Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Update on the Palmer Trinity Litigation - Scheduling Order rendered 2/27/2012

The Third District Court of Appeal issued a scheduling order on February 27, 2012, in the case of Village of Palmetto Bay, Florida. v. Palmer Trinity Private School, Inc.  CLICK HERE to review the official public online case docket, case number 3D12-190, for the Third District Court.

What this means: The litigation moves forward. Palmer Trinity School was ordered to file its response within thirty (30) days of the order.  The Village will be required to file its final brief, the reply, within five (5) days from the time Palmer Trinity files the response.  

No word yet whether any party has requested or if so, if  the court will hear oral argument on the appeal.  I will post any updates as they become available.  

Prior decisions can be read by clinking the link to prior posting: Read the Palmer court decisions posted on South Dade Matters

Two of the Court decisions have been posted on the South Dade Matters blog.  

Click the case number to read the December 23, 2011, court decision: CaseNo10-25912232011 

Click the case number to read the February 11, 2011m court decision: CaseNo10-259AP.

Both opinions contain significant background that should assist interested readers in becoming updated in the status of the ligation between the Palmetto Bay council and Palmer Trinity School.  There are other orders and court filings not posted here that would also be of assistance in gaining a full and complete understanding of the present issues.

In response to public demand, Palmetto Bay recently added a litigation tab located in the right lower column of its official website.  This scheduling order has not been added to the page as of 6:20 PM, Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012.  CLICK HERE to view the official Palmetto Bay litigation page. 


Friday, February 24, 2012

Forget once in a blue moon: Planets Align February 25: Venus, Jupiter, Moon To Converge

Stargazers are in for a treat this weekend and Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay area residents have just the ideal area to go see it (after the Art Show during the day, and book signing, which ends at 8:30, of course)

This Saturday and again Sunday (Feb 25 & 26), Venus, Jupiter and Earth's moon converge for a brilliant night show. Read more about it NASA Science News, Feb 17, 2012: Cold and Spellbinding: An Alignment of Planets in the Sunset Sky

Locally, we all have to suppress a chuckle as we read the NASA Science News release about the event that kicks off with "Note to sky watchers: Put on your winter coats. What you’re about to read might make you feel an uncontrollable urge to dash outside."  Coat? Really? In this mild weather, so mild in fact you can't really type "winter" without placing it in quotes.

Regardless, this is an event that may finally get you out to Bill Sadowski Park,and Nature Preserve a County Park in Palmetto Bay, 17500 SW 78th Ave, where the Southern Cross Astronomical Society puts out its telescopes each Saturday evening from 8 - 10:00 PM, "weather" permitting. It is a great event to come to view, solo or with friends and/or the family.

Art Show in South Miami This weekend.

FEBRUARY 25-26, 2012
The Rotary Club of South Miami proudly presents its 28th annual festival this weekend, February 25-26. The South Miami Rotary Art Festival takes place downtown South Miami on Sunset Drive (SW 72nd Street) from US 1 to Red Road (SW 57th Avenue) adjacent to The Shops at Sunset Place. 

There is free admission for patrons with ample nearby parking on-street and in garages. The festival features 148 outstanding artists, a fine expanded food court and beer garden, a Children's Alley, and mellow music.

For online or GPS directions search for 5750 SW 72 St., South Miami, FL 33143. Contact information is info@southmiamiartfest.org or by telephone at 305-769-5977. Please be advised that volunteers periodically check messages and reply or return calls 
(information above taken from the official e-mail.  CLICK HERE to view the official web site)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Alex Flinn Book sIgning - new release - Bewitching - this Sat., 2/25 7-8:30 PM, in Coral Gables

Alex Flinn reading/book signing this Saturday, February 25, 2012, from 7:00 PM until 8:30 PM at Books & Books in Coral Gables

Alex Flinn will be reading from her new book, Bewitching! Hope you can make it!

Books & Books
265 Aragon Ave,
Coral Gables, FL 33134
(305) 442-4408

More information about Alex Flinn can be found at www.alexflinn.com

Bewitching The story of Kendra, a witch, and the first three hundred years of her life. [read more]

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

TAS - Native Plant Sale: Create an Urban Oasis!

Sat. - Sun., Feb. 25-26| 5530 Sunset Drive
native plant sale

Join members of the Tropical Audubon Society (TAS) at the Doc Thomas House, 5530 Sunset Drive, for their native plant sale! The parking entrance is on 55th avenue.

Attention early birds, TAS will be open on Friday for a members only pre-sale from 4:30- 6:30 p.m.
Hours are:
Sat., 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. &
Sun., 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. 

On Saturday at 1 p.m., there will be a presentation by Brian Rapoza about backyard birding, author of Birding Florida and TAS Board of Director.

Experts will be available to educate those interested in creating a wildlife oasis in their backyard.

