Wednesday, August 26, 2015

This Post Is A Lie

It's August.  It's hot.  I've been busy.  I haven't been blogging.  Sorry about that.  I was actually thinking that like our commission I would take the month off but the most interesting thing happened today.  

I got a call today, actually two calls, from the US Postal Service.  

The subject was the rotted out mailbox at 7525 East Treasure Drive.  You see, I had submitted a question on the USPS website about how this might be fixed and replaced.  And the people calling, Paula from the Miami Beach 33141 Post Office and Jim Croce from the district office,  with the same message that the Post Office is aware of the problem and the boxes are scheduled to be  repaired and replaced before the end of the year.  They also added that it was not true that they do not replace street mailboxes and couldn't understand why anyone thought that. 

Good news, right? 

Why though, you might wonder, did I take my time to do this? Well I'll tell you.  

You see on July 30, there was a meeting of the Community Enhancement Board where the subject was brought up.  Our Village Manager, Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son Of A Gun Frank Rollason told the Board and the people in attendance that he had personally talked with the Post Office and the USPS would not for any reason fix or replace the mailboxes and if the village did, the USPS  would take the mailboxes away and then we would have no mailboxes.  (He speaks in bold font when he's condescending to people he doesn't seem to respect.)

Except, I kind of knew that couldn't be true.  I'm actually a fan of the USPS.  They've been reliably delivering my VISA bill every month since 1975 or so and I've worked in places where there is no effective postal service and I see how it hurts the quality of life, so I thought, "that's not true".  And sure enough, a few internet clicks away I found out "that's not true."  
 
So why the weirdness?  I mean even if somebody told Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son Of A Gun Frank Rollason that, why would he accept it as an answer and think the matter was closed?  

In the same meeting, Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son Of A Gun Frank Rollason also explained that Howard Tonkin of Urban Habitat, who did the native plantings at our "monument" signs, had dropped out of sight and the village had no way to contact him and that's why the native plants are being butchered by SFM, Rollason's favorite gardening partner.  

Also, There Are These Signs Around The Village
Except that's not true either.  Howard Tonkin is easily contactable at his email, phone number, number on his signs and in Facebook.  In fact, when a member of the Community Enhancement Board reached out to Tonkin, he explained that Urban Habitat had tried to take care of the plants and was ignored.  No return phone calls, nothing.  

What's going on here?  Why is the manager lying on things that are so easily caught out?  And when there's no purpose to be served?   I mean, look, Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son Of A Gun Frank Rollason was never a real municipal manager and he has a dismal record in his current position but man, how dumb does he think we are?  

Oh wait, Mayor Kreps recruited him so maybe Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son Of A Gun Frank Rollason thinks that's the norm.  Yeah, maybe. 


Kevin Vericker
August 26, 2015



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Spending Money

If Only The Tax Hike Were 7%

The 2016 Budget is being worked on as we speak.   

You've already heard the news, supposedly good news, that the Miami-Dade Property Appraisers Office said our values went up  last year.  

What that means:

2015 Spending Money $4,041,217 
2016 Spending Money $4,329,530 (if we don't change the millage rate.)

Now I sure we all got 7% raises this year and heck, we know inflation is eating up some of that.  Oh what's that?  Inflation so far this year is in THE RED and running at -.08%Well, still, it's getting more expensive somewhere, like fuel.  North Bay Village costs for fuel keeps rising because they buy at special places or something.   
Anyway, with its new found money, the Village can do a lot of things.  It could for example, fund all of the resident requested new programs like:  
Animal Control
Halloween
Winterfest
Egg Hunt Spring
Scholarship Program
4th of July
Dog Park Run
Senior Programs
PAL
Causeway lighting
Plant Maintenance at Entrances
Basketball Court
Holiday Lighting
Deco Bike Program
For about $211,000 of the increased tax revenue.  

But that's not what happening.  

