Saturday, June 29, 2013

Village as Saturday June 29

Mario Garcia hosted a meeting for the revived Crime Watch this week and had a strong turnout from Cutlass Avenue.   The Crime Watch is done block by block and kudos to Mario for getting this moving.  You can read more about it at his blog.  Now if the police get involved and support this, it looks like North Bay Village will move forward towards re-establishing a Crime Watch.   North Bay Village used to have Crime Watch but Chief Daniels has a strong antipathy to community involvement  and stopped support several years ago. 

Over at the Facebook group, North Bay Village Residents Speak, Jim Carter posted a good summary of the issues facing North Bay Village and reported on the efforts of TINA, the Treasure Island Neighborhood Association, to bring the quality of life issues to the forefront.   It's best to read the piece in detail at the link above.  The high level summary is:  

  • Address the dirty streets on Treasure Island
  • Improve the police presence on the island.  Several residents noted cars parked in the wrong direction as a problem.  
  • Carter noted the website which publicizes police activity  in Florida cities.  
  • Gating and security cameras are still being discussed.  
Best to read it in detail.  It's good stuff.  Just click on the link above.  

The PTA at Treasure Island Elementary is sponsoring a mural celebrating the school's acceptance to the International Baccalaureate Program.  It will be executed by Arts For Learning under the supervision of teaching artist Carlos Noguera, himself a former TIES student, graduate of DASH, and later Tufts and Harvard.  Carlos is currently teaching art at the Dwight School in Seoul Korea and leading a summer project here.   

Some of my own notes:

Last night, Critical Mass rode about 3000 bikes through North Bay Village.   I love Critical Mass and I love that they take the streets back from automobiles.  I watched and wished I had joined.   

 Paprika Lounge on Treasure Island continues to delight and amaze me.  It's a bright sophisticated space with live entertainment.  I had dinner there last night and the food is outstanding.   

The police chief is taking one of his five weeks of vacation plus comp time that he gets annually so he was unable to attend or send anyone to the Crime Watch meeting.   Also the department claims to be down two officers but that's not true.  They're currently paying one to sit at home and do nothing since the Chief doesn't like him, and Mrs. Chief Michelle Malkin-Daniels (you know he gave his wife a badge, right?) is never assigned any duties.   Our tax dollars go to support the vacations and family issued badges. 

Village Hall is moving over the weekend to 1666 JFK Causeway so that's probably a good thing.  

July 4 there is a City Celebration at Treasure Island Elementary from 1 - 5.   

So I guess that's the main news in review.  

Kevin Vericker
June 29, 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Probable Heavy Traffic Tonight

Critical Mass Miami, a bicycling group, will be coming through North Bay Village tonight.  This a big group and last time traffic was stopped for close to a half hour as they made their way along the Causeway.   Since they leave downtown at 7:15, they are probably going to be on the Causeway about 7:45.   More information is here at the Critical Mass link. 

Kevin Vericker
June 28, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Treasure Island Neighborhood Association Tonight Trio at 7 PM

This is about more than gates.  The Treasure Island Neighborhood Association has on its agenda:   

  • Review of the recent city meeting on gates addressing the incorrect and speculative information that the city presented.  
  • A handout of the phone numbers and e-mails of all city officials.  
  • A discussion of the state of the streets and the poor maintenance on Treasure Island.  
  • The disrepair of the speed bumps
  • The bad maintenance at the Tot Lot
  • The Video Camera program
  • Open topics.  
The meeting is restricted to Treasure Island single family homeowners, no developers or other parties.  

I can't be there because of a schedule conflict tonight but this is a worthwhile meeting.  I'm glad they're expanding the topics.  

A second note.  It looks like the Crab House is closed.  The signs are down and the doors are shuttered.  It has been struggling for a while and it's disheartening to see another North Bay Village landmark fall by the wayside.  

Kevin Vericker
June 26, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Our Leadership Collapsed This Week Too

Imagine how different the Shuckers story would be if Connie Leon-Kreps had said, 
"We are deeply concerned about our inspection processes and will fix them.  

Let's not forget that the story here seems to be that a property owner did not maintain their facility to ensure safety and that is their responsibility.  North Bay Village will work with all our power to inspect  every commercial structure in this city for safety and we remind all property owners that it's their responsibility to ensure their customers' well being.  We will have zero tolerance for unsafe structures."  

But like a bad dream, the Village administration has managed to take the story of the Shuckers collapse and turn it into the story of how the government failed.  And it didn't need to be. 

To all accounts, the deck collapse at Shuckers was the result of s structural failure.  It looks like the owners did not inspect and maintain the deck.  That turned to a tragedy last Thursday.  If this was the result of neglected maintenance, then it's on the owners.  They had a responsibility to ensure the safety of their customers in their establishment.   

That should be it.  End of story.   

So how did the story wind up being "North Bay Village doesn't know nothing about decks."?   The mayor, the police chief, the building manager and the public works manager made it that.  

