This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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THE GOOD NEWS – Voters approved “The City of Boca Raton Question” in a 2-1 landslide vote.
THE BAD NEWS – In the aftermath of the election, opponents of the measure are stating that they will now make sure that the new law is followed precisely. This includes the Chamber of Commerce who spearheaded a well-financed campaign against the ballot item and several members of our City Council. Most prominent on the Council in speaking out was Robert Weinroth. Here is a quote from the Palm Beach Post last week:
“The ballot question was not limited to that one parcel of land, (the Wildflower), and we have other things going on our waterfront,” Weinroth said.
The city attorney will have to review current commercial uses at waterfront properties, such as the gift shop at the city-owned Gumbo Limbo Nature Center…”
Really Mr. Weinroth? You telegraph the threat of Gumbo Limbo closure because you didn’t get your way? How petty. You say this with the knowledge that Deputy Manager George Brown and City Staff member Ingrid Allen provided you and others on the Council guidance that small concessions would be permissible if the Council allows it:
Amplifying Mr. Weinroth’ threat is Troy McLellan, the Chamber of Commerce President, who, in a published message to Chamber members, writes:
“While we are disappointed with the outcome of the City of Boca Raton Question, we respect and appreciate the Democratic process of the petition initiative. The people were heard and therefore, we will work with our city officials to ensure that, “all city land adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway shall only be used for public recreation, public boating access, public streets, and city storm-water uses only”, just as the question was written.” (Emphasis added.)
The Chamber’s message during the campaign could not have been clearer. They sided with Mr. Weinroth in suggesting that the language of the ordinance as written is too restrictive and will not allow complimentary concessions for the public benefit and may require that any current commercial activity existing on the public’s Intracoastal Waterway lands may be in jeopardy.
HOW DARE THEY….
Any public figure that acts in such a recalcitrant, childish manner puts there political future in serious jeopardy. A word to the wise: Do not test the political resolve of the residents with a continuing defiance to the public’s political directive in this initiative….
THE WARNING – Make no mistake….The Chamber of Commerce and several members of the Council; Mr. Weinroth, Mayor Haynie, Mr. Mullaugh and, to a lesser degree, Mr. Rodgers, have no intention of making this important measure work in the way intended by voters. They have signaled their intent to use the excuse of “restrictive language” in the new law as their cover. Despite their somewhat concessionary statements, they are bitter over an outcome they did not want and resistance will be their “payback”. They are in the business of punishing those who go against their wishes so that it doesn’t happen again.
Retaliation, Intimidation, Isolation…these are the levers, the methods, which are and have been employed for a long time; to wit: Boca Raton politics….go along to get along!
Only Councilmember Scott Singer recognized the benefits of providing and protecting recreational greenspace and attempted further discussion of the Ordinance but was rebuffed by Councilman Weinroth who introduced a motion to place the issue on the ballot when it came before City Council. That motion passed 5-0. Mr Singer also organized and conducted a successful “visionary workshop” that yielded wonderful suggestions as to what can be done on certain waterfront parcels.
That workshop was open to all, including all members of the Council. Instead of attending and learning what the citizens would like as a waterfront amenity, not one other Councilmember made the effort to be there. They simply were not interested in citizens’ opinion. Their minds were made up – end of story.
THE OPPORTUNITY – Whether the Councilmembers in question recognize it or not, the citizens have made a resounding statement. They do not want a Hillstone restaurant on the Wildflower property; they do not want intense commercialization on the public’s Intracoastal Waterfront lands.
Community members have made presentations at City Council meetings as to what is possible for the waterfront property: The residents do want “small scale” commercial concessions; they do want green space; they do want recreation and public accessibility for everyone, and more.
Had the opposition attended Mr. Singer’s workshop their vision as to what is possible and desired may have been awakened. Now is the time for the Council to truly serve the citizens and make the new law “work” as intended instead of being a roadblock to what can be a significant legacy for generations.
THE CHALLENGE – Mayor Haynie made this Facebook post on November 5th:
“The fur is flying in Boca! Many mistruths being posted all over. There is so much more that unites us, than that which divides us. Let’s all take a deep breath. We are #OneBoca.”
Is #OneBoca simply another Haynie empty campaign slogan made by a politician up for reelection?
Mayor Haynie has a defining opportunity…She can take steps to unite us by embracing the will of the electorate and taking the lead toward creating a collaborative effort for the purpose of a waterfront experience with small scale concessions and visionary amenities.
Mayor Haynie can embrace the residents’ will by joining with Councilman Singer and advance the proposition that the City Council should, and must, move in a positive direction. That the City Council should stand up for the residents’ wishes even in light of the opposition’s threats of legal action….and if there is an actual legal challenge, then Mayor Haynie and Councilman Singer must stand for the proposition that the City Attorney explore, identify and defend the residents’ rights under the City Charter; the residents’ right to their self-determination of this city’s future.
Imagine the possibilities.
THE OTHER OPPORTUNITY – Voters have an opportunity also. They can hold the Council accountable for its actions towards the spirit and intentions of the new law.
That is how the process works.
As many residents have now discovered, residents do have a voice at the ballot box. If this Council chooses the path of resistance to the residents’ wishes, the choice is obvious ….
Replace them with ‘resident friendly’ voices. Those voices that put the interests of the resident in the number one position over those of the special interests led by the Chamber of Commerce and the developer community.
Next Election – March 2017. Vote for your ‘resident friendly’ candidates. You will know who they are…..It will be obvious…
Your voice is your vote….Thank you for letting your voice be heard!