Friday, January 17, 2014

A special council meeting called without an agenda. What is the rush?

Palmetto Bay officials call a Special Council meeting and post it on the Village Facebook site, creating the event at 4:21 PM on Wednesday, January 15, 2014.  What could be so important?

The only hint of the topic is as follows:

"The purpose of this meeting shall be to consider several items related to the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force project."
This is strange and out of character.  Why aren't the specific "several items" important enough to be disclosed to the public if they are important enough to require consideration at a special meeting, rathing than waiting only 12 additional days until the next regular meeting of the village council?

I was part of many items relating to transparency, as Palmetto Bay's founding Mayor, one of which was implementing a rule that items must be published to the public 7 days in advance in order for it to make the regular agenda.*  The next regular council meeting is Monday, February 3, 2014, meaning that the item must be posted on a published agenda no later than Monday January 27.
Everyone should note that Facebook is social media is is not a substitue for official notification.  There are two main locations where interested persons go to for official notifications: publication in the Miami Herald or on the Village Website.  No agenda has been published as of noon Friday, January 17, 2014, for this special council meeting. Will the public be given an opportunity to view these items in advance, if so, when, Monday, January 24 is a legal Holiday and Village Offices will be closed.
I hope that this blog post prods our village elected officials into doing the right think and getting an appropriate agenda posted in time for those of us to interested in seeing how our tax dollars are being spent can review these items over the weekend, not rushed, last minute.  At least, I hope that is not how our present mayor and village council do business. 
Sec. 2-44. Meetings.
(b) Special meetings.
Special meetings may be held on the call of the mayor or three councilmembers upon no less than 48 hours' notice to the public, or such shorter time as a majority of the council deems necessary in case of an emergency affecting the life, health, property or the public peace. Upon receipt of a call for a special meeting, the village clerk shall immediately give notice to each member of the council, stating the date, time, place and specific purpose of the meeting. If the village clerk is unable to give notice to each councilmember, upon the exercise of reasonable diligence, the failure to contact a member shall not affect the legality of the meeting so long as a quorum is present. An agenda shall be prepared for the meeting and no other items may be added, discussed or acted upon at the meeting. (emphasis added) 
*Sec. 2-47. Agenda procedures. (c) Seven-day rule. A copy of each agenda item shall be furnished to the council not later than seven calendar days prior to a vote on the item. This rule shall be deemed waived unless it is asserted by a councilmember before the board takes action on the item. If a councilmember asserts a violation of the seven-day rule, then the item may not be voted upon until the next regularly scheduled meeting or at a special meeting of the council. This rule is not applicable to special and emergency meetings. (emphasis added)
Please Village Officials, can you please provide reasonable notice as to how our money is being spent on the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force (DRTF) efforts?

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