Thanks to those at the top of the pyramid in Boca Raton’s development community the 2017 municipal election cycle has begun in earnest. That’s right . . . a full seventeen months in advance of the actual election. Holy Cow! So much for August being a slow month.
As recently disclosed by BocaWatch, a prominent land use attorney, Charles Siemon, and at least one backer, Mark Guzzetta, have called for a week-long Summit with developers and business leaders during September to strategize, and no doubt fund raise for the distant election. The over-the-top memo, that is best suited for the fiction shelves, warns of economic calamity unless the developer candidates are elected. Further, the memo boasts of the backing of candidates who won prior elections and did their bidding. It is filled with hyperbole, misinformation, and name-calling and downright lies. In their world, if you’re not a fan of any particular development you are labeled an “extreme activist”. The attempt to corrupt the process through scare tactics should be of concern to all who live in Boca Raton.
It is no surprise that this Development Cabal has exerted its influence on many of our City elections by generously funding the campaigns of candidates to win favor. That strategy exists in cities large and small. In the City of Boca Raton power for this Cabal is not enough. It is ABSOULTE POWER that they seek.
The incredible amount of money that the Cabal will raise will be used to boost the image of their candidates and destroy the reputation of those they oppose. In Boca we have seen this movie before. Much of this money will never be disclosed, as it will come from PAC’s out of Tallahassee and elsewhere. It’s a game of hardball and they play it well.
The 2017 municipal election is interesting in that three seats are up for grabs and could result in a balance of power shift. Mayor Susan Haynie, Councilman and CRA Chair Scott Singer are up for reelection while Councilman Mike Mullaugh is termed out.
Rumor has it (stress the word rumor) that a recycled developer’s darling in the form of former Councilwoman Constance Scott will reemerge to run for Mr. Mullaugh’s seat. Those of you who paid attention during Ms. Scott’s prior time in office may remember her infamous attempt to fine citizens who expressed concern or opposition to development projects if it caused a delay. View the You Tube here.
Ms. Scott will not be alone in a race for the vacant seat, as resident Joe Panella has already filed his intent to run for office.
When it comes to the objections to development issues in our City it is clear that the major concerns for most folks are traffic and high density. Drilling a little deeper are the following concerns: “spot zoning”, creation of tailored City Ordinances to favor a specific landowner/developer, granting of technical deviations and variances from City Code and the lack of a cohesive vision for future development. These are the issues that citizens have protested against. None of which pose a threat to the economic health of the City.
While it is unfair to paint with a broad brush all members of Boca’s developer/landowner community, it would be refreshing to hear from those that oppose the relentless assault on quality of life issues through overdevelopment. Until then, make no mistake; the only vision of this particular Development Cabal is to maximize the dollars per square inch of dirt that a landowner/developer may realize through high-density development.
Two of the great motivators in life are at play here: Fear and Greed. The greed of the individuals spearheading the developer election campaign has signaled they will use the tool of fear of dire consequences to get their candidates elected. All of this is an effort to limit resident participation in the process. Meanwhile, the resident’s request is that developers follow the existing rules put in place that provide a higher probability of a better quality of life for all who reside in Boca Raton. It’s that simple.
The ‘call to arms’ announcement from Mr. Siemon and Mr. Guzzetta, which contains the mistruths of an organized group against all development that will destroy Boca’s economy, begs the rhetorical question: Is there anyone with the least bit of common sense that has lived in South Florida and is aware of the demographic momentum that favors growth in our state who believes that objection to overdevelopment and high density threatens the economic viability of Boca Raton? The notion is absurd.
With their intent revealed, the announcement is all about being able to pull strings at City Hall. The Puppeteers shall choose their puppets. Stay tuned in!