Friday, April 19, 2013

Calling all Old People

Are you old?  Do you know someone who is?  Are you like me, part of the Latest Generation and denying it all the way?  If so, then this event  sponsored by our Mayor is for you.   

Next Thursday, April 25, there is a Senior Workshop, 5 PM at Treasurie Island Elementary.    

Kevin Vericker
April 19, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Strip on the Bay

Trio on the Bay hosted an event called "Strip On the Bay" last night.  In doing so, it ran dangerously close to violating our Adult Entertainment Ordinance.  The event as you can see in the brochure starred 50 of Miami's finest pole dancers and is "Gentlemen Elite Club" event.  

I know the village administration was aware of it and was very disappointed last night to note that at 11 PM (starting time) there was no visible police presence on the Causeway, nor were there visible security, usually off duty North Bay Village police at the door.  I don't know if the village what when on inside.  

Here's the brochure:

Kevin Vericker
April 13, 2013 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Flash Sale Car2Go

Car2Go is offering to waive the signup fee ($40) if you sign with them today at the Farmer's Market up until 8 PM.  April 12 Only.  

Here I am in my new wheels.  

Kevin Vericker
April 12, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Slow Government Locally Produced

Last night's commission meeting was dull.  Seriously, it was dull and I'm a guy who can watch people debating the merits of curb colors for hours.   That's not to say it wasn't contentious.  This is North Bay Village after all.  

The mayor is frustrated.  She's frustrated at how long the meetings take, at how detailed the questions are, at how the same issues come up endlessly and at how every issue seems to get the same consideration, regardless of how trivial.  

The commissioners are frustrated.  They feel they don't get answers.  The most trivial issues are either more complicated than any rational person would expect them to be or that their most pressing issues appear trivial when brought into the light.  

They're not good at hiding their frustrations.  The mayor's body language was clear when she found the discussion tiresome.  The commissioners fought to get their points across and were frustrated at lack of answers.  Not a good show.  

It's doesn't have to be that way.  There's not much you can do about it being slow.  The structure of government is such that it impedes quick decision making and Florida shackles our elected officials with a poorly conceived Sunshine Law that requires any conversation between elected officials to be held in public, which eliminates shady dealing but also eliminates informal learning and cuts off information.   

There are things that can be done though to make the meetings and the process more productive.  One idea last night was to add an additional commission meeting per month, with a loosely segregated agenda such as P&Z in one meeting along with non budgetary items and the second meeting for budgetary items and policy issues.  It was rejected not because it was a bad idea but because it came from Richard Chervony who is currently on the outs with the other four.  

The point is the mayor and the commission can reorganize the agenda and meeting times as they see fit.   They could for example start the meeting with Additions and Deletions, then bring up Good and Welfare, then get to work on all time sensitive items, and put the others to the end of the meeting. 

The mayor brought out that some ongoing issues could be Workshops, that is held and chaired by the commissioner who introduced the item, soliciting community input, discussing without resolving the issue and then bringing back the information to the commission.  

One example is the security concerns on Treasure Island.  Some people want gates, some want CCTV, some want more police, some want a crime watch.   Pull all of these and make a meeting on a weeknight to discuss and create a recommendation.  

The boards are a big issue.  Each board has a theme and one in particular, the Community Enhancement Board, has at least three people eager to reconvene.  So hold a "Community Enhancement Workshop", develop an agenda, develop recommended procedures  and recruit members.   

The mayor has broad latitude in setting the agenda and convening these workshops.  When she is frustrated with a commissioner's remarks about an ongoing situation, then she can suggest and calendar a workshop on the subject.  Here's a simple one.  Harbor Island is filthy.  There are ideas out there about cleaning more often, about recruiting condo maintenance staff to clean up, crime watch groups.   Pull a meeting together at a condo, chaired by Eddie Lim and invite the residents and businesses to give their best ideas and then propose the supporting legislation.   

The mayor noted several times that we needed to be "positive".  I'm not a big fan of enforced cheerfulness but I get it.  We do need some positive things going on but that's what the commission is there for.  Give us something to lean forward and we will.  

Let me just close with two pieces I think are very positive.  The commission voted down spending any time or money on the ill conceived dock notion at Vogel park.  And after a truly surreal conversation, the commission decided to increase the pay of the interim village manager while she takes on additional duties.  That was good but even that reflected the dysfunction, Chervony proposed that the monthly salary be based on $8,000 per month ($96k per year) but the others summarily rejected  that notion and instead presented a 15% increase which came out to about the same amount.  But they didn't want to play with Chervony.   Seriously.  

It's not encouraging.  

Kevin Vericker
April 10, 2013  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Crisis? What Crisis?

Tuesday night April 9, 2013 the Commission is having its regular meeting at 7:30 PM, Treasure Island Elementary Auditorium.  The strangest word in that sentence is "regular".  There's nothing regular going on.  Quick review:
  • Last week the commission fired the village manager. 
  • We still don't know why our city hall is sick, if it's getting better and if we can move back.  
  • Our police chief is under investigation for appointing his wife to a no show position so she could maintain her state certification at the city's expense.  
  • The city is about $193,000 over budget and heading for more.  
But the commission agenda  looks like times are normal.  Don't believe me?  Start out with Item 11A.   
11A is for the city to spend $17,500 to start a dock at Vegel Park. That's a complete waste of money.  First of all, there is no demand for it.  None.  Pointless. 
People have complained rightly about the misuse of the park.  Well, if you look at the floating slum of Pelican Harbor, think about who's going to be hanging out in the park.  You want your kids around that crowd?
11E is to transfer $25,000 from the rapidly shrinking reserve to fund a fireworks show for July 4.  Look, how about we clean the streets first?  Seriously, fix the street sweeper and plan a "clean streets" day.  
It's not just the money, it's the time.  City staff has to dedicate time to a dock that will not serve a single North Bay Village resident.  City staff has to work on the fireworks show when they should be working on finding us a city hall. 
There are other items that need discussion but the priorities are just straight up crazy.  
Kevin Vericker
April 7, 2013  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Moving On

We've all been there.  Two people we care about decide to go their separate ways and no matter how amicable and constructive the breakup is, it's hard to watch the dissolution.  

That's what I saw last night.  Dennis Kelly who brought the village a new level of financial transparency, empowered many of our talented employees to take on more responsibility and with whom I always enjoyed a friendly and professional relationship broke up with the village commission, a contentious and sometimes erratic group who are trying very hard to get things on course.   

The meeting was full, held in the packed temporary headquarters at 1666 Kennedy Causeway and Dennis had the sense and grace to excuse himself from the discussion which was largely about the severance agreement.  

I had written before that he had resigned and that's factual in the strictest sense, but what's really true is that the commission voted last night to formalize the breakup.   I cringed a bit when the reasons were laid out publicly, and they were valid reasons, but as in the breakup analogy, they were things you would rather not hear.  Still, it's our money and our day to day lives that are affected and the commission needed to do that in order to justify the cost and the cash layout, and the commission did it well respectfully.  

The residents who attended were mostly focused on how the village moves forward and while there was concern about spending the money to end things, most agreed that this was the best course.  

During the interim, Jenice Rosado, Deputy Village Manager, will fill in and it's not going to be easy.  Ms. Rosado is bright, hard working, open minded and smart enough to say no but she is steering the village through a budget crisis, a police chief under investigation for nepotism, a contentious labor negotiation and residents who are increasingly angry about dirty streets and poor police presence    

Jenice is going to need a lot of support, formal and informal, to get us through the next few months.  I hope she gets it.  

Kevin Vericker
April 2, 2013