Friday, January 31, 2014

Will poor lil Punxsutawney Phil do any better in predicting the end of Winter 2014? Reminder - Groundhog's Day is Sunday.

Forget Superbowl Sunday. The big money in Las Vegas this weekend is on what we will hear from Punxsutawney Phil. You can also forget the weather channel as we will get the REAL forecast this Sunday, February 2nd, as Punxsutawney Phil provides his wisdom on Groundhogs day 2014. 

Will we see a repeat of the controversy of 2013 when many accused poor lil Punxsutawney Phil of fraud or incompetence in his prediction.  He promised an early end to winter in 2013, but that is not what we had.  Many are looking for early relief this year so the pressure is on you Phil!

HISTORY: 1886 is the first recorded or
official Groundhog Day and was celebrated on February 2nd in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The following year, an official ceremony was held at Gobbler’s Knob and “Phil” was named and proclaimed the one and only official weather predicting groundhog.

This is quite an annual event. The population of
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is normally 6,700 residents. The record attendance for a single Groundhog Day event is reported to be 38,000.00.

Nothing we did not suspect. WASHINGTON: Fossils of Neanderthal DNA clump in human genome

WASHINGTON: Fossils of Neanderthal DNA clump in human genome - Politics Wires - Miami

The truth may be closer than you think.  Recent reports (as reported in the Miami Herald, link to article above) report that many of the genes that help determine most people's skin and hair are more Neanderthal than not, according to two new studies that look at the DNA fossils hidden in the modern human genome.

So think twice before you call your knuckle dragging friend a "Neanderthal" as the truth may hurt.  You may also want to look at yourself in the mirror before you cast that aspersion.

The reports go on to reveal that: About 50,000 years ago, modern day humans migrated out of Africa north to Europe and East Asia and met up with furrow-browed Neanderthals that had been in the colder climates for more than 100,000 years. Some of the two species mated. And then the Neanderthals died off as a species — except for what's left inside of us.

Scientists isolated the parts of the modern human genetic blueprint that still contain Neanderthal remnants.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An evening at Palmer Trinity School. Update on the community meetings - Tues, Feb 4, at 6 PM

Update Meeting Announced: Officials at the Palmer Trinity School have considered the comments and concerns voiced at the community meeting held last October 19 and have scheduled an updated community meeting, again inviting neighbors to hear a presentation on the updated plans. 

This meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 6:00 PM.  The meeting will be held at the main dining room on campus at the Palmer Trinity School, 7900 SW 176 Street.

This is an update to the prior Oct 16, 2013, post: Breakfast at Palmer. An open invitation to meet and discuss Palmer Trinity future plans


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Update - What is a Market Absorption study? Sample of a study

I have posted a link to a study commissioned by Broward County Florida for their Broward Real Estate Market Overview, Broward County Governmental Center Downtown Campus.  This study was completed "in association with Dickey Consulting Services; Bermello, Ajamil & Partners; Real Estate Research Consultants" 

The scope of this study is stated in the document's introduction:
This market analysis addresses the geographical area of Broward County sometimes referred to or defined as the Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, FL Metropolitan Division, a subset of the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach Metropolitan Area. From here forward, this report will refer to this market area solely as Broward County.
The particular markets studied within this geographical area include those of multi-family housing, offices, retail, warehouses and hotels.
The data represents a timeline of five years past to five years out and includes forecasts from and Property & Portfolio Research.
CLICK HERE to view the 21 page document. 

This may be a representative sample of what Palmetto Bay officials may expect to receive.  We can also use this document to weigh the projections released in this October 2006 document with the realities encountered in 2014, 7 years, 3 months later.

For the starting point on this series, see: Palmetto Bay Special Council meeting. What is a Market Analysis and Absorption Study? Know before you go!

Friday, January 24, 2014

USPS Rates to Rise for 2014 - last chance to buy in advance of the increase

Effective Jan. 26, First-Class Mail® Forever® Stamps will increase by three cents to $0.49, postcard rates will increase by one cent to $0.34 and First-Class Mail International® Global Forever stamps will increase five cents to $1.15.

Have you stocked up on First-Class Mail® Forever® Stamps in advance of the price increase?

Remember Fly- By - Wire model planes - Come see the model airplane demonstrations this Sat, Jan 25 - 10:30 AM to 4 PM

Its a family thing, not a political thing.  Weather (wind) permitting: Wings Over Miami Air Museum asks:
Are you old enough to remember the model airplanes before radio control planes?  
Come on out tomorrow, Saturday, January 25 and see Fly by Wire demonstrations There may be some "dog fights" as well as standard control wire flight.  CLICK HERE to view the entire e-mail blast with full information including times and admission rate:
Control-line flight is a type of model airplane flight which is not controlled by remote control, but by two 60-foot steel wires. This type of model was the type of hobby aircraft many of today's older adults grew up with and a type of aircraft that most of today's children have never seen fly.

