"It Ain't Over Till the Fat Lady Sings"                                                                       
by Diana DiMeo

 The runoff election for the Riviera Beach City Council seats was a landslide victory for Lynne Hubbard - District 1, Cedrick Thomas - District 3 and Shelby Lowe - Council at Large.  Singer Island voters came out to the polls in large numbers.  The victorious candidates and Mayor Thomas Masters were inaugurated on 4 April at the Riviera Beach City Hall.  A lively reception followed the ceremony.  This event was a wonderful culmination of the efforts of all to bring about a change in the government of this city of great potential. 

 The new members of the Council have a lot on their plates including some issues pertaining to the referendums that were overwhelmingly voted in during the regular election on 13 March.  Despite the fact that the referendums passed with 'yes' votes, there are two lawsuits that are still active that affect them.

 1) The City's Declaratory lawsuit against the Public Beach Coalition Committee members (Dawn Pardo, Dorothy Lindblom, Kathy Groover, Gordon Rowse and Diana DiMeo) was the original lawsuit that the City filed to stop the referendums from being put on the March ballot.  The Council must dismiss this lawsuit against Ms. Pardo in order to insure that the voters' "yes" vote on the referendums does not get overturned.  Ms. Pardo will then dismiss her SLAPP suit  against the City.  By definition, Riviera Beach's suit to prevent the referendums from going to ballot is considered a SLAPP suit.  Simply stated, government entities cannot sue citizens who exercise their right to challenge the actions of the government. 

 -- The City's lawsuit was filed just before Ms. Pardo filed her suit (on the same day) to have the petitions accepted for the ballot.  D. Catalfumo/OMRD  intervened in the City's case claiming that he/OMRD had an interest in the case because OMRD held the Ocean Mall lease.  OMRD claims that the amendments are unconstitutional and violate the City's Comprehensive Plan.  This Catalfumo/OMRD action needs to be defended even after resolution of the rest of the case  The Coalition can drop its suit and partner with the City in the suit against OMRD.

 2) Ms. Pardo's lawsuit was filed to put the referendums on the ballot.  Judge Kelley placed two of the referendums on the ballot; the City's suit appealing his order is still an open case.   If this appeal is granted, the referendums, and perhaps the entire election, would be null and void.  So, it is imperative that the Pardo suit be withdrawn and that the City also withdraw its appeal to allow the election to stand.

 Confusing--yes!!!!!  As this newspaper goes to print, the City's governing body is meeting in a closed Executive session to discuss the disposition of these cases as well as a couple of carry-over eminent domain cases.  When these cases get settled, then the 'Fat Lady' can get ready to sing!
 

What else has been happening in our fair City?  BET has come and gone with little, or no, impact on our residents.  The handling of this event is just another reason that the incumbents were voted out in this past March's election.  Communication is the key to building a 'win-win' situation for all.  Had the former Mayor and Council met with the residents, especially those on Singer Island to present the BET event and ask for partnership in making it a good thing for this City, we all would have saved a lot of money and angst.  However, the event was put in place with no  interaction with the community, which led to a lot of negative reaction.  It appears that this event had been in the mill for a long time.  Moving the Jazz Festival from its normal March date to one in April 'so that the weather would be warmer' may really have been done to accommodate the dates that BET needed for its filming. 

 Why were all of the Island's communities not made privy to the fact that this was a filming and given detailed security plans so that people could feel comfortable that all bases had been covered?  Due to this lack of information, many of our communities hired extra security, which included roping off properties, an unnecessary and expensive activity.  In the minds of a lot of people, the event was just another tactic by a bad government to put Singer Island residents in a bad light.  Shame on former Mayor Brown et al.  As it turned out, crowd control was at a maximum level.  Since there is limited parking on the island, most of the attendees had to park at designated mainland sites and be transported by bus to the event.  Every car headed east over the Blue Heron bridge was pulled over for a 'credentials' check.  The fact that there is very little to do on both the mainland and the island caused the crowds to disperse as quickly as possible when the filming was done.  The daily events ended prior to

6 p.m. and were never scheduled to run after dark.  BET worked with the Sea Turtle Conservation League of Singer Island to insure that turtle nesting was not impacted and made a donation to this very worthy non-profit organization.

 The Jazz Festival recovered well after an unfortunate setback.  The stage roof and some lighting collapsed on Friday due to wind and construction issues, delaying the start of the concert for a number of hours.  A couple of the Friday night performances were cancelled due to the late start.  However, Ruben Studdard, the Friday headliner, captured the crowds' attention as did local Tony Wilson's "Tribute to James Brown'. 

Saturday's schedule was delayed as well in order to check the work done to correct the stage roof problem that occurred on Friday.  Three of Saturday's acts were moved to the end of the concert so that lead performer, Michael McDonald, could perform at his scheduled time.  McDonald had people on their feet moving to the beat of the songs that he performed.  It was amazing to see just how many people knew the words of every one of the songs that he sang. 

This event was a wonderful blending of people from all areas and walks of life.  There were large family groups in attendance.  The weather was spectacular!   In its 7th year, this festival is still looking to make a profit, or just break even.  Hopefully this was the magic year to accomplish this based on the numbers of people who were here 'dancing to the music'.

 The end of this season is upon us.  It has been an extremely busy time for all of us.  Thanks to everyone who pitched in to gather signatures on the referendum petitions.  And, thanks to everyone who helped out during the election and runoff election.  We all made a difference!  There is a new day dawning for Riviera Beach and it is incumbent on all of us to make it work for all. 

 The efforts of the Public Beach Coalition have brought with it huge legal bills, and at this writing, this group is still sparring with the City and OMRD in order to insure that the referendums are protected.  Please consider giving a contribution to help defray these costs.  This group of unpaid volunteers is spearheading the effort to have the Municipal Beach Property (known as the Ocean Mall) developed in a manner that keeps it as a public space for all to enjoy.   Contributions to fund the legal actions can be sent to:  Public Beach Coalition, 1281 N. Ocean Blvd., PMB 119, Riviera Beach, Fl 33404.

 Regular updates on issues affecting Singer Island/Riviera Beach can be found on the website:  rg4rb.org.  It is extremely important for all of us to keep up to date on what is happening that affects Singer Island as well as all of Riviera Beach.

       Please note:  The expressed opinions may or may not be the same as those shared by Seabreeze Publications Inc.