Thursday, April 19, 2018

Retired Miami-Dade Police Lt. Lewis Velken was snuck in last night by recently hired Village Manager Marlen Martell. The four corruptocrats, Mayor Crazy Eyes Kreps, Commissioner Mary Kramer's Husband, Commissioner Laura Cattabriga* (*pending a lawsuit on her illegal installation), and "Vice Mayor" Andreana Jackson obligingly voted without comment to hire Velken.  Actual Vice Mayor Eddie Lim notified the clerk that he was too well to engage in the sleaze last night and sensibly absented himself.   (*note - Lim didn't share his reasoning with me.  I'm surmising.)

The first two choices withdrew from the process for unpublished reasons and it was absolutely critical to get a chief in ASAP.   So Velken, who had a good reputation at the MDPD but never served as a high level command officer, was hustled in and installed.   

The room was jam packed with ...
people from out of town.  You see, the announcement of Velken as a chief for North Bay Village was made countywide, including Crime Watch chair Carmen Caldwell, but was deliberately not posted or announced in North Bay Village.  Our commission and administration wanted it that way because they are terrible people.  

You see, it was critical to fill the chief spot because when Martell fired Carlos Noriega and she lied about not knowing that there was a whistle-blower notification presented to her, Noriega let the village know that he intends to sue.  

Our Village administration came to to the conclusion that since the chief is likely to prevail in his lawsuit,  it was critical to put in another chief now.  The courts hate complications and might be hesitant to insist that a recently installed chief be let go when they find the previous chief was fired illegally.   It just complicates things.  

So a chief had to be found and installed ASAP to make it more difficult for Noriega to come back.   And it might work.  

Now I don't know if Velken has been instructed that the North Bay Village PD is to stand down on the extortion investigation in the Hornsby matter, or told to make sure that a current embezzlement investigation does not implicate sitting members of the dais.   I'm pretty sure with his reputation in Miami Dade PD's Public Corruption unit that even our creep commission would have been careful to not be explicit.  But Velken must be aware that protecting the commission from prosecution is the prime directive and that he was hired in hurry by people who do things in the dark to replace a popular chief.  It's going to be a rocky run. 

Kevin Vericker
April 19, 2018

Friday, April 13, 2018

New Comment Policy

I have long allowed Anonymous comments on the blog but recently the trolls have been out in force.  Hiding behind the courage of masked keyboards, the troll warriors are using the anonymity to attack individuals who are completely unrelated to the current low crimes and misdemeanors driving our village.  Names are mentioned.  Large scale conspiracies alleged.  No facts given then whiny butt hurt complaints that I am somehow a censor.  

So screw it.  You got something to say, put your name to it.  I'll publish it, once I verified it's you.   You don't want to put your name to it?  Then get lost.   You're useless.  

Special note to Anonymous KS:  you have a hell of a nerve questioning my integrity.   

Kevin Vericker
April 13, 2018  

Thursday, April 12, 2018

It's The Extortion. Don't You Get It?

There was a commission meeting on Tuesday night.   I wasn't there.  I have received a diagnosis from a well trained medical professional as having a case of whatever the hell is going around and the thought of vomiting in public was appealing but counterproductive.   Nevertheless, through the magic of the Internet I was able to watch the proceedings on my Facebook device.   

The meeting was nonsense.  At Good & Welfare, I counted 12 local residents who got up and asked the new village manager the very straightforward question, "Why did you fire our police chief?"   

Now there  were variations on the question.   A remarkable number of them were close supporters of the mayor and worked actively on her campaigns.  These people find themselves utterly baffled as to how someone they called a friend could have turned into the stonewalling, dishonest creep leading the commission.   Others wondered if new Village Manager Marlen Martell would share her reasoning on the different direction she believed law enforcement needed to take.   

But the question was the same:  "Why did you fire the chief?  We thought he was good for us."   

And the Village Manager, along with the commission, refused to answer.  Straight up stonewalled.  

As I mentioned, I participated by watching and it's probably just as well because I don't know that I could have held myself back from shouting, "It's the extortion, stupid."   (* Note to self:  That's how I lose friends.)

It's pretty simple.  It's the extortion, stupid.  

For years, anonymous threats, bullying, and extortion have been used by the ruling cabal of North Bay Village to silence questions and critics.  This was done with the tacit collaboration of the police department and resulted in people just walking away.   

