Friday, April 27, 2012

Operation Lookout. Now is the time for professional police action in combating Village crime. Mayor and Council need to step aside and let the Policing Unit do its job without political interference. This is not photo op time. Our property, personal safety and peace of mind are at stake.

A $50K home burglary occurred in Palmetto Bay on April 14th, 2012.  Is this really news?  It is an unfortunate fact of life is that these burglaries occur.  I have reported on such events before, both while in office and obviously through this blog.  But readers should be well aware that the MDPD/Village Policing Unit has been doing an outstanding job in clearing approximately 25% of these crimes.  Compare this to an overall average of 10 to 12%.  Palmetto Bay residents should be proud.  This is little consolation to those who have had their peace of mind violated by these criminals.

The Policing Unit is being proactive in bringing forward Operation Lookout, created by the Village Police.  This is a campaign to make people more aware of suspicious events and provides proper conduct and contact points to encourage reporting suspicious activities.  The Policing Unit has created materials, specifically door hangers, for distribution.  These materials have been ready for over a month.  This was discussed at the February Committee of the Whole meeting. 

You may have heard something about Operation Lookout, but you have not seen it in action.  Why?  Because apparently this current Mayor and the vice mayor think their judgment should supersede the professional judgment of professional police and have weighed in on the operation of the deployment of this program – which has caused a delay.  The council complained about the door hangers then the council directed the manager to find the money to mail these items.  This delay may have cost at least one Palmetto Bay community $50,000 in lost irreplaceable personal items   See  Online CBS Miami, Channel 4: Palmetto Bay Burglar Wanted For Stealing $50K In Jewelry, April 26, 2012 (Click the headline to view)

Besides the delay and forgetting the fact that there will be no personal interaction as police bring these door hangers to your door, additional costs will now have to be expended to process the materials, stuff envelopes and then mailing costs for the saturation mailing.    All this delay causing additional time delay for more suspicious acts to occur that may be crime in progress.  People should not have to wait until mail delivery.  Police could have received these materials directly.   I wonder how the Mayor and Council will respond to any complaints of junk mail or more costs.

Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, Vice Mayor Brian Pariser and the Council need to step aside and let the Policing Unit do its job as their professional expertise sees fit.  This is a time for professional decisions, and professional action, not time for political or emotional interference.  The Mayor and council cannot treat this as a photo op.  Our property, personal safety and peace of mind are at stake.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

EYE ON MIAMI: Help Educate Voters to Combat Absentee Ballot Fraud. By Geniusofdespair

EYE ON MIAMI: Help Educate Voters to Combat Absentee Ballot Fraud. By Geniusofdespair
Click the above link to read Eye On Miami and the initiative to guard against ballot theft/exploitation.  Do you know any candidate who won at early voting and on election day, but the election results turned on Absentee Ballots?  Uncovering the issue is one thing, but now Eye On Miami is following through and has issued a call to action.   The Miami-Dade County Elections Department will be providing supervised voting for absent electors residing in assisted living facilities within Miami-Dade County; ensuring that every resident living in the facilities is able to cast his/her vote in a safe and convenient environment free from fear, intimidation or exploitation. You can be part of this and make sure elections are not won ball the AB gatherers.  PLEASE VOLUNTEER FOR THIS TRAINING by calling Gary Hartfield at 305.499.8372. We can help stop absentee ballot fraud with this program, do your civic duty! Remember, as Eye On Miami points out: CLOSE ELECTIONS ARE BEING STOLEN by absentee ballot fraud!

Here is a letter from Election Supervisor Penny Townsley describing the program:

In this important election year, the Miami-Dade Elections Department is preparing for the implementation of a countywide voter education campaign. A number of outreach events are scheduled across the County to inform voters about redistricting, registration, and voter protection. Specifically, this Department will be providing supervised voting for absent electors residing in assisted living facilities within Miami-Dade County; ensuring that every resident living in the facilities is able to cast his/her vote in a safe and convenient environment free from fear, intimidation or exploitation.

Since this is going to be a busy election year, we are in the need of volunteers to assist us. Teams consisting of representatives from different political parties will be assigned to participate in various events to educate voters. Training will be provided and every effort will be made to ensure our volunteers are knowledgeable of all election related rules and regulations. We hope that you will join us in making sure the upcoming August 14th Primary Election and November 6th General Election are a success by providing your time which, in turn, gives our voters confidence in the electoral process.

If you want make an impact on your community and be a part of this important democratic process, please contact Gary Hartfield at 305.499.8372 to become a part of our team.


Penelope Townsley Supervisor of Elections

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Volunteers at Thalatta in place of staffing? Really Brian? Is this your best plan to comply with the Palmetto Bay commitment to provide an open public park?

In what appears to be a bizarre suggestion, Vice Mayor Brian Pariser suggested implementing a volunteer program to supplement staff, similar to the Deering Estate’s operation in Palmetto Bay.

