Thursday, August 16, 2018

Passing of an American Hero, WWII combat veteran, Purple Heart recipient Alvin Siegel. My condolences

Sad passing - a true American hero, WWII combat veteran, Purple Heart recipient Alvin Siegel.  A long time resident of Palmetto Bay.  It was my honor to get to know both Alvin and spouse Ofelia.  I got to know them both at the YMCA.  As you would expect from a Marine, they were part of the first arrival group, often there waiting for the doors to open at 5:15 AM. 

Officially, as Mayor, I want to express our sincere condolences on behalf of our Palmetto Bay community to Ofelia, his entire family, fellow service members, fellow Legion Post members and Palmetto Bay community.

Marine  Siegel was a frequent participant in Village Veteran events, including the Palmer Veterans Day breakfasts.  Marine Siegel participated in the 'recognition day' ,Sunday, August 7, 2016, was the annual Purple Heart Day.  The special day that Palmetto Bay was officially recognized as a "Purple Heart City". Related post - August 12, 2016, Recognizing our Purple Heart Awardees. Palmetto Bay is now a Purple Heart City! 

Marine Al received his Purple Heart for wounds received in action at Iwo Jima.

I was told he later received a field commission after this action.

He is a member of the American Legion, Post 133

I want to express our sincere condolences to his family, fellow service members, fellow Legion Post members and Palmetto Bay community. 
 May his memory be eternal.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Welcome back to school Palmetto Bay. Readjust your commuting schedule.

The end of the summer break is approaching. School starts on Monday, August 20.  As our children begin school next Monday, the following is a calendar of the 2018-2019 academic school year that can be helpful to residents: click here to download.

School will be back in session, expect delays, especially for the first three (3) weeks of school.

I wish all our students a happy, safe and productive school year!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Miami-Dade County Transit Tax / Rail fight moves to the Courts - filed by County Commissioner Xavier Suarez

Thank you Commissioner Xavier Suarez for your leadership on this issue. CLICK HERE to download and view a copy of the actual complaint.

We need rail, maximizing the ridership in order to maximize traffic relief for our South Miami-Dade communities. The efforts now include this lawsuit to resolve an intolerable situation - the continued diversion of the sales tax we have paid since enactment.

Why is this important? Rail will take significantly more cars off the road - per Miami-Dade County's own study (Page 26 of the Miami-Dade County DTPW South Corridor Rapid Transit Project, Preliminary Engineering & Environmental Report):

See a prior post of July 20, 2018: SMART Plan update - TPO deferred the decision on the plan to its August 30th meeting. Significant work required this week to prepare and participate.

Don't be fooled - there is no middle ground, no interim step to rail
Miami Herald reports:

Lawsuit: County squandered $1.5 billion of transit tax promised for Metrorail growth

