Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Last Night At The Commission

Okay, so I want to start this out with good news. There are two optimistic notes to share: 

The first reading of an ordinance regarding a foreclosure registry passed unanimously. This is a long overdue technical approach to the problem of foreclosed properties in North Bay Village.

It will require the foreclosing entity to file the foreclosure with the city and pay a small fee on the transaction. That money in turn can be used by the city to maintain the property if needed, fund programs to prevent foreclosure, and have an accurate count at all times about foreclosed homes in our city. This could make the city eligible for county, state and federal moneys to help cities deal with the foreclosure crisis. It is revenue neutral in that it does not come from the city general fund (taxes). It is financed by the filing fees and allows the city to dedicate that money to anti-foreclosure efforts. There's more to be done but it's a great start.

The Community Enhancement Board has cohered into a vital force for improvement in our city. Of all the boards, they have the broadest mandate looking at all sides of the physical issues affecting our city. I have long been impressed with the leadership style of the chair, Penelope Friedland, and the long dedication of several of the members to the community. They are focusing strongly on issues affecting the ambiance and presentation of our city and bringing forth critical issues to the commission with specific advice. It stands as an example of what a board can do.
 Alright, enough with the unicorn trails and happy shiny news. It's North Bay Village after all. Our city political climate is still in meltdown.

The commission snipes about everything procedural and then unites on the legislative issues. It's like a badly cast "Real Housewives" franchise. All the bickering about nothing of note but with much worse dressed people. 

Some examples from last night on the commission side. City Manager Dennis Kelly proposed tabling several items until October on the grounds that these were non-essential. It made sense but: Procedures are such that he should have only proposed tabling those items he put on the agenda. 

 One of the items, the foreclosure registry, was put there by a sitting commissioner and it's that commissioner who should be in charge of it. When the item comes up, the commission might vote to table it but it should not be proposed before hearing the item by one who didn't sponsor it. Seems minor but it matters. 

Then in discussing what items to pull from the agenda, none of the commissioners could stay on point. Once the motion had been made and seconded, it needed to be voted on, amended or withdrawn. The discussion about the merits was confusing and unprofessional. It's the chair's job to keep the meeting on track. So the end result is that the commission spent a full 20 minutes discussing how to save 30 minutes. Kind of makes you cringe. 

In a second commission incident, Eddie Lim whose commission reports frequently ramble did that last night, ramble that is.  I listened closely and as near as I could tell, his main point was about the need to develop a sense of identification among the residents with North Bay Village, a good idea but should have been more succinctly expressed.  Nevertheless, the mayor attempted to curtly cut him off so the commission could move to the agenda.  Eddie rebuffed her.   

Like him or don't like him, Eddie Lim was elected and commission reports are part of it.  In future, all our commissioners should keep in mind that their comments should have one of only three purposes - to inform, to propose or to evaluate - and think carefully about how to frame those.  But they should not be cut off.  

Good & Welfare however turned back into North Bay Village at its worst.  The perpetually indignant Al Blake laid into his former friend Commissioner Chervony over a remark that Chervony had made in which he (Chervony) said he thought the Citizens Budget and Oversight Board should have strongly advised the commission of the audit delays.   Blake who specializes in hurt feelings and faux-rage decried this "insult" to the good people of the CBOB, from which he himself resigned when the city fired his friend, Scott Greenwald, the strip club proponent and largest tax debtor, from the board.  Anyway, Blake was hurt, and shocked, and disappointed, over this grave insult.   

Then a voice that has not been heard from in a while, a fictitious dweller at a non-existent address lumbered up and began bellowing about how he put Chervony where he is now (on the commission) and that he heard that Chervony had proposed a candidate besides Al Blake for the vacant North Bay Island seat.  Further, Chervony was guilty of more than just thought crimes but had single handedly broken Sunshine, which is totally weird since Sunshine governs relationships among officials and by its nature cannot be singular.   But that's what passes for logic.  

Look it's easy to be flippant about this stuff but it has real consequences.  As long as our commission quivers in fear about being sued for so called speech violations, the public will stay away.   You cannot slander and falsely state who you are at commssion meetings, in front of the legislature, or at Congress.   It's not only illegal, it suppresses the public.   It's not free speech, it's slander and disruption, and it should be stopped.  It diminishes us.  

And I wonder how the mayor and the vice mayor, who appointed Chervony, feel today?  After all, last night it was publicly expressed that they were following the directives of a non-resident.  I don't know if they were but I guess I would have expected them to mention it if they weren't.   

So I don't see much bright coming up for a while.

Kevin Vericker
September 12, 2012

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