Monday, January 24, 2022

North Bay Village Taxpayers Invoiced $472,546 For 2018 Pension Fraud


On January 5, 2022, Kathy Gould of the Florida Management Services department sent two invoices to North Bay Village to cover the costs of the Lewis Velken pension fraud.  One invoice is for $345,653 for half Velken's DROP payment and the second is for $126,893 for pension overpayments, totaling $472,546.  

  

Lewis Velken Settled A Claim of Pension Fraud.


In April of 2018, retired Miami Dade Police Lieutenant Lewis Velken was sworn in as North Bay Village's Chief of Police.  In August of 2018, Velken moved over to become Interim Village Manager where he served until January 2019.  

It turned out that when Velken was sworn in as Police Chief, he was not actually a Village employee, a fact that was never made public.  Instead his pay was routed through a 3rd party, alternately referred to as a friend and in one deposition as his sister-in-law, Stephanie Leon, a Miami Lakes Realtor.  

This was done so that Velken did not have to repay his DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) payment of $691,307 and suspend his pension payments while he worked for North Bay Village.  

The scheme was first made public in 2019, here in this blog, and the Florida Retirement System this month settled the claim with Velken by accepting a payment of $345,653 or half the DROP Payment and disallowing the final 5 years of Velken pension which will reduce his benefits significantly.

The Florida Retirement System Says North Bay Village Owes The Rest


Under state law, North Bay Village is jointly liable with Velken for the payments and the FRS wants North Bay Village to pay $472,546 for its part in the scheme to circumvent the  FRS rules. That means the taxpayers are expected to pay for this. 

Their reasoning is based on Florida Statute 121.091 (9) (c) (3) which reads 
 A retiree employed in violation of this paragraph and an employer who employs or appoints such person are jointly and severally liable for reimbursement to the retirement trust fund, including the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund and the Public Employee Optional Retirement Program Trust Fund, from which the benefits were paid.
It is the phrase "Jointly and severally liable" that comes into play.  That says that both the individual (Lewis Velken) and the employer (North Bay Village) are liable to make the FRS whole.  North Bay Village may be liable.  

How Did This Even Come About?


For people who were not here in 2018, when the Village was led by Mayor Connie Leon Kreps and Commissioners Laura Cattabriga, Andreana Jackson and an empty suit from North Bay Island, it's hard to explain how crazy things got so I will refer you to this article in in the Miami New Times or just scroll through this blog.  

The particular facts in this case are that in April 2018, after firing Police Chief Carlos Noriega (later reinstated), then Village Manager Marlen Martell needed to find a new police chief and recently retired MDPD lieutenant Lewis Velken was recommended.  

There was a problem  According to FRS rules, if you retire from one FRS employer (Miami Dade), you are ineligible to be hired by another FRS employer (North Bay Village) within 6 months or you must repay your retirement benefit ($691,000 for Velken in a lump sum and a monthly pension check)  Wait 6 months and it gets easier and wait a year,  it's free and clear.  

Velken did not want to return his money or short his pension check, and apparently didn't want to wait.  

This part is undisputed and based on the sworn testimony of both Velken and Martell in their court testimony.  

Velken contacted Stephanie Leon of Miami Lakes and had her act as contractor for his payments to be routed to him thereby claiming to be a contractor, not an employee.  

This part is disputed.  According to sworn testimony by both Velken and Martell, they ran the proposal by Norman Powell, the North Bay Village attorney at the time, and Powell said that he did not see a problem with the arrangement.  From Lewis Velken's testimony in his complaint against the FRS. From :
STATE OF FLORIDA
DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS
CASE NO.: 19-2746

Transcript Vol. 4 Page 433 where Lewis Velken was testifying about how this came about:   

And what is your understanding of the relationship between Mr. Powell and North Bay Village at that point in time? 
Velken:  At that point, I was told that he was lead  counsel for the village. So, he had the ultimate  say as to whether or not this would be an  appropriate arrangement to -- or agreement to go  into. 

