Monday, July 16, 2018

Short Term Vacation Rentals and North Bay Village

Listening to our commission and what they choose to emphasize, you would think that the most important issue facing North Bay Village is Short Term Vacation Rentals offered by companies like AirBnB and VRBO. 

The subject was brought up several times in the last commission meeting, by Commissioner Mary Kramer's Husband and squatting Commissioner Laura Cattabriga.  Both of them congratulated our Code Enforcement for enforcing our current ordinance requiring registration of short term rentals properties.  And it is an issue.  

But there are some important points that need be understood about the position and North Bay Village.  

  1. We are preempted by state law from prohibiting or tightly regulating the short term vacation rental market.   We had our chances before 2011 to put legislation but never did.  Florida then passed a state law which governs the process and does not allow cities or counties to prohibit STVR's.   
  2. The very limited things we can legally do are require that STVR's register with the Village and require that they have a 24 hour contact for issues arising.  
  3. The major issue is in the multiunit buildings - condos and rental buildings - and the Village ordinance does not address these, leaving the decision on STVR's to the building owners and management.   There are very few STVR's in the single family neighborhoods on Treasure Island and North Bay Island.  
But those single family STVR's have been the subject of intense concern, particularly on North Bay Island, and the Village has responded.  By passing an ordinance requiring registration and enforcing the ordinance through fines for properties listed without being registered.  Here is the coding report on the single family homes known to be renting for STVR.  

What jumps out is that there are 12 on North Bay Island and 10 on Treasure Island, again they only count single family homes so the impact is clearly higher on North Bay Island.   

But I think our enforcement is missing the mark.  A simple search on AirBnb shows the following  128 available so the bulk of them are in apartment/condo buildings.  

And that's where the problems are the biggest.  

There are several things that the Village can legally do.  

  • The Village could expand the ordinance to require that buildings register their STVR's.  
  • The Village could embark on a campaign to educate the owners and renters of the Village parking, noise and other ordinances.  
  • The Village could aggressively enforce noise ordinances, fining both the owners and the renters who violate them.   
Imagine a program whereby each time a home was rented, the occupants received a "Welcome to North Bay Village" packet.  It could include listings of our few businesses, an overview of parking and noise regulations, a number to contact if there are issues, and maybe even some coupons and tips for the local area.   Something friendly but clear about the expected behavior.  

Then with proper enforcement where the police show up and check noise levels from outside and ticket for infractions, the internet would quickly do what the internet does best - disseminate information.  

My disclosure:  I'm too nervous to rent out my house to strangers but I do rent places through VRBO and AirBnB.  I read the reviews and if I saw a review that said something like "I got a ticket for noise at 11:30 PM and the party was ruined."  that would probably be a property I would rent.  Were it 20, oh hell, truthfully, 30 years ago back when I was getting funky with my friends, I'd avoid it like the plague.  Alright, maybe it's 35 years since I got funky but you get the idea.  

If on the other hand, the reviews wrote about the peaceful neighborhood, the waterviews, the easy access, I'd sign right up.   

The Village is limited but it looks like what we have is a tactic for North Bay Island and no strategy at all for the Village. 

As the candidates come asking for your vote this fall, be sure to ask each of them what they think of this issue.  

I've started this conversation over on the Facebook page and I hope it will continue either here in the comments or on the Facebook page.  We have to have it. 

UPDATE:  Regular Contributor Ritch Holben and the guy who everyone tells George Clooney he looks like posted a really important point.  I quote it here. 

To those of you who have not used a short term rental service, like AirBnB, you should know that they have a 5 star rating system that is based on reviews of actual stays. But more importantly, every guest gets a rating from the host also! One does not see the other's review until they've both completed the process. This means that a host has the ability to evaluate a potential guest BEFORE they accept their reservation, and usually they have several direct conversations too... completely unlike a hotel reservation system. What this should mean is that a host can and should have the ability to deny any guest with a rowdy or destructive behavior, and has more control in being sure that they treat their neighbors with respect and courtesy. But in the end, it is the responsibility of the HOST to be sure they run their business in a neighborly way. If they do not, repeatedly, and complaints are on file with the police department, the village has the right to deny their license.
Thanks Ritch. 

