Sunday, October 31, 2010

Issue Recap

Below is the text of an email I sent out yesterday. There are some minor edits (note below*) but I think it is worth sharing.

In all the negatives flying around during this campaign, it’s easy to lose sight of the issues. As I’ve walked the streets during the campaign, a shocking number of residents were unaware that NBV tax rates are going up this year, while side yard garbage pickup is being eliminated and hardly anyone knew about the status of the projects nor the plans for a “high end gentleman’s club.”

The following is my list of the major issues facing North Bay Village this year. Please take a look.

The Facts:

Taxes - our millage went up .5 for 2011. For a $250,000 home, this is a raise of $150 per year. Other cities, North Miami, Miami Lakes, City of Miami all held the line and cut spending.

Spending – there are no pay cuts and in fact, a number of raises for city employees including the police. Their health insurance went up and there is a higher contribution but there are no furloughs, no cuts, and the hiring freeze was revoked.

Garbage Side Yard Pickup -
This service is being eliminated as the garbage is planned to be privatized. The city manager claimed this will save $500,000 per year but the real savings is $120,000 per year as reflected in the published budget.

Generous Employee Contracts –
Very few people seem to know that if the new police chief is let go for any reason other than criminal, even for cause, he collects six months notice and three month’s severance, or about $82,000 plus 9 months of benefits (another $15,000). He is entitled to five weeks vacation the day he signed the contract. The first clause, nine months of severance regardless of the reason for the dismissal, is unheard of.

Development –
the only new development in the city is a building at 1415 JFK Causeway (Channel 7). Its approval has been treated an emergency by the commission with four attempts to approve this before the November 2 election. The problem is that the lot is zoned for an “adult entertainment” complex and while the developer won’t say publicly what the plans are, on October 28 Robert Leider of WSVN testified under oath that the developer's attorneys met with his staff to tell them a “high end gentlemen’s club” was planned for the site. This will be the first building for our much needed baywalk and it's a bad choice to anchor it with an adult club.

Grants and Projects –
the grants process has slowed to a trickle. North Bay Village received $11 million dollars in grants to offset our $35 million bonds and there are more on the table but the city is not acting on these. Millions are on the table from the Federal and State stimulus money and North Bay Village is on the sidelines.

Rey Trujillo either authored or supported every piece of legislation that contributed to these problems. Trujillo supported raising the tax rate as our property values declined. Trujillo stood against the furloughs and using the red light money to save police jobs instead of raising taxes. Trujillo voted to end side yard pickup and never challenged the fictitious $500,000 savings. Trujillo negotiated the police chief’s contract and voted for it. Trujillo took the maximum campaign contribution from Scott Greenwald. Then Trujillo claimed he did not know what the building at 1415 JFK is for and voted for it, even after Leider clearly laid out the plans. Trujillo led the charge to fire the city manager who had brought the $11,000,000 in grants.

These aren’t opinions, these are the facts.

This next part is opinion:

Corina Esquijarosa, a newcomer to our politics, is committed to fixing what we can – stop the garbage giveaway, support proper development, rationalize spending and stop the generous contracts. She has experience in seeking grants.

For me, the choice is clear.

A Subject No One Is Addressing – Our Declining Values.

This entire commission has ignored that North Bay Village property values have had the second steepest decline in Miami Dade County at 26%. The whole country has declined but why are we worse than most? Why is a single family house in North Bay Village on the market an average of 10 weeks longer than comparables in nearby cities? Why are the resale prices for single family houses 15% lower than comparables in nearby communities? (source: Realtytrac) We have more homes in foreclosure or in the process of foreclosure than any other city in Miami Dade (source: US Housing and Urban Development Neighborhood Stabilization Program.) We need to find the causes and fix them if we are going to recover. Our commission has ignored this problem but it’s our gravest by far.

Silvio Diaz, running for Harbor Island Commission, has made finding the answer to that question and putting the solutions in place the cornerstone of his campaign. Corina Esquijarosa has already discussed her plans to form a public private partnership to address the issue. The old guard just doesn’t see the problem – neither Trujillo, Lim nor Kreps have mentioned it. Not once. If we don’t fix, we sink.

The old guard have failed. We can't go on that way we are. It's too important to vote without the information. These are our homes at stake.

