The American Coalition for Property Rights (ac4pr.org), with some help from members of the Palm Beach County Tea Party, has been able to convince three County Commissions (St. Lucie, Martin and Indian River) to ‘opt out’ of Seven50 – the HUD funded regional plan that sets out a progressive vision for “seven counties, 50 years”. Now their sights are set on Palm Beach County.
Predicting significant population growth in South Florida over that time frame along with rising sea levels and constraints on natural resources, the Seven50 plan sees public transportation, high density housing situated close to transit corridors, and restrictions on private land use as the solution. Implementation would involve changes in zoning regulations, and adoption of a regional blueprint which would supersede today’s system of county and municipal land use rules.
Fearing loss of local control and influence by property owners and other citizens, opponents of the plan have been asking county governments to “opt out” of the Seven50 MOU (“memo of understanding”) which they signed in 2010. Our three northern neighbors acquiesced, but so far Palm Beach County has not been willing to accept the premise that any of their authority would be preempted by the plan, nor do they feel bound to implement any of its provisions. Commissioner Hal Valeche, certainly not a proponent of the “New Urbanism”, does not see Seven50 as anything more than a federally funded study that lays out some proposals – that the county can accept or reject (or ignore) at their leisure.
Phyllis Frey, a leader in this fight, along with Mel Grossman, president of PBCTP, arranged for interested citizens to come to the February 4th Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting, to speak “off agenda” during the “Matters by the Public” session.
The 80 or so activists wore red shirts in support of the 15 or so who spoke, and the speakers covered a range of issues, from the impacts to Home Rule, development density concerns, the relationship to UN Agenda 21 and other topics.
For the most part, the session was cordial, and the Commissioners made comments and suggestions, although it was clear none of them saw any reason to “opt out”. There was a little bit of drama, as leader Mel Grossman was thrown out of the meeting room by an overzealous deputy. (see sidebar). In the Sun-Sentinel (“SFL Tea Party Leader Ejected from PBC Commission Meeting) and the PB Post (“About 80 seven/50 opponents pack palm beach county commission“) that part was the lead.
Drama notwithstanding, potential progress was made in the meeting. Seeking a way to address the concerns – namely that home rule would be compromised or that the county would be compelled to implement the seven50 plan, Commissioner Steven Abrams suggested that the County Attorney draft an addendum to the agreement(s) with the Seven50 committee, clarifying that nothing in those agreements in any way compromises our Home Rule or otherwise overrides the County’s planning and zoning. The addendum would be signed by both the BCC and Seven50 officials. The rest of the BCC agreed and County Attorney Denise Nieman said she would return at the next BCC meeting on March 11th. After the meeting, Ms. Nieman spoke with members of the public – including Mel and Phyllis. The latter plan to work with Ms. Nieman’s team to see if the proposed wording would satisfy their concerns.
All should recognize however, that whenever government grants are accepted, there are strings attached. And having an addendum or an opt-out, no matter how it is worded, does not relieve interested citizens from having to continue to monitor various development projects from appearing on Consent Agendas for passage without discussion. Also – most if not all on our County Commission, are in support of the goals of Seven50 and other regional planning initiatives – and one shouldn’t just assume that all regional planning is good or bad. As citizens, it is up to us to watch what is going on, hold our elected officials accountable, speak out, educate others and vote!
Last evening, “Betrayed” author Billy Vaughn captivated a packed house at Abacoa.
Father of a Navy Seal who died in the crash of a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan in 2011, Mr. Vaughn described what he found in trying to understand how this happened.
In an indictment of the rules of engagement that currently tie the hands of our forces in Afghanistan, he described the gulf that exists between the “war fighters” on the ground and their senior leadership. More interested in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans than in force protection or defeating the enemy, the current US conduct of the war greatly increases the risk and diminishes the effectiveness of our deployed forces.
