Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Palm Beach Gardens political math: 4 + 1 = 2 terms

That politicians can be shameless should be no surprise, but sometimes the brazenness of their efforts to hold on to their pedestals (and stipends) can still be jaw-dropping.

Case in point: Palm Beach Gardens Vice Mayor David Levy.

In Palm Beach Gardens in 2014, 79 percent of the voters in this northern Palm Beach County city approved a citizen initiative that limited city council members to two consecutive 3-year terms in office. At the same time, 68 percent of voters approved a second measure making the two-term limit retroactive. The message the voters were sending couldn't be any clearer.

Nonetheless, four-term council member and current vice mayor David Levy has just announced his candidacy for reelection to a fifth consecutive 3-year term.


Wait, there's more. When Palm Beach Gardens resident and term limits supporter Sid Dinerstein launched a legal complaint, Levy -- who won election in 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2013 -- feigned surprise. "I thought it was fairly clear I could run," he told the Palm Beach Post.
David Levy

Levy is backing his statement by pointing out that he took a few months off back in 2012 so therefore the 2010 election shouldn't count. The problem for Levy is that the Palm Beach Gardens law was written explicitly to prevent such chicanery. The operative language states that "no individual shall be elected to the office of council member for than two (2) consecutive full terms."

Often term limits laws are written to limit politicians to serving two full terms in office, which gives sleazy politicians a pretext for claiming -- a la Levy -- that if they resigned a month or two early they didn't serve their full terms and hence could run again. Not so in Palm Beach Gardens.

But perhaps we should grant Levy some small praise. He is, after all, providing a public service by demonstrating exactly why term limits were needed in Palm Beach Gardens in the first place.

Palm Beach County voters are welcome to send an email to urge Levy to respect the law that they petitioned and voted for and to leave the council with dignity.

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