First of all, the Village Manager and the Commission proposed new programs totaling a cool $1,473,000.   That's right 26% more spending.   And just to put that in perspective, only 3% for things that we either used to have (Animal Control, PAL), things we like to have (Holiday celebrations) or would love to see (Deco Bike)  

Well, when Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Village Manager Frank Rollason presented his list to the Commission on July 28 and the Commission in turn said "Hey, we should totally do something for the residents." he came back with the bad news that if the village does stuff for the residents, then the tax rate has to go 6.29, plus the water and sewer have to go up because our costs dropped.  

A 26% Tax Hike


The Mayor and Commissioners Lim and Chervony were all "No Way! How come?" and told the manager to go look at what he could cut so Mayor Crazy Eyes can run for a fourth term the residents aren't taxed out of their own homes.  

Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez likes when other people pay taxes (he occasionally pays his own taxes in fairness) and only was worried that there might be pedophiles riding around in cars.  

So  Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Village Manager Frank Rollason is sitting down now and thinking about how he could finds cuts in:
Animal Control
Halloween
Winterfest
Egg Hunt Spring
Scholarship Program
4th of July
Dog Park Run
Senior Programs
PAL
Causeway lighting
Plant Maintenance at Entrances
Basketball Court
Holiday Lighting
Deco Bike Program
The Cuts being discussed Categorized by impact



 Because clearly there's nowhere else to look.  The key thing is to punish the residents and make life less enjoyable for them.  Surely you don't expect him to find the savings by carefully evaluating the value of the marginal spend?  He doesn't even know what that is not being a professional city manager.

This cost cutting will go on throughout August.  Our commission is super bored and disengaged exhausted and so is taking the month off and the new budget will be presented in September to the Commission on September 8.   By that time, the current village manager will either be a memory because the mayor is determined to get rid of him, or the mayor will be helpless because she lost.   

But it doesn't matter.  Your taxes are going up and your services are being cut.

I'm sorry I don't have any funny graphics but I thought I would show you in a chart how little the cost of the services we want are.  A mere $211,000 out of a budget of over $5,000,000.  
Total Budget on the Left, Increase in the Middle, Resident Services on the Right.


 Kevin Vericker
August 4, 2015




Friday, July 31, 2015

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

The Mayor was at the Community Enhancement Board last night.  So was Commissioner Chervony.  It was clear that the Mayor wanted to watch the tear down and provide valuable input to help.  But because of laws and stuff, she couldn't.   Still her presence was felt and there is NO TRUTH to the rumor that she snuck away during the meeting and created this post it art on Frank Rollason's door.  No truth at all and I will not be party to spreading the rumor that the mayor snuck out of the meeting and created this post it art which says QUIT NOW on Frank Rollason's door.  Cause she didn't.

Good.  Now that's cleared up, lets get to the meeting.  

The Community Enhancement Board agenda comprised a variety of old and new items with a single overarching theme - why is nothing getting done?  Specifically, why has the village manager, one Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of a Gun Frank Rollason, sat in all those meetings and not reported back the progress or executed on any of the items?  

The items on the agenda included a discussion of dumpsters occupying public land on Harbor Island, a building that summarily took over public parking spaces and marked them "Private", the failing decal program (sidenote below*), Village signs, landscaping, the Apartheid Wall on North Bay Island, and a review of the minutes for the last 7 months.   

But the theme was the same.  Why is nothing getting done?   Now if it were anyone else but Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of a Gun Frank Rollason being questioned by the board members, I might have felt sorry for him.  Heck, I even did feel a twinge of solidarity towards him during the barrage but then he did what he does best  - lied and condescended.   

For example, during the discussion about covering the excrement collectors for dogs, RTSSSOG carefully explained that the bags and baskets had changed and he was surprised that no one had seen that on the web site.   

I was there.  I have one of those new fashioned Smart Phone thingamabobs and so I called up the Intertubes and searched the site, WWW.NBVILLAGE.COM,  and there's nothing there.  Nope.  

