NYC’s Bloomberg Could Teach Pines About Leadership

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

When I read the comments of Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York City in today’s New York Times, I thought about Pembroke Pines.

It is the city with three gutless commissioners.

They bowed to an Internet barrage from a fevered home owners.  They cancelled a contract to supply services to an immigration dentention center because these home owners didn’t want it built.

Oh, if Commissioners Angelo Castillo, Jay Schwartz and Iris Siple had one iota of the wisdom and nerve of Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s comments were in a story headlined: “Mayor Warns Of The Pitfalls In Social Media.”

Here is what he said:

“We are basically having a referendum on every single thing that we do every day.  And it’s very hard for people to stand up to that and say, ‘No, no, this is what we’re going to do,’ when there’s constant criticism, and an election process that you have to look forward to and face periodically.”

The article continues:

“Later, Mr. Bloomberg noted that long term urban planning ‘requires leadership, and standing up, and saying, ‘You know, you elected me, this is what we’re going to do,’ and not take a referendum on every single thing.’”

Leadership is what Pembroke Pines’ Gang of Three haven’t shown on this issue.

Pines Rebuffed By County

Just this week, Castillo and Siple were at the county commission on a similar but separate issue.

Castillo begged commissioners to forbid the construction of a jail on county-owned land long into the future.

The land was bought decades ago to set aside for a jail. The county purchased the land knowing there would be little land left in the future for jails.

This was long before there were any houses nearby.

Then houses were built, residents moved in and decided they don’t want a prison that close to them.

Not that it is close.  But it is too close for these few homeowners, who should have asked what was slated to be built down the road.

Well, after the county staff reiterated that the land might be needed in the future to house prisoners, eight of the nine commissioners opposed letting the land lie fallow to please a few homeowners. County Commissioners were not afraid to be buffeted by the bits and bytes of the Internet.

“I don’t want to necessarily tie our hands,” said Commissioner Dale Holness.

The land is in the same industrial park where the immigration services wanted to build a detention center.  There is already a state women’s prison nearby.

Three Pines commissioners have shown themselves to be spineless on this issue. But I am most upset with Castillo.

When he ran for county commission, I believed Castillo was a statesman who would rise above parochial concerns for the good of the whole community.

He has proven I was wrong…at least on this issue.

Castillo’s vote – essentially a swing vote – cost the city millions in lost revenue from serving the detention center.  It left the city open to millions in liability from a law suit.

Castillo’s vote was not the vote of a leader.

Is it too much to ask for somebody like Bloomberg?



17 Responses to “NYC’s Bloomberg Could Teach Pines About Leadership”

  1. Whack-a-mole says:

    In Pembroke Pines, it probably is too late.

    However, it’s always good when a body outside the NIMBY crowd makes decisions, as the county has done in this case.

    I remember, years ago, when an Adult Congregate Living Facility — a group home for older mentally-challenged persons — was proposed for Cooper City. The local residents took every opportunity to present horrifying scenarios designed to convince everyone within three miles of the ACLFs they were in danger. The State, in it’s wisdom, had already ruled ACLFs couldn’t be denied, and the City was forced to accept them.

    There haven’t been any problems.

    Sometimes, decisions must be made above the NIMBY level, by cooler heads.

  2. Nick says:

    The prison in Pembroke Pines is a complex issue, however, I applaud the actions of the three commissioners in this instance. The “Immigration Detention Center” will only increase the racist policies that destroy families of otherwise law abiding citizens so the prison can be filled with local Hispanics.

    Instead of this backward approach to immigration policy, the state and Federal governments should work on policies to permit illegal immigrants who work hard, are law abiding and have developed roots in this community to become citizens. Further, the state and Federal government should make sure that young adults who were brought here as children by their parent(s) do not suffer for their illegal status that they did not choose.

    If this prison is built, an Arizona-style immigration policy in Broward and Miami Dade is certain to follow that will cause more problems than it will solve.

  3. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Buddy,

    In the days before email, I worked for three New York City Mayors and can tell you their City Hall has a very long history of standing up with citizens whenever they rise up to oppose to something they just can’t stomach on principle. That’s still true even in the days of Bloomberg who I admire.

    History is made on the basis of those moments and in my city this is one of those moments.

    The detention center is not some minor thing for Pembroke Pines. It has layers, and structure, dimensions that are profoundly beyond any simplistic NIMBY sterotype. Our city has a resident base with great diversity. Possibly 40% of us were born in another country. We worked hard and made it in America finding our reward here in our city. Others were born here but are deeply rooted and protective of our special corner of the county.

    Our residents consider it is deeply felt insult to have such a thing near us. It gnaws at the souls of our citizens and it stings us to our core. It spits on our mothers and fathers who brought us here. We consider the entire concept it a total injustice and, in West Pines, in particular, we simply refuse to stomach it or anyone who supports it.