This suggestion appears to be a sour grapes response to the public firestorm that led to Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser backing off from the Thalatta Estate commercialization plan.  Both Mayor Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Pariser appear to actually be threatening that compliance with the Florida Community Trust (FCT) conditions for operation of Thalatta as a park will lead to a tax increase.  This is an absurd and a clear attempt to strike out and punish the residents for not bowing to their ill-conceived commercialization plans.  Staffing currently is in place.  Stanczyk and Pariser conveniently leave out the fact that there are currently 2 to 3 paid staffers on site during regular working hours – including the Palmetto Bay Program & Events Coordinator.  Her office is located at Thalatta so she can show off the Estate to any potential event renters.  So then, what additional staffing is really required to watch a passive park during normal business hours?

Volunteers in lieu of staff appears to be a well-intentioned, but not well thought out proposal from Vice Mayor Pariser who nears the end of four non-descript years in office.  I am providing interested readers (and hopefully Vice Mayor Pariser) information concerning the Deering Estate Volunteer program, including the Deering Estate Docents program.  You can see what these programs are, but more importantly, what these programs are not designed to do.

There are several components of the Deering Volunteer programs, none of these, Brian, are designed to replace service personnel or provide certainty of regular Deering Estate Park hours of operations.  The responsibilities are drastically different between Volunteers, including Docents and the Deering Estate Staff.  In fact, no mention is made in the materials given, but there is a cost for background checks, training, coordination and supervision of volunteers, something I don’t think you have considered.  This is not simply handing over the keys to the park to a friend or volunteer and asking them ‘to open up and watch the park for us, we are a little shorthanded.’

In reality Brian, we appreciate the effort, but much like the feasibility study you requested on Thalatta, I bet we will find that the cost in the time and efforts to run the program would be much more expensive and much less efficient than merely properly staffing Thalatta Estate.  This only creates more headaches for what is in really a very small, but highly dedicated Village Staff.  Volunteers may provide for some programming, such as at Deering, but that will come long after the council complies with the FCT Management plan and opens up the historic main house to the public.    

We do presently use volunteers.  Parks has a CIT (Counselors In Training) program for Village summer camps.  Groups like the Palmetto Bay Garden Club have for years provided invaluable assistance to the Village and residents on projects such as Arbor Day, State of the Village and area butterfly garden projects, but we should not misuse them as indentured servants. 

In case you are interested in volunteering, there was a recent shout out in Palmetto Bay’s April19, 2012, E-currents, “Interested in a Volunteer Position with Parks? If you've got extra time and energy, please consider volunteering at one of our many Village Parks. Contact Parks & Recreation Director Fanny Carmona for available opportunities and screening and application information” (look for it right column news capsules, 4th item down).

It is time for Brian and Shelley to quit the posturing, pouting and gamesmanship and open up Thalatta Estate as a free park for the public with regular hours.

Click “Read more” immediately below for additional information and background:

Pinecrest gives notice of upcoming business/community process for visioning sessions along US1 corridor

What will the US1 corridor look like far into the future?  Here is a chance to actually participate in the future of US1 rather then wondering "what if", or bemoaning that "they should have considered X" 

The Pinecrest Village Council has given notice that they have initiated a transparent and community active process for the creation of a vision and community consensus for the future development, redevelopment, beautification, and enhancement of the US 1 commercial corridor. 

Interested persons and businesses should follow and participate in the process.  This process will include  community forums, several public presentations and an intensive one-day charrette.

Schedule of Meetings
April 25, 2012, 6:30 p.m. - Steering Committee Organization Meeting
May 9, 2012, 6:30 p.m. - Forum
May 23, 2012, 6:30 p.m. - Forum
May 30, 2012, 6:30 p.m. - Forum
June 9, 2012, 10:00 a.m. - Charrette

Please visit for
additional meeting information including locations.
CLICK HERE to review the actual Pinecrest e-notice.

Follow the process.  Get involved.
Planning for the future is made better through public understanding and active participation.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

2012 Everglades CISMA non-native Fish roundup, Sat, May 19, 2012

How many remember fishing in the Everglades area, along the Tamiami Trail or in any of the many canals in the area?  The freshwater quarry then was Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Bowfin and even the occasional Florida Gar just for the sport of it.  Now there is a fishing tournament geared to those fish you may not remember, but are uninvited guests, known as invasive species.  Here is an opportunity to go catch some to satisfy your competitive nature.  The  This is the first time I have heard of this event held by the Everglades CISMA (Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area). I recommend that anyone who use to fish along the Tamiami Trail or in the Everglades, take a look at this unique event.  

What is a CISMA? (Info taken from its website): The Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area is a formal partnership of federal, state, and local government agencies, tribes, individuals and various interested groups that manage invasive species and is defined by a geographic boundary.

The CISMA is holding its Everglades non-native Fish roundup on Saturday, May 19, 2012.  CLICK HERE for more information on the event, including rules and regulations.  The Everglades ecosystem is home to at least 22 non-native freshwater fish species. These non-native fish may be causing detrimental changes to our native fish communities, particularly as the number of new species continues to increase. All but two of these fish were introduced illegally as the result of releases of unwanted pets and food fish, or due to the flooding of aquaculture ponds.