The control-line flying will be featured from around 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the tarmac outside the Wings' hangar. Weather conditions determine whether we can fly the planes. Strong wind prevents the planes from flying without damage. 

There is an entry fee of $10 for individuals 13 and older for the museum and activities. Children ages 5 to 12 cost $5; children under 5 are free. Active annual memberships and veterans are also free.

Bring the family out. This is truly a unique event. The Wings Over Miami Air Museum is located on the grounds of the Kendall - Tamiami Executive Airport, 14710 SW 128th St, Miami, FL 33196, (305) 233-5197, Museum Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A welcomed change of heart in Palmetto Bay – Public comment just added to the special council meeting agenda

Congratulations Mayor and Council as the staff has amended the agenda for the upcoming special council meeting to now include #3 PUBLIC COMMENT.  CLICK HERE to see the new agenda. Its good to see that they read my blog as I try to post helpful, even if sometimes blunt, recommendations.

This Agenda did not always include Public Comment.  Public comment was conspicuously missing from the first edition of this agenda.  I raised this issue in my prior post of Jan 19, 2014: Special Council meeting. Why is the public excluded from commenting on the expenditure of a quarter of a million dollars? Not only is this morally wrong to exclude public comment, but the attempt to stifle public comment conflicts with recent state law.

Remember, there was significant public input in the first 8 years of this village and I want to see it continue.  Public input should be valued, not avoided, by elected officials. It adds to transparency and makes for a better final product.

This is an example of positive results from pushing Mayor Stanczyk and Council to do not only the right thing, but to comply with State Law.


Senate bill 50 was enacted into law during the 2013 legislative session and took effect October 1, 2013.  This law created 286.0114, F.S. and requires the public be given the reasonable opportunity to speak at public meetings, like a city council or school board meeting.

This law was enacted to ensure public participation. While many local governments were like Palmetto Bay’s first 8 years and allowed public comment, this was done based upon a moral obligation and concern for fairness, not due to legal requirements.  The right to speak wasn’t explicitly outlined in the state’s open meetings law.  The public’s right to speak at government meetings is now guaranteed by state law and fortunately for all of us, Mayor Stanczyk cannot take this away.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jut for fun - Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day | MNN - Mother Nature Network

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day | MNN - Mother Nature Network

Let's lighten up for a while, even if just for today. Read up on Squirrel Appreciation Day,

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day
Please take some time out of your first day back to work post holiday weekend to read:
In honor of Squirrel Appreciation Day on Jan. 21, here are 21 noteworthy facts about these ubiquitous and opportunistic rodents.

By Russell McLendon, Eco-journalist, who writes: 
Squirrels get lots of attention from humans, but not always much appreciation. We tend to dwell on the stolen birdseed or the occupied attics, but squirrels have a long, mostly harmless — and often entertaining — history of living in our midst.

History (from the article)
That's the focus of Squirrel Appreciation Day, founded in 2001 by North Carolina wildlife rehabilitator Christy McKeown. Squirrels are widespread and widely beloved, and despite their penchant for mischief, they generally avoid the severe scorn we hold for other semi-urban animals like rats, pigeons and opossums.

Squirrel Appreciation Day is Jan. 21 every year, and much like Elephant Appreciation Day, it's pretty decentralized. As McKeown explains on her website, "while there are no official events scheduled, you can help celebrate by putting out extra food for the squirrels." She also warns, though, that "too many treats will lead to health problems." (And feeding any wild animal on a regular basis could make it dependent.)

I suggest that for just one day, take a bag of peanuts to Coral Reef Park in Palmetto Bay and "go nuts" with our local wildlife.

Ignore the sign, have some fun in a town currently with a government that has been wrapped a little to tight lately.

(and no, the sign and the impromptu "no feed" rule was not put in place during my time as mayor)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Why was the meeting changed? Was it to ensure that a Downtown Redevelopment Task Force watchdog could not attend?

I was presented with the allegation that the Special Council meeting was deliberately changed from a date that all members of the council previously indicated that they all could attend (Wednesday, 1/22/14) to a new date (Thursday, 1/23/14), a date that Vice Mayor John Dubois previously advised that he was unable to attend.

Was the meeting date really changed to ensure that a Downtown Redevelopment Task Force watchdog could not attend?

