Monday, October 14, 2019

Our sick beaches. What you can't see can hurt you. You may have been swimming in sewage for days before alarms are raised. The yuck factor. County leadership lacking.

Is there a Miami-Dade County APP we can download to tell us whether it is safe to swim at the beach? Of course not! You have to take your chances. Enjoying our beaches should not be akin to rolling a roulette wheel - or worse, and pardon me, but going to local beaches should not be 'a crap shoot.' And, obviously what you can't see -- can hurt you (and your children)

Miami-Dade County has 'literally' been taking a dump in our tourist-promoted waters for far too long.  Think about how the beach warnings work (as best as they can): We don't know until days after the fact. After People have been soaking in sewage for days. This is known as the cherry on top the sundae - as pointed out by Herald Columnist Fabiola Santiago, "By the time the red flags go up by the lifeguard stand, ocean waters may have been contaminated with fecal matter for days."


So do you (or allow your kids to) swim and follow up a few days later to find out if you guessed right? Or do you simply wait days later to see if your body tells you that you guessed wrong when the illness sets in?

This can't be pointed out enough, it just ceases to be funny.  When will we get County leadership to step forward and fight for clean water. Beaches are Miami-Dade County's tourism engine. Act like it. 

RELATED PRIOR POSTS:  

October 3, 2019, CRAP! More swim advisories for 5 local beaches. This is ridiculous. And to think the County just passed a budget that does NOT invest significant money in repairing our Water Treatment infrastructure.

August 22, 2019, Not again! Our beaches have again failed to meet Health quality standards. Clean this up and promote clean water during Super Bowl Week.

Swim at your own risk, and only if you have the stomach for it. Apparently we are asking people to swim in our toilet. Yuck!

In Miami-Dade County - the beaches are definitely swim at your own risk! Is anyone else sick of this (CRAP)?

Eugene Flinn

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Update on Malbrook intersection issue - discussion of options to threatened removal of 4 way stop signs on 87th Avenue. Meeting noticed for 7 PM, Oct. 17, 2019.

At least someone still listens - the special council meeting is on for October 17, but it will be more of a discussion of options, rather than the proposed rush to lawsuit (I cited the actual language in the prior post).

Obviously the so-called ‘solution’ presented for approval at the Oct 4 council meeting (negotiated outside of resident input) was not acceptable to those most affected. Their voices should matter. The agenda item was denied by a unanimous vote. One strange aspect is that one of the no votes came from the very official who claimed to have negotiated it.

The residents of the affected areas should be involved in the discussion and any decisions made. We had involved them in numerous Town Hall meetings prior to December 2018, when the administrations changed. I recommend that Palmetto Bay reinvigorate the interactive town hall meetings. 

I asked the Village Council Members in my prior post of 10/9 to tread carefully and not file a lawsuit unless it has a solid chance of success, but also be mindful of what future ramifications are for loss of significant partnership, including placing the entire Old Cutler Road traffic relief program on hold creating traffic nightmares for years to come. 

It appears that some have listened as the actual notice differs from the initial saber rattling and reads as follows:

SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING
Thursday, October 17, 2019 - 7:00 PM
Village Hall Municipal Center, 9705 East Hibiscus Street
The Village of Palmetto Bay shall be conducting a Special Council Meeting on Thursday, October 17, 2019 at approximately 7:00 p.m. at Village Hall, 9705 E. Hibiscus Street, Palmetto Bay, FL 33157. This Special Council Meeting for the purposes of discussing an email received by Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) and requesting the County to leave the 4-way stop signs located on SW 174 Street and SW 87 Avenue, including discussing on filing an emergency motion for injunctive relief in the 11th Circuit Court against the County to prohibit them from removing the stop signs due to public safety at least until the county commission can rule on this. Discussion will also ensue to petition the Miami Dade County Board of County Commissioners for relief on this matter by directing the County Mayor to stop DTPW from forcing the Village to remove the stop signs in the event the action would create a public safety hazard as in the case of SW 174 Street and SW 87 Avenue. (all underline emphasis added)
Calmer heads on the Village Council may be prevailing. Palmetto Bay should avoid reestablishing a reputation for being mired in litigation. It took significant work to resolve the era of litigation relating to Palmer.

