Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Responses from the Palmetto Bay Vice Mayor and 2 Councilmembers on the VIllage Attorney search

There was no response from either the Mayor or our district 3 council member. The actual responses are not as important as the fact as to whether they would care to respond at all.  I posted a serious question last week: What is the plan? Request sent to current mayor and council regarding the Palmetto Bay Village Attorney search, seeking answers on how they will proceed on selecting the next village attorney.  Who they planned on selecting was not the question, the issue is whether they have a plan for selecting.

I promised that the answers will be posted today, Tuesday, December 31. Here they are for all to read.

Click "Read more" immediately below to read the responses from Vice Mayor Dubois, as well as council members Tim Schaffer and Patrick Fiore:

From: pfiore@palmettobay-fl.gov
To: EugeneFlinn@aol.com
Sent: 12/27/2013 7:38:38 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: RE: Request for comments on the village attorney search

Be very happy to meet with you, and share my thoughts, and answers to the below questions.

From: pfiore@palmettobay-fl.gov
To: EugeneFlinn@aol.com
Sent: 12/27/2013 7:45:08 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: RE: Request for comments on the village attorney search

I would like to add that when the selection was made in October, I did not, to the best of my recollection, receive any e mails regarding retaining or not retaining,  the former attorney nor any of the applicants at that time. There was public comment at that hearing, but as I recall no one came forward. I believe you can verify this thru our municipal clerk.
From: tschaffer@palmettobay-fl.gov
To: EugeneFlinn@aol.com
Sent: 12/30/2013 11:37:38 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: RE: Request for comments on the village attorney search


First of all I would like to know what residents are requesting inquires from you regarding Village Attorney selection?  I also do not care what the Miami Herald has to say.  In addition, if the previous Councils, of which you were the presiding Mayor of most, would have done due diligence in determining if we had an adequate Village Attorney, this current Council would not have to be doing the research we are now required to do in the way of Village Attorney due diligence.  It would have been nice if the previous Councils, of which you were the presiding Mayor of most, had been presented with a list of questions on how the Village Attorney was selected.  It's clear that this Council is now doing what should have been done over the last 10 years, of which you were the presiding Mayor of most.  It's funny that you ask these questions now.  What prevented you from asking the previous Councils, of which you were presiding Mayor of most, these questions about the selection of the then sitting Village Attorney?  Could it be you are thinking of running for Mayor in 2014 and have to start finding issues to criticize the current Council's decisions in an attempt to protect past Councils' decisions, of which you were the presiding Mayor of most?  You now have my kind response.  I hope I'm under the 250 words that you require for posting in your blog, that no one reads.

Tim Schaffer
Village of Palmetto Bay
Council Member District 2

From: JDubois@eyecast.com
To: EugeneFlinn@aol.com
CC: RWilliams@PalmettoBay-FL.gov
Sent: 12/27/2013 5:29:36 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: RE: Request for comments on the village attorney search

My answers are inserted below …

Thank You


From: EugeneFlinn@aol.com [mailto:EugeneFlinn@aol.com]
Sent: Friday, December 27, 2013 4:50 PM
Subject: Request for comments on the village attorney search

Dear Mayor and Council (emailed separately to each)

I have received many inquiries regarding the candidates for village attorney.  I also have questions myself, so rather than speculate, I am addressing the following specific questions to you. 

The applicants have put in their bids for Village Attorney, the bids were publicly opened and I assume that the bids have been disseminated to all of you, so you all are now able to communicate with the public regarding the Village Attorney search.
> Yes, they have put their bids in, no, I have not received any copies of the bids.

Note that these questions go to the process.  I am specifically asking you NOT to address your choice or specifics of any candidate at this time.  You obviously need the time to carefully assess and consider all the fine applicants.

This is an official request for a response to questions posted below.  I ask that you limit your Reponses to a total of 250 words. Your responses will be made available on my blog at www.eugeneflinn.blogspot.com

1.       The Miami Herald reported on December 24th (Six law firms apply for Palmetto Bay village attorney) that:
Last time the job was put out to bid, a selection committee comprised of staff and two outside attorneys ranked the three firms that had applied based on experience and references. The ranking was then given to the council for consideration. This time, however, there will not be a selection committee, and the firms will not be ranked before the council votes to fill the position.

