The Coastal Star

South Palm Beach: Citizen board appointed... to fill other boards

By Tim O’Meilia

Q: What’s the best way to fill a town advisory board?
A: Form another board.
That’s what the South Palm Beach Town Council did Jan. 25. They had to. The town charter says so.
It’s right there in Art. II, Sec. 2-9:  “To assist the Town Manager in making recommendations for appointment to boards and committees … a citizen advisory council shall be established …”
Never mind that there hasn’t been a Citizens Advisory Council since the early ’00s. The board fell through the cracks somewhere between the administrations of former town managers Margot Beck, Dennis White and Chuck Dobbins.
“I’ve been in town management since 1981 and I have never heard of anything like this,” said current Town Manager Rex Taylor, absolving his predecessors and himself.
The council’s job, according to the charter, is to recruit, screen and interview applicants, review their references and then make recommendations to the manager, who, in turn, makes recommendations to the council.
Trouble is, hardly anyone thinks that a town of 1,531 (according to the 2000 census) with four advisory boards needs a fifth to fill the other four.
“We are about to create another board to recruit for 15 people when we only have two or three openings annually?” said Councilman Brian Merbler.
Actually, Merbler’s count of 15 doesn’t include the 25-member Community Affairs Advisory Board, which organizes the town’s popular lecture and music series. But there will be six openings on the Planning, Architectural Review and Code Enforcement boards in May.
Merbler called the new board redundant.
Mayor Donald Clayman said it was superfluous.
Councilman Joseph Flagello agreed. “But it’s on the books,” he said.
Town Attorney Brad Biggs said the council was bound by the charter unless it is changed by referendum. Two referendum questions are on the March ballot but it’s too late to pose a charter question to undo the new board.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Biggs said. “It is somewhat redundant.”
Credit — or blame — resident Isabella Ralston-Charnley for pointing the charter requirement out to town officials.
“How did they all miss this?’ she said. And a more important question: “Are any of the boards still legal?”
Ralston-Charnley has accused Planning Board members of being biased against proposals to expand the Palm Beach Oceanfront Inn from a two-story motel to a 10-story condo-hotel.
In practice, the council has appointed members to town boards without recommendations from the town manager or any board.
Nevertheless, each council member made a nomination for the Citizens Advisory Council and all five were approved unanimously.
The new board comprises former Mayor Maurice Jacobson, Christian Kahler, Evan Geilich, Greg Harrison and Joanne Hanley.
The new board is expected to meet in February or
March.             

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Comment by Isabella Ralston-Charnley on February 8, 2011 at 10:05pm
our commercial site. Those Boards would be the Planning Board and the Architectural Board

May I suggest to you Mr.O’Meilia that from now on you should at least attempt to get both sides of the argument before attempting to write a balanced article. I was the one who brought up the subject, but you spoke to everyone but me.

Isabella Ralston-Charnley
South Palm Beach
Comment by Isabella Ralston-Charnley on February 8, 2011 at 10:02pm
Continued:
G:You quote that the lawyer from Corbett & White stated “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Biggs said. “It is somewhat redundant.” A vetting system is redundant!? Is he joking!?
Again Corbett& White have been the legal advisors to this town for years and years yet NOBODY in that law firm ever noticed that Citizens Advisory Council did not exist-unbelievable! He also sat and allowed the Council to choose the new Council which he should know is against the Charter instructions and therefore invalid!
Again the law firm of Corbett & White needs to do the job that they are paid to do- and that is to make sure that our Charter is adhered to.
H:You write about me “Credit - or blame resident Isabella Ralston-Charnley for pointingthe charter requirement out to town officials”. BLAME? It is obvious that you think that I a resident who wants only that this Town be run legally should carry some BLAME for bringing up this problem. I also found an error in salaries that gave a policeman in this Town over a $28,000 increase in one year – both Town Manager and the Towns Accountant had missed it – Should I be BLAMED for that also?

You also write “How did they all miss this?’ she said. And a more important question:“Are any of the boards still legal?” - Well, those are both legitimate questions that need to be answered.

