The following letter was written by Boca Raton resident Robert Eisen to the Editor of the Sun Sentinel Newspaper and published on June 16, 2016.
In a June 7 Sun Sentinel article, Randy Schultz writes, “Some Boca Raton residents want to engineer a fraud on the people in the name of “the people.” He is referring to an initiative petition recently filed calling for a vote on whether the city owned Wildflower Property should become a city park.
The city bought the Wildflower Property in 2009 when it was offered at a price too good to pass on. The city then engaged in a lengthy process to determine the best use. City staff, city boards and the City Council mulled over the options, which included a park. After public hearings were held, the City Council decided a waterfront restaurant was the best choice.
Personally, I find the City Council’s stewardship over the Wildflower exemplary, the choice of a waterfront restaurant sagacious and the lease with such an outstanding operator as Hillstone Restaurant Group fortunate and lucrative.
With all the merits of the restaurant option in his favor, why then does Schultz stoop so low in his article to denigrate the residents who, as is their right, seek a vote on the Wildflower and savage the initiative process itself — a bastion of democracy.
The right of referendum, initiative and recall reserved to the people in the Boca Raton Charter allows the voters, not the City Council, to make a final decision on a given issue of importance. The initiative petition is the start of a process with many safeguards that results in a question being submitted to the voters — in this case the November general election, where the turnout of Boca Raton’s 60,880 registered voters will be high. The petition will be vetted by the city attorney and the City Council, and if the question does appear on the November ballot it will offer the voters a clear and unambiguous choice regarding the future of the Wildflower.
The right of referendum, initiative and recall is common to local governments and is democracy at its finest. How the exercise of such cherished rights could be called fraudulent is beyond my understanding. How the exercise of such cherished rights could be compared to our dysfunctional Congress is likewise beyond my understanding.
The residents sponsoring the Wildflower initiative are mostly from the Riveria and Por La Mar subdivisions. Over the years I have been on the other side of many issues with them. I have found them to be reasonable, well intended and steadfast in the protection of their neighbor. To brand them as “frauds” is wrong and mean spirited.
Schultz has written several blogs favoring the controversial Mizner 200 project. He likewise denigrates residents saying: “So if residents of Townsend Place to the south, who objected so strongly to New Mizner on the Green, now complain that Mizner 200 would look wall-like, that complaint would be inconsistent and hypocritical.”
If Schultz wants to be the journalistic “wassertrager” for Boca Raton special interests, that is fine with me. But please do not be so nasty and dismissive of our fellow residents. Nice works better.
Robert A. Eisen is a Boca Raton resident
BocaWatch Note: In this week’s BocaWatch blog article The Facts Behind the Citizen’s Petition for Wildflower Property on the Intracoastal by Jim Wood, he clears up the confusion and misconception put out by Randy Schultz and other critics. The article informs that the petition does not eliminate the opportunity to have food served or sold on the property. It has been made clear that the large number of residents who take the time to involve themselves in city issues want to be part of the decision of what is to become of the Wildflower site. Up to this point they have not had their voices acknowledged.