Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The county commission... by gimleteye

Another profoundly banal day of bad decisions at County Hall. Sally Heyman was the bad commissioner. It was her vote that allowed a supermajority override of Mayor Carlos Alvarez's veto of the applications to move the Urban Development Boundary, that Bruno Barreiro tied in with all the other CDMP applications.

Mayor Alvarez was in attendance, like a guest of honor. He's learned to be a good guest.

The vote was quickly taken, on the motion by Joe Martinez: "We have talked about this ad nauseam."

Martinez wanted a voice vote and Barreiro was happy to oblige: it was over before anyone could count. When votes are taken that way, it is hard--almost impossible--to figure out who voted which way.

But the commissioners know how the game is played, and the minority would be heard. Dennis Moss piped up, and Gimenez too. The vote was retaken as "recorded". Souto slunk in his chair, mumbling assent, practically out of view. Heyman turned out to be the bad vote (and if her constituents pay attention, they should turn her out too at the next election.)

Mayor Alvarez, after the vote was taken, made light of the result at the microphone. And all the lawyers in attendance shuffled off, knowing that the drama now goes to lobbying Tallahassee where Governor Crist and Tom Pelham, the DCA secretary are on the hot seat. Who knows what deals will be cut, now, behind Tallahassee's tall walls.

There was nary a word about the UDB applications in conjunction with the issue of water supply. Or drought.

In 2005, water was the threshold issue that killed the frenzy to move the UDB except for Hialeah's. And that lack of discussion was interesting, because the first agenda item of the day had Chip Merriam, of the South Florida Water Management District, racing through a presentation on the 20 year consumptive use permit that was several years in the making and which, the developers will claim, reinforces the justice of the decision to move the UDB: ie. all our water supply needs are taken care of!

And even during Merriam's presentation, he and the county commission raced like banshees through the slide that showed FPL's proposed nuclear reactors requiring 70 million gallons per day, without any explanation of how to fill that need. Wow.

So, praise was heaped on county commissioner Natacha Seijas for the "great work" she did as chair of the environment committee to hammer the deal through with the water management district, when it is common knowledge--if you pay attention--that for a decade it was Seijas who personally held up any progress on modernizing the water supply infrastructure in Florida's largest county.

Chip Merriam pitched the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan as delivering benefits to the cities, and if you listened to the environmentalists, you would know that the Everglades plan is more about supplying developers with water than protecting natural resources.

There was no mention of how badly government agencies have failed to protect either the environment or the public interest, except to fob off whatever unpleasantness might have existed between the agencies as a function of "management issues": ie. letting former Dade water czar Bill Brandt take the fall for Natacha's intransigence on behalf and as a reflection of the preferences of the Latin Builders and South Florida Builders Association.

I didn't stick around for the megaplan vote: Miami Mayor Manny Diaz was hobnobbing with the county commissioners off the dais, waiting for his star turn. The hall was thick with lobbyists.

And not a word. Not a whisper about the economic reality-- the housing bust in which the county commissioners and city commissioners played a major role, as the zoning authority that let all this excess go into the ground against all reason, against the complaints of citizens and environmentalists.

The bottom line can be framed this way: government is a staged act, on the order of a seventh grade school play. What you see on TV, or in the audience at County Hall, is all laid out for the electorate in ways that make everyone shine and accountability vanish.

Have you signed and mailed in your petition for Florida Hometown Democracy yet?


Anonymous said...


You nailed it again....

It is a crying shame that you have to be always correct. It would be nice if the politicians of the world proved you wrong every now and then. ;o)

Ps: I really need to get a nickname for the blog, but I kinda hate missing the opportunity for editorial comment in my idenity.


Readers look here for more about Hometown Democracy:


Anonymous said...

Where is the fashion police? Had Sally been arrested for wearing that outfit, like she should have been...she wouldn't have been around for the vote.

Geniusofdespair said...

Excellent recap Gimleteye. It was a sad day in mud-slinging-ville.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that government is a staged act. The ONLY difference between communism and democracy is that under communism the people are afraid to speak for fear of imprisonment or death while in a democracy, the people have freedom of speech -but does government pay attention or even care about what they say? Absolutely not.

Anonymous said...

Sally...Elton John is calling on line 1...He says he wants his outfit back.

Anonymous said...

Is that a Britta shirt?

Anonymous said...