Then in response to the other complaints, well, what's a guy to do?  He explained that either the complaint had already been addressed and if the board was smarter they'd know that, or would be addressed just like he told them he would, or it couldn't be addressed because other people wouldn't let him address the problems or that they should take it up with the commission or someone else who gives a a rats patootie but Cheese 'n' Crackers stop busting him.  Now the Board's  all over his posterior too, really?  It must be their lady time.  

The Board for their part were not buying it.  After all, they are only one of two remaining boards in the  village and they won't go down without a fight.  They didn't survive by buying into lies. 

Back in the day, when the Mayor and the Manager were starry eyed and believing in each others promises, they jointly destroyed every other board - The Budget Oversight Board , The Animal Control Board, The Youth Services Board - because they weren't going to let anyone rain on their parade.  But now that the Mayor's eyes have been opened, she is glad that this one board survived so she could have allies in her decision to finally divorce.  A Mayor needs friends and not just the imaginary ones.  

During his apologia (Latin word - cost me $5 - means "explanation" but this is a smart blog and my readers demand the  good words), the manager touched on a few themes.  

  • Did the board know that the parking decal stuff was all complicated?  Well he didn't but now he knows that people have more cars than two sometimes and that some people who own property but not a condo or house want access to their property and that some people hire home health aides and baby sitters to help them at home and sit on their babies and they need a place to park so there's a lot to consider.  Of course, every other city that has implemented a parking program knows this but we have to be all North Bay Village Special.

  • The website is being redesigned to do things.  The things were not discussed but it totally will.


  • The Tot Lot is being redone and will open again someday.  Not in the summer when the kids are out of school but someday.   


 The long painful march towards the inevitable breakup continues.  We all know how this turns out and it won't end well for the mayor or the manager.  It's just a question of time.  

In most breakups, those not directly involved try very hard not to choose sides as that never ends well for them.  In this one, it's easy for me.  I choose the sidelines.  Pass the popcorn!

Kevin Vericker
July 31, 2015








Wednesday, July 29, 2015

D.I.V.O.R.C.E

July Is Budget Time

 


It's Budget season again and time for the annual tax hike.  This year there's great news for people who really love municipal spending.   The county said that our values had gone up 11% so we can use our current millage rate (5.474) and still get 11% more revenue.  Hearing that, our administration said "Hooray, huzzah, let us be like the other cities in Miami-Dade and hold the rate steady while wisely using the extra 11% to improve our village."  

Hah, hah. no.  Instead the proposed budget will gobble up that extra 11% and increase the tax rate to 6.2904 to pay for things.  Yep, that's right.  We need more.  

This increase, nearly 26%, was quickly noted and the additional $1,261,000 was mostly agreed.  The commission set the top tax rate and then agreed to meet on Sept 8 and Sept 24 to discuss the details.  



Drama Time!


The meeting itself was sparsely attended by the public.  I was there.  The mayor invited her posse to sit in the front row so that was four more.  Two new residents were there and then another pal of the mayor's showed up.  Yep, 8 people, half of whom left before the end. 

Nevertheless, the Mayor who has decided that she wants to fire Village Manager Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of a Gun Frank Rollason used the platform to address the assembled multitude and show just how bad things are.  

It started out with the Mayoral Invocation of  Wrong Things.  (Book of Common Complaints, 1928)

  1. It's too hot.  Why can't the Village Manager get the landlord to fix the A/C?
  2. We should have more money for Code Enforcement and less for other stuff.
  3. Why are we hiring a new administrative generalist and she better not be attractive?
  4. Other cities use fancy automated phone systems and it's embarrassing when people call North Bay Village and a human answers.  What are we?  Hooterville?
  5. For the record, when the Mayor said to the Village Manager, "Please look into body cameras for the police."  she didn't mean it and she's glad it's gone.  Why did anyone think she meant it?
  6. How come the GPS for the police didn't get purchased last year?
  7. Was it just laziness? 
  8. And what's with the meeting time?  The mayor had to field many, many calls from her imaginary friends to explain the time to them. 