CLICK HERE to read the online edition of the current TAS e-newsletter.  Topics include: 
Oppose land minute amendment to HB449
Conservation Concert: Solar Dogs
Native Plant Sale 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Have a happy and safe Presidents' Day Weekend – events and a short history of this long weekend holiday

What are you doing this weekend?  Do you celebrate this federal holiday by reflecting upon legacies of past presidents, simply relaxing over a long weekend, taking in annual community events, taking advantage of sales or none of the above? 

Presidents' Day is celebrated on the third Monday in February.  Sadly, by some, it is better known commercially as the Presidents' Day Sale where we celebrate and save with great deals! Providing for an extra 15 - 20% off plus free shipping (online)!

There are traditional large community events held during this three day event.  I have posted my personal big three below:

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival  www.cgaf.com now in its 49th year which runs Sat 2/18 through Monday 2/20.  Cost: $10 a day, free for kids 12 and younger

St. Stephen’s Art Show, http://www.artshowss.org Coconut Grove, Florida, which runs same dates as above, Sat 2/18 through Monday 2/20.  Cost $2 admission to adults and children under 12 are admitted free of charge.

The Miami International Boat Show, www.MiamiBoatShow.com, Feb 16 – 20th.  Cost: $18 for adults 16 and older, $32 for a two-day pass, free for kids 15 and younger

More information is available online by the Miami Herald, by Hanna Sampson - PRESIDENT’S DAY WEEKEND | EVENTS - Weekend lineup opens busy tourist season

As the article forewarns;  Residents, prepare for gridlock. Hotels and restaurants, get ready for your busiest time of year.

A short History of Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day was first celebrated in the 1880s, with the birthday of George Washington was first celebrated as a federal holiday.

Controversy: long weekends versus recognizing the actual date:

In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill in 1968.  This moved federal holidays to Mondays. The intent was to provide for long weekends.  There was opposition to this move, by those who believe that those holidays should be celebrated on the dates they actually commemorate.

And then there was one national day for all presidents:

How many of us remember celebrating both Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays as separate events?  Presidents' Day became the officially celebrated holiday in 1971, to honor the birthdays of both Washington (February 22) and Abraham Lincoln (February12).  Note that Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was celebrated in many states, but was never an official national holiday (I wonder which states celebrated?  Extra points awarded for those who can answer)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

American Girl coming to Miami-Dade - Business - MiamiHerald.com

American Girl coming to Miami-Dade - Business - MiamiHerald.com

A most unique boutique opening at the Falls. Great location. Finally something with national exposure has wisely chosen to recognize the business/market opportunity of South Miami-Dade and locate here!

We are here. We are here!

This could get expensive, cute, but expensive. And no longer do we have to fly to LA or New York.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Coral Gables officials explain silence on Matheson Hammock project - Coral Gables - MiamiHerald.com

Coral Gables officials explain silence on Matheson Hammock project - Coral Gables - MiamiHerald.com

What can an elected official do with 400 e-mails on a very hot topic slated for a future zoning hearing? Just about nothing, except acknowledge receipt and send them on to the City Clerk for disclosure and record purposes.  This is the latest example of the "Jennings Rule" in action.

The Matheson Hammock project creates antagonisms and frustrations both for those concern as well as the elected officials who want to be responsive. The frustrations created were discussed in a prior South Dade Updates blog post: ‘Jennings Rule’ protects everyone’s due process rights, April 23, 2011 Click on the article title to re-review the full rule.

“The commission and the city manager have received many letters from members of the public related to this matter, and that’s understandable as it’s an important matter to the city, but they cannot respond,” City Attorney Craig Leen told the City Commission at its meeting Tuesday. “They can acknowledge receipt, but I’ve asked that those letters be forwarded to the city clerk and so placed into the record...."

The reason: The city will have to decide whether to approve the $18 million structure, and part of this approval process will be “quasi-judicial,” meaning that commissioners must act like judges and make their decisions without pre-judging and based only on information provided at a public hearing. And, as the Coral Gables City attorney says, "Everyone is entitled to due process and fair process.”

Every involved person will have to be patient and work hard to achieve a result in their favor, whichever side they are on.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/14/2641736/coral-gables-officials-explain.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Watch your wallet as financial times for local governments are about to get tougher.

Times are about to get tougher for local governments as the Florida Legislature cuts local revenues. 

Tallahassee tax cuts put squeeze on cities, online Miami Herald, posted on Sat., 2/11/2012

local governments will have to sort out how to balance their budgets as Tallahassee lawmakers pass tax cuts to businesses and homeowners.  Expenses/spending will need to be cut to match the Tallahassee imposed revenue reductions.

