Friday, February 25, 2011

The Week That Got Away - February 22 Commission Meeting

I'm sorry I haven't updated this week. I had some personal time conflicts, good ones, but still I ran out of time and space. Then I had a computer crash with total hardware failure but get this - I actually had a current backup so I didn't lose anything of importance. Still, wrestling with different hardware, when I had a term paper due and a class to present added more pressure to an already tight schedule.

Let's get to it. The Commission Meeting on Tuesday night was a return to the bad old days of secrets and collusion. It seems that for three of the commissioners, Eddie Lim, Dr. Vogel and Connie Leon-Kreps, there is no issue more pressing than eliminating side yard pickup of trash for single family homes in North Bay Village and awarding the contract to Waste Management Systems. This is being done under the guise of saving the city $500,000 per year, a savings that has never been justified.

The resolution first introduced in December 2010 was to "reject" (key word) the protest by Choice Environmental Systems and was introduced by Kreps. She then voted against her own resolution which meant that it could not be reintroduced for two months, which came up again now. The exact same resolution was reintroduced for this meeting by Kreps except... at the beginning of the meeting, the counsel for the night explained that the resolution was actually to consider the protest and then decide and was not introduced by Kreps but by Bob Pushkin.

Normally, under Sunshine, when a substantial change is made to a resolution, it must be withdrawn and resubmitted but apparently a change in wording, substance and sponsorship was not considered substantial and the ritual theatre went forward, the conclusion already arrived at. Naturally the three voted yes. Dr. Vogel was not sure what he was supposed to say to get the proposal rejected so the representatives of Waste Management helped him out by calling out "Vote Yes" and he obliged. Eddie Lim took a moment to scold members of the public (me) who questioned the validity of the $500,000 savings as attacking the city manager. Lim could not spare the time to explain the savings.

Because there are none. The spreadsheet that calculated the savings and was never presented to the commission showed at the best, the savings would be $120,000 and that remains doubtful. Everyone involved knows that there is nowhere near the savings claimed four times in the meeting on September 28, 2010. The city's own calculations showed the real view but it continues to stand unchallenged. Commissioner Lim would be better off finding out what the objection is then officiously reprimanding citizens for asking the question. Another question Mr. Lim might have addressed are how the generous contributions of Waste Management Systems to his and Rey Trujillo's campaign may have influenced his vote. Perhaps in his view, it's out of line to ask that question too.

So, unless there is some other event that sets aside the motion, we will have garbage cans strewing our streets two days per week. Working people who leave in the morning will not have the chance to put the cans back before nightfall. My guess is that residents will be complaining about this loudly and clearly but that's what happens when you let people whose interest is not in the city run things.

During Good & Welfare, Fane Lozman continued his claim that he lives at 7918 West Drive, a brazen falsehood. 7918 West Drive is a vacant lot owned by developer Scott Greenwald, currently in tax arrears of $42,440 for 2009, and has no structure. Lozman, who doesn't seem to know where he lives, did manage to find out the Mayor's salary at the City of Miami and tried to use this embarrass her, I guess. I'm not sure what he's thinking.

There was a good deal more on the docks and I am not clear how it finally worked out as I had to leave, so I'll find out more about that.

Also, Max Crown of S. Treasure Drive, pointed out to me that in my entry about the Alvarez recall, I had not noted that the voters rejected the stadium initiative. He thinks and I agree, that I should have included that. I'm still not sure how I'm voting on the recall, but overriding the clear intent of the voters is a pretty serious concern.

I will try to get more up soon. I hear my fixed computer is coming home shortly and I only have one more paper to write so I expect to be back in the game next week.

Kevin Vericker
February 25, 2011

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