Kevin Vericker
October 30, 2010

*note: The email I sent out contained several grammatical errors and misspellings. I have corrected for those in this post. My usual writing process is to create a first draft for content, the next draft is for clarity and organization and the final is for grammar and spelling. Yesterday, instead of hitting "Save", I hit "Send". Careless on my part.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rey Trujillo And the Strip Club

Rey Trujillo lied from the dais by failing to disclose that he had received $500 from Scott Greenwald on 9/23 during the hearing on Greenwald's property on October 30, a meeting called by George Kane and seconded by Trujillo to rush through approval of the 1415 JFK Causeway project.

Under oath, Robert Leider, general manager of WSVN, recounted that Greenwald's lawyers approached WSVN and specifically explained the plan at 1415 is for a "high end gentlemen's club." Greenwald's team did not deny it.

Trujillo then bizarely asserted that it is "very hard for him to lie" and went on to claim that the commission was just voting on the "box", not the "use". Well, the "box" alone has more holes than swiss cheese. The plans as submitted are carelessly drawn and incompletely explained. Trujillo could have voted no on that grounds alone.

But let's go back to the "lie" quote. At the beginning of the quasi-judicial hearing, there is a part called "ex parte disclosure" where all those sitting in judgment are obliged to disclose any relevant conversations and dealings with the participants. Rey Trujillo certainly understands the concept of a "lie of omission", that is consciously leaving out information to create a different impression.

During ex parte disclosure, Trujillo never mentioned that Scott Greenwald donated $500 to his campaign on September 23. The donation information is relevant and deliberately failing to disclose the donation is a lie of omission.

Financial interests should be disclosed by those in sitting in judgment. It's a legal and ethical issue and Trujillo knows it.

Kevin Vericker
October 30, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Strip Club To Be Continued

The North Bay Village Commission failed to act on the building proposed at 1415 JFK Causeway during the special session last night. They deadlocked 2 - 2 as Paul Vogel was absent owing to a family illness. Prior to that, the Planning and Zoning Board met, with only three members present. They voted 3- 0 to recommend denial of the plans, not based on use by the way, but on the number of incomplete items on the application.

This means that the subject is continued, not dismissed, and most likely will come up again at the next meeting, November 1 no less, of the City Commission, if Dr. Vogel is back. If he's not, it will be continued.

The developer's argument is that he is just asking for a building to anchor the proposed Baywalk. He has not marketed to any specific tenants and cannot speak to who would be interested. Further, the developer argues that North Bay Village does not have the right to consider use of a building when approving plans.

On the other side, Planning and Zoning is saying that there is an excessive number of items on the plans that have been left blank, including the much touted landscaping which was delivered last night, too late for consideration. The Commission had serious questions about the parking since Isle of Dreams (Scott Greenwald) and Channel 7 are currently in a lawsuit about that very subject. In other words, P&Z found the plans are not ready for full consideration, and the commission believes approval would put us in the middle of the current lawsuit.

Now, as regards the triple-D elephant in the room - what are they proposing? The lawyers for Scott Greenwald expressed shock and dismay at the rumors that this is intended to be an "adult" entertainment complex and wondered however did this vicious rumor got started.

Robert Leider, General Manager of Channel 7, was able to shed some light on that. It seems that Greenwald's attorneys met with Channel 7's attorneys a few months back and Greenwald's team wanted to know if Channel 7 had a problem with a "high end gentlemen's club" next door. Channel 7 in fact does have a problem with that as they are a 24/7 operation with over 300 staff members on varying schedules and they are not thrilled about employees leaving or arriving in the middle of the night to a parking lot full of strip club patrons.

After this clarification, the lawyers dropped the subject and returned to stressing all "legal use" and sternly warning the city that we have no rights regarding the decision to approve or disapprove the building. You know, if the glove don't fit, we must acquit.

Citizen turnout was light, which surprised me. This is a big issue. Speaking in favor of the proposal was Skipper Fane Lozman, who lives on a garbage scow west of Harbor Island. He threatened to not invest his many millions earned from lawsuits his brilliance as a financial guru, in North Bay Village.

