Monday, April 11, 2011

North Bay Village Citizens Form a New PAC

In the wake of the Miami-Dade recall of former mayor Carlos Alvarez, North Bay Village residents unhappy with the city commission’s response to the declining values. higher taxes,.dissension in the police department, and service cuts in North Bay Village have formed a PAC inspired by Miami Voice, the PAC that led the successful county mayoral recall last month. The demands are much the same as the ones prominently featured in the recall campaign against Alvarez.

“We are looking for fundamental changes in the governance of North Bay Village. This commission is continuing the disastrous politics of the last commission and we can't afford it.” said Kevin Vericker, president of the newly formed PAC.

“The goal here is not recalls, but just like in the county, we are prepared to use that tactic until the commission gets it right.”, said Jean Pankey, Vice President of North Bay Village Voice.

The platform includes four points, although members agree there may be more. The four points are:

1. The commission seek outside assessment of the NBV Police Department personnel policies and put a moratorium on all non criminal investigations of personnel until that assessment is done and reported back to the city.

The North Bay Village Police Department consumes seventy percent of the city budget. The department had a bitter union battle in the past and there are at least five investigations about technical violations of personnel policies currently. These investigations appear political and targeted only at specific individuals rather than reforming the whole process.

2. North Bay Village Voice wants the commission to pass a resolution to change the City Charter to require a super-majority of commissioners (four out of five) to raise property millage rates and grant property tax concessions to developers.

North Bay Village suffered a 26% drop in property valuation last year, the second worst in the county, and the commission raised the millage rate, a move that affected homesteaded properties disproportionately, while attempting to privatize sanitation services ending side yard pickup, a longtime North Bay Village service. The city also offered large tax breaks to developers during the boom that left the city without the ability to collect taxes on the new units.

This amendment would require that the commission need at least four votes to alter the taxing policies of North Bay Village rather than the current three.

3. North Bay Village Voice wants the commission to pass a resolution to change the City Charter to require that any purchases over $10,000 or any nonunion employment contracts be approved by a five member RFP or Contract Review Board. These ad hoc groups must include at least two residents not working for the city and cannot include the city manager. The groups must be approved by majority vote of the commission.

Currently, the city manager decides the composition of the RFP review boards and there is no consistency or code covering this. A recent controversial RFP to outsource garbage pickup and end side yard service was reviewed by the city manager (who wrote the RFP), and two other city employees with no expertise in the subject. Residents are still upset with the contract for the police chief which includes nine months severance and higher benefits. This amendment would bring the RFP and contract processes in line with the county and other municipalities.

4. North Bay Village Voice wants the commission to pass a resolution to change the City Charter to prohibit post electoral employment or contracting with the city by all elected officials for three years following their service.
North Bay Village Voice believes that the commissioners have failed to understand the urgency of the current economic crisis. “We had high hopes for the new commission.” said long time resident Nancy Sonnett-Selwyn, “but the commission is still playing by the old rules and not addressing the fundamental problems of the city. This has to change.”

Kevin Vericker, president of the PAC and a long time blogger about North Bay Village politics at said, “It's really simple. The commission have been behaving like unruly children and it's time for adult supervision. Just like your Dad said, 'I don't care who started it. It stops now.' We are not interested in specific recalls and we will give the commissioners until April 30 to get the charter changes on the ballot and bring the police department under control. After that we will actively pursue the recall of any commissioner who does not actively support the platform. Carlos Alvarez carried North Bay Village in 2008 by 67% of the vote and was recalled in NBV by 91% of the vote. There is a deep reservoir of anger over the tax increases, reduced services and generous contracts in North Bay Village and that same tide will take this commission out if they don't act.”

The North Bay Village Voice will be presenting their demands at the commission meeting Tuesday April 12, 2011.

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