Q And what did he advise? 
A He [Powell] said that he didn't see anything wrong  with it, that he was going to research it further, but there was nothing wrong with it, since they had other contracted employees. And if there was any issues, that by the next day, he'd let them know in the morning, because they had scheduled the sweaing in ceremony for later on, for the 18th, in the evening. 
In the same hearing, Martell recounted that same story.  

Although Velken as a 30 year policeman and Martell as Village Manager should have known better in my opinion, they both state they were relying on legal advice from then Village Attorney Norman C Powell.  

Powell denies that he knew about the arrangement in his deposition and called it a "complete fabrication" in the Miami Herald  article about the issue.  

But he did know about it by September of 2018 when he wrote a series of emails to then Labor Attorney David Miller asking him to prepare an actual full blown employment agreement with Velken.  

What Role Did The 2018 Commission under Mayor Kreps Play?


None.  Well, not publicly.  

You see none of the people who knew brought the issue to the commission for a vote.  

Connie Leon Kreps later stated that she signed the checks for Stephanie Leon (no known relation) and did not question why our Village Manager (Velken) was paid through a 3rd party.  

I have been told that 2 of the commissioners approached Powell in September of 2018 and on page 458 of the transcript referenced that unnamed commissioners approached "lead counsel Norman Powell" to organize Velken's permanent hire.  

On September 5, 2018, Norman Powell sent a series of emails to the Village labor attorney about creating a permanent employment agreement.  These email are published here in an earlier blog  entry.  

Buckle Up.  It Gets Weirder.  There Was Never A Contract.


It turns out Velken never submitted a written contract to the Village

It seems that Velken/Leon never actually had a signed contract with the Village.   

Even though Leon was invoicing and receiving payments for Velken's service and Mayor Kreps was unquestioningly signing them and the Village Manager and Attorney at the time knew Velken was not an employee, there was not even a written agreement for his services and the actual amount agreed orally varies.   

Checks were just being cut and disbursed without a contract and without commission authorization.  

Don't We Have Checks And Balances Against This?


Yes.  The Charter is very clear that any contracted arrangement exceeding $15,000 must be approved by the commission.  That did not happen.  

The Charter is also clear that any employee or contractor who knows of a situation violating local, state or federal laws is obligated to report the violation.  Nobody did.  

The Charter is very clear that the same applies to elected officials, including then mayor Kreps.  That did not happen.  

There could be an argument that the Village cannot be responsible because the individuals involved in the scheme hid the information for reasons of their own.  

If They Hid It, How Come We Have To Pay?


The FRS probably doesn't care about how it happened.  Seriously even I get tired writing about this.  The FRS is simply holding North Bay Village liable and will leave it up to North Bay Village to go after the individual actors.  

In his statement on the matter, Mayor Brent Latham writes "Rest assured that Mr. Velken and his facilitators, and not the taxpayers of North Bay Village, will pay the cost of any wrong doing in this case. "

You can and should read his whole statement here:  https://northbayvillage-fl.gov/an-update-from-mayor-brent-latham/

I am not a strip club lobbyist so I don't have lot of municipal law under my belt, but I suspect that the Village will have to pay the full or a negotiated amount out of tax revenues and then pursue the individuals who actually effectuated the caper.  

Where Are Those Individuals Now?


Lewis Velken himself terminated his unwritten contract in January of 2019 when the story broke.  Velken previously sent a notice to the Village with an Intent to Sue if his pension was revoked.  Whether or not he is able to do so is an open question.

Velken is currently working as a Reserve Police Officer in Indian Creek.  

Marlen Martell was let go in August of 2018 after 105 days on the job and collected $127,000 in severance and an agreement not sue North Bay Village, plus a year's health insurance.  

Norman Powell's agreement with the Village was terminated in February of 2019 in exchange for a payment of $85,000 not to sue North Bay Village.  Powell is currently suing me.  

Former Mayor Connie Leon Kreps left North Bay Village.  