So when Doug Hornsby refused to fire Frank Rollason over the odd issues that bugged the mayor, the old school extortion methods were rolled out, anonymous emails routed through a Bulgarian address readily available on the internet, printed mails sent through the post office and verbal threats were made.  But this time it backfired.   Hornsby didn't back down and brought matter public.  To quote him, "Millions for defense, not a penny for ransom."  

It worked.  The new police chief, Carlos Noriega, has no tolerance for lawbreaking, and he took the evidence to the Federal authorities and the State authorities.  Now one of the people of interest has some juice with State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle and the rumor is that through mutual favors, the state won't be in on it, but the feds are in so the danger is there.  

When Marlen Martell was recruited to be Village Manager, she was instructed to fire the police chief and she delivered.  

See, it's simple.  It's the extortion.  

The expectation was the police chief would take a nice settlement package and go away quietly.  

Because the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior expecting a different result, the administration was shocked when Carlos Noriega told them to stick it where the sun don't shine  (*not an actual quote) and they fired him.  

Now we go all North Bay Village Crazy.  Marlen Martell, Village Manager, and Norman Powell, Village Attorney, took to the press to deny knowing about the whistleblower complaint filed by Noriega.  

They lied.  I've seen the mail and the emails.  They saw the mails and the emails.  The commission saw the mails and the emails.   

They fired the chief because he was investigating the extortion attempts.  

Now as the meeting wore on, Marlen Martell, who comes from North Miami Beach, thanked the chief for his service but never explained either his firing or the new direction she wants for the police department.   She did however mention that she had put together a search committee for a new police chief.  The members are Larry Juriga, the police chief from North Miami Beach who spends most of his time managing the various police corruption scandals there.  (Click here for more info), Krishan Manners from Biscayne Park, who spends  most of his time defending police department incompetency.  (Click here for more info).  Also Norman Powell.  

I guess the direction Ms. Martell wants to take us in is the one that Biscayne Park and North Miami Beach have gone?   

Actually, it's all irrelevant.  The fix for the next police chief is in.  Norman Powell, Marlen Martell and four of the commissioners have already agreed that it will be John Buhrmaster, who will quash the detectives working on the extortion case.

So you see, Good and Welfare speakers, Mayor Kreps and the commissioners were never going to answer your questions because they have to do what they have to do to stop the extortion investigations.  And the new police chief, John Buhrmaster, will presumably cooperate like Martell like Powell.   

Kevin Vericker
April 12, 2018

Friday, April 6, 2018

Marlen Martell Paid Her Price Yesterday.

Marlen Martell
Yesterday afternoon, April 5, 2018, a day after responding that she would be evaluating all departments when asked in a Town Hall meeting about keeping the police chief and after several residents had expressed their deep satisfaction with the progress in the North Bay Village PD, Marlen Martell fired the police chief, saying "We want to go in a different direction." and then leaving the room.  

Village Attorney, Norman C. Powell, who knows Ms. Martell from their collaboration on strip club promotions in North Miami Beach where Powell, in addition to being a North Bay Village Magistrate and later Village Attorney, was also a registered lobbyist for SMG Entertainment, the Black Diamond Strip Club in North Miami Beach, was left alone with the Chief and offered a severance package in exchange not suing.  The Chief refused.   So he was fired.   

There was no reason given, other than "we are going in a different direction" which is the usual line given an actor who has failed an audition, and like the other firing, Village Attorney Robert Switkes, no offer of an explanation.   

But there are several interesting things to note.  

In a public letter to the residents of North Bay Village, available here, the chief refers to his having filed a whistleblower complaint.  Now the chief is far too discreet to have written about the specifics of the complaint or to have shared the details with me, but I have learned from other sources what is the probable basis of the complaint.  

Two employees of the village have told me that Norman Powell in January brought in a 3rd party company called Xact Data Discovery to extract all the data from the North Bay Village servers.  Everything.   

Then Village Manager Frank Rollason and Deputy Village Manager Jenice Rosado, along with the police chief, pointed out to Powell that the police servers contain Homeland Security information and FDLE information, and that without approval of those agencies or a court order clearing the release of the data to a third party, which by the way is also the definition of a contract attorney such as Norman Powell, this would be in violation of federal law.  Powell pushed the matter through anyway.   Rollason and Rosado resigned on the spot.  

A complaint has been made to Homeland Security and a source who does not want herself named, has told me that there is a very serious federal investigation into this data security breech.    

I am guessing this is the whistle blower complaint to which Noriega refers.   

