The crescendo has been building at Palmetto Bay’s trouble council meetings since early 2011. The question for those frustrated nonaligned residents waiting for a return to reasonableness is whether recent events signal a climax or the point of no return.
Those who watch meetings on TV can gain painful insight on how not to run a government, especially if you view the last five minutes of the April council meeting when, after losing a vote, Mayor Shelley Stanczyk reportedly was so visibly upset by the outcome she actually got up and left the dais without adjourning the meeting. People were dumbfounded.
The council comments remained on the agenda so it was improper for her to walk out, prematurely ending the meeting. This is another first, another low point for Palmetto Bay’s history. That is no way for an elected official to run the people’s business.
Palmetto Bay lacks leadership all around the dais. Despite loud complaints, nothing has been done to address the lack of civility, transparency or even allowing anyone not affiliated with completing campaigns to address concerns of public interest. Senseless squabbling, often through intermediaries, still remains business du jour.
The April Committee of the Whole meeting was overshadowed by a lawyer representing plaintiffs who are members of or suing members of the council and former candidates in separate lawsuits against the other council members and their supporters, who used public comments as a time to blast the village attorney.
This was uncalled for and adds even more toxic air to meetings. The mayor impotently allowed what many termed impertinent attacks unabated. Campaign supporters, plaintiffs and defendants in the lawsuits, including a spouse of a council member, regularly come to the microphone at meetings to blast sitting members of the council or each other in attendance. Bold statements of “bring it on,” daring each other on regarding the litigation, are made on the public record. Who can stomach this behavior?
Make no mistake about it — there is a real crisis in leadership going on in Palmetto Bay. The people need to step in and stop it. No one who voted for incorporation to create a village where you find police reports filed by members of the public and even a council member against spouses of sitting council members for threats of violence, — one event occurring at a council meeting, the other at an election polling place.
There are police reports of destruction of campaign signs by council spouses. Police having to intervene signals a total lack of civility. And shame on the mayor for failing to maintain decorum and, more importantly, dignity for the community.
But the blame should not end there. Shame on the rest of the council for not stepping in when the mayor fails to stop this misbehavior.
What a difference in leadership between two cities. Pinecrest has the “No Place for Hate” program that has led to Pinecrest being designated a “Community of Respect.” Obviously it has merely driven this behavior south to Palmetto Bay where bad behavior has been elevated to official business. Perhaps Palmetto Bay leadership should take some lesson from their neighbors and work to return civility. The first step is to set an example and then shun those who drag Palmetto Bay through the mud with their shameless public anticsResidents need to demand better from the mayor and council in this current Palmetto Bay government. This cannot wait until the next election to cure.