PALM BAY: Rules And Laws Are For Other People – Capote

Our good buddy and Mayor of Palm Bay, William Capote was at it again at the last City Council meeting, demonstrating that rules and laws are for other people.

The meeting can be viewed here if you want to download it and watch.

The agenda had several consent items that were pulled from the consent agenda, including item sixteen, which read:

16. Consideration of utilizing Parks Impact Fees ($997,473), Tourist Development Council grant funds ($1,700,000), and Fund Balance Reserves ($558,492) for Phase I construction of the Fred Poppe Regional Park campground.

Here’s the support memo on the item:

As you can see, the City Staff has been moving along with the speed of a slug on a hot road as it has taken them three years for plans that aren’t even completed requiring the City to seek an extension for a TDC grant.

On September 27, 2017, the City of Palm Bay presented the Fred Poppe Regional Park (FPRP) Campgrounds Project and vision to the Tourist Development Council (TDC.) The project was approved by the TDC and received final approval by the Brevard County Commissioners on October 10, 2017. Palm Bay City Council accepted the TDC grant at the June 7, 2018 meeting. The agreement was signed on September 21, 2018. On July 18, 2019 Council directed staff to ask for a one-year extension. On August 28, 2019 a letter was sent to TDC asking for a one-year extension. The extension was granted to October 2020.

Three. Years.

Now the City Parks and Recreation Department wants approval to use money to initiate phase one construction, which means putting out requests for bids to contractors, etc.

Three years and the city still hasn’t stuck a meaningful shovel in the ground.

The discussion starts at 24:42 of the meeting wtih Acting City Manager Sherman explaining the request.

Three citizens spoke on the issue, with two of them asking questions that, for the most part, were not answered by the Council. The third person said they were in favor of the project.

During the Council discussion, Councilman Johnson said he was skeptical of the plan but had changed his opinion as Director of Parks and Recreation Department Fred Poppe had sent out projected revenue numbers for the campground, if developed.

Notably, those figures were not in the agenda packet so citizens could see them.

Councilman Bailey noted that the figures were obviously incomplete as they did not include personnel costs and security costs. In other words, Poppe and the staff put out data that was factually wrong and incomplete giving a false impression of income to the Council.

(Please remember that incomplete and wrong data is not evidence of corruption or incompetence. [cough cough] /sarc)

That didn’t matter and the Council voted 4-1 to approve the expenditure with Bailey being the lone dissenting vote.

That agenda item was completed at 49:22 of the meeting.

At approximately 2:45:00 of the meeting, the Council took up this item:

1. Committee/Council Reports

Bailey and Johnson, as part of their comments ask for the staff to make a complete presentation on the financial numbers on the Campground. Santiago joined in the request as well.

Yet this is where Capote goes off the rail.

Mayor Capote started talking about the campground itself, revisiting comments and points that were made during the discussion of agenda item 16 of the consent agenda. He made comments concerning points raised by a citizen even though the citizen had left the meeting. The fact that the citizen had left is in many ways not relevant, but Capote could have answered the questions in the allotted time on the agenda – not nearly 2 hours later and outside of the agenda item.

In other words, Capote broke the Policies and Procedures of the City Council which requires discussions on agenda items remain in the time allocated for that agenda item.

We have seen Capote slap down citizens who have tried to revisit agenda items during the public comments, as well as demanding that comments be made only during the time of the agenda item itself.

Once again, Capote demonstrated that rules don’t apply to those on the dais, (virtual or in the Chambers.)

(Just as bad was that no Council member called him on it.)

Capote ended his comments by saying that Palm Bay was now in a better place than it was before.

Yeah, it’s better if you think that $9 million paid out for the “exchange to nowhere,” a $50 million dollar bond for roads that should have been taken care of as part of yearly budgets, and another $50 million dollar pension bond. Plus, when you add in the people that were fired and resigned due to corruption in the City that took place on Capote’s 12 years on the Council, plus the JLAC report on corruption and illegal ongoings in the City (including and illegal benefit to Capote himself,) the City is better because people – not the Council but outside citizens – have worked hard to bring the corruption to light that the City sought to hide.