The Everglades CISMA is hosting the Everglades Non-native Fish roundup to raise public awareness about the potential negative impacts of releasing non-native fish into Florida waters, and to encourage anglers to target these non-native species for consumption. The Roundup will also gather data into non-native fish distribution and abundance that can assist in their management.

The intent of the 2012 Everglades CISMA non-native Fish roundup is to raise awareness of the potential negative environmental consequences of releasing non-native fish and to gather information on non-native fish and their ranges throughout the Everglades.


There is more than just information about a fish round up.  Click on the above link and choose a category to view the list of invasive species, including Plants, Reptiles, Birds, Amphibians, Fish, Mammals, Insects, Mollusks, Crustaceans and Arachnids.

Note: The original source for the above information was a Miami-Dade Parks e-mail blast: "ParkLife E-Buzz".  Click the link to follow to the e-mail message and sign up to receive these informative e-mails concerning different events going on in Miami-Dade's Parks system.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

EYE ON MIAMI: New Cars/Vans Paid for With Miami Dade County Taxpayer Money Have Never Been Used. By Geniusofdespair

EYE ON MIAMI: New Cars/Vans Paid for With Miami Dade County Taxpayer Money Have Never Been Used. By Geniusofdespair:

Re-posting from Eye On Miami

From a Channel 10 Report:

"Local 10 uncovered more than 100 vehicles, paid for by Miami-Dade taxpayers that have been sitting idle in the Earlington Heights Metrorail garage for years. In total, an estimated $965,000 worth of taxpayer bought vehicles" have never been used.

Sure doesn't make sense that they are laying off people. I guess this counts as a boondoggle. Gimenez's answer for the idle cars: "Years ago the county significantly reduced the size of its fleet and decided to keep current vehicles on the road longer. By that time, the idle vehicles had already been bought and delivered. Gimenez said the idle vehicles will eventually be added to the county's fleet, as needed."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Council opposes Thalatta event facility expansion | Featured

Council opposes Thalatta event facility expansion | Featured

Palmetto Bay Council member Howard Tendrich has become the public's best advocate for green space and parks. I applaud his tenacity in holding the current council to the commitments set in 2005 to obtain the grants necessary to secure Thalatta.  As Howard J Tendrich noted,  “Nowhere in the plans earlier did it say there was to be an enclosed glass house of 7,500 square feet. It showed an open area and in fact somewhere along the way we have a 9,500-square-foot enclosed area in our village already which is larger than what we have and the necessity of it doesn’t seem necessary.

“The park is supposed to be open to the public and that’s one thing, I still feel that it is not open enough to the public. We might need to have more personnel, but I feel the park should be open at least Monday through Friday, from 10 till 6, so people don’t need to go, ‘well, if we go on Monday it’s open from 10 to 2, if we go on Wednesday it’s open from 4 to 7. We need to have standard hours.”

The people spoke and even the original advocates of this ill-advised plan on the council saw the light and decided to stick (at least for now) to the grant commitments.  This ill-fated Thalatta plan arose by three members of the council during the budget hearings last September.  This was not a plan devised by village staff.

Special thanks also needs to go out to Council Member Patrick Fiore who held firm on a principled stand for parks and against government using tax dollars for ill-advised business ventures. 

Read the entire article in the April 17 - 30th edition of the Palmetto Bay News, Council opposes Thalatta event facility expansion, by Gary Alan Ruse  

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Economic Development Council of South Miami-Dade Announces The Business Training Program

Looking to start your own business or want to update your business skills?  The Economic Development Council of South Miami-Dade has announced its next Business Training Program (Click to view the Constant Contact information).

Dates:                   April 19, 2012-June 14, 2012
                              Every Thursday Night from 7pm to 8:30pm 
Location:              Palmetto Bay Village Center, located at Old Cutler Road at SW 184th Street
Cost:                      $100.00

The business training program is designed for those who want to start a business, grow a business, or simply sharpen their business skills.

These classes are taught by successful, local, community business leaders and academicians.

Course Syllabus includes:
How to Prepare a Business Plan
How to Prepare a Marketing Plan
Negotiating Contracts and Leases
Leading Your Company
Technology 101
Growing Your Business
Finance Primer
How to Prepare a Loan Package
Introduction to Accounting

Space is limited so call 305.378.9470 for more information, or e-mail inquiries to

Economic Development Council of South Miami-Dade | 18001 Old Cutler Rd. Suite 647 | Palmetto Bay | FL | 33157

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Palmetto Bay's Building and Permitting Advisory Committee Final Committee Report has been completed and submitted to the Village Council. Where does it go from here?

Committee Chair Rainer Schael presented the report to the Council at the February 6, 2012, meeting (CLICK HERE to review official minutes, Section 8. BOARD AND COMMITTEE REPORTS, page 3 of 13).  The minutes reflect that the committee had heard concerns regarding fees and offered a revised fee schedule in response.  The committee also recommended shifting Code Compliance work week schedules to provide for 7 day a week enforcement to cut down on illegal construction.  Another suggestion was to ask Miami-Dade County to establish as satellite office for Fire and DERM review top attempt to reduce time in obtaining permits. 

The committee appears to have worked well with Palmetto Bay staff in reaching some recommendations that are very common sense suggestions that are business and resident friendly. It is now time for the council to step forward and make some sound decisions.

