On Monday night, April 4, 2011, the Palmetto Bay Council voted against the renewal of the vendor’s agreement with the Jane Forman Tennis Academy, for the management of the tennis facility located at Coral Reef Park in Palmetto Bay. Gunther Karger, long-time resident and community activist, attended the meeting and addressed the Council in support of a renewal of the tennis contract. After the meeting, Mr. Karger wrote an open email to the Council and the community. Here are his thoughts concerning the result of Monday night’s Council decision:
“Monday, April 4, 2011
The people of Palmetto Bay crammed Village Hall at tonight’s meeting to urge the Village Council to renew the Jane Forman tennis academy contract. But the Council voted 4-1 to kill the program with Patrick Fiore the only councilperson who apparently listened to the people. The rest listened to the wisdom of village manager Ron Williams , politics and themselves. The council worked harder to find reasons to cancel the contract than logic to continue it. The council except Patrick Fiore:
- Believed it’s worth paying Jane Forman $140,000 cash to see her go.
- Decided it’s best to bring the tennis operation in house giving up $75,000 annual lease income to the Village
- Believes it’s better to add expensive staff to the village payroll than letting an experienced outside vendor run a business she knows well.
- Believes it’s better to see a successful operation leave and start from scratch with new in-house parks staff, having to spend over $200,000 to create a new operation than just leaving alone a well operating business.
- Totally ignored the national trend toward less government by taking a step of potentially increasing village staff by 75%.
- Decided that it’s OK to spend all this money because “it’s in the budget”.
- Ignored the need to spend only wnat [sic] is really necessary given today’s economic reality
Tonight was in my opinion not a very good night for Palmetto Bay. Your leaders over-rode the voice of the people by believing they are wiser than the sum total of our residents. Tonight was another time confirming to me that public input in Palmetto Bay has become a joke, nearly meaningless and an exercise in show rather than substance.
What Shirley & I witnessed tonight, seeing the village hall overflowing with students, parents and teachers was not what we have come to expect during the 43 years we have lived here. This no longer seems to be a village of the people who voted for our own town to get away from “downtown”. We appear to have made full circle and returned “downtown” to what today is called Palmetto Bay.
Shirley and I wish each of you well. It has been our privilege serving you. We will not be far away and we may see many of you around Palmetto Bay. However, our appearance tonight at Village Hall ends our public service in this village.
Gunther (Gus) & Shirley Karger”