Miami-Dade’s increasingly heated debate over how to reconcile broken transit pledges will be moving to court, with a Coral Gables commissioner suing the county and its mayor over using a voter-approved transportation tax to subsidize existing transit rather than expand it.
A half-percent sales tax voters approved in 2002 was linked to promises of more Metrorail corridors and expanded bus service. But Metrorail only grew by three miles, and Miami-Dade has cut bus routes. Meanwhile, the county relies on the 16-year-old tax to subsidize transit operations that existed before it passed.
“Defendants have diverted over a billion and a half dollars of sales surtax proceeds ... for purposes other than those authorized by the ballot measure,” reads the introduction to the lawsuit Commissioner Vince Lago and two other plaintiffs filed against Miami-Dade and Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
The plaintiffs are represented by Xavier Suarez, a Miami-Dade commissioner and top Gimenez foe who is fighting the mayor’s plan to bring “rapid-transit” buses to South Dade where Metrorail had been promised. Gimenez’s office had no immediate comment on the suit.
At issue in the litigation is a decision by the Miami-Dade commission in 2008 under then-mayor Carlos Alvarez to plug budget holes caused by a collapse in property-tax revenue with transportation-tax dollars that otherwise would be available for transit projects. Gimenez took office in 2011, led the roll back of an unpopular property-tax increase by Alvarez, and continued the practice of using the “half-penny” tax to subsidize transit operations.
Gimenez has issued long-range budget plans that have the subsidy dropping dramatically, but his proposed spending plan for 2019 includes $95 million for operations in a $680 million transit budget.
The suit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court asks a judge to block the county from using transportation taxes to balance the budget, meaning the operational subsidies would need to be stripped from the proposed spending plan. That would require steep spending cuts, since the commission, including Suarez, has already approved the mayor’s recommendation for flat property-tax rates in 2019.
Even if a judge declines to restrict the budget options of the mayor and the 13-member commission, the lawsuit promises to ratchet up the political drama around transit in Miami-Dade.
Lago also sits on the county’s Transportation Planning Organization, and is opposing Gimenez’s plan for a South Dade rapid-transit bus line designed to mimic the perks of rail.
That includes custom-made buses designed for group boarding and iconic stations with advanced ticket sales and platforms that don’t require passengers to step up to the vehicles. The 2002 transportation plan included a Metrorail line extension for that route, along the South Dade busway, along with one heading north to Broward on 27th Avenue.
A recent analysis released by Gimenez’s Transportation department warned extending Metrorail 20 miles south would cost more than $1 billion and cost $67 million a year to operate — nearly doubling Metrorail’s current $76 million operating cost for the 25-mile system. The new Metrorail line would eat up about 75 cents of every dollar the Gimenez administration said is available for new transit projects over the next 40 years.
Joining Lago as plaintiffs in the suit are former Pinecrest mayor Cindy Lerner, a self-described “warrior for rail” in South Dade, and Deltravis Williams, a frequent bus rider who joined a “Transit March” last year to protest county cuts in bus service.
The suit also falls during heightened tension between Gimenez and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who is Xavier Suarez’s son. Gimenez, a former city manager in Miami, has criticized the younger Suarez’s bid to expand the Miami mayor’s authority. Xavier Suarez is considering a run for county mayor in 2020, when term-limit rules will bar Gimenez from running for reelection.
Lago is seen as a likely candidate to run for Suarez’s District 7 seat on the County Commission, which Gimenez held before becoming mayor in 2011. With Gimenez openly interested in holding office after 2020, there’s speculation he might seek his old commission seat as well.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Palmetto Bay - I am working with Miami-Dade County to get the Crosswalk at 82nd/163 Street replaced.

I recently had a breakthrough in resolving the flashing sign issue at the crosswalk located on the North side of 163rd Street at 82nd Avenue.

This item has been placed on the August 20, 2018, Special Council meeting: 
Discussion and potential action on a Resolution authorizing the Village Manager to replace a flash signal at SW 82nd Avenue and 163rd Street (sponsored by Mayor Eugene Flinn). 
I met on site with Carlos Blanco from the Traffic Signals and Signs Division, Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works Department, on Friday, 8/10/18 and reviewed the new product, this will be a Pelco product as the prior product was held up due to litigation.  Mr. Blanco confirmed that the Pelco product will work at this intersection.  The product is simpler from the current product, so both will be replaced to be uniform.  Parts will be easier to obtain for this Pelco signal.  Thank you Mr. Blanco!

The items remains on the Special council meeting agenda for update and action by the full council.  Again student safety is of utmost importance.  This signal was put in long ago, under our former County Commissioner Katy Sorenson through hard work of community activists, in this case, Mayade Ersoff.  It is our duty to make sure this crosswalk remains safe and I take that duty seriously.