This is a developing story, but I want to present a bit of a teaser on it, as so much happens behind the scenes when I post an article shedding light upon the inner workings of this current Mayor and Council.  I am working on fact checking, that is if the mayor and other council members will bother to respond to a public records request that I am working on.

So why the first date changed, when it is assumed that all members of the council confirmed their availability.  What changed? Was it to exclude John Dubois who has been the leading member of the village council questioning the process and seeking compete answers before spending money? (see: Vice Mayor DuBois questions redevelopment plans, by Gail Shivel)

The answer is contained in an e-mail someone mysteriously dropped off for me. This email was sent out at 1:53 PM, Friday, January 17, 2014, before the agenda was even posted, and states the following:
Good afternoon:

Based upon Council’s schedules, Mayor Stanczyk has decided that the preferable date for the Special Council Meeting is January 23rd at 7 pm.
We will revise the notice and schedule accordingly.  Thank you.
The answer to the first question, who changed this meeting, is Mayor Stanczyk per the clear and unequivocal language of this e-mail.Obviously the schedules of each and every council members was reviewed by the mayor and based, thereupon, a revised date was chosen.

The important question here is why isn't it important enough to hold this special meeting on a night everyone can attend, if these items so important that they need a special council meeting?

There is also a leadership issue here. Shouldn't Mayor Stanczyk be accommodating her fellow council members if she is trying to build consensus and develop support for this major redevelopment project? It is simple government 101 that you create divisions and ill-will amongst peers when you begin excluding fellow members of the council from participating.

Celebrating the leadership of Martin Luther King. Jan 20, 2014

Today, Monday, January 20, 2014, is the day we celebrate the Martin Luther King Holiday.

I have posted a link to watch a posting on YouTube of the "I Have A Dream Speech" of August 28, 1963. Please take the time to view this important and inspiring historical statement.

For more information, check out 10 Things You May Not Know About Martin Luther King Jr., on by Christopher Klein.

Happy Martin Luther King Holiday

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Special Council meeting. Why is the public excluded from commenting on the expediture of a quarter of a million dollars?

Is Mayor Stanczyk really planning on authorizing the expenditure of $248,200.00 – a quarter of  a million dollars of our tax contributions without public comment on these items?  That is NOT transparency.  That is NOT promoting public input/involvement.  That is the opposite, it is stifling debate and participation in the very important future of our village. 

Not many people realize this money is being spent on Thursday (that is, if the meeting is not moved yet again).  These items are not titled “A resolution to authorize spending in the amount of $......”  The amounts are buried deep within the text of each item.  You have to hunt the text for the cost totals and cobble them to together as I listed below:

$  34,100.00  Item A
$120,000.00  Item B
$  60,000.00  Item C
$  34,100.00  Item D

There are 4 substantive items posted on the agenda; resolutions 3A, B, C, and D.  Procedurally there are 4 items:

1. Call to Order, Roll Call, Pledge of Allegiance
2. Decorum Statement
3. Resolutions (where the substantive items A, B, C, and D are placed)
4. Next meeting and Adjournment.

So them, as a very astute reader point out: Where is the ‘Public Comment’ section?

It was suggested to me that these items are being heard on a special agenda, a mere 12 days prior to the next regular council meeting, specifically to avoid an open and public debate on these expenditures.  None of these items constitute an emergency.  None of these items were heard at a prior council meeting where only the final vote is being rolled over to a special council meeting.

The media is less likely to attend a special council meeting (unless it is a very important or obviously controversial event). Fewer people show up or tune in for a special council meeting. Special council meetings are an outstanding opportunity to slip things in ‘under the radar’ as they say.

This is such a shame.  This is a great project to involve everyone in and move the village together as one, rather than begin to sow the seeds of distrust through these procedural shenanigans.
Just when did Palmetto Bay’s current leadership decide that fostering public comment and participation was something to be avoided?  We, the public, would be permitted public comment were these items heard at the regular council meeting set for February 3.  Sec. 2-47. Agenda procedures requires under subsection (a) that: Order of business. There shall be an official agenda for every regular and special meeting of the council that shall determine the order of business to be conducted at the meeting. The order of business of the council at the regular meetings shall be as follows: [Items (1) through (16) are listed]. Mayor Stanczyk, in setting this special agenda, set forth items (1), (2), (10) and (16), but clearly and consciously left out item (6) Request, petitions and public comments.