    In a most uncharateristic way, our residents have risen up in definace of these plans. Their resolve is unbreakable. They have demanded that their elected leaders represent them by opposing the facility in every legal way. I agree with their assessment that the project itself is totally unnecessary, insulting to our standards, environmentally unfriendly and very bad for our local economy.

    Detention centers of this size and magnitude are entirely inconsistent with comprehensive immigration reform strategies that have been promised but never delivered by our federal government.

    You are profoundly uninformed if you believe that this is some sort of prank or knee jerk reaction on the part of my residents. They understand this issue only too well and in great detail. You underestimate the depth of their passionate opposition. Speak to them and you’ll find out.

    The immigrant jail is not welcomed here. We don’t want jails here. We have enough regional uses. Many communities in South Florida would welcome it. Pembroke Pines is not among them.

    As to lawsuits and money we are on solid legal ground and will likely not lose anything. Money is important to us but it’s not everything in Pembroke Pines.

    More important are the neighborhoods in which we live. The quality of life that surrounds us and our children as they grow up. Making sure our seniors are safe. Having economic growth.

    We will defend ourselves when these things are threatened and we believe that the detention center would be a character changer in our area bringing crime, a host of unwanted conditions including lower property values and a loss of economic opportunity.

    You yourself said that you would not want to live next to one of these centers. Yet somehow you feel entitled to disregard the views of others facing that very prospect?

    Our neighbors in SW Ranches would never tolerate this facility on Griffin and Dykes because that just wouldn’t be rural. But somehow it’s OK to impose it on Pines because of somebody’s bullshit plan to cherry pick this parcel and annex it into a Town that has no border with it.

    This scenario is a text book case for why cherry picking in annexations doesn’t work.

    Now, you and I have seen eye-to-eye on many issues and I can accept that we might disagree now and again. If your assessment of me is singularly tied to this one decision, so be it. I offer you no regrets. Personally, I use a wider lens when making such assessments and calculations but suit yourself. I stand by my votes and by the community decisions that prompted them. This was a community decision.

    As to the county’s verdict for a future 4,000 bed jail facility, nobody’s surprised. After all, they own the land, can you blame them for feeling so powerful? And who are we? A silly little city of 160,000. I can tell you there’s nothing quite like a power rush on a Tuesday afternoon no matter what the concerns of others might be. Buddy, we completely understand. They’re the boss.

    By the way, did I mention that Pembroke Pines owns all the water and sewer pipes out there?

    Angelo

  4. Castillo the Clown says:

    In this Sun-Sentinel article, Castillo is quoted as essentially saying that he thinks PP voters will “understand” when their property taxes skyrocket in order to pay for the legal damages sustained from the CCA conflict.

    I certainly hope that they will indeed “understand” that Angelo Castillo is personally responsible for this fiasco, and that they may well be still paying several decades from now for the financial consequences of having once been dumb enough to elect him as a Commissioner.

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/pembroke-pines/fl-pembroke-pines-sues-cca-20120322,0,6516611.story

    Pembroke Pines sues private prison company
    By Ariel Barkhurst, Sun Sentinel
    5:55 p.m. EDT, March 22, 2012

    Facing a lawsuit that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, the city of Pembroke Pines [countersued CCA]. The suit was filed in circuit court by Usher L. Brown, an Orlando attorney that Pembroke Pines hired as a consultant [...after the PP City Attorney clearly stated in writing that PP was legally obligated to provide CCA with water & sewer services...]

    Pembroke Pines’ residents could face higher taxes to pay for an expensive lawsuit, commissioners admitted when they made the decision.

    “If people’s property taxes go up, I think they’ll understand we’re doing everything we can to keep this out of their city,” said Commissioner Angelo Castillo [...]

    Pembroke Pines might get hit with another lawsuit soon. Southwest Ranches is “weighing all its legal options,” said Town Attorney Keith Poliakoff. The town sees Pembroke Pines’ refusal of water and sewer as a breach of contract between the city and the town and may file a lawsuit over it.

  5. Sun Sentinel Article says:

    Davie’s Caletka says Pines’ Castillo messing with fire

    By Larry Barszewski March 21, 2012 10:43 AM
    Staff Writer Susannah Bryan reports:

    It’s the old case of he said, he said.

    Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo says he called Davie Councilman Bryan Caletka earlier this month to wish him luck in the town’s March 13 election.

    But Caletka said Castillo called him on March 8 asking him to kill a potential $2.3 million fire contract between Davie and Southwest Ranches. Caletka said Castillo told him he’d already spoken to two other Davie council members and had their support.

