New Palm Beach County Property Appraiser sworn in next week

Dorothy Jacks
Jacks
Nikolits
Nikolits

Palm Beach County’s about to have its first property appraiser in nearly a quarter-century who isn’t Gary Nikolits.

Dorothy Jacks, longtime chief deputy to Nikolits, is set to be sworn in Tuesday at the 1916 Palm Beach County Courthouse.

Nikolits was elected to the post in 1992 and reelected five times since. He announced in May 2015 that he would not seek a sixth term. Jacks, who’d worked in the office for 28 years and been chief deputy since 2012, filed to succeed him.

In August, Jacks easily defeated outgoing Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana, who’d stepped down from the commission because of term limits.

 

Palm Beach County Commission picks Paulette Burdick as mayor

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Bernard
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Kerner

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.

Palm Beach County Commission picks mayor today

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Mack Bernard, middle, greets guests at an election party at Revolutions at City Place Revolutions at City Place West Palm Beach Tuesday August 30, 2016. ( Meghan McCarthy / The Palm Beach Post )
Bernard
Kerner
Kerner
PBC Commissioner Hal Valeche
Valeche

The Palm Beach County Commission today will swear in two new members and select a mayor.

Democrat Dave Kerner, who’s wrapping up four years as a state representative from suburban Lake Worth, won the race for the central Palm Beach County Commission District 3 seat that Shelley Vana is vacating after today because of term limits. And former Delray Beach City Commissioner and former state Rep. Mack Bernard ousted three-term District 7 Commissioner Priscilla Taylor on Aug. 30.  Newly-reelected County Commissioner Hal Valeche will be sworn into a third term as well.

Not clear: who will be picked for the mostly-ceremonial mayor’s post. 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 of mayor was created in 2013, the board traditionally has turned to the person who is Vice Mayor and is chairman as 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.

Also on today’s agenda:

Westlake: A vote to approve changing the boundaries of its Municipal Service Taxing Unit for fire-rescue to include the new city of Westlake.

Cancer Treatment Centers: A vote to approve $357,500 in local incentives for Boca Raton-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which will spend at least $14.,5 million to buy and renovate an existing building for its corporate headquarters.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting: When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Public comment at 2 p.m.  Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

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. 

 

 

 

Body cameras in the PBC budget?

Palm Beach County’s proposed $4.3 billion budget includes money for lots of things. But it doesn’t include a penny for law enforcement body cameras.

For Commissioner Shelley Vana, that’s a problem.

Vana agreed with a call made by fellow Commissioner Priscilla Taylor that body cameras should be purchased for use by Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies.

The cameras, supported by some concerned about law enforcement misconduct, were to be bought with money from an increase in the county’s sales tax. However, as the sales tax debate moved forward, the cameras were removed from the sales tax projects list.

During the first of two public hearings on the proposed 2017 county budget Tuesday night, Vana said she thinks money for the cameras ought to be included in the budget.

“I just think that, if we do a budget without body cameras, it sends a message we’re not serious,” Vana said.

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has said he’d have his deputies wear the body cameras – as long as he didn’t have to account for them in his budget.

Commissioners will hold a final public hearing on the proposed budget on September 19. It’s not clear if commissioners will decided to amend the budge to include the cameras, which, according to County Administrator Verdenia Baker, would cost an estimated $10 million.

Several commissioners have said that, while they are open to the idea of body cameras, they are concerned about ongoing costs associated with their use.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Jacks to step into property appraiser’s office after win

Dorothy Jacks won’t face an opponent in November, and, by virtue of her victory Tuesday night over Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana, will be the county’s next property appraiser.

Jacks will succeed Gary Nikolits, who announced last year that he would not seek re-election. He endorsed Jacks, who has served as his chief deputy.

The filing of a write-in candidate, Charles H. Stahman, moved the date of the Jacks-Vana election from November to August 30.

Stahman’s name was not on the ballot, however, and Jacks, cruised to victory over Vana.

Dorothy Jacks
Dorothy Jacks

 

Update: Two Palm Beach County commissioners now lame ducks

IMG_0193When Palm Beach County Commissioners convened this morning as the governing board of the Solid Waste Authority, it was the first of many proceedings this fall in which the 7-member panel contains two lame ducks.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelly Vana
Vana

Commissioner Shelley Vana already was on her way out

Palm Beach County Commissioner District 7, Priscilla A. Taylor in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 22, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Taylor

because of term limits. But 3-term commissioner Priscilla Taylor fell in Tuesday’s election t0 former Delray Beach city commissioner and former state representative Mack Bernard.