Kudos to the Permitting Staff and Committee members who works so well together creating a great document for the council to work with in re-evaluating any updating for the department and the Village. 

This report now appears to begin moving forward.  The item has been placed upon the Agenda for the Committee of the Whole Workshop for Monday, April 16, 2012, by Council Member Joan Lindsay.  It is item 11 on the agenda.

I congratulate to the Building and Permitting Advisory Committee for the well-though out recommendations contained in their report.  The Committee ran a transparent process that worked hard to notify and involve residents and businesses of its work.  I have put together my thoughts below, identifying some of the policy decisions that the village council will have to make.  And yes, recommended changes will affect departmental costs and potentially what residents and businesses will pay in taxes and/or permit fees.

Miami-Dade GOP elects Ben Powell new chairman

Miami-Dade GOP elects Ben Powell new chairman

Palmetto Bay resident Ben Powell was selected as the new chairman of the Miami-Dade Republican Party Thursday evening.

Congratulations Ben.

Read more here:

EYE ON MIAMI - 43rd Annual Meeting: Friends of the Everglades, Sunday, 4/15/2012


Friday, April 13, 2012

Government transparency reminder – public meeting this Monday. Where is the agenda/notice to the public? (Updated 3:20 PM Friday)

It is after noon on the last business day prior to a public government event.  Do you know where the agenda is?  There is a Council Workshop - Committee of the Whole Meeting scheduled to take place Monday, 6/16, that listed on the Palmetto Bay official website as of noon, Friday, April 13, 2012, one business day prior to the event:

Monday, April 16, 7 pm
Council Workshop - Committee of the Whole Meeting
9705 E. Hibiscus Street

The Village of Palmetto Bay Council shall be meeting for a Council workshop on Monday, April 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm.

That was all the information provided until I found the agenda posted at 3:20 PM on Friday.  See the Palmetto Bay Agendas and Minutes page

I disagree with any opposing view point; this is not reasonable notice to the public.  I would really hate to see a gathering of residents representing only one side of an issue in attendance to support or oppose an issue.  That might lead me to believe that the attendees are being tipped off or controlled to try to manipulate how issues are decided. 

It is easy to keep a running list of items to be discussed.  There must have been a purpose for this Council Workshop - Committee of the Whole Meeting to be called.  Items could be added to a running published agenda, but at least provide people with reasonable notice so they can make arrangements in advance to be there or advise their representatives to be there if needed. 

You can click "Read more" below to read the items posted at 3:20 PM.  Let's see if anything new gets added between now and the start of the meeting.

Reminder - this Sunday, April 15, Cutler Ridge / Palmetto Bay Rotary Club is having their Wing Ding chicken wing cook off

Nothing like a last minute reminder - The Perrine - Cutler Ridge / Palmetto Bay Rotary Club is having their Wing Ding chicken wing cook off (like a chilly cook off) on Sunday April 15, 2012, beginning at 11:00 AM at the Palmetto Bay Village Center. Located at Old Cutler Road and SW 184 Street. Admission is just $5.00 per car, truck, motor cycle or golf cart.

Proceeds from the event will help support the service initiatives of the Rotary Club of Perrine-Cutler Bay/Palmetto Bay. You can view the official event flyer for more information at

EYE ON MIAMI: : check it out ... by gimleteye

EYE ON MIAMI: : check it out ... by gimleteye effects...

Tell FPL they should do what is best for the residents and businesses of Miami-Dade County and bury the lines. We are already paying for them every month on our power bill; we shouldn’t have to pay for them with the health of our children and families, and the economy our community.

The Better Energy Alliance (BEA) is a Miami-Dade-based, 501(c)4 organization dedicated to the belief that any new power transmission lines to be run through the county, whether through a commercial or residential route, should be undergrounded for the safety and economic security of the residents of our community.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I invite Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser to watch a video of the Wednesday, April 11, 2012 press conference and learn how to communicate information concerning court cases to the public. It can be done. Here is a good example:

I don't ever want to hear excuses that divisive court cases cannot be discussed with the public.  It can be and the special prosecutor shows how it is properly done.  If only the current Palmetto Bay Mayor and Vice Mayor would take the time to watch and learn.

Special prosecutor Angela Corey held a press conference held on Wednesday, April 11, 2012.  I strongly recommend that Palmetto Bay Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser watch this video of theWednesday, April 11, 2012 press conference.  There is much that Brian and Shelley could learn from this strong example of leadership.  This is an outstanding example of an elected official ethically and well within legal bounds, discussing an important case with the public.  This is a video lasting 24:13.  The Special Prosecutor discusses that cases are tried in the court of law, not the court of public opinion (4:13), yet is able to provide a wealth of information through an official source.  No trial tactics or information prejudicial to either the victim or the defendant were discussed, rumors were debunked and the tone for the course of proceedings was set wherein this public official showed that she is in charge.  (5:24) We know what the events are unfolding and that there is clear purpose in the process.

