, 2017) are last on the agenda preceded by several presentations and other ordinances and resolutions.
Announcements/Presentations:
  • Honda Classic Community Impact Presentation
  • St. Marks Church, Inc. – conduit debt obligation – bond acquisition (this corresponds to Resolution 83, 2017 which is on the Regular Agenda)
  • Lease Agreement for District Park – (corresponds to Resolution 54, 2017 on Consent Agenda)
  • Design Build of Public Services Operations Center – (corresponds to Resolution 79, 2017 on Consent Agenda)
Consent Agenda is lengthy but includes the following Purchase Awards:
  • Miscellaneous Public Works Projects – This Agreement is the City’s exercise of a three-year option to renew of the original Contract – 3 year total contract value $10M
  • Portable Truck Lifts for Fleet Division  – replacement of existing trucks – one time expenditure – $77K
  • Bleacher Covers for North side of Gardens Park – piggyback/access contract – $103K
  • Trackman Simulation Equipment for Golf Training Center – bid waiver –  will allow the City’s Sandhill Crane Golf Club to purchase a golf training simulation and swing analysis equipment and accessories for the Golf Training Center – $100K

City Manager Report  – no details listed

Public Hearings and Resolutions:
  • 2nd reading and Adoption of Ordinances 20, 2017 (micro wireless facilities) and Ordinance 21 (Tesla Showroom)
  • Resolution 77, 2017 – Art In Public Places for Clarity Pointe Assisted Living Facilities in Alton
  • Resolution 83, 2017 – Conduit Debt Obligation – Bond Acquisition – $10.5 Million – covered in Presentations
  • Ordinance 30, 2017 and Ordinance 31, 2017 – First reading – Small scale comprehensive map amendment and rezoning from Public to Industrial for city property located on SW corners of Burns and Ironwood – in preparation for the sale of the property when the new Public Works Building is completed.
  • Ordinance 24, 2017 – first reading – placing the annexation of BAY HILL ESTATES, THE PRESERVE AT BAY HILL ESTATES, AND RUSTIC LAKES on the March 13, 2018 ballot for residents of those communities.
  • Ordinance 26, 2017 (and related ballot wording ordinances 27-29, 2017) – First reading of  Proposed Charter changes to be placed on ballot on March 13, 2018. Ordinance 26, 2017 – Update the 1976 City Charter to be in compliance with State Law. Ordinance 27, 2017- Extend Term Limits to three – three year terms, Ordinance 28, 2017 – Councilmembers leaving office due to term limits may not be elected again for a period of three years, Ordinance 29, 2017 – elect Councilmembers by Plurality rather than by Majority.

Check the agenda to see if any additional items have been added before the meeting here.

 

 

 

“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.

A Resident’s View on the Charter for Council, Attorney and Charter Review Committee to Consider

I had an urgent matter come up last Thursday night which kept me from attending the PBG Council meeting. I have reviewed the recommendations on the PBG charter and had some personal input for the council, attorney, and the charter committee to consider.

I would like to share these recommendations with you for consideration since you appear to be active in PBG politics.

1. City Manager: With the recommended revisions to the City Manager, The Manager doesn’t have to reside in the city, but has complete control including sign off authority. I suggest: The City Manager become a PBG resident within 90 days of being hired. A City Manager is paid to administer the will of the governing body, nothing more. Signing off and administering without any oversight makes him more powerful than the Council.So with the new Charter, the City manager has all the power and doesn’t even have to live in the city.

GOOD DEAL FOR THE CITY MANAGER, BAD DEAL FOR PALM BEACH GARDENS.

2. City Clerk: The revised charter would have the City Clerk reporting directly to the City Manager who has no oversight. I suggest the City Clerk report to the Mayor. This would serve as checks and balances the same as Federal Gov’t.

FAIR DEAL FOR EVERYONE.

3. The Mayor: In 1969 the executives of Banker’s Life and Casualty gave the keys to the city council. The mayor at that time was paid a stypence as it was a part time position. At the time there were fewer than 6,000 residents and about a dozen employees.

