County delays vote on Iota Carol development project

Palm Beach County commissioners voted 5-2 Monday to postpone a decision on comprehensive plan changes to accommodate the Iota Carol/Delray Linton Groves development project west of The Acreage.

Commissioners had given preliminary approval to changes last year, which were then reviewed by state government officials. Two of the commissioners who voted in favor of those changes have been replaced by new commissioners, and new County Mayor Paulette Burdick – who has expressed concern about over-development in the county – now chairs commission meetings.

Burdick and Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, whose district includes the project site, voted against the postponement.

The project, which calls for the construction of 1,030 homes on a 1,288-acre tract, will be reconsidered by the commission when it meets on April 8.

 

Palm Beach County Commissioner Paulette Burdick talks about her desire to discuss issues regarding Uber and public safety, instead of putting it off, during a Palm Beach County Commission meeting on Sept. 22, 2015. The commissioners voted to extend Uber's temporary operating agreement until the end of March 2016 or until the state legislature makes any decisions. (Brianna Soukup/Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Mayor Paulette Burdick (Brianna Soukup/Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County commissioners spar over school “choice” proclamation

Palm Beach County Commissioner Paulette Burdick talks about her desire to discuss issues regarding Uber and public safety, instead of putting it off, during a Palm Beach County Commission meeting on Sept. 22, 2015. The commissioners voted to extend Uber's temporary operating agreement until the end of March 2016 or until the state legislature makes any decisions. (Brianna Soukup/Palm Beach Post)
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A routine vote on a Palm Beach County proclamation at Tuesday’s county commission meeting prompted a lengthy discussion on school choice.

Commissioner Steve Abrams was asked to introduce declaring Jan. 22-28 as “School Choice Week in Palm Beach County.” The motion passed, but Mayor Paulette Burdick and new commissioner Mack Bernard voted no and did not sign the proclamation.

“If you go on their web site, it is very much about charter schools. It is very much about using public funding for vouchers and scholarships,” Burdick, who sat on the county school board from 1994 to 2010, said of the group National School Choice Week.

Abrams said the group is non-partisan and doesn’t lobby and that it fully supports the option of public schools.

“It’s not about charters,” he said. “It’s not about vouchers. It’s not about tuition tax credits. All those controversial type issues. It’s about appreciating that we offer choices in the county.”

Abrams said that after hearing fellow commissioners weren’t comfortable with the group’s original proposed wording, he rewrote it himself “to best reflect the types of choices our parents and

The proclamation “does not have to do with certain types of schools that some of us, myself included, are not happy about,” said colleague Mary Lou Berger, who said she and her siblings spent their youths in parochial schools. “It’s about the choice that parents have.”

Abrams then offered to change the wording to refer only to choice in Palm Beach County; “then we don’t have to affiliate with that group at all.” He even changed the date to Feb. 22-28.

Burdick still felt the commission, by approving the proclamation, was at least indirectly supporting the national group. Bernard did not speak on the issue.

Palm Beach County Commission to congratulate Trump

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. (Getty Images)
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Palm Beach County Commissioner Paulette Burdick (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)
Burdick (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

Part-time Palm Beach County resident Donald Trump will get a congratulatory letter from the Palm Beach County Commission, but it will be more in the spirit of unity than enthusiasm.

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Steven Abrams suggested drafting such a letter to the president-elect, “wishing him the best in his presidency.”

New Mayor Paulette Burdick, a longtime Democratic activist, looked like she’d bit into a lemon.

“Thank you, Mr. Abrams. Good suggestion,” she said, appearing to want to let the issue die. When Abrams persisted, she said, “If I am directed by the board to do it, I will do it.”

Abrams cited post-election national calls for unity and noted Trump’s connections to the county and the prospects of a “second White House” at his Mar-a-Lago compound in Palm Beach. Where, coincidentally, Trump will be spending the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” said Abrams, a longtime Republican who noted many people crossed party lines on Nov 8,  but didn’t say how he voted.

“We in Palm Beach County are always gracious,” Burdick said. “I’m sure we can draft an appropriate letter to Mr. Trump.”

And Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, also a strong Democrat, said, “it does send the right tone that we’re willing to cross the aisle.”

Palm Beach County Commission picks Paulette Burdick as mayor

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The Palm Beach County Commission changed the guard Tuesday with laughs, hugs and tears.