The actual meeting notice provides a much broader range of topics and leaves open the possibility of litigation, if required and deemed to be a viable option. This is for the best of our residents and prevents a further souring of relations with MDC and MDC DTPW.

There is nothing in the notice as to whether there will be any re visitation on the Mangowood 4-ways stop (SW 82nd Avenue at 148th St.), given the change in aggressiveness toward Miami-Dade County.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Update - I am been advised that the Grand Opening of MDFR station 62 has been reset for 10:00 AM on November 12, 2019.

UPDATED NOTICE - CHANGE OF DATE  - I was just advised that the grand opening of MDFR Station 62 has been re-set to 10:00 AM, November 12, 2019, 10:00 AM.

Many have worked hard for this station to become a reality. I am looking forward to seeing the permanent station come on line!

Eugene Flinn
This updates my prior post of Monday, October 7, 2019, Good News! Grand opening of MDFR station 62 is Thursday October 24th at 10 am

BREAKING NEWS! Palmetto Bay Vice mayor will call for a Special Council meeting to discuss filing suit against Miami-Dade County.

Will Palmetto Bay face off against Miami-Dade County, specifically Miami-Dade County Transit (DTPW) in court? If so, what are the relative gains versus risks, both immediate to the lawsuit as well as for future relations with Miami-Dade County?

Miami-Dade County notified Village Staff and Member of the Village Council that the 4-way stop signs temporarily placed on 87th Avenue at 174th  will be taken down. If my memory is correct, these 4 way stop signs were placed there conditioned as a temporary measure, only for so long as it took for the Village of Palmetto Bay to fund, design and construct a traffic circle at this location (with County approval). The Village Council agreed to this, but then voted down the traffic circle at the October 4, 2019, Regular Village Council meeting.

It is my understanding that the deal was: no traffic circle, no signs.

Response to date? The following was put out from a resident, providing a response from the Vice Mayor to (their) email: 
I (Vice Mayor John Dubois) have called for special council meeting on Oct 17that 7pm for a resolution to instruct the City Attorney to file an emergency motion for preliminary injunctive relief against the County to stay them from forcing us to remove the 4-way stop signs for reasons of public safety until we have a ruling from the county commission on this matter. The resolution also includes instructions for a petition to the county commission to instruct their DPW to cease and desist from their action to have the stop signs removed. It shouldn't be a problem to leave the stop signs there.
I will not be supporting a traffic circle there or anywhere else unless there is a public safety benefit.All of the data I have seen indicates that traffic circles cause more accidents than stop lights and stop signs.
I spent 20 years living the capital of the US for traffic circles - Wash DC. Even thought they were typically much larger circles, they too were the culprits for about triple the number of accidents vs. traffic lights and stop signs.
Please note that there is no notice of any such meeting posted on the Village website as of 2:15 PM, Wednesday, 10/9/2019.  

10/10/2019 update- the meeting has been added to the village website, listed on the Public Meetings Section (CLICK HERE).

RECOMMENDATIONS: Please weigh the benefits and risks. This will be interesting. Miami-Dade County has been both partner and opponent to Palmetto Bay at various times on traffic issues. We have received millions in traffic related Grants from Miami-Dade County including the $7.5 million obtained under my leadership that was applied to the Franjo Road revitalization. See: July 19, 2016, Final approval from our County Commission- $7.5 million GOB grant APPROVED. More good news for Palmetto Bay. Another grant obtained under my advocacy was a $1 Million TAP Grant for mobility improvements (CLICK HERE). I even pushed and obtained the grant currently being used for the FREEBEE - CLICK HERE - TPO Service Development Grant Program awarded to Palmetto Bay - $225,000 for this upcoming year, year 1of a 3 year grant.

