Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Palmetto Bay resident to sue after Village Council bans him from meetings - Palmetto Bay -

Palmetto Bay resident to sue after Village Council bans him from meetings - Palmetto Bay -
Just my opinion (follow the link above to read the Miami Herald article for background):
It is outrageous that Palmetto Bay council meetings have become so polarized and dysfunctional.  Order must be kept, but order begins with recognizing that everyone has a right to speak without threat of heckling from the back of the room or even another member of the council verbally jumping into the speaker’s face out of order. Respect is earned, not ordered.  Any use of police causes a chilling effect on future speech as well as fuels resentment toward the institution of government. 

Now we have witnessed the use of village police, ordered by Shelley Stanczyk, to remove a speaker. It is understandable that some may view this as a violation of protected civil rights when misused.  This was far from a proud moment in the history of Palmetto Bay government. It was yet another textbook example of bad leadership.

I was there and personally observed what occurred that night with Mr. Harris.  Mr. Harris was actually remarkably restrained.  He spoke during his time: the public comment section.  From my view, it was Vice Mayor Brian Pariser who was out of order as the agenda and order of comment is clear. It was the public’s time to speak.  Mr. Pariser spoke out of order. Mr. Pariser should have taken notes, and all council members should have allowed an orderly progression of speakers to come up and make their points.  Then, Mr. Pariser and other members of the council could have spoken later in the agenda, during the council comments or council deliberation section of the meeting agenda.  Passions would have calmed and there would have been an orderly and non-confrontational meeting.  Events did not have to go down as they did, but believe me, as the article indicates; the events of that evening have not ended there. Mayor Stanzcyk and Vice Mayor Pariser may have just bought Palmetto Bay yet another lawsuit. There is a profound lack of control of the public institution of government procedure at meetings. 

I tried to warn Mayor Stanczyk of not keeping order in a consistent and even handed manner.  You cannot allow a mob mentality to rule government.  My comments were obviously not respected. 

Palmetto Bay residents should also be very concerned about what I observe to be a very cavalier attitude our current government officials have toward litigation.  As quoted in the article:

 ““He certainly has the right to sue, everybody has that right,” Stanczyk said. “I followed what was decorum and that was discussed and announced at the beginning of the meeting. That was read clearly into the record what the violation would be.”

Pariser said he hadn’t seen the letter, “so I can’t have a comment,” he said. “But I don’t believe anything was done improperly and I will have to refer to the village attorney.”

In reality, the council needs to read and follow the decorum ordinance: or they need to be escorted out.  Decorum is for everyone, not merely unpopular speakers. 
More litigation?  Sure, apparently not a problem for Shelley Stanczyk and Brian Pariser, who continue to spend village tax dollars on litigation that, in my opinion, goes on without advising the public of its purpose and goals. But then again, I think this is what happens when public officials have unlimited access to fund litigation at the public expense.

I also find Shelley Stanczyk’s comments to press quite ridiculous when she states:

“The cameras in the audience were not focused on him. No resident was able to view him being escorted out except for the back of him,” she said. “He was never viewed by the public and no follow-up mention was made of him. He has his right to do whatever he feels is right.”

Really Mrs. Stanzcyk?  Was not Mr. Harris escorted out through the middle of the meeting room inn full view of all attendees?  Do you recall any faces or names of people in the back who yelled for you to ‘[t]hrow him (Mr. Harris) out’?  I bet you do and are intimately familiar with at least one.  Are you paying attention to anything that goes on in your presence or ever stop to consider the future ramifications of the actions you take, or fail to take, at council meetings?

In my opinion, the Mayor, Vice Mayor and all council members must represent and respect all opinions, not just those of their political allies.  It is time to step down or be voted out of office if they cannot.


  1. AnonymousMay 30, 2012

    This once beautify Village is falling apart under incompetent leadership. Shelley and Joan are about fulfilling person agendas, Brian is about getting more votes for his reelection campaign, Patrick and Howard are the only two that seem to REALLY love and care about Palmetto Bay. It's a sad day in Palmetto Bay.

  2. AnonymousMay 30, 2012

    I too was there and the removal by the police had a chilling effect on me. Would my comments be considered "out of order"? I definitely thought three times about what I was going to say and toned down any statements. It was not only the police removing him, but the heckling by some of the crowd. For heaven's sake, everyone in that room is a neighbor! We ALL need to be more openminded. The "majority" has become a repressive majority - speak the "correct" view or don't speak at all. Beware if you say anything otherwise. Our Vice Mayor, being Jewish, should have personal family connections to that part of world history when people remained silent out of fear of reprisal. We can do better than this!

  3. AnonymousMay 30, 2012

    This is why we never should have incorporated.

  4. AnonymousMay 30, 2012

    How many people did you ever ask to leave a meeting during your time as mayor?

  5. AnonymousMay 30, 2012

    What would you have done differently?