Contrast this with the clear lack of leadership and blatant disregard for transparency that we are currently seeing in Palmetto Bay.  Review my prior posting on litigation: Sunday, February 5, 2012, An (unofficial)update on the Palmer Zoning litigation; Palmer I, II and III. The presentstandard of court review, for background.

It is time for the current Mayor and Vice Mayor to step back and learn from people who know what they are doing, then engage in practicing good government, not hiding behind lame incorrect excuses to keep taxpayers in the dark.

We all must be committed to actual transparency, not because any of us have taken a side, but because you have a right to know, regardless of which side you are on in this very devisive issue.  It would be nice if the village updated the "Litigation" portion of the official website.  The link is severely outdated and needs to be changed, but then again, so does the top end of the village elected leadership.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Palmetto Bay ready for the Thalatta site visit today.

Consensus is that Palmetto Bay appears ready for the visit from the Florida Communities Trust (FCT) scheduled for today. 
The stated purpose of this visit is that the state will be assessing the progress made in the implementation of the management plan and the development of the (Thalatta) site. 

Here is a list of the issues and facilities that the State (FCT) “…will be paying close attention to during this site visit:”
1.  Whether the required FCT acknowledgement sign has been installed;
2.  Quality of the management of the natural communities – specifically the status of invasive exotic plant removal;
3.  The status of the infrastructure development – are at least some of the recreational facilities constructed – such as trails, benches and picnic shelters (depending on what was committed in the management plan); and
4.  An update on the time line for construction of the remaining structures and facilities. 
Feel free to let me know if anyone sees an appreciation party for the FCT held tonight at the Thalatta Estate.  If so, will it be an open to the public event or limited to an invitation only event put on by the current Mayor.
Click on the "Thalatta Estate" label below to view prior postings about Thalatta.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Friends Forever needs your help - can you temporarily foster a dog while repairs are being made to the FFR shelter?


Dear Friends Forever Supporter,

We have just been advised there is a water leak underneath our shelter. The entire floor of the structure must be broken to locate the leak and fix it. During this time we are in DESPERATE need of foster homes.

We need GOOD homes to house our pets.




CLICK HERE to read the full constant contact message online
Friends Forever Humane Society, Inc. is a Florida Not for Profit. Their mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome homeless and unwanted dogs in need of help in the Miami/Ft Lauderdale area.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A textbook example of bad leadership (part 2) – Censorship of official government of social media? Lack of transparency with PB Committees?

Censorship in Palmetto Bay on its Social Media, Facebook site?  Say it ain't so Brian!

This action of failing to set appropriate policy and allowing censorship of open public discourse on social media sites by current Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser is yet another text book example of bad leadership and here is why:

Several residents have brought up the issue including one who has just recently posted the following to her personal Facebook page:

"Residents comments are being DELETED from the Village of Palmetto Bay's FB page and residents are being BLOCKED from posting. Censorship violates the First Amendment."

I am shocked that this council does not realize that there is a records retention law.  That free speech exists and that if you put up a billboard, sometimes someone may come along and post something you don't necessarily like.  Social media is like a bulletin board and, because its not private when run by a government, Officials cannot simply remove what you don't like.   That is censorship and it is wrong. I personally ran into the issue weeks ago with threats of deleting comments on the same official Palmetto Bay Facebook page, comments were made on the Thalatta Estate park issue, the resident versus Mayor and Council plans to repurpose a park obtained with State tax dollar grants to, as outspoken residents say it, a for profit wedding venue

I looked up the issue on the Internet and found an interesting article posted online by the Kaspersky Lab Security News Service, the threat post, Study Finds China Censorship of SocialMedia is Real, Pervasive.  which published, quote, A study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has concluded that Chinese social media sites are deleting messages with content that might be construed as controversial by the Communist Party - the first conclusive evidence that state censorship extends to social media sites like Sina Weibo, the popular micro blogging Web site that many have likened to a Chinese Twitter.

My first though was “really”?  Is little Palmetto Bay really engaging in conduct as sinister as China? So instead of being compared to neighboring Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay can now be compared with China.  

This is another shame of this current self-proclaimed "Transparency" government. Mayor Stanczyk lists herself on the official Palmetto Bay website bio as “…a strong supporter of transparency in governmentand public involvement.” This is listed under Accomplishments and Initiatives, and appearing quite Kafkaesque.  Really? I guess so long as she agrees with the direction the public is going, otherwise she has a record of allowing her committees to fail to keep the public advised (See SDM, April 6, 2012, Charter Revision Committee: Outta Sight!).  Mr. Pariser is a licensed attorney.  He should know better about public records law and should be fighting to protect, not suppress free speech.

I say it is time to stop the censorship.  I created the official Village of Palmetto Bay FB page years ago, knowing that sometimes there may be comments that one may not like, but it comes with the territory. It was supposed to promote dialogue, not just be a vehicle for fluff feel good pro-government news.

We are living in 2012, not 1984. Why create any issues when there are so many good things going on.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thalatta enjoyed on Easter Sunday. If you open it, they will come.