Less than a day after the collapse, police chief Daniels was grandstanding for the press, ruling out "over capacity and criminal activity" as causes.  When asked what the capacity was, he didn't know.  He didn't know but he felt free to speak on it.  The Herald by the way did not ask the logical question of him, "Are you even in charge of this investigation?"  Daniels is not.  That's with the county making his comments all the more useless. 

The public works manager Rodney Carrero upped the ante by insisting that the inspection report from January included the deck.  He couldn't produce the report but he was sure of it.  No, no it wasn't.  

That was Friday.  Over the weekend I wrote to the commission and administration and begged them to stop the nonsense.  Leadership requires clear facts and information.   

The mayor wrote back a curt email saying the press release had been carefully vetted.  Which was not my point.  It was the village executives making stuff up in the press that worried me.   

Monday, I opened up the Miami Herald online.  The deck had never been inspected but the report was still signed off.  The county clearly stated that the city should have caught the error.   Then I saw that now our buildings manager was talking about "assumptions" he made about the deck inspection.  

Finally, on Monday, we have this press conference, where again the building inspector said "I assumed the  deck inspection had been done."   Well, it hadn't.  Connie Leon-Kreps tops it off in this clip here when she says "[the building manager] is an expert."  When the  reporter asks the logical question, "Would an expert have ignored the deck inspection?", Leon-Kreps stormed away.  

Leon-Kreps then found time to write me an email scolding me for not being positive.  Her logic is that everyone worked really hard over the weekend, which is probably true.  But they didn't work well.  

This is not just a public relations disaster.  It's a leadership failure.  

Chief Daniels grandstands all the time so that was no surprise.  That two employees spoke intemperately to the press was a disappointment but after all of this nonsense, our mayor was the one who should have said "Enough."   And she didn't.

This will harm us.  For years from now, people will remember North Bay Village as an unsafe place with an incompetent government, and they may be right.   Our leaders have done nothing to assure us they understand the problem nor that they are working on a solution.   

In fact, the mayor is already looking for others to blame.  So far, she has blamed the press for their spin and implied that she was only following legal advice.   These are whiny little excuses, neither one of them true.  Our legal advice did not include "say things you don't know, blame others and talk about assumptions."  The administration did that. 

It's probably too late to fix it regarding Shuckers but what can they learn for the next crisis?  If past is prologue, nothing.  

Kevin Vericker
June 19, 2013 

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Shuckers is part of North Bay Village.  For decades it has been a bright spot, a place we bring out of towners and I think everyone in North Bay Village has enjoyed the place over the years.  What happened the other day was a tragedy and a setback for our village.  There will be time to understand why it happened and time to fix the broken process if there is one that let it happen.  North Bay Villagers love this place and we hope it comes back better and stronger.  

In the meantime, our village leadership is failing.  Police Chief Bob Daniels was cited in the Herald discussing what he nor anybody could possibly know.  Less than a full day after, he announced that "overcrowding and criminal activity" had been ruled out, as though the detectives have interviewed over a 100 witnesses and reviewed the videos. or the Fire Department who manages occupancy issues had completed their review.  Daniels was just making stuff up.  

In the same article, our public works manager Rodney Carrero and the engineering inspection firm have started a "he said - she said" schoolyard discussion.  The city has not been able to produce the inspection report so there's really no way of knowing.   

And that's the point.  In a time of crisis, it matters that our leaders only say what they know to be true and not jump to unfounded conclusions.  It's frustrating not to know the specifics but that's the reality and the public deserves the facts, not speculation.   

The mayor, the commission and the village manager need to step in.  They have to stop the Police Chief from spreading half truths and need to get to the bottom of the argument with public works.  This is the first time in his tenure that Bob Daniels has faced a crisis and he's failed so far.  When the dust settles, this issue can't be left to die. 

Click here for The Herald article and here for the CBS4 report.  

Kevin Vericker
June 115, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gates and Cameras

Tonight there was a workshop on the subject of gating Treasure Island, along with a discussion about the planned implementation of closed circuit television cameras (CCTV).   Sound familiar?  It should.  About every three years, a number of residents gather together and demand that Treasure Island be gated.  There's a lot of noise and then they walk away and nothing happens.  

For this one, the city is not to blame.  The county designs the gate program and it goes like this. 

1.)  An incorporated home owner's association with the majority of members in the area to be gated requests the county to create a special taxing district.  Alternatively, if 10% of the homesteaded owners in the proposed area petition for a gate, the county will consider it.  

2.)  The county will then review the petition for the special tax district and check to see if the geography and the demography will allow for it.  

3.)  The county commission will vote on it.  

4.)  The county will study and accept proposals on it.  

5.)  An election is held and 60% of the homesteaded owners must vote yes.  

6.)  Then the gates are built and the additional taxes levied.  

There is no homeowner's association here and based on the people that I saw at the meeting, nobody seemed to be particularly willing to volunteer to create one.  Or to start a petition drive.  Or do any of the hard work this requires.   I may be wrong but I don't see anyone stepping up to lead this.  

