Friday, June 10, 2011

I am turning the blog over today to North Bay Island resident Jean Pankey. She sent out the following email to a group of residents and I think it's worth reading.

Update: Within minutes of this posting, an "anonymous" email was distributed containing irrelevant but embarrassing personal information about Jean Pankey. It does not discuss any of the issues pointed out below but merely descends to slander. Sad but that who wants our city.

Dear NBV Residents,

You have been lied to, plain and simple by Al Blake, the Vice-President of the secretive Citizens for Full Disclosure, a group formed and led by Vice-Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps.

Blake has started a recall campaign against our Mayor Esquijarosa. The accusations are that she had a foreclosure and tax complications from it. It's true. Like so many others, she lost her property in the worst crash in over 70 years and she is paying all the required taxes.

The Vice-Mayor and Blake blame our Mayor as being the reason why North Bay Village is the way it is today: riddled with empty housing units and business store fronts, empty rental units, and anything having gone bad with North Bay Village. In short, she’s being made out to be the root of all of our problems, even before she lived here. Obviously, Al Blake is not telling the truth. Our Mayor was elected in November 2010, way past the time when the troubles of North Bay Village started through the mismanagement of the CFD controlled commission.

But I will point out what our Mayor has done in the first 8 months as our Mayor.

1. Our Mayor was able to change the way City Commissions are put together for our benefit. We now have the entire City Commission Agenda package with backup documentation available through the internet. The citizens now see what the commission sees.

Before we only had the agenda. All City business must now be included in the agenda and the shady Commissioners that we have can no longer come up with motions without them being properly published. If you ask me, transparency and truthfulness is what we need.

2. The City, in partnership with the School District, is providing a summer camp at Treasure Island Elementary. It is open to all kids who want to attend. Our Mayor was able to secure partial tuition refunds for kids who are residents of North Bay Village without adding to the budget. This means that our money is being put back into our City and our residents. I also hear that she was able to get additional dollars to provide much bigger scholarships for those that are really in financial need. Folks, we have never had a summer camp in our City. This is a great accomplishment!! Our Mayor is looking out for our kids.

3. Mayor Esquijarosa insisted that the City apply for a Children’s Trust grant to provide after school programs beginning August 2011 and run through summer camp 2012, practically at no cost to the City, and a minimal tuition for the residents. Mayor Esquijarosa promised to bring services to our youth, and she is doing just that.

4. Mayor Esquijarosa championed for grant monies to begin a walkway along the north side of Kennedy causeway to connect the City and create an attraction for tourist and surrounding area residents to come visit North Bay Village, and equally important, give our residents a place to enjoy our beautiful location. This will attract and keep businesses in our City. From what I hear, the initial grant for the design and permitting along the southeast is almost done!! This is very exciting for our City.

5. Mayor Esquijarosa worked with the NBV PAL and we had four months of continuous movie nights at Treasure Island Elementary. Our Mayor says she will continue this every year so that it becomes a tradition during the fresher months.

6. Mayor Esquijarosa revived the Youth Services Board to get residents more involved in all things for the youth of our City. We all need to get involved as our kids are our future!

7. Mayor Esquijarosa is trying to revive the Charrette and recommendations made by us back in 2006. We spent a lot of time, money and effort into that project and we should see it come to life.

Now let’s look at the other issues she is working towards.

1. Mayor Esquijarosa is working hard towards getting Kennedy Causeway’s business area to come alive again. She has mentioned to me about forming a Business Improvement District that would attract businesses by providing incentives. I certainly want to listen more about this.

2. Mayor Esquijarosa is looking for money to update the tot lot that we can all agree is in need of fixing.

3. Mayor Esquijarosa tells me that there are too many dogs in our City without a place to actually run and play. Our Mayor is thinking of how this can become a reality. I certainly would like to see our four legged friends have a place to themselves and not poop all over our yards!

There’s lots more, but you need to see her in action to find out what she’s all about. Mayor Esquijarosa is one of the most dedicated Mayors we’ve had in a long while. In fact, she has been finding several shady happenings at our City Hall. Maybe that's why our supposed friend and neighbor that wants to shut her up for what she is uncovering.

Let’s look at that:

1. City Manager Pushkin and Vice-Mayor Kreps (the one who was VP of the Citizens for Full Disclosure) were signing checks in violation of our Charter. It seems that the Mayor was given certain checks to sign and the Vice-Mayor other ones. When confronted, they both said it was not wrong because the charter allows for the Vice Mayor to sign. This is true, but only if the mayor is unavailable and has been notified. She never was.

In fact, the Vice-Mayor blamed the City Manager and said that “when the City Manager asks me to sign something, I sign it”. It's her job to ask what it is and how. To this day, we don't know what she signed or why.

2. Commissioner Paul Vogel has been receiving an extra cellular phone for his wife Marietta, AND THE CITY HAS BEEN PAYING FOR IT FOR YEARS! Talk about abuse of power! These are our tax dollars! Will the City be reimbursed? This is theft in my book.

3. Mayor Esquijarosa requested that the garbage contract that was awarded to Waste Management be brought back for the Commission’s approval, where it would be published in the agenda and we would all see what it is all about. Pushkin had no intention of bringing it to the Commission for approval. Our Mayor also requested that the proof of $500,000 that Pushkin has repeatedly said is a yearly savings be brought back for all to see. What do you think will be submitted? This is the contract that ends our side yard pickup.

There’s more our Mayor’s uncovered, too many to list. So again, I say Al Blake is no friend or neighbor of mine. All he is doing is spreading lies and innuendo.

If Al Blake were my true friend and neighbor, he would not have attacked me in the past. In fact who hasn’t been attacked by the Cabal for Full Disclosure? And he’s supposed to be our friend and neighbor?

Jean Pankey

North Bay Island

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