Question: What is the process you intend to move forward to make the final decision?
>  The selection committee had the effect of significantly slowing down the time line between when the bids were submitted and when the council voted on them.  Since the Village Manager is the Chief Procurement Officer for the village by charter, in the absence of specific instructions to the contrary, it is entirely up to the manager to decide if he wants a selection committee or the use of any method for ranking the bids before they are submitted to the council.  You will have to ask him why he chose not to use a selection committee this time around.  I intend on publically interviewing the candidates as I did the last time we were supposed to select a city attorney; same process.

A.      Do you intend to simply discuss and vote on the candidates or will there be a citizen’s or council subcommittee created to review and narrow the list? If so, how do you intend to solicit and choose the members?
> I would expect interested citizens to speak publically or email council members if they are so inclined.
B.      Do you intend to seek written public comment on the applicants? If so, will these comments be shared with any or all of the candidates prior to any public debate on the applicants?  If so, will there be a public announcement soliciting comments?
> For the most part, will follow the same process as last time.
C.      Will there be a public hearing where people can come forward to comment on any of the applicants?  If so, how will notice to be public be given?
> Yes, same as last time.

2.       Will the specifics of any final contract for services be discussed or determined before selection or will that be negotiated after the finalist is chosen?  Who do you intend to do the final negotiation on the final contract for the new village attorney?
> I asked the village manager to put certain requirements into the RFP the first time, he advised me after it was issued he had not done so and these issues could be negotiated after selection.  This is not the way I would run a procurement process, I believe in maximum transparency up front, however, it is not my call.

3.       What specific criteria are you, as a sitting member of the village council, applying in reaching your decision on who should be our next village attorney? This answer could obviously be very lengthy, so feel free to simply list bullet points, rather than lengthy narrative, if so required.
> Credentials, reputation for legal competency, experience as a city attorney, expect cost of doing business and most importantly integrity.  I believe all of them will end up at the same hourly rate, however, the structure of their entity will have a significant bearing on how efficiently they use their firm’s resources to manage our legal business – that will have the largest single impact on our cost.

4.       Have you given consideration as to the term of the contract? If so, have you also given consideration as to whether it will automatically end and go out to bid or simply have a review process?
> I do not agree with the Chief Procurement Officers decision to put a 3 year contract in place.  I believe all executive level positions (charter officers) of the village should be as it is implied by the language of our charter – to serve at the pleasure of the council.
Employment should be at will with no term contract in place unless the individual case warrants a special exception.

5.       Is there anything else you would like to add in a response to the public (keeping within the 250 word limit).
> Nothing else.

I do intend to post the responses (or indicate that an inquiry was made, but that you declined to respond) on my blog. What you send will be what I post.

Please provide your responses no later than 7 AM this coming Tuesday morning, December 31, 2013.

Thank you in advance for your consideration and kind response. I look forward to hearing from you.

Eugene Flinn


  1. To Mr. Dobois - Thank you for answering the questions.

    To Mr. Fiore - While I'm happy to see you at least replied, I am disappointed that you did not answer the questions. Did you not understand Mr. Flinn's request to have written responses that could be posted and read by others?

    To Mr. Schaffer - I have never had the opportunity to speak with you, but having read your response, I have learned a great deal about who you are. You are rude and clearly unwilling to do the job in which you were elected to do - to serve ALL the residents of Palmetto Bay. Mr. Flinn is entitled to have his questions answered without being verbally attacked. With such an attitude, you should not be in elected office.

    To the council members who did not have the courtesy to respond to Mr. Flinn's questions - Your lack of response strengthens the perception that you do not respect the village residents. You do not deserve to be reelected. Mr. Flinn asked a simple procedural question, why the lack of transparency?

  2. It is nice to see the level of lack of respect these officials have for their residents (I was being sarcastic).

  3. Gene, did you really expect responses?

  4. We will remember in November.

  5. It did not look hard to respond. Why not make a response, even if short to show you received the request and care about responding.