Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Reform Agenda - Commission Meeting April 27, 2011

APRIL 27, 2011 AT 9:10 AM.

The Miami Herald published a correction on their Saturday story that North Bay Village Voice is seeking a review board for non-union contracts.

Corrections & Clarifications

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• In an article published about North Bay Village in the Local & State section on April 23, there was an incorrect reference to one of the city code changes sought by North Bay Village Voice, a citizens’ group. The group has asked the City Commission to change the code to require that any purchases over $10,000 or any nonunion employment contracts be approved by a review board.

Read more: here



The agenda for tomorrow's commission meeting is below. It contains five items fundamental to the reform of North Bay Village. Agenda Items for April 27, 2011:

2A. Discussion regarding an outside assessment of the police department personnel policies and placement of a moratorium on all non-criminal investigations of personnel, until such assessment is completed.

2B. Preparation of A Resolution to amend the city charter to require a super-majority vote of the commission to raise property millage rates and grant property tax concessions to developers.

2C. Preparation of A Resolution to amend the city charter to require purchases over $10,000 to be approved by a five-member Request for Proposal (RFP) or Contract Review, which shall consist of at least two residents who are not employed by the City of North Bay Village and not including the City Manager. The group shall be approved by a majority vote of the commission

2D. Preparation of A Resolution to amend the city charter to require non-union employment contracts to be approved by a five-member Request for Proposal (RFP) or Contract Review, which shall consist of at least two residents who are not employed by the City of North Bay Village and not including the City Manager. The group shall be approved by a majority vote of the commission

2E. Preparation of A Resolution to amend the city charter to prohibit post electoral employment or contracting with the city by all elected officials for three years following their service with the city.


Item 2A. Discussion regarding an outside assessment of the police department personnel policies and placement of a moratorium on all non-criminal investigations of personnel, until such assessment is completed.

The Issue:


The NBV PD was in open conflict last year, fighting an internal union battle. Police Chief Robert Daniels was hired to fix the PD and resolve the dissension. Instead, he is currently running at least four outside, expensive investigations for routine personnel issues, has restructured the department so as to make the command structure a staggering 1.25 managers for every 1 patrol officers, squandered much needed federal funds on a lavish dinner rather than using the money for police issues and personnel reform.

His investigations done through an expensive private contractor have uncovered that one policeman made a Facebook posting on a candidate's page offering not an endorsement but a personal message of good wishes made on his private time. It was done publicly and yet we needed to spend nearly $5,000 for this trivial matter?

Other investigations have uncovered nothing, yet the costs keep rising.

It is clear that the police chief lacks either the will or the capability to effectively turn around the police department, a police department who both works for and is part of our community. There are problems but if the police chief can think of no other way to resolve them than to target and use external investigations over trivial matters, then he and our city need help.

There is a law that states that there are only 180 days to investigate matters regarding police issues. It's a good law. It was not intended to be abused by the police chief. None of the concerns are more than routine personnel issues and if the police chief was unable to resolve issues that any low level manager at any successful organization would make. The unsuccessful effort and spending needs to stop and the chief's failure to resolve the issues need to be evaluated, even at the risk of losing the investigations.

Last year, the PD was instructed by the commission to find $350,000 in savings. In fact, the PD has exceeded the 2010 budget by nearly the same amount of $350,000 and is over budget again in 2011. Most of these overruns are due to unnecessary promotions, witch-hunts, extravagant personal spending, and poor management.

Passing this resolution will:

Establish that the commission runs the city and wants resolution not revenge.

Provide the help and guidance that the police chief needs to finally unite the PD

Keep the budget under control and stop the needless lawsuits as police personnel are forced to resort to the courts to stop persecution.

Let our police department know that as a community, we care and have expectations of them.

Not passing this resolution is a statement that the commission supports the current climate of disunity, wasteful spending and lack of accountability from our police department, over 70% of our budget.

2B. Preparation of A Resolution to amend the city charter to require a super-majority vote of the commission to raise property millage rates and grant property tax concessions to developers.

The Issue:


Last year in 2010 North Bay Village raised the millage rate during the worst economic crisis in 70 years. NBV property values fell 26% and many residents were and are struggling to make ends meet. The city could not say how many homes were in foreclosure or in danger of foreclosure, what the rate of tax delinquency was or what was expected for recovery.

The justification for this tax hike was that the city would no longer consider furloughs, a fully legal option, nor any other revenue enhancement, nor cuts in the police department. Bizarrely, some commissioners claimed it was not a tax increase. It was.

Large, generous tax breaks were given to specific developers under the guise of “economic development”. Look around you. The economic development never happened, this project is in bankruptcy and it is highly unlikely that NBV will ever see those taxes which are due.

We will be facing an even worse revenue picture for 2012. We do not trust the commission. It's that simple.

Since November, the commision have not held budget and finance review hearings, the monthly financial reports are not given clearly, the commission has continued to vote for expensive non union contracts and giveaways. There is no seriousness of purpose in reducing spending or controlling taxes on this commission, just like the last one.

This charter amendment will make a simple, powerful change:

It will make it necessary to have at least four of the commissioners vote yes before our taxes are raised.