Former Commissioner Andreana Jackson, who may have known, resigned from the commission after the Commission on Ethics found she had profited from a village sponsored children's event.  

Former Commissioners Laura Cattabriga and Jose Alvarez continue to lurk around North Bay Island asking questions.  

By The Way, Kevin, Where The Hell Have You Been?


Last July, I left North Bay Village when I decided to retire.  I am living in San Luis Obispo, California.  San Luis Obispo, which may be the Spanish for "halfway between LA and San Francisco on the coast", is a lively coastal college town and it looks like the retirement destination.  I'll always love North Bay Village but California has been calling for many years and it's looking good.  

Kevin Vericker
January 26, 2022


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Woman of the Year 2021 North Bay Village Style

 

Sissy Shute & Dr. Doug Hornsby (spouse)

Two years ago, in March of 2019, North Bay Village for the first time made a point of honoring the unique and often overlooked accomplishments of North Bay Village Women.  I wrote about it at the time here.  It was an exciting moment and in line with North Bay Village's history of progressive inclusion.  

At the time, I wrote of something that surprised me.  Excluded from the women honored was Sissy Shute.  

Sissy Shute has played an outsized role in our community.  

She has dedicated her efforts to community improvement in her neighborhood (North Bay Island), in the Village at large and here in Miami Dade County.   

Her personal efforts and willingness to help one on one alone would be worth recognizing.  One big one that stands out to me is her tireless promotions of food distribution efforts by David Richardson, the Miami Beach commissioner.  This has been a tough year for all and many people facing "food insecurity" meaning that buying food means other essentials like rent and transportation suffer are reluctant to come forward.  Sissy's enthusiastic involvement in this effort has put food on the table of North Bay Villagers who might otherwise not have had access to food for themselves and their family.     

Nevertheless, her contributions have gone well beyond this informal effort.  

  • Sissy founded and keeps the North Bay Island Crime Watch going and is now leading the expansioni the program throughout the Village.  She herself paid for the cameras at the NBI Gate House.  
  • Sissy has led the beautification efforts through the North Bay Island Garden Club.  
  • Sissy has been a tireless advocate for the Optimist Club programs to support North Bay Village youth programs.  
  • On a much larger scale, her involvement in getting clean government in North Bay Village has been critical.   Sissy's political activities have included epic parties at her house to invite the entire Village to meet and get to know our current mayor, Brent Latham, and Commissioner Julianna Strout during their campaigns, as well as bringing former Congresswoman Donna Shalala to North Bay Village among others.   Sissy took a lot of heat for her efforts to get a clean dais but persevered.  We all benefited.  

An Award Shows What We Value

This March, the Commission will be honoring those women who have made significant contributions to North Bay Village's civic life.  Each commissioner can put for the names of those who will be honored.  Mayor Brent Latham has nominated Sissy Shute for her consistent and valuable service to North Bay Village. Latham has also nominated several other notable women.  
Honoring Sissy Shute is not just a nice thing to do.  The honor would be well deserved for her of course.  For our community, it will make a strong statement that constructive resident involvement and the often unsung efforts to help those most in need are both our values and our aspiration.  
The Commission this year should correct the oversight made in 2019 and put front and center our most involved resident, Sissy Shute.

Kevin Vericker
February 21, 2021




Friday, February 12, 2021

The Revolution Is Dull

 

On Tuesday night, Feb 9, 2021, the radical change from the dysfunctional North Bay Village Crazy™ to a commission led by adults and focused on what's best for North Bay Village finally made it into code.  After ~2 years of hard work, the commission and the administration brought the design for the Island Walk, the update to the Causeway zoning, the Seawall design and the Green Code to a vote, with all of them passing.   

To see the excellent recap of the meeting, click here

The commission led by Mayor Brent Latham and supported fully by Commissioners Wilmoth, Streitfeld and Chervony, evaluated the painstaking work done by the community and moved the items ahead.   

They did this knowing the plan is not perfect, knowing that there will be changes needed in response to new situations, knowing that there will be unintended consequences that must be addressed.  But it turns out that when you do the hard work and you understand the process, you can manage the implications.  