Following the Council Comments (and Capote’s disregard for the rules,) the agenda moved to this item:

1. Request to reconsider an amendment to the Code of Ordinances, Chapter 178, Sign Code. (Councilman Bailey)

The support memo reads:

Councilman Bailey has requested an amendment to the Palm Bay Code of Ordinances, Chapter 178, Sign Code, to modify provisions related to the placement of temporary signs.

Pursuant to Section 7.9.14, of Council’s Policies and Procedures, if a councilmember desires to have an issue reconsidered that has been acted upon at a meeting within the past year, the councilmember must first approach Council with a request to consider the item. A majority vote of
City Council is required to schedule the item for a subsequent meeting for reconsideration.

The Sign Code was last amended via Ordinance 2020-20, enacted March 19, 2020.

Bailey wanted to address the signage requirements for early voting polling places.

Capote spoke up and said he wanted to address this item first.

His first comment was that as the change would affect him directly, he was going to abstain from voting.

Here’s the applicable law:

112.3143 Voting conflicts.

(2)(a) A state public officer may not vote on any matter that the officer knows would inure to his or her special private gain or loss. Any state public officer who abstains from voting in an official capacity upon any measure that the officer knows would inure to the officer’s special private gain or loss, or who votes in an official capacity on a measure that he or she knows would inure to the special private gain or loss of any principal by whom the officer is retained or to the parent organization or subsidiary of a corporate principal by which the officer is retained other than an agency as defined in s. 112.312(2); or which the officer knows would inure to the special private gain or loss of a relative or business associate of the public officer, shall make every reasonable effort to disclose the nature of his or her interest as a public record in a memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting, who shall incorporate the memorandum in the minutes. If it is not possible for the state public officer to file a memorandum before the vote, the memorandum must be filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting no later than 15 days after the vote.

First off, Capote never stated his reason for abstaining from the vote. That’s violation number one.

However, Capote continued to address and comment on the agenda item even though he was going to abstain from voting on it.

That’s a violation of the law as well which prohibits people who are abstaining from speaking on the issue:

(c) For purposes of this subsection, the term “participate” means any attempt to influence the decision by oral or written communication, whether made by the officer or at the officer’s direction.

No one on the dais said anything about his comments being contrary to the law.

No. One.

That includes the City Attorney who sat mute.

For full disclosure, the City Attorney at the end of the discussion said the Mayor had to vote as he was not receiving a financial benefit from the passage / non passage of Bailey’s motion.

We have to wonder why Attorney Smith didn’t speak up prior to that, immediately after Capote said “I am going to abstain.”

Was she willing to let the comments go? Or was she not willing to correct the Mayor and his disregard for the laws of the land?

Taxpayers pay for yearly training in the Sunshine laws and voting requirements. Every Council member has to take the course, and sign off that they have taken it, understood the laws and will abide by the laws.

Yet here we have Capote – after 12 years of training on this, 1) not understanding that he would have to vote -or- 2) not making comments on items on which he was abstaining and also not stating his reasons for not voting.

We are tired of elected officials across the land thinking that agreed to policies and procedures as well as the laws of the land don’t apply to them.

It’s wrong.

Morally and legally it is wrong, but these clowns – on in the case of Capote – these REMF’s don’t care.

Rules and laws are for the little people.

P.S. – If this Council, including Capote, thinks “things are better than when they took office,” then can someone explain how the issues that all candidates are talking about are 1) continued corruption within the City, 2) infrastructure, specifically roads, 3) spending, particularly wasteful spending and 4) taxes.

If these were “better,” why are they the major concerns of citizens and candidates?

If you tell yourself a lie long enough and loudly enough, soon you begin to believe it which is what this Council is doing.

One Response to “PALM BAY: Rules And Laws Are For Other People – Capote”

  1. Matthew Wall says:

    So the “Teachers” dob to the Parents. Kids might be better of working in the mines or picking cotton again. At least they would learn stuff and get paid.

  2. […] recently, we have seen Capote violate City Council Policies and Procedures, as well as sending Acting City Manager Sherman (who should know better) after a political rival of […]