Then he mentioned me! (OMG, he knows who I am!) In the first mention, he said I was probably hanging out at the new gay club The Bay here in North Bay Village. (Well, I was there Wednesday for disco night with Nancy.) Then he confusingly said that I had a group of young people illegally voting from my address. Later, I asked him what he was talking about but he turned and walked back to the safety of the brightly lit auditorium without explaining what he was referring to but did shout that I am the subject of a criminal investigation which is news to me. The mystery remains. Fane's like that.

Kevin Vericker
October 29, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Strip Club Tomorrow Night

In a rare series of double emergencies, the city is holding two meetings tomorrow (October 28, 2010) to force approval of the project plans for 1415 JFK Causeway, developed by Scott Greenwald. This has already come before Planning and Zoning, who deadlocked on its approval.

The P & Z attorney wrongly told the board that if the project meets code, it must be approved. This is not true. P & Z is an advisory board and the commission must decide, no one else. This was a blatant attempt to pressure the members to approve. They even held a second meeting on the spot, which had to be discarded as that's illegal under Sunshine Law.

Tomorrow night is another attempt to get unanimous P&Z approval to give the Commission cover to approve the project.

Rey Trujillo and George Kane are safe votes for the project since Greenwald has already bought and paid for them. They will combine their votes with Paul Vogel and try to ram this through. These three, for whom the sun doesn't shine, have probably already agreed it.

Here's what you'll hear. There are no definite plans for this to be an adult complex and all "legal uses" will be open. Nonsense, the only thing that makes this parcel valuable is its singular zoning as the only place in NBV where you can have a strip club. That's why it's an emergency to get it passed now before the election.

Now you might hear some bland statements from the three, asking that Greenwald consider promising that it won't be a strip club, and maybe Greenwald will, but it won't be legally binding.

We need to stop this. This project should not be approved, not now, and certainly not as an emergency.

Kevin Vericker
October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Emergency Commission Meeting 10/28/2010

In order not to risk losing the three man lockstep majority on the commission, the Commission is meeting at 7:30 PM, Thursday 10/28, at the school for one item, one item only - APPROVE THE STRIPCLUB AT 1415 JFK CAUSEWAY.

The commission trio, Trujillo, Kane and Vogel, will argue that the approval is for a nonspecific commercial use but there is only thing that makes this parcel valuable. It's the only parcel in North Bay Village that is zoned for Adult Entertainment. Take special note that the plans include a swimming pool, not a normal amenity for a restaurant, but a really special amenity for an adult entertainment complex.

There is a P & Z planned at 6:30 to ram the item through, followed by this meeting. I hope P & Z votes no.

This is so transparent. Scott Greenwald gives Rey Trujillo $500, Rey promises approval, P & Z refuses and now at Rey's insistence, there will be "emergency" meetings until his money man gets paid.

10-28-2010 City Commission Meeting
Kevin Vericker
October 26, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

How to Vote - A Modern Civics Lesson

In 2008, Floridians voted with a 52.1% majority to retain a section of the Florida Constitution which empowers the legislature to create laws against Asians owning land in Florida. All Amendment 1 would have done was repeal an archaic provision of the constitution that was put in place to support The Asian Exclusion Act of 1924.

I don't think most Floridians who voted on this knew what it was about. There may have been some who thought it was irrelevant because the legislature never acted on it, and there may have been some with a deep seated fear of Asians, but most just saw "immigrant" in the text and voted against it.

That's a shame. If you're smart enough to vote, you probably have access to a computer and a simple search to educate yourself. My favorite source is Ballotpedia. It's easy to use and lays out the issues clearly.

Now these Amendments and retaining Judges look like boring technical issues but they often have a more direct effect on our lives than any governor, senator or even mayor can have. Looking at the ones on the 2010 Ballot, they include

  • Amendment 1, which will change the way campaigns are funded in Florida.
  • Amendment 2, which will give serving military an additional homestead tax relief
  • Amendment 4, which will change the way our natural resources are protected
  • Amendments 5 & 6, which will change the way our legislative districts are drawn.
  • Amendment 8, which will change the size of Florida classrooms.

Take some time to educate yourself on these issues and others. Again, Ballotpedia is a great resource. So's Google. I know I made my decisions on retaining Supreme Court Justices by Googling "Who endorsed fill in the name?" and saw much useful information.

