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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For some time now, rumors have been swirling around the upcoming Boca Raton elections of March 2017; an election process for three seats, the Mayor, and two council seats….For purposes of brevity here, we will concentrate only on the mayor…
Our current Mayor, Susan Haynie, has not, as of yet, filed to run for a second term but can there be any doubt that she will? There are many reasons pointing to her filing, not the least of which is that she is the incoming Chair of the League of Cities, a position of statewide notoriety and a platform supportive of her personal political ambition to seek the County Commission seat currently held by former Mayor Steve Abrams who terms out in November, 2018.
In order for Ms. Haynie to play the political musical chairs game, she would have to resign her seat as Mayor in November, 2018. She, of course, could choose to not run for a second term as Mayor but that would make her ineligible to remain in the League of Cities’ leadership; a doubtful political move considering her ambitions.
So between now and the Boca Raton 2017 campaign season, whenever the opportunity presents itself, the critical question from residents to Ms. Haynie is whether she is unequivocally committed to serve out the full second term here in Boca Raton; a question that, I suggest, she will try to avoid.
The Fix May Already Be In…
Politicians are always thinking the political chess game. Politicians bank on the expectation that the voting public does not look out at the political horizon and therefore are generally not savvy until late in the process, perhaps too late in the process. Ms. Haynie is no different.
It can be argued that her strategy of running for the county commission seat and the methodology for the replacement Mayor has been forming since 2012. (More on this next month when the ‘who’ and ‘how’ of City council member appointments is presented) The current City Charter strategy begins with its prescription for replacing the Mayor in the event of a resignation.
Section 3.08 of the City Charter prescribes the replacement pattern in the event of a resignation. Simply stated, this Charter provision provides for the Deputy Mayor to step into the Office of Mayor for the remainder of the Mayor’s term. If, as anticipated, Ms. Haynie were to resign effective November, 2018, the residents would not elect a replacement Mayor until the March, 2020 elections; some 18 months after the resignation; clearly a fortuitous pattern preventing participation by the residents in electing their desired leadership.
Thwarting The Residents’ Voices…
City Councilman Scott Singer has recognized the inequity of this Charter anomaly. Councilman Singer raised this question in his comments a few weeks back but met with little support from the other four council members.
Councilman Singer is again raising this issue. He has introduced Ordinance 5350, an ordinance designed to amend Section 3.08’s method for filing vacancies on the City Council by providing that vacancies shall be filled by special election…to be held on August 30, 2016. Not by coincidence, this proposed date is the same date for the electors to vote on a second City Charter amendment raising the City Council members’ salaries to the highest salary level of the 38 municipalities in Palm Beach County.
A Call to Action…
From both the public statements of Council members and the individual conversations outside of Chambers, it appears that Councilman Singer’s ordinance may not get the needed second even for discussion and, even if seconded, will not get the needed third adoption vote to submit the ordinance to the electors.
That is Unacceptable!
The ultimate denial by the political elite of the opportunity for residents to vote into office their choice of leadership and not be straddled with the choice of those elected who have a personal stake in the who, how and when of Boca Raton’s leadership process.
Of the other four voting Council members, Councilman Weinroth and Mullaugh have already expressed their opposition. This is not surprising as Weinroth is rumored to be the ‘chosen’ one to move into the Mayor’s slot under the current scenario. Mullaugh is termed out and may actually be voting a sincere vote.
Councilman Rodgers has also been heard to not be supportive of the Charter Amendment. His reasoning is vague on the public record but is rumored to be that special elections are expensive. If that is the case, we again have a red herring. Specials elections are rare; there have been no circumstances in recent memory which would have warranted a special election. However, even if special elections were a regular event, the residents should be the arbitrator as to whom they entrust leadership with, not the political elite. Mr. Rodgers must be made to realize that it is the residents who voted him into office. It is the residents to whom he owes allegiance.
Finally, Mayor Haynie must demonstrate that she, in fact, supports the residents’ right to vote. Over the years she has demonstrated the exact opposite.
She worked extremely hard to influence a change at the State of Florida preventing residents from ever again being able to hold a referendum on a building order ordinance even though the City Charter allowed for such a referendum; Remember Archstone…..
She voted in the affirmative for granting the variance on 2500 N. Ocean Dr. allowing for the advancement of a 10,000 sq. ft. building on the east side of A1A over the strenuous objections of hundreds of residents.
She is a leading proponent for the development of the Wildflower site over the objection of thousands of residents who have now submitted a petition with over two thousand signatures to prevent commercial development of any City owned park land along the west side of the intracoastal waterway. Her voting record is abysmal when it comes to the voting interests of residents.
If Councilman Rodgers were to vote with Councilman Singer on June 14th to adopt Ordinance 5350, then Mayor Haynie would be exposed as the politician she is. She would have to make a critical vote to preserve and defend the residents’ right to vote or not. If she votes affirmatively, she may earn back respect as a champion of the people; a position that is clearly in doubt based upon her actions of the last few years.
She should be reminded that a large part of the electors voting for the County Commission seat are the very same electors she would be disrespecting with a no vote on Ordinance 5350.
So, What To Do?
Please send emails and phone messages to Council members, especially Councilman Rodgers and Mayor Haynie. It appears Councilman Rodgers is not part of any current political musical chairs conspiracy but he must be encouraged to stand up for the residents in this most important matter.
The right to vote in leadership is perhaps the most fundamental political premise in the social compact of the governed who agree to be governed.
To not allow for a special election considering Mayor Haynie’s expected resignation in November, 2018, a time frame leaving almost 50% of the her term remaining is the ultimate insult to the city’s electors and an affront to the idea of transparency in government.
Remember, at every possible moment, to ask the Mayor her intentions and commitment for fulfilling the entire 2nd term. At a minimum, demand from her support for Councilman Singer’s Ordinance 5350, an ordinance that guarantees the residents’ the ability to hold a special election in the event that she cannot or will not make the commitment.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!!!!
Mayor Susan Haynie – firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Mayor Mike Mullaugh – email@example.com
Councilman Mayor Robert Weinroth – firstname.lastname@example.org
CRA Chair/Councilman Scott Singer – email@example.com
Jeremy Rodgers – firstname.lastname@example.org
Alfred Zucaro, Publisher