Today there are over 50,000 residents, development for another 20,000, and 680 employees. The Palm Beach Gardens Mayor’s position is still a PART-TIME position. It is time for a FULL-TIME PALM BEACH GARDENS MAYOR. A full time Mayor that will have regular office hours, be committed to serving PBG residents as it’s only vocation with appropriate salary and benefits. This arrangement including job description would eliminate any perceived conflicts or improprieties as a mayor doing City business out of a personal business such as a Real Estate office and not having a transparent office at the City Hall.

A WIN FOR PBG RESIDENT’S.

Sincerely,

Mike Cirullo

Palm Beach Gardens, Fl.

Two Consecutive Terms are Good Enough for PBC Cities

Not all of the municipalities in Palm Beach County have Term Limits – but most of the larger ones do.  See the chart below.  Note that none of these allow for more than TWO consecutive terms, except for WPB where the Mayor is limited to 2 consecutive 4 year terms, and the Council to 4 consecutive 2 year terms.  All have more meetings and workshops per month than does our Council – and their council and/or commissions have comparable or more complex  jobs (due to the population of their cities)  than does our council, and are all part-time positions.  Most are silent but some specify whether a term-limited member can run again.

Click on the image for link to PDF version with links to city charters, and League of Cities pages.

Click on the image for link to PDF version with links to city charters, and League of Cities pages.

Other cities that are similar or larger without term limits, but have term  and election descriptions:

  • Jupiter – 3 year terms, Majority Wins, Run-off required
  • Riviera Beach – 3 year terms, Majority Wins Run-off required

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.

Martino: Don’t touch our elections! Don’t touch our term limits! Leave them alone!

On Election Day, November 4, 2014 the registered voters of the City of Palm Beach Gardens were asked to vote YES or NO on the following ballot question…

SHALL THE PALM BEACH GARDENS CHARTER BE AMENDED TO ESTABLISH TERM LIMITS PROVIDING THAT CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS SERVE NO MORE THAN TWO CONSECUTIVE THREE YEAR TERMS

An overwhelming majority of approximately 80%, or 16,000 registered voters, answered YES. With that kind of majority vote there is no question or ambiguity about the registered voters’ intent. The resounding message to the City Council then and now is that CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS SERVE NO MORE THAN TWO CONSECUTIVE THREE YEAR TERMS.

At the October 8th City Council meeting the duly appointed but less than representative of all of Palm Beach Gardens residents, City Charter Committee, submitted its report with its recommendations to the City Council. Three of their most controversial recommendations are…

  1. Change the Term Limit Law to allow City Council members to serve three consecutive three year terms instead of two consecutive three year terms.  Comment: Ballot language must exclude present City Council members.
  2. Allow City Council members to run again for three consecutive three year terms after they have sat out one three year term.  Comment: Ballot language must exclude present City Council members. When does this end?
  3. Allow for plurality of votes cast to elect City Council members rather than a majority vote as presently required.  Comment: Majority must rule. It’s American and the democratic way.
  4. Change current election language from “a majority of votes cast” to language that would eliminate the intent that every vote cast must count in every contested race or issue without question, as the charter now states and Courts affirmed.  Comment: Every vote that is cast must count per current charter language and as the Courts ruled in the Woods – Levy Council race, in 2016. No circumstance can undo a legally cast vote from being counted. A cast ballot is a sacred vote that is untouchable.

The City Council authorized the City Attorney to take the above along with other committee recommendations and legalize them for ballot consideration in March of 2018. I urge the City Council to reconsider their affinities toward these recommendations. I urge the City Council to vote NO to moving forward with a ballot question whose perception is that of self-serving political machinations.

In my opinion, the three recommendations above undermine and thwart the will of the 16,000 registered voters who voted for the Term Limits Law. In essence these recommendations disenfranchise the ballots of 16,000 registered voters. It also conflicts with the results of several candidate lawsuits and the City’s own lawsuit in which two levels of County courts validated the Term Limits Law as is.

Still further, as history suggests, a March 2018 election with no contested Council races in Palm Beach Gardens would generate a voter turnout of approximately 10% of the registered voters, considerably less than a November election. Thus, a small minority vote of, perhaps, 1,500 votes could obviate the votes of 16,000 registered voters.

