Thursday, July 11, 2024

Photos of the day - Wanna buy a courthouse?

Wanna buy a courthouse? Be the first to privatize the Civil court system.  Turnkey ready.  Historic elevator doors.  Mold and prone to basement flooding.

What a way to go – a FOR SALE sign on the steps. Usually other properties are “sold on the courthouse steps.” Appreciate the irony.

This is the current Miami-Dade County Courthouse, formerly known as the Dade County Courthouse.  The building is a historic courthouse and “skyscraper” (for its time) located at 73 West Flagler Street in Miami, Florida. This building was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on January 4, 1989.

It was constructed over four years (1925–28). The building is 361 feet tall with 28 floors (give or take, based upon any undocumented settlement).  This building was once famous for the seasonable buzzards.  The Courthouse was the tallest building in both the city of Miami and state of Florida in its heyday.

A new courthouse is nearly completed nearby. It is time to offload this building.  I’m sure this will be an “as is” sale.

Just for fun - I like to take "Bike Leaning Against --- " photos.  Here are two from a May 2023 ride from home in Palmetto Bay to downtown Miami and back.  A great ride by the way.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

I may have found the reason why the current mayor and council remove so many trees - Dendrophobia

Palmetto Bay is not blessed with a Lorax council. Trees have been removed for horrible projects such as the SW 136Street multi-path.  Several trees in the way of her bridge project were actually smothered and then removed at Coral Reef Park – as well as failing to protect trees hundreds of years old throughout the village such as the huge Oak in the Morningside neighborhood (near Franjo Road) or all along the Old Cutler Road.  What is wrong with this tree hating council? 

Well, I have formed my own opinion: Dendrophobia - the fear of trees. Is this what drives the current mayor and the members of the village council to remove so many trees? 

I looked up this condition on the Cleveland Clinic website -

Here is what I found on that website:

Dendrophobia is a fear of trees. People with this specific phobia feel anxious when they think about or see a tree. Many people with tree phobia have had negative experiences with trees. You can overcome a phobia of trees with exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and other treatments.

Someone with dendrophobia may be afraid of:

Dangers hidden in trees, such as spiders, scorpions or snakes.
Encountering trees after dark.
Shadows made by trees.
Sounds of leaves rustling in the wind.
Tree branches or entire trees falling on them.
Tripping over tree roots. (a real concern presently at our parks - see photo right)
Walking or driving near or underneath trees.

Or maybe the mayor and council members suffered traumatic loses of their kites – to kite eating trees – when they were younger.

So perhaps there is an explanation for this tree hating behavior.


Sunday, June 16, 2024

Happy Father's Day - 2024

I want to wish a very Happy Father’s Day this Sunday to all fathers and grandfathers and those who fill the role of Dad, who live, work, play, or raise their family here in and around our communities.

Father’s Day is a day to honor and commemorate fathers and forefathers. A special Father’s Day wish goes out to the families who are separated due to military service, especially overseas

“Fun Facts” relating to Father’s Day:

The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Father’s Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.

Father's Day is the fifth most popular card-sending holiday, with an estimated $100 million in card sales. Husbands, grandfathers, uncles, sons and sons-in-law are honored as well as father.

Neck ties, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are the number one gift for Father’s Day.

2 Fun quote for this year:   

Stanley T. Banks; (Character, movie - Father of the Bride (1991):
You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. She looks up to you. You're her oracle. You're her hero. And then the day comes when she gets her first permanent wave and goes to her first real party, and from that day on, you're in a constant state of panic.

Kid Rock (musician):
Being a father helps me be more responsible... you see more things than you've ever seen. 

Happy Father’s Day! 

 Enjoy the YouTube videos - both from the movie "Parenthood."


Friday, June 14, 2024

Direct question - one tree saved - but I am seeking a statement from current Palmetto Bay officials: please state with certainty how many trees in Coral Reef Park will be chopped down for the new building

Are these trees in the way of "progress" - it took a viral online petition to save one tree, but which of these large, mature shade trees remain on the chopping block?