But like in any bad relationship, the fight was not about the fight.  No.  It's about the Note Cards that he didn't get for her and his complete refusal to support her in her mayoring.  So Frank Rollason must go, just like all the managers she once loved and who finally disappointed her.   The campaign to get rid of him has started.  My email is flooded with "anonymous" complaints.  The mayor is being sweet to Chervony because if the Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of a Gun won't quit, she might need the votes to fire him. Last night was not about the budget, it was about the divorce.  

Now for his part, Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of a Gun Frank Rollason patiently explained that he needed the new person to backup those employees with specialty certification, that the items proposed were by the commission, and other stuff.  But that's not what the fight is about.  It's about the relationship, dude.

It's always a bad idea for family members to get involved in a divorce.  It just doesn't turn out well for anyone but still two of the other commissioners, not understanding I think that this is not about the budget, tried their darnedest.  

Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez looked at the $1.261,000 and zeroed in on why we are spending $10k for the dog park, why does it cost $50,000 to bring in CitiBike,  how come it costs $30,000 for the basketball renovation, and what's the deal with the $15,000 for the License Plate reader.   That's right.  Fiscal Hawk Jorge Gonzalez was concerned that 7¢ of the new dollars was going to stuff the residents want, and something that the police want.  

Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of a Gun  Frank Rollason explained that the $15k was because Pedophiles.  And the rest is because the commission for some reason want the residents to get something out of the tax hikes too.  Gonzalez immediately got on board about the anti-pedophile license plate reader but remained unconvinced until the  mayor slapped him right in the concerns.  

Eddie Lim simply warned the Mayor to let the manager do his job.    The mayor did not hear him.  

A Resident's View

From the hot, stuffy seat in the audience, this drama unfolded like a refreshing winter breeze as I sat watching the Mayor, Vice Mayor and Village Manager snipe and snarl at each other.  These are not good people.  These are not people who put their positions of trust above all other considerations.  

These are three competing egomaniacs each of whom in their own way have targeted residents who care about the village, pushed meaningful discussion of how to improve things around here off the agenda, love the sounds of their own voices and have no civic pride.  

Given all that, the best we can hope for is that their utter inability to keep their delusional egos in check will mean a standoff as they destroy each other.  It keeps them from doing the very serious damage they are capable of were they to unite.  

So I say, pass the popcorn!  Let's keep this show running.  

Kevin Vericker
July 29, 2015



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Bestest Baddest Village Manager Ever

After his dramatic public putdown of the Mayor who had the temerity and audacity and other big words to say about nobody getting her the essential note cards required for her to do her mayoring , Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son Of A Gun Village Manager Frank Rollason has exceeded himself as the bestest and baddest village manager North Bay Village ever saw.  

Just a single case in point.  Unlike other fancy engaged Village Managers, ours takes the time to go to Costco personally and buy the Village supplies for the office kitchen.  I mean, you won't find Barack Obama or Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton doing that, will you?   Maybe Rick Perry would but he'd get the wrong stuff. Then Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of a Gun (RTSSSOG)  Frank Rollason personally delivers and restocks the supplies because that's a really good use of his time. It is.  

But are people grateful?  No, no they are not.  Because people suck.   

Last weekend, in the heat and everything, RTSSSOG Rollason went to Costco and as is his habit, restocked the kitchen.  AND HE NOTICED SOME STUFF WAS MISSING!  Springing into action, he composed and sent to all staff the following email:

Good Day, All. I have hesitated writing this e-mail for some time, but I came into the office a few moments ago (Sunday around noon) to deliver my usual supply of kitchen, office, and janitorial supplies that I pick up at Costco on a fairly regular basis.

Since I am taking a day off on Monday, I went into the kitchen on the Admin side of the 3rd floor to stock up supplies for use on Monday and found quite a bit of items missing from the stock that was provided on Friday.

For instance, allof the plastic spoons and all but a couple of plastic forks were gone -they were stocked up quite well this past Thursday morning. The individual coffee paks were also down significantly from Friday as well as all the paper napkins on the eating table which was filled up on Friday - usually enough for the greater part of a week were gone. Same with the yellow packets of sweetener; I put a handful in the container on Friday - must have been one hell of a lot of coffee consumed on Saturday!