He described our Afghan “allies” as untrustworthy and infiltrated by Taliban and Pakistan ISS, yet revealed that they are given full details of every special operation and have the authority to change the parameters or stop the it altogether. Describing the “ramp ceremony” following his son’s death, an Afghan Imam was taped (in his language) offering a prayer for the dead. When he had the tape translated, it was revealed that the “prayers” were actually a diatribe against the American forces.
Predicting a dark future for the next generation if the current administration policies continue, his passion and outrage was clearly felt by the audience.
In other business, CD18 candidates Ellen Andel, and Calvin Turnquest introduced themselves, as did PBG Council candidate Robin Deaton, and recently re-elected PBG Mayor Bert Premuroso.
Of interest to Jupiter Chapter members is our upcoming City Council Candidate Forum to be held in the County Library in the Gardens on February 25 at 6PM. The event is jointly sponsored by the Palm Beach County Tea Party, South Florida 912, PBGWatch, the PBG Residents Coalition, and the Republican Club of the Northern Palm Beaches.
It was a packed room to hear District 6 School Board Member Marcia Andrews at Wellington’s Total Wine & More on Monday.
The Common Core Standards are an attempt to unify K-12 education across the nation around a set of grade-specific core skills, ostensibly aimed at raising the worldwide competitiveness of American students. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details, and much anecdotal evidence has surfaced that when the standards are translated into curricula, they represent a “fundamental transformation” that many would argue is not needed or wanted.
Implementation of the standards in Florida was mandated by then Governor Charlie Crist in 2010 and has been rolled out in kindergarten and first grade, with movement to the higher grades about to begin. As they roll out, opposition has been growing across the state, prompting Governor Scott to reject the assessment part of the program called PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers), leaving open the question of how assessment in the state will proceed. This, and the move to slow things down while the debate continues, shared by Ms. Andrews and others on the School Board and in the state-wide Florida School Board Association, has the possibility to create chaos in K-12 education as teachers are trained, materials are adopted and the rollout continues in the face of a groundswell of opposition.
Ms. Andrews and District Director of Secondary Education Diana Feldman gave the group an overview of history and plans for Common Core in Florida, and fielded many questions from the floor regarding required reading lists, data collection on students, the autonomy of local teachers to shape the curriculum in their classroom, and other hot-button issues.
Although few who have formed positions regarding Common Core would have been swayed by the session, it was informative and gave us the impression that the School Board is listening.
The Palm Beach County Tea Party participated in the 2013 annual Veteran’s Day Parade in West Palm Beach.
Some pictures from Ed and Julie:
We had another packed house for the Wellington Chapter meeting on Oct. 14th. We welcomed several first timers to our Tea Party, as well as about a dozen veterans. As you are aware, the Tea Party has a special place in our hearts for veterans of all wars. The concern for the future of our country is at a fever pitch, so we gave all our participants a chance to voice their opinions.
Our Chapter Leader, Marion Frank, began the meeting with a Cliff Notes version of Mark Levin’s new book, The Liberty Amendments. Mark contends that Article 5 of the Constitution states that an alternate way of amending the Constitution is to convene a Convention of States to propose amendments, thus circumventing Congress. Mark proposes 11 amendments, including term limits for Congress and Supreme Court Justices, limiting federal spending and taxes, limit federal bureaucracy, promote free enterprise, to protect the vote and Mark’s favorite to grant the States authority to directly amend the Constitution.
While Marion was speaking, many in the audience were wondering how we could possibly get 34 states to convene a convention. That brought us to our guest speaker, former chairwoman for the Palm Beach County Tea Party, Pam Wohlschlegel. Pam recently joined a new organization called Citizens for Self-Governance. This organization was started by Mark Meckler, one of the co-founders of Tea Party Patriots. Mark Meckler began working on a project called Convention of States at the same time he found out that Mark Levin was working on his book. It appears the ideas of the two “Marks” are coming together in perfect harmony. Meckler’s organization is actually putting together the people and resources to get the conventions going in 40 states. It was so exciting to hear Pam talk about the details of this genius plan.
