By: Sharon Aron Baron
Typically, we remember the people in our lives that were there when times were bad, when the cards were stacked against us, who were by our side supporting us. Those types make the best friends – as well as good representatives for us in government.
The ones that stood by and said nothing in order to avoid ruffling the feathers of their friends in high places, should never be forgotten as well. It’s the ones that were silent in times of crisis that we must never, ever forget.
After the charter school debacle when the city manager, along with the blessing of the mayor and commissioners, proposed building a K-8 charter school in the middle of the Tamarac Sports Complex, which their own city commissioner never shared publicly. Kings Point residents discovered this on their own long after the November elections, which left them with seven months of aggravation and panic to their fairly calm way of life. The project ended up being scrapped last June due to legal reasons, which could have been determined from day one. Day one! This was: the charter school could not, according to State Law, give preference to Tamarac students attending the school which was the City’s intention in building one.
Residents in Kings Point were angered by what they saw as City Commissioner Diane Glasser’s receptivity or responsiveness to her constituents about the project. She was hosting meetings provided by the charter school itself which many residents saw as an actual endorsement. It seemed to them she was trying to sell them on the project. Glasser alienated her own community by not openly discussing whether she was for or against it, and there was nothing legally preventing her from doing so.
What kind of leadership was this?
The good news is residents don’t have to worry about reelecting her. She will not be running for office. However, candidates have to consider that the charter school debacle angered a lot of residents and according to Kings Point President Len Ronik residents “never forget” which is something the 2016 crop of candidates need to consider.
So far, we have three candidates that are interested in the commission position which pays a hefty $29,000 plus benefits, plus a $700 monthly car allowance. Residing in Kings Point isn’t a requirement, as district three covers several small communities, but it does help to be an insider.
There are two out of the three known candidates so far that do not live in Kings Point, who could have been champions to the residents when they needed them the most. Someone who could have spoken out for or against the school, but instead chose to say nothing: Julie Fishman and Eliot Meiseles.
Julie Fishman, who has been busy campaigning in the Kings Point area is counting on folks there to forget that she was not an advocate for them. A friend of city staff and commission members, she seemed to have lost her voice during the many community meetings regarding the charter school. If Fishman didn’t stand up for Kings Point residents then, how can residents trust her to stand up for them in the future? This is an important question residents need to ask themselves when voting next November.
Besides voting on an important annual budget, a commission member must remember their constituents first and foremost while voting on policy that is in the best interest of their residents, not to appease their friends on the dais. This is why we have districts, and our commission members aren’t “at large” like commission members in Coral Springs.
Eliot Meiseles, President of the Tamarac Cougars, sat in silence as well. Coming to one of the meetings, he decided not to speak out about the school. In fact, he later wrote on our Facebook page that he “felt bad” for the city manager who had to endure those that were speaking out. Meiseles doesn’t have the chutzpah that Kings Point residents need, nor did he understand that it was in fact City Manager Michael Cernech, that proposed the school without asking Kings Point residents their thoughts before issuing an RFP or Request For Proposal a year before they actually found out.
Terry Andretta, resident of Malvern in Kings Point is someone who did, and residents should take note. Andretta was critical of the charter school being built on public land so close to the Kings Point community and voiced her opposition at a public town hall meeting. Unfortunately, because Andretta is not a Democrat (she is a registered NPA, or Independent) she is no longer allowed into Kings Point Democratic club meetings, where Fishman gets full reign being a Democrat. This is extremely prejudicial as the seat for city commission is nonpartisan. Just as they allow judges to speak, another nonpartisan seat, they cannot exclude one and not the other. The good news is that the Kings Point Democratic Club holds very little influence over the thousands of voters in Kings Point, so this should not be an issue for her or anyone in the future.
It’s still very early. There is still eight months to go before the filing deadline for those that are interested in the seat. Kings Point, which has thousands of active voters may just produce another candidate in the interim. In the meantime, keep an eye on the current crop of candidates who may be hoping that your memory may be short-term come election time.
We’ll keep you posted.