Monday, December 29, 2014

Ending the Year on a High Note

After three years, the Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa lights stayed on and the Baby Jesus has not been kidnapped.  It's a holiday miracle and I feel bad for my cynicism about how finding Three Wise Man and a Virgin in North Bay Village would never work out.   

Time for the year in review:

January - The Commission decided to start the year out by taking the month off.  Nobody noticed except me because I didn't have anyone to laugh at.  

February - Relaxed and refreshed from their January vacations, the Village decided to spend the small surplus to rent the bottom floor of the building at 1666 JFK Causeway

Then they tackled the parking issue head on in a large community meeting.  The police chief totally forgot to get the statistics and no more was heard on the subject.  

March - In order to streamline the commission meetings, the order of public comment was changed so that it  comes first, allowing the mayor to melt down as soon as item discussion begins.  

April - The rising concern about crime led the police department to approve the purchase of magic water to baptize our appliances so that when they are stolen, if they are sold to a pawn shop that may use the magic decoder ring, they will totally be recovered.   The police chief took the rest of the year off.  

The Village Manager made an oopsie and it turned out that the move from the school to the 1666 JFK Building was $49,000, not $9,000 as he said.  But hey, it's not his cash.  

May - The Barry Survey came out and discussed that the citizens want better parking, cleaner streets, a plan for flooding, and access to the bay.   The commissioners ignored the survey since it also said that they broke election promises and that's negative.  

The Mayor did not attend the May Commission meeting on May 13 since she had a trip planned two weeks later.  

June - Commissioner Jorge Gonzalez told us all about his May trip to Isparta Turkey, which was paid for by Turkish lobbyists, and where he represented North Bay Village.  Actually, he didn't bother explaining much other than to mention it.  He forgot to bring a projector.   Gonzalez did propose that we become sister cities with the pro-Islamic regime of Yusuf Günaydın, the mayor of Isparta, and the commission thought that was a splendid idea.   

The Village Manager assured the commission that he was making a plan to make a plan to clean up the Tot Lot.  

July - The commission voted to give $102,000 of taxpayer money to plan a plan for a park under the metal gate bridge to connect the Bay Walk that they are not going to build.   No report back yet on that.  

Shuckers reopened.  

Treasure Island Elementary fell to a "D" rating, its fourth grade decline in four years.  The mayor used the opportunity to blame "blogs" and the budget meeting on July 17 was derailed by a histrionic defense of the failed bureaucrat Sherry L. Krubitch.  No plans were presented or requested for the improvement of the school and when it was finally impossible to ignore, a presentation was set for September.  In the meantime, Jorge Gonzalez refused to add money for the PAL program or any youth services to his budget requests.   

August - exhausted from months of doing nothing the commission took the month off.  Fortunately the Village Manager was in charge and he did not try to persuade Shuckers to open their extended parking lot once per month to keep the food trucks, so they went away.  Scott Greenwald allowed his property to be used as a dog park and the village had only to provide help at no cost but the manager said, "No way." 

He was able to run an extension cord to the sign on Hispanola and there was a ceremony to light it.  

September - The election campaigns for Mayor and Commissioner At Large got into full swing.  The mayor went back to her roots and hired two strip club lobbyists to run her campaign and Jorge Gonzalez simply lied about his record.  

In the meantime, the budget passed almost unquestioned except, miracle of miracles, the commission decided to put $20,000 in the budget for the $76,000 PAL program.   As of December, the commission is surprised that this is not enough.  Still, taxes are up another 13%. 

The commission was annoyed at the many gifts they were receiving under the table being reported to the Commission on Ethics and so decided to raise the limit to $100 before they have to tell anyone about them.  That took care of that.  

October - It's all about the election.  Mayor Kreps could not find anyone to endorse her so she faked an endorsement from me,  sent out a filthy flier on her former bestie Richard Chervony and lied face to face to the voters.   

Jorge Gonzalez continued to dodge well documented facts about his bankruptcy, multiple judgments for unpaid debt, his lobbyist paid trip, his ignoring youth services, his arbitrary closing of the public walkway at the 360, his unpaid business taxes, his property taxes being sold at auction for two years in a row.   Oh, and he finally got the confused Mayor of Isparta on Skype so the twinning was complete.  

Developer and special money continued to pour into the campaigns.  

November - the voters decided that Jorge Gonzalez and Connie Kreps were the best they could do.  Both won the election.  

The commission celebrated by having an installation and no regular business was done.  