Maybe it is time for the Palmetto Bay Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser to put their grandiose plans aside of taking away the public access public bayside park and converting it to a wedding facility.  I am not sure they were paying attention to the pending bills in Tallahassee as no positions were taken by this council on the revenue reduction bills in the Palmetto Bay legislative program even as the Florida League of Cities made fighting these unfunded Tallahassee mandates a legislative priority.  I am surprised that there was no mention at the last council meeting from the council members fresh back from Tallahassee as to any efforts they made to preserve the tax base.  Are they paying attention?  Maybe Mayor Stanczyk asked Governor Scott to veto these bills while she was ceremoniously doling out paella to him as a guest server at the Dade Days "world famous paella fest" earlier this month.

We, the residents, are going to have to ride Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser and make them focus on the shifting budget realities.  The years of saving 10 million dollars into unallocated and emergency reserve accounts as we did when I was part of the initial council are over, at least for the time being.  There can be no frivolous spending from reserved for unproven pet projects.

Addendum to a few e-mail responses.  (click "Read more")

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Everglades camping trip raises funds, awareness - Outdoors - MiamiHerald.com

Everglades camping trip raises funds, awareness - Outdoors - MiamiHerald.com

Read up on the Outstanding work by “Rainer’s Excellent Camping Adventure” at Flamingo in Everglades National Park - congrats Palmetto Bay residents Rainer Schael and spouse Noel.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012



This Saturday, February 11th, Tropical Park, 7900 SW 40th Street (by the stadium). 11:00am-1:00pm

The first ever coalition that has united rescue groups, animal advocates and the community invites all animal lovers to bring their dogs to Tropical Park to DEMAND the right to vote on life-saving legislation for our animals.

Two Palmetto Bay rescue groups are looking for your participation.  Click on their links to read their plans for the event as well as their requests for your participation:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

An (unofficial) update on the Palmer Zoning litigation; Palmer I, II and III. The present standard of court review

Unfortunately, the current Palmetto Bay council is led by a Mayor and Vice Mayor who appear reactive, rather than proactive in their performance.  This has led to the constant need for prodding from those outside the council to push for a return to more transparency and place information into public view. 

Any copious reader of the deep crevasses of the village web site and agendas can now begin to find that there are litigation reports made public.  And all this after the Mayor Stanczyk accused me of asking them to “break the law”. She actually went further and stated that “He was advising us to break mediation and break confidentiality. Those are things you don’t do. He has told us to break the law and to put our village at risk.”  See the Miami Herald article online, January 10, 2012, Palmetto Bay to appeal court decision on school expansion.

My response is contained in that article.  Hardly.There is no reason to hide public information and true intentions. I would personally like to thank current Council member Howard Tendrich who singlehandedly pushed to have litigation information posted on the Palmetto Bay official website and into public view. 

As I have stated previously, there needs to be a return to a true interactive process in Palmetto Bay, a process that unfortunately has come to a screeching halt with the current Mayor and Vice Mayor.

What is it that the current Mayor and Vice Mayor don't want the Palmetto Bay taxpayers to know?  

Fortunately there has been a groundswell of concern coming from my fellow residents, both seen in public as well as expressed privately to the council members demanding increased accountability and real disclosure, not just unindexed information out for the web surfers to incidentally come across.  

The right to know through open discussion versus forcing residents to engage in "a hunt for scattered information"

I am posting this article not because I am taking a side.  I am posting this article because you have a right to know, regardless of which side you are on in this very decisive issue. I do not agree that posting a 25 page legal brief, especially unannounced on the front page of an official website infrequently viewed is transparency.  I say it is burying the information and breaking up the relevant information in a manner that would challenge the best scavenger hunter.

The results of this litigation will have a much more profound impact on the finances and future direction of Palmetto Bay over any one person winning the Miami Herald's Tropic Hunt.

It is strange that now there is a quality legal report that is posted by the Village Attorney in the current Palmetto Bay agenda – Click on to view the Village Attorney Update, dated February 6, 2012. Scroll deep - the information is contained back on page 6.

This information, technically listed, but certainly not openly mentioned to web site readers, hardly disrupts Palmetto Bay village official business, so why does it take so long to come out and placed so matter of factly?  No one is asking for the internal legal theory, if there is one, but let’s lift a veil from the secrecy and explain to the taxpayers who have invested so heavily in this litigation how far this litigation has progressed.  

Litigation timeline of PALMER I, II AND III

I have put together a timeline and explanation of the Palmer litigation to date.  Please note that no laws ‘were broken’ nor was any attorney/client privilege violated.  Just click "Read more" below to view.  The timeline and narratives are all based upon materials, dates and information clearly out in the public domain, but I have tried to compile in here, accessible through one source designed to aid in the understanding of the present posture of the appeal.  No one event defines the current status or scope of the present litigation. It all needs to be put together and placed into a timeline.

It is also important to note that I am only discussing the zoning matter, which I refer to in the current set - PALMER I, II, and III, not any of the other law suit(s) filed by Palmer for damages against Palmetto Bay.  Those are separate matters entirely for another time.

The two recent court orders were rendered on February 11, 2011 and then on December 23, 2011.  But let’s review some of the proceedings that bring us to the present zoning litigation: