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PALM BAY: The Discussion And The Vote.

Last week we reported on the Palm Bay City Council vote to pull ordinance 2020-50, which was the ordinance that addressed some changes in Florida Statutes in regards to elections, but also proposed changes in how a vacancy on the City Council would be filled. The ordinance would have allowed the City Council to appoint a person to fill a vacancy on the City Council. That is a change from the current ordinance passed in 2012 which said that for a vacancy with less than a year remaining in the Council person’s term, the Council could appoint a person to fill the seat and with a year or more left, there would be a special election to allow the voters to decide.

On July 15th, the ordinance passed on its first reading by a vote of 3-2 with Vice Mayor Johnson, and Councilmen Felix and Foster supporting passage with Mayor Medina and Councilman Bailey voting against passage.

On August 5th, Johnson, who had made the initial motion for the ordinance said he wanted to “pull the resolution.” With his changing of position, the ordinance was defeated by a 3-2 vote with Johnson, Medina, and Bailey voting to kill the ordinance, with Felix and Foster continuing to support it.

We said that night that we would come back to this, and this is the post where we do just that.

First, we want to say that on July 15th, one of the citizens commenting in opposition of the passage of the ordinance said that while he understood that the City Charter Officers – the City Clerk, the City Manager, and the City Attorney – had taken “ownership” of the writing of the proposed ordinance, it was not clear what caused them to do so. The citizen asked who initiated this ordinance. All three officers serve at the direction of the City Council. That means that if the three thought the change was a good idea, they would need a vote from the City Council to proceed with preparing the ordinance. This is codified in the City Charter and City Codes.

That didn’t happen. There was no vote.

That means that one of several situations occurred:

1) The three officers decide to do this on their own in violation of the City Charter and City Codes. For a town that has had issues with corruption and government actors acting outside of the laws, Palm Bay cannot and should not tolerate this breech of the law.
2) One of the City Council members asked for the preparation of the ordinance to be done. It follows that the Councilman and the Charter Officers violated the laws.
3) More than one Council member asked for the ordinance to be prepared. Once again, this means they violated the laws as well as the Charter Officers. It also brings another element which would be if the Council Members had acted in concert with each other. Such actions would be a violation of the Florida State “Sunshine Laws” that prohibit elected officials from privately communicating with each other on issues that will come up before the Council. Even if done separately with each Council person going individually to the Charter Officer(s), whether the Officer told the Council member that another Council member had the same thoughts and had discussed it with them to generate the ordinance, that too is a violation of the Sunshine Laws as the laws do not allow for so called “conduits” to exchange information between Council members on issues that are going to come up before the Council.

No matter what happened, there is no situation where laws were not broken.

The citizen who asked that question never got a response. No one from the City Council or the Charter Officers would say who bright the ordinance forth and under what circumstances. (City Attorney Smith said that she only wrote the proposed changes that concerned the changes in the Florida election laws and had nothing to do with the rest of the ordinance. Given Smith’s lack of truthfulness on issues in the past, we are dubious to say the least.)

No matter what, given the implications of law breaking and corruption, not one of the eight people on the dais – five Council members and three Charter Officers – were willing to answer the citizen’s question.

No one.

We guess it is easier to say “there is no corruption in Palm Bay,” when you bury your head in the sand like a deaf ostrich.


We want to address some of the comments made by Councilman Foster and Councilman Felix as their positions are curious to say the least.

(Editor’s Note: The comments are from the City’s transcription and not ours. We have tried to clean them up somewhat to make sense.)

Councilman Foster:

Comments from the July 15, 2021 meeting:

BUT I’M FOR YOU AS FAR AS YOU GETTING THE RIGHT TO VOTE.

OK, THAT MAY SOUND CONFUSING, BUT I REALLY AM FOR YOU TO GET THE RIGHT TO VOTE BECAUSE BASED ON MY ANSWERS TO I DON’T WANT NO ONE VOTING RIGHTS TO BE TAKEN AWAY.

I FOUGHT FOR THIS COUNTRY FOR FREEDOM.

I SPENT I’M A COMBAT VETERAN.

WE ARE OVER 20 YEARS DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE LAW ENFORCEMENT ENFORCING LAWS IN THIS COUNTRY, VOTING LAWS AS A US MARSHAL DONE ALL OF THAT.

We never understood the logic or thinking from Foster on this.

The fact of the matter is that up until July 15, 2021, there was no doubt that the people of Palm Bay would vote to fill a vacancy on the City Council with more than a year remaining on the term. That is a given.

Foster wanted to take that vote away.

For him to say he supports people’s voting rights while saying “you can’t vote now,” is contradictory.

….BUT BY CHANGING THIS ORDINANCE, WE ARE IN LINE WITH MELBOURNE, AND I DON’T THINK MELBOURNE IS TAKING A CITIZEN RIGHTS TO VOTE AWAY WEST MELBOURNE.