As of press time Tuesday night, Bernard had clung to a lead of less than 3 percentage points. In the final overnight tally, which still doesn’t include the small number of provisional ballots, that lead held:

Mack Bernard                41.96%        7,413
Priscilla Ann Taylor     39.02%       6,894
Lawrence Gordon          13.66%       2,414
Robbie T. Littles               5.35%         946
TOTAL: 17,667

For Vana and Taylor, at least for now, years and years of elected office come to a screeching halt; 17 for Taylor and 14 for Vana, who was soundly beaten Tuesday night by longtime Deputy Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks in the race to replace Jacks’ boss, the retiring Gary Nikolits.

At Wednesday morning’s Solid Waste Authority meeting, chair Hal Valeche acknowledge the “bad day” Taylor and Vana had on Tuesday. He said he’ll miss them and thanked them for their service and directed a round of applause.

Proposed sales tax increase was great…before it was bad

A direct mail piece doesn’t just rip Palm Beach County property appraiser candidate Shelley Vana for attending what it described as a Donald Trump rally. It doesn’t just say she took gobs of money from developers and then voted for more growth.

The mail piece also says Vana, a county commissioner, voted for “the largest tax increase in Palm Beach County history.”

That vote, taken in May, was to have voters decide whether the county’s sales tax should be raised from 6 cents on the dollar to 7 cents on the dollar. That increase would generate an estimated $2.7 billion over 10 years for repairs to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings.

Vana does back that sales tax increase. Her opponent in the property appraiser’s race, Dorothy Jacks, would not say if she supports the proposed sales tax increase, which will be on the ballot in November.

“I do not think it is proper for me to advocate for or against an issue which does not directly impact the duties and responsibilities of the Property Appraiser’s office,” Jacks said when asked about the sales tax plan in candidate survey from The Palm Beach Post. ” I am glad the voters get a chance to make a decision on this in November.”

Jacks isn’t taking a position on the sales tax proposal, but Rick Asnani, the man behind the anti-Vana flier, was squarely behind the proposal earlier this year.

Working with the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, Asnani made presentations and pushed hard in favor of what the anti-Vana flier describes as “the largest tax increase in Palm Beach County history.”

When the commission voted not to use sales tax money to pay for projects backed by the Cultural Council, Asnani’s role in the sales tax push diminished.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Jacks, Vana make their pitch to be PBC property appraiser

Seated side-by-side during a political forum Tuesday night, Shelley Vana and Dorothy Jacks made their pitch to be Palm Beach County’s next property appraiser.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Vana, a county commissioner and former state legislator, and Jacks, the chief deputy property appraiser, clashed on what they would bring to the office.

Jacks said she understands the technical nuances of the job. Vana said the office is a political one that is best led by someone who has served in elected office.

The candidates, both Democrats, are seeking to succeed Gary Nikolits, who is retiring after 24 years as property appraiser. The primary election will be held on August 30.

With about 70 people looking on at the South County Civic Center, Vana and Jacks returned to that theme of leadership again and again.

“It is a very technical job,” Jacks said, adding that, in her, “you will have an expert at the top. You won’t have a politician but an expert leading the staff.”

Earlier, during her introductory remarks, Vana had laid out her credentials.

“You have two very good candidates here,” she said. “One has been an employee and one has been in leadership. In this office, you need a solid leader who sets the tone. You’re electing a Lee Iococca, not someone who screws in the screws.”

Jacks took that jab in stride. Indeed, much of the forum, sponsored by the Democratic Club of Boca Raton and Delray Beach, focused on technical aspects of the office.

The candidates were asked about the prospect of raising the county’s sales tax to pay for upgrades to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings.

Dorothy Jacks, chief deputy property appraiser
Dorothy Jacks, chief deputy property appraiser

Vana, who has supported the county’s plan to raise the sales tax, said she favors a mix of taxes. Jacks said she would first want to study how the county is spending money it already has before determining whether a sales tax increase is a good idea.

The candidates emphasized their endorsements. Vana noted that she is backed by state Reps. Dave Kerner and Irv Slossberg and a slew of other elected officials. Jacks said 18 property appraisers across the state have endorsed her, as have two of Vana’s colleagues on the county commission, Priscilla Taylor and Paulette Burdick.

While the candidates sparred on what they would bring to the office, each said they won’t be attacking each other on more personal terms, a point highlighted as the forum was ended when Jacks offer Vana a sip from her water bottle.

“Dorothy just shared her water with me,” Vana said. “And I wasn’t afraid to drink it.”

Vana, Jacks to square off at Delray Beach forum

Shelley Vana and Dorothy Jacks will participate in a forum tonight in Delray Beach to discuss what they’d do if elected as Palm Beach County’s next property appraiser.

Vana, a county commissioner, and Jacks, deputy property appraiser, are seeking to succeed Gary Nikolits, who is retiring after 23 years as property appraiser.

The forum, hosted by the Democratic Club of Boca Raton and Delray Beach, will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the South County Civic Center, which is located at 16700 Jog Road.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana

 

Dorothy Jacks, chief deputy property appraiser
Dorothy Jacks, chief deputy property appraiser