Monday, January 18, 2010

Congress Knows Who We Are

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” Mark Twain

Making fun of Congress is a great old American tradition and North Bay Village seems to be joining in the fun. There was a comment from the dais at the last NBV Commission Meeting (made as a joke I think) to the effect that the reason that North Bay Village has gotten so much attention is that our representatives don't know that we are not a city of 150,000. Not exactly Mark Twain wit but fair enough.

It's important to remember though that it's not true. Our Congressional Representatives, Senate and House, our Tallahassee representatives and our county commissioner all know very well who we are.

I've done lobbying in the US Capitol and here's how it works:

1.) Our lobbyist contacts the senior aide to the specific representative or official to request a meeting with a copy of the agenda.

2.) The request is given to appropriate aide in charge of the policy or legislation to be discussed. The aide evaluates the agenda in light of what is available or possible. A junior aide, usually an intern, does the basic research including the geographic and demographic facts of those affected, a first level search on the participants (elected officials hate meetings with criminals or terrorists), and verifies the basic facts presented.

3.) The senior aide recommends the meeting with the representative or delegates it to a staff member. A summary is prepared for the meeting participants including all the facts of who, what, why, where and policy recommendations.

4.) The meeting happens. At that point, the official knows who we are, what we want, whether it's feasible and usually what the outcome will be. The meeting is to confirm.

Now, again, about the joke, elected officials are very busy with dozens of requests daily for their time. They set it up to maximize time and the representative herself only meets with people who meet the criteria. Yeah, I know the door should be open to all but time is scarce. And if the staff has not properly prepared the meeting, by for example not mentioning that North Bay Village is a city of ~7,000, that staff catches it. Hell hath no fury like a Congressional Representative embarrassed by her staff.

So they do know who North Bay Village is, why we are there, and what we have done to be considered. Let's review.

Our city has been the recipient of quite a large chunk of Federal, State and County funds last year and we hope for more this year. In fact, later this week, I will detail those grants and funds, all of which reduce our tax burden and improve our city. Getting these funds happened for a couple of reasons:

1.) We actually voted to tax ourselves for this money in 2006 and 2008 through bond issues for the Causeway, Sewer, Parks and Landscaping projects. The citizens – us – voted specifically for these projects without any expectation that anyone else was going to pick up the tab. Shows a lot of commitment on our part.

2.) The previous administration and the current administration invested a lot of time, money, effort and political capital in proposing these realistic, high value infrastructure projects and convincing a skeptical public (including me) that it was worth the additional tax burden.

3.) The current administration hired a grant writer to aggressively pursue federal, state and county funding wherever possible and our Commission has been showing up in person to meet with our congressional reps, our state reps and the county reps to make sure they hear the North Bay Village story.

So we did the right things, have aggressively pursued available and new funds for these projects. We're the poster child for the ARRA funds. Other towns and cities have not done this work and certainly hadn't agreed to tax themselves for the same and they are not seeing the stimulus money.

One more thing about elected officials and our NBV commissioners know this well. What with being human and all, once they have helped out, once they have spent some political capital to meet a nonessential request from constituents, they get a little testy when they are belittled sarcastically for their efforts. It's bad form to bite the hand that feeds you. It also doesn't bode well for future requests, of which we have many.

Commissioners, if you feel the need to practice your wit, restrain yourself. It's North Bay Village. The laughs will present themselves.

Kevin Vericker
7520 Hispanola Ave

Coming up Next: How Much Did We Get For The Projects?


  1. We must not forget that the bond obligations were ratified by the citizens due to a contingency made by the commission that it would not result in a rise in taxes. This commission and future commissions must honor that promise.

  2. Max, I don't actually remember it that way. The way I remember it was presented was that the tax rate would remain unaffected but the repayment would be a new item in addition to the base property taxes. Did I get that wrong?


Comments are available to all but you must have a name and a contact. If your comment contains either foul language or slanders against individuals, it will be deleted.