Monday, June 28, 2021

The smoking gun: April 6, 2019, the day the current mayor and the 2019 council voted to change the bike lane plan to shared path by a narrow 3 – 2 vote. Now they are coming for the mature trees

The die was cast on April 6, 2020, when the mayor and 2020 village council voted 3-2 to modify the plan from bike lanes to the MEGA shared path. Council Members David Singer and Marsha Matson were the only members of the village council to vote against this agenda item. CLICK HERE to view the full agenda item so you can read for yourself. 

So seriously, the new excuse of “it’s a county project” just doesn’t hold water. Three letters dispute this latest: J – P – A (Joint Project Agreement). Trees are marked for death, yet this cut and run council tries to claim it is a County project. The trees are marked specifically due to the vote on April 6, 2020, far from in spite of it. I have posted and documented that Miami-Dade County may be the ‘owner’ of SW 136 Street, but it was Palmetto Bay officials who negotiated and paid for the Design Team, and, therefore have full control over the design. The JPA is clear that it is the Village of Palmetto Bay that is providing the design of the Project at its (Palmetto Bay's) sole expense.  

See the prior related post of Sept. 23, 2020, Facts are facts. Here are the facts concerning the SW 136 Street Bike Lanes project: It is a Joint Project(JPA) between Miami-Dade County and Palmetto Bay.  The documents tell the truth as to how current Palmetto Bay officials cannot blame Miami-Dade County for the change from a bike lane to the MEGA (8-10 foot) shared path. The current Mayor and Village Council of Palmetto Bay (2019) had absolute control over the project design. The change could not happen, it would not have occurred without the 3-2 vote taken on April 6, 2020. 

Once again, the original plan: (Prior administration) The Palmetto Bay Village Council adopted Resolution No. 2017-47 approving the Joint Participation Agreement (JPA) with Miami-Dade County to construct a bicycle lane along SW 136 Street from US1 to Old Cutler Road.  This same Resolution, (2017-47) allocated a total of $500,000 in Village funds toward the project. It was the Village of Palmetto Bay that negotiated a contract with RJ Behar as the design team.

Decisions, votes, whether you follow the council, matter, they all have impact and we will begin to see some profound changes shortly. More than a bridge on 87 or more removal of 4 way stops, or more right turn signs (that will be enforced both against the residents as well as the ‘outsiders’) and the MEGA path. The council could have just said No, but it didn’t. So let’s see what the fallout is to the long established shade trees, the mature canopy trees (too soon to be known as formerly beautifying and shading) Palmetto Bay:

Editor's note:

How old are these marked trees? Perhaps we will have the opportunity to gain an accurate final age for the tree by counting the rings when it is felled. Confidence is high that this tree withstood Hurricane Andrew as well as hurricanes Rita, Katrina, Wilma and others.  I doubt that it will be a good day for the other two trees that have been standing along side the Poinciana.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Native rat snake seen along the Deering roadway. Beautiful. Saturday AM, 6/26/21

Native Rat Snake. Yes,  coaxed it out of the way of all the runner, walker and cycling traffic across from Deering on 72nd. Appeared very lumpy. Maybe had recently enjoyed a meal and was looking to heat up to digest it.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Weekender: The GOLDEN TORTOISE BEETLE: pest or fun outdoor curiosity? Pic and description.

This is definitely one situation where the phrase “to each his own…” applies. One person’s pest is a welcomed natural curiosity to another. Have you ever actually taking a hard look through your home and yard to see just how many creatures make up our local environment?

Our oldest daughter planted morning glories with the goal of attracting golden tortoise beetles to their yard. Planted morning glories specifically to attract golden tortoise beetles. It worked!And they responded by showing up! Her opinion? “They’re awesome.”

Photo Credit: Kat Flinn

Also known as goldbugs, or golden lady bugs, golden tortoise beetles are a common garden pest that chew through the leaves of various plants, especially morning glory vines and sweet potato vines. Despite their destructive nature, golden tortoise beetles are actually rather handsome bugs.

Pests? I have yet to hear someone bemoan damage to their morning glory vines or sweet potato vines. Let the little bugs nosh! The golden tortoise beetle is distributed widely in eastern North America, west to about Iowa and Texas. It is one of three species of tortoise beetle found in Florida.