I DON’T THINK THEY ARE TAKING A CITIZEN RIGHT TO VOTE AWAY.

COCOA, I DON’T THINK THEY HAVE THE SAME.

THIS LANGUAGE FITS COCOA AND TITUSVILLE.

AND THEY POINT MELBOURNE, WEST MELBOURNE, COCO, TITUSVILLE, WHEN IT’S A VACANCY, THEY APPOINT THEY COUNCIL MEMBER.

THAT’S NOT VOTER SUPPRESSION.

Two things on this comment. There is a difference between “voter suppression” and what the ordinance was going to do.

“Voter suppression” is denying people the right to vote when there is an election where others can vote. What the City Council was trying to do was make it so no one could vote. They were literally taking the votes of 77,000 plus people and substituting their four votes from the dais with no discussion on the qualifications, no procedures, no format, no transparency and no accountability.

Secondly, Melbourne, Cocoa, Titusville, Satellite Beach, and Cocoa Beach all can fill a vacancy by appointment. The difference is timing. None of those municipalities changed their Charter, codes, or ordinances after a vacancy was announced as the City Council was trying to do here.

THE GOVERNOR APPOINTS PEOPLE.

At the County level, the Governor may appoint someone to fill a vacancy when a person is removed due to an indictment or conviction of a crime – not an illness or resignation.

PRESIDENT APPOINTS PEOPLE APPOINTMENTS.

Yes Presidents can and do appoint people. However, the President’s appointments are vetted and go through the “advice and consent of the Congress.” The President – arguably the most powerful individual person in the world – does not have the authority to appoint without checks and balances.

In Palm Bay, the checks and balances on the City Council are the people themselves and Forster wanted to bypass them.

Councilman Randy “I served to protect the Constitution” Foster has no clue as to what the Constitution says or means.

From the August 5, 2021 meeting:

LAST WEEK, WE HAD A BUDGET WORKSHOP AND I ASKED THE QUESTION, WAS THIS BUDGET? WE BUDGET FOR A SPECIAL ELECTION.

IT. HE DIDN’T BUDGET FOR A SPECIAL ELECTION.

THAT’S THE ANSWER I GOT.

NOW, WE AND I HAVE A TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY THREE THOUSAND DOLLAR BILL.

Monies for the election would have come out of the General Fund. That is what it what the General Fund is there for.

However, this statement is from the person who last December voted for an increase in pay for the police of $478,350 for the remaining fiscal year.

He also voted for spending over $98,000 to allow City employees Christmas Eve off.

Neither item was in the 2020 – 2021 fiscal budget yet Forster had no problem spending almost 2.5 times the amount he is complaining about now.

Funny how that works.

When you can spend citizens’ money to buy loyalty and votes, that’s okay in the mind of Foster. Spending citizens’ money to follow through with the codes that are in place that gave citizens a voice in who represented them, well, that’s just wrong in his mind.

Finally, we want to say that we are tired of the “they did it too” excuse.

No one should care about what any other municipality does or does not do. What matters is what Palm Bay does.

In short, if the other municipalities decided to jump off a bridge, should Palm Bay do it as well?

That’s a lesson the second graders learn but apparently not Foster (and later Felix who echoed the same sentiment.)

Councilman Felix:

In addition to his comments on “they did it too,” Felix brought up two reasons why he supported changing the ordinance to take the vote away from the people.

From the July 15, 2021 meeting:

AND THAT’S WHY I PERSONALLY I TALK TO STAFF AFTER THIS CAME ONTO THE AGENDA LIKE, ALL RIGHT, WHAT’S GOING ON? AND IN LOOKING AT IT FROM A HIGHER SCOPE, I’M LOOKING AND COUNCILMAN FOSTER JUST SAID SOMETHING THAT REMINDED ME BECAUSE I’M LIKE, OK, WE’RE GOING TO FOR COUNCIL MEMBERS FOR A MINIMUM OF THREE MONTHS TO POSSIBLY SIX MONTHS.

A MINIMUM OF THREE MONTHS TO POSSIBLY SIX MONTHS, AND HE’S RIGHT, THE BCR MEETING ALMOST A MONTH AND A HALF AGO, THAT ONLY A FEW PEOPLE HERE WERE AT WHICH WOULD WHICH IT WAS IT WAS A BIG KEY ITEM FOR THE CITY OF PALM BAY WAS A THREE THREE VOTE.

AND ONE OF THE MEMBERS WHO, YOU KNOW, WAS ON ON AN INTERVIEW WITH THE MAYOR EARLIER THIS WEEK WAS NOT THERE.