Here is the new discussion point for those of you following this: How many of you think they will informally allow themselves item, (15) Council comments, even though it is not listed on the agenda? And what is worse, how many people would stay home, after reading that there will be no public comment only to see later in the meeting streaming video that Mayor Stanczyk allowed her supporters to speak in favor? This, even though the meeting ordinance clearly requires that:

Sec. 2-44. (b) - Special meetings. Clearly prohibits the informal adding of items at a special council meeting:
An agenda shall be prepared for the meeting and no other items may be added, discussed or acted upon at the meeting. (emphasis added)
(yes, one could make the argument to get around this ordinance by arguing that the reference to “items” would mean not adding, discussing or acting upon any additional substantive items, such as a resolution 3.E. – but regardless, the damage would be done. People would would have liked to speak would have stayed home, and would be surprised to learn later that the agenda said one thing, but that mayor Stanczyk acted another way at the meeting. - This is neither transparency nor fairness in dealing with our local government.)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Palmetto Bay Special Council meeting. What is a Market Analysis and Absorption Study? Know before you go!

One of the 4 special council agenda items that the Village council will decide on is the hiring of Bermello-Ajamil to prepare a Market Absorption Study and to prepare an Economic Development Guidance for the amount of $34,100. Note this was not put to competitive bid, but negotiated through a list of three pre-qualified firms that provide these types of services.

I am posting an example of a Market Analysis and Absorption Study, this being for the- City Center - City of Lynnwood, WA in June 2007, the report is 162 pages.  This is part of a new series that I think will be helpful to both the current members of the village council as well as those interested in the process of government.  I will list these articles under the label "Village Govt 101"

The City of Lynnwood commissioned the market analysis and absorption study to increase its understanding of the magnitude and character of development activity that can be expected to occur within the City Center sub-area. The City of Lynnwood prepared a market analysis and absorption study for Lynnwood’s City Center study area. Key components of the study include the following.
•Review of Economic Trends in the Puget Sound Region
•Analysis of Development/Redevelopment Economics
•Identification of Market Potential & Development Opportunities, and
•Preparation of a Predictive Development/Redevelopment Model

The City used the results of the study to evaluate the ability of the private sector to fund necessary
infrastructure improvements. In addition, it provides a benchmark to identify current and anticipated feasibility in the area, monitor progress, evaluate specific projects, implement strategies and target investment. This report summarizes the general findings and conclusions of this analysis.

Read on to see this report so you know what we can expect from the future Palmetto Bay Market Analysis and Absorption Study. It should be a real study to point the mayor and council in the correct direction for the benefit of Palmetto Bay, not a whitewashed document to lead the council to support predetermined goals.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Update - one must ask in order to receive. Council Special Meeting agenda now promised to be posted by end of today.

There have been two updates from the village since my noon post concerning the special council meeting that I released at noon today:

First is that the meeting has suddenly been changed from Wednesday, January 22, to Thursday, January 23.  Why?  Is this date to accommodate anyone or does this change of date exclude the participation of any member of the village council.

There is no explanation, only:
Please note: date of January Special Council Meeting has been changed to Jan. 23 (not Jan. 22).
Second, The village staff has promised that an agenda will be made available for the public as posted on the village Facebook page at approximately 3:00 PM.
Village of Palmetto Bay Agenda to be posted on the Village website before end of business today...

I am looking forward to viewing the agenda.

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?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Photo of the Day - Is it a fire pit night in Palmetto Bay?

The temperature is projected to drop in Palmetto Bay to a low of 43 degrees Fahrenheit tonight (1/16/14) into the early morning hours of Friday.  So do we fire pit on a weeknight?
Ginger and Timmy vote for a family fire pit night!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Beaux Arts Festival set for Saturday at UM - Coral Gables -

Beaux Arts Festival set for Saturday at UM - Coral Gables -
Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald previews this weekend’s 63rd annual Beaux Arts Festival of Art on the University of Miami campus.

See you there!

Read more here:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pinecrest hosts US 1 Express Lanes Community Forum - get informed.

Our neighbors in the Village of Pinecrest are hosting a US1 Express Lane Community Forum for residents and businesses owners.  You should take some time to attend.

Pinecrest officials have invited MDX to provide a general presentation geared to Pinecrest residents and business owners from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. on Monday, January 20, 2014 at the Pinecrest Community Center, 5855 Killian Drive, Pinecrest, Florida. Come to learn more about this project and the impact on South Dade residents and businesses. Now is the time to hear the current status of this project.  CLICK HERE for a prior post on this issue.The study, led by MDX in cooperation with Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), analyzes potential enhancements to the South Miami-Dade Busway that could maximize use of existing roadway capacity, reduce congestion along the US 1 Corridor, enhance transit service and improve traffic operations.

The study considers the viability of a variably-priced tolled roadway that would permit motorists to travel without traffic from approximately SW 232nd Street in Cutler Bay to SW 98th Street in Pinecrest connecting to the Palmetto Expressway.

