Saturday, January 28, 2012

Catching Up

Unelected commissioner, Richard Chervony expressed his thoughts in a recent Miami Sun Post Weekly article on the resignation of Frank Rodriguez. Chervony, who poses as a doctor despite never having been a licensed physician, says:

“I would like to hear the voice of the opposition,” Chervony told the SunPost. He feels the minority view needs representation on the commission.

Let's take this apart:

  • Rodriguez did not speak for a "minority." The majority of the voters rejected the candidate strongly backed by Chervony and the CFD.
  • Chervony led his comrades in the Citizens for Full Disclosure to hound the duly elected mayor out of office by taking a tax matter that she herself had brought to the Tax Assessor's attention and presenting it as fraud.
  • Our sitting mayor, founding mother of the CFD, Connie Lim-Kreps, was installed as commissioner when she won a lawsuit not an election.

His statement that he and his compaƱeros represent a majority of anything but a small group of people who manipulated the system to take over our commission, an un-elected junta, is just a lie.

And the organization, founded by Richard Chervony and Connie Lim-Kreps? Well, it's now down to two married couples and was recently heard from in a mass email sniping that former commissioner Rodriguez had done extensive renovations to his house and claiming to prove it by attaching two blurry photos purporting to be a before and after. Of course it shows only that these two couples, the entire CFD, spend their time stalking people they don't care for.

Apparently their real target is the city building official.

There's a meeting next week of the commission, Tuesday, February 14 at 7:30 PM. At that meeting the commission will appoint a replacement Treasure Island commissioner. Word on the street is that it will be James Carter of the CFD, or former Vice Mayor Rey Trujillo. It will be interesting to see what comes down.

Kevin Vericker
February 9, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

On the Boards

Advisory Boards are a formalized key to community involvement. Generally speaking, the Boards are there to advise on and be the voice of the community on specific issues. Planning and Zoning is an exception in that it has specific administrative powers in the event that P&Z unanimously rejects a plan. All the others review the current status, make recommendations, and sometimes act on them with the approval of the commission and/or the city manager.

These boards can and do work as the voice of an involved citizenry, but only when the city takes their own role seriously. And under our last two interim city managers, the boards have been left to their own devices.

A big example is last night. There was a training for board members from the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics. In the three years I have been on North Bay Village boards, this is the first time, truly the first time, that there has been such a training. And as luck would have it, I am out of town.

I asked if the city would be recording the session for those board members who could not make the training and for new board members. The answer I got was a curt and slightly irrelevant “the training will not be televised.” Not my request – my request was specifically to have this recorded. So I guess the next training will be in three years.

I've seen this issue on both boards in which I have been involved.

On the Youth Services Board, it was a full year before we had city commitment to do baseline background checks on volunteers working with city youth. This should have been one meeting, maybe two tops. It did not get full city commitment until the last meeting. Kind of a no brainer, isn't it?

On the Citizens Budget and Oversight Board, the personal politics have long overruled the board's mission. The board has a voting member who owes well over $1 million in back taxes, deliberately meets during the work day so as to prevent residents from attending (and I might add specifically chose the one day in the week when I cannot be there during the work day.) Certainly this is both a violation of the spirit and the policies regarding boards.

The commission has started questioning how the boards are run. And they should. The steps are obvious -

  • Each Board should have a clearly stated mission and focus.
  • The Boards need to be evaluated by specified performance measures.
  • All Board meetings should be on weeknights, not during the weekday.
  • Board members should have training on ethics, legal issues and board proceedings. This training should be in person when possible but also available on the web and on DVD forms.
  • The City should assign an empowered, designated liaison with each board.

It's my hope that our new, professional city manager, Dennis Kelly puts these measures in and the commission supports them.

Boards matter. The issues are not hard to fix but they take political will and administration support.

Kevin Vericker
January 20, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Frank Rodriguez Resigned

Treasure Island Commissioner Frank Rodriguez resigned from the commission last week. Not much of a surprise. Looking at how the commission is constituted, there was nothing left for a single independent voice to do, especially since even the voice had been silenced.

In December, former interim city manager Robert Daniels proposed and the commission passed a resolution to kill the legislative powers of the commission. Under the new junta, in order to introduce a resolution or an ordinance, the commission must first vote to allow the introduction. In other words, an individual commissioner has no legislative powers at all. This closes the door to any voices that do not agree with the majority.

It's disgusting, unconstitutional, against our charter, was introduced by a police chief (acting as city manager) whose own contract violates our charter and passed by a commission whose primary purpose is to stifle dissent.

We are now governed by an unelected commissioner who had herself appointed mayor, a nasty old man who stole thousands in city services over the last three years, a martinet posing as a doctor and one elected commissioner whose sole public policy contribution has been his unwavering support for a strip club.

I can't wait to see who they appoint next.

Kevin Vericker
January 14, 2012

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Starting Out In January 2012

I've been neglecting the blog. Christmas, New Year's, family time and a quick ramp up on a business project have been distracting me and good distractions they are.

It's 2012 and let's get back to the subject. We'll start with the big one first - The Strip Club.

At the moment, there is no public indication of it going forward. Now in the past, the strategy has been to call "special meetings" with minimal notice to try to sneak it by and we have to be very careful not to let this happen.

Just to review, apart from the issue of what the club is, the city planning approval for the plans were flat out wrong. They did not take into account a school, a congregation and accepted without question a measurement of 501 feet from a child care center (less than 2/10's of 1% margin of error). There was also no public safety study, no evaluation of traffic impact, no economic impact study and our legal group was apparently unfamiliar with the laws governing adult entertainment. I hope the city take-away from this is that we pay for professional planning and legal services and we expect to get them. No project in the future, regardless of its nature, should be recommended for approval so sloppily.

Other things - There is a commission meeting on Tuesday January 10 with a very short agenda. The one item that needs careful consideration is the Charter Review Board. This is a group of citizens and city staff who review our charter, make recommendations for changes and submit charter updates to the voters.

The Charter matters. Our charter is way out of date. Much of the charter is about how the city looked a decade ago, before the population shift to condos and a more urban environment. The current charter does not facilitate professional government and is weirdly silent on many issues that affect us. Who gets appointed to the charter board is important and as the charter reforms are developed, these changes will dictate how our city will be run for the next decade. I'll be writing more about that in later posts but pay attention and if you'd like to be on board, contact your commissioners.

Bit more about the blog, from time to time I revisit my policy of not allowing anonymous postings and wonder if there would be better information if I changed it. Then something like this happens.

In another internet space which allows anonymous postings, a kid is being targeted because someone doesn't like the parent. That's the filthy underside of the internet and under the cover of anonymity, people are quick to go there when they have a place to hide. Seeing this craven attack makes my stomach turn and reinforces my decision that commenters on my blog have to own their comments.

From last year, I wrote an open letter to Commissioner Lim about his past enthusiastic support for the strip club and my dislike that from the podium he referred darkly to "half truths and innuendo" without specifying what these were. I offered him the opportunity to speak more clearly, he wrote back and said that he would and nothing. I don't think we will hear from him. He doesn't like to explain himself.

Agenda for Tuesday, January 10, 2012 City Commission Meeting

Kevin Vericker
January 7, 2012