Kevin Vericker
October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Meritorious MAST and Silvio Diaz

Silvio Diaz of Harbor Island is running a quiet, focused campaign for Commissioner from Harbor Island. Under our peculiar voting system, there are three seats restricted to residents of one of the three major neighborhoods - Harbor Island, North Bay Island and Treasure Island. The whole city votes but the standing candidate must live there, except for Vice Mayor George Kane who gives his permanent address as 1080 NE 105th St, Miami Shores, on his arrest report.

Anyway Diaz lives on Harbor Island and entered the commission race because he is a small businessman (real estate), father of two, and a long time resident of North Bay Village. He entered the race because like so many of us, he's seen and suffered the consequences of the North Bay Village politics as usual. Diaz believes it's time for a change - the North Bay Village Trujillo Tax is killing us, the rubber stamping of any requested project regardless of merit is driving our property values down, and the city's reputation is a leading economic impediment.

A citizen legislature is designed to be community governance but North Bay Village has been taken over by politicos and corporate socialists.

Diaz, as a realtor, is particularly concerned with why it takes ten weeks longer to resell a single house in North Bay Village and why our prices are 10 - 15% lower than Surfside, Miami Shores and Morningside. He doesn't pretend to have all the answers but what he has been doing, unlike his opponent, is talking and actively seeking advice from the North Bay Village Real Estate Professionals and getting our housing market stabilized is his top priority.

Along with that, he is working to prevent further foreclosures in North Bay Village, where the rate of foreclosure is nearly double that of any community in Miami Dade County. He himself was caught in the foreclosure vise and knows deeply and personally the havoc this wreaks. He will work with the city, the property owners, the federal government and the financial institutions to stop the foreclosure hemorrhaging that is destroying property values in our city.

Silvio Diaz like so many others is an immigrant from Cuba where his own father was imprisoned for political reasons, and like so many, deeply loves his adopted country. He served in the US Marines and was decorated during his time in a Meritorious Mast, a traditional Marine Ceremony that acknowledges exceptional service. Following his honorable discharge, he has successfully built the kind of business in and of our community that have brought the immigrants of Miami to the successful positions they hold today. In his mid 50's, Diaz told me "it's time to give back to the community that adopted me." and that's why he's running.

His opponent, Eddie Lim, is also a long time small businessman in North Bay Village, in real estate, and in my acquaintance with him, is a decent and honorable man who has volunteered on several boards over the years. He's also a nice guy.

But he has no plans, no platform, to change the picture of North Bay Village. In normal times, that might have been enough but not in these dangerous economic times. Lim has aligned himself with Trujillo and this bodes badly for us. We can't afford more of the same, higher taxes, lower services, strip clubs, utility bills unpaid, and it's time for a change.

Note: There has been an emailing about Diaz, filled with the usual vitriol. Who it's from is in doubt, but it's time to stop this tiresome anonymous attacking.

Kevin Vericker
October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

George Kane Employment

Last night, the commission rejected a resolution that would have prevented the city from hiring a commissioner as an employee or contractor following the expiration of his term. They voted 3-2 along the usual lines - Trujillo, Kane and Vogel. Dan Abbott cited an irrelevant case to say that the ordinance was unconstitutional, knowing full well that this type of restriction is common in most cities.

The restriction is designed to stop exactly what it going on now. George Kane is actively seeking consulting work from the city to manage the projects, which will bring him a windfall in real estate commissions, and Trujillo needs his vote. So Trujillo's buying the vote by promising Kane ongoing work at our expense.

Kane's a pretty shady character. We already know that he organized the unneeded move of the City Hall to the Lexi for a $25,000 commission while on the commission. He has no background in grants and even his most recent arrest, in 2003, shows that he doesn't live in North Bay Village and hasn't for years. (See the document below, I edited out the SSN and Driver's License # but have the original.) Yeah, sure, we can trust him with the money. Good job, Rey.

Kevin Vericker
October 20, 2010

George Kane Arrest DUI 2003

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

City Commission Agenda

Tonight is the regular city commission meeting. You'll find the agenda at the North Bay Village Website. The controversial items are likly to be 9B, 9D and 10A.

  • 9 B

    is a resolution supporting the designation of the synagogue on Hispanola Avenue as an historic landmark. There is a dispute in the congregation over the future of the synagogue and the property. Sunny Isles has a current controversy with the same issue. "Insults fly in ugly debate on temple's `historic' label". It will be interesting to hear the reasoning as to why North Bay Village City Government should involve itself in the argument over a religious institution.