If the study shows viability, it will be constructed within the current South Miami-Dade Busway right-of-way. Bridges would carry the express lanes over intersections which would increase traffic flow as buses and cars could bypass traffic signals.

The Village Council has voted in favor of two resolutions regarding the project. The first resolution, passed September 11, 2012, expressed the Village Council's opposition to the proposed project and asked the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to suspend the current study, remove the project from the 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan and redirect its focus to extending the Metrorail south.  The second resolution, passed on the same date, urged MDX to hold formal presentations for area homeowners, business groups and other interested groups.

CLICK HERE to view the full Village of Pinecrest e-news blast regarding this event.
You can CLICK HERE to view the MDX official future projects page.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fun Time at the Pinecrest Art Show

Alexandra and I had a great time this weekend. Part of the activities included taking in the Pinecrest Art Show. We picked up a new piece for the backyard oasis:
It is always interesting to meet people who do the art tour. Obviously the winter starts in South Florida, long before the northern local weather allows for outdoor event.  Our current addition is from an artist from Noblesville, Indiana.
She was very happy to be down south.  For those who did not take notice, the State of Indiana was shutdown due to the polar vortex deep freeze last week.  No school, no work, everything, was shut down Monday and Tuesday last week.

We are happy you and your fellow artisans graced us with your presence this weekend in Pinecrest.  Thank you. We will put your creation to good use. 

Next up: 37th Annual Art Deco Weekend, Miami Beach - Art Deco District/South Beach, Jan 17 - Jan 19, and Beaux Arts, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, Jan 18 & 19

Friday, January 10, 2014

Pinecrest Art Show this weekend (Jan 11 & 12, 2014)

For the art show lover in you.  The 11th Annual PINECREST GARDENS FINE ARTS FESTIVAL will be held this January 11 & Sunday, January 12, 2014.  The admission to this event is FREE.  The show runs from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on both dates. 

There will be a generous representation of art, delicious food, live music, and other activities for the entire family. CLICK HERE to view the official Pinecrest web site for full information.

And don't forget the Pinecrest Farmers Market located on the grounds of the Pinecrest Gardens. CLICK HERE for more info.  The Farmers Market is open 9:00 to 2:00 PM every Sunday.
These are great community events. Come on out and join your friends and neighbors.

DRTF Update. Palmetto Bay News: Vice Mayor DuBois questions redevelopment plans

Vice Mayor DuBois questions redevelopment plans | Palmetto Bay
Palmetto Bay News reports on the concerns regarding the Downtown Development and the costs. See Vice Mayor DuBois questions redevelopment plans by Gail Shivel

The Vice Mayor held his discussion town hall on January 6, in order to bring the issues out into the open for all residents to discuss - and many came asking questions and stating concerns that were not responded to by anyone on the council other than the Vice Mayor.

DuBois asked how many years it would take for return-on-investment for the project, and who the first seven anchor tenants of the new shopping area would be. Some residents at the meeting expressed concern that luxury stores would force necessary merchants such as hardware stores, computer repair and bicycle repair shops further away from residential areas. “I think we need to look at what kind of village we want to live in,” said Eric Tullberg, a resident who is chairman of the county Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee.  “There’s a need for a mix of retail shops.” DuBois repeatedly stressed his point that a revenue goal had not been set for the redevelopment project, and expressed concern that any investment made by Palmetto Bay may be at risk.

“The redevelopment plans can’t all be driven by return-on-investment,” countered Scott Silver, a Palmetto Bay businessman and developer. “It’s not business, this is government, and government is supposed to create a better environment for people.” Scott urged the redevelopment task force to invest in only a small portion of infrastructure: “Pick a bite-size area and do that, then let economic forces take over.” 

I respectfully disagree on this point Mr. Silver (who, by the way, has done an outstanding job developing the Palmetto Bay Village Center).  What is the reason for the start of the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force? This DRTF was premised on the need to protect Palmetto Bay's financial future.  See the DRTF Blog: SEPT. 5, 2013Downtown Outlined to Local Business Association...

     When it comes to the future of Palmetto Bay, there is little doubt that the finances 
     of the Village need to change.  Several independent studies estimate that within 
     five years, Palmetto Bay will have no reserves and will be forced to raise taxes 
     and cut services.  So, right now is the right time to face facts and plan for fiscally
     responsible change. No matter what side of the political fence you sit on, the adage
     "You’ve got to spend money to make money" rings true... And that, plus a grand 
     plan, may just be the saving grace for Palmetto Bay. (all emphasis added)

So we do need to see the numbers and we do need to know that there will be a timely return on investment in order to protect Palmetto Bay's financial future.

