Sunday, July 29, 2012

Endorsing David Richardson for State Rep (North Bay Village, Miami Beach, Downtown and Calle Ocho)

David Richardson is running for State Rep in our district and after meeting and discussing our issues with the all three candidates for the post, Richardson is clearly the most aware of our local issues and has the clearest idea of how to fix the state finances.  

Let's start with the money.  It's easy enough for a candidate to promise to cut waste and fraud.  Then the candidate gets elected, finds out how complicated it is and never speaks of it again.  David is different.  

He has the background in government finance and experience in business to look at every budget and financial issue with a sharp, fresh eye.   It's in his DNA.  

This fiscal responsiblity is my main reason for supporting Richardson but there are others.  

I spoke with him at some length about the issues facing North Bay Village and all the coastal communities.  Certainly, Citizens Insurance is a huge problem and all three candidates have acknowledged that, but only Richardson was able to talk about the issues we face with the State Department of Transportation, often at cross purposes to our own use of the causeway (think about how it's been under repair for six years and that nasty dog pound fence on the south side of the bridge between Treasure Island and North Bay Island) and about the larger issues of abandoned properties and their seawalls.   

Richardson did not promise miracles on these points.  He is experienced enough  to know that no single state rep can change the world and is not willing to pander through promises that cannot be kept.  But he listens, hard and well, and promises to work with North Bay Village and for us in Tallahassee on these and other state issues.   

His opponents, Kravitz and Weithorn, have much to recommend them in the general sense, but neither has shown that they get the day to day issues created by the state government on North Bay Village.  .  

I urge you to vote for him on August 14 and to check out his website by clicking here.  

I will be out walking again today on Treasure Island so maybe we can talk more.  

Kevin Vericker
July 29, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Our Commission Disgraced Itself This Week

Seriously, we have four people on the dais, only one of whom was elected, and they could not manage to fill the vacancy left by Dr. Vogel.

Connie and Eddie Lim-Kreps, true to their singular nature, could think of no better candidate than Al Blake, the self proclaimed "friend and emissary" of strip club Scott Greenwald, and they promoted him vigorously, brooking no arguments about other possibilities.

On the opposing team (yet oddly the one appointed by the Lim-Kreps team under the aegis of their sponsors), commishes Chervony and Blumberg were promoting Ken Stowe of North Bay Island, who seems like a nice guy but he was really there as an "anybody but Blake".

So they bickered back and forth for a full hour, neither side willing to concede anything or look for a compromise candidate.  After wasting an hour of their time that they could have used doing something constructive, the commission decided to violate the charter, ignore the rules of democracy and leave the seat vacant with no plans to fill it.  Their only obligation, fill a seat that has de facto been vacant for a year and a half, and they couldn't manage it.

Then just to make sure that the evening had all the  class of the Jerry Springer show, Mayor Connie Lim-Kreps let the defeated Al Blake interrupt the meeting so he could toss shade on Blumberg.  Blake actually went to the podium to say, "well, commissioner Blumberg, if you want new blood, why not nominate my wife?"  (Maybe because his wife has been around forever?  And we know her?)

The vice mayor Eddie Lim-Kreps felt obligated to state that a withdrawn resolution by commissioner Blumberg was "stupid."   Eddie Lim-Kreps used to adhere to the Rotary Club principles of debate but as the  realities of governing have exceeded his intellectual capacity, now merely sits and babbles nonsense occasionally interspersed with gratuitous insults.   Not exactly a source of pride, that Eddie.

After all the hysteria of recalls, accusations hurled, lives damaged, the gridlock caused by the Lim-Kreps team, the unconscionable abuse of Paul Vogel, the  checks signed in the dark, after all that, when the coup so profoundly desired and executed by Al Blake and the twins was successful, the Lim Krep twins can't even hold on to the people they hand picked .

Eddie Lim-Kreps is not on the ballot this November, but everyone else is.  Here's an idea.  Throw them all out.  Every one.  

Kevin Vericker
July 27 ,2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wednesday night is the continuation of the commission meeting that ran until 4 AM on July 10/11.  

I have attached the agenda below.  

The first key issue is the appointment of a commissioner from North Bay Island to fill the vacant seat.  I doubt if the commission will fill this seat.  It most likely will be left vacant as it has been for over two years until the election.  It's hard to see how they could agree on a candidate for the seat.  

Following this item, there is a laundry list of discussion items.  There should not be.  Besides the absolutely essential business of the commission such as deciding the vacant seat and ordinances that must be heard, the commission should concentrate purely on the budget for the rest of the season and nothing else.  

