Monday, September 20, 2010

Using the Budget Crisis for Political Gain

Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. There is a difference between the imposition of authority and true leadership.

True leadership attracts by laying out the problem, proposing the solutions, transparently informing the stakeholders of the situation and leading the adoption and implementation of the solution.

Imposing authority is inherently a closed loop type of decision making. The authority listens only to what she or he chooses to hear, makes a decision and unilaterally imposes it.

In North Bay Village where the budget crisis is worse than most, we are suffering under the imposition of authority and the lack of leadership.

Two of the major changes to deal with the budget crisis are being imposed with virtually no citizen input.

The first, the police chief suspended the PAL and DARE programs on September 14 unilaterally, without notice to the parents or kids and with no public plan for what happens now.

The second, the privatization of the garbage pickup, is being presented as the only possible way to get the budget under control.

The citizens are angry. We understand that moneys must be cut but not why these two programs.

Let's look at the PAL/DARE programs. In a community where there is no publicly available space for children save for an obscure park across a busy highway which has no athletic facilities, PAL activities filled a much needed role for the parents and kids of North Bay Village.

Chief Daniels has made no attempt to engage the parents of NBV. When there was a "Meet The Chief" day at the school, he canceled his appearance for personal reasons and never rescheduled. He has consistently refused to meet with the parents affected by his suspension of both programs and does not explain himself beyond "I need to review the program."

This is a classic closed loop. The Chief is not only not seeking information and support from the stakeholders, he is blocking it. This does not bode well for our community.

In the case of the sanitation privatization, this is a radical change. In comes on the heels of the unions' objections to furloughs and the savings are estimated to be about $350,000, which includes the sale of capital equipment and a three year contract. Instead of a temporary emergency measure, a whole new system will be imposed on North Bay Village.

In contrast to the chief's decisions, this proposal has been put out for public comment at the September 14 Commission Meeting and again before the final budget adoption on September 28. Frankly after three public budget workshops, all of which have included the furloughs as a key element in the budget crisis, to suddenly change direction without a great deal of publicity and without building support is a concern. And it remains unclear as to whether the decision to not use furloughs is grounded in law or is based on a desire to not alienate the unions, at a cost of alienating the citizens. This must be clarified.

There's more coming as this unfolds.

Running total of the North Bay Village Trujillo Tax, the amount that Rey Trujillo, former vice mayor and current candidate for mayor, has caused North Bay Village to spend unnecessarily in the last year - $317,000

Cost of Duplicate Employees:

City Manager $80,000
Legal Service $40,000
Police Chief $115,000

Other Costs

City Advertising $27,000
Revoking the Hiring Freeze $55,000

Cost Exposure

Unnecessary Severance for the Police Chief $81,750 is not included in the total.

But we can't afford garbage pickup?

Kevin Vericker
September 20, 2010

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