It is a fair question:  Madam Mayor, Mr. Manager, anyone from the council - please tell us in full and complete sentences how many trees and which ones are to be chopped down to make way for the new building?

The trees pictured above had red ribbons placed around them in April of 2024.
Will these trees also be protected or are they also on the chopping block?

Trees simply seem to "disappear" at Coral Reef Park!

These benches (below) were not installed in the direct sun light, but were originally shaded by a tree.  Where did that tree go? Look closely (click on and enlarge the photo - below right) you can find the stump giving evidence that there was once a tree shading those benches - and those who sat upon them. 

Past evidence. The haunting shadows of trees past (below center. Shade removed.  
Palmetto Bay officials have said nothing said about why these trees were hacked and removed.


This new building is being shoehorned into one of the most dense areas of tree canopy.  There is a reason for the tree canopy - it is an area where our village children could play in the shade. Sure, the building will be air conditioned, but at what cost to our existing tree canopy?

Here is an official proposed site plan for the proposed building:

There is no overlay to demonstrate how this fits and which trees will be cleared for this project.  I am trying to do my best with the following photos of the current area:

Same photos above, but the other mature trees are circle in red (the saved tree is circled in white). Which trees survive and which ones are on the chopping block? As I like to say, these are all fair questions to ask and certainly the current mayor and council members should know, after all, haven't they all been following this project, giving direction to the manager and staff?

PRIOR RELATED POST - Here is an example of the true record of  the current mayor and council - the deforestation of  Coral Reef Park:

September 17, 2021 - A good (BAD) example of how Palmetto Bay officials are squandering our environmental assets. The affected trees were cut down & removed on 9-16-21 CLICK HERE

The Council never made a public statement about what was happening with these trees. Nope, not a peep - I'm sure their taxpayer funded PR department was of the opinion that it was better to say nothing than to admit their mistakes. But their actions did speak loudly as a tree removal crew quietly showed up on Thursday, September 16, to remove their mistakes. Two 40 plus year oaks were hacked down and removed from Coral Reef Park. What trees, you may ask? 

Above - other original oaks in the way of another vanity project of the current mayor and council.  The trees were there first - and any competent designer or any caring council could work around the trees. Who knows, perhaps they did not even know those trees were there until they broke ground.  The trees are first smothered, then ignored, the chopped down/removed and then the last evidence is removed.

This current mayor and council should resign from "Tree City USA" in shame. 

Flag Day 2024 - a patriotic day - Fly your flag. Info on the holiday with link to video

 Are you up to date on flag custom; which days are appropriate to fly your flag?  The answer is every day, but there are special days when the flag should be displayed. I have chosen the Military dot Com site to provide more information on flag custom: 

(Display of U.S. flag)

Title 36, Chapter 10 PATRIOTIC CUSTOMS
Sec. 174. Time and occasions for display

The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on New Year's Day, January 1; Inauguration Day, January 20; Lincoln's Birthday, February 12; Washington's Birthday, third Monday in February; Easter Sunday (variable), Mother's Day, second Sunday in May; Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May; Flag Day, June 14; Independence Day, July 4; Labor Day, first Monday in September; Constitution Day, September 17; Columbus Day, second Monday in October; Navy Day, October 27; Veterans Day, November 11; Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November; Christmas Day, December 25; and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States; the birthdays of States (date of admission); and on State holidays.

Have a happy Flag Day. Fly it proudly.  

Eugene Flinn

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Congratulations - huge public outcry forces the village to save the tree - after they said it couldn't be done. Coral Reef Park update

Question – how many voices does it take to force the mayor and village council to do the right thing?

Answer – over 730 voices involved in a viral online petition.

Who are the real heroes here?  Over 730 people plus the three who truly lead the charge. Thank you to all those who spoke up in person, in emails and in the online petition that became a tsunami forcing the council to reverse court and promise to do what the manager said could not be done.

