Saturday, March 31, 2012

South Dade Matters is at it again – hard hitting questions that deserve answers from current elected officials regarding Palmetto Bay transparency. I nominate Howard Tendrich to work to resolve the issue.

I learned something new upon reading South Dade Matters (SDM).  I have never heard “who shot john” before, but I agree that it certainly is applicable as applied by SDM in PalmettoBay Transparency: Who Shot John, March 27, 2012. 

SDM states that the phrase “who shot john” has a meaning of a long, rambling explanation that never really answers a basic question. To some, it merely translates to an answer that is B.S.: “Tell me what happened last night and leave out all of the who shot john.”

SDM and the public deserve answers to the questions related to Palmetto Bay records and meetings:

    Who decides whether a particular meeting is televised either by streaming video or on Channel 77?
    Which records must the village administration post on the website?

I agree with SDM.  There is too much talking in circles from the Council Chambers.  We hear sound bites and platitudes, goals and claims of transparency – in other words, we hear the talk, but not receiving the deliverables.  It is far too hard to locate information on this new and improved web site that has taken far too long to finish.  For the record, the web site update has been going on prior to 2010.

The Village Manager and Clerk cannot operate in a vacuum.  Palmetto Bay is fortunate to have high quality management with our Charter Officers; the Manager, Clerk and Counsel.  But there is clearly no direction coming from the current Mayor and Vice Mayor on transparency.  It is time for a council member to step forward and fill the void with sound public policy from which management can operate the new technology now in place from the first council.

It is the responsibility of the Village Council, a policy board of directors, to be providing updates to the public at each and every regular monthly council meeting.  Agenda item 13, entitled “other business” and item 14 “Council Comments” sections are set aside for this purpose.  This is also why council members should not necessarily meeting in private with management.  That excludes the public.  The public should be in a position to know without having to ask the right questions. 

I nominate Council Member Howard Tendrich, who has been a champion of transparency, to put forward a well-defined and publicly stated council policy governing both the posting of records and on televising meetings. It was his pushing that got the monthly check register posted onto the new web site.  Everyone can thank Councilman Tendrich who is the reason those documents are posted.  The Crime Reports have been posted online for many years.

My opinion is that all records should be uploaded to the website.  It is time consuming and expensive for a village that I created in the mode of ‘government-lite’ to devote staff time to researching and providing documents, especially in this day of automation.

All meetings should be televised or streamed on the Internet.  I would like to see the behavior at a Charter Review Commission meeting or see how staff and the Art in Public Places Board consider spending the money as well as see the submitted proposals.  Besides, the more meetings the village televises, the less content at cost the village PR department has to create to satisfy the Comcast minimum material time requirement.  Isn’t it more important for residents to have the opportunity to view Palmetto Bay government in action than a slide show of Thalatta and past picnics?  It is all about maximizing the returns on costs.

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