December - The parking problem on Harbor Island and coming soon on Treasure Island remain ignored.  The PAL program is postponed because there never was enough money.  The School has not reported on progress if any.   The 360 and other buildings continue to illegally seal off public walkways.   The sewers continue to rupture.   

But the lights.  At long last, the  lights have stayed on through Christmas.  

Happy New Year

Kevin Vericker
December 29, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Mayor and the Commishes.

 I usually don't like Christmas letters but this year's from our Commissioners were so good I thought I would share them with all of you. 

First from the Mayor:

HO HO HO!  Merry Christmas to all except to my Jewish friends.  To them I wish a Merry Channuckar.   And to my gay friends, Happy New Year!  Well what a year it has been.  

First the big news!  I won an election!   Did you know that most elected officials are elected?  Neither did I but it's true!!!   It turns out that getting your seat by lawsuits and intimidation aren't the only ways to become mayor, but they're the ways this gurl haz alwayz dun it (as the kids would say, or should I write "kidz".  LOL.)  Sometimes you actually have to run and I don't mind telling you that I was a bit nervous.  Talking to all those people who may not even know who I am?  What if they ask me questions?   

Well, don't worry about that.  It's easy.  You just hire a strip club lobbyist or two to run things and when you talk to the voters, you just straight up lie to them. For instance, if they ask about a park, you tell them "Well, I am building one.  It's under a bridge and no one else can see it yet but if you vote for me, I'll show it to you." or if they ask about the failing school, just lower your voice and whisper that it's really the kids from Miami Beach who are failing but ours are doing super.  Also, be sure to claim endorsements by people who never lived here or who are dedicated to getting you out of office.  And viola!  You're Mayor.  Watch out Hillary!

The second biggest news - a little sad and a little glad.  Eddie and I have gone our separate ways.  I would like to say it was mutual but these things never are, are they?  Anyway, I had outgrown him and the time had come.  I wish him luck and hope someday we can be friends like Richard and I!  

But I did say a little glad?  Well, yes, you know me.  I'm like Elizabeth Taylor (except for the talent and the looks.  ha ha ha.)  I got a new Vice.  His name is Jorge and he's everything I was looking for.  Tall, willing to say anything to get elected, doesn't really give a darn about the formalities of position.  He's a bit of a fixer upper - a bankruptcy, several debt judgments, tax arrears, broken promises - but they say a good woman makes the man, or they should say that anyway,   In fact he presented to an International Congress in Turkey.  I think it was about parking issues on Harbor Island but they paid him to do it.  So "Maybe This Time"? 

I've been a busy girl as you can see.  In fact, so busy, I only show up for 75% of the meetings but it's not like anyone misses me.  So what's new with you?  Happy 2014 2015 all!
From Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez:

 Yeah,  What she said.  Hey, Merry Whatever, Happy Something.  Look I really don't have time for this.  I'm gonna sue that blogger and I need to call my lawyer so, uh, yeah.  Whatever you want to hear.

From Former Vice Mayor Eddie Lim:  

Happy Christmas.  That's it!  That's all I have to say.  Nothing else.  I don't need her.  I never needed her.  She can go to hell.  They can all go to hell.  I'm not quitting. 
From Commissioner Chervony:  

Enough already with the Christmas.  Enjoy.  Have a ball.  Sie gesund. You think you're the only ones with a December holiday?  I lit a giant menorah last week and only the goyim showed.   I don't expect any credit or gratitude but it would kill you to notice? 
Commissioner Wendy Duvall was absent.   

And from my blog to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Kwanza and a Happy New Year to most of you.  

Kevin Vericker
December 22, 2014


Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Commission Back in Town

Last night I ventured out into the Arctic 62 °F cold and went to the commission meeting.  It was the first since October where the old/new commission were addressing regular business. 

Four of the five commissioners were present.  Wendy Duvall was not but was excused by motion for reasons she never stated. 

As is now the custom, awards were given to those who have pleased the mayor and this was the first item.  

First up was an award to the Miami Beach ROTC for helping out at the Halloween Party.   Since they didn't show up, it was decided to mail it to them.  

Second was the Keepout Award to the 360 for the most attractive landscaping blocking legally required public access to the bay. 
Locked Access to the Bay

Then an award was given to a North Bay Island resident for some plants and finally everyone else on North Bay Island was given an award for some reason or another but no one was there to collect. 

From there the meeting proceeded to Good & Welfare.  There were three people who spoke during Good & Welfare, Al Coletta, Rey Trujillo and your local blogger.