  • 9 D

    would prohibit the hiring of any city commissioners as a city employee or consultant for two years after their term expires.

    I support this. In the past, I have opposed this as I dislike class prohibitions in general, but I have come to believe that it is an imperfect solution to a pervasive problem.

    Federal law and county law are both very clear on this issue and have this prohibition.

    In North Bay Village, the current Vice Mayor George Kane is already setting up his post commission real estate deals and negotiating his ongoing fees, just as he does in office. It's clear that the project money flowing through the city is of great interest and I have come to appreciate the wisdom of this move.

    It won't pass. The usual fix is in and Rey Trujillo, Paul Vogel and George Kane, will vote it down. Trujillo needs Kane's vote this month so he'll cave. Our only hope is that the next commission will not hire George Kane. But if Trujillo is elected, I'm sure he will find Kane's record satisfactory and make sure Kane gets his cut.

  • 10 A

    is the approval for a new commercial building at 1415 Kennedy Causeway, the Channel 7 property. The Planning and Zoning commission deadlocked on this one and the motion will most likely be postponed tonight.

    The property in question is the only property in North Bay Village that is zoned for a strip joint high end gentleman's club and this makes the parcel very valuable indeed.

    Planning and Zoning, which is an advisory board, could not agree on approving the site plans and a second meeting is being planned. P and Z should continue to reject the plans and force the commission to vote without a recommendation. Right now, there is a huge amount of pressure on the P and Z members to get a consent, so that the commissioners can then say "Oh, we were just following the P and Z recommendation. Who knew there would be a strip joint gentleman's club?"

    The developer, Scott Greenwald, has already donated $500 each to Rey Trujillo and Eddie Lim, so the piper must be paid, but this should be done in the light of day, not as a technical recommendation.

Finally, our commission has been too busy to read and approve the minutes for over a year. Tonight they will vote to approve or disapprove them. It will be a long night.

Kevin Vericker
October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Corina Esquijarosa

Corina is new in town but not in government. With over a decade's experience in government, a Masters in Public Administration and as a current student for a second Master in Criminal Justice, she knows how a government should run. She gets the big picture.

Corina gets the little picture too. She's a mother of two small children and knows what a good city means for the young families who are trying to make ends meet in this economy. Most importantly, she has a platform, unlike her opponent, Rey Trujillo, author of the North Bay Village Trujillo Tax.

  • Build after-school programs for our children and partner with the School District.

  • Attract businesses to the main corridor to generate revenue to the City and to its residents

  • Seek grants to bring a community center for all residents to enjoy and provide a haven for our children and seniors.

  • Renovate the tot-lot on Galleon Street.

  • Bring in all the city to the politic. Support civic organziations

  • Streamline services by the City, reducetime to start a business.

  • Pull together homeowners, renters, real estate professionals and financial professionals to tackle our city's housing crisis.
North Bay Village did not get this way overnight. Lack of transparency, downright lies, lack of citizen involvement, a core group of bitter and unhappy residents, have all combined for the imperfect storm we are now suffering.

Corina is not a miracle worker nor a saint, but she does the hard work needed to get the city back on track.

Her opponent, Two Times Trujillo, does not have the first clue about how to balance a budget (he ran the Grandview into the bottom 6% of condos in Miami) and has increased our city costs by about $300,000 in non value added spend.

I'm voting for Corina.

Another note about the Citizens for Full Disclosure - Once again, there are crazy mailings going around from the CFD and "Dr." Richard Chervony. First they sent an email out that Chervony was being held hostage in London, then an email to say he wasn't, then a paper mailing to attack Trujillo, then an email to say they endorse Trujillo, then an email criticizing Trujillo, then an email denying the email and claiming that one account is legitimate (the one from which the hostage email was sent!). These people are exhausting and really should stop their antics. You've seen some of the stuff that their president has written here but I've spared you most. It's pretty bad.

The League of Women Voters they are not. They are a half dozen disruptive older people with a rich fantasy life and a deep hatred for anyone who does not share their agenda.

