Palmetto Bay

Palmetto Bay vote for non-discrimination policy brings village into Title VI compliance

Palmetto Bay council members on Tuesday adopted a non-discrimination policy establishing guidelines on how to file discrimination complaints related to the village bus system.

The move came after the Miami-Dade Transit Authority — through which Palmetto Bay can receive federal funds — notified the village in August that it wasn’t in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance,” according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Palmetto Bay is not the subject of a Title VI complaint or investigation. With the adoption of the resolution, the village is now in total compliance.

The village was never technically out of compliance, Village Manager Ron Williams said.

Although the bus service is eligible to receive federal dollars, it currently only uses county funds. But it still wanted to get its ducks in a row.

“We want to let the county know that we’re following through, and that if we’re able to collect some federal dollars … that we’ll have our T’s crossed at that point,” Williams said after the meeting.

County spokeswoman Irene Ferradaz said the village was in fact noncompliant as soon as federal funds were committed in 2010, through the county, to help the village improve bus signage and build a storage lot. The village has not yet used these funds.

The Transit Authority has already reviewed the village’s new policy, and the council’s unanimous yes vote on Tuesday night was the final step in getting the village integrated into the county’s Title VI program.

According to the county, five municipalities received similar notices. Of those five, only Palmetto Bay has achieved compliance.

In other action, the council:

▪ Approved the renewal of a one-year, $300,000 contract with H&J Asphalt for road resurfacing and striping services.

▪ Moved discussion of updates to its parking and event sign regulations to a workshop.

▪ Deferred voting on a $32,000 transit study to the next council meeting on April 6.

▪ Approved on first reading minor changes to its golf-cart ordinance.

The meeting was briefly stirred during public comment when Gary Pastorella, a resident suing the village and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to keep a fire station from being built next to his house, came up to speak.

Referring to the October vote in which the village council granted the Miami-Dade Fire Department site plan approval to build a station on the 1.17-acre parcel at the southeastern corner of Southwest 142nd Terrace and Old Cutler Road, Pastorella wondered out loud if an ethics violation had occurred.

“On that particular evening, the vote was 3-2. What didn’t take place, and this should perk up some ears, was during the disclosure process, it was not disclosed … that DuBois, Mr. Vice Mayor, was suing me personally,” Pastorella said. “Is that an ethics violation, and did be break the law?”

Pastorella is one defendant in a suit filed in March 2013 by Vice Mayor John DuBois, alleging a conspiracy to defame, libel and slander him during the 2012 election.

DuBois did not respond from the dais to Pastorella’s allegations, and later declined to comment.

“If he thinks there’s an ethics violation, he should file an ethics complaint. But to come up here and try and throw toxin into the meeting is not productive,” Mayor Eugene Flinn said after the meeting.

Pastorella said he would “probably” file a complaint if the village and fire department do not find another location for the fire station.

Meanwhile, the fire department is moving forward with its plans.

Fire Rescue Chief Financial Officer Scott Mendelsberg confirmed on Friday that the department and property owner had settled on a price — $500,000 — and that the sale was set to close this week.