Kevin Vericker
July 16, 2018 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Screw the Kids

0.64% of the PD Budget goes to PAL
Once again, our commission is in budget season without a clue.  On the budget proposals was eliminating the money for the PAL camps, a program that successfully serves North Bay Village kids at a reasonable price and is greatly valued by the parents and the kids.   

0.64% of the Total Budget goes for PAL
So our police chief/village manager says "Cut it".  

His reasoning is that it's too expensive and the kids can attend a completely different program (summer school) at twice the price to the parents.  

What are these outrageous costs?  Well, based on the Police Chief's estimate of $68 per hour in police resources (probably fair), the camp comes out to $24,480 and another $10,000 in supplies and field trips etc.  In case you are a member of the dais and can't add, that is $34,480 total.  

Out of a police budget of $5,391,162.  

In fancy math terms, that is less than 1%  of the total budget for the police.  (.64% to be exact.)

We have a police chief who is unable to find .64% of the budget to preserve a well received, useful and important youth program.   He even seems to feel bad about that.  

Now just for comparision, our administration this week alone gave away, gifted, a cool $136,000 to two employees with a grand total of 131 days of service, both of whom left because the mayor made their jobs a living hell and they had to be paid not to sue us.  

Mayoral Candidate Laura Cattabriga voted Yes without explanation to the gifting but did not take up for the PAL Camp because, hell, kids don't vote or finance campaigns.  

PAL Costs Versus Unearned Severance for 2 Village Employees
This doesn't even take into account the money being set aside to give our inexperienced lawyer an $84,000 raise, making him one of the highest paid municipal attorneys in Miami Dade, the money being spent for commission vanity projects ($166,500) or the other raises.

Nope, uniquely, this program which serves the kids of our community with direct, tangible benefit is the one to cut.  

There is a Budget Workshop on July 18 at 6:30.  Got a kid, like kids, like our community.  Be there.  

Kevin Vericker
July 13, 2018

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mayoral Candidate Laura Cattabriga Pays $127,000 In Hush Money

I stole this office.  So sue me!
There's no other way to put this - our municipal government in North Bay Village is now little more than a disorganized racket.  Tonight, mayoral candidate and impostor commissioner Laura Cattabriga cast the deciding vote to pay $127,000 in severance to a village manager that she, Cattabriga, enthusiastically hired 90 days ago.   It was of course Mayor Crazy Eyes who initiated the firing of Martell and Norman Powell who is used to dealing with troublesome girls from his days as a registered strip club lobbyist and go to fix it attorney, but the deal was so bad that even Commissioner Mary Kramer's husband voted No.   

Yet Laura Cattabriga, who earlier in the evening spoke darkly about how she discovered almost $1,000,000 in emergency spending over the last 4 years and how she could not stand the lack of transparency, leaned in and voted to give away $127,000 of our money because, well, it's best to move on.  

Of course, Cattabriga has a long history of spending other people's money.  She convinced an elderly neighbor to finance her lawsuit against Doug Hornsby, the one the court dismissed, and she used village resources to illegally have Hornsby removed so she could take his seat.  Cattabriga has been using the position of commissioner, to which she is not ethically entitled, to destroy North Bay Village in the press and now this.  $127,000 of our money because the mayor couldn't get along with the Village Manager that she handpicked.  

It was that kind of night.  

The commission appointed Police Chief Lewis Velken to be temporary village manager.  

Our attorney, Norman C. Powell, does not know much about lawyering or he might have told the commission that it is against the Florida Constitution for someone to hold two public offices.  But Powell is not a real Village attorney.  He's the defense team for Mayor Crazy Eyes and when it was pointed out to him that there is a State Attorney opinion specifically on the subject, he did what he does best - made some stuff up.  But there is.  Here.  And Here.

