Friday, July 15, 2011

Back to the Subject

Getting back to the way the government of North Bay Village is organized, last week I posted about how the mayor is one of five votes on the commission. I think there is a misconception that the mayor has special legislative powers, like a veto, and that the mayor controls the legislative agenda. Neither of those things are true. The exceptional duties of the mayor are to sign checks as provided by the city manager and to chair meetings. That's it.

The mayor also has no executive power. All of that lies with the city manager.

So without legislative or executive authority, the only power the mayor has is symbolic.

In order to get anything done on the commission, at least three commissioners need to be in agreement, whether yes or no.

And there's the issue. Currently, three of the commissioners vote in lockstep. Connie and Eddie Lim Kreps along with Dr. Vogel, are running the city. This is dangerous.

Connie Kreps is a dangerous combination of ignorant and nasty. She has never once explained a vote, continues to make statements that she refuses to support and is openly contemptuous of the citizenry. It's important to remember that she was not elected. She was appointed following a lawsuit.

Eddie Lim follows Kreps' whims slavishly. Like Connie, he brings no agenda, does not ask or respond to questions and silently votes with her on every issue. He disappoints me. He is a nice enough fellow, far more polite than Connie, and he won the seat fair and square, having been elected by all the citizens of North Bay Village. But he is beholden to the people who paid for his campaign - Scott Greenwald, the city's largest tax debtor, the FOP who run the police department and Waste Management Systems. He does not meet with citizens, has supported Greenwald's attempts to build a strip club in spite of the clear opposition of the residents, and pushed the Waste Management agenda. It's a disappointment.

Finally, there is Dr. Vogel, who served the city honorably for so many years as mayor and then again on the commission. His health has failed. We've all seen that he is often confused and not in touch with the issues. His vote is given to him on a marked up agenda before the meeting, and if there is any change to the agenda, he becomes confused.

Mrs. Vogel is now in the audience full time and should Dr. Vogel not know what to do, that is vote with the twins, she and others will yell out how he is to vote.

Dr. Vogel has been ill and there is much concern that he will not be able to return to the dais, putting the lock in danger.

So steps are being taken. The biggest one is to intimidate the mayor into resigning, and that's what the petition is about. It's only part of the campaign but it's a dishonest one.

There is no doubt that the mayor screwed up her taxes. She has been working diligently to get these mistakes and errors corrected. She should have done it right the first time around but there is no way that this meets any definition of malfeasance, a crime defined as the abuse of public office for personal gain.

The powers behind the three controlling members of our goverment don't want her there. She asks too many uncomfortable questions. Questions like,
  • "Why have the police force received raises when the budget has declined?"
  • "Why have the massive code violations been overlooked?"
  • "Why did the Vice Mayor illegally sign the checks?"
  • "Why does the city manager not report the budget numbers at every meeting?"
  • "Why are we spending money on luxury dinners for the city staff?"

The answers are simple. Our city now exists to pay high salaries to the employees, to reward political contributors and to prevent city wide growth.

Don't believe me? If people come around with a petition again, stop them. Ask what the agenda they support. Ask them how removing the mayor will improve the upcoming budget. Ask them how much the police have overspent from their own budget and the legal budget. Ask them if they have any personal tax issues. Ask them the definition of malfeasance.

Finally, go to a commission meeting. Take a good hard look at the dynamics. Watch Connie Kreps and Eddie Lim not bring anything to the table. Watch as Mrs. Vogel tells Dr. Vogel how to vote. Then ask yourself, "Are these the people who should be running the city unchecked?"

The campaign to remove the mayor might succeed. I don't think so but I've been wrong before. Who will speak to the abuses then? Will you?

Kevin Vericker
July 15, 2011

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