Friday, December 8, 2017
Last night, the Palm Beach Gardens city council voted to place four amendments on the sleepy March ballot, one of which would overturn the 6-year term limits law approved in November 2014 by 79% of Palm Beach gardens voters in a high-turnout general election. While the self-serving majority rushed to extend their terms via their new term limits proposal, one council member brought the citizens to their feet with his thoughtful case for honesty and restraint. Here is Matthew Jay Lane's case for his sole nay vote:
This leads me to the third issue. The reason that the committees proposal doesn’t stagger the terms is because the members of the committee were not given sufficient time to complete their work. I attended a presentation by the vice chair of the charter review committee where she said the committee didn’t have sufficient time to look into the issue of staggering the terms and the facilitator of the committee, Dr. Lee, commented that this whole process was being done in weeks when it usually takes months to years to appropriately and thoughtfully complete this task.
Fourth, the city shouldn’t be spending between $70-80,000 for a free-standing election where these important proposals are being hidden on a March ballot with the hope that they’ll be passed. Two-thirds of the registered voters voted for term limits in a general election where there was a high voter turnout. By placing this issue on the ballot this March we are permitting a small group of 1,000-2,000 people to overturn the vote of the 20,000 people who voted for a specific term limit.
Fifth, two of the five members of the charter review committee thought that we should have two four-year terms, which is really the norm across the country and the norm in the state of Florida. And I believe that the logic supporting this proposal is substantial and persuasive. And so I agree with two of the five members of the charter review committee on this issue. However, I have discussed this at a prior meeting and I won’t keep you here to hear my rationale again.
So, although I have high regard for the five people who agreed to serve on the charter review committee, I consider them as friends, and although as a matter of course I usually agree with these people 95% of the time, on this issue strongly disagree and I am voting against all four of the proposed changes to the charter. I believe the recommendations of the charter review committee were badly timed, rushed through without sufficient time to do the job right, are being hidden on the March ballot where very few people are expected to attend, and they are incomplete proposals...
... The public also needs to know that we as a council are receiving emails almost daily opposing the [council's new] term limits which were recently voted upon by 80%. If we pass these ordinances in the deceptive form in which they are written, we are intentionally -- these ordinances as written are intentionally attempting to deceive the public and we will be that type of politician that we are being accused of being in all these emails from our constituents who opposed these [new] term limits.
So for these reasons, I am voting against.
MAYOR MARIA MARINO: Sit down, please! No clapping, please!
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
When voters approved a retroactive term limits initiative with 79% of the vote in 2014, the political establishment of this small city of gated communities and golf courses went berserk.
One council member, David Levy, simply refused to obey the new limits and City Clerk Patricia Snider and other officials lined up to defend their own in court against the citizens. To add insult to injury, they used the citizens' tax money to do it.
They lost in court, but the fight didn't end there. In their first term in office, the new crop of council members have taken a unified stand against the results of the 2014 elections, creating a new referendum to gut the term limits law. But they aren't going to offer this new amendment to the general electorate. How could they? The council already knows that 79% of the voters approve of the term limits.
Instead, at their Dec. 7 meeting, the council is expected to vote (first reading) to put an anti-term limits proposal on the March ballot tucked inside a series of amendments recommended by a phony, hand-picked Charter Review Commission. The council members know that turnout will be light, with maybe as few as 1,000-2,000 voters going to the polls. Compare this to the 20,000 who voted in 2014. The council members know that they can count on the special interest constituencies in the town to turn out their supporters and they can use Palm Beach Gardens resources to promote the measure.
Only with this deceitful multi-level scheme can they hope to overturn the expressed will of the voters. If this proposal is presented to the general Palm Beach Gardens electorate, it wouldn't have a prayer.
This move is particularly brazen when you consider that the Palm Beach Gardens Charter explicitly warns against corrupt referendum shenanigans like this one. See Sec. 26-7(a) Calling of Election: "Except as otherwise provided in the law or city charter, an election shall be held in conjunction with a regular state, county or city election." In spite of this clear direction, the council will vote Thursday to place the referendum alone on the March ballot.
In 2014, the voters gave Palm Beach Gardens 6-year term limits, just like Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach. West Palm Beach and Wellington have 8-year limits. The Palm Beach Gardens proposal, if approved by a small subset of voters in March, would weaken the term limit to nine years, the weakest term limit in Palm Beach County!