FUN FACT: When disturbed, it turns a dull reddish-orange with black spots. When its dies, it's the same reddish orange. The golden tortoise beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata bicolor) is generally not viewed as a serious pest. (which, I am sure, is what makes these beetles so 'awesome')

Does anyone (knowingly and intentionally) host golden tortoise beetles at their home? Hopefully you don’t find them to be a menace that must be destroyed. Live and let live.

INTERESTING READ: Scientific American online: Glad you ditched the anal fork, Golden Tortoise Beetle, By Becky Crew on July 4, 2012

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Wildlife photography - pictures give reason to appreciate and therefore the drive to protect our local wildlife - Photos by Jennifer Santino-Finger that aid other local wildlife activists.

Why Wildlife photography? Because photos have the power to bring nature to the viewer and turn them on to the wonder of nature. Photography has always been a powerful medium and it has become an essential tool to inspire the desire to protect wildlife; to spark preservation. Photos often go viral on social media, bringing the much-needed attention to imperiled wildlife. 

Palmetto Bay is a long time refuge for wildlife. Most of our wildlife is native, but some is unfortunately non-native invasive. I have documented many issues related to our local wildlife from invasive species (34 posts), features on the FWC (18 posts) as well as our local environment that so many work to save to home the special plants and local wildlife [Liveable Cutler (7), Miami Pine Rocklands Coalition (16), National Geographic, Native Plant Society (2), Our Environment (20) and Patch of Heaven Sanctuary to name a few. (see the labels posted in the far right column for more, or for all links)] And then there are the coyotes that have earned their own space. There is a need to co-exist. We should all work to make our backyards a wildlife habitat.

You may have missed an article on Channel 10 regarding a Wildlife Sanctuary Ordinance championed by Council Member David Singer (2016-2020). It takes a village to get attention to issues of protecting our environment. Catalysts are required from within. Channel 10 featured residents heavily involved in such protection. There are many to thank, but at this time I especially want to thank Carol Vega and Jennifer Santino Finger.

CLICK HERE or the headline to view the June 18, 2021 article by Channel 10 Reporter Christina Vazquez, Wild macaw parrots need to be protected from poachers in Miami-Dade, residents say

Poaching is a huge problem and it is important not to give away locations of these nesting birds that we all enjoy. Macaws are non-native, but are not invasive – this is an important distinction. Please review the article, link above. And remember, it is one thing to enact a law, but any law can be rendered worthless unless it is properly enforced.

Palmetto Bay resident Jennifer Santino-Finger provided Channel 10 with the photographs of the macaws here in Palmetto Bay. Jennifer graciously granted license to me to post a selections of her photos here to this blog. I am posting more than the parrots. There are many outstanding photos that must be seen!

(Click on each photo to view in a larger format.)

Palmetto Bay has much more than Parrots - Jennifer has captured numerous local birds in the only way they should be: through the lens:

We can't leave out this little fish who appears just as interested in the photographer:

A SUGGESTION - how about an exhibition!

This blog does provide the proper forum for these outstanding photos. I strongly suggest a Jennifer Santino-Finger nature photography exhibit at the Coral Rock House here in Palmetto Bay. It is long overdue and would be most welcomed. Parks should host it. Local students should be given an opportunity to see and participate.

Admit it, these photos add reason as to why we need to work to protect our environment, 22 acres at a time.

(Please note that photo credits for all photos posted here are Jennifer Santino Finger)

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Send more photos! This is also an open invitation for others to send photographs of appreciating Palmetto Bay! Better read than politics. CLICK HERE to view some of my prior posts of my attempts to photograph backyard nature here in Palmetto Bay! 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Palmetto Bay can change the project, but municipal officials cannot change State Law which determines where bicyclists may ride.

SPOILER ALERT: A shared path is not a bike lane. In Florida the bicycle is defined as a vehicle and the bicyclist is a driver. Bicyclists have the same rights to the road ways. HOWEVER, bicyclists must use a bike lane where provided (subject to certain exceptions). 

