Its was long, boring, and even anticlimactic but it was worth it. The commission listened to its constituents at last night's meeting and did not take up the measure to ditch West Palm Beach's 8-year term limit. The issue will not appear on the ballot in November.
About 55 term limits supporters showed up ready to do battle -- and some did anyway -- even when it became clear the measure was doomed to die for lack of a motion and there is no time for the commission take it up future meetings and still make the Aug. 20 deadline for the November ballot. Thank you, everyone!
Wasn't it just two weeks ago when the issue came up and the local press, counting votes, reported a 4-1 likely vote in favor of putting the anti-term limits measure on the ballot even though the petition drive has failed to collect the requisite signatures? As of last night, we believe the vote would have been 1-4.
The petition drive continues to collect signatures and may put the idea on the ballot yet, however it too has missed its chance for November. If it eventually succeeds, the question would appear on the ballot in March. This would be too late for the current mayor to run for a third term, illegal under current law. The Mayor Frankel can, however, sit out a term and run again without all the inflated powers of an incumbent strong mayor.
The system worked last night. The people spoke, the commission listened and the rules were not bent as a gift to the most powerful politician in the city.
... FOR NOW
The threat of a special election -- which would cost the city about $100,000 -- still looms, but is unlikely. If the signatures are collected, the anti-term limits measure would appear on the regularly scheduled March ballot unless 1) the commission, in a separate vote, called a special election or 2) the mayor sued the city and judge forced one. Both are unlikely, but we must ever be vigilant.
There were other machinations discussed by city activists last night by which the 8-year term limit could still be circumvented. We will look into them and post our findings here.
Stay tuned. We won this battle, but there may be more ahead. Thank you!