Every million dollars spent on this project would no longer be available in the next five years to act as the rainy day fund against the Village's own posted projection of a total lack of reserves and projected tax increases in the next five years.


As reported in the Palmetto Bay News article:
“I’m concerned we’re overlooking the needs and concerns of individuals who live and work in that area,” said resident James H. Woodard, raising the specter of eminent domain. “If this thing does move forward, there is going to be in some cases forceful taking of property,”

Some residents at the meeting expressed concern that luxury stores would force necessary merchants such as hardware stores, computer repair and bicycle repair shops further away from residential areas. “I think we need to look at what kind of village we want to live in,” said Eric Tullberg, a resident who is chairman of the county Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee.  “There’s a need for a mix of retail shops.”

More updates will continue to be posted.  I just want everyone to be knowledgeable about the ongoing project.

We all want Palmetto Bay to succeed, but we should not be afraid to debate fully the issues and designs. I would ask everyone to get involved. No surprises leads to better results.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Speak out! Time to support and preserve our library system: Focus groups to focus on what Miami-Dade library patrons want - Miami-Dade -

Focus groups to focus on what Miami-Dade library patrons want - Miami-Dade -

Do you want to see Miami-Dade County have a vibrant library system? If so, then consider this is a call for your participation to assist in providing the answer to the question: What do people who use Miami-Dade County public libraries want? You can bet that the answer will be based primarily upon those who take the time to show up and speak. This is the time for some positive input. Attendees have the opportunity to show up and speak on either how they use the libraries or what you would like to see from your library system. I will keep everyone advised as to other ways to communicate your concerns on the library system, but these focus group meetings are the current best opportunity to voice your opinions and support.

The Miami Herald reports that a government paid will try to answer the question "What do people who use Miami-Dade County public libraries want?" this week by holding focus groups at two of the library system’s busiest branches. Neither of the focus groups will be held in south Miami-Dade County.

There is not much time to get prepared.  The first focus group is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the West Dade Regional Library, 9445 SW 24th St. 

The second is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday at the North Dade Regional Library, 2455 NW 183rd St., Miami Gardens.

The groups will be open to the public to participate and observe. The county is hoping regular library patrons in particular will take part.

Read more here:

Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Update on Vice Mayor Dubois' 1-6-14 town hall discussion - Initial impressions

It was a well-attended meeting last night. Many people were there in attendance looking for answers. The mayor and staff were present and watched, but offered no input. Thank you Vice Mayor for holding a general event in the evening when those who work could attend.

I was disappointment to find out that no documents were available. In fact, Vice Mayor Dubois expressed his displeasure that he had to cobble together information from sources which he thought were incomplete.

Updates I obtained from the meeting last night:

1. Someone (who won't step forward and take ownership) really wants to close down main street and force traffic to make a hard turn to/from US1. (Can you imagine Miracle Mile being a successful main street with a dead-end turn off?).
2. Annexation now appears off the table, but there are no numbers, let alone no revised projections based upon the current existing Palmetto Bay areas. The original model presented at the Palmetto Bay Business Association luncheon had a much greater area.  How does this Palmetto Bay only model affect the return on investment figures, do they know?
3. The committee is looking to put in 1,500 residential units within the current study area. For comparison, there are approximately 8,000 residential units currently within Palmetto Bay.

One resident who spoke expressed concern about government taking away property form current owners (Eminent Domain) as the 'projected" growth does not occur unless current long-time owners of properties redevelop their property from their prior historic uses to conform with the new goals. 

More updates will come later.

We all want Palmetto Bay to succeed.  I would ask everyone to get involved. No surprises leads to better results.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A sample annexation petition – City of Sweetwater – transmitted on August 3, 2012.

Please CLICK HERE to view an actual transmitted application by a municipality seeking to annex land located within unincorporated Miami-Dade County.  This application is dated August 3, 2012, and is date stamped as received August 6, 2013, by Miami-Dade County. 16 months ago.  The application begins with a description of the application (page 3 of the 51 page .PDF).  FIU had stated its strong support for this application by letter dated March 27, 2012, (page 5 of 51) from FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg.