The remainder of this article is an update of a Rules of the Road post of November 28, 2018. 

Florida Bike Laws: Florida Statutes, Chapter 316 – MOTOR VEHICLES - STATE UNIFORM TRAFFIC CONTROL

I am not going to recreate the wheel here so I am going to direct everyone to the wealth of information provided by the Florida Bicycle Association (CLICK HERE) to view the FLORIDA BICYCLE ASSOCIATION website. There is significant information on this site including (but certainly not limited to) Road/Path Rules and other significant resources for all concerned – both bicyclists and motorists.

The information and sources that follow are taken verbatim from the FLORIDA BICYCLE ASSOCIATION website:

In Florida the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and the bicyclist is a driver. Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways, and must obey the same traffic laws as the drivers of other vehicles. These laws include stopping for stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night, yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks. 

There is only one road and it is up to bicyclists and motorists to treat each other with care and respect. Adherence to the law is the foundation for this respect, but the law itself is simply a codification of the rules of movement that make all road users predictable to one another.

What follows is a special pull out from this Florida Bicycle Association website.  I am providing special emphasis to respond to the comments, providing insight as to why adult bicyclists do NOT belong on sidewalks, See:  

Adult bicyclists do not belong on the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk is unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists on the sidewalk expose YOU, the motorist, to a higher risk of hitting them when you are entering or leaving the road — and you are likely to be at fault in such a crash.

Cyclists are not required to ride on the shoulder. They may choose to do so, but shoulders can present hazards to cyclists. Cyclists should never drive in the gutter or hug the curb. Many inexperienced riders do this because they don’t know it greatly increases their risk of crashing.

Successful bicyclists “Ride Big.”
 They ride well into the lane to increase their visibility to other drivers, give themselves operating room and discourage motorists from trying to squeeze past them in narrow lanes.

My personal goal is to continue to advocate for cycling here in, as our County Commissioner refers to it: #TheBikeDistrict.  

This includes promoting bicycling as recreation, transportation as well as to promote healthier lifestyle.

Thank you,

Eugene Flinn

Monday, June 21, 2021

136th Street Project update. Bike Lanes - My question remains unanswered. When did Palmetto Bay officials officially shift the SW 136 Street Bike Lanes project to the shared path? When, how and what public meetings/notification to the public, were involved?

We have all discussed Resolution 2017-47. CLICK HERE for prior updates. There was a resolution amending Reso 2017-47, but the only impact I observe is a shifting of costs. $500,000.00 in village funders were authorized under Reso 2017-47. The original allocation was $500,000.00 - $100,000.00 for design and $400,000.00 for construction. This was discussed as Agenda Item 10E at the February 4, 2019 council meeting.  Resolution 2019-28 merely reallocated how the money was to be spent, to $250,000.00 for design costs. 

THE LIGHTBULB GOES OFF! Perhaps this may be a very important clue: why does the design allocation need to go from $100,000.00 up to $250,000.00? Neither the staff report (agenda item 10E) nor the resolution itself mentions any reason to add $150,000.00 to redesign unless there was a need to redesign? Perhaps, just perhaps, there is something else happening outside the public view. No clues are given in the official minutes for this agenda item.

No redesign – not yet, not at this time. The project is still referred to as a bike lane (very specific), not a shared path.  The village still posts the project rendering as bike lanes on the village website (See rendering at bottom).

Section 1. The Village Council hereby amends Resolution No. 2017-47 and allocates up to $250,000 for design services and the remaining funds from the total allocation of $500,000 towards construction costs for the bike lane along SW 136th 8 Street.

Section 2. The Village Council hereby approves the contract between the Village of Palmetto Bay and RJ Behar & Co. Inc, in substantial form and content to the attached Exhibit “A” to provide design services for the bike lane improvements.

Section 3. The Village Manager is authorized to take all action necessary to enter into contract with RJ Behar, subject to the terms and conditions negotiated between both parties prior to disbursement  of funds to the County.

(Bold emphasis added) 

The vote was unanimous – 5-0 in support of this updated resolution.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Please note, it is the Village of Palmetto Bay, not Miami-Dade County that continues to control and direct the design.  As discussed prior, this it not a project of Miami-Dade County. It is a project were Palmetto Bay is in full control (including veto) of the project design. Miami-Dade County hired the contractors to build what is designed. 