You write Ralston-Charnley (me) has accused Planning Board members of being biased against proposals to expand the Palm Beach Oceanfront Inn from a two-story motel to a 10-story condo-hotel. READ ABOVE AND SEE IF THEY ARE BIASED OR NOT!

The new board comprises of former Mayor Maurice Jacobson, Christian Kahler, Evan Geilich, Greg Harrison and Joanne Hanley ( Campbell). Every one of these residents except Christian Kahler signed all three petitions supporting that the Town loses it’s only commercial site. These residents should not be able to have the right to choose anybody for boards whose job it is to vote on any thing to do with our commercial si
Comment by Isabella Ralston-Charnley on February 8, 2011 at 9:58pm
.Continued:
D:For six months I sent e-mails to Rex Taylor and Town Clerk Janet Whipple alerting them to the fact that we did not have this Council– no answer to any of them as of this date. Even though they were aware of the problem they allowed the Planning Board to vote down redevelopment of our only commercial site the Oceanfront Inn.
E: The Coastal Star report states “The council’s job, according to the charter, is to recruit,screen and interview applicants, review their references and then make recommendations to the manager, who, in turn, makes recommendations to the council.”
Our present Planning Board consists of Chairman Mike Nevard who lives opposite theOceanfront Inn and has a 120 plus foot unobstructed view of the Ocean that will be lost if ANYTHING IS BUILT on the site. Then there are Council Members Dee Robinson who lives in the Tuscany which is next door to the Inn, and Pat Festino who’s family own property in the Tuscany. Guess what? that property will also lose some views. Their rabid opposition to any redevelopment is well documented but ignored by our so called Town Council when they voted these people on to the Planning Board. Now, I wonder why they would vote no.

Would any reasonable person believe that if these three Planning Board Member’s had gone through a vetting Council consisting of unbiased residents, and asked the appropriate questions that any of them would have past the smell test? I think not!

But of course they were voted onto the Planning Board by Council Members Jordon and Lillybeck who live next door to the Inn at Horizon East, and their quest is not to just limit the height of the redevelopment but for the Inn not to exist at all and to build condos on the site. Read the Referendums that they placed on the March 8 ballot. Are you getting the picture yet?
Comment by Isabella Ralston-Charnley on February 8, 2011 at 9:50pm
CITIZENS ADVISORY COUNCIL AS CHOSEN BY THE COUNCIL OF SOUTH PALM BEACH IS INVALID

Once again another disservice has been done to the residents of the Town of South Palm Beach by a complete misreporting of what our Citizens Advisory Council is supposed to be, and how if correctly controlled is a vital part of our Charter, and therefore to the legal Government of this Town.

In their wisdom the elders of this Town put into our Charter a vetting system and it should be obvious to anybody who reads the full Article 2.9 that that is exactly what the Citizens Advisory Council is meant to be.

Sadly, it would appear that our 5 Council Members, Town Manager and Corbett & White the Towns legal representative choose not to see it that way. Why should they? - because for the last decade this and previous Councils and employees have been allowed to cherry pick board members that suit the Town Councils and Town Manager’s own agenda’s

A:No board has to be put in place to fill our Citizens Advisory Board
B:Under our Charter the only person who can submit recommendations to the Council is theTown Manager and therefore, I believe that the hand picked advisory council by thecouncil is invalid.
C:Town Manager Rex Taylor’s job is not to know what happened in his past 18 years of employment - it is to know OUR CHARTER off by heart. Town Manager Rex Taylor total pay package is over $143,000- and he has been in charge of our Town for five years and he never noticed that Citizens Advisory Council did not exist-unbelievable! He needs to do the job that he is paid. to do- and that is to make sure that our Charter isadhered to and not to pick and choose the parts of our Charter that suit his and the Town Councils own agenda’s.
D:For six months I sent e-mails to Rex Taylor and Town Clerk Janet Whipple alerting themto the fact that we did not have this Council– no answer to any of them as of this date Even though they were aware of the problem they allowed the Planning Board to vote down r

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