SFWMD has made it very clear to Miami-Dade County that they will only get so much water under the new permit, and if they want to squander it by moving the UDB, they will have to reject planned growth within the UDB - it's their choice.

Jill said...

It is happening all over the state:

Getting mixed messages about water supply

Sarasota Herald-Tribune letter to the editor 12-18-2007

For the record, let me get this straight. The South Florida Water Management District has imposed the region's tightest water restrictions, limiting watering to once a week, from Orlando south to the Keys, according to a Herald-Tribune news brief printed Friday. Our own Southwest Florida Water Management District has already imposed that restriction and is considering stricter rules.

Kitson & Partners has proposed building 19,500 homes in Babcock Ranch in Charlotte County. The proposed 19,500 homes, built over three decades, "will be twice the size of Punta Gorda and larger than the 7,000-home Thomas Ranch in North Port and the roughly 18,000 homes currently approved for Lakewood Ranch," again according to information published Friday in the Herald-Tribune.

There is barely enough water for me to irrigate my yard, but there is enough water to build all these homes in the future that will strain the resources of Charlotte and Lee counties? I must be missing something.

David Doweiko

North Port

charter amendment proposal
Commission Rejects Plan to Curb Growth
By Tom Palmer
The Ledger
Write an email to Tom PalmerTom Palmer
Environment Reporter
Dept.: Metro Desk
(863) 802-7535
tom.palmer@theledger.com Tom Palmer
Environment Reporter
Dept.: Metro Desk
(863) 802-7535
Your Name:

Your Email:



BARTOW | County commissioners Monday rebuffed local planning activist John Ryan's suggestion that they work together to pass a charter amendment that would put limits on new residential development in Polk County.

Ryan said afterward he will launch a petition drive to get the issue before Polk's voters.

"I had hoped to work with the county, but we'll go a different way," he said. "We'll go out and get the signatures."

Ryan, a member of the Polk County Planning Commission, unveiled the proposal in October. It would amend the county charter to limit residential growth within a defined urban growth boundary, based on the densities allowed in city and county growth plans.

If voters approve the proposal, the only way to expand the county's urban growth boundary would be through another charter referendum.

Commissioners discussed his proposal Monday after hearing a staff report from Merle Bishop, the county's growth management director. The issue will be discussed again at Wednesday's commission meeting.

Bishop raised a number of issues about the impact of Ryan's proposal that included:

It would be difficult for city and county planners to calculate how many residential units are allowed under the current growth maps.

It would require developers to purchase development rights from rural areas if they wanted to exceed the cap.

The restrictions could cause sprawl or increases in housing costs.

Bishop said that is a different process than has traditionally existed in Polk County.

"Developers would have to pay for extra density," he said. "Now you can go to the County Commission and have them give it to you."

Bishop said one problem with a ballot measure that refers to urban growth boundaries is that Polk County's growth maps are out of date and don't reflect annexations by cities that have expanded urban services into areas that previously were classified as rural under the county map.

The other is that if the growth boundaries were expanded now in anticipation of the charter amendment, it could encourage urban sprawl, he said.

Bishop said because of the questions and potential problems, he would prefer to not put the issue on the ballot and to concentrate instead on the upcoming periodic evaluation of the local growth plans, which will be completed by 2009, and to work with the Rural Land Stewardship Program and Polk Vision.

Although Commissioner Jean Reed didn't dispute Bishop's recommendation, she asked whether Ryan's proposal would be preferable to Florida Hometown Democracy, a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution that would require votes on all growth changes. Commissioners and Bishop oppose the amendment.

She said the proposals reflect the public's frustration with the growth process.

Commissioner Bob English opposed Ryan's amendment.

"This is going to be another layer of chaos," he said, and argued it flies in the face of representative government.

Assistant County Attorney Anne Gibson said there is an attorney general's opinion that says Ryan can propose the amendment.

Interim County Attorney Linda McKinley said it would be up to Ryan to submit the ballot language and to get it approved, adding the issue will likely end up in court.

"I can't foresee it's going on the ballot without a legal challenge," she said.

Commission Chairman Sam Johnson said he views Ryan's proposal as a kind of condemnation of private property, but Bishop disagreed.

"It doesn't condemn property; it recognizes rights that this would create," he said.