The Budget workshop was just as bad.  It was rushed.  The commission was unable to follow much of it.  The Police Chief/Village Manager did say he wants to eliminate the PAL camp because it's expensive and proposed we merge it into the Miami Dade School programs, with which he is unfamiliar and had not made contact.  Several residents spoke against that, including a brilliant kid from the program, but the commission couldn't figure out what to do so they're kind of leaving it in.  

And lest we forget our lunatic mayor, Connie Leon-Kreps.  A bitter, disorganized woman who does not realize she has failed utterly at being a mayor and being a decent human being.  

During her "report" she made rather a large deal about a generator that cost $27,000 rather than $25,000.  Insisted on an explanation (that's a good thing), got it, the commission voted to spend the extra $2,000 and go ahead, the mayor cackling and chortling about how much better things were and then not 20 minutes later, received a text from someone that he had googled generators and saw them for $8,000 (a very different kind of generator) and tried to rescind the approval.  It was so crazy that even Powell was surprised.  Her motion to disapprove the approval failed because it was stupid.  

Fun sidenote.  If you look at the June Commission Meeting on video, you will hear the mayor complaining about her colleagues taking up so much time with their comments and questions.  I ran the video through a voice analyzer and it showed that on the resolutions and ordinances, our mayor spoke 87% of the time.  The others barely got a word in edgewise.  Tonight she was quieter.  

There was so much in a short meeting, all of it bad.  

By my reckoning, the budget will have to include $500,000 set aside for severance packages - Village Manager, Village Attorney because he will have to go, probably the police chief, and some of the other employees.  

We will lose at least two of the lawsuits and I'm thinking another $500k for those.  

In attendance tonight were the Miami Herald and an investigator from the Commission on Ethics.  

This is getting real.  

Kevin Vericker 
July 10, 2018

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Mayoral Temper Tantrum Fails Like Everything Else The Mayor Does

Fading like a bad dream
As Mayor Kreps leaves office and walks away, she is determined to continue tossing molotov cocktails to burn the evidence of her failures.  Kreps never really attempted to govern and has always been driven by her own intellectual and moral demons to act out on a public stage, but since her chief enabler, former registered strip club lobbyist Norman C. Powell, was brought on board at $204,000 per year the acting out has just gotten worse.  

In this week's installment, Mayor Crazy Eyes has been fuming since the failure of the fireworks proposal last week and she blames Marlen Martell for that failure.  And she wants Martell punished!  Now!  

On Tuesday June 27, the Mayor, several of her personalities,  and Norman Powell went to Martell to demand her resignation.   Now the mayor is only one of five and has no right to do that on her own and the village attorney never has that right but they were hoping they could intimidate her into quitting.  Regardless, they failed.  Martell did not offer her resignation.  

Commissioner Mary Kramer's Husband -
The Mayor's only reliable vote
Much of the rest of the week was the two of them trying to get enough votes to fire Martell in a special meeting.  That would require three votes.  The mayor could only count on two - herself and Mary Kramer's employee, who I understand is named Jose Alvarez.   To succeed the mayor needed assurances that Vice Mayor Andreana Jackson and/or illegally installed Commissioner Laura Cattabriga would support the motion.  

Laura Cattabriga, who is planning to run for mayor and who the mayor believes is dedicated to continuing the Kreps Krazy legacy (she is not) is dishonest, slick and unctuous towards the mayor when it suits her but unlike the mayor, Cattabriga is not stupid and knows that if she joins in firing a village manager 90 days after enthusiastically hiring the same one, it will look like, well what it is, a failure to govern.   So Cattabriga, along with Jackson, have refused to support the notion, letting the question of Martell's continued employment sit until after the election.   

There is of course one other factor.  Eddie Lim could be a third vote either way but he's voting based on his belief of what's best for the village and Crazy Eyes can't risk that.  So we have the mayor stewing in incoherent rage and based on past behavior, we can assume that the mayor will start trying to take it out on Cattabriga.  The spiral continues.  

Kevin Vericker
June 30, 2018

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Terrible Mayor Slams City She Hates

On Mayor Crazy Eyes Kreps' march out the door following her unprecedented failure as our mayor, presiding (mayoring?) over the evacuation of all our waterfront businesses, our tax hikes, our school decline, and the host of issues that we face, is determined to keep throwing gasoline filled bottles in her wake.  