I ask the Village Council Members to tread carefully and not file a lawsuit unless it has a solid chance of success, but also be mindful of what future ramifications are for loss of significant partnership, including placing the entire Old Cutler Road traffic relief program on hold creating traffic nightmares for years to come.

There is much I have written, much more that I could write. But a lawsuit changes the dynamic and could put all other projects at risk, that are far too numerous to list here.

Why not Mangowood? Finally, why now, this lawsuit for Malbrook, and not discuss taking the same action in regard to the past removal of the 4 way stop signs the County removed from Mangowood? CLICK HERE to read more about Mangowood, past traffic town hall meetings and work to find comprehensive traffic solutions.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Who lost in the Village Manager fiasco of Monday, October 7, 2019? Perhaps everyone who wanted improvement to our village as confidence is shattered. This should be cause for concern as when a "partner" pulls out like this, it indicates an unhealthy, unstable government, expect a poor product in the foreseeable future.

I certainly did not see this coming. It is shocking to see a group like I3 use the language seen in an e-mail (posted below) to the Palmetto Bay Village Council. But as one saying goes, 'play silly games, "win" silly prizes'. The question is who terminated who and what will this mean for our downtown area?

Perhaps it is time for this current Mayor and Village Council to simply close up shop and scrap any planning. The word is out and it will be very difficult to bring new quality groups in to work with the present leadership. Work to repair the damage to reputation will take much more than a few staged events with live feeds and selfies.  What occurred Monday, October 7th, 2019, was a figurative torching of the reputation of Palmetto Bay. So many worked so hard for a positive image. Petty politics and scapegoating hit the fan.

It is important to contrast the behavior and actions exhibited at the Special Council Meeting of Monday, 10/7/2019 with the June 11, 2019 article that appeared in Miami Today, by Jesse Schecker, entitled "Karyn Cunningham Palmetto Bay mayor seeks creation of vibrant downtown".  The controlled village press fails to match the gutter performance. 'Resident-centric' change was promised, but to date, only chaos,  and unreasonable delay has been delivered. One has to wonder if this I3 project was to be a cornerstone in what the current Mayor had planned for the Palmetto Bay; what she termed (but did not fully disclose) “…creating a vibrant downtown that attracts new residents, businesses and visitors.” (emphasis added)

But now one has to wonder what will ever be created as never, never, have I seen a communication such as this from an alleged Public/Private partner:
Dear Council,
I’m writing because it has been brought to our attention that Ed Silva - Village Manager, is being terminated. 
It is not our business surrounding the issues related to his termination. However, Mr. Silva has been very helpful in his efforts to coordinate and provide leadership in the Village’s downtown area that provided i3 with the comfort and understanding of the opportunity to partner with the Village. Through his representation of the residents and the Council, i3 was afforded the opportunity and was rewarded with the approval to work with a task force, directed by the Vice Mayor and Village Manager, towards a development plan and financial structure that would be presented to Council for it’s approval. It has been clear to us and gave us significant comfort that his sponsorship and significant contribution towards the overall downtown redevelopment plan, coupled with his professional expertise prior to joining the Village as Manager, would help i3 navigate our planning efforts and negotiations with the Task Force. We sensed we could achieve a workable plan that the residents, Council, participating landowners, and i3 could gain excitement and consensus on.
Without Mr. Silva’s participation in this process as Manager, our understanding of and confidence in the Village’s plan to proceed is uncertain. i3 has already invested significant capital in getting to this point and we simply are too uncertain of a path to proceed. We are very disappointed to get to this point as we have spent many hours and days cultivating a plan and, even more importantly, a relationship of trust with many residents and Council. However, we simply cannot proceed without key, approved team members. 
I am happy to discuss this in person with any of the Council members or staff. I know you have a trust of your residents in making these decisions, which you don’t take lightly. However, I also trust that you understand our responsibility in making decisions based upon a path forward that is supported by clarity, stewardship, and sound business practices. This termination, after all of these months of work and establishing a path forward, unfortunately creates uncertainty that we aren’t able to navigate.
Respectfully,
RENE JOUBERT
Principal
i3