The ink is hardly dry on the codification of the Term Limits Law. None of the current City Council members have served a single term yet. Their seats are barely warm! Yet they are changing a Law that they clearly understood existed and applied to them when they very recently, March 8, 2017, stood for election to the City Council. In fact, if not for the Term Limits Law, perhaps, none of them would be serving as City Council members. Their opportunity to serve is in many respects because of the Term Limits Law.

My message to the City Council is a simple one…

Don’t touch our elections! Don’t touch our term limits! Leave them alone!

Proposed Term Limits Weakening Dominates Meeting

The October City Council meeting had a fairly light agenda, with the exception of the Charter Review Committee Final Report – which was expected to generate a lot of discussion. Mayor Marino reordered the agenda to leave the report until Council Member Lane, who was delayed, could be there to hear it. So the Consent Agenda (4:0), City Manager Report, and Items of Resident Interest preceded the presentation.

October 12, 2017

Prior to the Council meeting, several supporters of the Palm Beach Gardens Needs Term Limits Committee, demonstrated outside City Hall carrying signs. During the meetings, opponents of the Charter Review Committee recommendations regarding Term Limits and elections sported stickers stating “Don’t Touch My Term Limits – Leave it alone!!”

Charter Review Committee Final Report agenda item:

The Charter Review Committee met several times in August and September.  The Committee, selected by the Council , consisted of Craig Allgood, Ian Helsby, Steve Mathison, Meg Shannon – Vice Chair and Brian Seymour – Chair – all City residents.  They developed a set of recommended modifications including simplification and removing conflicts with Florida State Statute.  They also made recommendations with respect to Council terms and elections.  Present from the committee were Brian Seymour and Meg Shannon.

Mr. Seymour presented the Committee recommendations, focusing on those known to be controversial. Copying directly from the report those are:

We recommend that term limits remain and that they be provided as three full three (3) year terms and that it be clarified that after being elected to three consecutive three (3) year terms and serving at least one-half of the final term, a person may run again only after sitting out a full three (3) year term. We should also clarify that service of one-half or less than one-half of a full three (3) year term shall not count toward the subject term limit.

We further recommend that some of the language relative to “a majority of the votes cast” be clarified to provide that only votes cast for a qualified candidate whose name appears on the ballot and is eligible to take office at the time of the election shall be counted. No vote for a deceased, withdrawn, or removed candidate should count or contribute toward the total number of votes, number of under votes, or number or over votes

We recommend that elections be determined by plurality and not majority of votes cast for a candidate qualified to be on the ballot at the time of the election.

City Manager residency was also one of the issues during the 2012 charter review however not discussed at length:

We recommend removing the residency requirement for the city manager as follows: “The city manager need not be a resident of the city at the time of appointment, however, must be a resident within one year following the appointment, though residency as soon as practical after appointment is encouraged.”

See the report and rationale for each point here: 2017 Charter Review Committee Final Report.

There were numerous residents who made comment on the report.  The following summary doesn’t do justice to their comments:

