The city of Palm Beach is lucky to have Darrell Donatto in its corner. The Florida League of Cities seems to agree.
The city’s fire chief was recently honored by the organization as a “Home Rule Hero.” Donatto is chair of the Government Relations Committee of the Florida Fire Chiefs Association, which works hand-in-hand with the League of Cities on issues such as self-reliance, which gives local governments the right to local self-governance. .
The state continues to eat away at it, much to the chagrin of the league and local governments.
For example, in February the city petitioned the state for the right to regulate toxic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides on the island, which the state preempted. Many local governments are also against a bill before Gov. Ron DeSantis that allows businesses whose revenue drops 15% or more as a result of a local ordinance or local citizens’ initiative to sue cities and towns. counties in damages.
State lawmakers have also halted local government decisions on things like plastic bag bans (which the city had to repeal under threat of a lawsuit in 2019), vacation rental regulations, and a host of other things that used to be decided at the local level.
“The most important powers available to a city in Florida are its self-governing powers,” the resolution states, noting that the legislature “has continued to unnecessarily erode the ability of municipalities to enact self-government, to the detriment of the ability of local residential communities to protect the health, safety and well-being of its residents, visitors, domestic animals and wildlife.”
It was not the first time the city had tried to maintain autonomy. The community led the state in implementing rules designed to protect residents during the early stages of COVID-19 — before DeSantis overridden local rules — and was the first in the county to implement a program vaccination against the virus.
Residents are lucky that Donatto, the Florida League of Cities, and the City Council are fighting to maintain autonomy. The all-volunteer City Council and its various councils are used to being well-managed, well-informed and well-supported by the city’s excellent staff and legal team, so constant interference from the State is particularly confusing.
Instead of the bickering and grandstanding that can be found at other levels of government, Palm Beach’s leaders looked after the people of the city first and foremost.
This is a lesson we would like others to learn.