Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grant Miller asks the Palmetto Bay Council: What happened to civility? | Palmetto Bay

Palmetto Bay Council: What happened to civility? | Palmetto Bay

Is the Palmetto Bay Council in Crisis? Grant Miller takes a wry look, using humor rather than heavy-handedness to review the unfortunate situation which occurred on Monday, May 21, 2012, or as Grant Miller states; “the day in Palmetto Bay Council history when Mayor Stanczyk called upon the police to remove a concerned resident from a council meeting.”

He asks the question that many who regular attend council meetings have been asking:

What has happened to civility and respect for opposing viewpoints in Palmetto Bay? 

Is this current council so convinced that their opinions are the only valid opinions, that mocking opposing viewpoints is the norm? 

Or is stress leading to an unraveling of those serving on the council?

Grant Miller pointed out that anyone who did watch the meeting on cable was probably confused.  Was this a Council meeting, or a rebroadcast of the movie Braveheart?   I can see where some contrary speakers may feel as if Brian Pariser as well as Shelley Stanczyk do treat them as Braveheart Character King Edward Longshanks did in the movie excerpt below; (just before throwing the character out a window): “Who is this person that speaks to me as though I needed his advice?”  Only instead of a window, uniformed police were used to escort a dissent out of the meeting.

Did Mr. Harris need to be thrown out?  Absolutely not.  He spoke from his chair - in the front row and in response to comments made by Brian Pariser.   I have personally heard Mrs. Stanczyk's own spouse call out from the back of the room, yet he has never been "escorted out."  What is the difference other than the marital relationship?  I believe that Shelley Stanczyk simply got flustered under the pressure.  

I do agree with Grant Miller and also complement Councilman Patrick Fiore who did show some much needed leadership that night and disarmed a terrible situation that could have deteriorated even further.  We could use less signs of force and mob mentality and more compassion.  Strong leadership and respect for speakers would have also prevented the hostility.  Mrs. Stanczyk was very indecisive in removing the speaker, beginning at 27:00 of the official meeting tape - "Madam Clerk, should we have him escorted? ... Please have him escorted out...Oh, alright never mind."

It is not healthy to get angry anymore, but it is time to stop the foolishness and begin to work together.  There is more than one opinion in this village and all deserve respect, not scorn.   It certainly ceases to be funny when their actions reach the point to where Palmetto Bay faces another potential lawsuit, this time for violation of a resident's personal civil rights.

The article ends with the point that the council members should remember that democracy is filled with unpopular opinions.  It is the job of government, large or small, to respect all opinions.

Read the article, link at top and feel free to express your thoughts. E-mail me at if you do not want to publicly post.  You can always remain anonymous. 

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.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Student graduates with perfect attendance

Student graduates with perfect attendance

Congratulations are in order for Palmetto Bay resident Eighteen-year-old Andrea Collins graduated from Our Lady of Lourdes Academy on Thursday, May 24, 2012, having never missed a day of school since kindergarten, which is quite an accomplishment.   Her proud parents are Palmetto Bay residents Maria Kesti, mother and Michael Kesti, her step-father.

Andrea is also active in her community. She started the Caps for Cancers foundation, which provides caps for chemotherapy patients. Anyone attending nearly any event put on by the Rotary Club of Perrine-Cutler Ridge/Palmetto Bay would have seen Andrea hard at work volunteering.  Excelling in school, She earned membership in four honor societies; National Honor Society, Thespian Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, and Tri-M Honor Society.

Congratulations to Andrea and the class of 2012.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

KFHA meeting Tuesday, May 29 - attend with questions for MDX, MIami-Dade County Public Works & Waste Management

The Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations will have as featured guests, representatives from the Miami Dade Expressway (MDX) , and from  Miami-Dade County Public Works and Waste Management on May 29th , Tuesday evening at 7:00 P.M.  

This will be an opportunity for the residents of Kendall to ask questions about our toll roads, and find out what is in store for the future.  There will be free transponders for the first 150 guests and you can get activated that evening.  

Public Works will talk about recycling and show an amazing video, a behind the scenes look at this not so familiar world.  It’s “dirty” work, but when you think about all the trash that generates from millions of people….”where does it go?”  

The program will begin at 7pm at the Kendall Village Center Civic Pavilion, 8625 SW 124th Avenue, in front of the Regal Theater.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day – 2012

Monday, May 28 is Memorial Day, a day to honor the brave men and women who gave up their lives in defense of our ideals and country. We owe our peace and democracy to them.