Commissioner Randy Wilkinson said perhaps it's time to consider a countywide planning board, but Bishop said that approach has complications, too, based on the experience of Hillsborough County, which has had such a panel since the 1940s.

Nevertheless, Wilkinson said he plans to bring the issue up at Wednesday's commission meeting.

[ Tom Palmer can be reached at tom.palmer@theledger.com or 863-802-7535. His blog on county government is at county.theledger.com. ]

Anonymous said...

I tune into the Miami-Dade channel for a chance to see some of what goes on at the county commission meetings. I've seen the way they often vote on items and I also cannot tell who votes which way. I think they should do the row call and say yes or no, one by one.

It was really a dumb thing to pack all the items into one. this shouldn't even be allowed. It is also truly sad that the majority of the people in power today don't care enough about traffic, the water crisis and other quality of life issues.

Moving the UDBLine was the wrong!

Anonymous said...

True it is a sad day in Miami Dade County...For the citizens.
Our county commission has gone mad.

And I feel our once "Strong Mayor" is weakening down or sleeping on the job. It hurts to say it.
I hope I'm wrong, and it's those lame staff members he has surrounded himself with.
Clean house Carlos, you need fresh blood.

Pepe, we will NEVER have a GM plant or ANY large industry here. And we certenly DO NOT need a Lowe's in west dade. Punto.
Just look at AT&T as an example-
It's really BSC of California, and they are totally OUT of Miami Dade.

The tourists nor the residents need or care about a sports complex, professional team or anything similar.
We need quality of life, affordable living conditions and a government of the people-for the people.
TERM LIMITS NOW................

Anonymous said...

So, we move the line and use up the water permits?

And what about the 60-90 millions a day our friends FPL want to use? Where does that fit into the picture?

I feel I am living in a world full of people (and they are all politicans) who think that our resources are endless.... It is freaking scary.

What is more scary, is the fact they think that money (OUR MONEY) can fix everything that gets broken by their greed or ignorance.

Anonymous said...

So now the double digit IQ Commissioners vote to invade the Everglades Park? Haven't they hear of Eastward Ho? Urban In-fill?

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha. I have my revenge, you have my trash.

Anonymous said...

I would say "shame on the voters of Aventura" for electing the likes of turn-coat Sally but that can be said of all voters. We all have a penchant for electing the worst county commissioners. But it is not over for Sally. Go to the South Florida Regional Planning Council meeting where you can hear Sally actually speak in favor of the UDB applications; at least that is what she did the last go-round. Remember, then Chair Joe Martinez pulled Sorenson from this board. Miami-Dade County's reps are now Sally, Moss and Gimenez. It is advisory to the DCA. It's worth a visit just to hear what your representatives say out of public view.
Gimleteye, publish the information about the SFRPC meeting and where people can e-mail their comments. Maybe some local press will bother to cover it.

Anonymous said...

To the last Anon---correction: Gimenez is no longer on the SFRPC, he was pulled and Pepe Diaz took his place.

Anonymous said...

The SFRPC is in worse shape than ever. Can/will Moss be an advocate or just sit on his hands and watch Heyman and Diaz carry the ball?

Anonymous said...

The M-D county commission is the best argument for Florida Hometown Democracy, and yesterday's demonstration is right up there... can't you wait to hear how the M-D commissioners defend their "representative" end of democracy?

Anonymous said...

OK, lets bring this back to reality a bit. What the Commission did was transmit the applications to the Florida Department of Community Affairs for comment. None of them, I repeat, none of them were approved by the Commission's actions yesterday. Sally already said that she was not going to support three of the UDB applications. Lets wait until the spring before we call for a remedy that is worst than the disease (Hometown Democracy would cripple the State).

Anonymous said...

Voting to transmit an application to the DCA IS approval.

What would be the point of sending land use ammendments for comment if they aren't going to ultimately approve them?

If you don't know the process for Comp plan changes, this may help:


Anonymous said...

OOPS you will have to combine the lines and paste then in your browser to get to the link.


It's possible for the votes to change but once that ball starts rolling it usually doesn't stop.

Anonymous said...

i agree, hometown democracy is a very bad move. the proponents of HD should concentrate their efforts into educating voters on issues and candidate positions to elect better representatives. you know, as a democracy should be.