This is cause for concern, regardless of your position on the project: I may not have been a fan of this unsolicited bid, but wow, a pullout after substantial investment - I am told a '6 figure' investment by this private partner in the process before the pullout. Perhaps the so-called task force was seen as a sham. Perhaps any commitments made in private by the members of the village council fail to match the performance in public.  What is next? We shall see. 
CLICK HERE to view prior posts  relating to this Unsolicited bid project (I remain on the record and transparent).

More development! LOOK FOR A FUTURE ARTICLE relating to a grand new MEGA development that may be coming soon to a Palmetto Bay Village Council near you! 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Good News! Grand opening of MDFR station 62 is Thursday October 24th at 10 am

UPDATED NOTICE - CHANGE OF DATE  - info updated on 10-9-2019 2:52 pm - MDFR advises that the grand opening has been moved to November 12, 2019, same time (10:00 AM) and same location.

From the good news department:

I am pleased to advise that the grand opening of MDFR station 62 is set for Thursday October 24th at 10:00 AM.

Many have worked hard for this station to become a reality. I am looking forward to seeing the permanent station come on line!

Eugene Flinn

Interested residents have the right to speak at any/every meeting of the Village Council

Monday - October 7, 2019: 
I have been asked whether Residents will be able to speak at the Special Council meeting set for (tonight), Monday, October 7, 2019, at 6:50 PM. The short answer is “YES”. Section 286.0114(2) provides: “Members of the public shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a proposition before a board or commission.”

Note that the single substantive agenda item is in fact noticed as "3. RESOLUTION WITH PUBLIC COMMENT." Kudos to our Village Attorney and Clerk for the proper notice of this meeting (as provided by agenda - I do not recall receipt of a courtesy e-mail on this special meeting).

I remain proud that under my terms as Mayor, Palmetto Bay always had a section of the agenda for Public Comment from our very first agenda. 

Were you aware that while the Florida Sunshine Law has long granted the public a right of access to such meetings, there was no general requirement for public comment until 2013, when the legislature enacted F.S. 286.0114.

Section 286.0114(2) provides: “Members of the public shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a proposition before a board or commission.”

Eugene Flinn

Friday, October 4, 2019

“Encouraging” the Palmetto Bay Village Manager to leave. Considering Section 215.425(4)(a), and Section 215.425(4)(a)1., Florida Statutes. May a local government adopt a personnel policy providing severance pay to employees terminated without cause or who submit a resignation.


I have been asked if the Palmetto Bay Manager can receive severance if he tenders a resignation.  CLICK HERE to view the current proposed resolution placed on a Special Council Meeting agenda for consideration Monday, October 7, 2019, at 6:50 PM.  There is a single item:
 

The short answer is YES, a local government may adopt a personnel policy providing severance pay to employees terminated without cause or who submit a resignation.

This question has been asked before. Florida Law was amended restricting severance to a maximum value of 20 weeks.

CLICK HERE to view the Florida Attorney General Opinion - AGO 2016-14.Municipalities - Public Employees - Severance Pay

The Attorney General’s Opinion “in sum” was as follows:
1. Section 215.425(4)(a), Florida Statutes, permits a local government to adopt a personnel policy providing severance pay to employees terminated without cause or who submit a resignation.
2. Section 215.425(4)(a)1., Florida Statutes, limits such severance pay to 20 weeks. 
3. The amendment to section 215.425, Florida Statutes, operated prospectively, and therefore, under the South Daytona ordinance that existed prior to the effective date of July 1, 2011, the City Manager retains the discretion to decide whether to provide severance pay to City employees who were hired before that date.  
4. Section 215.425(4)(d)2., Florida Statutes, provides that an early retirement program that complies with part VII of Chapter 112, Florida Statutes, is not subject to the limitations on severance pay found in section 215.425, Florida Statutes.
A POSSIBLE IMPORTANT DISTINCTION: The question, however, is whether a ‘one time’ resolution, as proposed for Monday, October 7, 2019, specifically tailored to the current Village Manager, properly (legally) constitutes “… adopting a personnel policy providing severance pay to employees terminated without cause or who submit a resignation” as it appears to be a one-time, limited inducement, not a long-term policy of impact to the entire group of employees.