Note also that August 3, 2012, is not the start date of this annexation process.  This application was years in the making.
This annexation application involves State land (FIU) that is non-taxable.  Note that FIU is also served by its own police department and is otherwise independent/largely self-sustaining regarding services.
Note the following essential components of this application:
Copies of the Sweetwater Council Resolution Expressing Desire to Initial Proposed Boundary Change (pages 10-11), (13-19)
Proof of Written Notice of Affected Property Owners of Public Hearing Where Resolution was Unanimously Passed (page 21)
Lists of Services to be Provided  (page 33-37)
This post is provided to enable fellow Palmetto Bay residents (as well as the current mayor and council) with facts as to what is involved in annexations and the projected time frame, if successful.  A completed application may take a full year (if all the ducks line up); the application could be denied (with a 6 month waiting period for re-filing) or it could linger forever with Miami-Dade County.

Click the link to review ARTICLE I. BOUNDARY CHANGE PROCEDURE of Miami-Dade County which provides the specific procedure that Palmetto Bay must follow to annex these lands.
Please see Sec. 20-3. Initiated by governing body of municipality.

MAIN POINT: Is it smart practice for our mayor and council to be investing significant village financial reserves for a return on investment that is relies on land we may never have? It is a chicken v egg argument as they may argue that we need to investigation our options before we move forward, but then again, the county would be less inclined to allow a 'land grab' based upon a tax base rich commercial property.

Palmetto Bay DRTF revised boundary photo - thank you reader

I corrected the photo based upon a suggestion from an astute reader:
The newly placed (Palmetto Bay) blue line marks the southbound lanes of US1 - the legal municipal boundary of Palmetto Bay.  The red line was previously represented as the municipal border, but it should be marking the bus lanes which are presently one block west of southbound US1.

A simple count of the conceptually placed buildings (what could be, not what will actually occur) shows only 21 'structures' placed inside the current PBay borders. 32 conceptual buildings (many larger than what is within PBay) are located in land outside of Palmetto Bay. This means that only about 40% of the DRFT concepts are located within PBay, 60% of the DRFT is planned on land PBay currently has no jurisdiction.

This also means that the overall promises of the increased tax base are significantly diminished should PBay not be successful in annexing the land west of the southbound US1 lanes.

Take a close look at the conceptual model to gain an appreciation as to how much of the overall developmental plan lies outside of existing Palmetto Bay boundaries. This would not be an easy or quick annexation application to capture this outlying commercial tax base.  I doubt that Miami-Dade County would simply turn over this land without significant extractions.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

This should be cold water to the face of those who think annexations are fast tax base problem solvers. Miami-Dade commissioners block four-city annexation deal

Miami-Dade commissioners block four-city annexation deal - Miami-Dade -
We have yet to see any Palmetto Bay officials public release any financial projections, both overall as well as just how dependent the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force (DRTF) is on annexing land bordering the west side of US1.  (See photo below for a rendering, with the present municipal boundary marked in redline).

The current Palmetto Bay mayor and council need to be very cautious when spending significant financial reserves on projections dependent upon annexing commercial land. Annexations are never easy, nor is the result guaranteed. Not all revenue from annexed lands come to the annexing cities. Annexation rules include the loss of franchise fees, a substantial source of revenue. And the door is presently closed on annexations.  The Miami-Dade Commission Land Use and Development Committee denied 4 annexation requests back on Thursday, October 10, 2013.  Some these applications were ten years in the making.  I am pointing out this information for those Palmetto Bay elected officials who think that they can quickly grow the tax base through annexation of commercial areas. Read up on how the County won't give up valuable land to four tax hungry cities:

A deal 10 years in the making to divvy up about eight square miles of mostly industrial and commercial land in northwest Miami-Dade County among four cities blew up Thursday when a group of county commissioners blocked it.

For the cities, the decision of the commission’s land use and development committee represents a loss of millions of dollars in potential tax revenues that would have boosted their coffers.
“We have been patient and working with the county,” Medley Mayor Robert Martell said.
The debate underscored a big question facing the county: whether it should force all of its unincorporated areas to form new cities or join existing ones so the county can focus on regional matters, as neighboring Broward County does.

For now, some commissioners are loath to accept applications without a countywide plan in place.

“To me, all of these are premature,” Commissioner Barbara Jordan said.

Last year, voters amended the county charter to require commissioners to consider if annexations of commercial land were intended to merely bolster a city’s tax base. Similar annexations in the past have been criticized as blatant land grabs.

County rules don’t allow the proposals to come up again for at least six months.

What this means: The above should be a shot of realism to this current Palmetto Bay Mayor and council; that they need to budget within our present revenue structure. Don't add to recurring expenses and spend down reserves in advance based upon speculative aggressive projections. These 4 cities are now back to square one - and without any new revenue.  But these same cities are left holding the costs to date for the planning, applying and proceeding on the annexation applications.

#angryalabamafan viral video. Bama fan goes crazy on OU student.

Have you ever attended a Palmetto Bay village council meeting and have a bowl game break out?! 

