In the Easter Sunday Palm Beach Post article authored by Alexandra Clough, resident Mike Nolan is quoted saying “…city officials seem disinterested in giving residents adequate notice of hearing….”, a theme echoed in BocaWatch by many residents and exampled in numerous ways over the last few years…..Mayor Haynie’s response to this charge is that “…the city is committed to having the public input…”  She goes on to cite as example the upcoming April 29th workshop evaluating the Mark project; to wit: the ‘experiment’ under the Interim Design Guidelines.  Of course, this experiment is being evaluated by the same team of paid experts that created the IDG and the Pattern Book back in 2008.  Not exactly an independent evaluation.

What is not said in Mayor Haynie’s response is the administration’s recent attempt to conduct a public workshop on this item on April 2nd, with notice given at 5 P.M. on Friday, March 27, a mere 6 days before one of the most contentious items facing the Council this year . Notwithstanding short notice, this meeting called for over 5 hours of public comment on the Thursday before the highest holy holidays of the year. 

Does that seem like a plan designed to attract the public participation and ascertain the residents’ sentiments and concerns?  I think not….

That said, it made me think again about other actions that were meant to dissuade resident involvement….

Off the top of my head, I can think of one or two like when CRA Chair Constance Scott call for the city administration to investigate punitive measures that may be imposed against residents who cause delay of development projects with their efforts to be heard…but, I digress….(see You Tube below)

Perhaps a better way to make the point is to publish an article I wrote for the Boca Tribune in 2013 which the Tribune did not publish, but which captures the ‘public invitation’ issue quite well…..

Titled “The Tale of Two Susans”….this is an article that will surely cause controversy but will also stimulate thought about whether the residents were then or are now genuinely invited to participate and be heard…. or whether as Mr. Nolan says:  ”….There is a wink and a nod and it’s a given these things are going to pass.”

Happy Easter……Al Zucaro, BocaWatch

From 2013  –   A TALE OF TWO ‘SUSANs’…..and so it begins

Last week many of us received the first of what may be an endless stream of communications from candidates seeking the office of Mayor in the city of Boca Raton. 

Eleven months before an actual election vote; at least one month in front of the 2013 goal setting policy results; and, months in front of a published City budget, we have what is the beginnings of another political season, an endless contest of elected officials wanting to be reelected on weak voting records and poor leadership performance

What we may have now are ‘two’ distinct candidates:

SUSAN vs SUSAN = How lucky can we get?…..

In the proverbial ‘RED’ corner: Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie… 

Who in an email dated April 10, 2013, declared with an exclamation point, ”Exciting News!”. That news, of course, is that she has “officially filed to run for Mayor of Boca Raton”.  She bellows that the city has made great strides as a world class destination; has maintained a balanced budget with little increase in taxes; and, that she, by working with “neighborhoods and business community”, has protected the City’s character and improved its quality of life.  Deputy Mayor Haynie’s platform is to continue improving public safety; work to attract and retain jobs; and, increase vital tax revenues…certainly laudable aspirations….

In the proverbial ‘BLUE’ corner:  Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie….Who has demonstrated a platform that is less than laudable, less than what is expected by the citizens of Boca Raton…..with character demonstrations of less than good judgment by her actions over the last few years. 

Was it not this Deputy Mayor who participated in the March 2012 election with the most vitriolic and hurtful political campaign in the history of the City of Boca Raton?  And,was it not this Deputy Mayor that has voted over the years to adopt the pension and benefit packages that are now subject of so much acrimony in the public debate over the past few months?

Considering the issues contained in last week’s email, this Deputy Mayor’s credentials contain ‘little’ demonstrative progress in ‘defining’ our city as a ‘world class destination.’  Since May, 2012, the goal to establish a ‘Sister City’ platform and promote ‘world class’ culture and commerce has seen little measurable progress.

On balancing the budget…..Yes, this Deputy Mayor did instruct the City Manager to do just that and to do it with ‘little’ tax increases.  A point of fact, however, is that all five city council members took this exact same position and deserve shared credit for accomplishing what each of them were obligated to do by law and by the City’s Charter….

“Working with the neighborhoods”….Was it not this Deputy Mayor who has participated in the collective City Council’s attempt to squash a citizens’ petition to conduct a vote of the people on the Archstone project? 

Was it not this Deputy Mayor who has supported efforts in Tallahassee to take away the opportunity of ‘referendum’ and ‘petition’, a tool to be used by the citizens when elected officials do things that are improper or not in the best interest of our city?

Was it not this Deputy Mayor that voted over objection of staff, over objection of FAU and over objection of neighborhood voices on the 20th street housing corridor question just a mere few months ago?

On the issue of protecting the character of our city and improving our quality of life….

Was it not this Deputy Mayor who votes consistently to change the character of our downtown by allowing a behemoth project of almost 900 linear feet and over 100 feet in height on the north side of Palmetto Park Road, a project that has no equal in the city and will certainly change the character and face of our downtown?

Let us not forget the lesser ‘quality of life’ people in the surrounding neighborhood and on the east side of the bridge will have to endure at the expense of this Deputy Mayor’s votes. 

All this in advance of the additional congestion at the intersection of N.E. 5th Ave and Palmetto Park Road when the Wildflower project is brought forward…..

So what is actually going on….

First, it is mere political posturing to announce a candidacy this early….the strategic objective is to raise money and to lock in support before the issues are clearly defined and people have an opportunity to know what the anticipated outcomes may be…..

Second, with eleven months to go…starting an election cycle now is a disservice to the citizens of this city as there are very important issues to work on and these issues are undermined when electioneering is the driving force….

Third, substantive issues are not yet well defined and a candidate’s voting history will be of significant importance, a voting record that this Deputy Mayor may not want to have front and center.….

Elections are contentious….the time between elections is when things actually must get done….Beginning a campaign now is not productive….it is more than that, it is counterproductive. 

Even when, as here, a single candidate with dual personalities, is merely ‘shadow’ boxing….

So to the proverbial two SUSANs….put away the gloves and do the job you are currently elected to do…the citizens will have their moment to reward or penalize you based upon the accomplishments and virtues of your performance not the glossy, slick presentations of your political handlers and consultants…..

YOU TUBE – Councilwoman Constance Scott wants to fine citizens

YOU TUBE – Mayor Whelchel taking away Citizen’s 1st Amendment rights

YOU TUBE – Planning & Zoning Board Member Glenn Gromann disrespecting the voice of citizens