If they do, I'm not sure I'll support it.  There have been crimes in the neighborhood, some of them really awful, and that needs to be addressed.  But I don't believe that safety should be privatized, set aside for certain homes and not for others. 

I much prefer the proposals for CCTV, which would read every license as cars come and go from NBV, would provide a wide view of key intersections and are actually the prime resource when there are crimes on our gated neighboring island.  It's effective, inexpensive and covers the whole city without imposing new taxes.    

Similarly, it is a well established fact the community crime prevention works.   When people sign up for Crime Watch, hold the police accountable and watch out for their neighbors, ordinary crime declines.   But it takes people to actually do it.  People who are willing to spend the time being educated on the subject, willing to attend meetings and trainings, willing to hold lemonade parties on their lawn to get to know the neighbors, willing to criticize and help the police. 

The meeting tonight did not show that promise.  No one had read the clearly laid path to gating, people were just speaking randomly.   I hope the cameras go through.  They matter.  But if you want gates, you need to start working for them.   Nobody's going to do it for you.  

Kevin Vericker
June 13, 2013

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Some Things Going Right

Let's switch it up and talk about some things that are going in North Bay Village.  

The new sewer drainage system is working very well.   Yesterday we were inundated with 15 inches of rain in a downpour and on Treasure Island, our streets didn't flood.  In years past, we would have been knee deep in water.  

The Paprika Hookah Lounge was rocking last night with a belly dancer, families eating from a $29 explorer menu and a DJ playing Arabic music mixed in with the Bee Gee's.   The food's pretty good too.  

Finally, "El Presidente" Supermarket is bright, clean and well stocked.   It's not Trader Joe's but it's a full service market worth shopping in.  

Some sunshine in the rain.  

Kevin Vericker
June 8, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Interviews for Village Manager

Last night the two candidates for Village Manager interviewed in a public forum.  Each commissioner was given the chance to ask two questions of the candidate and the questions were pretty good.  

Both candidates have serious experience in municipal government.  

Colin Donnelly is the current assistant city manager at Dania Beach, with prior experience in both a small town and a large suburban town in New Jersey.  

Frank Bocanegra spent a career as an executive with Miami-Dade police, then worked as the city manager with Miami Lakes..  

Both candidates showed a strong grasp of the process and management part and each spoke of their style as being hands on and willing to do what's needed to keep the village moving.  

But on a key question neither provided a strong answer.  

To roughly paraphrase, the question by Eddie Lim was "Tell us about economic development for North Bay Village?  What should we be doing?"  

Now I don't expect an interviewee to have a magic bullet to resolve our problems but neither one seemed to have any clear idea of how economic development could work in a city like ours.   

Bocanegra seemed to misunderstand the question as one about finding savings in government and Donnelly spoke in generalities about grants and the type of businesses to attract.   

Looking at our revenues, it's easy to see that our tax base is out of whack and depends too heavily on property taxes and a simple ride on the Causeway (or better yet a walk) would show the undeveloped potential.   I would have expected the candidates to address the issues of improvement and tax diversity but neither had looked at the issues in North Bay Village.  

By the end of the meeting, I think it was clear to some on the dais that they had not found the right candidate and the search should be expanded.   There was even an attempt at a motion to do that, I think.  That's a story in itself.   

I hope the commission votes to extend the process.  We need to get this right and last night didn't inspire the confidence that we had.  

Kevin Vericker
June 6, 2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Interview Questions

On Wednesday, June 5, the commission will convene publicly to interview the two candidates for the Village Manager position.  Their resumes are here.  Each commissioner will have the chance to ask their top questions  which are first vetted by staff and legal, and then evaluate the answers.  There's no mechanism for public questioning of either the commission or the candidates so I'm throwing out my questions here.  


  • How do you evaluate the cost of services provided to the community?   
  • How do you measure the value and effectiveness of services compared to other cities?  
  • What information do you think staff should provide for expenditures?  


  • Given limited finances, how do you keep the staff motivated and on task?
  • What important feedback mechanisms have you put in place in the past to ensure that performance is where it needs to be?  


  • Give some examples of how you have improved community involvement in municipal life.  
  • What would your constituents - the commissioners, the staff, the public - say about your style and give some specific examples?  
  • What examples can you give about police - community relations from your experience?  

Equally important, I'd hope that the candidates will ask the commission some hard questions.   

  • Of the last three managers, two were fired and one is suing the village over compensation.   What does this mean going forward?   
  • North Bay Village has a unique contract with the Police Chief that includes the clause "Employee shall have sole discretion in management of the Police Department and should not be interfered with in the performance of his duties."  The same contract also provides a nine month severance package to the Chief in the event that he is fired for anything other than criminal conviction.   How do you see a manager supervising the police chief given this limitation?  
  • To each commissioner:  what will you be evaluating me on?  
 There are probably a hundred other questions but that's my start.   What others should they be asking?  

Kevin Vericker
June 4, 2013