Stop the elite from trying to circumvent the democratic process. check out HT's sources of funding... These are a bunch of self serving rich folks in palm beach who don't like what the state requires of them as far as how their comp plan requires things such as affordable housing, an appropriate # of schools... etc.

Anonymous said...

I somewhat agree with Jill regarding an approval to transmit being an "approval".

If DCA responds that they have no problem moving the UDB on any of the applications, then the ones who voted to transmit the UDB applications will use that as cover to give final approval to the projects moving the UDB in April.

DCA's negative or affirmative response should not dictate how we proceed. The UDB does not need to be moved (yet).

Geniusofdespair said...

Pepe Diaz on the SFRPC...oh my lord, if you people don't get 10 petitions each for Hometown democracy signed, I am going to slit my wrists...or just go the way of Rick and Alex, my fellow bloggers (Hit on the link on the right side of the page: Stuckonthepalmetto we are so sad to see you gone.

Anonymous said...

I made a contribution to FL Hometown democracy and I am not a rich Palm Beach person. I am a civic activist who has watched paradise be destroyed. I have lived here longer than most of you have been on this earth. The downward spiral really accelerated with district elections. While we argue about the wisdom of Hometown Democracy, Rome is burning. There is no other way for the public to have meaningful input. Non-incumbents can't beat the machine and without a fist full of dollars educating the public is hopeless. Besides the County will roll out their PR machine, with your dollars, and twist the truth their way.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"i agree, hometown democracy is a very bad move. the proponents of HD should concentrate their efforts into educating voters on issues and candidate positions to elect better representatives. you know, as a democracy should be.

Stop the elite from trying to circumvent the democratic process."

WHO, exactly, are you agreeing with?

The elite HAS been circumventing the democratic process - why do you think the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Building Association are against the Florida Hometown Democracy movement?

Voters ARE aware that their city and county representatives are not listening to them when they ask them to make developers demonstrate need for more growth and fight projects they feel will harm their quality of life - (roads, schools, environment public services).
Voting a commissioner or councilman out of office hasn't solved the problem or we wouldn't be in the mess we are in in this state and the proleteriate wouldn't be fighting for their quality of life.
If the people can be responsible enough to vote for a candidate, they are certainly qualified to vote for a land use change that will directly impact their lives.

Anonymous said...

The veto override means that the UDB is about to move for the third time in a row.

Of the 4 applications to move the line, one was killed outright, two got less than the 9 votes needed to move the line, but one got more than 9 votes.

It doesn't matter what the DCA says, just like it didn't matter what their own planning staff said. The line is bound to move for that project in Kendall. Unless a commissioner switches their vote, that one is going to pass.

Geniusofdespair said...

the best comment in my view is from the Old Timer above: thank you...

Anonymous said...
I made a contribution to FL Hometown democracy and I am not a rich Palm Beach person. I am a civic activist who has watched paradise be destroyed. I have lived here longer than most of you have been on this earth. The downward spiral really accelerated with district elections. While we argue about the wisdom of Hometown Democracy, Rome is burning. There is no other way for the public to have meaningful input. Non-incumbents can't beat the machine and without a fist full of dollars educating the public is hopeless. Besides the County will roll out their PR machine, with your dollars, and twist the truth their way.

December 19, 2007

Anonymous said...

Sally Heyman Sucks.

Anonymous said...

Leave Sally Heyman alone!

Anonymous said...

Sally Heyman is:

Out of Touch
Full of Herself
The female Javier Souto
Impossible to reason with

Hey, at least I didn't say she was "on the take"

Anonymous said...

Leave sally heyman alone?


Anonymous said...

Leave Sally Heymann alone? Didn't she vote to invade the Everglades? Didn't she vote to encourage sprawl? Didn't she vote to attack the Everglades?

Didn't Sally Heymann vote to give money to a privately owned baseball team? A team with employees making $3 Mil per year? While the average income in Miami-Dade County is $27,000?

I say she deserves the abuse...

Geniusofdespair said...

Genius of Despair said...
Don't discount the Dept. of Community Affairs. They need to get comments from the public. Send an email with your comments to:

and copy to

Comments should talk about the UDB line and why you think it is important for Miami Dade County.

You might talk about how the DCA is suppose to be the growth management agency, and ask them -- politely -- to manage our growth by listening to the opinions expressed by our professional Miami Dade County Planning Dept. and not the opinions of the majority of our political hacks.

December 18, 2007