Palm Beach Gardens residents are encouraged to email the council members and tell them to leave the voter-approve term limits alone. Also, at 5 p.m., prior to Thursday's council meeting, there will a sign-waving outside city hall at 10500 N. Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens. Join us!
Monday, November 27, 2017
Last year, the Orlando Sentinel revealed that candidates the Orange County school board were raking in campaign contributions from the building industry. At the same time, a school building boom is under way in Orange County, with plans to open 13 new campuses by 2020.
Sunday, November 26, 2017
On the CRC, the proposal comes from commission member Erika Donalds, a Collier County School Board member and past president of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members. Donalds has seen the need for term limits first-hand.
"Serving in office too long makes you more loyal to the institution as opposed to representing the people that put you there," she told the Naples News. She pointed out many board members have held their positions for decades.
And not all school board members are as public-spirited as Donalds.
One reason why some Florida school board members cling to their positions and oppose term limits is simply naked self-interest. Unlike states like Texas, Florida pays all of its school board members for what is essentially a part-time job. In Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Orange Counties, the salary is $44,443 annually. Compare this to school board members in New York, Houston and Chicago where school board members serve without pay. In fact most school board members nationwide do so as a public service, rather than a job, according to the National School Board Association.
Without term limits, mutually beneficial relationships form over time between the entrenched incumbents and these special interests. The school board members get paid handsomely and re-elected forever and the lobbyists, unions, politicians and bureaucrats are happy.
However, what about the children and their parents? Where do they fit in?
The fact is, too often they don't.
We can change that next November, but first we have to get this idea on the ballot. We have two chances. Let's get to work.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
The group has published a website and a Facebook page, so it is easy to find the campaign and get involved.
Registered voters in Pompano Beach are encouraged to request petitions from the new Pompano Beach Term Limits website to sign and get signed by family, friends and associates.
Important note: You can print and copy petitions yourself for circulation. But city regulations require that the petitions be printed on both sides of one sheet of paper. Two-page petitions will not be counted as valid.
The petitions have started circulating and the group has a couple hundred in hand. The group needs contributions and volunteers, quick! Please forward this info to everyone you know in Pompano Beach.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Citizens in Palm Beach Gardens spent time, money and effort to put term limits on the ballot for the city council. Voters approved the measure with 79% of the vote in a general election in November 2014. It was a case of grass roots democracy for which the city can be proud.
The council, however, was furious and took the citizens to court -- and lost. Now the new council is working to put a new term limits measure on the ballot gutting the newly enacted term limits, making them the longest and weakest in the county.
Worse, since they know they cannot win an honest, straightforward vote, they aim to put the anti-term limits measure on the March 2018 ballot where it would appear all by itself. Whereas 20,000 people voted in the general election in November 2014, the council expects maybe 1,000 or even less to vote in March.
PBG residents, please go here to send a quick email to the council and tell them:
Hands off our term limits!
* Palm Beach Gardens has 6-year term limits, just as Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach. West Palm Beach and Wellington have 8-year limits. The council is discussing 9- or even 12-year limits, making them the weakest term limits in the county.
* Palm Beach Gardens city council is the second-highest paid council in the county. They are nominally paid about $30,000 -- but this figures balloons to $62,000 or more with all the perks and reimbursed expenses factored in -- for this part-time job. It includes an FRS pension too. Sadly, this is may be a key reason why council members are so adamant about retaining their positions.
* The Palm Beach Gardens Charter warns against corrupt referendum shenanigans in Sec. 26-7(a) Calling of Election: “Except as otherwise provided in the law or city charter, an election issue shall be held in conjunction with a regular state, county or city election.” In spite of this clear direction, the council currently aims to place the referendum alone on the March ballot.
* There has been no discussion of time already served of being counted under the proposed weaker limits. Hence, the new council may really pushing for 12-year (or even 15-year) limits for only themselves. This is a far, far cry from the 6-year limits that citizens proposed and approved with 79% of the vote.
* Under the current six-year term limits, incumbents can sit out one term and then run again. That is, they are consecutive, not lifetime, limits.
* Whereas the campaign to put the term limits measure on the ballot took time, money and hard work on behalf of citizens, the well-paid council can place the issue back on the ballot via an effortless vote, forcing citizens to sacrifice more time, money and hard work after winning handily as recently as 2014. And, yes, the council will be spending the citizens’ tax monies on a special election to thwart them.
The conflict of interest inherent in this new council-led anti-term limits proposal is clear as day. They have their seats and their new perks and they aim to keep them, voters be damned!