No, Thalatta was not being used as a paid private event today, but part of an open no-charge Sunday family day where the park saw many walkers, bikers and those who just pulled in after seeing the gates open.  Many people enjoyed a little bay side time in Palmetto Bay. I spoke to some who were at the park on Sunday, April 8, 2012.  Some asked and indicated that they would like to speak up further to express frustration that they do not have better hours to enjoy one of the few locations where you can reach the Bay.  Remember, this park was purchased through the grants generously provided by the Florida Communities Trust, South Florida Water Management District, Land and Water Conservation Fund, Florida Division of Historical Resources, Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond Program, Florida Recreational Development Assistance Program, with special thanks to the Land for Public Trust.  You the residents, put a stop to ongoing plans of the current Mayor to repurpose this park for a private for hire facility.

Thank you council member Howard Tendrich and those who stood with me at the Monday, April 2nd Council meeting to fight for a public park. 


The park looks great for the Thalatta Site visit from a representative of the Florida Communities Trust (FCT) this week beginning April 10 -12.  I am confident that the Village Council has regained focus of their commitments as well as the requirements of the covenants and that the FCT will be able to move on without issue.  The residents are now well aware and on guard.

Note that the ‘infamous’ “Closed for Private Event” 'A frame' sign was covered over with the current park hours.  Again, this council can do better than the current hours of operation — 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday and closed on Friday and Saturday and, ugh, during for hire private events.  

I do have to ask whether the village elected officials have spent the weekend sanitizing the web.  I could not access the Thalatta section of the website,I went to the official Village web site, click on the parks page, but when I click on "Thalatta park" under parks, under "online resources", all I got was this following error message: "Access denied You are not authorized to access this page."  Good thing I don't take things personally.  Thankfully I can still reach the You Tube video that advertises: "View images of the Village of Palmetto Bay's premier wedding and event facility in this slide show that aired on Grand Opening Day, Feb. 13, 2011. Contact the Village's Program & Events Coordinator Mary Fernandez for rental information, rates, and availability at 305-234-6383."

Don't forget how Mrs. Shelley Stanczyk once pointed out that Palmetto Bay won Miami New Times, Best of Award, Best Wedding Venue - 2011 - Thalatta Estate

As noted in the award: What was a private residence for most of the past century was snapped up by the Village of Palmetto Bay when the property went up for sale in 2005. It cost a third of the city's budget. After spending a year renovating the Mediterranean-revival home and grounds, Palmetto Bay opened the estate this past February, and now the park is ready to take its place among South Florida's best venues to tie the knot. Thalatta Estate's four acres stretch from Old Cutler Road to Biscayne Bay and afford breathtaking views of the water. There is a plethora of photo-op locations for wedding parties: a reflecting pool, a gazebo, the home itself. Village officials — expecting that bridezillas will flock to the spot — created a second-floor bridal suite (so she can keep an eye on the groom) and added a prep kitchen for catering companies. The estate is picturesque, boasts all the amenities needed for a wedding, and is much more affordable than Vizcaya and the Deering Estate. Rates range from $155 for a weekday waterside site to $3,500 for use of the entire property on Saturdays. But our favorite feature has to be the old boat ramp. It is an ideal spot for newlyweds to hop onto a wooden Chris Craft and sail away to marital bliss — or a good place to stash a Jet Ski for a quick escape if there's a last-minute change of heart. 

Florida Keys Weddings by the knot.  (Florida Keys Weddings dot com) Thalatta is listed even as far south as the Florida Keys on a commercial wedding promotion site. 

Last, but not least, the Thalatta site may be temporarily down on the official Palmetto Bay page, but I am sure you can still view after all, Thalatta Estate is "Where Dreams Begin ..." (apparently not trademarked), view the slides, "Imagine Your Perfect Day", "Timeless Elegance","Where Old world Charm and Elegance Come together" Palmetto Bay, which asks (those who can afford) to come celebrate their love (for a price).

Don't forget the web site "Shoot Miami" and its mention of Palmetto Bay's Thalatta Estate - "Grand Opening Celebration of the Thalatta Estate Park, Palmetto Bay’s premiere rental facility for banquets, weddings, and private functions."

The last question I have is whether the FCT will accept this bricked meandering path as a bicycle path in the spirit of the commitment  to the Florida Recreational Development Assistance Program (FRDAP)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Palmetto Bay wants to build a downtown - Palmetto Bay -

Verbatim from the Miami Herald article by Howard Cohen:

Palmetto Bay wants to create a downtown district in the Franjo Triangle, an area along U.S. 1 surrounding Village Hall.

City staff and officials hope their plans, which looks to include restaurants, retail and a parking garage, could transform Palmetto Bay in a way not unlike Wynwood’s revitalization from a rundown warehouse district to a walkable, thriving urban neighborhood.

By contrast, Palmetto Bay, in South Miami-Dade, where average assessed home values are $226,315, is coming from a considerably more affluent canvas than pre-boom Wynwood. But the village’s plans similarly include the development of an urban walking district. Palmetto Bay’s downtown district would feature a park-and-ride garage facility that would have up to 550 parking places, a link with its existing I-Bus service to the Dadeland South Metrorail station, and 35,000 to 40,000 square feet of retail space.

The first phase is the parking garage adjacent to the new $3.25 million Village Hall. 