Thank you once again to Council Member Dr. Marsha Matson, who has become the Lone Ranger to Palmetto Bay residents.  She acts on behalf of the residents when the current mayor and remaining council members sit in stone silence, oblivious in the face of needed action.

Dr. Matson was a catalyst of this latest action – remember we all were told that (check the video snippet – provided courtesy of A Better Palmetto Bay)

Dr. Matson:        Can the multi-purpose building in Coral Reef Park be moved to save the old tree?

Manager:            I don’t think at this point it can, ma'am. And we have briefed for the past year that that there were a number of trees that we going to be removed.

FAIR QUESTIONS:           
1. When was a landscaping plan presented to the public? (SPOILER ALERT – It wasn’t).
2. Why were no other members of the village council, including the mayor, following up and showing any interest or concern for the tree(s) at this meeting (or at any other time)? 
(SPOILER ALERT – because they didn't care until the viral online petition hit 700 signatures.)

We, the people, want government to be brought out from under the shade and into the sunshine, not the passive areas of our parks through the destruction of our precious tree canopy.

THE OBVIOUS TAKEAWAY – the manager stated that for the past year, they have advised as to tree removal – and only the Lone Ranger, Dr. Matson, has ever raised an issue with saving trees.  Wow.  Watch the video.  Only Dr. Matson is active and engaged. The remaining members of the council are disengaged, actively disinterested, staring into space or reading papers or from their electronic devices. So it fell to grass roots – led by Mark Merwitzer, Pam Gorman and Palmetto Bay’s Lone Ranger.  The Mayor and council had the chance to involve the public, but they squandered the opportunity to allow the public to participate in important decisions.

Thank you Mark Merwitzer, who is active and energetic, as opposed to those stodgy members of the council who have no ideas and no ability to follow up and represent the people when staff is attempting to move items forward.  Far too many members of this council are there for the paychecks and benefits that they have awarded themselves. They don’t want to take any action, accepting the will of the staff.

He has the will and ability to be the voice of the people.

And Thank you Pam Gorman, who initiated the petition and rallied so many concerned residents to the cause.

No one would be evening learning of the proposed fate of the trees, or would have had a voice in this matter, had it not been for the leadership and determination of these three.  They were instrumental in this fight.

Action matters more than words.  This fight is not over until all the paperwork is completed. we need to remember that this fight is not over. We must remain vigilant and ensure Mayor Cunningham and the other Village Council Members follows through on the (appropriate) flip flop to now save this the tree. Let us hope that this success translates into a new policy, reversing this administration's terrible record and the countless trees they have destroyed in the name of development, we cannot afford to take her word at face value.

Remember - elections matter.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Ready for more litigation? And now we know the behind the scenes (aka actual) reason for the presentation, Amending Sect 30-60.32 relating to Medical Marijuana Regulations (Sponsored by Administration and Prepared by Community and Economic Development Director, Heidi Siegel, AICP)

Things have been far too quiet lately on the litigation front. The silence has been shattered by a new lawsuit filed against Palmetto Bay; filed June 10, 2024. The Plaintiff is Plants of Ruskin, LLC, a company incorporated as a Florida Limited Liability Company.  It appears to have been incorporated on August 31, 2017.  The principal address is listed as Apollo Beach, FL, 33572.  The mailing address is in Chicago IL 60610 – where the listed corporate officers also appear to reside.

So the council failed to resolve.  We now have another major lawsuit - Plants of Ruskin, LLC v. The Village of Palmetto Bay, CaseNo.:  2024-010503-CA-01, assigned to the Honorable Mavel Ruiz who will be called upon to resolve this matter. 

The Plaintiff is seeking the following:

As to Count I, Declaratory Judgment (beginning page 12 of 108), the Plaintiff is seeking the following:

... a declaratory judgment in its favor declaring that Sections 30-60.32(d) and (e)(1) of the Code are unlawful and invalid, and that they should be stricken because they violate Section 381.986(11)(b)1, Florida Statutes, by imposing specific limits the numbers of medical marijuana dispensaries that may locate within the Village, and award such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper
.As to Count II, Injunctive Relief (beginning page 18 of 108), the Plaintiff is seeking the following:

An injunction from the court prohibiting the Village of Palmetto Bay from:

                (i).           denying the Plaintiffs Application based upon the ordinance;
                (ii).         requiring the Plaintiff to submit a “Distance Requirement Analysis” pursuant to Section 30-60.32(2) of the Village Code;
                (iii).        imposing any restrictions, duties, obligations or conditions precedent to approval of (the Plaintiff’s) Application that in any way relate to or stem from the Ordinances; and
                (iv).        awarding any other relief as (the) Court deems just and proper.

Does anyone have any information as to claims that individual council members have met with the applicant / plaintiff in private. Just once, can we please have some detailed disclosures on what occurs in these private meetings – to avoid disclosure is a serious breach of transparency in my opinion.  

State law states that the Village Council must comply with State Law if it is to allow the sale of medical marijuana – but state law allows banning the sale of medical marijuana within a municipality.

I am providing a link to the actual complaint. Note that it is a large download – 108 pages. 

I am also providing a link to the staff memorandum provided for the March 20, 2024, Committee of the Whole Meeting.  The memorandum is 52 pages.  The staff report reveals that:

At the December 18, 2023, Zoning Hearing, Village Staff presented application RZ-23-008, an ordinance amending Section 30-60.32 (Low-THC Cannabis and Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, Treatment Facilities and Independent Testing Laboratories) to be consistent with State law. The item was continued at the request of the Village Council to allow discussion at a Committee of the Whole workshop.

Staff appears to be calling out the village council for requesting that this matter be deferred – from December 18, 2023, to a COW Meeting held in March. Obviously, we see no action taken nearly six (6) months later – which appears to have led up to this lawsuit.

This is a far too common method of dispute resolution – inaction by staff and/or the mayor and village council resulting in a lawsuit. Once the lawsuit is filed, the current mayor and village council have a new entity to blame – the courts.

Please note that a transcript from the zoning hearing of Monday, December 18, 2023, is provided as an exhibit to the Complaint filed by Plants of Ruskin, LLC – yes that is right – this item was heard as part of a zoning hearing.  The transcript begins on page 22 of the complaint and ends on page 25. The transcript appears incomplete and I could not find any disclosures regarding any ex parte communication between any member of the village council with any interesting party. 

I will advise as to any information I receive. We shall see how this one plays out. This appears to be a defensible case. How will the village taxpayers make out in this new litigation?

Sunday, June 9, 2024

We have a chance to save a few, but important trees from destruction. Please take the minute to sign the petition!

This magnificent tree is marked for death by the mayor and council 
The request is simple - sign the petition. This is a grass roots effort to take a stand and stop the deforestation of Palmetto Bay. The time is long past due to taking a stand on the Village trees. The environmental track record of this council is very poor. They appear to say what people want to hear; but their actions, their record, demonstrates otherwise. Can we trust this group with the 22 acres at Palmetto Bay Village Center? 

A fellow resident said it best: 
SAVE CORAL REEF PARK'S ICONIC OAK TREE FROM DESTRUCTION Palmetto Bay residents have once again been dismayed to learn that the Village plans to remove a treasured Oak tree to make way for new park construction. The majestic tree at the entrance of Coral Reef Park has greeted generations of residents near the tennis courts, long predating the Village's incorporation. It provides vital shade and wildlife habitat that help make the park a natural oasis.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In 2021, another of Coral Reef Park's mature trees was cut down for a bridge project, continuing an alarming pattern of disregarding the importance of these stately giants to the park's ecosystem and ambiance. While we support adding park amenities, the Village Manager and Council must find ways to achieve this without needlessly sacrificing the very trees that make the park special. Even a minor adjustment to the building site for the planned community… Continue reading and sign this petition: SAVE CORAL REEF PARK'S ICONIC OAK TREE FROM DESTRUCTION SAVE CORAL REEF PARKS'S ICONIC TREE FROM DISTRUCTION

WHAT YOU CAN DO -speak out! sign and petition and share it on social media -Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), Next Door, Instagram, et. al.!  