  • Tom Cairnes – representing himself,  not speaking for the PGA Corridor Association – praised Irma cleanup  then spoke on the charter: projects take 30 years to happen, need continuity to carry through on original concepts and make sure what was in original plans are followed up on over time. Tri-rail is an example – in support of  Review Committee’s recommend changes.
  • Roma Josephs – member of the Board of Ballenisles – takes a long time to get anything done – need the experience and will to see it through. supports the charter committee. Ballenisles will vote for it.
  • Kevin Easton – against any changes to Term Limits  – proposed changes disenfranchise voters by changing term limits
  • Sid Dinerstein –  proposed changes reflect utter contempt for the PBG electorate by putting on a March ballot when no candidates are on the ballot. More voted for term limits than voted for any of the Council. Plurality instead of majority is a scheme to tilt election odds in favor by adding straw candidates. Already can’t trust you, the new council
  • Philip Blumel –  Lake Worth, President of US Term Limits – commended those who got it on the ballot and got 80% of the citizens to get it approved. nothing about the current term limits allows those to run again. Simple and just like the ones everywhere else. It’s typical for electeds to try and circumvent – first went to court, next resort is always a new and improved version – always includes letting them sit for additional terms, and not count their existing term and put on a low ballot election – typical.
  • Vito DeFrancesco – very impassioned remarks – With small turnouts it can be tilted. For 30 years elections have been tilted by powerful, well organized high-end communities that will turn out their voters despite what the majority wants. You’re going to try and sneak in, back-dooring everyone who voted and that our opinion means nothing. Not right. Government at its worst. Voices of people don’t mean anything – government can’t be trusted, gets what it wants, government sticks together and the people are puppets meaning absolutely nothing in your opinion. If you change it, we’ll put it back, get it back on the ballot and make it so you can’t touch it again – what you’re doing may be legal but surely isn’t ethical.
  • Iris Scheibl – who had attended most of the charter review meetings, read the text of the 2014 ballot question, pointed out that none of the Council would be there had it not been for term limits, that just because the committee made a recommendation doesn’t mean the council has to accept it, and asked that any election or term limits change be on a November ballot.
  • Fred Scheibl – recounted Council’s history of losing trust – and is trust is rarely regained. Term limits was a grassroots petition effort and city fought it at every step. courts validated the law despite the city’s objections. you were elected by these rules and should abide by them. not enough time to evaluate. Make no changes regarding the conduct of elections; changes to basic principles means of gaming the system. if you go forward – the campaign organized to opposed it – you will be on that ballot.
  • Marilyn Parmet – agree with previous statements – she was one of those who got term limits petitions signed – no one turned her down in signing the petitions – this is the will of the people, please respect and do the right thing
  • Nick Tomboulides –  Melbourne – Executive Director of US Term Limits – if term limits are too short – that means it’s working. on one side is 80% of the voters; on the other side – those who are affected by that term limits law. It’s a conflict of interest – you shouldn’t be discussing let alone placing on the ballot – should recuse yourself.  Hands off term limits
  • Barbara Grossman – another person who collected petitions and no one turned her down.  All were losing faith in the council due to the stadium.

The Council, after some debate on two 4-year terms, which Council Member Lane favored, discussed their views on the proposals and directed City Attorney Lohman to present 4 ballot questions to them next month – a base question updating the Charter, and the 3 questions related to term limits and elections. The Council will then vote in December and January (first and second readings), in time to place the questions on the March 2018 Uniform Municipal Election. Watch the Charter Review part of the City Council Meeting here, for complete discussion and read a summary of the subject from the Palm Beach Post here.

After the extended Charter Review discussion, passed 5:0 were:

  • Ordinance 22. 2017 – Ban of Medical Marijuana Treatment Center and Dispensing Facilities. While one person made pubic comment saying that it was silly to wait for allowing such centers in the City, Council Member Litt had Police Chief Stepp address some of the safety issues due to the fact that all transactions have to be done in cash. He also pointed out that patients can have the medical marijuana directly delivered to their homes. Rachelle Litt then gave an outstanding in-depth explanation for her ‘No’ vote – articulating how the current legislation is an attack on Home Rule, covering medical concerns as a pharmacist, and that this was an ‘all or nothing’ proposition. Watch the discussion by Council here and the Palm Beach Post summary here.
  • Ordinance 23, 2017 – Moratorium on Micro wireless Facilities until December 31, 2017 – this is another attack on Home Rule. Staff will come back in the November Council meeting to cover recommended policies.
  • Resolution 71, 2017 – allowing for 3 Entry Signs to the Burwick Residential Community within PGA National

Additionally – Appointments and Reappointments for AIPP, Parks and Rec, and PZAB Advisory Boards were discussed and voted on. Council Member Lane spoke at length about the candidate process. He pointed out that candidates apply for many boards, don’t have to outline their qualifications for each (any) of those boards, nor make the case why they should be considered. Not all votes were unanimous – see the  City’s Board and Committees page at a later time – the website has not yet been updated with the new names as of this posting. Staff was asked for a future recommendation on enhancing the application process for Boards and Committees.

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