Now, this may seem like an insignificant or petty issue to some of you, but it goes to the very core of being an employee of North Bay Village. It is an issue of trust, integrity, and self-worth.

When I was in the military, there was nothing worse or more despised than a "barracks thief" and I equate the taking of taxpayer paid supplies to that same level. These supplies are provided by the taxpayers of NBV for the convenience and consumption of the employees. These perks are not required by contract and can be shut off with the stroke of a pen. Someone or someones have been helping themselves to an inordinate amount of our kitchen supplies and it needs to come to an end. I would not 
think anyone of you would believe that some napkins or paper plates would be worth your job, but rest assured if I find anyone taking Village supplies for their personal use, you will receive your walking papers forthwith!

Think about it - enough said, Frank.

Frank Rollason, Village Manager
North Bay Village


Now some negative nabobs of negativism might suggest that if the Village Manager needs some nice time outside the office on a weekend while still doing Village Manager stuff, he might have:

√ Walked around Harbor Island or Treasure Island to see the thrown out furniture piled on the sidewalk.

√ Taken some pictures of the overflowing garbage cans on Treasure Island every Sunday.

√ Tried to cross the causeway on foot at each of the intersections.

Then if he was really, really, really feeling eloquent, composed an email to his staff asking for their ideas on how to handle the street garbage (maybe offer a prize - a Trip To Costco - for the best idea) or maybe composed a status of the failed Harbor Island Parking Permit Program and asked a passing teenager to post it on the intertubes, at the North Bay Village website.  

Well, that's for "fancy" managers in "fancy" places.  In North Bay Village, a real manager does the grocery shopping and inventory himself and damn* well lets people know that he's watching.  



Real top executives know that it is much better to spend your time going to Costco, counting straws in the break room, and writing threatening emails to an entire staff.  That's the unique talent the taxpayer demands and likes.  

Well done, sir, well done.  

Kevin Vericker
July 22, 2015

* apologies for the use of strong language here but man, I am peeved.  

Friday, July 3, 2015

Traffic and Parking Report For July

The Causeway Project


According to Commissioner Richard Chervony, the Causeway traffic nightmare is over for the time being.  There is still some work to do but it's not the crazy delay causing work we've seen.  Here is his update:
CAUSEWAY IS BACK OPEN (Almost)
Good news in time to celebrate our National Holiday. The Causeway is back open to full access on the West lanes (heading to Miami). The East Lanes are also open but not the left lane, letting traffic flow freely.

All that is left of this project is placing some meters that were on the left lane on the sidewalk and then the street will be resurfaced and open back to traffic (aprox. one more week).
Once further information is obtained on the sewer line or the Triple R project I will post for your information.

There is a next phase coming up on Treasure Island and that will be followed by a compete resurfacing that will take nearly a year so we might as well get used to it, but at least we get a break for a little while. 

During this project, we have received zero notification from village hall.  Our Village Manager is proud of his lack of respect for electronic and other media.  The other members of the dais also refuse to communicate directly with their constituents.  Chervony is taking a lot of heat and disrespect for his efforts from them and I for one am grateful that we get at least some news.  


A North Bay Village Police Officer Was Injured Tuesday In A Road Rage Incident


Tuesday night an officer directing traffic at the intersection of North Bay Island, Harbor Island and the Causeway was struck by a car after telling the driver, a North Bay Island resident. that she could not make a left turn on to North Bay Island.  The driver attempted to anyway and hit the officer with her car, according to what the arrest reports say.  The driver has been charged with three counts of Felony Assault, including assault on a police officer and assault with a deadly weapon (a car.)  I will post more when I know but I understand the officer is recovering from injuries sustained in the attack.   

The Harbor Island Parking Program Continues To Confound.