Mr. Coletta spoke strongly about the need for the village to make progress.  He talked about the obstacles to business, his frustration with the high rents and vacant spaces and the village's obstacles put in front of local businesses.  Love Al Coletta or not, (and it's possible to do both) he is spot on about the problem.   

Mr. Trujillo agreed in general terms and pointed out that the Planning & Zoning Board is working with the revision of the Village Code.   

Your Local Blogger then got up and reminded the commission that moving forward is based on completing past and current tasks noting:
  1. The School Improvement Plan and progress made it on it need to be reported back to the commission and the community. 
  2. The Kimley Horne Proposal for the plan to make a plan for the park under the bridge is now two months overdue.
  3. The sidewalks are supposed to be cleaned twice per year but only have been cleaned once.  When can we expect the next cleaning? 
  4. In February 2014, the village promised to hold a second workshop on Harbor Island Parking with the correct statistics.  As of December 2014, there is none scheduled. 
  5. The Causeway is going to be torn up in mid 2015 for a repaving project that will last longer than a year.  It would be a good idea to plan for that now. 
The commission then moved on to Board Reports.  P&Z  Chair Rey Trujillo informed the commission of the two approvals they made this month and that they would be on the January agenda.  The Community Enhancement Board was not present.  There are currently no other boards.  More about that later.  

I stuck around through the Commissioner's reports.  Highlights included the Mayor, looking smart in her new Rick Perry frames, asked about the illegal dumping all over the place.  Frank Rollason explained that it was really hard to enforce the anti dumping laws so they don't.  

Then she asked about PAL and when told there was no real money appropriated to the program, decided that the program should be postponed until "residents" come up with the bucks.   

Finally Mayor Kreps noted that there is a Menorah Lighting scheduled for next Tuesday and that the voices in her head unspecified residents wondered why there was no Christmas Tree lighting.  It was suggested to her that perhaps she should have organized one.  Mrs. Kreps looked confused.  

Former Vice Mayor Lim explained that businesses don't come here because we are an unattractive demographic and some other stuff.  

Commission Vice Mayor  Gonzalez then jumped energetically into his new role and tackled the tough issues.  

On Harbor Island parking, he established that maybe sometime in the future there might be another workshop.  He also pointed out that MODA, the new rental project will increase traffic.   

The Gonzalez was concerned about the lack of a shelter for kids waiting for the school bus and the Village Manager explained that a shelter under a tree was dangerous in lightening storms and no one talked about moving the bus stop except to say that might be hard so why do it?  

Then he assured the assembled residents that he, The Gonzalez, had spoken with the developers of the new projects on the Causeway and they remain steadfast in their commitment to provide unicorn farms public access to the Bay. 

The Gonzalez made no mention of his own illegal blocking of bay front access at the 360. 
 So after that,  your local blogger decided to leave since I will only live so long and it's clear that if you combined the intelligence on the dais, you'd have a half wit. 

But I checked in online later and the Commission was discussing the boards.  Specifically should there be a board to evaluate services for residents with special needs?  The Gonzalez wants it and Chervony backs it and the Village Attorney says we accrue no special liability by studying the services required but the most public of our special needs residents, Mayor Kreps, would have none of it but eventually she was instructed to vote for it so it passed 3-1. 

The Commission was then SHOCKED to discover that the other boards which they have spent the last two years abusing, ignoring and running people off if they were not "positive" for some unknown reasons are not attracting residents willing to serve and be ignored and berated by them.  So they are going to combine their collective wisdom and study the problem.  We should see action in about two years.  

So that's the news. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

The New North Bay Village

North Bay Village is building again.  At the P&Z Meeting on Tuesday night, two projects were approved on the Causeway, one with 70 and the other with 45 new condos, making the total of new condos proposed since 2011 about 735 new units, plus 285 new rental apartments at Moda (formerly Blue on the Bay) and another 150 units coming back online at 7525 E. Treasure Drive.  That 1,150 new housing units in the next few years.   Assuming 2 people per, that's a 30% increase in our population.   

In the past, each time a behemoth new project was approved, we were promised that the increase in the tax base would fund needed improvement.  We were promised open access to the waterfront.  We were promised that impact fees levied on the buildings would fund the expanded infrastructure.  We were promised that North Bay Village would become a "destination."   

The promises were lies.  

As the Village careened towards broke under the mismanagement of the Commission, the only workable solution to financial stability was to raise our taxes 35% in 2 years. 

Only one of the eleven buildings ever provided the bay access.  The rest simply never opened it or as is the case at the 360, where Comrade Commissioner Jorge Gonzalez is President while sitting on the Village Commission, arbitrarily shut it down without consequence.   