The commission also made a surprise pick for its mostly-ceremonial mayor’s post, selecting Paulette Burdick 4-3 over colleague Steven Abrams.

The panel Tuesday said goodbye to Shelley Vana, out by term limits, and Priscilla Taylor, defeated for reelection in August.

It then swore in former state representative Dave Kerner, who won Vana’s seat, and former Delray Beach City Commissioner and former state representative Mack Bernard, who replaces Taylor.

By tradition, outgoing Vice-Mayor Hal Valeche was next in line for mayor. But Valeche, hospitalized for weeks in late October and early November,said Nov. 9 he would not stand for mayor, citing his health.

Since the position was created, the board traditionally has turned to the person who is Vice Mayor and is chairman when the commission sits as the governing board of the Solid Waste Authority. That would be Valeche.

Next up would be Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, the current vice chair of the Solid Waste Authority’s board. But only Burdick and Abrams were nominated Tuesday. McKinlay later was unanimously picked for vice mayor. McKinlay said later she hadn’t sought the top post and was happy with the pick.

Abrams had been the first mayor when the panel switched to the title from “commission chair,” and Kerner said later he voted for Burdick because she hadn’t had the post yet.

In 2013, Burdick, who as vice mayor traditionally would be next in line, was passed over for Shelley Vana in a move she later called “petty” and blamed on her growth-management stances. Burdick said Tuesday that was in the past and she was ready to take on her new duties.

581-acre chunk of Ag Reserve could be up for sale

The South Florida Water Management District has designed a 581-acre piece of Palm Beach County’s Agricultural Reserve to be surplus and available for sale, increasing the prospect of more development in a farming zone some fear is being gobbled up by builders.

The district co-owns the 581 acres with Palm Beach County. A majority of the seven-member county commission would have to agree to a sale.

Last year, when the district first began discussing the idea of declaring the land surplus and taking bids on it, Commissioners Paulette Burdick and Melissa McKinlay opposed private ownership of the land, which is part of a 624-acre tract purchased with public money in 2000.

Check back later today with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com for more on this story.

 

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Many new faces when Palm Beach County commissioners, legislators next meet

palm-beach-county-logoNew faces will abound when the Palm Beach County Commission and the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation hold their annual joint meeting early next year.

County Commissioners and Palm Beach County’s state senators and state representatives will meet from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 4 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

At least two, and as many as four, of the seven county commissioners could be different. District 7 commissioner Priscilla Taylor was ousted by Mack Bernard in August. District 3 Commissioner Shelley Vana stepped down because of term limits. And commissioners Hal Valeche (District 1) and Mayor Mary Lou Berger (District 4) face challengers Nov. 8. Commissioners Melissa McKinlay, Steven Abrams, and Paulette Burdick are in through 2018.

Of the 13 state legislators in the Palm Beach County delegation, only one definitely will return to his post: Rep. Bill Hager, who was reelected without opposition.

Rep. Kevin Rader has been elected to the State Senate. Sen. Joseph Abruzzo moved to the House side and was elected without opposition.  Rep. Dave Kerner left to run for Vana’s county commission seat and Rep. Bobby Powell Jr. stepped down to run for State Senate. Irv Slosberg left the House for a failed State Senate run.

Out by term limits: Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs and Rep. Mark Pafford. Sen. Pat Rooney opted not to seek reelection.

Sen. Joe Negron, scheduled to be the incoming State Senate president, faces a challenger Nov. 8, as does Sen. Jeff Clemens and Reps. Lori Berman and MaryLynn Magar. 

 

 

 

Palm Beach County commission nixes night meetings

Untitled-1Palm Beach County Commissioners Tuesday voted 5-1 to eliminate the two regular commission meetings a year that are held at night.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary Lou Berger had made the suggestion on Nov. 17, immediately after being selected and sworn in for the mostly ceremonial mayor’s post.

She also had recommended banning public comments at Palm Beach County Commission workshops.

Both ideas drew opposition and on Dec. 15, commissioners put a decision on hold while they asked County Attorney Denise Nieman to research the ideas.

Nieman told commissioners Tuesday they shouldn’t vote on the comment feature because they already can decide at a workshop whether to allow comment.

In the vote on the night meetings, Commissioner Paulette Burdick was opposed.