Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On the City Commission agenda: Resolution No. 19-2017 — “Public Purpose Food Policy”. Possibly more fodder about “Secret Meetings” and baked ziti at City Hall?

“When public men indulge themselves in abuse, when they deny others a fair trial, when they resort to innuendo and insinuation, to libel, scandal, and suspicion, then our democratic society is outraged, and democracy is baffled. It has no apparatus to deal with the boor, the liar, the lout, and the antidemocrat in general.”
—Quote. J. William Fulbright.

Excerpts from this particular agenda item are below, “Resolution No. 19-2017”, item 9E on the Consent Agenda at the Lake Worth City Commission tonight.

Will a former City commissioner or one from his cabal of followers make a cameo appearance (see video below) and cry “Sunshine Law Violation!”. If you recall, after the elections in March of 2016, the editor at the Post tried to give legitimacy to this “Secret Meetings” nonsense here in our little City of Lake Worth. Read all about that using this link (all of the incumbents if you recall, Mayor Pam Triolo, Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell, and Commissioner Andy Amoroso were re-elected by landslide victories).

You see — the editor didn’t accuse any of our elected officials and staff of doing anything inappropriate — it was just suggested that our Mayor Triolo serving “Baked Ziti” was maybe inappropriate. The editor implied that something may have happened or may happen at City Hall when people show up and have a few bites to eat prior to a Commission meeting.

A little later on a resident of our City wrote this Letter to the Editor:

“[T]o resolve any issues regarding the Sunshine Law and suspicions, it might be prudent that anyone attending a Lake Worth City Commission meeting bring their own dinner and a canteen filled with their favorite beverage. [Cara] Jennings can ring a dinner bell, and the mayor and city commissioners and all in attendance — to a meeting that will go on, and on, and on — can eat together, hold hands, and thus avoid suspicions of secrecy.

In March, leading up to the elections in 2016, the “Sunshine Law Violation!” nonsense was in full high drama. In one dramatic example, a then-commissioner in this City could have just walked up and joined a barbecue/campaign event, but he declined. Instead he pranced the perimeter angrily before throngs of excited Triolo, Maxwell, and Amoroso supporters at that BBQ, leaving everyone wondering, “What was McVoy doing?”. After a few minutes he scurried away:

Sadly, because of all this nonsense, mis-, and disinformation there remain some in the public left “scratching their heads” about the Sunshine Law and what the law is intended to do.

One day a former City commissioner is throwing around allegations like cheap confetti and a few days after an election the claims go away like nothing ever happened. To understand the Sunshine Law, use this link to learn what the law is intended to do and just as importantly, what the law is not intended to do.

Anyhow. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens later on tonight. Maybe somebody will take this off the Consent Agenda for discussion or maybe not. But, if this is brought up for discussion one of the electeds should explain what a former commissioner did, and why so many people are so confused about the purpose of the Sunshine Law. Without further ado:

Consent Agenda Item 9E: “Resolution No. 19-2017 — City of Lake Worth Public Purpose Food Policy”.

Summary: The resolution authorizes the expenditure of City funds for food and refreshment for community-oriented events and functions and certain City services as serving a valid public purpose.
Background and Justification: The City of Lake Worth at times provides food and refreshments to the public including residents, City officials and employees, and other local officials and employees.
     Such occasions include, but are not limited to: conducting public services, community-oriented events, meetings and workshops. The provision of such food and refreshment is considered to be a de minimus* cost to the City that in turn is beneficial to the City’s residents, partnerships, officials and its employees.
     Resolution 19-2017 authorizes the provision of food and refreshments for the services, events and functions listed in Exhibit “A” and states the same serves a valid public purpose and enhances the general welfare of the City and its residents.
Motion: I move to approve/not approve Resolution No. 19-2017 authorizing the expenditure of City funds for food and refreshment for community-oriented events.

As they say, “Stay Tuned”. Baked ziti anyone?

*De minimis is a Latin expression meaning “about minimal things”, normally in the locutions de minimis non curat praetor (“The praetor does not concern himself with trifles”) or de minimis non curat lex (“The law does not concern itself with trifles”), a legal doctrine by which a court refuses to consider trifling matters.