The impact fees were wasted on overinvestment in the Vogel Park while Treasure Island's Park, an open air litter box next to the Public Works facility, continues to rot and our rec money went to pay for a plan to make a plan for a park under the bridge to Miami Beach which should not and will not ever be built.  

In the meantime, our water infrastructure is collapsing, operating at over 100x capacity on outflow and the state is about to tear up the Causeway for a year or so starting in mid 2015.  

As far as being a "destination", our once popular restaurants are mostly closed and the Lexi ground floor remains abandoned.  

But hey, maybe this time the commission will get it right.  After all, a promise is a promise.  Delivering on the promise, well that takes work.  

Kevin Vericker
December 5, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Commission on Ethics Overrules the Commission on Ethics In a North Bay Village Special

Last week, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics overruled the former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court Gerald Kogan, while tossing aside the carefully crafted Voluntary Fair Campaign Practices Procedure. This Fair Campaign Pledge is designed to allow candidates who feel their opponent has engaged in unfair campaign practices to lodge a complaint with the COE through an expedited process. Both parties have to choose to accept the complaint heard for probable cause within 24 hours.

It's a good process. It means that complaints can be dealt with quickly and not overshadow a campaign. It prevents frivolous or baseless complaints from being used as a campaign tactic and in the case that probable cause is found, puts that information in the public view.

That's what happened in North Bay Village in the November 4 election. Incumbent Jorge Gonzalez complained that a flier challenger Mario Garcia put out unfairly represented Gonzalez's involvement in a bankruptcy, debt judgments, a paid trip to Turkey, and Gonzalez's voting record.

Gonzalez made the complaint (C14-51) and Garcia agreed to the expedited process. Hearing officer retired Florida Supreme Court judge Gerald Kogan evaluated the complaint and the response and found “No Probable Cause.”

In the meantime, Gonzalez won the election against Garcia.

In every single one of the election complaints, the Commission on Ethics Board has followed the recommendation of the hearing officer, referring those where probable cause has been found for further action and dismissing those where no probable cause was found. In fact, neither Joe Centorino, the COE Executive Director, nor anyone else can find a single example of the Board overrruling a “No Probable Cause” finding in any complaint ever filed in the COE history. Until now.

This brings up a host of questions without answers.

Why was this complaint uniquely passed to an entirely separate process? What fault was found in the hearing that justified that? The hearing on November 17 offers no clarity on that question because they are held in secret, behind closed doors. No members of the public are allowed although Commissioner Gonzalez was invited to stay.

What value does agreeing to the Voluntary Campaign Practices Ordinance bring a candidate if the COE staff decides they don't like the result and will arbitrarily continue to pursue the complaint after the finding? It seems like none.

Finally, why this unique decision on this one complaint. Well, again, the COE does not hold public hearings on why they would overrule a hearing officer. But there is a long and cozy relationship between the Advocate Michael Murawski, a resident of North Bay Village, and one side of the politically active North Bay Village community, a group that strongly supported Gonzalez's bid for election.

In the past, the COE has already treated North Bay Village differently. When the COE established that a commissioner and his wife had both their mobile phones paid for by North Bay Village over the course of 7 years, they said it was “done with good intentions” and refused to pursue repayment.

In another complaint against Mr. Gonzalez for not reporting a gift of tickets to the Miami Heat, they redacted their own press release to remove references to business relationships in North Bay Village and imposed no fine, just a $100 penalty to cover the COE costs.  

The list goes on. So maybe this is peculiar to North Bay Village. Maybe North Bay Village is so unique that the Commission on Ethics needs to invalidate the Voluntary Fair Campaign Practices Ordinance and summarily overrule the finding of one of the most respected jurists in the state.

Or maybe it's simply a case that local North Bay Village resident who also happens to be the Commission on Ethics Advocate didn't like the outcome and so decided to toss aside the process to get the outcome he wants? I think it's that one. 

Kevin Vericker
November 25, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Delusions of Adequacy

Last Friday night, Mayor Kreps's coterie of enablers staged an event for her.  You see the poor thing is operating under the delusion that there are many active boards in North Bay Village.  There are only one and a half.  The planning and zoning run by former Vice Mayor Rey Trujillo and Connie's campaign manager, and occasional meetings by the Community Enhancement Board where they talk about flowers.   

Instead of telling her that there really were no active boards, the group got together and started giggling, "Dude, what if we like held an  awards dinner and told people to come and gave them awards like they actually did something.  And Connie would totally buy it."  And so they did. 

