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 

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