North Miami Councilmen Scott Galvin and Michael Blynn leave meeting
The walkout occurred after Pierre told the two councilmen -- who had already threatened to leave -- that they should not make threats they didn't intend to keep.
Wednesday's meeting drew a crowd of residents to City Hall to voice their opinions on the prospect of a solar-powered theme park on what was originally intended to be a massive residential condo development.
Solar Mountain is asking for a controversial change to the lease agreement that would absolve them from having to spend $28 million in improving other areas of the city.
In place of the off-site improvements, the company proposes to pay a flat $7.5 million.
The proposal came across heavy opposition from Galvin and Blynn, who openly expressed skepticism over whether Solar Mountain's principals would be able to secure financing to complete the proposed winter-themed park.
Galvin asked Marc Douthit, president of Solar Mountain, for proof that the company had money.
Douthit said the firm's funding was solely through private equity. He indicated he was willing to share the firm's money source with the city confidentially, but because any documents presented to the city becomes public record, he could not.
If Solar Mountain cannot open its books to the city, Galvin said, "Let us cease and desist.'' Dissatisfied with Douthit's response, he threatened to walk out of the meeting.
Blynn also said he would walk out.
Shortly after a 10-minute recess an hour into the meeting, the mayor asked if Blynn and Galvin planned to stay.
When both councilmen indicated that they would, Pierre sniped: "Don't make any threats you have no intention on carrying out.''
That comment prompted Galvin to walk out, followed by Blynn, leaving only Pierre and Councilwoman Marie Steril, who had arrived late.
Councilman Jean Marcellus, whose wife passed away over the weekend, did not attend Wednesday night's meeting.
With no quorum, the workshop ended early -- frustrating many residents who had unanswered questions
"This is nonsense,'' said Gerier Origene. "There is no respect for the people. I want to know what Solar Mountain can do for the city, but the politicians are too busy playing politics.''
The plan was on the agenda for the city to hold a public workshop for Solar Mountain representatives to present their project followed by an emergency council meeting to vote whether the city would enter into negotiations to amend the lease.
Critics of Solar Mountain argue that the group's principals are inexperienced developers with ties to the mayor, and say they are trying to cheat the city out of millions of dollars owed in off-site obligations.
Pierre and Douthit are former law partners. Another principal, Willis Howard, is Pierre's former campaign manager. "If they will not live up to the agreement that they bought, we need to let it fall,'' said Michael Killiany, a North Miami resident who suggested the city go out to bid for new developers.
From early on there was obvious friction on the dais when Galvin announced the vote was two to one, indicating he and Blynn were against and the mayor was in favor of the project.
But reached after the meeting, Pierre said he had not made a made a decision on the project.
Supporters say the group's proposal -- which says it will create 5,530 construction jobs plus support another 3,983 permanent jobs -- will aid unemployed and struggling residents.
When the subject of jobs arises, North Miami resident Tanisha Rizer, said she is willing to listen.
"You have a lot of poor families in North Miami, a lot of impoverished children. I'm unemployed, I need a job,'' she said.
It's unclear if another workshop will be rescheduled with the city, but Douthit said he would prefer to meet with community members outside of city hall.
"I'm not interested in another workshop with the city,'' he said.
The walkout spurred allegations of racism from one Solar Mountain representative.
After the meeting, Howard said he believed Galvin and Blynn left because the last person to speak, Rizer, is an African-American resident who spoke about unemployment.
Galvin did not leave immediately after Rizer spoke, however. He left shortly after the meeting reconvened after the break.
Reached after the meeting Galvin said, "It's ridiculous to suggest I'm racist, I just want to focus on the project on hand and not get into name calling.''
Residents like Carol Keys supported the council members' hasty exit.
"The mayor has a tendency to be rude to fellow council people and Scott wasn't going to take it,'' Keys said.
Pierre who grew up in a Long Island suburb defended his comment, saying he was not being rude.
"I grew up in the ghetto of Westbury, New York,'' he said after the meeting, referring to the Long Island village. "You don't make threats you're not going to keep.''
The purpose of this post is not to discuss the relative merits of the development project described above in North Miami, in an area I know very well, since I spent lots of time growing-up down here doing things in North Miami -Fourth of July fireworks at the city park on NE 135th Street when it first opened, Marcella's, Carvel's, and the fabulous Spinelli Brothers barber shop, to name but a few.
The latter was the fabulous hangout for South Florida sports media and Dolphin players -esp. Garo- in the early and mid-1970's, and the brothers were my official NMB Optimist sponsor for football, which meant that my photo hung up in their shop that was full of photos of show biz celebs, their particular place on the wall memorized by me as I sat in the barber chair as if they were stars up in the night sky.
I even recall when the specific area in the article was going to be part of our path to the furure, Interama.
No, the purpose of this particular post is to ask publicly whether or not North Miami City Councilman Scott Galvin, one of 11 candidates to replace Kendrick Meek in Congress for the 17th District -and the only White candidate- has already blown his opportunity to lay the groundwork for a big upset in late August?
In reading this story, I can't help but wonder if Scott Galvin has actually been to Capitol Hill before, and and seen what long House Committee meetings are really like?
Or is he our very own latter-day Edward Markey, the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee -whom I first came to know in the early '90's when he was the Chair of the super-important Telecommunications & Finance subcommittee, which had many well-known controversial hearings I attended- but who in his first campaign running for Congress from Massachusetts, had to admit that he'd never visited Washington before? http://markey.house.gov/
For the newest Members, it's hours and hours of listening to people with much more seniority -but perhaps much less actual smarts or common sense- ask all the good questions in front of whatever media chooses to attend, while you just have to sit there like furniture, filling up the picture.
It just gnaws at you, but hey, that's the system.
The important thing is to not fall asleep!
Given what I had heard about Galvin, that he was a savvy guy full of good ideas, despite having worked for Carrie Meek, I really would've thought that at this point in the CD-17 campaign, he'd actually be publicly asking some questions and raising issues that re-inforce his strengths, even while the other candidates -and the Herald- seem inclined to just ignore those issues for another couple of months, given their largely inarticulate and ineffective campaigns, especially their lack of serious outreach to the Broward part of the district -where I live.
My slice of the political universe -map of Florida’s 17th Congressional District.
"We help you keep tabs on the U.S. Congress. This is the independent, nonpartisan website that started the "civic hacking" movement around the United States Congress."
But after reading an article like this one, that seems to indicate a great deal of immaturity, I'm beginning to wonder whether there's any point in him making appearances in Hallandale Beach in the future, where none of the other candidates have visited, which if he'd played his cards right, he could have have made into a relative stronghold by now.
The sort of immaturity described in the article is rewarded in Congress by your colleagues simply ignoring you.
As most of you know by now, I spent 15 years up there and saw it for myself on Capitol Hill, since nobody wants to be regularly seen in the presence of someone who can't keep their ego and mouth in check. That's part of why they call it a collegial body.
Oftentimes, the very people you dislike the most are in your own party, and then what do you do? If you're a Freshman Member, you just have to sit there and take it, not pop-up and pop-off.See also: Tim Smith's Fort Lauderdale
P&Z ... What's Up With No Meeting Again?
Posted by Tim Smith at 5/28/2010 9:27 AM http://blog.timsmith.com/2010/05/28/pz-pawn.aspx