What Was Revolutionary About That?  


It is after all what they are supposed to do.   But think about it.  In the last 10 years, our Causeway has become urban blight as the previous commission ignored the problem and continued to grant variances solely to make it more profitable to flip a property than to build on it.  
The remnants of the lunatic mob that ran our commission continue to whine and complain, anonymously of course because they have no courage.  that somehow North Bay Village loses when it's not a profit center for nonproductive uses.  
The Ordinances themselves were not the sole result of staff and commission.  We currently have almost 40 North Bay Villagers actively serving on boards and reviewing the many dimensions of the legislation that passed.   Nearly 100 residents participated in the #NBV100 planning sessions and continue to bring their viewpoints to the table.   
The wants of the community - more parks, better retail, access to the bay, resiliency - have all been incorporated and developers have a clear path to a profit without destroying our village.  
But that's not the revolution.  That's a reform.   

The Real Revolution Is Trust


I claim no special expertise in planning, zoning, resiliency or finance.  There are smarter people than me in these fields and the Village has sought them out.   
I do however have a pretty good handle on what residents are thinking and saying.  
For the first time in a decade, I am hearing from residents who actually trust our commission to do their best for the Village.  That includes residents who disagree with parts of or even the whole plan.  For the first time since 2010, residents are able to get a full picture of what's being discussed and why.   
This is radically different and most members of the dais deserve credit for their transparency, specifically Vice Mayor Wilmoth, Commissioner Chervony and Commissioner Streitfeld, but the leadership in transparency has been Mayor Brent Latham.   Even if it's green and ugly, Latham has put it out on the agenda so everybody knows what they need to know.   The public and his colleagues are better informed than at any time I remember in North Bay Village.  

It's Perfect Then?  We Can Stop Looking?


Nah, wish we could.   
Even at Tuesday's meeting, the nasty little people were poking.  In a professional misjudgment, our clerk read into the record an anonymous troll throwing feces at the mayor.   It was signed "North Bay Island Residents" but was sent from Romania so there's that.  
Anonymous postings have no place in any conversation, least of all in public meetings, but they do illustrate the dark side of what people are saying.  I hope going forward North Bay Village will comply with its previous meeting requirements and those of all our peer cities and only allow comments that have a name and a contact.  
There will be needed changes.  I want to see more emphasis on walkability than I am seeing while others feel that the look of the buildings is more important (I have no taste at all) while others are more concerned about traffic impact.   These conversation can and will happen.  
For right now, let's all appreciate that after all we've been through we can trust our government.  
That's the revolution.  

Kevin Vericker
February 12, 2021



Friday, November 20, 2020

Vice Mayor Marvin Wilmoth and The Quiet Power of Resiliency

 

The biggest permanent challenge to continuing life on two fragile islands in the middle of Biscayne Bay is resiliency in all its aspects.  

North Bay Village has to repair and replace its infrastructure.  New buildings and homes have to be built for the long haul and older ones hardened against an increasingly unstable climate.  North Bay Village has to stop our contributions of poisonous runoffs to the Bay and our residents need to learn to live with the changes that are happening now from King Tides to more and stronger storms.  

Vice Mayor Marvin Wilmoth has been quietly and methodically working with the North Bay Village Resiliency Task Force to do just that.  The Resliency Task force is headed by a local resident who is also an experienced UN treaty negotiator, and Wilmoth is the political face and advocate for the money and expertise that North Bay Village efforts will require.  

North Bay Village can't fix our local problems alone.   

We are actually very fortunate with our elected representatives.   

Mayor Brent Latham is seemingly everywhere with constituent services and ceaselessly promoting North Bay Village in the South Florida landscape, while Commissioner Julianna Strout has done a terrific job of bringing services and events to our often overlooked city.  Both of these are outsized, extroverted personalities who are able to use logic, benefit and personal charisma to show why North Bay Village is worth the investment and attention and they both get results.  