Documenting the facts: Charter school was imminent – presenting facts over campaign rumors

Facts presented to debunk door to door rumors.  Political season can be so ugly.  Candidates think that they can get away with planting false rumors through individual comments to individuals they speak to at the door. Those candidates are mistaken if they think residents don't ask others to confirm or deny.  I thank those who call to verify.  This is another one of my, "don't just accept, my word, read up on the facts, available online":

I am proud of my record on transparency and placing documents online.  Significant research can be done at home by those who would like to see what the actual votes were or the details contained in any resolutions or ordinances.  This is also why I have fought hard for on-line permitting – the ability to track your permit status without having to rely upon a return phone call (though everyone is certainly able to call live, during business hours, if that is your preference).

The facts are undisputed that David Singer, Larissa Seigel Lara and I removed that legal Charter School through the only legal means possible: we purchased the property out from under them and negotiated a private (and enforceable) covenant with the owner of the remaining property that no school would go on the remaining property.

So what are the facts about the Charter School? Consider this as part of my rumor control. I am posting the zoning resolution, approved March 17, 2014, that cleared the way for a 1,400 seat Charter School to be located at the "third parcel from the NE corner of SW 97th Avenue and SW 180th Street, Palmetto Bay" - that's legalese for identifying the Shores property.  (CLICK HERE and review in detail)

Note the findings made by Mayor Stanczyk and the Council regarding the Charter School:
"That the Mayor and Village Council find, based on substantial competent evidence in the record, that the application for the charter School is consistent with the Village of Palmetto Bay's Comprehensive Plan and the applicable Land Development Regulations."
Page 1, lines 20 - 22 & 34 - 35. 
'b. The rules that govern the conditions upon which a charter school is permitted to be configured and operated are found at Section 30-120 of the LDC "Public Charter School Facilities." After hearing the applicant and the applicant's experts, the Village Council finds the charter school request consistent with those standards.'  
Page 1, lines 37 - 40. 
 "c. The Applicant’s traffic study indicates that the number of trips generated by the proposed use does not cause the adjacent roadway to exceed the maximum capacity thresholds establish by Miami-Dade County. The Village's traffic engineering consultant and the Traffic Engineering Division of Miami-Dade County accept this finding with conditions as noted in the staff report."  
Page 1, lines 42 - 46. 
I continue to be transparent and provide the facts to address and resolve rumors and properly correct the record.

Read the Miami Herald article: April 9, 2018, by Monique Madan, "This city feared traffic so much, it wrote a $2.9 million check"
"A charter school would have completely and literally destroyed that area," said Palmetto Bay councilman David Singer. "All these people who don't live here would come, not pay taxes, increase traffic and use our services. There were no benefits at all, so we had to do something."

What would benefit Palmetto Bay's citizens, Singer said, is a community center. Earlier this year, the village council voted 3-2 to scrap the charter school by scrambling to buy the land. Their hope? Building a facility that would feature anything from a pool to classrooms and a gym.

Florida Charter School Alliance Executive Director Lynn Norman-Teck has commented on the status of the status of the Charter School proposed for Palmetto Bay . 
"Somerset Academy was progressing through this process," Norman-Teck said, "when the village swept in and took it from them." 
(Translation, when Councilman Singer proposed and set the action in motion to take it way from them)  
“[Somerset Academy] had gone before zoning folks and had a couple of community outreach meetings together, feedback and they were looking at that property, but before anything could be finalized, the property owner sold it to the village,” Norman-Teck said.

Thank you for your interest.

Your Mayor,

Eugene Flinn

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Councilwoman Joan Lindsay states on the record: " I think we need a community center in the Village." Locating the Community Center at the exact location we now own. Discussing a “livable” downtown. Please note: This means ‘residential units’.

I am so pleased to be part of the 3-2 slim majority to take positive action and lock down a prime site for our Community Center.  We almost missed this opportunity, an opportunity that the prior council failed to capitalize on.  The transcripts serve to clear up the misconceptions and provide a factual background supporting the Votes of Council Members David Singer, Larissa Seigel Lara and myself to protect our community.    