The final portion of the meeting was dedicated to whatever our audience wanted to talk about. Two of the topics we talked about the most were how can the Tea Party reach out to more veterans and how can we reach young voters, mainly college students. One of our first timers, Christopher Ryan, an entrepreneur of 27 years old, shared his thoughts about why we are having such problems getting to the youth of this country. We are committed to finding new ways to reach out to veterans and young voters. We are going to target our future meetings to achieve those objectives.
Overall, it was an extremely informative and enlightening meeting. Our next Wellington Chapter will meet on November 14th at 7:00 PM at Total Wine.
- Marion Frank
- Wellington Chapter
- CD 18 candidate Ilyla Katz with Mel Grossman
- Carlos Muhletaler of Americans for Prosperity
Last evening, the Jupiter chapter hosted a presentation by Phyliss Frey of the American Coalition 4 Property Rights, on the regional planning protocol known as “Seven50″.
Background: The title stands for “Seven Counties, 50 Years”, and is a work product in the area of “Regional Plans for Sustainable Development”, funded by a $4.6M HUD grant in 2010. A consortium, the developers of Seven50 formed the “South Florida Regional Partnership” to help create, support and implement the plan. Participants include local governments and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) through membership in the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) and the South Florida RPC. The plan attempts to address how to manage an expected 50% growth in population (from 6M to 9M) in the seven target counties of Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe. They have analyzed housing density, mass transit, diversity, planning and zoning and other regional attributes. The underlying assumption is a future of global climate change and rising sea levels, scarcity of energy and water, and challenges to “food security” among other things. The group’s proposals are considered advisory by many of the city and county jurisdictions that indirectly support it. Their work product can be viewed at seven50.org
Our guest speaker is a leader in the movement to challenge this planning protocol, and along with others associated with the American Coalition 4 Property Rights and many tea party activists, sees regional planning consortiums (they are all over the country, spurred on by HUD grants) as a threat to our way of life.
In her presentation, Ms. Frey used several very professional videos to make the case that the Seven50 plan would move us toward “stack ‘em and pack ‘em” high rise dwellings, the end of the suburbs, clusters of development along rail routes and elimination of local and county planning and zoning authority in favor of super-regional control.
Going back to the origins of “Sustainable Development” starting with the UN “Agenda 21″, she profiled the federal government’s role in implementation, starting with an executive order by George H. W. Bush, and expansion through every administration since. The Obama team has ratcheted it up a notch, using the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and HUD (Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) to promulgate a set of rules that require “neighborhood diversity” defined racially rather than economically, limits on resource use, and strings attached to federal grants flowing to local communities.
A test case and clear warning bell is provided by Westchester County, NY. A video of County Executive Rob Astorino, describing the federal lawsuits that county is struggling with, and his vow to fight back against federal overreach was a most compelling argument.
Invited to the meeting to hear the “other” side of the issue were our district 1 county commissioner Hal Valeche, Mayor Bert Premuroso and Councilman Joe Russo of Palm Beach Gardens. After the speaker made the point several times that MOUs (“Memorandums Of Understanding”) executed by local commissions and councils have limited their defense against the attacks on the local planning and zoning autonomy, Commissioner Valeche thought he needed to set the record straight. Taking the microphone to explain that the PBC commission is not constrained by Seven50 or the TCRPC, but look to groups like that as consultants and advisors. Some issues really need a regional perspective he said – like inter-county rail projects or large developments near county borders. He used the example of Avenir – the proposed development for the Vavrus Ranch in Palm Beach Gardens, as an example where TCRPC is being asked to help by collecting input from the region’s residents about such a large development in the western county.
Gardens councilman Joe Russo expanded on that, and explained that regional planning really did have a hand in developments like Abacoa, but state law has changed and it is now local rules that prevail. The Avenir development will be a decision for the Gardens Council, not the TCRPC.