WE HAD TO RALLY UP AND TRY TO DO A SPECIAL MEETING THE WEEK AFTER AND TRY TO HAVE THE VOTE IN. LUCKILY, WE’RE ABLE TO HAVE A FOURTH ACTUALLY A SIX ONE VOTE.

IT WAS A SIX ONE VOTE.

Wait a second. The board had a 3-3 vote, which would have killed the issue, but a week later when the seventh member of the board showed up, the vote was 6-1? If you were going to try and make the case that the odd number of people on the Council are so there are no ties which results in the motion failing, shouldn’t the second vote have been 4-3? Instead it was 6-1? That’s what Felix is basing his vote to change the way a vacancy is filled?

Another way of looking at this is that for a motion to pass, the City Council needs three votes. Even with a four person council, you still need three votes.

If a motion were to fail with a five person Council, you could have two “yay” votes. With a four person Council, you fail with two “yay” votes.

Is there a practical, substantive difference?

We don’t think so.

From the August 5, 2021 meeting:

WITH A FOUR COUNCIL MEMBER PUTTING THE CITY IN A BAD, VERY BAD POSITION, I SAID THAT BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN SPEAKING WITH WHAT A FEW PEOPLE ARE LOOKING TO INVEST IN OUR CITY – DEVELOPERS.

THAT’S NOT A GOOD IDEA.

NONE OF THEM WOULD AGREE THIS IS A GOOD IDEA.

This is a repeat of a comment made by Felix during the July 15th meeting.

It is disturbing on every level.

First, we wonder how many “developers” he actually spoke with.

Secondly, we wonder how many of those “developers” live within Palm Bay.

Thirdly, and most importantly, why should the opinions of a rather small group of developers outweigh the voices of the hundreds of people that took time to show up to the two meetings and thousands more who made calls, sent emails, texts, etc.

Someone tell us why the voices of a few people outweigh the voices of the many who simply wanted the City Council to follow the law that was on the books?

Where are Felix’s ears and hands pointed?

Finally, we want to bring this up….

Felix said that a four person Council could halt development because of a 2-2 tie. That assumes that three people always want development of any type in the City, but right now that is not important.

What is important is that in 2020, the Florida Legislature passed through various committees and chambers CS/CS/SB 410. The bill, which was signed by the governor and took effect July 1, 2020.

The bill requires all local governments to incorporate a property rights element into their comprehensive plans by the earlier of a local government’s next proposed comprehensive plan amendment or July 1, 2023. A local government may adopt its own property rights element or use the model language provided in the bill. The bill specifies that the property rights element is to ensure local governments consider private property rights in local decision making.

Guess which municipality has not passed an amendment to the comp plan bring the municipality into compliance with the law?

If you guessed “the City of Palm Bay,” you win a kewpie doll!

In that major, and even some minor development, require a change in the comp plan, development is at a halt right now.

While Felix is blaming the people for wanting to vote on a replacement for Bailey as is currently the law and claiming such a demand will slow developers, the real roadblock is the Council itself who has not passed the required language to adopt into the City’s comp plan.

A “development slowdown” cannot be blamed on the citizens but firmly and squarely at the feet of the Council – including Felix.

Like Foster, Felix’s “reasoning” for supporting this change to appoint a City Council member cannot survive any logical scrutiny.


As a side note, on August 5th, Felix launched into a long tirade against those who disagree with him, the manner they chose to express their displeasure, and those who chose to call him some names.

Medina should have stopped that right off the bat, as Felix or anyone’s feelings being hurt sitting on the dais was completely off the topic of the ordinance itself.

We have commented on Medina’s lack of control of a meeting and either his ignorance of the Council Policies and Procedures or unwillingness to follow those procedures. While Medina and the Council demanded individuals commenting on the ordinance stop immediately on the three minute mark, he was willing to let Felix run on off topic about his hurt feelings for more than four minutes.

To Mayor Median: do better.

To Councilman Felix: suck it up, Buttercup.


While many people have labeled the ordinance as an attack on the voting rights of the citizens of Palm Bay, we see it a bit differently.

We believe that this was a blatant way of getting what three Councilmen – Johnson, Felix and Foster – have said they want to do, with is “bust the cap,” and raise millage rates above what they can legally do with only majority of the votes on the Council. A fourth vote from a member of the Council that is appointed by those three gentleman would give them the super-majority needed to pass a much higher millage rate.

That is what we truly believe this was about.

“Busting the cap” is the one idea that checks all the boxes as to why this Council and Charter Officers chose this moment in time to bring this ordinance forth.

Luckily, the people of Palm Bay stopped them in their tracks and made it clear that the Council would be committing political and societal suicide if they followed through with their plan.

Well done, Palm Bay.

Take a bow and remain vigilante because if there is one thing that we have learned in our years of covering politics, it is that roaches run away, but they always come back.



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