The statements of former councilwoman Joan Lindsay are important to viewing just how serious the Stanczyk council was to a Community Center.  Councilwoman Lindsay started her activism in Palmetto Bay as one of the founders of Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler, INC.(CCOC) and was one of the leaders of the "Save Our Palmetto Bay" campaign against the Palmer Trinity School expansion.  

The recovered transcripts are helpful to demonstrate that support that the former CCOC members actually supported the Parks Master Plan of the prior council and the Community Center located between Franjo Road and Perrine Park (now Palmetto Bay Park).

Editor's note:  I encourage everyone to completely read the entire transcript and compare what this group discuss when outside the view of the public (shade sessions are held behind closed doors) and when they thought no one would ever read their statements.  The comments made certainly contrast sharply with public comments and the e-mails put out under the CCOC group name.  

The excerpts below are quoted from the Monday, March 4, 2013 "Shade Session" transcript (CLICK HERE to download and view) - (then) Councilwoman Joan Lindsay also confirms that the community center is something that 'the people want' and further that it belongs on the property we recently purchased.

Please read the complete transcript to view all the detailed discussion.

Page 24, beginning line 23, and followed onto page 24, Ms. Lindsay:
"I thought for a long time that it was in the best interest of the Village to acquire that property.

I think we need a community center in the Village. I think the plans that our staff and the Manager has put forward in the past about having Franjo Avenue be our Downtown thoughfare, having a walkable Downtown with small shops, great restaurants and a place to -- you know -- have the community come together and, as they do in South Miami, I think would be a big benefit to this area.

And I think purchasing that property would also show people who own property in the triangle and this entire area that we are serious about moving forward and making this the workable, livable Downtown are that we have talked about -- walkable Downtown area."
                             *  *  *
Beginning page 25, line 22: 
"And this is my District. And I hear from these people perhaps more often that some of you."
The purchase of the portion of the Shores property was a good one, as evidenced by the statements and behind the scenes planning of the Stanczyk council.

We almost missed this opportunity.  This property was obtained as a result of a thin 3-2 vote.

The Palmetto Bay Community was nearly robbed of the chance to be apprised of the strong support that the prior Palmetto Bay Council, specifically including Shelley Stanczyk and Joan Lindsay, had for purchase of this property to remove the charter school, build a community center, enhance the walkable residential downtown area.

Thank you Shelly and Joan, for your statements of support as contained in these transcripts regarding resolving the issue and bringing a Community Center to our downtown area.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Mayor Stanczyk states on the record: "A community center is something they are asking for. They have come out and asked for it, not because they were podded." Locating the Community Center at the exact location we now own.

Excerpt from the Monday, March 4, 2013 "Shade Session" transcript (CLICK HERE to download and view) - (then) Mayor Shelley Stanczyk reveals that the community center is something that 'the people want' and further that it belongs on the property we recently purchased.

Note some very important differences from what the Stanczyk council wanted - they were talking about purchasing the entire property for $5-6 million (it never happened).

Councilman David Singer's proposal purchased only the property we need to build this community center (exactly where the Stanczyk council was discussing placing it).  Additionally, we obtained a covenant that is now attached to the remaining property, NEVER to build a Charter School, and a private developer added investment to the Downtown area.

But don't take my word for it, read Mayor Shelley Stanczyk's own remarks: Page 30, beginning line 15:
Over the past couple of years the community surrounding the park has come to me on a number of occasions.

I have an email I got this morning asking us to buy the land. At the town hall meeting it was brought up:

“buy the land.“

People in this end of town, yes. We have a town that has different sites to it. But we serve all.

We are here elected by all to serve. And because this is at one end of town it will serve all.

A community center is something they are asking for. They have come out and asked for it, not because they were podded.

They came to us. They came to us last year and asked. So that this—

This is something that the community desires. This is their tax dollars. This is their community.

We are only stewards. So I think in listening to them and listening to what they see their future in using their community as it services them.