Vice Mayor Wilmoth is a different sort of influencer.  His many accomplishments don't lend themselves to press releases or short posts  Wilmoth is more of quiet servant mentality who lets his work speak for itself.  

The work Wilmoth has done with external organizations such as the Florida Inland Navigation District,  the Waterfront Access Project has brought benefit to North Bay Village. The Florida Friendly Fertilizer and the Single Plastic ordinances he promoted have been effective in both the short term and laying the foundations for the future.  This work has brought us grants for resiliency improvements and needed expertise from county and state government agencies, while balancing personal property decisions with needed development. 

I hope when the commission meets on Monday, they will keep Marvin Wilmoth as Vice Mayor.  The title matters.   It adds substance and prestige to the work Wilmoth is doing and brings the effective weight of the office to serious conversations.   

Having the Vice Mayor as the voice of resiliency shows that North Bay Village is serious about our biggest challenge of adapting to a new climate.  

We are so much better off than we were two years ago and now is the time to build on that especially with the addition of the experienced Commissioner Chervony and the bright young environmental lawyer Commission Streitfeld to an already powerhouse commission.   

It's an exciting time for North Bay Village.  The Commission has unprecedented opportunities to lead our city through the current crisis and into success.  I'm pretty confident they won't blow it by treating the office of Vice Mayor as an honorary trophy to be passed around and will retain the first Vice Mayor I remember who knows how to leverage the office for the good of the Village.   It does matter.  


Kevin Vericker

November 20, 2020

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Florida Man Amendments

 

UPDATED on October 19, 2020 - Usually, I keep this blog focused solely on North Bay Village but I am reliably informed by my license plate that we also live in a state called "Florida", a Spanish word meaning "Coño, why are there so many bugs?" Florida of course is still famous for holding elections a lot and then not figuring out how to count the votes.  

One of the many amusing aspects of "Florida" elections is that each time around, some of the voters get to decide constitutional changes in a section of the ballot called "What The Hell Does This Mean."  
Most voters simply check yes and move along.  
Well since this is 2020 and I have also heard there is an election maybe coming up in November, I thought I might weigh in on this year's crop because it's 2020.  

Here's the summary.   

Vote Yes on 2 & 3 Then Walk Away.  


Before you go any further, read them at this link.   BallotPedia.  

I'll cut and paste here:

Amendment 1 - States in the state Constitution that only U.S. citizens who are 18 years old or older can vote in federal, state, local, or school elections.
My Analysis:  This is some gaslighting bullshit.  The Constitution currently states that "every US citizen who is 18 years old or older can vote" and this changes Every to Only.   It's here as a racist propaganda piece tagline to create the impression that non-citizens are allowed to vote currently which is not true.  Dead citizens can vote and live citizens are prevented from voting but non-citizens cannot.  
Chance it will pass:  100%  It's racist, insulting and xenophobic or as we call it in "Florida", a crowd pleaser.  

Amendment 2 - Raises the minimum wage in Florida to $15 over 6 years. 
My Analysis:  Who the hell can live on less that $15 per hour?  Of course we should do what our state leggers have not had the courage to do.   
Chance it will pass:  51% and even it does, the legislature will find ways to derail it like they did High Speed Rail and restoring voting rights for people who completed their sentences.   

Amendment 3 - Establishes a top-two open primary system for state office primary elections. 
My Analysis:  I dislike government involvement in party primaries.  If you are a Democrat, Republican, Green Party, Libertarian or other, it should not be the government's responsibility to take charge of your nominating process.  
Still this reform would open the primaries to independents, who are paying for the primary, and put the top two vote getters, regardless of party, on the ballot.   It's the case in California and it's working pretty well  It's also nearly true in the "non-partisan" Miami Dade elections and we always seem to wind up with a good candidate and Esteban Bovo, so we should do it.  
Chances it will pass:  100%  Chances that the Governor will prevent its implementation:  100%