Please observe a minute of silence at 3:00pm local time to pay tribute to Americans who've died in military service.

 Visit's Memorial Day page to learn about the origins of this federal holiday; read veterans' stories; find patriotic songs; get tips on barbecue, boating, and swimming safety; and more!

Brief History:  The first Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. On Memorial Day, we honor the men and women in uniform who gave their lives in service to our Nation.  We must continue to remember the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers who have lost their lives on our behalf.  May they rest in peace.  Thank you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Palmetto Bay Village Voice presents: Evening with Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Wednesday, June 6

You are Invited To an Evening with
Mayor Carlos Gimenez At the Deering Estate
 Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez will update citizens on the state of the County and will speak on prospects for future improvement and development. 
The Mayor will take questions from the audience following his remarks
 Where:     The Ballroom of the Stone House - Deering Estate at Cutler
          16701 SW 72nd Avenue, Palmetto Bay
When:      Wednesday, June 6, 2012
          6:00 p.m. - Doors open and Refreshments served
          7:00 p.m. - Mayor Gimenez
The event is open to the Public

Presented by

Emergency Management Notification: Low Pressure system

Are you signed up for these alerts?  You should be:

The Office of Emergency Management is monitoring an area of low pressure  over the middle Florida Keys and Florida Bay in the Atlantic Ocean.

Memorial Day weekend event this Saturday - Wings Over Miami's Wings, Strings & Other Classics

Looking for a local fun-filled event to do with your family in keeping with Memorial Day Weekend? Make plants to attend the Wings Over Miami  Memorial Day Weekend salute to our Veterans! Set aside your Saturday for a fun-filled day of Bluegrass music and warbirds 

The gates open at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 26, 2012. The music starts at 1:00 p.m. and runs into the evening. Bring your comfortable lawn chairs and your favorite veteran! Please view the Wings Over Miami Memorial Day Weekend salute web page for full information.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or online. Online tickets will be picked up the day of the event at Will Call. Veterans and current military with proper IDs are guests of the museum.

If you go:
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Gates open 11 am – Music starts at 1 pm till 9 pm
Wings Over Miami Air Museum
Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport
14710 S. W. 128 Street
Miami, Florida 33196

The Wings Over Miami warbirds will also be on display and weather permitting, there will be "fly-bys" of WW2 era planes in formation. The pilots will be available to interact with attendees and pose for photos. Flying starts around 11:30 a.m. and will be intermittent throughout the early afternoon.

Additionally, as part of the museum's living history project, veterans are urged to attend and have their portrait taken by the museum's photographers. All veterans are invited to bring a military-time photo and a piece of memorabilia if they would like to share it in their photo.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

FLORIDA CELEBRATES WATER REUSE WEEK MAY 20-26 – Roll out the (Rain) Barrel! Next workshop.

I bet most of you did not know that this is Florida Water Reuse Week (May 20-26, 2012), designed to bring awareness of the importance of water reuse to meeting Florida's future water supply needs. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) urges Florida's residents and businesses to celebrate Water Reuse Week to learn more about how easy it is to reuse water on a daily basis.

The DEP states that Florida leads the nation in water reuse, reusing more than 660 million gallons of reclaimed water each day to conserve freshwater supplies and replenish rivers, streams, lakes and the aquifers.

Where is your rain barrel?

The recent rains demonstrate that the problem is not the yearly average rainfall, but what you are doing to protect and reuse that rainwater.

Barbara McAdam, Program Assistant, University of Florida/IFAS/Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Program, has provided information on the next local rain barrel workshop.  Miami-Dade Cooperative Extension does not sell rain barrels. Rain barrels are made available only to individuals who attend educational workshops. You may also complete the online presentation and answer 2 simple questions and schedule a time to pick up a rain barrel at our Extension Office. 

The next workshop in the South Dade area will be held

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Palmetto Council has not released any documents relating to the proposed “Neighborhood Protection Ordinance.” I will keep you up to date on any documents I receive, if a response is provided to the public records request

The Mayor and Council should release a draft providing specifics to date of the proposed "Neighborhood Protection Ordinance" no later than the start of the special council meeting of May 21, 2012,  There should be no need to make an official public records request. I made a Request for Public Records under Chapters 119 and 257, Florida Statutes, on the morning of May 16, 2012, seeking documents to date. I will be happy to share any documents I receive, but I have not received any response to this request (Click on the photo of the e-mail to view in larger size).  The lack of response to date could mean many things including the possibility that no documents, including drafts or notes, exist (highly improbable) or the possibility that current Palmetto Bay Mayor and Council have no intention of sharing their legislative proposals until release of agendas, a time when most of the work is completed (let's hope not). 