Kevin Vericker
October 18, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The CFD and Endorsements

The Citizens for Full Disclosure endorsed the Trujillo Tax for North Bay Village as their preferred candidate. Rey Trujillo is now officially the favorite candidate of the lascivious Richard Chervony see post and the rest of the intellectual giants comprising the CFD. If you are known by the company you keep, we know more about Trujillo than I ever wanted to know.

Kevin Vericker
October 16, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lewd and Lascivous - Meet the CFD

I missed two days as I am on the road this week.

I want to continue with the Citizens for Full Disclosure, a local political group in North Bay Village, responsible for the recent spate of nasty mailings about mayoral candidates Corina Esquijirosa and Rey Trujillo. Yesterday, they sent out one accusing Corina of anti-Semitism because she has a meeting on Friday and never mentioned the next one scheduled for Wednesday, October 20.

Richard Chervony is the president of the CFD and regularly sends out childish unsigned attack emails, hit and run pieces. The CFD also forms a core group of residents whose misbehavior at commission meetings have dominated our discourse for years with their incessant complaints and strange antics. That's bad enough but Chervony regularly crosses the line.

Chervony regularly sends me unflattering information with not very veiled threats about anyone he thinks might not suit the CFD agenda. Some examples, when there was a rumor about one citizen possibly running for commission, Chervony sent me a copy of his tax settlement with the IRS as though this were a crime. He himself wrote to me about the candidates on 7/22/2010 “If no one else will look over [the candidate's] shoulder, because I am looking and will reveal anything that I find out.” That same email contained a libel I refused to print about a sitting commissioner.

I would ignore him but he and his group are clearly ramping up, so let's look a little closer at who runs this CFD.

Richard Chervony, MD?, He's not a Florida licensed physician and never was. Check it out at this website (go to the search function) Florida Department of Public Health. He may have a medical degree but the American Medical Association, fourteen states and general social etiquette prohibit the use of MD for a non-licensed physician. It is deceptive to use this honorific.

That might just seem a harmless pretension, but this same self appointed moral guardian of North Bay Village also carries some legal baggage, an arrest for "Lewd and Lascivious Behavior". (document below) For him to declare himself as the community watchdog is the essence of hypocrisy.

So the next time you see one of the CFD mailing purporting something to be true, whether a personal attack on Esquijirosa or a dark mailing about Trujillo, consider the source. And treat the information with the respect it deserves.


Kevin Vericker
October 14, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What is going on with the CFD?

Just when you think it couldn't get any crazier, Citizens for Full Disclosure pull it up a notch. On October 6, the CFD send an email telling us that Richard Chervony was being held hostage in London and wanted us to send him £1800. Heck, I'd send £5000 if they'd keep him.

Then there's an email saying the previous one was a fake.

October 7, the CFD sends out an email with some foreclosure crap about Corina Esquijarosa.

That same weekend, the CFD send out a pamphlet attacking Trujillo.

On October 10, the CFD send out an email denying they sent the pamphlet about Trujillo.

They'd be funny if they weren't such a destructive force in our local politics.

Of course, last month the candidates that this anonymous group does not like received threatening letters in the mail with my return address, something I didn't send and something I couldn't help but notice use the same envelopes and stationery that the CFD use in other mailings. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

More on who's in this group tomorrow. You'll find out fun facts about who are our municipal scolds.

I am in California most of the week but can't wait to get back to NBV to watch this.

Kevin Vericker
October 11, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Planning and Zoning Meeting October 7

There was one item on the agenda for the special meeting last night - P and Z approval of the site plans for a commercial building at 1415 JFK Causeway. This is the Channel 7 site on the east side. Scott Greenwald, developer of the Lexi, applied for permission to construct a commercial building with a swimming pool on the site. The building itself was recommended by the city staff for approval since it met in most part the city plans for the bay walk, and those few areas of difference are small and the developer agreed to change them to conform.

Nevertheless, the P and Z was unable to come to a recommendation. The vote was 2 to 2.

Scott Greenwald, who developed the Lexi, and finally had to resort to political influence to fund an unnecessary City Hall move to fill up his unrented space on the ground floor, said he wants to develop the lot to be ahead of the curve when the economy recovers.

Additionally, the item was not part of the regular agenda because for some reason, it was overlooked in planning the last P and Z agenda.

The bottom line is that this is the only lot in North Bay Village that can support a strip club. Although the developer's team carefully avoided the question of who the target market is for tenancy, it remained clear to me by their repeated statements "legal use" that this is the place.