But it also brings us to the vision that was seen by the other Council's and the vision is coming forward in many communities across this country where older neighborhoods are being redone, rebuilt
All boldface emphasis added.

So there it is. This is more vindication of our current position and exposure of deception from the past administration. Case closed, but more to come anyway. 

Shores Litigation – the missing “shade sessions” - POINT I - noting their existence and providing links to download and read for yourself. These documents are very interesting reads. I would encourage everyone to review.

The current village council was just notified of the following documents.  I have uploaded them to my Dropbox where I you can download each in order to read them.  I have asked that they be added to the official village web page.

The Village does maintain a litigation page where shade sessions are supposed to be posted.  Shade sessions are required to be released at the conclusion of litigation, which occurred prior to December 1, 2014.  There are only two shade sessions posted as of 3:00 PM, Wednesday, August 8, 2018:

Shores at Palmetto Bay, LLC, Litigation

As listed above, only the transcripts for the March 4, 2013 and April 1, 2013 Shade Sessions were made available to the public via public posting online. The Shade sessions of August 30, 2012 and December 17, 2012 as well as the "missing public comments..." were, well, just that: missing.

This posted list was obviously incomplete (and I asked our Village Clerk and Village Manager on Wed., 8/8/2018, to  update the website to include the missing transcripts - my guess is that the site was updated prior to your reviewing it after reading this post).  An incomplete listing would lead reasonable people to believe that no other shade session transcripts exist, but that would be incorrect.  The long hidden shade sessions are listed above in BOLDFACE TYPE - specifically, August 30, 2012 and December 17, 2002.

The purpose of this this post is merely to alert everyone to the existence of these previously forgotten transcripts.   Please feel free to download and read what I am sure you will find to be most enlightening.  

Did I read "Community Center" and location for a community center?

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Palmetto Bay - Participating in "National Night Out" - Join us on Tues., Aug. 7, at 6:00 PM

Join our Palmetto Bay Police at Village Hall on Tuesday, August 7th at 6 pm and learn about community-based crime fighting programs.  How can we work together to deter burglaries and other crimes? Learn about the R.A.D. system of self-defense for women offered here at the Village.  See: Palmetto Bay Village Officers to Impart "R.A.D." Training - See you on the 7th

Palmetto Bay is a Purple Heart City. Please join us on Tues., August 7 PM

Join us on National Purple Heart Day at Village Hall on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 from 7 pm -8 pm for a community event and unveiling of our dedicated Purple Heart parking and Purple Heart Community entry signs.

Did you know that Palmetto Bay was the first to be recognized as a Purple Heart City in South Florida? See: August 12, 2016, Recognizing our Purple Heart Awardees. Palmetto Bay is now a Purple Heart City!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Councilman David Singer's History of DUV Presentation Posted online.

Materials and videos posted for the DUV History presentation for you to view.

The August 1, 2018, Town Hall PowerPoint on the history of downtown Palmetto Bay zoning by Councilmember David Singer is now online:

There are two videos.

You can also view video of Councilmember Singer's presentation below:

I have posted my Facebook Live video to my YouTube Channel:

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Budgeting for our 2018-19 fiscal year. I remain committed to "government 'lite'" in Palmetto Bay

September is budget season in Palmetto Bay.  The decisions made for this budget will impact the municipal services you receive, how much you pay in taxes and, if the decisions are not controlled, can lead to far-reaching impact on future budget commitments through increased recurring budget commitments (Budget Creep).

As I always do, I have asked the Village Manager to post the proposed budget online once it is complete.  Manager Ed Silva has committed to having the proposed draft budget posted online no later than the end of the day, this Friday, August 3rd.  I will provide the link in a future e-news as well as posted here in my blog.  

I led the charge to reduce taxes for the 2016 -2017 budget year 2.3292 (not an election year) after having barely missed a reduction the year prior (I was voted down, being part of the 2-3 vote minority, a single vote short of reducing taxes for that prior year).  Our current budget (FY 2017-18) remained at that reduced millage rate of 2.3292.