There is a second part of this issue.   The data servers also contain all the evidence of the open extortion investigation in which our mayor and the wife of commissioner Alvarez have been publicly named as "subjects of interest", every police report filed, including presumably the noise complaints that commissioner Alvarez is routinely served with, and most importantly, HIPPA and FMLA information on every employee in the village.  There is a rumor that the FOP-A, the union representing the employees, is planning to take legal action on this issue.   

I have little doubt that the Chief's firing was in retaliation for his bringing the extortion investigation to the State Attorney and the Federal authorities, and in retaliation for his attempts to protect classified Homeland Security Information.   My experience with HSA is that they don't take this lightly and I believe we are going to be on the hook for massive violations of security, and breech of privacy for protected data.   

Marlen Martell and I spoke some weeks before her contract offer and I told her point blank that the police were the main pride point for North Bay Village and that the residents in general think very highly of the work they were doing.   I also told her that I believed that the mayor was making the job offer conditional on firing the chief and that it was due to the extortion investigation.  Ms. Martell claimed unbelievably that she knew nothing of the extortion investigation but she had read some things on the anonymous troll site, LEOAFFAIRS, about the police chief and she was worried.  Also that she had major doubts about Bert Wrains.   I figured the fix was in and this time, I hate being right.   

So now we have at least 5 active lawsuits against the village based on Norman Powell's bad legal advice, I am reliably informed that there are at least 3 separate criminal investigations involving the dais and the lawyer, and we're going to be stuck holding the bill.   

In the meantime, nothing is getting done and we are spiraling down.  

Anybody need a cute kittens video?   I need one.  

Kevin Vericker
April 6, 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Town Hall Meeting April 4 2018 With The New Village Manager

Wednesday night, April 4, 2018, recently hired village manager Marlen Martell is holding a Town Hall Telephone meeting at 7 PM.  To sign up, click the link here.   

The meeting will be to discuss her goals coming into North Bay Village.  

Now as regular readers know, the Village has been in turmoil ever since the disclosure of the extortion attempts against Commissioner Douglas Hornsby and subsequent public identification of Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps and the wife of Commissioner Jose Alvarez as "subjects of interest" in the same investigation.   

That investigation has reached the federal level and is ongoing but in the meantime, the former Village Attorney Robert Switkes has stated that he believes he was fired in retaliation for his cooperation with the investigation and I have learned that there are at least two whistleblower claims being made by village employees who are being threatened with dismissal for their cooperation.  The whole ugly mess will come out in time.  

But in the meantime, it's important for the Village Manager to know that from a community perspective, the North Bay Village Police Department has reached a new height of community service.  Just some of those accomplishments include:

  • The progress towards full accreditation.  
  • A Crime Watch program that has been brought back to life. 
  • Friday night movies and basketball nights. 
  • In school service programs. 
  • Senior wellness checks. 
  • Bicycle Rodeos. 
  • The motorcycle patrol on the Causeway.
  • The boat patrol to protect our waterfront properties.  
  • The relationship with our neighbor cities
  • Our already low crime rate has dropped and more cases are cleared.  
I believe our police chief's job is in jeopardy and it would be a good time to let the new Village Manager know what you think of the service the police are providing here.  Even if you don't agree with me that it is a great service, you should speak.  

There's a very good argument that the only reason for North Bay Village to exist is our police services and we can't let some sleazy, half assed extortion attempt kill that.  

Kevin Vericker
April 3, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018

New Village Manager and I Apologize to Laura Cattabriga

North Miami Beach
Commissioner Marlen Martell

The commission voted 5-0 last night to offer North Miami Beach Commissioner Marlen Martell as the new North Bay Village Manager.   

Ms. Martell, who has an MPA from FIU, and a certification as a Certified Floodplains Manager from FEMA, is also a sitting commissioner in North Miami Beach.   This is her first job as a municipal manager although she has held several high level management positions around the county.  Her resume is posted here.

Ms. Martell was widely viewed as the popular choice as she has an existing relationship with the mayor, a long history with interim Village Attorney Norman C. Powell.  In 2011, as North Miami Beach Commissioner she voted Yes on a request to extend strip club hours to 6 AM.  Norman Powell was the attorney for the strip club owners at the time and I'm sure appreciated her support.

Ms. Martell has already been instructed to fire Police Chief Carlos Noriega and I'm certain she will comply in the next few weeks.

The Offense Was Public So The Apology Must Be Public:  An Apology From Me To Laura Cattabriga:

I don't trust people who say, "I'm the first to admit it when I'm wrong."  They are not.  Any reasonable person is the last to admit it when they are wrong and I am a reasonable person.   

I was wrong in posting unflattering pictures of Laura Cattabriga and I took them down.  

