Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why North Bay Village Reality Based Community?

The purpose of this blog is to reintroduce civil, civic discourse in North Bay Village. I look forward to multiple viewpoints, disagreements both small and large and factual discussions. As we evolve, there are some ground rules.

1.) Everyone is welcome to comment and contribute.
2.) Anonymous or identity disguised comments will be deleted. If it's too dangerous to use your name, you should be seeing an attorney or a shrink, not posting on a blog.
3.) Rumors may be discussed and challenged but personal attacks will be deleted.
4.) We welcome and will actively seek the contributions of our elected officials and our city personnel but this is not a political platform for any candidate or viewpoint.

Let's set a new standard here. I'll start.

I am Kevin Vericker at 7520 Hispanola Ave, Treasure Island, North Bay Village. For purposes of this blog, my email is (North Bay Village Reality Based Community - get it?). I have lived in North Bay Village, along with my partner, for 11 years and love this place.

Our unique location, separate from the rest of Miami-Dade County and in the middle of Biscayne Bay, gives this city a small town atmosphere usually found in the Florida Keys rather than in the middle of the eighth most populous county in the United States.

It's a pleasant place, with bay breezes, quiet streets, a good school, a local police force, a post office branch right out of Mayberry RFD, a couple of good restaurants and neighbors who know each other by more than sight. It's fair to say that most of the residents here chose this town for this quality.

But North Bay Village is not immune from the larger influences of being in the middle of a large urban area. Our population density (number of people per square mile) is the highest in Florida and we are on a major route between Miami and Miami Beach. We have ethnic tensions, declining tax base, public safety issues, environmental vulnerabilities and an aging infrastructure.

Right now, we are facing the prospect of a 20% decline in property tax revenue for fiscal 2011 owing to the nationwide property collapse. There are decisions to be made and in further posts these will be detailed.

But for now, the most important issue is getting the agenda right, that is to ensure that our city is focused on the problems in the forefront, those that pose the biggest risk to the community.

Getting that agenda right is proving to be an enormous challenge. Our commission meetings are increasingly dominated by a small group whose interests are unclear, except for one overriding desire to gainsay the mayor. In November, the City Commission meeting degenerated into a name calling, screaming session. Similarly, the same behavior disrupted a special meeting in late December.

Whether the opinions are right or wrong, this sort of behavior prevents the issues from being evaluated, shuts out the citizens and stakeholders who don't engage in bullying and can irreparably damage our city's civic process.

We can't let this go on and our citizens have to start participating in our town government. We can start by attending commission meetings, seeking information and not being bullied. Let's start here.

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