Amendment 4 - Requires voter-approved constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at a second general election.
My Analysis:  Florida Power and Light, and several other large snowflake companies feel victimized by the amendment process, and want to take the current system which requires a 60% majority and force all amendments to be voted on again so if their interests are not protected, they can figure out new ways to subvert the process.  
Chances it will pass:  40%  But since it is confusing as hell, and voters are not that bright, maybe 90%

Amendment 5 - Increases the period during which a person may transfer "Save Our Homes" benefits to a new homestead property from two years to three years
My Analysis - Our legislature has one damn job - pass the budget and fund the state.  They do this through taxes.  It's their job and they can easily do a little bit of work and come up with changes to the tax code.  If we have to do their job for them, we should all get $15 per hour.  
Chances it will pass:  100% because it's taxes.  

Amendment 6 - Allows a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran
My Analysis:  Please!  Do we have to do everything ourselves around here?  What do our state electeds even do?
Of course the additional disabled veterans surviving spouse should get the additional Homestead benefit.  I'm not a monster.  But our legislators are and have not taken action on this because they are a Republican led legislature so they hate veterans.  
Chances it will pass:  Depends entirely on the Republican turnout in this election.  It Republican turnout is high, it will fail like everything else they do.   

Next Up:  Rest of the Ballot


Ballot Question or Candidate

My Reasoning

Miami Dade Clerk of the Courts

Harvey Ruvin - He’s been there since 1992 and is a  former North Bay Village Mayor,  His experience and steadiness show very well and he keeps things nonpartisan and professional   The Adult in the Room.  

School Board

Russ Rywell and Lucia Baez-Geller.  I honestly don’t have a strong recommendation.  I find both of them competent, engaging and strong.   I do like  Rywell for his knowledge of the community relationship with TIES and I do like Baez-Geller for her knowledge of student needs.   

Supreme Court Retention Carlos Muñiz

NO - he’s a complete toady.  Appointed by Pam Bondi, he’s a reliable obstructionist who has tried to block medical marijuana, supported voting restrictions, voted to fund religious schools and he’s weird looking.

Court of Appeals Monica Gordo

NO DeSantis appointee who somehow manages to miss that the Everglades should not be drained.  

Court of Appeal Eric William Hendon

YES  Scott appointee who is a reliable vote on housing issues for mixed use economic developments

Court of Appeals FLEUR JEANNINE LOBREE

NO DeSantis appointee who consistently votes against holding police accountable.

Court of Appeals Thomas Logue

NO Scott appointee.  He is not bad but he is too process oriented for my taste.  

Court of Appeals Bronwyn Catherine Miller

NO Another Scott appointee who served as part of the State Attorney’s office and showed a remarkable hesitancy to prosecute corruprtion  (In fairness to her, Kathy Fernandez Rundle, the State Attorney, never actively prosecutes corruption, so she was just following orders, I guess.  And her name is cool)


All Three County Amendment

YES - they are simple clarifications of existing language in the Charter

  

Kevin Vericker
October 7, 2020 


Thursday, October 1, 2020

North Bay Village Community Policing

 

There's a lot in the news nationally about "Defunding The Police."  

Like so much in these contentious times, the slogan misses the mark.  The actual discussion to have is are the police focused on the right programs and actions in addition to enforcement.  Do the police improve the community relations?  Are they going beyond enforcement and actively engaging in prevention?  Does the community trust them?  

In North Bay Village, we've seen both sides of that coin and come out on the better side.  

History Time

In the last decade, the North Bay Village police were warned not to engage with the residents and had significant consequences for them if they did.  Crime went up, residents lost information they needed to keep themselves safe, and it was a major contribution to the decline of North Bay Village.  

In 2017, when our new chief Carlos Noriega came on, he moved the needle on that.  He got the officers back on the street, supported Crime Watch, got our kids in PAL at Miami Beach and consistently seeks out opportunities to improve the relations in the community.  Hell, I joined him in a Critical Mass ride through the Village!  


It Pays Off

Last week there was an issue with stolen bicycles, not a major crime in its own right but important to the owners of the bikes and to the atmosphere of our Village.   