NY Government for improved natural/recreational facilities. “DEC: Rail line should be deemed “interim trail”.

"Railbanking" "interim trail" NY Department of Environmental Conservation works to improve its recreational and natural infrastructure. Turning an unused rail line to trail. FLorida has an extensive Rails to Trails program.

The "DEC" refers to the state of New York Department of Environmental Conservation. I am promoting an interesting read from an upstate NY Media source. DEC: Rail line should be deemed 'interim trail' by Don Lehman, the Post Start. How things differ from NY to Florida. I would love to research why in NY it appears that unused rail lines can be declared "abandoned" and turned to a usable trail, even if 'interim", yet Florida grants rail easements that results in extensive property rights, costing significant dollars plus density development when the Florida rail lines are equally 'abandoned'. NY is obviously a more environmentally friendly State than Florida.

It appears that NY has a process that allows for use agreements between the DEC and railroads which  allows the railroads to avoid substantial maintenance and liability costs while permitting DEC to coordinate with concerned municipalities and other stakeholders to ensure the line benefits the region in the future. Nice. It appears to be a win/win.

Prior RELATED POSTS:
February 6, 2016, Dunedin to Tarpon Springs 1 30 16 - Riding the Pinellas Trail
and
July 29, 2015, The Warren County Bike Trail - I contend that this is a model for the Ludlum Trail

Thursday, October 3, 2019

CRAP! More swim advisories for 5 local beaches. This is ridiculous. And to think the County just passed a budget that does NOT invest significant money in repairing our Water Treatment infrastructure.

It just ceases to be funny.  When will we get County leadership to step forward and fight for clean water. Beaches are Miami-Dade County's tourism engine. Act like it. We need ACTION, not officials who merely "sound alarms." We get plenty of alarms from our local news media - what triggered me for this latest blog post? See:

Miami Herald online: October 3, 2019: Swimming advisory in effect for 5 Miami-Dade beaches for too much fecal matter, by David J. Neal.

As reported by David Neal in the Miami Herald:
The Department of Health in Miami-Dade County on Wednesday posted swimming advisories for five Miami-Dade beaches for too much fecal matter.
The beaches in or near Key Biscayne (Crandon North, Virginia Key, Key Biscayne Beach Club, Cape Florida) were joined by Surfside 93rd Street as waters the DOH recommends swimmers avoid.
The bacteria enterococci count in the waters at these beaches, according to the DOH, “may pose an increased risk of illness...” (Emphasis added)
The big flush: Miami-Dade County officials want us to believe they are concerned about sea level rise. Perhaps their concern is that a rising sea level in Miami-Dade is more like having our community toilet overflow, spewing its sickening contents into our community!

I'm sick of this _ _ _ _ (insert expletive)! Maybe we need to reverse the health warnings relating to swim advisories. Just tell us when we CAN safely swim and enjoy our beaches.

This is Miami-Dade's "New Normal": The new requirement that we check both the weather and the pollution advisories before we decide to go to the beach: Child: "Mommy, can we go to the beach today?" Parent: "Let's me check first to see if the toxin levels are acceptable." Note the use of the term "acceptable" rather than clean - yuck!

RELATED PRIOR POST:  August 22, 2019, Not again! Our beaches have again failed to meet Health quality standards. Clean this up and promote clean water during Super Bowl Week.