PRIOR RELATED POST - (as well as prior evidence of paving of Coral Reef Park under the current mayor and council:

September 17, 2021 - A good (BAD) example of how Palmetto Bay officials are squandering our environmental assets. The affected trees were cut down & removed on 9-16-21 CLICK HERE

The Council never made a public statement about what was happening with these trees. Nope, not a peep - I'm sure their taxpayer funded PR department was of the opinion that it was better to say nothing than to admit their mistakes. But their actions did speak loudly as a tree removal crew quietly showed up on Thursday, September 16, to remove their mistakes. Two 40 plus year oaks were hacked down and removed from Coral Reef Park. What trees, you may ask? 

Above - other original oaks in the way of another vanity project of the current mayor and council.  The trees were there first - and any competent designer or any caring council could work around the trees. Who knows, perhaps they did not even know those trees were there until they broke ground.  The trees are first smothered, then ignored, the chopped down/removed and then the last evidence is removed.

This current mayor and council should resign from "Tree City USA" in shame. 

Thursday, June 6, 2024

On this day in History - Early in the morning on June 6, 1944: D-Day.

Think back to this day in 1944.  How the young service members - many in the 18-20 year old range - how they must have felt participating in this invasion.  They were group into waves of Allied soldiers are landing on 5 beaches along Normandy, France.

June 6, 2024, marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the  start of the liberation of Europe.  

CLICK HERE to view’s special on D-Day’s 70th anniversary - June 06, 2014, Landing at Normandy: The 5 Beaches of D-Day, by Jesse Greenspan, which looked back at the two American, one Canadian and two British landing points that kicked off the Allied invasion of Western Europe during World War II.

Utah Beach
Omaha Beach
Gold Beach
Juno Beach
Sword Beach

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Council Member Dr. Marsha Matson said it best - "No second for anti-bullying - wow"

Council says no - in the worst way - too chicken to second and publicly discuss the bullying and combating bullying in Palmetto Bay.

Item 14-F of the agenda for the regular village council meeting of Monday, June 3, 2024.  This was a simple resolution sponsored by Dr. Matson:

(Sponsored by Councilmember Marsha Matson)

The resolution merely sought support for a $1,500 contribution from the village for the Buddy Bench - a project that is being sponsored. Dr. Matson moved it forward but it failed for lack of a second. 

That means the request was DENIED.  In effect - each and every member of the village council - other than Dr. Matson - opposed this request.

Please note that this mayor and Village Council have never been shy to spend extravagant sums on a whim; such as allowing the expenditure of $25,000 to hire a lobbying firm to fight the neighbors on the so-called Tangle woods Park (can someone locate the resolution which approved this expenditure?). I cannot locate an instance where this Mayor and Council have failed to waive park and other fees (items placed on the agenda) for use of village facilities - which on many occasions totaled more that $1,500 per event.

So yes, Dr. Matson, "wow" not a single member of the village council would even second your item. The failure to second, and therefore even discuss - speaks volumes.

Please convince me otherwise - this council appears to be pro-bullying - both in their actions (which have been documented) and the current mayor and council are even too chicken to publicly discuss why.  Ignore and move on.


Prior related post of Tuesday, May 14, 2024, "And the Children Shall Lead". Perhaps the members of the YCITF should raise money to bring a Buddy Bench to Village Hall.

