Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Post of 2013

An Empty Creche

Happy New Year 2014!  

Update from 12/30 Post:  I received an email from Village Manager Frank Rollason in which he explains:

  1. There is a massive crime wave in North Bay Village and the baby Jesus has been kidnapped not once but twice.  Police reports have been made but finding the culprit is not likely since while North Bay Village has an enviably low crime rate, we rank in the bottom third of M-D municipalities in solving those crimes that do happen.  A third Jesus has been installed and as of this morning is still in place.

  2. The lights on Hispanola Ave were out because the lighting contractor the village chose did not account for the possibility of rain which is not rare in South Florida.  They were back on last night and there is hope they might last through the New Year.  
So you see, it's really nobody's lack of oversight, just stuff.  

12/30 Post Below:

This seems as good a place as any to leave the old year behind.  Yes, once again, North Bay Village has managed to screw it up.  Our Holiday Creche, which cost $4,500, is a scene of the Holy Family, the Three Kings and some livestock staring at a blank space.   

The Holiday Lights which cost $35,000 - or the same amount as funding the PAL - did not make it through December 26 when Hispanola Ave. went dark.  

It's kind of a neat metaphor for how our city is being run.  The key figures missing in action and it's just too much trouble for our mayor to keep her lights on.   

As Mr. Rollason and Mrs. Kreps enter the final year of their respective tenures, we can expect to see more darkness and disorder in 2014.   But let's keep plugging forward - they won't be here that much longer and North Bay Village has a great chance at the end of 2014 to fix this.  Let's look forward to it.  

Happy New Year to most of you,  

Kevin Vericker
December 30, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

North Bay Village Holiday Social Notes

Bermello Ajamil & Partners are holding a lavish Holiday party to which they have thoughtfully invited our commission and village staff.   I understand several have accepted and one in particular is very pleased about the open bar.  She finds it relaxing after a hard day of being positive.   

In any event, it has everything nothing to do with Bermello Ajamil & Partners angling for the village hall contract and nothing everything to do with spreading holiday cheer.  

Speaking of holiday cheer, after forgetting twice how a budget is passed, the village manager forgot to include the Holiday Party in the final budget.  Really, he did.  So the mayor went to Blu, the people constructing the new apartment complex on Harbor Island and they agreed to sponsor the party, held on December 7.   Very nice of  them and not at all related to the variance they got to start work early and finish late on the  construction which Harbor Island residents have enjoyed this last month.   

Although I was unable to attend as I was feeling entirely too well that day to watch the mayor play Santa, I understand that it was a lovely event for the sad kids of North Bay Village and for at least a few hours let them forget that they live in a place where two thirds of the kids have no access to any recreational or social programs.   And look at the pretty lights at the entrance to Harbor and North Bay Islands that were funded instead of the PAL.  So well done, Ms. Mayor Claus.  

Then there was the Miami Youth Symphony concert on Saturday December 14.  Although the mayor has not yet reported on the event, and only she can since apparently she was one of only two people there, I'm sure it was very nice.  

I for one want to say that it's very mean of the village manager to have described the event as "Pretty sad."   

I am glad that the manager reached out to the commission and the community for ideas on how to "better connect with the community."  

Here's an idea to better connect with the community.  Involve the community.  All of it.  Not just the voices inside one person's head or the people who make money from the village, but even ones you might not agree with.   They often turn out to be your best allies.  

So that sums up this week's Holiday News from North Bay Village.   

Kevin Vericker
December 18, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

After A Month... I'm Back

It has been nearly a month since I last posted and I feel like I owe an explanation.  Here's the simple truth, I've been feeling discouraged.   Sometimes when I am the object of craziness, I walk away and that's what I've done.  Let me explain.  

After two years on the only board the mayor and commission had not managed to disassemble, I made a strategic mistake.  I questioned the wisdom of an off the books, cash only, day care program run by the PTA at Treasure Island Elementary and paid directly to the PTA president.  In the meantime, the principal of TIES used an opportunity to demean both the city and the Arts4Learning program who had donated three art pieces to the school at the PTA's request in order to assert her "authority."  

As I tried to work through the issue, our self appointed mayor and her extra-legally hired village manager used the opportunity to demand that I resign.   Now it's not fair, and I am outsize proud that in spite of the mayor's opposition, the YSEB was able to shepherd through the IB program, and continued to call attention to the village's deliberate inattention to services for the majority of the village's youth, but no one said community activism is fair.  

Favorite quote from her honor the mayor, "Your blog is very negative.  What example does that set to the children of North Bay Village?"  Note to fifth graders reading my blog - go practice your number sets and stop reading political blogs!   

After that discussion, I decided that I would accede to what was presented to me as a demand from the TIES principal and resign.  I hate to quit but it's impossible to work with people like the mayor, the village manager and others of bad intention.   Interestingly, I saw the  mayor a few weeks later at a social function and as is her norm at such events with an open bar, she was all cheerful.  Positive, I guess, fueled by Stoli.  

Anyway, it has become increasingly clear to me that the village is simply run by the voices in the mayor's head, insistent voices telling her that disagreement is insult and that being mayor of all the residents, not just the ones who put her in office without an election, is mortal danger.   It suits those who pander to her and only give her good news but it has had material damage to the village. 

After two full years of eliminating the boards for citizen advice, when the commission was finally embarrassed enough to reinstate them but deliberately kept anyone off the boards who questioned the mayor's voices.  

Our streets are filthy, our projects dead, the crisis at Shuckers mismanaged, we have occasional show events instead of substantial services, our sewers are literally rotting underneath our houses and we have paid all our reserves to move village hall again, in severance packages to people the mayor no longer finds "positive", and our police are so discouraged they are calling in sick in record numbers.  A personal peeve of mine is that the village spent nearly $35,000 in "emergency" funds for holiday lights at Harbor Island and North Bay Islands, nearly the exact amount it would have taken to fund PAL for our kids.   Priorities.  
To pay for all of these errors, the mayor led the charge to raise our taxes 15% and our utilities 16% while refusing to attach basic performance measures to the money spent.   This is how a once vibrant city becomes a ghetto village and we are well down that road.   

The only glimmer of hope that I see for our village is that surely in 2014, the mayor and crew who have mismanaged our money and our village so badly will not be re-elected.  

I want to get back to writing about North Bay Village.  I love it here - it's an eccentric, neighborly and attractive place and I have never regretted moving here but I need to figure out what this blog can accomplish.  So I'm sorry for the silence and will keep trying to bring the voices that other people can hear to our civic discourse.  For right now, I guess I'm back.  

Kevin Vericker
December 14, 2013