Surprising me, it was the mayor who pointed out that these pictures could be reasonably interpreted as shaming and I believe the word she used was "creepy."  

For what it's worth, I put them up as a satirical illustration of the commission "turning its back" on the public and hiding from transparency but looking at them after the meeting, I realized that the impression which the mayor explained was perfectly reasonable.   So I took them down and have reached out to Ms. Cattabriga to apologize.   

To be clear, I do not believe that Ms. Cattabriga appointment was legal and she should not have sought it or accepted it.   The removal of Dr. Hornsby was illegal, done deceptively by advertising the special meeting with the "sole purpose of discussion" and then forcing the forfeiture of office, completely ignoring the charter procedure for exactly this situation.  

So I will continue to hammer on the issue and I believe Ms. Cattabriga should step down and run in November, allowing the voters to make the decision.  That would be the dignified approach. 

Kevin Vericker
March 16, 2018

Thursday, March 15, 2018

It's All About The Math

I'll keep this post as short as the Tuesday meeting was long.  Let me sum it up.  Nothing worth doing was done Tuesday night, yet the dais and the audience were left exhausted and bickering.

There were three highlights.

State Project Funding for NBV
Highlight 1:  State Senator Daphne Campbell did a legislative update in which she wished us  a Happy 73rd Anniversary as a municipality, presented a proclamation to that effect and then told us that she had been able to get $0 in state funding for our desperately needed infrastructure.  She did inform us that there's always next year and requested a standing ovation.   Senator Campbell is very enthusiastic. 

Highlight 2:  The extraordinary contract drafted by Norman C. Powell which included a term of 4 years with a full year severance or penalty for early termination for any reason caused much concern among residents and even some from the dais. 

One concern raised was that the 12 month payout in the event of early termination amounts to an end run around Florida Statute 215.425 which prohibits severance of more than 20 weeks by presenting this as a payment in exchange for agreeing to not sue.  That's $204,000. 

Another concern was the length of the contract, 4 years, which is pretty much unheard of in legal contracts with municipalities and we have always operated on a terminate at will basis here in the past, which allows us to change lawyers if the commission is unhappy with the work done, as was the case with Weiss Serota and presumably with Robert Switkes.  Four years well exceed the current commission's tenure and it is saddling future commissioners who may not like Mr. Powell's novel legal approaches with a poison pill. 

So after much discussion, the commission voted to send the matter back to negotiation with Andreana Jackson, who was filling in for the mayor when she stopped understanding the complex numbers and was no longer able to articulate what was being discussed, proposed that the contract termination be reduced to a combination of 20 weeks severance ($78,461) plus 3 months not to sue us ($51,000) for a total of $128,461.  Or not.  By that time, the commission was so confused that they had no idea on what they were asking to do but they kicked the decision to next month. 

Highlight 3:  The math.   The subject of buying the lot on the Causeway where the Sakura restaurant was for $2.9 million was on the agenda with a due of date of March 13.   The Decision was deferred as the village is also talking about buying an off island lot for the truck storage currently on Galleon St., still has no idea how much a community center would cost and we are still on the hook for burying our power lines and rebuilding the sewers.   So the commission deferred. 

Special note:  in defending the length of Norman Powell's contract and the generous severance terms, our mayor stated that the previous village manager had proposed buying this same lot for $2.9 million, which matched the appraisal.  The proposal was supposed to be submitted in February but of course Rollason had left.  

The mayor was certain it was all a trick and implied there was more to it than Rollason was letting on.  

Her new BFF interim attorney Norman C Powell said so and instead proposed that we purchase the property for $2.6 million. 

Great, we save $300,000.  

Oh wait, there's about $300,000 in fines outstanding against the property and the $2.6 million dollar offer also included forgiveness for the fines.   So the the net to the city would have been - ready for it - $2.9 million.  

The mayor found this brilliant and absolute proof that Norman Powell was looking out for our best interests in ways that Frank Rollason did not. 

The other commissioners did not and so they deferred action on the item until next month and instructed the village attorney or the village manager, it's not clear who, to go negotiate some more.  

And before you ask, I'm not sure why we need the Sakura lot.  We can't even take care of what we have.  

Lowlights:  So many.  Andreana Jackson badgered Eddie Lim all night.  The mayor decried criticisim of her as misogyny and racist.  The questions about Mr. Powell's behavior and contract went unanswered.   Here's a video of Andreana Jackson screaming at Eddie Lim.  It's unedited.  You can see the whole mess at  

Kevin Vericker
The Ides of March, 2018