As for the need for a special meeting, when a multimillion dollar development created by a professional developer is at stake, I find it hard to believe that there was not a simple phone call the week before the regular meeting to ensure that everything was in order. In fact, I don't believe that was overlooked.

Now, the argument last night, a valid one, was that P and Z only votes on the physical site. Usage questions are for the commission. Penelope Friedland, clearly no fan of "upscale gentleman's clubs" (strip joints), as always tried to make that point crystal clear. Friedland even went so far at to try to put a clause in the approval that usage for this site would have to come back to Planning and Zoning.

Arguing for approval, Al Coletta, North Bay Village developer, spoke very clearly saying that this is about "dead" property, property that is not producing revenue or taxes, and that the question of usage has to be dealt with separately. Again a valid point.

But North Bay Village has been here before. We have an imperfect compromise on the zoning for a strip club and this exception, this lot, is the only thing that makes this lot valuable right now. Two of the P and Z members could not see their way clear to approve this and now the commission must decide in their "special" meeting on October 19.

As a point of interest, there was an attempt to reconvene the meeting following adjournment, but it was brought to the committee's attention by Ann Bakst that this would constitute a separate meeting and Sunshine Laws require notice.

I was disappointed that very few people showed at this meeting. If we follow the usual North Bay Village pattern, the October 19 meeting will be sparsely attended and then, when we have the strip club in place, people will be shocked that this passed.

It's time to turn out.

Kevin Vericker
October 8, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dancing for Dollars

Short post today. Tonight is the Planning and Zoning Special Commission Meeting to rush through the application to develop a building suitable for a strip club at 1415 JFK Causeway.

This will be followed by a special commission meeting on October 19 to consider the same.

All this is being done so that it can be rushed through prior to November and the elections.

So far Scott Greenwald has given $1000 to Trujillo and Lim campaigns, and of course, George Kane was cited by the Commission on Ethics for negotiating a $25,000 fee on the city hall move to the Lexi, which he agreed to repay.

This is all about the money. Waste Management gives Trujillo $2,000 and we lose our garbage. Greenwald puts up a $1000 and we get a strip club.

First they took away the garbage and now they're bringing in the trash.

This whole thing is shady and it stinks. Please show tonight at 6:30 PM Treasure Island School.

Kevin Vericker
October 7, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Strip Club in North Bay Village

October 7 at 6:30 PM there is a meeting of the Planning and Zoning Board with one item on the agenda - considering an application to build a five story building at 1415 JFK Causeway, adjacent to Channel 7, with three floors of parking and two floors of commercial space.

Isle of Dreams, developer Scott Greenwald's company, is the applicant.

Not coincidentally is the fact that this obscure lot is the only place in North Bay Village where a strip joint, euphemistically called a "Gentlemen's Club", is allowed under our current zoning.

Also not coincidentally is that Scott Greenwald has donated $500 each to Rey Trujillo and Eddie Lim. Eddie Lim is on the Planning and Zoning Board and I hope he plans to recuse himself from the item.

We've been here before. Vice Mayor George Kane attempted to push through a strip club at the restaurant Barchetta's, only to fail to pass when the citizens let it be known loud and clear that North Bay Village does not need one more sleazy deal.

The people showed up last time and it's important we do it again.

The meeting is Thursday, October 7, at 6:30 PM at the school.

Kevin Vericker

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


North Bay Village should be walker's dream site, with its quiet streets, views of the bay and small town feel. But take it from me, a lifelong walker, it's not.

Harbor Island and North Bay Island lack an essential for any urban walker - sidewalks. There are none. When they were planned, I guess it was assumed that everyone would be driving everywhere. Harbor Island in particular with its high density housing needs wide, properly maintained sidewalks. How can people even get to the park if they have to walk in the middle of the street traffic?

On the Kennedy Causeway right now where all the work is going on, here's what a walker from North Bay Island on the south side encounters. At the entrance to North Bay Island heading east on the south side, there's a sign "Sidewalk Closed". If you are a law abiding pedestrian, you might cross over to the north side, obeying the traffic lights and cross walks, this is a three step process and will not work out.

Step 1 is head west across the intersection in the crosswalk. Step 2 is cross the JFK Causeway at the crosswalk and light. Step 3 is cross with the light going east. At each step, watch out for morons in SUV's who don't stop for pedestrians in the cross walk.