Last night, our mayor appeared on NBC 6's "exclusive" exposé regarding FEMA claims and Frank Rollason.  Now the whole purpose was to insult Frank Rollason but when our mayor saw the added advantage of spending another $250,000 of the taxpayer's money to prove she is really the victim here, she put on her warpaint and got on camera.  

And what a story it is.  

You see, Norman C. Powell, former registered strip club lobbyist and current North Bay Village Attorney, El Portal Interim Village Attorney and illegally presiding traffic magistrate, put in a complaint saying that the FEMA chargebacks from the Village were too high.  

Since Powell is a new attorney, he thought the State of Florida was in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency because he didn't know yet.  So he brought the unfounded complaint to the state who politely told him it had to be at the federal level.  He insisted he was sure that a guy had told him that was not true.  So the FDLE put in a Public Records Request just to shut him up.  

Pro tip, if the FDLE wants to investigate you, they put out something called a subpoena which actually compels you to turn over the documents.  They don't suffer the same way we poor bloggers have to with Public Records Request.  

Anyway, Norm did take his stuff to the feds, to the DOJ specifically.  Where it is sitting and will eventually be investigated and eventually found unwarranted and eventually the village will get its money but not before it ruins next year's budget.  

But it does give Mayor Crazy Eyes a chance to put a hurt on Frank Rollason and that's sure worth a quarter of a million of our tax dollars, right?  

Here's the whole bullshit from NBC 6. 

Kevin Vericker
June 28, 2018

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Norman's Got A Side Hustle

Remember back when registered strip club lobbyist, Norman C. Powell, took the job as North Bay Village Attorney and demanded a record breaking $204,000 per year, plus a full year's totally illegal severance payment not to sue the Village if ever he is fired?  

When our Commission was shamed into questioning this shockingly generous contract for a completely inexperienced municipal lawyer, Norman got serious, narrowed his eyes and looked the commissioners up and down, leaned forward and said "I'm all in."  And he is.  Of course he's "All In" with El Portal, a number of side jobs, and now this one has come to light.  

Norman C. Powell - Not just a strip club fixer, defender of the mayor, prosecutor of sitting commissioners, incompetent counsel, but get this - a friggin' judge.  

Yep, that's right.  Turns out Norman's making singles add up by sitting as a magistrate in Miami-Dade Traffic courts hearing traffic cases including cases from North Bay Village where he has been the chief legal officer since the November coup.  This is to a normal person a shocking conflict of interest.  The lawyer for your prosecutor is also the judge?  That's more of a Cuba thing, isn't it?  

Well, Norman did not see it that way and he didn't bother to report it.  The Commission on Ethics was asked for an opinion and protector and friend of the Mayor, one Michael Murawski, CoE Advocate and Candidate to replace Let 'Em Go Joe, Miami's Second Greatest Enabler of Municipal Corruption, was forced to conclude "Gee, Norm, it just don't look right so let's get you moved over to another jurisdiction where you might not meet as many cops who report to you."   

Here's the opinion Michael Murawski issued.  Commission on Ethics Finding 

Here's the list of all the tickets Norman heard in the time between his taking the job as North Bay Village Attorney and June 7 when the opinion came out.  He sat on a total of 35 cases from North Bay Village, 1 from El Portal, and 39 preconference pleas.   If yours was one of them, I'm just saying, you got a good case if you want to fight it.  

In the meantime, Judge Norman C. Powell ruled that only Ana Watson does not require a village permit for work on her unit.  

Mayoral friend, Ana Watson, who is a subject of interest along with Mary Kramer and Mayor Crazy Eyes Kreps in the extortion of Doug Hornsby, and who is facing four criminal counts of forgery from her co-op, hit a coding snag.  She and several of her neighbors at the Bayswater had to fix their air conditioners.  