Any item that can be deferred until October should be.  There's not much else that a commission during a budget crisis and a commission with only elected member should be working on.  The rest are big idea aganeda items that should be part of the November campaign.  

Here is the agenda for you.  

Kevin Vericker
July 23, 2012

Special City Com Mtg 7-25-2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012


As pf 6 PM. the water pressure seems to be normalized.

THERE IS NO BOIL WATER IN EFFECT but you should should check to see if one is put in later in the day.

I will update the blog if I hear of one.  ..

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So I promised to get to the finances but not today.

Last week, I promised I would post about the city finances but I have not.  I won't be posting on them today either for the simple reason that the finances are still being reined in.  Dennis Kelly has spent more time on this than any other aspect and now that the audit is done for the year ending September 30, 2011 and the special review by Deede Weithorn is complete, there is new reporting in place.  

I haven't had time to review all of the new reports but in a nutshell, it is looking like we have achieved the reserve account balances we need and are reasonably close to budget.  That's a good thing.  

Dennis Kelly has been the subject of some controversy from the dais, with two commissioners publicly calling for his removal.   While I understand their frustrations, I have come to believe that the city is a much better place  than it was six months ago when Dennis Kelly took over.  NBV will be much better if the commission drops the idea of replacing him.  

I understand the commissioners' concerns and when they came out last month at the commission meeting, I thought it best to reserve judgment, believing as I do that Dennis Kelly needs a chance.  Well what I've seen is that Kelly has more than lived up to responsibilities, has the administration on the right track and is finally cleaning up the morass of our finances. 

North Bay Village has suffered tremendously under unprofessional interim management for two solid years and it shows.   No progress was made on any of the key issues.  The boards had fallen fallow.  Our finances were a mystery.    And it's no easy task to clean that up.  

The city now has transparent financial reporting, Kelly has been active with the boards, steering them and containing, been open to new ideas and willing to share his reasoning and experience.   I'm impressed.  

I'm hoping the two commissioners will de-escalate the current conflict, declare a new starting point and work with the city manager.  This is not to say forget what the concerns are, but figure out how to move forward.  Kelly is a good man for this city and the results are showing.  

Kevin Vericker
July 18, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Wee Small Hours

The latest thing in North Bay Village Commission Meetings - all nighters.   The commission meeting started Tuesday July 10 at 7:30 PM and adjourned Wednesday July 11 at 4:05 AM.  And they still didn't get through the whole agenda.  Obviously, a lot was covered so let's dive in.  I am going to lay it out is in themes, rather than linearly, in my order of importance.  

Strip Club -   There were two ordinances affecting how an adult entertainment business might be licesned in North Bay Village.  Both were good.  One specified the measurements and the requirements more clearly than the existing ordinance and the other the conditions under which such a club might operate, including a prohibition on alcohol sales.  

Both passed without much discussion.  This is a good thing and what we wanted.  

Zoning Issues -  There were several and the commission passed the final on approval for a Jet Ski business at 7904 West Drive, approval of the plans for new day care center at the now defunct synagogue on Hispanola, and the construction with some variances for an apartment complex at 8000 West Drive. 

These items took a long time to discuss and each was deemed useful to the city.  

There was some controversy about the complex at 8000 West Drive regarding the parking.  The developer wanted fewer parking spaces than code calls for but dropped that request.  That was the principle objection and once they agreed on parking, the rest fell into place.  

Forgiving Fines - The controversy around the city manager at the last meeting erupted when the commission felt they have been inadequately prepared for the request of the property owner at 1755 79th St. to reduce or eliminate the coding fines for their property.   The item was postponed to last night's meeting so as to ensure the commission had adequate time to study the issue.   

Essentially, the owner wanted the city to forgive $163,000 in fines on the grounds that the owner was not notified of the violations or fines.   This time the commission was prepared, with the detail and the dates.  

The commission found that the money for the violations was owed and did not waive them.  They were well prepared with the facts.  At one point, Commussioner Blumberg wondered if the attorney for the property owner had the city's response.  Their lawyer said he did not, but the response had been published on the city website last Friday so that didn't hold water.  

The utilities were discussed separately and the amount changed, mostly because of the odd way we do utility billing.  

The Charter - The commission had to vote to accept or reject the recommendations made by the Charter Review Board.   There were several suggestions for change including:

1.)  A change of the city's name from "The City of North Bay Village" to "North Bay Village"
2.)  A new oath to uphold the laws of North Bay Village for elected officials.  
3.)  A clearly defined policy on nepotism.  
4.)  A prohibition on city employment for two years following elected service. 
5.)  Restricting board service to one term.   