Note the information below reflects what was posted by Palmetto Bay Officials on the Official Village website as of December 13, 2019, 5:00 PM. 
136th St. Improvement Project This project is currently under design. Improvements include minor widening of the roadway to add bike lanes on both sides of the road and milling & resurfacing the existing roadway. We are looking to replace the existing 5’ sidewalk on the South side of SW 136TH Street (Village of Palmetto Bay Side) with a new 7’ wide sidewalk. Other improvements will include pavement markings, ADA Compliant pedestrian ramps, and landscape improvements. This is a LAP Project between Miami Dade County and FDOT, and Village of Pinecrest and Village of Palmetto Bay are also stakeholders.
This rendering no longer represents the project as currently proposed

Friday, June 18, 2021

SW 136th Street Project update. Time for an honest discussion – the project designed by Palmetto Bay officials is hardly a bikeability project. It is comparable to the shared path along Old Cutler Road (OCR). I have several points to make here in this post.

The shared path designed for SW 136 Street by the present Palmetto Bay mayor and council is not a protected bike lane; it will function to the same extent that the Old Cutler Trail (OCR) is not a protected bike lane (OCR is a "Sharrow"). The 136 Street path will not be safe for cyclists who travel at fast speeds. Many of the cyclists who ride the road (as opposed to the share path) are travelling at speeds averaging 17 to greater than 25 MPH. Those speeds to not mix well with joggers, pedestrians, children, dogs or golf carts that will also be using a shared path (hence the name - "shared path")

Too few are willing to acknowledge that the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and the bicyclist is a driver under the Laws of the State of Florida (see Florida Statutes, Chapter 316.2065 Bicycle regulations.—). Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways, and must obey the same traffic laws as the drivers of other vehicles. These laws include stopping for stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night, yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks. 

Please note that this post is a bit technical, but it needs discussion as there are big issues that I see when looking at the current rendering for the SW 136th Street project is where does Palmetto Bay account for the cyclist on the roadway? The cyclists are missing. Why? Are Palmetto Bay officials wishing them away? These needs to be room for the cyclists and, more important, proper room for allowing safe passage around cyclists as the law is clear, 3 foot buffer required when passing:

The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle, or an electric bicycle, must pass the bicycle, other nonmotorized vehicle, or electric bicycle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle, other nonmotorized vehicle, or electric bicycle.
See: Florida Statutes 316.083 (1) (Bold emphasis added)

Issues that I have found with shared paths: Predictability is a huge factor in preventing accidents. Drivers look for the oncoming motor vehicles before they make turns. Cyclists on a multi-path are often far from the focused field of vision for motor vehicle drivers, especially if the cyclist is riding on a multi-path in a direction that is counter to the direction of the lane it is adjacent to (e.g. riding southbound on the Old Cutler Path, which is adjacent to the north bound lane of traffic on Old Cutler Road). Cyclists are often obscured by these vehicles and have moved into the path of the vehicle by the time the oncoming traffic has cleared.

The bottom line is that a multi-path is not a protected bike lane and anyone who thinks these paths are “safer” than bike lanes are fooling themselves (and putting people at risk). 

The sad part is that I can already hear the angst by motorists, yelling in frustration at these cyclists to ‘get onto the sidewalk that taxpayers paid $$$ millions for, but that cyclists refuse to use.” Facts are facts. Cyclists are legally allowed to use the road (Florida Statutes, Chapter 316.2065) and motorists are legally required to pass cyclists allowing for a 3 foot buffer.

It is too bad that current Palmetto Bay officials have failed to hold a public, open and frank discussion of these issues. Unrealistic expectations may have been set. 

SPECIAL NOTE: Look to the 3 areas I have circled in red (photo above). Moving from left to right, the first two circled areas are missing the anticipated cyclists. Will there be room for vehicles to pass safely, providing for the legally required 3 foot buffer? The 3rd area circled is equally concerning. 8-10 feet of shared path is alleged, but there does not appear to be sufficient room for cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist. Is this official rendering not to scale?

