Holiday Greetings from the other side of the world….
….but what the City Manager/Administration with the concurrence of the City Council is doing is simply incredible, unacceptable….
Below for your review are two communications prepared by concerned residents George O’Rourke and John Gore. These communications have been sent to each of the individual City Council members complaining about a suspicious scheduling strategy for two incredibly ‘resident unfriendly’ high profile items set for public hearings at important advisory boards during this holiday week; to wit: the Community Appearance Board (CAB) and the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z).
Dear City Manager and Council Members,
I am writing this in response to a Council meeting I attended last Tuesday which exhibited perhaps the weakest display of leadership that I have ever witnessed at any Council meeting over the many years I have been an observer.
I will not dwell on the tedious, outrageous, boondoggle which ensued over signage requirements for a shopping center, other than to say; embarrassing.
The topic I bring into question is the scheduling of an important agenda item scheduled for P&Z for December 22 involving the rezoning of more than 240 acres in an important part of our city.
Myself, along with two others in attendance requested a postponement of this meeting to a future date where the public would have the opportunity to weigh in on this issue. In light of the holiday season this was a rational request that deserved your attention. If you truly represent the residents of the city you would give them the opportunity to fully participate in items of import.
Instead, this is what was heard during your closing reports:
Both Haynie and Weinroth continue with their pattern of disdain for certain segments of their constituency.
Rodgers: (to paraphrase) I would be fine with postponement to the next meeting but that one is probably already scheduled. Maybe we can discuss it but I’ll go along with whatever…
Talk about taking the ball to the five-yard line and then fumbling into the end zone. Mr. Rodgers deserves an almost “thank you”.
Singer: Brought up the fact that the scheduled meeting was out of sync with the normal planning and zoning calendar.
But here is our prize of the evening:
City Manager Leif Ahnell:
- P&Z sets their own calendar.
- The calendar has been set since 2015.
- The item will come before Council three times so the public will have opportunity then.
There are additional inane comments I could add, but let’s address some of those I mentioned.
First of all, the public spoke about a specific agenda item and you folks chose to just focus on the calendar and not address the heart of the issue.
Note to Mr. Ahnell: Forget the P&Z calendar creation. Not one resident brought up the concern of the overall “calendar” scheduling process. Quite frankly, I could care less. What does matter is the Agenda Item itself and its significance to the public at large. When was the public properly noticed of this meeting? (By the way, the P&Z agenda is still not listed on the City website. I suggest that if a sign is able to be created and placed on a subject property, then that item should immediately be added to the City website as an agenda item, even if noted as preliminary. Residents cannot read a sign as they whiz by in traffic but it could alert them to visit the City website for details. THIS IS 2016.) The important factor here is the public needs their opportunity to weigh in on this subject at the official meetings. By scheduling that particular item on December 22, the City has taken away the single opportunity for input by residents to the P&Z Board.
Second, the three meetings that Mr. Ahnell refers to occur in front of the same five individuals. This effectively eliminates what could be a different point of view from a separate entity.
Third, (sarcasm intended) the residents of the city that vote, generally have educations beyond the sixth grade, and therefore, have the capability to figure out much of what goes on at your meetings when they observe. We are aware that as a governing body, you do, in fact, have every right to monitor calendars and to make recommended changes to postpone meetings when it makes sense and is in the best interest of the community. To listen to the nonsense that occurred at the end of your meeting one would conclude that planning and zoning was a separate entity unto its own and unrelated to the governing by Council and the City Manager.
Finally, the agenda item mentioned may very well be a commonsense adjustment to fulfill a practical buildout of a specific area. Of that, I have no conclusion. What concerns me most is the repeated scheduling of important agenda items at times that appear to favor those seeking an approval and inconvenient to the residents that have every right to participate in the process. It is a pattern that is well calculated and has occurred many times over in Boca Raton.
A footnote to all of this is the fact that CAB will now be reviewing Mizner 200 this coming Tuesday, the same night of the Boca bowl. As you are more than aware this has been a hot button issue and once again you have allowed an agenda item to be placed on the calendar when residents are otherwise distracted.
I look forward to a point in time when I can say “keep up the good work.”
Dear City Manager and City Council and CAB Members,
On behalf of the membership of BocaBeautiful, I would like to strongly echo the comments made by Mr. O’Rourke in his e-mail to you. Too often we have seen important meetings scheduled either at the last minute, or with vague agenda items, or on dates that seem purposely designed to discourage public participation.
For example, we just found out that the CAB is planning to meet this coming Tuesday evening and that a possible redesign of Mizner 200 is on the agenda as the final item. That night happens to coincide with the popular Boca Bowl, not to mention the fact that many of our members are out of town for the holidays. Those who are able to attend will have to sit through lengthy signage approvals and other mundane business before (and if) the CAB gets to 200 Mizner. Do not let a lack of attendance seem like an indication of lack of opposition to 200 Mizner as it is now proposed. We are certain that 200 Mizner will be a very hot topic as it moves through the approval process, and any shortcuts or favoritism will be duly advertised. We will make it a very hot topic, because it is so important to our members.
We understand your reluctance to have full public participation at these kinds of meetings. It is uncomfortable for everyone. But it is how the process should work. The alternative is to seek a change of course at the polling booth. This November’s Boca Question is a case in point. And March 2017 looms.
John C. Gore, President, BocaBeautiful.org
I cannot imagine a more ‘resident unfriendly’ strategy to evade public participation in matters of such importance.
The CAB will consider yet another re-design for what will be the most impactful downtown project, Mizner 200 on December 20th, the same night of the Boca Bowl at FAU’s stadium.
The P&Z Board will consider an application to create a new zoning district category for the high density ‘quality of life’ project known as ‘Midtown’; a project affecting Boca Raton’s western communities and residents.
Of course, one can not overlook that these dates are within the holiday week when many residents are traveling and celebrating both Christmas/Chanukah; perhaps the most celebrated holidays by many residents of Boca Raton.
What is the rush??? Why the purposeful action to deny public input??? Both these items are being brought forward with questionable public notice and with an apparent intentional design to ‘evade’ public participation.
The City Council, once again, demonstrates a political will to advance developer interests over the interests of the resident….
There is no justification for these underhanded means to evade the public’s participation….
We urge all of Boca Raton’s residents to attend these meetings or, at the very least, communicate to City Officials to table these items until the public has been given proper notice to participate.
Mayor Susan Haynie – firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Mayor Mike Mullaugh – email@example.com
Councilman Mayor Robert Weinroth – firstname.lastname@example.org
CRA Chair/Councilman Scott Singer – email@example.com
Jeremy Rodgers – firstname.lastname@example.org
Your voice is your vote; let your voice be heard March’ 17