    Caletka recounted the conversation this week: “He said, ‘I’m calling as your friend. Don’t do this, don’t do this. Vote against having a fire contract deal with Ranches. Don’t consider the money. Consider it on principle.’ ”

    Castillo denied Caletka’s version of events.

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Castillo told the Sun Sentinel on Tuesday night. “I called Bryan Caletka to wish him well on his election.”

    The day before the March 8 phone call, Pembroke Pines voted 3-2 to cancel its $2.5 million fire contract with Southwest Ranches.

    What doomed the contract?

    It included a provision that required Pembroke Pines to provide water and sewer services to a federal detention center planned in Southwest Ranches.

    Pembroke Pines officials are trying to block the immigration center, and residents are rallying against it. They have cited several concerns, saying it will increase crime and traffic and damage property values.

    If Davie doesn’t make a deal to provide fire services to Southwest Ranches, another suitor may be waiting in the wings: Sunrise.

    “We’ll look at providing fire service to Southwest Ranches,” said Sunrise Commissioner Sheila Alu.

    Sunrise officials are also considering providing water and sewer service to the detention center, Alu said.

  6. NIMBY says:

    Seems like the residents who moved in PP at or near the proposed center never asked who owned the land and what it was slated for almost 20 years. My guess is that they moved from Dania Beach after realizing they live 1/4 mile from the airport!

    While Angelo can write a good, passion filled letter, he really does not have any real facts supporting his reasons regarding property values, crime, traffic…

    Angelo also needs to realize that any and all “money” that he refered to is taxpayer generated funds, not his. Besides property taxes & business taxes, they share county and state revenue with utility taxes, gas taxes, etc. They also get state and county grant dollars.

    So, while he wants to hide in a shell and think PP is a island, he needs to realize (which he does when he needs something) that PP is in Broward County, in the State of Florida and in the USA.

  7. Response To Sun Sentinel Article says:

    Sun Sentinel, you left out the best part!!! Here are the comments from the community.

    Comments:

    “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

    Shouldn’t the Inspector General investigate this? Was this done in his official capacity?

    The ranches should sue him for interfering with their contract. I assume he has personal liability here!

    Thanks Angelo for showing Davie who you really are. Enjoy Pines since you won’t be leaving there anytime soon.

    On behalf of all of us in Pines, I’d like to personally thank Angelo for showing everyone why policians are viewed as scumbags. I hope takes the money and laughs at you all the way to the bank.

    Davie, you should go bankrupt like Pines! Lets join hands in solidarity! Great job Angelo in breaking at least 3 laws in less than 24 hours. Hope your on the phone with your Attorney.

    What is Bryan talking about? This never happened. I cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.

    CAN YOU SAY BUSTED!!!

    Bryan . . .I said good luck not. . .OH F__K!!!!!!!!

    Does Pine’s ethics training start with:
    “Deny, Deny, Deny” ?

    Bryan, did Angelo have “God Bless America” playing in the background?

  8. Taxpayer says:

    just file the lawsuit, get in court and ley judge/jury decide. Isn’t there case law on this?
    If SWR had their own water and sewer this would NOT be an issue. Lesson to communities – own your infrastructure.

  9. SW Rancher says:

    I hear SW Ranches debated last night whether it was going to sue Castillo personally. Hope he has his war chest ready, he is going to need it.

  10. Pines Resident says:

    I hope everyone saw this article, it is VERY telling!

    http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/2012/03/davies_caletka_says_pines_cast_1.html

  11. Castillo speaks out of both side of his face and his butt says:

    Castillo was originally in “reasonable support” of the CCA proposal because he new the history and served on the commission during the prior negotiations between the two municipalities(he made these comments at a PP commission meeting in November); however, when a few voters, calculated at 0.0003% of the constituency of Pines, started ranting, he caved immediately, but still told resident of Pines and SWR that he thought there was nothing they could do about the facility, so there is both side of his story. When he approached Davie to interfere with their negotiations with SWR on a possible fire contract, he got caught talking out his ass and may have broken the law. The Sentinel called him on it: http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/2012/03/davies_caletka_says_pines_cast_1.html

    He seems to be taking his cues from the national political scene, what will his position be in six month? As long as he is in cahoots with Di Cipio and his crowd, Castillo will keep going down the slippery slope towards political oblivion. Maybe he should begin hypenating his name as many do thse days. A suggestion, Castillo-Romney.

    The sad thing is that Castillo doesn’t even know what he’s signed up for. The Anti-CCA group purports that they are concerned with safety, crime, our children, schools, property values and other scare tactics to get attention (chicken little effect) from those with no information. Their real agenda is to prevent deportations. In their view if you get into the US illegally, you can stay, and if you are an alien and you commit a crime, you should be allowed to stay after you’ve served your time. Those position in this day and age seem to be minority view points.