Thursday, June 17, 2021

SW 136th Street update. There is no mistaking who owns responsibility for this SW 136th project design: Palmetto Bay officials (2019 to date) who redesigned it from bike lanes to a MEGA shared path.

Let's be clear. Palmetto Bay was at all time responsible for the design on the SW 136th Street Project. Palmetto Bay also had the right of first refusal to the Project.  The County is responsible for the construction of the Palmetto Bay designed project. So here we go, the project is finally moving to actual construction. This past Monday, County crews identified the trees that will be removed and replaced for the SW 136 Street MEGA sidewalk project. I have been contacted my many people concerned about the numbers of trees marked for death (removal) and relocation. Remember, this project was once a bike lane project that would have extended the road surface a total of 8 feet; 4 feet on the Palmetto Bay side (east bound lanes) and the other 4 feet on the Pinecrest side (the west bound lanes).

The “Finger Pointing Tour” has begun. Palmetto Bay deflection of responsibility is ramping up as they keep referring to "the County" as responsible for this project. This is a project where Palmetto Bay officials now reference everything as “the County”. Now it is true that "the county" is readying to break ground sometime on or about July 12. It is also true that "the County" marked the trees for removal or 'relocation'.  But please, do not scapegoat Miami-Dade County. The ‘shared path’ slated for SW 136 Street is far from an exclusive project of Miami-Dade County. It is a Joint Participation Project,  done under a contract known as a Joint Participation Agreement (JPA). This means Palmetto Bay officials can't blame Miami-Dade County for the change from a bike lane to the MEGA (8-10 foot) shared path. The current Mayor and Village Council of Palmetto Bay had control over the project design

The original plan: (Prior administration) The Palmetto Bay Village Council adopted Resolution No. 2017-47 approving the Joint Participation Agreement (JPA) with Miami-Dade County to construct a bicycle lane along SW 136 Street from US1 to Old Cutler Road.

The information is contained in Resolution, (2017-47) which allocated a total of $500,000 in Village funds toward the project.

Comprehensive information is available in a PRIOR RELATED POST of September 23, 2020, Facts are facts. Here are the facts concerning the SW 136 Street Bike Lanes project: It is a Joint Project (JPA) between Miami-Dade County and Palmetto Bay.

Please also take the time to review another detailed article (posted December 13, 2019), SW 136th Street Project update - Pinecrest Meeting held December 11, 2019. Here is the report I received:

I reported on the Pinecrest community meeting held regarding the changed project. Over 20 people were in attendance, some were Palmetto Bay residents. Pinecrest officials were there. I am told that Palmetto  Bay was represented by District 3 Council Member Marsha Matson, who is advocating for a mega sidewalk for all of Palmetto Bay. [see a PRIOR RELATED POST of October 2019: Foreshadowing - for now, please review the Palmetto Bay Path conceptual Plan proposed by Marsha Matson, Palmetto Bay Councilmember, District 3, March18, 2019. Please review the Palmetto Bay Path conceptual Plan proposed by Marsha Matson, Palmetto Bay Council Member, District 3, March 18, 2019. (CLICK HERE) to download and view this 23 page document.]

There is no mistaking who owns responsibility for this SW 136th project design - Palmetto Bay officials (2019 to date).

Above. the current project, as redesigned and approved by Palmetto Bay officials (2019 to date)
Below- the original design as approved by Palmetto Bay officials pre-2018.



Saturday, June 12, 2021

Flinn Mango co-op is open (free to any who wish, no strings attached). A big year for mangoes. Please take your fair share.

Today’s weather has decreed that Mango Season 2021 has arrived. I have placed a load of mangoes out by my front door for easy pick up (for protection from the weather).  I will place the bin out by the street in better weather.

The guidelines:

  • Take what has been placed out, but do not pick fruit from any of the trees. 
  • You must supply tour own bags for pick up (hopefully reusable totes)
  • Do not enter or remove any fruit from or enter, park in, any neighboring yards. 
  • Do not ring the doorbell.
  • Additional fruit will be placed out as it becomes available.
Thank you for your taking and enjoying the mangoes. 