Swim at your own risk, and only if you have the stomach for it. Apparently we are asking people to swim in our toilet. Yuck!

Is anyone else sick of this (CRAP)?

Eugene Flinn

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Update on Administrative action filed by Petitioner, YACHT CLUB BY LUXCOM, LLC., Four (4) discovery demands filed Tuesday, 10/1. Read the details.

October 1, 2019, was another busy day in regarding to gathering discovery in preparation for the upcoming December Final Hearing of this case. Here is a list of what was filed on the DOAH Court docket on Tuesday, 10/1:
  • Petitioner, YACHT CLUB BY LUXCOM, LLC, served the VILLAGE OF PALMETTO BAY COUNCIL, Interrogatories #1 through # 29. CLICK HERE to review the notice.
  • Petitioner, YACHT CLUB BY LUXCOM, LLC, served the VILLAGE OF PALMETTO BAY, Interrogatories #1 through # 29. CLICK HERE to review this notice – and once again – the actual interrogatory questions are not posted online, merely the notice of service.
  • Expert Witness Interrogatories #1 - #15 were served by YACHT CLUB BY LUXCOM, LLC, upon the VILLAGE OF PALMETTO BAY. CLICK HERE to review this notice.
  • An Additional Request for Production was filed, this is a new request entitled "Petitioner's Expert Witness Request for Production of Documents", seeking Expert reports and communications as well as materials that were/are used by the Expert. CLICK HERE to review this 7 page request that seeks the following specified items:
1.                   All documents reviewed by the Experts.
2.                  All documents relied upon by the Experts.
3.                  All reports prepared by the Experts or under their direction.
4.                  All written communications (whether by email, text, letter, fax or otherwise) between the Village or its attorneys and the Experts.
5.                  All written communications (whether by email, text, letter, fax or otherwise) between the Experts and anyone other than the Village.
6.                  All engagement/retainer agreements for the Experts.
7.                   All documents reflecting all amounts paid to the Experts.
8.                  All pictures and videos taken by, reviewed by or relied upon by the Experts.
9.                  Each Experts up to date resume or curriculum vitae.
10.               All documents of any kind that relate to the opinions to be offered by the Experts.

Note – for all 4 requests, all of the interrogatories and the documents requested are to be answered and returned by the Respondent within thirty (30) days from the date of service. Obviously this time frame may be extended based upon request/agreement of the attorneys or by approval of the court.

Please note – for all items – 1-3, the Interrogatories listed above, the actual interrogatory questions are not posted online, merely the notices of service (this is consistent with the rules of procedure).

CLICK HERE to review prior explanation as to the impact of what was filed/served, including an explanation as to What are Interrogatories as well as an explanation of Requests for Production of Documents. 

CLICK HERE to view PRIOR RELATED POSTS regarding this LUXCOM administrative proceeding before DOAH.

SPECIAL NOTE: Palmetto Bay officials have continued to not to update the “litigation page” online to include any information relating to this action (or other recent actions) on the official village website (at least as of  6:30 PM, Tuesday, 10/01/2019). Posting would be for courtesy, as it is not required, but would aid in transparency. As pointed out previously, many of the documents from the prior administrations have been removed from public access online. 

After all, if DOAH can post these (and many other) documents online, why can’t Palmetto Bay?

Eugene Flinn

October 1 - National Dog Day #AdoptDontShop

It's National Black Dog Day.

This should not be single day event. Officially, National Black Dog Day on October 1st encourages the adoption of a dog in the darker shades. Black dogs are less likely to be adopted for no other reason than their coloring.
Our Lil Timmy was adopted from Miami-Dade Animal Services. It has been my pleasure to adopt other dogs from our local groups including Friends Forever Rescue, Paws 4 You.

We have cats that have adopted us as well as through Cat Network and Love Future Foundation.

There are many groups that deserve mention and don’t get enough credit for their hard work, the member devotion to animals. Think of them when you are ready for a pet - #AdoptDontShop