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

4 comments:

  1. Welcome back Kevin...The countdown has begun!

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  2. Who did you question? The PTA has never had any daycare at the school. Check your facts please.

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    Replies
    1. Hey, Jill. They certainly do. Here for example is the FB posting from October from October 4 "Treasure Island Elementary PTA
      October 24 via mobile
      Tomorrow teacher planning day camp. 5 spots open just come in and register in the morning if you missed the deadline. $25 hours are 8 to 5:30pm and lunch included!"

      I never questioned the validity of holding the camp, but I was very concerned that it was cash only, staffed by the PTA president's husband and seemed to be competing with other programs.

      Parents have also told that the same people do informal, cash only day care after school hours and this has been presented to them as a PTA program. That I have not seen but it is a complaint worth noting.

      I am making no accusation but the response was fast and vicious. And the complaint was never addressed.

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  3. I understand your concern. In their defense and having had my child in another MDCPS, Teacher Planning Day Camps are allowed. I have used the service twice this year and it is very helpful to working parents. It is difficult to keep taking days off of work every month. In regards to the "cash only" policy, this is very common in most PTA's. This is due to parents bouncing checks. I'm surprised you were not aware of that. I have no issue with any of the PTA volunteers, they are all hard working people that put in the hours I wish I could to help. I'm curious what the PTA said in regards to your concern. They do have a board made up of other parents.

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