In spite of the fact that at least on paper, code reports to the police who reports to the village manager who reports to the commission, Norman C. Powell put on his Judge Judy drag outfit from last Halloween and ruled that Ana Watson was uniquely exempt from the coding requirement and no this has nothing to do with Ms. Watson's refusal to provide evidence to the State Attorney's office on the Hornsby matter.   Nothing at all.  

In the meantime, Norman's hustling it at North Bay Village, El Portal, Miami-Dade Traffic courts and keeping his fingers in the side development deals.  

I was about to say "You gotta admire the work ethic" but no, no you don't.  It's not a clean hustle.  

In the meantime, the mayor is continuing to build her case against Marlen Martell.  I don't know what specific pissed her honor off but she is fighting this hard and nasty.  

Kevin Vericker
June 26, 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

More Ethics BS and The Mayor Wants to Fire Marlen Martell

Norman C. Powell's Proudest Accomplishment -
Actually claims he's a free speech hero for this.  
Current North Bay Village Fixer / Attorney Norman C. Powell, formerly a registered strip club lobbyist in North Miami Beach, has one client - himself.  He's collecting a base of $204,000 per year plus he's up for a sweet part time gig in Biscayne Park and all he has to do is bully the dais and try to keep the investigations away from the mayor.  

Norm is doing this through a combination of questionable moves, loud defense tactics, and most importantly by bullying anyone who gets in his way.  

Norm's got a big, lying, dishonest, false police report that he is pushing on Frank Rollason, one that was closed out but Big Daddy insisted be reopened just because and in that complaint, Finance Director Bert Wrains and Commissioner Eddie Lim are directly accused of issuing an ~$15,000 payment to cover a personal expense from Frank Rollason.  This is a crime to fabricate a complaint and use police resources for a false investigation.  

The complaint was apparently concocted by a four charge fraudster in collaboration with Norman and it's going nowhere but Norm needed to make sure he slapped Eddie Lim up some more.  

So Norm decided to cuck Eddie Lim by fabricating an Ethics Complaint that said that Eddie Lim was trying to get business in the Village.   Powell got his second to bottom girl, Commissioner Laura Cattabriga, to express her fake concern that Eddie was representing a petitioner .  (Seriously, Laura Cattabrigga being "concerned" is like an Italian Soccer Player getting "injured", pure cheap theatrics hoping to score.)   
Laura Cattabriga is "concerned"

Anyway, Norm and Laura went off to Ethics and filed a complaint C18-18-4 accusing Eddie of abusing his position on the commission by, well, it's not clear by what.   And Ethics had to investigate it and today dismissed the complaint because it was always not true.  Here's the complaint dismissal for your review.  Here to see the closeout memo.  

This is part of a larger pattern.  Earlier this year, Norman C. Powell and Vice Mayor Andreana Jackson concocted a fictitious complaint against former Commissioner Chervony and at Powell's insistence, the police department wasted tens of thousands investigating a wholly fictitious complaint.   

Police Chief Noriega's complaint shows a very different view of Norman C. Powell's claims that the police chief withheld information from him.  

And of course we have second to the bottom girl, Laura Hughes Cattabriga, undeclared mayoral candidate and designated successor to Crazy Eyes who took a closed internal investigation and colluded with Norman C. Powell to slam the North Bay Village Police Department on NBC6.   

Just remember, we're paying him $204,000 per year base to do this part time.  He's smarter and richer than you or me.  

The Mayor is Trying to Fire Village Manager Marlen Martell.  

Well, that was quick.  At last week's commission meeting, Mayhem Martell presented the most half assed proposal for July 4th fireworks ever seen.  Not only had she not accounted for where people might go to look at the fireworks, she was planning to put them between Benihana and Shuckers burt couldn't be arsed to get their input and had no idea of what the police impact might be, three weeks before the event.  Now Martell really did screw this up because she's not very good at her job but it's kind of Crazy Eyes' fault because Martell was the only candidate she could find who promised to fire the police chief.   But Mayor Crazy Eyes does not take responsibility for anything ever and has been sending nasty emails around about Martell.  

 I'm guessing we'll hear more about this next month and the mayor will try a move.  

Kevin Vericker
June 20, 2018