Double Fault: Council Shuns Residents, Votes Against Tennis Contract

meeting overflow

Palmetto Bay council meeting resident overflow into foyer. Inaudible televisions, outside tv not working, inadequate parking...

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

From: Gunther  & Shirley Karger
Palmetto Bay votes against renewing Jane Forman’s Tennis Academy
Gunther & Shirley Karger say goodbye to Palmetto Bay

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.

What we experienced tonight  made us feel less regretful about us leaving this community after 43 years and serving it in various roles.  This week we will close on our new home in Homestead and will move there over the next two months.  Although we will no longer appear at Palmetto Bay village hall on your behalf, we will still remain in Miami Dade County and will continue to address state and national issues.

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”

gus and shirley karger

Gunther (Gus) and Shirley Karger

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8 Comments on "Double Fault: Council Shuns Residents, Votes Against Tennis Contract"

  1. Michele Haber | April 11, 2011 at 12:18 am | Reply

    To Palmetto Bay Watcher,
    I admit, I have not been following this issue, but as a resident of Palmetto Bay I’d like to think we are all adult enough to discuss any issue without descending into nasty, vitriolic attacks against our neighbors. There are enough problems and angst being generated in this country, already. Let’s not make things any worse but turning our neighborhoods into verbal war zones, too! We need to all get a grip! I don’t know Gunther and Shirley Karger – but as residents of Palmetto Bay for 43 years, I can only believe they have had the best interest of PB at heart – no one lives somewhere for 43 years and has no feeling for the community. So I, for one, wish them well and hope they find the best of luck and happiness in their new home.
    Michele Haber

  2. Know what it's like to pack a hall with people, but have the Council vote the other way. We did it regarding the Perrine Park (Palmetto Bay Park) matter, and others. Come to think of it, though, we filled it with actual Palmetto Bay voters (not non-residents and kids), and still lost. We did not subsequently move out of town, however (though some dropped out of politics). If plebescites decided matters, however, we would not even be (for example) talking with Palmer-Trinity. Ex-Mayor Flynn said more than once that this was not direct-democracy.
    I had no "dog in this race", but believe I know where the 4-1 came from. I was angry when I learned that the County had stuck us with a contract days before we took the park. Good or bad, we did not negotiate it. We had no chance to consider our own tennis instruction, or to examine competitive bids. To ameliorate the worst portions of it, we gave Jane a 5-year renewal, with the $120,000 being the buy-off price for the next 5-years. Well, now we have bought her out, and we can find out what is out there, for ourselves (like we should have been able to 10 years ago). These things have a way of working out. The sky is not falling. Life goes on in Palmetto Bay.
    PS, why don't we get "Positive People in Palmetto Bay" (instead of the "negative people" story that you can see coming, like we get every month) on the front page of this newspaper's VPB version?

    • Good point about the positive people in palmetto bay. I'll talk to the guys in charge and see about getting it done.

  3. Part 1 of 2 –
    Some points of clarification:

    Ms. Forman DID make a presentation to the Council. On February 1, 2011 Ms. Forman submitted a detailed, 21-page report and analysis to the Council, Village Attorney, and Village Manager. The report outlined the income, maintenance, and management of the tennis operation, as well as a review of scholarships and community service hours given to students. Most importantly, the report offered a comparative analysis to two other municipal tennis programs operated by outside vendors.

    [Side note – our Village earned a much higher percentage of revenue from our contract with Ms. Forman than the programs operated at Continental Park and Ron Ehmann Park]

    You also implied Ms. Forman should have, “…negotiated with the council…” An interesting perspective except for the fact the tennis contract was up for extension – NOT for renewal. The terms of the current contract had been debated, reviewed and ultimately accepted by ALL parties five years ago. There was nothing to negotiate – just a vote on whether the contract should be extended.

  4. Part 2 of 2:

    For the record, I did NOT write or edit the tennis article, nor did I contribute any information or material to the author, Mr. Karger. Mr. Karger circulated his letter, via email, the night of the Council vote. After reading his comments, I invited Mr. Karger to run his article in our Eye on Palmetto Bay blog. He agreed to do so, and we ran his story, word for word, exactly as he submitted it.

    EPB is a forum for sharing issues, events and the community spirit that empowers our lives. We encourage all residents to submit both articles and story lines to the EPB blog.

    We even invite you, PalmettBayWatcher, to submit an article or story, although we would ask you to refrain from vitriolic criticism, and to have the courage and decency to use your real name and not hide behind an Internet pseudonym.

  5. Why is it fair to burden resident tennis players with generating a profit for the city? Don't I already pay property tax? The higher you make the operator's rent, the higher the tennis fees must rise and I resent this.

    I wonder if the dog park, tot lot, or baseball field, are generating profits for the town.

  6. So the city decided to not renew Forman's tennis contract. Instead they sent the management services out to bid. Several tennis companies made bid proposals. Now what happens? I have not seen any newspaper articles about the conclusion of this saga.

    • so , does anyone know what happened with the tennis management in Palmetto Bay? Is the city making money or losing money?

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