Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Commission Meeting Tuesday 1/11/11

Yesterday I wrote about the confusion over how to manage a resolution on the garbage and the exemplary clarity of the code enforcement activity reports. The two themes, confusion and clarity, continued through the meeting.

City Manager - Bob Pushkin deserves a great deal of credit for allowing our Code Enforcement Officer to publish his stats giving a clear picture of the job he is doing. Pushkin's decision to include these stats in the agenda for the commissioners is a good move towards the transparency we are all seeking.

But that same transparency did not extend to the rest of the agenda. The finance report covered the highlights of the operational budget. The projects were not included. Nor was their any voluntary discussion on the part of the city manager of the police department reorganization, a major move.

From the City Charter:

10. Make such other reports as the Commission may require concerning the operations of City departments, offices and agencies, subject to his direction and supervision;
11. Keep the Commission fully advised as to the financial condition and future needs of the City and make such recommendations to the Commission concerning the affairs of the City;

The information on the projects, the status of grant requests, number of foreclosures, sales in the city, and other metrics have been requested every month by the commission. It's not optional. The commission once again directed the manager to start providing this information at every meeting.

My take: I don't think he's holding back. Bob Pushkin was brought in on an interim basis, without a financial background, without projects background and without the breadth of experience required by our charter. He's held it together but if the city is ever to move forward, we need a seasoned professional with a strong track record of turning around a city. Bob Pushkin has held the city in place since the ill advised firing of our last city manager and for that he deserves our thanks, but holding the city in place is actually dragging it down. We need to move forward if we are to recover from this downturn and we need a permanent manager to do that.

On a related subject, Vice Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps thought she would use Rey Trujillo's favorite tactic and ambush the commission meeting by introducing a resolution under New Business for the city to make Bob Pushkin permanent. The attempt failed but it deeply worrisome, both the content and the style.

The City Manager is the single most important position in North Bay Village. Filling it requires deep deliberation, discussions of what the city needs to be and how it should proceed and clearly defined goals and expectations. It deserves a great deal of open and transparent consideration.

During the last commission, one of the most destructive and demagogic aspects was the constant series of "emergency" meetings and the constant introduction of unscheduled items. The voters spoke clearly against this in November and the Vice Mayor needs to fall in line. She should introduce the item on the agenda and be prepared to explain her reasoning and the need to the public.

Kreps has screwed up her first two resolutions and needs to get with the program. Like any new member of the commission, these can be considered rookie mistakes, although she has been on the commission before. But we don't need this ambush nonsense.

Fun fact: Rey Trujillo texted one of the sitting commissioners during the commission meeting saying "Bob Pushkin wants a contract to become City Manager and will bring it to the commission". Kreps obviously had spoken with Trujillo about this and given Eddie Lim's quick statement of support, it had been discussed with him too.

Bad things happen in the dark, Ms. Kreps. Try doing it right.

Tomorrow: What the Police Chief didn't know...

Kevin Vericker
January 13, 2011

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