Monday, November 18, 2013

Feline Fights and the Cat-tastrophe on Treasure Island

For once I feel like I have a totally impartial perspective on an emotionally charged North Bay Village issue.  I am indifferent to cats.  I don't love them, I don't hate them.  Now this doesn't make me a bad person, there are many other things that do, but maybe I have just the right perspective.  

Here's the story.  From time to time on the Facebook group, North Bay Village Residents Speak, discussions erupt over what to do about the overpopulation of cats on Treasure Island.  These discussions quickly divide into "Cats are pests." and "Cats need to be cared for."  

The situation is that some residents and apparently a non-resident put food and water out for neighborhood cats.  It's important to know that many of these same people also spend their own time and money to have cats neutered and for their medical care.   The cat feeders are not only caring but generous in their concern for the cats.  And on the plus side for the cats, we are the only island in Biscayne Bay without a significant rat and mouse problem, so score.  

On the other hand, the population of unclaimed cats has continued to grow and like those other South Florida pests, the Kardashians,  they are a nuisance.  The food in the street also feeds other animals and attracts insects, particularly mosquitoes, and these pose a health hazard.  There have been nights when we are awoken by cats screaming.  Two years ago, I found a mother cat and a litter of kittens living in my attic.  Uninvited, they had found a small opening to the roof and set up an apartment there.  I had to crawl around the attic in July to evict them.   I'm seriously allergic to cats so I talked a neighbor into driving them to the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter.  

Back to the Facebook discussion, it was proposed by one poster that the residents form a group to deal with the problem.  Others want the cat carers (well I don't what the right description is) stopped.   

The problem here is classic of a disengaged government.   No one is arguing that there is no cat problem on Treasure Island.   The discussion is what to do about it.  For years, NBV had an Animal Control Board who advised on policy, provided removal services for strays, and who I know personally paid for spaying and health care.   Under our mayor and her many village managers, this fell by the wayside.  And now it's out of control.  

An informal organization will not cut it.  I think the residents have to be clear that the village must support and find a solution to this problem that reduces the nuisance and treats the animals correctly.  The village should restore the Animal Control Board and give it specific direction to find an acceptable community approach to this problem.  This should not be dividing us;  it should be uniting us.  

But given our mayor's dislike of residents, I can't see her championing this.  Still, pushing the commission is the way to go for the moment.  

Kevin Vericker
November 18, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Commission Meeting Last Tuesday

The commission and the village lived down to all expectations again last Tuesday.  Following the third try to get it right, there was a "special" commission meeting to meet the basic legal requirements of passing a budget, a full month and 12 days late.   

Village Manager Frank Rollason, whose posterior had been repeatedly bussed by our commissioners for his fine work on the budget - raise taxes 15% - is unfamiliar with laws and things.  Since the village did not seek the assistance of a competent administrator, it's anyone's guess if we got it right this time.  

The Village Police Chief had bright and shiny comments for the commissioners.  Since the commissioners upset easily, he didn't tell them about how just last weekend a whole shift called in sick and the overtime budget is already blown.  Very considerate of him to not worry them like that.  Don't tell the Mayor, okay?  She doesn't like bad news.  

The Village Attorney quit.  It turns out that when the Village decides to renege on the contracted payments, people don't want to work for you.   It was a shame, as Village Manager Frank Rollason tried really hard to resolve the issue by sarcastically criticizing the law firm in his monthly report but he failed at that.  Still it may have been what distracted him from doing his job on the budget.  Or maybe not.  Maybe he just doesn't know how to do a budget.  

What else?  Well, Mayor Kreps got lost in the agenda earlier than usual but fortunately Frank Rollason was there to scold her.  The Mayor was a little cranky because she and the commission had specifically asked to get the web page done and Village Manager Frank Rollason didn't do it because he's in charge now.  Rollason got firm with Mayor Kreps and let her know that it will be done when it's done.   

I left after about two and a half hours.  I'm no fan of Mayor Kreps but watching her get kicked around by the Village Manager is no fun.  

Kevin Vericker
November 15, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Klown Kar Government

There is a Special Commission Meeting on November 12 at 7 PM.  Not that all of our commission meetings are not special, but this is an Extra Special Commission Meeting because (excuse me whilst I shout)



Okay, back to normal.  Here's what happened.  

The Commission Chair, Her Lady of Lightness and Positivity, Connie Leon-Kreps, positively forgot to chair the second hearing on the debt millage rates.  

The Village Manager, a straight talking, rootin tootin son of a gun, Frank Rollason, has been too involved in matters that are by law none of his business to pay attention to the state laws governing the adoption of a budget and never managed to set up the correct series of meetings and notices.  Apparently, he's never done it before.  

Add into the mix a group of disenfranchised commissioners, and discouraged village employees, and nobody looked to see if North Bay Village had complied with state laws on the budget.  My favorite quote from the state letter on this tragicomedy is "[these violations] tend to misinform taxpayers."   That was the point.  

So NBV is having the fourth meeting, hoping to get it right this time.  
But let's look on the bright side, as our mayor frequently snarls...

That's it, she never actually provides a bright side.  

The only bright side I can see  is that the mayor is in her last year of shedding whatever it is she sheds all over the place, and I don't think Rollason will make it into next year, so maybe next time?  

Kevin Vericker
November 8, 2013