Regarding the Oct. 5 Soapbox letter Candidate forum won’t be fair, it is disappointing to read that mayoral candidate Peggy Bell did not want to participate in a candidate forum in front of everyday Cutler Bay residents like you and me. It is disappointing that, instead of just saying, “I don’t want to debate my opponent,” she would resort to slanderous accusations about the integrity of a respected civic organization as an excuse.
The Concerned Citizens of Cutler Bay has worked tirelessly to provide, as a service to our community, a venue where residents can come together, regardless of their political leanings, regardless of whom they voted for, to discuss issues and concerns in a friendly environment. The candidate forums have been a traditional part of this effort.
The format of the forums consisted of candidates asking questions of each other, followed by questions from the audience. This format, adopted from the Whispering Pines Civic Association and proven in many forums, precludes bias because it lets the candidates and audience, not the moderator, control the content of the forum.
Here is the truth: As requirements of her participation, Bell demanded a moderator of her choice, demanded that candidates could not ask questions of each other, and demanded that she be allowed to review the questions in advance. Bell was informed numerous times that questions from the audience were included in the format. Her public accusation that no questions would come from the audience is blatantly dishonest.
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However, the Concerned Citizens is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The rules of incorporation require that all candidates at a forum receive equitable treatment. To allow one candidate — Bell — to dictate the format of the forum to suit herself would be inequitable, and in violation of those rules. The Concerned Citizens could not do that.
Bell has deprived the citizens of Cutler Bay of the opportunity to listen to candidates answer their questions about concerns and issues in an open (and free) forum at a time of day when working citizens could attend. What a shame.
Steve Zarzecki, President, Concerned Citizens of Cutler Bay
Candidate forum will be fair
I feel I must respond to the Oct. 5 letter Candidate Forum won’t be fair from Peggy Bell, Cutler Bay council member and candidate for mayor.
As the leader of the Cutler Bay incorporation effort, I am offended that anyone who holds or seeks to hold public office would refuse to meet with the public they serve. It is the responsibility of Bell to meet with any of her constituents, regardless of her personal bias. If she refuses to meet with citizens whom she feels may not support her views, why should she be elected to any office?
I also find it hypocritical of her to boast that she is participating in forums sponsored by the Cutler Bay Business Association and the Economic Development Council of South Miami-Dade and claims their formats are unbiased, yet she has received campaign contributions from executive members of both boards. Ironically, both associations have a majority of members who do not vote in Cutler Bay, unlike the Concerned Citizens of Cutler Bay.
When we began the journey to incorporation, we met with anyone and welcomed the opportunity to meet with those who opposed our efforts in any forum or conversation. It was our purpose to provide information and educate to our point of view.
If Peggy Bell, a sitting council member of Cutler Bay, feels she cannot meet with the citizens she represents, she shouldn’t be rewarded with a vote for the highest office of the town.
Nancy McCue, Deerfield Beach
Vote for Flinn for Palmetto Bay mayor
Crime in the south end of Palmetto Bay is not a priority under the current village administration.
In 2006, my family moved here because of “A” schools, safety, and a small community. The deal-maker was having our own policing unit. When we arrived, I noticed what appeared to be abandoned land along Southwest 94th Avenue. It had became a very nice park. Things were changing for the better. Then, elections happened, and we had a new mayor in town. It wasn’t until after the first year that we noticed a change, but not toward a direction we thought. We felt unsafe, and our children felt the same.
Fast forward to 2014. Security and the police presence have declined. Our house has been shot at with paint and pellet guns. Yet the village’s weekly crime reports seem to reflect only smaller offenses like petit theft and identity theft, minimizing the impact on our neighborhood.
Palmetto Bay Park has now become a haven for thieves to swipe cellphones. Several of these events are documented in weekly crime reports. Recently, a park employee was assaulted and their personal belongings taken. Another time, a student was assaulted and spit on. Police gave him a ride home and told him he should not walk around here alone. Nothing was documented in the crime report.
When we first moved here, my sons were happy and constantly smiling, taking their bikes out for long rides. Now, they come home from school and don’t leave to explore our neighborhood.
I believe in Eugene Flinn, a man who had visions for all of Palmetto Bay when he was mayor. I believe he will continue with a realistic, transparent view, and as a family man, will do what is right for us as a community. When he was mayor, he was always available. Mr. Flinn is about community and open communication. He will not only hear but also listen to what you say; he will not walk away or shun you like our current mayor. He says it like it is, and follows up with a solution. We hope Mr. Flinn is elected.
Another vote for Flinn
I’m sure I’m not alone in my feelings. It’s that time: election year. Your mailbox is full of political advertisements. Knocks on the door from people you’ve never heard of before announcing they are running for council or mayor. I have lived in Palmetto Bay almost 16 years, and have been a very active member of my community, serving on various committees for Palmetto Bay and the local schools. I have witnessed the political highs and lows, and sat through endless meetings. I have seen council meetings run smoothly, respectfully, with opposing points of view heard and considered. I have also seen council meetings run in the opposite manner. After digesting all of the political propaganda, which requires reading between the lines, listening to the candidates for mayor, talking to my friends and neighbors and reviewing where our village has been, where we are, and where we want to be, my choice for mayor is Eugene Flinn.
Flinn will work with all of the residents of Palmetto Bay to plan, develop and execute a vision that will enhance our quality of life; beautifying our village, ensuring top performance from our police officers, lead respectful and open council meetings, establishing community involvement, accepting of opposing opinions, suggestions and ideas.
Flinn has a proven track record as mayor of Palmetto Bay. Ask yourself: Are we where we want to be, or do we need to get back on track and build to our future?
Virginia (Ginger) Cates, Palmetto Bay
Vote yes for Palmetto Bay charter change
Do citizens support high-quality education and fairness in their community? How many votes should constitute majority approval, allowing even greater academic opportunities to take root and flourish close to home?
Voters in the village of Palmetto Bay will face these questions on Nov. 4. A proposed charter amendment on the ballot will ask whether a simple majority of voters living within 2,000 feet of a private school can allow a request to increase enrollment at that private school to proceed.
The issue affects any private school in the village. Currently, the Village Charter has a two-step process for private schools that desire to increase enrollment.
Under a charter provision added in 2010, any private school located in a residential area, which seeks to increase enrollment, must first get approval from residents who live within 2,000 feet of the campus by way of an election paid for by the school. If 75 percent or more of the votes cast are “yes” votes, then the school must also get at least 4 of 5 Village Council members to approve the increase.
The “75 percent” requirement sets an unreasonably high, even constitutionally questionable threshold. The requirement thwarts the principle of majority rule, as well as neighborhood-friendly, responsible growth. It limits a private school’s ability to provide educational opportunities and to respond to families’ demand for its programs. Quality public and private schools draw families into communities, promote the quality of these communities, and increase home values.
If passed, the ballot measure will allow a simple majority vote to ensure that the will of the people is heard. A “yes” vote will still retain the requirement for both neighborhood approval and council approval, creating a fairer process, and promoting future educational opportunities in the village.
Vote Yes on #220 on Nov.4.
James R. McGhee II, Headmaster, Alexander Montessori School, Palmetto Bay
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