Click the headline at top to read the complete article.

CLICK HERE to review the February 8, 2012, feasibility study conducted by Ballard-King & Associates (page 2-73 of the 120 pages)

Note that the project is still far off from a reality per the Village Manager. Status is that the Village Council has approved going forward with research.  Next steps require a council investigation and decision for funding to pay for the complete project. The total cost is still undetermined and will not be solid until the bids are finally received along with any projections to finish out interiors, parking fee collection mechanisms, whether tenants get parking cost rebates/credits for their employees and customers, etc.   This proposed parking garage is located in what is listed as a Neighborhood Mixed-Use district per the 2005 Village of Palmetto Bay Land Use Map

There is the one issue that raised my personal concerns: removing the free on street parking and taxing the cost of parking through installation of parking meters.  I also recommend that the Mayor and council involve the local business and property owners; the surrounding stakeholders.  Both the parking garage and the parking meters will affect the businesses.  They deserve a seat at the table to plan the future effects on their businesses be it retail, service or as landlord to the tenant businesses.

Read more here:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Palmetto Bay officials notified to be ready for a Thalatta Site visit from a representative of the Florida Communities Trust (FCT) this April 10 -12.

Palmetto Bay is sprucing up for a little short notice visit from the Florida Communities Trust (FCT).  The timing is interesting, but I am sure it is coincidental.  Palmetto Bay was notified via e-mail of March 26, 2012, that the Florida Communities trust is implementing a stewardship site assessment program.

The stated purpose of this visit is that the state will be assessing the progress made in the implementation of the management plan and the development of the (Thalatta) site.  I have posted the complete notification e-mail as embedded JPEGs.

Here is a list of the issues and facilities that the State (FCT) “…will be paying close attention to during this site visit:”
1.  Whether the required FCT acknowledgement sign has been installed;
2.  Quality of the management of the natural communities – specifically the status of invasive exotic plant removal;
3.  The status of the infrastructure development – are at least some of the recreational facilities constructed – such as trails, benches and picnic shelters (depending on what was committed in the management plan); and
4.  An update on the time line for construction of the remaining structures and facilities.

This site visit will take place between April 10 – 12, which is just a few days away.

It is interesting that neither mayor or vice mayor disclosed this upcoming site visit to the public at the Monday council meeting.  The timing is most interesting as, just as reported in the Miami Herald, Palmetto Bay scraps plans for proposed buildingon Thalatta Estate (Published online 4/3/2012, and Thursday, 4/5/2012, Neighbor’s Edition). 

The Herald Article by Howard Cohen discussed how the future face of Thalatta spawned much debate during Monday night’s council meeting. Now the FCT, a $3.6 + million donor, is going to weigh in for a little check up.  As reported, Thalatta is supposed to be used primarily as a public park but its hours of operation — 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday and closed on Friday and Saturday and during private events — incensed some residents, including council member Howard Tendrich.

“A park is supposed to be open to the public and this is not open enough to the public,” he said. “A park should be open Monday to Friday, 10 to 6. This needs to have standard hours.”

Numerous other speakers also complained about the non-standard hours, some opining that “This facility is called a park, a park where you can not sit in a shady place to have a nice picnic or family hour. I agree with Mr. Tendrich. This is not a park. Call it something else. Do you want this to be a park or do you want it to be a money maker for the village?”

Now the FCT is involved and let’s hope that the Thalatta site visit passes FCT review.  Thalatta is to be a crown jewel for Palmetto Bay, a park that I proudly proclaimed to put the “Bay” back in Palmetto Bay at the 2005 state of the village.  Miami-Dade is rich in coastline, but suffers from a lack of public access to the water.  Thalatta was purchased in 2005 to provide this public access and obtained at nearly no cost to village taxpayers through millions in grant monies covenanted for a public park.  We received over $3.6 million from the FCT alone.  I do not want to leave out the staff of the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) who provided the original bridge loan to obtain Thalatta as well as efforts on the permanent grants. 

I sincerely hope that the FCT finds a clean bill of health and moves along, not questioning whether the ill-fated and abruptly abandoned plans announced by Mayor, but abandoned last Monday evening do not create any cause for alarm with the FCT.  I do want the FCT to note that the Palmetto Bay speakers provided a huge “thank you” to those aforementioned groups who granted us this park and are serious about making sure that this present council keeps the promised made on their behalf by the original council in 2005.  (Click the Lable “Thalatta Estate” below to read additional articles I have posted on this blog regarding the Thalatta issue).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Palmetto Bay scraps plans for proposed building on Thalatta Estate - Palmetto Bay -

Do Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser even listen to the comments before they 'rebuke'?  Where does Shelley Stanczyk come up with some of her responses:

“We talked about putting the ‘Bay’ back in Palmetto Bay,” Flinn told the council on Monday. “You all know darn well if a private company came in there it would be voted down 0-5, but because government wants to do that you think it will be easier on the neighbors. You’d better get ready to write a check back.”

The point was that Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser wanted to allow government to operate a business, because they wanted to, and that a private individual would be voted down if that private enterprise wanted to operate the same type of business at that same location.  

