Monday, January 24, 2011

Agenda for The January 25 Commission Meeting

The subject of the city manager will dominate tomorrow's special meeting of the North Bay Village commission. There are two items on the agenda regarding a permanent city manager.

The first is a clear, publicly laid out process to evaluate the role and qualifications for city manager candidates and to bring an open process to seek a permanent city manager.

The second is an attempt to write a permanent contract for the current interim manager and bypass public discussion and scrutiny.

The resolution to hire in the dark was put forward by Connie Leon-Kreps, vice mayor. In her return to the commission, Kreps has misunderstood the nature of a representative democratic government which does things in the open.

In the first meeting after the installation, she proposed a resolution to reject a bid protest on the garbage contract. Then she voted against her resolution as she clearly had not read, understood or been paying attention to the proceedings.

Then in the next meeting, she proposed a resolution to reject the protest without a hearing, in and of itself the wrong way to do things. First you hear the protest, then you decide to accept or reject it. Well, when that resolution came up, she once again had not been paying attention to the process and instead of discussing why she put this on the agenda, she reread the resolution, which had just been done by the city clerk and offered no public explanation of her reasoning. This confused the rest of the commission and the resolution was voted down.

Now, Ms. Kreps is stating that she wants the position of city manager filled without a search, without public input, without commission consideration, without process. Just draft a contract and sign it. Ms. Kreps may have good reason for her position. She may have carefully weighed all of the alternatives, come to the conclusion that we now have the best possible city management and that North Bay Village should think no further about it.

But that is unlikely.

There are really two possibilities. The first is that she is fundamentally unfamiliar with the power of the city manager and the need to ensure that the hire is done publicly. This is possible. Two resolutions in a row defeated because you didn't know what they were and what to do? That's a problem.

The second possibility is more disconcerting. Ms. Kreps might very well believe that the commission is not bound by the norms of democracy and process, nor is it accountable to uphold our city charter and our state's Sunshine laws. I sincerely hope that when Commissioners Lim quickly jumped in after Ms. Kreps reread her resolution saying "I support this." it was an exclamation of surprise and not a previously agreed statement of support agreed outside the commission chambers.

But I fear the worst. Ms. Kreps, as the secretary for the Citizens for Full Disclosure, a shadowy group of residents who never sign or take responsibility for their publications, sent out another distorted email blast this weekend, in this case regarding what the CFD ignorantly calls the "Commission of Ethics" when even a cursory view would show that it is the "Commission on Ethics and Public Trust." I will be writing more about that later this week. But as a founding member and current secretary of this group, she betrays her own disdain for doing things the right and democratic way.

Please, if you can, come tomorrow night and insist that the position of city manager be approached openly, without preconception, and correctly. If you can't come, then call and let your elected officials know that you expect them to openly discuss and evaluate the most important decision North Bay Village will make under their tenure.

The city phone numbers are as follows:

Vice Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps (786) 877-1163
Commissioner Eddie Lim (786) 877-1694
Mayor Corina Esquijarosa (786) 999-2816

I understand that Frank Rodriguez and Paul Vogel do not have city issued mobile phones but messages for both can be left at City Hall (305) 756-7171

Correction - Last week I wrote about John Quincy Adams returning the Senate after his term as president. I was wrong. It was the House of Representatives, a fact I have not only known since the sixth grade, I double checked before I wrote the piece and then for some reason, I typed "Senate". Thanks to one of my smarter readers (which is most of you - 279 of you last week!) for pointing the error out.


Kevin Vericker
January 24, 2011

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