Here is the stated purpose of the resolution - can someone show me the controversy (other than it forces a much needed discussion of bullying):

WHEREAS, a worthy project of the Village’s Youth Community               
Involvement Task Force is to purchase and install Buddy Benches at
Village parks and property to provide safe places where individuals
can sit with and give comfort to persons being bullied; and,

WHEREAS, on its social media sites, the Village is soliciting
donations from the public, so that the Youth Task Force can purchase
and install a Buddy Bench at Village parks and property to accomplish
its anti-bullying project; and,

WHEREAS, the Village Council wishes to support the Youth
Task Force in its effort to combat bullying and provide safe spaces for
persons being bullied; and,

WHEREAS, the Village Council desires to donate the cost of
purchasing and installing one (1) Buddy Bench for fifteen hundred
dollars ($1500.00); and,

WHEREAS, the supplier is currently offering a “buy one, get one
free” bench for the purchase of one (1) Buddy Bench. 

SUGGESTION: If this mayor and council are so offended by putting up a mere $1,500; then they should apply the same frugality to all the giveaways, or better yet, reach into their own pockets and donate through their village salary, benefits and other perks that they continue to shower upon themselves. 

Note to anyone looking to view the (in) action on the meeting video - the specific item is (not)heard at 2:53:10

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

87th Avenue Bridge Litigation - Volunteer attorneys Norman M. Waas, Esq, and Jessica M. Hernandez, Esq. filed a motion to expedite appeal.

The reality is setting in for residents on all sides of the canal. As many are aware, Miami-Dade County has started moving forward on the actual construction of the bridge as of Tuesday, May 28, 2024.  This generated mixed reaction from opposing sides – a huge sigh of relief and celebration from those who have fought for the bridge versus significant angst and anxiety from those in opposition. 

The only statement from village leaders to date was posted on Facebook:

Please be aware that the contractor has mobilized at the construction site for Miami-Dade County’s SW 87 Avenue bridge project. The Village will be working with the contractor and the County to minimize any disruption to residents in the affected area. We will also provide updates on the project as they become available. (bold emphasis added).

I haven’t seen any other statements made by or on behalf of our village counsel regarding the commencement of the bridge construction. Please feel free to notify me of what ever information you have seen or heard.

Action in the form of a motion to expedite appeal was filed Wednesday, May 29, 2024. The motion to expedite appeal was filed on behalf of the Appellants, the Palmetto Bay residents in opposition to the 87 Avenue bridge.  These residents have been represented by volunteer counsel - Norman M. Waas, Esq, and Jessica M. Hernandez, Esq, of the local law firm FALK, WAAS, SOLOMON, MENDLESTEIN & DAVIS, P.A. The village is usually represented by a Village Attorney, or one of the special counsels listed as eligible to represent the village in such matters.

The rules of appellate procedure do provide for situations where a court may expedite the appeal.  The motion was filed on May 29, 2024, arguing that:

Public interest supports the appropriateness of expedited review of this matter. It is indisputable that the bridge project will affect the lives of residents in the Village of Palmetto Bay. Those opposed to the bridge—including Appellants—are concerned that increased traffic in the neighborhoods along 87th Avenue, especially north of the bridge, will badly damage the character of the neighborhoods and pose unnecessary traffic and safety risks.

Kudos to both Norman M. Waas, Esq, and Jessica M. Hernandez, Esq. who have been carrying a huge burden without compensation on behalf of the Village of Palmetto Bay, who is listed as the first named party to this appeal. Both attorneys should be recognized for their service, regardless of anyone’s position on the bridge.

I will keep you up to date on how this matter progresses.

Other related documents:

I am providing access to the briefs filed to date.

The Initial Brief of the Appellants (E-filed April 12, 2024) (those in opposition to the bridge, filed by volunteer counsel - Norman M. Waas, Esq, and Jessica M. Hernandez, Esq

The Answer Brief of the Appellee (e-filed May 13, 2024) Filed by Miami-Dade County.

The Reply Brief of the Appellants (E-filed May 28, 2024) (those in opposition to the bridge, filed by volunteer counsel - Norman M. Waas, Esq, and Jessica M. Hernandez, Esq