Now I find these puny and innefective changes, a waste of time really.  The nepotism one is okay and there are arguments why a city commissioner should not be hired in any capacity by the city after serving (although I don't think they are good ones).   

But 3 of the 4 commissioners really disliked the term limits for citizens volunteering for boards.  At least, it being in the charter.  It is two separate issues.  If term limits are desired, the commission should do it by statute, not build it into the charter and handcuff future commissions.  I was pleased that it was removed and will not be on the ballot.  

Now I mentioned I find these changes trivial and I do.  It is a sad statement about our charter that violating carries no penalties for its violation and that has hurt the city.  Mayor Kreps opposed adding standard violations and tried to make it about the city manager.  

But there are many examples.  Our police chief's employment contract is in direct contradiction to the charter.  The contract removes the police chief from supervision by any one - the city manager or commission.  We have had instances of checks being improperly signed without the mayor's knowledge.  

The commission did not pass this and they should have.  Why have a charter if it can be ignored with impunity?  

Finally on the charter, the mayor wanted to clarify when someone should be off the commission.  This had to do with the extended, over a year, absence of Dr. Paul Vogel.  The clarification did not pass.  It probably should not have.  

At some point, cold hearted as it may seem, the commission needs to decide when a member is not coming back.  It would have been best for the city if the commission had gracefully retired Dr. Vogel when it was clear last year that he could not return.  I have long held that Dr. Vogel was abused by the people around him and was kept on the commission cynically and with no real regard for the  man.  The commission can handle these cirucumstances under current law and that it did not is not a reason to change the charter.  

The Finances - It gets complicated.  I will post on that tomorrow.  

In the meantime, a second July meeting is scheduled for July 25, following an FPL workshop on undergrouding the utilities and perhaps another on July 26.   I will let you know.  

Kevin Vericker
July 11, 2012   

Friday, July 6, 2012

The July 10, 2012 Commission Meeting

The next meeting looks like a marathon. I've embedded the agenda below and you can see that it ranges over a wide spectrum of subjects.

Let me jump to the first one that I believe to be important, the update to the Adult Entertainment Ordinance. As regular readers know, I had problems with the form of how this was submitted, as legislation by the city attorney. I didn't like this for two reasons - an aversion to having non-elected officials introducing legislation and that the attorney was unable or unwilling to explain how the ordinance would affect the strip club threat.

The legislation itself is good. It's a recrafting of our existing ordinance to meet the latest thinking on such clubs. It provides clearer information on the restrictions and prohibits the sale of alcohol at such establishments.

A commissioner, Richard Chervony, has signed on as sponsor which eliminates the concern about the lawyer sponsoring the legislation. I have embedded the revised ordinance below the agenda.

Overall, it's a good change and one that I hope passes.

The other key issue is the replacement of Commissioner Paul Vogel. He died June 26, 2012 Under our charter, the commission has 30 days to replace him by appointment from the commission. Failing that, the city needs to hold a special election. Only residents of North Bay Island are eligible for the seat.

It's no secret that the commission is deadlocked over the issue of firing the city manager. There may be concern that whoever is appointed will either be for or against keeping the city manager. Two of the commissioners have deep reservations about the city manager's work and there was a motion which deadlocked to fire him at the last meeting. The subject should rest now. There's a budget to get through and we're already in it. It would be best to readdress this in October and I hope that the commission decides definitively on Tuesday night to appoint someone or to schedule a special election as soon as they can. Don't let it drag on.

And Now For Something Different

The July 4th party at Vogel Park was nice. The band was just great and I'm not a CW guy but that girl knew how to sing. The setup was good for an event like this. It was a nice inaugural event. Of course, it was Miami hot and more shade would be a good thing Maybe it should go later in the day, but those are quibbles. I'm looking forward to further events there.

Below is the agenda for Tuesday followed by the Adult Ordinance. Kevin Vericker July 6, 2012
7-10-2012 Agenda City Commission Mtg Part 1 Proposed Change to Adult Entertainment Ordinance May 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Where's The Flag On Your House?

July 4, 2012 - Independence Day.

Where are the flags?  Driving and walking  around Treasure Island today, it's shameful that people are not honoring the day.  

I was recently asked if I had sympathies with the Tea Party.  I don't.  My own politics run a little bit to the left of most people's and I'm proud of that.  I think it's a crime against sanity the somehow "Liberal" became a dirty word.   And I believe that we should honor this country on these days.  

To the 4 Houses on Cutlass and Hispanola who have the flag out today, thanks.  For the rest of them, shame.  

Kevin Vericker
July 4, 2012