Food dot com has a listing of mango recipes including Mango Pies and Tarts, Mango Canning, Mango Desserts, Salads, Smoothies; well, you get the idea, it reminds me of the Bubba shrimp scene from Forrest Gump.  There seem to be just as many different recipes for Mango as there are for shrimp! CLICK HERE to view the online article.

Alexandra makes an outstanding mango salsa.  The ideal party or tailgate dip.

The listed recipe for the Garlic Lime Grilled Chicken With Mango Salsa sounds like an absolute must try for the South Florida area.


Have a tree not doing well, or just trying to improve the production?  I recommend the following online article (click the title to read) Mango Growing in the Florida Home Landscape published by the Horticultural Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

Special note: Those looking for livestock quality (good, but not fit for humans) should contact me through social media for available and pick up. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Monday, June 7, 2021

the Personal Attack Fallacy - part of my "inside baseball" series.

From my "inside baseball" series:

personal attack fallacy

Ad hominem means “against the man,” and this type of fallacy is sometimes called name calling or the personal attack fallacy. This type of fallacy occurs when someone attacks the person instead of attacking his or her argument.

I will not dignify the attacker by name as it provides them with the attention they crave.

Sad, very sad. We should all agree that protection of our residents is of utmost importance.

Remember, most of these "attacks" are really proxy attacks - put out on behalf of those unable to properly articulate their arguments. 

Think readers! Perhaps the attackers don't understand (or refuse to acknowledge) the importance of the issue when they attack the messenger rather than resolving the issue. 

Stick to the issue at hand. Avoid ad hominem fallacies.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Weekender - sometimes you do need to poke the bear (don't try this at home). Taking action for the safety of others.

Its easy to say don't poke the bear, but tell that to someone who sees their children or pets at risk. There are those who act in concern for those the care for without concern for their own safety. 

Here is a viral video posted by NBC Los Angeles of a teen who pushes a bear (a mother bear at that!) off the backyard wall in order to protect her dogs. It is fortunate that all came out unscathed.

Full Story relating to the video embedded above: NBC Los Angeles, CAUGHT ON CAMERA - Watch: Dog Mom Pushes Mama Bear With Two Cubs Off Backyard Wall, by Jonathan Lloyd and Nyree Arabian • Published June 1, 2021 • Updated on June 2, 2021

Sometimes you have to poke the bear when you see something of concern, when you see someone at risk!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Here is the affidavit that is required to comply with Palmetto Bay's Shannon Melendi Act - and some discussion points I have received.

Compliance with The Shannon Melendi Act is not difficult. It only takes the will and some effort. Palmetto Bay has a professional staff who are familiar with this critical law of public safety. It has been the law since we adopted the County Code and updated our own version in 2008. Are our current village officials really willing to assume the risks associated with waiving the protections of Palmetto Bay's Shannon Melendi Act? It takes a village. Volunteers at Schools are required to meet these same regulations. Should our Village Parks be any less safe? Did human trafficking go away?

I have received many many comments generated from my post of June 2, 2021.

As one reader commented to me:

Background checks are required for volunteers at church, school and parks, and for working in government, how is this not required for vendors at a recurring event?

Exactly. It’s not difficult. You just have to be willing to make the effort.

Another person (who is affiliated with the school system) opined that:

100% enforcement needed. Let’s not have a false sense of security and forget that Florida had the 3rd highest amount of human trafficking cases in 2020 and the 2nd highest amount of Amber alerts in 2019.

I am posting the affidavit that the Village requires in order to provide assurance that The Shannon Melendi Act is met. CLICK HERE to download and view Palmetto Bay's official SWORN STATEMENT PURSUANT TO ORDINANCE 08-10, SECTION 26-33, THE SHANNON MELENDI ACT (Pictured immediately below)


  • Volunteers at Schools are required to meet these same regulations. Should our Village Parks be any less safe? 
  • Are our current village officials really willing to assume the risks associated with waiving the protections of Palmetto Bay's Shannon Melendi Act? It takes a village. 