The police decided to get active on the issue.   They contacted the building, met with the management of the building, were handing out fliers to the residents with the Be On The Lookout shown here on the right, and were assessing the vulnerabilities in the building with an eye towards making it safer.  

All great things.   

Then this happened.  The suspect in the thefts decided to return to the site.  And our cops were right there.  And he got arrested.  

Now all of this might seem like small potatoes and dumb luck and maybe the second part is true - it was dumb to return to where you were jacking bikes - but it's not.  

It shows a police force that is consistent and involved in the life of the Village.  This is not an occupying enforcement agency.   It is a true public safety force.   

It's no secret that the bulk of our budget goes to the police and that can and should be questioned and justified.   We ask a lot of our police, they deliver and that costs real money but our police force is one of the best reasons to live here.  They are part of us.  

Kevin Vericker
October 1, 2020

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Powell Is El Portal's Opportunity Now

A Unique Lawyer
Norman Powell, former North Bay Village municipal attorney, has brought his special brand of municipal lawyering to El Portal where he is up for permanent installation as their Village Attorney after a year or so of interim lawyering.  Powell is of course unequaled in his skills as a municipal attorney as a result of his many weeks of experience in the field of municipal lawyering and has shown many ethics.  
Blogger Stephanie Kienzle, who like me is being sued by former North Bay Village attorney Norman C. Powell, writes about the latest employment seeking situation at our sister village El Portal. 

Like in North Bay Village, how Powell came to be interim attorney is all very murky and lost in the annals of time.  Just a happenstance, perhaps a chance encounter at a club, perchance a glance across a crowded party bus, and jobs just fall into his lap because Powell, he's that good.  

In El Portal's case, their commission have talked about this many times.  Like former Commissioner Andreana Jackson of North Bay Village, the commissioners of El Portal have looked deep into Norman's extraordinary resume and have been tempted, deeply tempted, to just say "The hell with any RFP's.  Let's just hire the man before he gets away."  but because of the crippling fear of bloggers the Village of El Portal tonight may decide to go out to bid.   

Which might not be good for Norman Powell, whose unique legal theories benefited so many here in North Bay Village.  Lewis Velken, Andreana Jackson, Marlen Martell and others come to mind.  

You see, in the RFQ, the Village of El Portal requires the successful candidate to have 7 long years of experience in the field which is a really long time.  
The candidate must be licensed to practice law in the State of Florida, with a minimum of 7 years’ experience in the practice of municipal law, with increasing levels of responsibility. It is preferable for the candidate to also be a member of a U.S. District Court within the State of Florida. 
Yet less than 3 years ago, Norman C. Powell was explaining to recently installed commissioner Laura Cattabriga that he needed a big severance package built into his contract because municipal lawyering was a new business for him.  

So if they vote Yes for the RFQ, Norman might have a big problem.  But more importantly, El Portal would miss out on the excitement and fun that Norman Powell brought to North Bay Village.  

I hope they vote No and forego the requirement for 7 years experience.   

North Bay Village is dull since Mayor Brent Latham drove poor Norman away (physically attacked him according to Commissioner Andreana Jackson.)  Since Norman left, we haven't had 

  1. A Village Police Chief / Manager who really didn't work for us at all.  
  2. Employees collecting over a $127,000 in compensation when they leave within 4 months.  
  3. Lawsuits by legal departments against citizens.  
  4. Nasty headlines in the press (except for Andreana Jackson last week.)  
  5. Our attorney is very boring and probably never gets caught bringing a gun on to a plane.  

In fact, it's kind of Dullsville around North Bay Village.  Covid, bridge failures, employees employed, boring meetings, arguments over dog parks, hardly anyone arrested.  

I urge El Portal to take a look at how much interesting life is with Norman C. Powell as your attorney.  Exciting FEMA investigations, invigorating meetings, Harold Mathis!  Don't be chumps.  Go for the fun.   

Kevin Vericker
July 28, 2020