The City of Pahokee, October 24, 2023 Regular City Commission Meeting overall was much improved when compared to the last several meetings.
The first topic on the agenda that required a vote was the Additions of Emergency Basis from the City Manager. The manager stated he needed to add Resolution 2023 – 68: An Addition to the Marina Contract. Gonzalez made a motion to table the resolution with a second by Perez. Manager Lucas explained that Resolution 2023 – 68 is for electrical repairs to the marina docks and that “time is of the essence.” The vote to table the resolution happened at meeting mark 12:20. The vote failed 2-3 with Murvin, Boldin, & Babb in dissent. The next vote was to pass the overall agenda for the meeting. That vote occurred at 15:13 with a 3-2 vote. Gonzalez and Perez voted against passing the agenda.
Next on the agenda was a presentation by AECOM. They spoke about bringing a research program to the city for algae bloom and cleaning up water. Mr. Levy mentioned they would bring state of the art technology to Pahokee for the research project. They advised it would be at no cost to the city and that they are seeking funding from the state through an RFP process. AECOM would be bringing back additional information, documentation, and updates to the city after they apply for the state RFP. The presenters advised they hope this research project would be for a number of years to come. There were good questions asked by the Commissioners and Attorney Weeks to the presenters. I am excited after hearing their presentation about this opportunity for Pahokee. Bringing research, science, technology, sustainability, and hopefully jobs down the line to Pahokee is wonderful. This research project would bring the 21st century to Pahokee. AECOM requested a M.O.U. for at least one year but believe the state’s RFP would be for up to 3 years. Attorney Weeks confirmed with the presenters that everything discussed is contingent upon the RFP with the state.
The next item on the agenda was the Update on Barfield Highway project. The project manager Mr. Tom spoke on the project. He advised the project is moving forward but there is a hurdle with AT&T and their fiber optic lines in relation to the storm drainage routing. The project manager stated conflict resolution is hopefully being worked out with AT&T. He went on to say they can “hopefully re-route the storm drainage system.” The estimated project (Barfield Highway) completion is March 2024.
At meeting mark, 1:54:48, the Consent Agenda items portion began. Mayor Babb advised there were 2 items: The October 10 Meeting Minutes and Resolution 2023 – 65: Approving Pahokee Middle-Senior High School Homecoming Parade. Boldin motioned to adopt with Murvin providing the second. Babb then entertained questions. At meeting mark, 1:55:44, Gonzalez began to speak saying he supported the County 1 cent sales tax resolution but not the other item added under consent at the October 10 meeting.
At meeting mark 1:57:54, Gonzalez stated, “I want to rescind my vote on the Consent Agenda items” from the Oct. 10 meeting. He went on to say he wanted his vote changed from Yes to No for the consent agenda items at the previous meeting. Attorney Weeks made clear to Gonzalez at 1:58:38 that he could not change his vote. She went on to say that “all you’re doing now is saying you disagree with how you voted.”
Confusion began as Perez wanted to vote on the consent agenda items separately. She clearly does not understand how Consent Agenda items work. Consent Agenda items can and have been one or more at a time to be voted on as a block. There should be no fighting or drama when it comes to consent agenda items. Why were Perez and Gonzalez so worried about the two consent agenda items: October 10 meeting minutes and Homecoming Parade resolution? The motion to separate the two consent agenda items failed 2-3 with Babb, Murvin, and Gonzalez against. The vote to pass the Consent Agenda items all together passed 4-1 with Perez not in favor.
In many cities, Consent Agenda items are administrative and are not treated as ordinances. Other cities and counties also vote for them as a block and do not need to be voted on separately. Gonzalez and Perez don’t understand what Consent Agenda items are/how to vote on them which does not make them look good publically. Clearly Perez and Gonzalez don’t watch other government meetings to see how consent agenda items work and how they are voted on. The presiding officer announces the items on the consent agenda, asks if any item should be removed, then takes the vote. Commonly, no debate is allowed on the consent agenda or on any item included in it.
I suggest Commissioners and the public learn about the Consent Agenda process by reading:
Ordnance 2023-07 (Second Reading) had a public hearing with no speakers and thus the Commission took the vote. It passed 3-2 with Perez and Gonzalez against. Resolution 2023-66 gave the manager authority to execute grant agreements between the qualified applicants for the COVID 19 Residential Utilities and Rent Assistance. The vote passed unanimously. Resolution 2023 – 67 was discussed and the vote passed 4-1 with Perez against.
When Resolution 2023 – 68: Electrical Repairs Services with H. Kelly Marine LLC for Marina Docks came up from 2:31:58-2:47:38, Mr. Charles DeVito presented why the resolution is being brought forward and the status of the electrical portion of the project. Gonzalez became combative with the H. Kelly Marine official. The Charles DeVito advised they will be doing the electrical work under their current contract with an amendment which is the resolution being discussed. H. Kelly Marine advised they had 3 quotes and they are the cheapest. Charles DeVito of H. Kelly Marine LLC told Gonzalez that if he could have done the job cheaper and in the timeframe needed that he could have bided himself. The vote was 3-2 with Gonzalez and Perez in dissent. It is not surprising that Gonzalez and Perez VOTED AGAINST ELECTRICAL REPAIRS TO DOCKS. Also, it is not a big secret that Perez and Gonzalez want marina projects to fail and city to lose marina. This is evident by their votes. In fact, at the July 25 City meeting, at 1:48:59, Perez says repeatedly that the City should lose the whole marina. Remember Perez and Gonzalez VOTED AGAINST Res. 2023 – 61 for emergency repairs for marina docks at the October 10 meeting.
What Gonzalez and Perez do not understand is that cities and other government bodies rely on their staff to do research, great work and provide recommendations to the legislative body on voting. You can either vote yes or no based on said recommendation. Lastly, The Manager’s Report was given 2:51:23-2:59:15. Qualifying for the upcoming March 2024 Pahokee Elections begins Nov. 21-Nov. 28.