The half assed, poorly thought out parking permit program for Harbor Island is limping along.  The program depends on the cooperation of the Bay Shore Yacht and Tennis Club to fulfill their obligations to get their parking off street has hit a major snag.  The BYTC (7904 West Drive) have refused to move forward on a contract to rent the parking lot across the street.  

The village has been issuing permits on a exception base to people who otherwise would not qualify in other buildings such as people who claim they only have one space, while at the same time refusing to issue permits for part time residents or people who have their cars registered at another address like their business.  There are still no clear rules for visitors or for people who care to use Vogel Park or the soon to be opened boardwalk at the Moda after 6 PM.  

According to the plan published nowhere publicly, on August 1 the PD will go from issuing warnings to issuing actual tickets but I predict the whole program will quietly die instead.   

Kevin Vericker
July 3, 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015

I Cover The Waterfront

There was a workshop to discuss the issues regarding the waterfront buildings that never filed their required public easements for bay front access.  Actually it was more of a Flash Mob brought in from Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez's building, with a few more people from the Condotel Eloquence and from the two buildings on Treasure Island.  

The vice and the mayor were there along with Commissioner Chervony.  It started out civilly enough with the village manager presenting a slide show of the buildings in question and their current landscaping and construction.  The buildings are:


  • 360 Development - 7900 Harbor Island Drive
  • Cielo 7935-37 East Drive
  • The Adagio 7939 East Drive
  • Eloquence 7928-7930 East Drive
  • Blue Bay  7927-7929 West Drive
  • Space 01  7934 West Drive
  • Bay View Terrace  1625 JFK Causeway
  • Bridgewater  1881-1909 JFK Causeway
  • MODA 8000 West Drive
  This was followed by the Village Attorney making his report, which can be summed up as finding
  •  Each of these buildings was required to register an easement.
  • They did not.
  • The requirements vary in language, not in substance.  These buildings are  required to file public easements with the county and the intent is to give the public access to the bay.  

George Orwell: “Omission is the most powerful form of lie”

There are a few more facts that were relevant.  
  • Four of the projects - Space 01, Blue Bay, The Bridgewater and MODA - were voted on and approved by Mayor Kreps when she sat on the commission.  
  • Several of the others were approved by the current head of Planning & Zoning when he was on the commission.  
  • The Village Manager and the Village Attorney both noted frequently that these approvals were by a different commission and there was no way to know what the commissions intended.  
  • The current commission has known about this issue for at least two years and ignored it. 
  • Vice Mayor Gonzalez serves as both vice mayor of North Bay Village and president of Fortress 360. 
So the stage was set.  The only advertisement for the meeting was the posted paper signs on at the intersections.   It never made it to the calendar nor was an agenda published.  No notification was given to the community at large beyond the signs and most people didn't know.  

Fortress 360 however mounted a full frontal assault and one after the other got up and made the following points.  
  • Nobody told us that this condition existed. 
  • If the public is allowed access to the public land, crime will be rampant and the children in danger. 
  • Property values will plummet.  
At the beginning of the meeting, Vice Mayor Gonzalez noted to the speakers that there was a 3 minute limit on their comment.  The Mayor then called him a bitch  and said people could talk as long as they would like and it was her call - not really, changing the established procedures of a village meeting requires an affirmative vote by the quorum but she and Gonzalez are fighting recently so the hell with Sunshine.  

The mayor did actually cut off one of the three people to speak about the need to open the agreed space, a major supporter of hers, but she never liked him.   I spoke about the subject and at that point, Gonzalez skulked off the dais, leaving only 2 present and under the Sunshine Law, breaking quorum which means the meeting should have been over but it was never a real meeting anyway.  Just a chance for Gonzalez to bully his way around the law.  

Finally, after all was said and said and said, the Mayor lied and said she ignorant of the subject.  Then Gonzalez and she yelled at Chervony for not speaking.  Berating and insulting their fellow commissioner, lying by omission and directly, and cutting off constructive discussion.  

Welcome to the Kreps Reign of Positivity and say Goodbye to the BayWalk.  

Kevin Vericker
July 1, 2015