Take Palmetto Bay, where the current officials continue to bombard residents with far too many instances of the political bogeyman. First it was Palmer. What started out as a legitimate zoning dispute, but turned into a political scare tactic by Mayor Shelley Stanczyk and Vice Mayor Brian Pariser as a tool for extending floundering political careers — and they are spending hard earned tax dollars to do it. The courts have consistently ruled against the Palmetto Bay officials, even going so far in a recent opinion that the elected officials acted either from “wishful thinking” or “more likely a willful disobedience” of prior court orders. The court outed Palmetto Bay, not Palmer, as the bully.
The cleanup is not even done with Palmer and Palmetto Bay officials are moving onto the next scare. They now have a new enemy to scare you into voting for them. The officials are misleading the public that “only three members of the council have tried to protect the community from over development. Those developers waiting at the gate of Palmetto Bay to get rid of those council members are only looking to fill their pockets.”
Walmart in a residential district? A ginormous high school by Christ Fellowship Church? Again, really? The misinformation from some officials grows bolder with each failed attempt. Where is Palmetto Bay on the pending Charter School lawsuit? Now there is another Bogeyman that needs some serious exploitation.
Bogeyman politics is the last refuge for a scoundrel and is employed to allow the enactment of regulations that will harm many more than just the alleged bogeyman and under- mine anyone who disagrees with those employing the bogeyman; but most important of all, it is used to keep the current elected officials in power.
This is similar to the wartime president argument: To not reelect a sitting president in time of war is bantered as a sign of weakness in the face of the enemy. You love your country, don’t you? Supporters will insist that all good patriots need to rally around the flag and do your part to allow the president to bring the conflict to a suc- cessful conclusion. This is not recent history. I am told that this rhetoric was employed in the re-election of James Madison. Similarly, a bogeyman is employable as the reason not to shift policy direction on a local level or risk loss of the great effort against evil. The bogeyman can even be used as a tool to extend term limits as those holding office will assure you that only they can protect you.
Everyone should be concerned. The political fear mongering can lead to new over- reaching rules and regulations that will affect everyone, not just the stated target of hatred. An example would be a “new and improved” noise ordinance or other regulations designed to make sure that sounds from that school’s soccer game or swim meet does not waft over into a neighboring yard.
Sounds peaceful. What’s the problem? Well just wait until a neighbor is miffed because there are one too many cars on the street or near his/her home for your kid’s birthday party and they don’t happen to like the sounds of screaming kids on the trampoline or cannon balling into the pool.
Those regulations you thought were to be employed only against the big bad bogeyman are now shutting down your seemingly normal activity at your home or business. Explain that to your spouse or worse, explain that to your children and guests or customers.
To rephrase the character President Andrew Shepherd in the 1995 movie The American President: The problem of the current mayor and vice mayor isn’t that they don’t get it. Their problem is that they can no longer sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, the mayor and vice mayor are not the least bit interested in solving it. They are interest- ed in two things and two things only — making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentle- men, is how you win elections.
I believe that Palmetto Bay residents and business owners realize that such serious times require something more than inane rhetoric and spending millions in legal fees by all sides. This coming election needs to focus on the need for vision, fairness and consistency, not a helping of scare tactics of the political bogeyman.