Palm Bay: More Shiny Things.

The Palm Bay City Council meets tonight at 7:00 PM with the agenda being found here.

There are several items of interest to us, but the big one is the ballot questions resulting from the debacle with the petition group, the City and the Supervisor of Elections.

Here is the agenda item:

The first question for the ballot is simply to return the language of Chapter 6.02 of the City Charter to the pre-2016 language. In 2016, voters approved different wording in part based on the figures the City and the City Council gave to people on what the special assessments would cost them directly. Those figures were grossly understated and so a petition committee was formed seeking to return the language to the pre-2016 wording.

The second question to fit on the ballot would be changing the petition process.

As we have stated many times, we cannot find anything wrong with the current language in the Charter which reads:

Section 3.09 Petitions to Amend the City Charter or to Adopt or Repeal Ordinances.

(4) The procedures to have an issue placed on the ballot shall be as set forth in this section, and shall be subject to other governmental agencies’ requirements that may affect this section. (emphasis ours)

If the City had followed that section of the Charter and contacted the Supervisor of Elections before deciding the style and form of the petitions, none of the resulting issues from the Supervisor of Elections saying she would not certify the signature would have occurred.

The City has claimed in this escapade that they did nothing wrong. As no one contacted the Supervisor of Elections, clearly the City not only did something wrong that eventually cost the taxpayers over $12,400, but did not follow the City Charter.

For some reason, the City in the form of the Mayor, the Council and Charter Officers won’t own up to the error.

They won’t own up to the fact that they not only did not follow the Charter, they lied to the petition committee on the status and whereabouts of the petitions. The City claimed the Supervisor of Elections had the petitions and would not give the City a reason why the Supervisor of Elections would not certify the signatures when in fact the petitions were never in the possession of the Supervisor of Elections and the City was aware of the reason the Supervisor of Elections would not certify the signatures four months before the collection of the petitions finished.

Instead of facing the music and simply admitting they screwed up, the City started to put out the lie that they had done everything right and that the Charter was wrong. Councilman Santiago claimed the wording in the Charter was “antiquated” but has never explained why. It was left for people to accept the word of the City government – a City government who had screwed up the process and lied to the people throughout.

While continuing to maintain they made no error, the City launched an ill-fated lawsuit against the Supervisor of Elections which resulting in the City dismissing the case after being shown they could not force the Supervisor of Elections to do the work, but also at least one Councilman advocating that the City willingly and knowingly violate the City Charter.

Knowing that they cannot force the Supervisor of Elections to do anything, the City has now proposed language that would make requirements of the Supervisor of Elections as to time and manner of verifying the signatures on any new petition that may arise.

The City learned nothing from the lawsuit.

The proposed language now basically says if the Supervisor of Elections fails to do what the City wants, in the time the City wants and the manner the City wants, the process reverts back to the City to do the job.

As far as the City is concerned, that would be a feature and not a bug in the plan.

Think about it for a moment. The Supervisor of Elections may not be able to get the work done the City demands and so the work comes back to the City where they will do what the Supervisor of Elections will not. That would be the same City government that failed to follow the Charter and lied to the people. That would be the same City government who had members on the City Council actively fought against this last petition. That would be the same City government that told City Employees that if they signed the petition, their jobs would be in jeopardy.

This is an issue of trust and we, like many people, don’t trust the City government. After all, if you cannot admit you made a mistake while lying about what happened, why should anyone trust you going forward?

We propose two things:

1) the City explain the fallacy of the old Chapter 3.09 and why it was not followed. Furthermore, we want to know if the language had been followed, would the fight with the Supervisor of Elections have occurred?
2) if the petitions come back from the Supervisor of elections for reasons within the new proposed wording, the petition committee has a right to sit in on the verification process if the City is going to do it. We’d like to think this is unnecessary, but given the actions of the City in this case, not only is it necessary, it is required.

The bottom line is that the new proposed language is a smoke screen for the old language not being followed by the City. They are dangling in out there as some sort of “shiny object” hoping that you buy into the new language and not remember the old language. They are hoping the shiny new language will make you forget how badly they screwed this whole mess up and won’t own up to it.

Shiny objects should never replace truth, honesty and accountability.

3 Responses to “Palm Bay: More Shiny Things.”

  1. Carla says:

    Also noteworthy is the fact that they don’t even have the language for the second referendum to be on the November ballot: “LANGUAGE TO BE DRAFTED BY LEGAL COUNSEL PRIOR TO RCM”. Five full-time attorneys and one part-time attorney on staff, not to mention constant access to outside counsel, and they haven’t come up with the language yet?

    P.S. Does anybody know what “RCM” is?

  2. Thomas Gaume says:

    Regular Counsel Meeting

  3. Erik K. Sandberg says:

    I think that means Regular Council Meeting. In other words, 3 of our 5 councillors would need to agree on the language before it goes on the ballot.