It will make it necessary to have at least four of the commissioners vote yes before specific projects are exempted from paying their share of taxes.

Not passing the charter amendment will send a clear message that the commission does not comprehend the gravity of the situation and our tax burdens.

2C. Preparation of A Resolution to amend the city charter to require purchases over $10,000 to be approved by a five-member Request for Proposal (RFP) or Contract Review, which shall consist of at least two residents who are not employed by the City of North Bay Village and not including the City Manager. The group shall be approved by a majority vote of the commission

The Issue:


NBV has no established professional standards to review and accept contract proposals in place. None. Each contract is approached through a different process. This does not conform to Miami-Dade, State or Federal practice. In each of these governments, the contract is reviewed by people with subject expertise, financial expertise, administrative expertise and community expertise. The person writing, proposing or approving the issued RFP is specifically not on the review board to ensure objectivity.

By professionalizing the process, either through ad hoc (that is one contract at a time) or a permanent board with varying members depending on the expertise required, the city will have a clear, transparent process to spending by utilizing the carefully crafted best practices of other government entities.

If this had been followed during the considerations of the garbage outsourcing, the following would not have happened -

The city commission would not have been told that the savings are $500,000 per year when they are not. Check the DVD for 9/28/2011 Scene 3 at 16 minutes for verification.

The panel would have had residents whose side yard pickup is ending with this outsourcing on the commission and community impact would have been discussed.

The RFP evaluation would have eliminated the bizarrely low score for one competitor, bringing an entirely different result.

The generous campaign contributions of the awardee would have been public record in the discussion.

The protest would have been professionally handled.

More than likely, of course, the whole process would have been eliminated once the fact that the savings are minimal and the impact high was made public.

I doubt that a $4 million contract for Dr. Vogel Park would ever have passed a proper review committee.

North Bay Village has embarked on a massive redevelopment effort, including a proposed boardwalk, a park redevelopment and is dealing with issues around parking and attracting businesses.

Passing this charter amendment would ensure that:

The millions of dollars being spent have met the basic ethical standards of best practices purchasing.

The community is involved every step of the way.

The perception of favoritism is eliminated.

Not passing the charter amendment ensures that the murky politics as usual continue.

2D. Preparation of A Resolution to amend the city charter to require non-union employment contracts to be approved by a five-member Request for Proposal (RFP) or Contract Review, which shall consist of at least two residents who are not employed by the City of North Bay Village and not including the City Manager. The group shall be approved by a majority vote of the commission

The Issue:


This is critical and I want to be very specific – it has to do with the excessively generous and deeply political nature of non-union contracts with city management. Union contracts are a different issue, governing a different class of employee and have different principles.

The last commission approved a contract with chief of police that was stunning in its tone deafness. His contract removes him from the charter mandated chain of supervision, provides for six months notice and three months severance if he is terminated for any reason other than criminal conviction, provides a pay rate of higher than any other city of comparable size in Miami-Dade while including such benefits as a car, five weeks of paid vacation due immediately upon signing, fully paid benefits. And now the commission has attempted to do the same with the city manager.

We've seen the effect of this overly binding and excessive contract in the police department. No goals were set to earn the amount, no time-lines given, if the chief of police refuses an order from the city manager or does not comply with the legislation by the commission, there is no consequence. The only remedy is expensive and difficult if NBV needs to change leadership in the police department.

Even if that contract was created with the best of intentions, a rational, objective evaluation would have prevented these excesses from coming to the commission. It's our money, it's our city.

Passing this amendment to the charter will:

Impose best practices on the hiring and retention of key management personnel

Ensure that the commission and the city are not handcuffed by poison pill clauses

Eliminate the perception strongly held by many residents that city employment is a gold mine for managers.

2E. Preparation of A Resolution to amend the city charter to prohibit post electoral employment or contracting with the city by all elected officials for three years following their service with the city.

The Issue:


On the past commission, constant discussions were held as to whether a recently serving commissioner or mayor should be allowed to be employed by or enter into for profit contracts with the city. The issue was never resolved. Many governments wrestle with this issue and it's most real on the small town level, where people who live and work in the city are the most likely to be the elected officials.

This demand is a compromise. Some believe that service as a low paid elected official should not disqualify one from city employment. After all, even convicted felons who have served their far less honorable time can be eligible. Others believe that all post electoral employment should be prohibited. This too has its merits.

Nevertheless a compromise with a three year waiting period probably makes the most sense. Three years is long enough for the political climate to have changed, for legislation that may have benefited the post electoral employment to have been established and reviewed. We owe our elected officials our gratitude and respect for their poorly compensated service but we do not owe them the opportunity to create ongoing income streams.

Passing this charter amendment will

Establish the fundamental value in North Bay Village that political service does not carry economic benefit for the commissioner.

Allows for the city to take advantage of the expertise of potential employees and contractors in the future.

Not passing this will mean that the commission will continue to operate on a case by case basis and the commission itself will always be under the shadow of lack of transparency.


Kevin Vericker

4-27-2011 City Commission Meeting

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