Letter: Cutting Back On Public Participation

Editor’s note: The following letter, addressed to the Palm Beach County Commission, was sent to the Town-Crier for publication.

Dear Commissioners:

Despite the slight last year to Commissioner Paulette Burdick by denying her the right to serve as the chair of the Palm Beach County Commission with the label of “mayor,” I still object to utilizing the term “mayor” for any chair of the commission. You are each elected by only those of your own district, and not by the voters of the entire county, and, therefore, no commissioner is entitled to utilize the term “mayor” or even “vice mayor.” If you seek eminence or crown, then you should change the county process to include a “strong mayor” format, with a candidate that would have to be elected by a majority of voters throughout the entire county.

Concerning the newly appointed and non-elected countywide “mayor,” I note a continual slide each year by the successive “mayor” commissioner of the rights of the public.

I still give kudos to Commissioner Steve Abrams as being the chair who gave each member of the public in attendance the ability to participate. He gave them time, he allowed the public to speak even if a card had not been proffered, and I cannot recall him ever limiting time to less than three minutes. I rarely agreed with his votes, but at least he recognized that the public had the right to participate.

Under Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, we saw that right curtailed. Under Commissioner Shelley Vana, we saw those rights further curtailed, including the ability to participate at a quasi-judicial proceeding. Vana further saw fit to limit public comment to a ridiculous one minute amount of time during truly important matters of public concern.

Now, with the new non-elected “mayor,” we see that the public will no longer be entitled to even the scanty two public meetings held in the evening, and they further won’t be allowed to speak during “workshops.” Do any of you really care about the public?

I note that three of our commissioners are running for higher office, and all of them Democrats. As a lifelong member of the Democratic Party, I wouldn’t vote for any of them for higher office (not even for dog catcher, if this were an elected position), and this just because I note how each of these commissioners scorn the public. Our new, non-elected “mayor,” being also a Democrat, would further not gain my vote for any position.

What a shame and a stain on democracy most all of you represent.

Patricia D. Curry, The Acreage