Both Valeche and Russo left us with the impression that these kind of radical proposals as discussed by the speaker can happen, but only if we (and our local elected officials) let it.
At this point the meeting had become a “Town Hall” with both Hal and Phyliss taking questions from the audience.
Many were not buying that Seven50 was not a major threat though, and several called for Hal to get the PBC commission to “opt out” of Seven50, much the way that Indian River County and the city of Vero Beach have. Hal declined, saying such a motion would not pass in the current commission, and although this may be an issue in the future, currently he does not see it as an immediate issue in Palm Beach County. At one point it got raucus enough that Joel Channing, a PBCTP member who is close to the Gardens Council and is a leader in the PGA Corridor Association, made the point that “these guys are really heros” (the commissioner and councilmen) and were being unfairly criticized.
Also present at the meeting were candidates for CD18 Ellen Andel and Ilya Katz, CD21 candidate (against Ted Deutch) Henry Colon, and Senate 32 candidate Brandon Cannon (a Republican challenging Joe Negron).
- Phyliss Frey Amercian Coalition 4 Property Rights
- Mark Gotz American Coalition 4 Property Rights
- Terry Gallagher, Mel Grossman, Jim Hunter, Laureen Hunter
- Bill Robinson
- Virginia and John Brooks
- Phyliss Frey and Commissioner Hal Valeche
- Phyliss Frey, Commissioner Hal Valeche, Janet Campbell
Our Wellington Chapter of the Palm Beach County Tea Party held its meeting on Monday, Sept. 9th in the classroom at Total Wine in Wellington. People started arriving a full hour before the 7 PM meeting in order to get a seat. By the time the meeting started, it was standing room only.
The Chapter Coordinator, Marion Frank opened the meeting with a short discussion on Syria. She opined that the whole ordeal was a Wag The Dog scenario and was just meant to divert America’s attention away from all the scandals.
Henry Colon was called up to speak for a few minutes to introduce himself to the group. Henry is running as a Republican for Congressional District 21, the seat currently held by Ted Deutch.
Mel Grossman was formally introduced as the new President of the Palm Beach County Tea Party and he spoke for a moment about our future plans. He also spoke about the meeting we had in August with Dennis Michael Lynch, fighting the Amnesty bill with everything he’s got. We watched the beginning of Dennis’s documentary called “We Come To America, Part II”. If anybody wants to get a free copy of this chilling documentary, they can leave a message and let us know.
Janet Campbell gave an accurate accounting of what is coming with Common Core. Many Tea Partiers were hearing this information for the first time and they were shocked by what they heard. Janet offered a math example to everyone. She handed out index cards and asked everyone to multiply two compound numbers together. Most people were done in about 30 seconds and all got the correct answer. Janet then handed out the instruction sheet for Common Core way of doing the same math problem. It involved drawing boxes and guessing. After about 4 minutes, Janet told everyone that it no longer matters if the right answer is found, as long as you show your work, the teacher cannot mark you wrong. It was also pointed out that the new American history books will skip over our Founding Fathers and begin with Abraham Lincoln. Our children in elementary school will also learn that Martin Luther King, Jr. will be labeled as a “founding father”. This was all the Tea Partiers needed to know about Common Core and all are ready to fight it in our state.
The next Tea Party meeting in Wellington will be held on Monday, October 14th.
Some pictures from Delia:
The public hearings on the county budget are Monday 9/9/13 and 9/23/13 at 6:00 PM.
September 3, 2013
The Palm Beach County Tea Party Board of Directors has elected Mel Grossman as its new President.
Mr. Grossman is a co-founder of the group, founded in 2011 as a spin off of the now defunct South Florida Tea Party, and has served as its Treasurer.
Mr. Grossman moved to Florida in October 2001 after selling his successful small business of 35 years and lives in northern Palm Beach County. He has been involved with the Tea Party efforts since 2010 and has taken an active role in grassroots activities across the county.
In a brief statement, he said:
Mel replaces former President Michael Riordan who resigned last month.