Now on the north side, walk along ducking the cars heading in and out of the Shell station. Get to the fire station and guess what? Another sign "Sidewalk Closed". No crosswalk for you to return to the south side.

Here are your options. Ignore the "Sidewalk Closed" sign and continue along the south side - your best bet. Or jaywalk through the JFK traffic to the other side. Not recommended.

And just east of the Sidewalk Closed sign, is the bus stop. Yes, people do take the bus. But there's no way to reach it if you plan to follow the rules.

Treasure Island is better but not great. Walking along the southside of the JFK Causeway, the pedestrian finds that the sidewalk is obstructed by power boxes, poles and overgrown shrubbery, leaving barely enough space for a normal sized adult to pass by, let alone a family or someone with a physical restriction.

The inside streets are better on Treasure Island but still, it's difficult to stay on the sidewalk as hedges overgrow the sidewalk, cars block the sidewalk, gates are left open and even columns intrude. South Treasure Drive is the worst. Usually, it's best to just give up and walk in the street.

We pay an urban planner. We approve new building projects all the time. We are planning a bay walk but this basic amenity, the ability to get from one place to another without a car, North Bay Village loses out.

If NBV does ever get the baywalk, let's get a way to get there too.

Kevin Vericker
October 5, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Transparency and the North Bay Village Trujillo Tax

The Rey Trujillo Mayoral Campaign got $2000 from Waste Management Systems and related companies on September 21, 2010. On September 28, Rey Trujillo voted without debate to turn our garbage collection over to Waste Management Systems.

Waste Management Systems of Leon County (Pompano Beach) - $500
Waste Management Systems of Florida (Pompano Beach) - $500
Okeechobee Landfill (Pompano Beach) - $500
Harris Sanitation Pompano Beach (Pompano Beach) - $500

The sudden interest of Waste Management Systems in the governance of North Bay Village is surprising. Until you consider how much money was on the table on September 28 at the special commission meeting.

Trujillo's slogan is "Transparency, Integrity and Experience". A truly transparent member of the commission would have recused himself from the dais when such an obvious conflict of interest arose.

The campaign finance report is attached. Look for Page 2 for a complete list of Trujillo Donors

Campaign Finance Report 10/1/10

Kevin Vericker
October 4, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010


I am trying really hard to get this right as the outsourcing of our garbage pickup is a complicated issue and I have more questions than answers.

On September 28, 2010, the commission voted 4-1 to outsource the twice weekly trash pickup to Waste Management Services, a nationwide Fortune 200 company. This will eliminate side yard pickup and mean that residents will have to take the garbage to the curb for collection. It will also mean five employee layoffs.

It is touted as saving $500,000 per year with minimal disruption to North Bay Village.

First about the layoffs. As I understand it, the five current employees will be laid off from their positions. The two most senior employees will have the option of returning to the city maintenance crew, which would result in two layoffs there. The three remaining will be hired by Waste Management Systems and most likely work in North Bay Village. So in terms of city jobs saved, the number will net to five.

About the curbside pickups. We will get 94 gallon cans similar to the recycling bins and will bring them to the curb for pickup twice a week at the single family homes. Those who are not able to do so owing to physical limitations will let the city know and the city will arrange side yard pickup for them.

Where I am stuck is the $500,000 savings. I don't see a linear summary of the savings. We will be paying Waste Management Systems for the service, and while we are eliminating the cost of running our own garbage pickup, it is not clear to me how this nets out.

I intend to get a more specific answer on this and will post it.

As regards the discussion from the dais on Tuesday, it was disappointing that there was so much discussion but so little clarity. I would have expected the commissioners and the mayor to get very specific on where the savings are, how they are realized and the effects of selling our capital equipment (two garbage trucks) on the planned savings.

Commissioners Kane, Trujillo or Vogel do not discuss any issues in public. The deals are made long before the resolution reaches the floor and they vote in lockstep, but Alfonso's support is confusing. The mayor spent a good deal of time moderating and facilitating the discussion but never brought in the key questions of exactly how much, from where and how reliable is the $500,000 estimate. Then he voted in favor of the contract.

Something's not right here.

Kevin Vericker
October 1, 2010