 It would be a mistake to exclude the public, not to keep the public informed or engaged on land development code issues.  The change in council membership from 2010 should not result in a change of policy away from the precedent of civic inclusion set in the years of he original council. The initial draft as well as any and all updates should be available on the Palmetto Bay official web site throughout the process. Transparency is not merely telling the property owners and public about the ordinance as it is enacted.  Transparency is truly involving everyone in the process.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Know your flood zone - in advance of any incidents

I am providing a direct link to the Miami-Dade County GIS flood map. CLICK HERE to view this flood zone map.  You can either enter your address or move and zoom in on the map.

Some readers to my blog, reviewing the May 17, 2012, post: Have your plan ready. Hurricane season starts June 1, What have you done to prepare for this year?, have also smartly ventured over to a prior posting lifted from (credit to) Eye on Miami post of March 29, 2012, EYE ON MIAMI: Know Your Flood Zone. By Geniusofdespair.

Part of proper risk assessment is determining what hazards and conditions lie around you.  You might also want to verify this flood risk, elevation information to make sure that your homeowners policies (flood and other special hazards) has you properly rated.

Update on the backyard feeder. I am testing the accuracy (or promise) of one of the greatest product consumer reviews of all time.

The Squirrel Lunchbox was in stock! My disappointment of May 12th was cured the following weekend (Sat., May 19th).  Petsmart had restocked their shelves with the Squirrel lunch box.  The lunchbox has been purchased and installed (no municipal building permit was required). 

Now, let’s see if the product lives up to the promise (or was it a warning) of the sole review, see: One of the best customer product reviews of all time! Sometime things do come if you provide for it. More backyard fun for the family, posted May 12, 2012.

There are a total of 4 photos for this posting below. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fly, Be Free, Live Life! | Sunny Isles

In Miami's Community Newspapers:

Great article by Julia Yarbough

I wholeheartedly agree and ask the same question: When was the last time you stopped, and took a good look at our beautiful, amazing South Florida environment? I mean, REALLY sat still and simply watched the myriad of incredible creatures and plants we share our space with? Each season, there is something that catches my eye and I am once again reminded of the incredible power of Mother Nature and how precious life truly is.

Upcoming Tropical Audubon Society (TAS) native plant sale

Native Plant Sale: Create an Urban Oasis!
Sat. - Sun., June 2-3| 5530 Sunset Drive
native plant sale

The next Tropical Audubon Society (TAS) native plant sale will be held Saturday through Sunday, June 2 & 3 at the Doc Thomas House,5530 Sunset Drive, for another native plant sale!  

CLICK HERE to view the TAS e-news update for more details.

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

TAS Members may also participate in an advance. early bird, pre-sale on Friday, June 1st from 4:30- 6:30 p.m. 

The parking entrance is on 55th avenue.

TAS will be open on:
Sat., 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sun., 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Have your plan ready. Hurricane season starts June 1

What have you done to prepare for this year?

A single storm can cause more than just dollars in damages.  It can cost human lives. We know from experience that people are more likely to be safer and have the ability to recover more quickly when they are properly prepared.

Have you put together a disaster preparedness kit and developed a plan to keep your family safe?  Is your insurance coverage adequate? Those living near the coast should be familiar with the applicable evacuation routes.  Everyone needs to take personal responsibility for yourself, your family and your pets.  By making proper preparations, you will allow the first responders to focus on helping the most vulnerable residents.

I have posted several important links below for hurricane / Disaster Preparedness information from FEMA, Miami-Dade County, Cutler Bay, Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay in one location for you.  There is also information on how to register with Miami-Dade Alerts, a wireless emergency alerting system.  Register for this free service and receive local weather and hurricane alerts to your computer or cell phone. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Palmetto Bay Jewelry Store Heist Caught On Camera « CBS Miami

Palmetto Bay Jewelry Store Heist Caught On Camera « CBS Miami

Does anyone recognize the photo of this suspect in the read hooded sweatshirt? CBS reports that a Palmetto Bay jewelry store, located at 9839 SW 184th Street, was broken into on May 5th/May 6th.

Police said the approximate value of the stolen property is $15,000.

The suspect was wearing a red, hooded sweatshirt, dark jean and orange gloves. If you recognize the suspect or know anything about the burglary, call Crime Stoppers at (305)471-TIPS (8477) or (866) 471-8477 or visit and select “Give a Tip”. You can also send a text message to 274637.