PRIOR RELATED POST - BACKGROUND - June 2, 2021, Palmetto Bay's Shannon Melendi Act - more important than ever. Here are the facts and my opinion on enforcing it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Palmetto Bay's Shannon Melendi Act - more important than ever. Here are the facts and my opinion on enforcing it.

I have received many inquiries in the last two weeks about the Shannon Melendi Act as enacted by Palmetto Bay. I am posting the discussion here. The law was enacted in 2008. It has not been amended or repealed by any subsequent administrations. I will add that this law was very important to me. Important as a father as well as a mayor who feels a huge responsibility to safeguarding the safety of our residents, of all ages. Therefore, it was important to me to work to enact our (Palmetto Bay's) own version of the Shannon Melendi Act. As Palmetto Bay's founding mayor, I pushed hard along side the initial Village Council to create what I later coined (and had trademarked) "The Village of Parks" in 2006.

Please note that Miami-Dade County had enacted the Shannon Melendi Act which Palmetto Bay incorporated into our initial parks ordinance. We went further, strengthening this law; casting a wider net of protection for child / personal safety. It was stated in the Ordinance that we, "...are concerned about the security and safety of children visiting Village Parks..." Police, Protection, Parks, ... all part of what I have long called 'the "Ps" of Palmetto Bay.' all are needed to work together for benefit our our village.

Who falls under, who is exempt, from the Palmetto Bay’s version of the Shannon Melendi Act?

The Palmetto Bay’s version of the Shannon Melendi Act applies for any event or program other than a single day event (the one-day picnic, Relay for Life, a single day special event) that takes place in our parks. Where applicable, who must comply with the Shannon Melendi Act? The short answer, in my opinion, nearly everyone other than the following who are specifically excluded:

  • Law enforcement personnel; 
  • Emergency or fire rescue personnel;
  • Persons conducting deliveries; and
  • Military recruitment personnel

Why are those listed above exempt? Because all on this list go through a vigorous background check.

Employers of child event workers, employers of park vendors, and programming partners and CBOs shall, upon request, provide copies of these documents to the village or to any law enforcement personnel with jurisdiction.

Every child event worker, park vendor, and staff member and volunteer of a programming partner or CBO shall wear, in a conspicuous and visible manner, an identification badge that contains his/her photograph and full name while working or volunteering on park property owned or operated by the village, except when in costume and during a performance. The identification badge shall be of a size, design, and format approved by the village park and recreation department.

Volunteers are NOT exempt. The Act does include Volunteers as well. Palmetto Bay’s ordinance defines the applicability as follows: "Volunteer shall refer to any individual performing volunteer duties for a CBO, for a programming partner, for the village's park and recreation department, as a child event worker, or as a park vendor for more than three days in any six-month period. Students volunteering in order to fulfill high school graduation requirements shall be exempted from this definition." (bold emphasis added)

Reading the original Shannon Melendi Act on Municode may be a bit arduous, so here is a link to the actual Ordinance that I and fellow members of the village council championed in 2008: CLICK HERE to view.


By the way, there are penalties for those who violate Palmetto Bay's Shannon Melendi Act. Sec. 20-179. - Section 8CC-10 Schedule of civil penalties. Read the entire code section (CLICK HERE to view this specific section on Municode).

Village Officials, who are charged with enforcing (or amending) Village Codes, may issue a notice of violation which carries a civil penalty up to $500.00 for violations of this action, including: "Failure to secure nationwide criminal background check of a prospective child event worker, park vendor, or employee or volunteer of a programming partner or CBO whose duties would require physical presence on The village-owned or operated park property"

FAIR QUESTION: Should this ordinance (law), The Shannon Melendi Act, be enforced as enacted or applied selectively if at all? I say this law is needed more that ever.

IN MY OPINION: There is no 'explaining away" or "reinterpreting" Palmetto Bay's Shannon Melendi Act. Either enforce it, amend it or repeal it, but don't leave a law on the books and not enforce it. That only risks a false sense of security for our residents and their children that may lead to tragedy. 

BACKGROUND - Why did the members of the Village Council in 2008 enact this ordinance (Law)? For subscribers of the Miami Herald, see: A beloved Miami college student vanished 25 years ago. There was a murder, but no closure, by Miami Herald Archives, March 10, 2019