I was the sole sponsor of resolution 2018-85 - which set the Maximum Millage rate at our current 2.3292.  I felt the need to sponsor my own property tax Maximum Millage resolution as the administration had proposed an increased working property tax rate of 2.4659.  I could not support even the discussion of raising our property tax rate.  Now we can REDUCE our property tax rate further as the budget process moves forward in adopting the 2018-19 budget, without fear that the village council will raise the property tax rate.  Note that my resolution was unanimously approved 5-0.

Property Taxes add up - the Palmetto Bay property tax is a small part of your overall tax bill.  All the different taxes add up.  Palmetto Bay may have property tax millage rate of 2.3292, but the overall total includes more than just the municipal tax; your property tax bill also includes School Board Millages (Operating & Debt) , Regional Millages (SFWMD, Evr. Proj., Okeechobee Basin & FIND) and County Wide Millages (County, Debt, Fire & Rescue, Fire Dept & Library).  The overall property tax millage rate for Palmetto Bay is 18.2930.

Several budget workshops were held in July - but note that the important steps are the actual budget hearings  to be held in September. Our budget is adopted as an ordinance, it is passed in a first, then second reading. The actual decisions are made at these hearings.

Here are the applicable hearing dates (follow the links to official Palmetto Bay information):
FIRST BUDGET HEARING - Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 7:00 PM
SECOND BUDGET HEARING - Monday, September 24, 2018, 7:00 PM

I am committed to reviewing every portion of our village budget.  The budget process will be the time that we review the services we receive and whether Palmetto Bay remains committed to "Government Lite".  This is OUR money, YOUR money, and you need to stay involved.

Total property tax millage (all taxing authorities): Please  CLICK HERE to view the complete table of 2017 ADOPTED MILLAGE RATES for all taxing entities that impact your property tax bill. As you can see, a little increase 'here and there' will have a big overall impact on your total property tax bill.

What is additional, not covered above?  Water & Sewer as well as Garbage Collection fees - both County Fees as well as Stormwater fees collected by each municipality.

Please begin your own review and contact me via e-mail at or via phone at (305) 302-3713 to discuss.

For more background, please see my post of September 29, 2016:  Palmetto Bay Mayor & Council approve the lowest property tax millage rate in Village history - 2.3292 mills.  Note that I attempt to reduce our property tax rate each and every year.  Why?  I keeps our budget from expanding due to years Palmetto Bay receives an increase in revenue (also known as 'budget creep').

I continue to lead for government lite, strong finances, quality facilities and programing, responsible budgets, and preventing budget creep.

Your Mayor,

Eugene Flinn

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Updated IBus Park & Ride Express numbers - Week of July 23 - 27, 2018 - 193 trips total

I am presenting the weekly ridership numbers relating to both the IBus Express Park & Ride as well as regular routes. 

The numbers are for the week of  July 23, 2018 – July 27, 2018: 193 rides total

Week of July 23 - 27, 2018 

AM                          82
PM                          84
Regular route:         27
Total - all routes:   193 

How does this compare to prior weeks? (Weekly totals):

Week of July 16 - 20, 2018 

AM                        109
PM                        106
Regular route:         24
Total - all routes:   239

Week of July 9 - 13, 2018 

AM                         95
PM                         86
Regular route:        22
Total - all routes:  203

Week of July 2 - 6, 2018

AM                         66
PM                         44
Regular route:        21
Total - all routes:  131

Week of June 25 - 29, 2018

AM                        100
PM                         73
Regular route:        32
Total - all routes:  205

Week of June 18, - 22, 2018

AM                         76
PM                         79
Regular route:        29
Total - all routes:  184

Week of June 11, - 15, 2018

AM                        141
PM                          97
Regular route:        14
Total - all routes:  252

Please CLICK HERE to view prior blog posts relating to the IBus & IBus Express

Very truly yours,

Eugene Flinn, Mayor