    Its generally believed that Castillo is backing this crowd because wants to seek higher office, probably at the county level again (he’ll probably drop out again when the sharks start to circle), he’s afraid of them and their smear tactics. They have been threatening politicians lately at all levels from HOA presidents up to US senators. He probably hasn’t through this through thoroughly yet. Wait till he runs next and someone makes it known to a broader base about his backing of a pro-immigration rights group to the detrimint of employment and revenue opportunities to his city and surround communities. He’ll get beat again. If he does want to stick it out and make a difference for his cause and if he really wants to test his prospects and change federal immigration policy in the big pond, he should run on a pro-immigration platform for the US senate or house. My political gut tells me he would make Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell look like a real academic and thought leader. Castillo is a smart “little fish” but not savvy enough to know it.

    Castillo used to be respected by the leadership of SWR and many of its residents. Since then he and Siple began really pushing this misguided circus, now most consider them clowns.

    It seems that the county commission also hold that view after this week’s commission meeting. Pines show up asking the commission to put a moratorium on construction of the Men’s prison facility the county has on the books. The county commission laughed them out of the chambers, blaming the Pembroke Pines City Commission for the problem. They reminded them that by letting the political contributors, I mean developers, build residential communities in an area that has been reserved for dumps, prisons, and industrial uses for decades are at fault and should be accountable to the residents of their western communities. I guess the Pines commission and their Anti-CCA supporters now feel that the County has been hiding these facts for years and keeping it secret too (Keep an eye out for Bill’s next incoherent rant).

    Castillo, you picked the wrong dog in this fight. You cant come across as a populist and not create enemies with those in the loop. The real question is “Does he still have that picture of Charlie Christ hanging in his living room?”

  12. Castillo speaks out of both side of his face and his butt says:

    Sorry I didn’t read Castillo’s incoherent diatribe above before pressing the submit button. I started writing my comments at about 8 and didn’t get an update.

    His parting shot/comment “Pembroke Pines owns all the water and sewer pipes out there?”. Lets see who has the last sorry laugh as Pines is sued for withholding public utilities by both CCA and possibly Gator Bergeron. Great use of your public assets and financial resources Pines.

  13. Politifact: Pembroke Pines = Hypocrisy says:

    http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2011/nov/10/frank-ortis/pembroke-pines-vote-southwest-ranches/

    [...] Ortis, first elected as a commissioner in 1996 and mayor in 2004, ingratiated himself with the angry opponents of the prison. But was he correct to state that Pembroke Pines doesn’t have a vote in the project? [...] Ortis, along with the rest of the commission, voted to provide services to the prison in 2011. We rate this claim Mostly False.

  14. Membership CABF/HVP says:

    Hello Mr. Nevins,

    The votes by the Pines commission, against the jail, were simply the will of the people. “The Pines commission did what their voters asked them to do and there is nothing wrong with that.”

    Please recall that at the very core of this issue is the fact that we live in a democratic society and we elect public officials to represent us. If they fail to do so they will loose our votes.

    In addition, we the members of the CABF-PAC and the Hispanic Vote Pac have always held you at a higher standard than most and “NEVER” thought of you as some yellow jacket, story hyping, pencil neck writer. Therefore, your ranting, or calling Pines and SW Ranches residents NIMBY’s and the Pines commissioners cowards, is very much beneath you, uncharacteristic and frankly very surprising.

    We would like very much to meet with you, face to face. It would be our pleasure to debate/discuss this issue with you. You may reach us at: info@cabfpack.org

  15. Elegy for the Pembroke Pines Taxpayer says:

    Below please find links to the Pembroke Pines City Attorney’s REPEATED written warnings that denying utility service to CCA WILL subject the Pembroke Pines taxpayer to legal liability ($$$):

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/265240-goren-memo-sept-1-2011.html

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/265261-goren-memo-sept-21-2011.html

  16. Case Law says:

    http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=1970822237So2d585_1367.xml&docbase=CSLWAR1-1950-1985

    EDRIS v. SEBRING UTILITIES COMMISSION 237 So.2d 585 (1970)

    [...] When a municipality provides public services beyond its corporate limits it may fix the rates charged for such service by contract, in the absence of forbidding statute, and is under no obligation to service customers outside the city on the same basis as those within its corporate limits. [...] But this does not mean that a municipality may impose illegal conditions or unjustly discriminate in supplying water or electric service to persons outside its corporate limits. [...] The general rule is that a public utility corporation cannot refuse to render the service which it is authorized by its charter (or by law) to furnish, because of some collateral matter not related to that service. [...]

  17. Pines resident says:

    I do not recall, as a voter…being asked by the three commissioners if I thought they should get us into major lawsuits…so yes, they will lose votes for not having the guts to do the right thing for ALL residents.

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