So then, why did my "...comment drew sharp rebukes from Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser."?

“We will not be on the hook to return money,” Stanczyk said. “The comments about having a private company come in and run the park is reckless and would be in violation of the documents we agreed to.”
But Patrick Fiore said Flinn made a valid point.

Actually, Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser, you are both very wrong.  Failure to operate within a condition of the grant is grounds for recall of the grant money.  

The sad part is that none of the proposing council members sought permission from any of the granting agencies before moving forward with this ill-advised plan, placing nearly $4 million in grants at risk. This ill-conceived cart was put well before the horse.

See the argument for yourself.  CLICK HERE to view the official streaming video reporting the Monday, April 2nd Council meeting.  The Thalatta agenda item 10. B. starts at 1:32:23.  The speakers from the public starts at 1:41:00 and my comments start at 1:51:22.  The comments with the Vice Mayor start at 2:55:57
ead more here:

Pinecrest releases its list of Earth Day Festival events. There are some exciting and educational events. Participate.

Earth Day Festival

This year's festival is on Sunday, April 15th at Pinecrest Gardens. (Pinecrest’s) third annual Earth Day festival will provide numerous opportunities to "go green" and also lots of fun including:

Rain barrel workshop;
"Native Gardening for a Healthy Planet" led by Ted Schaffer, President of the Dade Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society;
Eco Fashion Show in the Banyan Bowl featuring Eco Designer Kayce Armstrong and the Art of Shade;
Energy saving landscape lighting presented by Franco D'Ascanio from the D'Asign Group;     
Slow Foods and Whole Foods presenting two food demonstrations;
CLEO Youth Task Force presents: Caroline Lewis, Pamela Shlachtman, Amy Leonard, and Dr. Wafa Khalil presenting workshops/showcases with the CLEO Youth Task Force and the Pinecrest Youth Advisory Council that include an hour discussion including the following:  "What is climate change all about and what's my role?;   
Local bands in the Meadow;
Billion Acts of Green to decorate the Pinecrest Green Float; 
Southern Cross Astronomical Society's Saving Energy and our Night Sky with a telescope presentation;
Electronic Recycle Station;
Performance by the Greater Miami Youth Symphony;
Eco-Artist Nancy Martini with two presentations: An exhibit about planting responsibly where Nancy gives away Milkweed seeds to help the monarch butterflies and bringing awareness to the fragile Coral Reef; and
Especially for kids, puppet shows delivering a "Green Show" with a message; story telling from the Miami-Dade Library, Little Sprouts Planting; and a wildlife show.

You will also be able to participate in a "Billion Acts of Green" brought to us by the Earth Day Network.

CLICK HERE to read the full April 2012 official Pinecrest e-newsletter

Breaking news - Thalatta Estate to remain a park. The Thalatta plan voted down 5 – 0. Resident demands made and apparently accepted for enhanced regular hours of operation for residents. Thank you Council Members Lindsay; Tendrich and Fiore.

The Palmetto Bay Council voted 5 – 0 to kill the Thalatta Estate commercialization plan at the regular council meeting held Monday, April 2, 2012.  I want to thank my fellow residents who spoke to maintain (and actually enhance the hours) a public park – the original and sole purpose that we received the grant money to obtain Thalatta.  I also want to thank the council members who listened.  Councilman Howard Tendrich had always been steadfast for the residents in his resolve against over-commercialization of Thalatta. Councilman Patrick Fiore held many of the same views along with his opinion that government should not be venturing into business. Most council watchers felt this Thalatta plan would fail on a 3-2 vote, being defeated only due to the lack of the required 4 vote supermajority required to amend any parks master plan.

Thalatta was to be a crown jewel for Palmetto Bay, a park that I proudly proclaimed to put the “Bay” back in Palmetto Bay at the 2005 state of the village.  Miami-Dade is rich in coastline, but suffers from a lack of public access to the water.  Thalatta Estate was purchased in 2005 to provide this public access and through grants, the park was obtained at nearly no cost to village taxpayers through millions in grant monies covenanted for a public park.  We received over $3.6 million from the Florida Communities Trust alone.  I do not want to leave out the staff of the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) who provided the original bridge loan to the village to obtain Thalatta as well as provided the point efforts on the permanent grants.  The Palmetto Bay speakers provided a huge “thank you” to those aforementioned groups.

Dr. Feller and I made some serious commitments on behalf of the village to the state to get these grants.

Thank you fellow speakers, commenters on my Thalatta posts, those who may have e-mailed and or called.

I also want to personally thank Council Member Joan Lindsay, who spoke and withdrew her support for the Thalatta based upon her personal view of the parking situation at an actual event at Thalatta.  Her personal observations mirrored many of the comments and fears of serious parking and safety concerns that were anonymously posted on my blog (or e-mailed to me). Ms. Lindsay stayed consistent in protecting the quality of life for those along the Old Cutler road corridor. 

Now, based upon the speakers and comments from the dais, let’s work together to further enhance this beautiful jewel of a park and keep “the Bay in Palmetto Bay.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection were key in assisting with grants (information below taken verbatim from their official websites):