Ok, Remember the time your mom was so drunk she got in a fight with a student at a bowl game and had to be taken out by the cops? She allegedly was going physical over some strong words.  I will say that Mayor Stanczyk is much quicker at having speakers removed from meetings. Perhaps this is why.

Important town hall meeting, 5pm on Jan. 6 at Palmetto Bay Village Hall

I encourage everyone to pay attention to the upcoming Town Hall discussion sponsored by Vice Mayor John DuBois at 5pm on Jan. 6 at Palmetto Bay Village Hall (2 hours before the scheduled council meeting). This Town Hall concerns the financial projections of the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force initiative and its impact on future Village budgets.

Issues will be discussed such as:
1.      Government Investment at Risk to make project successful
            a.      By Palmetto Bay Tax Payers
            b.      By other Government Entities
i.                    Dade County
ii.                  School Board
iii.                State
iv.                Federal
c.           Capital Improvements
d.      Real Property Acquisitions
2.      Private Sector Investment at Risk to make project successful
a.       Residential Development
b.      Commercial Development
           i.      Retail
           ii.     Office
c.       Incentives for Developers and Property Owners
3.      How will Palmetto Bay investments impact Budget and Real Estate Taxes ?
4.      What is a realistic time line?
5.      Will tax revenue generation occur in time to plug the expanded deficits caused by this project or will real estate taxes have to be raised substantially or worse yet, bond defaults ?

Public comments and open dialogue will be encouraged on the above issues.

Thank You

John DuBois

There has been recent coverage, see: Plans move forward to create “downtown” Palmetto Bay, by Lidia Dinkova, Miami Herald Neighbors, Sunday, January 5th.

Why attend?  As Karyn Cunningham sets out in her Palmetto Bay Updates;

Dear Neighbor:

As many of you know, the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force (DRTFhas been meeting for several months in an effort to create plans for a walkable downtown Palmetto Bay in the Village's southwest corner along US-1. The Taskforce released its preliminary plans in mid-December.  As with any ambitious project, there are many questions and issues that need to be discussed. 

Vice Mayor John DuBois will be hosting a Town Hall discussion this Monday, Jan. 6th at Palmetto Bay Village Hall at 5:00 PM (two hours prior to the Regular January Council Meeting) to discuss the financial projections of the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force initiative and its impact on future Village budgets.

Come learn more about the project and the issues and concerns that have been raised and hear the answers to the questions residents have been asking. Find out how Palmetto Bay investments will impact Budget and Real Estate Taxes, what is a realistic time line for the project and will tax revenue generation occur in time to plug the expanded deficits caused by the project.

The better informed our community is, the better our Council can serve the will of the residents. Have your voice heard in 2014!

Hope to see you there.
  Warm regards,
 Karyn Cunningham

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Good News pet hero stories of 2013 –

Let's start 2014 by looking back at some positive stories where pets saved their owners, trainers, children, even other dogs.  Check out the stories, photos and videos reported in 5 tales of amazing dog heroics, by CNN Staff.  CNN reports in this good news story, include: 
  • One sacrificed his eye to save a young girl from a venomous rattlesnake 
  • Another alerted a couple that their newborn baby had stopped breathing 
  • Dog saves blindfolded trainer from reckless car 
  • Dog saves 2-year-old lost in the woods 
  • And, for the feline fans out there, there is a bonus: A cat hero! Man says cat helped save his life
Perhaps you can find the next pet hero hanging out at the Palmetto Bay Dog Park

Just for fun - LEGO Blues Brother - Shopping Malls Scene

"Yeah, lots of space in this mall"
"Disco pants and haircuts..."
"New Oldsmobiles are in early this year."

The famous Blues Brother Shopping mall scene in LEGO, not CGI

Hey, it's a holiday, so let's keep it light today.

Happy New Years!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How I remember 2013. Great family time. Looking for a repeat in 2014.

2013 was a great family year.  It started in a Village located far up north with a cold plunge NY to start the year (2013 Polar Bear Plunge at Village of Lake George. A great community regional event)
And finishing out 2013 in downtown Miami with family for opening night of "Elf" at the Adrienne Arsht Center on New Years Eve, just north of the Village of Palmetto Bay.
Happy New Years from our family to you and your family.

Happy New Year 2014

Dear friends.  I am so thankful for the ongoing readership and support throughout these many years. There have been so many challenges we have faced, resulting in much success. 2014 will be no different in that it will present many challenges.  Let’s all work together to bring home the good news.

I look forward to continuing to serve in 2014.

Happy New Year! From Eugene, Alexandra, Katherine and Meredit