Friday, September 24, 2010

An October Surprise?

Our commission has done many odd things in response to the budget crisis. Three of the commissioners, Kane, Trujillo and Vogel, have looked at the numbers and responded by proposing even more spending. I've detailed this spend out in other posts but it's safe to say that at least $500,000 have been spent unnecessarily, that is on things that produce nothing, in the last six months.

With all the reckless spending going on, there was one peculiar and seemingly small issue of contention that came up last week. The commission voted unanimously in August to implement a hiring freeze until the new budget was in place in October of this year. A two month hiring freeze, one that allowed for exceptions to be brought to the commission, is normal, prudent financial management. If you don't know what you'll have, you don't make new commitments. Less than a month later, Kane, Trujillo and Vogel voted lockstep to revoke the hiring freeze. Why?

Here's one scenario. If you want to make sure that you have access to the large amounts of money floating around the city with the projects, the key is not the commission but the city manager's office. The city manager by charter is our CEO.

I suspect that in October, there will be a lockstep move by the three to install a new city manager from the current employee pool, who will then hire a Projects Manager, and promote to fill the position left vacant by the new city manager. A current commissioner will be the "go to" real estate guy, either as a contract employee of the city Community Redevelopment Agency or a well connected independent, so he can continue to flog his listings for the new public safety complex. The contracts for the key positions, City Manager, Projects Manager, and Police Chief will include the same charter busting clause giving the individuals “sole discretion” in the running of their specific areas and providing the absurdly generous severance that if they leave for anything other than a criminal conviction, they will have six months “notice” and three months additional “pay”. This will effectively lock in the new commission to the contracts as the cost to undo this would be at least $400,000 that we don't have.

Think about it. If what you're after is the money, the commission is just a useful tool. When you've locked in the administration of the city, now you have the access and lack of transparency on which North Bay Village has traditionally operated.

The key word in the above is “suspect”. I really hope I'm wrong. But what other reason was there for the urgent repeal of the hiring freeze? Let's see what October brings.

Kevin Vericker
September 24, 2010

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