Letters: South Miami Board member unjustly discharged

07/25/2014 3:22 PM

07/25/2014 3:23 PM

A precedent that reeks of ignominy has been set in the “City of Pleasant Living.”

The State of Florida is a “right to work” state, which really means that an employer has the right to fire a poor wage earner at will. Our board members (all citizen volunteers) are now said to be working “at the pleasure of the Commission” and can be discharged from their position for any reason, or no reason at all. This policy was legislated very recently by the Commission. South Miami has become a “right to work” city for citizen volunteers.

The first victim of this resolution is a woman of great integrity who has an involved citizen for over 20 years. She has served on the Planning and Zoning Board for more than four years; her term was due to expire in March. Her name is Yvonne Beckman and the commissioner who originally sponsored her and subsequently discharged her in June was Bob Welsh.

A vote was taken and Mayor Phil Stoddard and Commissioner Gabriel Edmond voted yes to discharge board member Beckman. Vice Mayor Walter Harris and Commissioner Josh Liebman voted no. Commissioner Welsh stated that Ms. Beckman “trashed” a city employee. Ms. Beckman is a fearless, outspoken person who never made any ad hominem attacks. She spoke up when she was displeased with some judgments that were made by a city employee, as is her right.

The people of this city have lost a valuable board member who is very astute, hardworking, reliable, responsible, diligent, conscientious, and caring. She has always represented the concerns of the people. Now we have a political climate in which board members may not be given the dignity of completing their term regardless of loyal service to the city. The person who has been unjustly “trashed” is Yvonne Beckman. Our city government has become weaponized against us, its own people, and a vital component of citizen participation has been destabilized.

Antoinette B. Fischer, South Miami

Palmetto Bay

Why develop

former BK property?

I am absolutely flabbergasted that the Council would even remotely consider a zoning change for the property on Old Cutler Road (the former Burger King headquarters).

This piece of land is one of the few remaining pristine and beautiful places left in Palmetto Bay and, for that matter, in Miami-Dade County. It is a home to countless species that are rare both of animal or botanic nature and it is an oasis of peace for all who live nearby and frequent the property for walking, jogging or the simple enjoyment of nature.

Every time my friends and I are walking there (which is very often), we are astounded by its beauty. Every time we discover something new, one or more trees are always flowering giving nutrition and habitat to countless species. Throughout the year differing migrating birds come to visit, to feed and to rest.

During the winter months eagles and hawks are arriving by the dozens shortly before sunrise and congregate on the top of the most southern building. They huddle together awaiting the rising of the sun and as if by verbal command they all spread their wings as soon as the sun is coming over the horizon. It is amazing to watch how they then move northerly on the building in line with the spread of the rising sun until they occupy every inch of the roof top of both of the buildings taking in the warm.

But I guess, all of this means nothing when the “$” dictates policy. Who gives a hoot about nature when there is money to be made. Except for developers, no resident has expressed the desire to build homes on this beautiful land. Do we really need another 41 homes on this stretch of land, does this really contribute to the quality of life in Palmetto Bay or does it contribute to the quality of the wallets of certain interested parties. Do we really need to bulldoze nature for a few homes that really do not need to be built.

At a time when nature is under tremendous assault, Palmetto Bay should be fighting to maintain the natural beauty that it has rather than to promote its destruction.

What is the next step, if the rezoning get’s approved. Once the houses get built and people move in with their children and they discover a live crocodile in the pond that could pose a danger for a child if it should fall in. Do we then remove the crocodile which has lived in its pond for decades? Another casualty! Well, might as well, once the crocodile is gone, why not then develop more or all of the remaining land and turn this into another planned community with no place for nature. Do we really need to destroy or “develop” any piece of land that is “empty” of human occupation?

Martina Allum, Cutler Bay

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