CLEO Institute - Film night - Friday, May 18th,m 8:00 PM

The CLEO Institute
Creative Learning and Engagement Opportunities
Friday, May 18, 2012, 8:00pm
Banyan Bowl, Pinecrest Gardens
Panel Discussion
Introduction by Caroline Lewis,
Panel moderated by the honorable Mayor Cindy Lerner,
Panelist include students, scientists, and community leaders.

Please RSVP
About the Film
A scheming raccoon fools a mismatched family of
forest creatures into helping him repay a debt of food,
by invading the new suburban sprawl that popped up while they were hibernating...and learns a lesson
about family himself.

Doggie MRIs: What Is Your Dog Thinking?

Doggie MRIs: What Is Your Dog Thinking?: Do you ever wonder what your dog is thinking, with his tail wagging, tongue out the side of his mouth? Does he really love you as much as you think? Researchers at Emory University are one step closer to finding out. They are now conducting...

Just as someone very close to me wishes for just 5 minutes to explain the rules to pets, maybe there is the capability for such communication, only it’s the pet that is wishing for the same 5 minutes for us to understand from them what they want to communicate.

ABC News, aired Wednesday, May 16, 2012, Doggie MRIs: What Is Your Dog Thinking?

Do you ever wonder what your dog is thinking, with his tail wagging, tongue out the side of his mouth? Does he really love you as much as you think?

Researchers at Emory University are one step closer to finding out. They are now conducting MRIs on dogs, looking for clues to what they’re thinking.

Read the full story about the training and the results of MRI testing that revealed interesting results. There was a clear difference in the scan in the area of the brain that processes feelings of reward.

“It proves they’ve transferred the meaning of the hand signal to something that’s important to them,” Berns said. “It’s really getting at the start of how a dog processes dog-to-human communication.”

And Berns said he thinks this new insight into what dogs are thinking will open many more doors in the future.

“I think this lets us see how the dogs are responding to us, and in a very practical sense, it’s going to show us better ways to communicate with them, better ways to train that are not exclusively dependent on treats and punishment.”

I see it coming.  Let the jokes begin about whether this research should move to other less sophisticated beings – such as politicians, to see whether MRI exams can reveal if politicians are any better than dogs at processing information from their constituents. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Teens raise money to bring opera to schools - Miami-Dade -

Congratulations girls, you continue to make your mothers proud!

Published in the Sunday, May 13, 2012, (Mother’s Day) Edition of The Miami Herald, Friends and Neighbors, Teens raise money to bring opera to schools, By Christina Mayo, Special to The Miami Herald, notes that:

When moms volunteer, their children usually do too. The girls of Junior Opera Guild who organized the group’s annual fashion show and silent auction just announced their efforts made $14,000. The money raised will help sponsor “Little Red Riding Hood” opera performances for more than 35 local elementary schools, Girl Scout opera workshops and to underwrite a national young artist vocal competition prize.

Teens raise money to bring opera to schools - Miami-Dade -

The article goes further that: Libby Evans, a sophomore at Gulliver Preparatory School, organized the fashion show. Her proud mom said Libby is also working on getting her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts.

Other committee chairs were: junior Leah Schwartz (printed program) who attends the School for Advanced Studies at Miami Dade College; and sophomores Mona Kabbani (silent auction) and Gabby Goldman (invitations/reservations) of Gulliver Prep; Meagan Butcher (raffle) of the Academy of Arts and Minds; and Katie Flinn (decorations) of Coral Reef Senior High.

“Junior Opera Guild is a wonderful group for any high school girl who loves music and wants to give back to the community,” said Eilika Podack, JOG President and senior at Ransom Everglades School.

Again, congratulations girls.  What a great story of volunteering published by the Herald on Mother's Day.

Happy Mother’s Day from Eugene Flinn & South Dade Updates

I wish all of our mothers and grandmothers a very special Mother's Day.

The roles our mothers have played in creating a beautiful and vibrant community cannot be overstated.  Beyond their own careers and successes, their love and attention can be seen throughout our communities in the quality and success of our youth. 

This important tradition started back in 1914 when the U.S. Congress designated the second Sunday in May each year as "Mother's Day."  That year, President Woodrow Wilson declared the first official U.S. Mother's Day - then designated an official legal holiday.

On this special day, we also must remember and thank the mothers whose sons and daughters are serving in our nation's armed services. Please also remember the mothers who shoulder the burden as a single parent as their loved one serves our great county.

Happy Mother's Day!