Nit Picking and Hair Splitting

Update: Two New Palm Beach Post Articles are linked to at the end of this post. They are very short articles about Palm Beach Gardens and North Palm Beach voting NOT to raise property taxes.

Let’s be up front. There are times in life when those on each side of an issue stand at odds with each other because they hold diametrically opposing world views and desired outcomes. Is there any reason to believe this won’t lead to sparks flying and displays of passion over issues that matter? How could it not? Have we become so wimpy as a society that we are afraid of a debate? I say, bring it on!

This opposition seems to hold true with the Town of Lake Park Commission. There are obviously two schools of thought at work there. So why not let the battlefield of ideas show us the facts? Some want to go in this direction, some want to go in that; I say, let’s let each commissioner speak their mind and let their true colors shine. Why not let the residents hear exactly what it is some on our commission are trying to keep hushed when they shut another commissioner down. In what could be construed as a haughty tone, one commissioner chides (and in so doing demeans) another for “splitting hairs” while she wades through binding statements woven throughout proposed legislation. Since when is reviewing a piece of legislation during the time for deliberation and debate of that item (which happened to be an ordinance to which property owners would be bound), considered splitting hairs?! Not only did the comment during the discussion of the ordinance come across as rude and disrespectful to the other commissioner, it showed a lack of concern for what the property owners will be tied to once the new legislation is passed. Someone remind me then, exactly what are these meetings for if not such scrutiny?

I’m aware that folks don’t like conflict. Understandable. They want to shy away from disagreements. Aw, that’s nice. Their life mottos seem to be: “Let’s all just get along”. Aren’t they sweet.

No! That’s a crock! That gets us along alright, right along to all sorts of permanently disagreeable outcomes. I suggest instead that as a town we should get to the core of the issues brought before the commission at the start, ask questions, dig deep and uncover facts and information that might be useful before taking a vote on something permanent, whether the facts seem unpleasant at the moment or not. Unfortunately, there are those on the Lake Park Town Commission who have for some time now been using various means to silence opposition rather than allowing the free exchange of ideas or allowing others to do their job. Enough! Those being silenced were voted onto the commission for the very purpose of splitting those hairs on our behalf. Residents do not appreciate the chains this commission is binding us with as a result of their unwillingness to listen to our concerns or any opposition to their desired plans.

When the important clauses and hidden gems of an issue call into question certain commissioners’ desires, those commissioners silence debate. Whether it’s by talking down to (in their nanny voice) or talking over the questioning individual (from their place of prominence), or whether they do something like incorrectly state that some “protocol” prohibits that discussion, because it isn’t worded as a question (No, seriously…I thought I was watching jeopardy there for a while last night!), no matter which, it’s all meant to do the same thing. They also might create another nonsensical distraction like stating a snarky “fact” meant to prove a point about the questioner’s “ignorance” (which by the way never does any such thing. It never provides quite the zing intended and always seems to obscure or leave out other important opposing facts. Word to the wise…it also sounds pompous…every time.) I’m just wondering what happened to all that sunshine we heard so much about a while back, because there was some very dark cloud cover last night.

Hopefully residents are paying attention and using some common sense when viewing commission meetings. Maybe, like me, they were home mumbling at their TV and were as appalled as I while watching when an attempt was made, once again, to shut down Ms. Longtin and Mr. Hockman. Not only was that unnecessary, it is the kind of disagreeable behavior we actually could do without. The mayor, while sitting center stage as the Town’s representative, made a flippant joke at commissioner Longtin’s expense in regard to her desire to cut employee pay. This showed a lack of respect and furthermore, contempt. The mayor then worked his heart out to silence discussion of the Majestic Princess when Commissioner Hockman tried to discuss it, almost as if he was covering his ears, saying, “I can’t hear you!”. Is it because he could not let that information get out or because he knew he had no way to refute Commissioner Hockman’s information? Sounds like something is going on with the Majestic Princess that most of the town staff does not want the public to hear. People should be asking a lot of questions. It sounds like there is something more going on there than just a tenant issue.

When the Mayor suggested that it was not appropriate for that business owner’s concerns to be brought to the town meeting, I was appalled. The goings on behind the scenes at the Marina are indeed our business. These people have made it our further concern by their intervention. When debate is suppressed and information is quelled, someone ought to be making a stink. Why the need to vehemently silence opposition on this subject, particularly, and so many others in general? What is the town leadership afraid of?

If those who run the meetings can’t talk down their opposition, they use belittling tactics. They are telling us who they are. The gang of three have the majority and will vote as a group in conjunction with the town manager’s direction, it seems, and yet they employ these many means in order to set the stage to their advantage. It’s been quite a show.

There are many residents who feel it is the job of the commission to study items brought before the town, shed light on the particulars, investigate the questionables and dig through the details instead of shying away from them. Novel concept. Others act as if the person who thoroughly combs through ordinances is some sort of annoyance. Sorry, but that’s the job; it consists of trudging through details, facing unpleasant facts and postponing something or maybe not voting something through afterall. It also might mean we’ll have to debate, and that sparks might fly. So be it.

Let’s make sure we are doing our own homework on these issues so we know when the commissioners are shoving things into dark corners and keeping them hushed in quiet places. Speaking in a gentle voice and throwing around words like volunteer, children, people first, etc. do not a good commissioner make. The veneer is slick, but the rough places are really beginning to show.

So, for the record, I’m all for nit picking and hair splitting if it will get us to a better place…the truth. There, I said it. “Getting along”, “moving forward” and “consensus” are make-believe. They are merely nice little ways of saying “Pay no attention to the facts; just agree with us and do what we say. We’d like to be on our way.”

I just wonder what the destination is going to be if we continue in this direction? It’s not looking pretty. I suggest we keep an eye on where these people are taking us, folks.

Here is the link to a few lines in the Palm Beach Post regarding last night’s tax vote. Please note who voted to raise your taxes.

Here is the link to an article in the Palm Beach Post regarding the vote AGAINST raising taxes in North Palm Beach.

Here is the link to an article in the Palm Beach Post regarding the vote AGAINST raising taxes in Palm Beach Gardens.