Because according to Eddie Lim's FB page, they gave out recognitions to the Youth Services Board (no meeting since October 2013), the Business Advisory Board (no meeting since November 2013) and no mention of the Citizens Budget Oversight Board (met but never came once to a commission meeting in 2014).  

In any event, I don't like Mayor Kreps but it's cruel of these people to play into her delusions like that.  They should be helping her get the care she so desperately needs, not mocking her.  I hope they stop.  

Kevin Vericker
November 24, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Did you attend last night's festivities?

Because there is nothing going on in  North Bay Village, nothing I says, it was time for Mayor Kreps and her new prince consort, Jorge Gonzalez, to hold their installation.  

Mayor Kreps Elected At Last. 

It was a momentous day in North Bay Village.  Both Mayor Kreps and Jorge Gonzalez won their first elections ever!  Usually, Kreps comes in when the village pays for a lawsuit (2010) or her co-conspirators vast network of supporters (six of them) let anyone who might run against her know that they will be the subject of abuse (2012). 

The campaign was grueling for her.  Kreps was forced by circumstances to hire two strip club promoters to run her campaign (girls like her think they can get away but no, the past catches up with them) and she had to lie directly to the voters faces, people she had  never mingled with before, negative people, and ask them for votes.  It was hard and unbecoming but finally, she prevailed.  And she won. 

Kreps is eager to maintain tradition.  In 2014, Kreps initiated a tradition of not showing up at Regular Commission Meetings.  In January, she took off because it conflicted with her birthday.  In May, she took off because two weeks later, she had a flight to San Diego, In August, she took her vacation.  So in November, she really didn't want to be bothered with the business of governance and after discovering in October that there would be a meeting in November, Kreps decided that it would not have any annoying city business and just be FABULOUS HER.   HER Installation.

After she took her oath of office and placed a new tinfoil hat on her carefully coiffured hair helmet, Madame Mayor attempted to smile for her assembled minions while waiting the only action that the commission is to take in November to be performed.

Eddie Lim Gets Stabbed In the Back.  

 Remember way back on October 15 when I told you that Vice Mayor Eddie Lim had been very active at the commission?  In fact, he was the only one who was.   Well I knew then that would not sit well with Madam Kreps!  She hates questions, discussions, opinions, learning things, math, people who disagree with her, eventually people who agree with her, and really everyone who might be a threat.  So Lim had to go. 

In a rare guest appearance and an exciting cameo, Commissioner Wendy Duvall not only showed up to the meeting but actually said something.  Commissioner Duvall curtsied deeply to Madam Mayor and nominated none other than Madam Mayor's new favorite Jorge Gonzalez to be Vice Mayor.  Huzzah! shouted the assembled multitude (about six of them), "Let us have the new consort."  Well, no, not really.  No, huzzahing, just a bit of buzzing because everyone but Eddie Lim knew this would happen.  And so Eddie Lim was deposed and Jorge Gonzalez was installed. 

And since there was nothing to do, no actions to be taken, no issues for the village to consider, Mayor Kreps declared the evening a great day for some of North Bay Village and bid her fond subjects (about six of them) goodnight.   Rumor has it that a flight of winged monkeys then carried her off to her home.  

I Forgot All About Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez.  

In my excitement, I nearly forgot to congratulate newly installed Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez   Must be a memory lapse, a misunderstanding due my lack of comprehension what history means.  JP Gonzalez first moved to our fair village some 7 years ago and promptly overlooked paying his RE taxes in 2009 and 2010, resulting in these being sent to auction for tax certificates (Certificates #21138 and #23931).  Like Gonzalez the certificates were later redeemed because when you are the Mayoral favorite, history dies!

In fact, Jorge Gonzalez is a strong disciple of the Mayor Kreps delusion philosophy that the past only makes you negative and so Mr. Vice has decided that he has a history of not having a history and anyone who says otherwise better be prepared for a fight.  A fight he will lose but then again, losing is his style.  It will be interesting to see how he conducts himself now that he accidentally won.   By interesting, I mean of course, insane and dull.  

Kevin Vericker
November 19, 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Blue Skies, Smiling At Me.

Connie Leon-Kreps won the office of the Mayor on her first try handily.  The margin was 60-40.  

Jorge Gonzalez won this time after his 2012 defeat by 54-44.   Let me parse that since Mr. Gonzalez might sue me!  In 2012, he lost the vote to Mario Garcia.  In 2014, he won against Mr. Garcia.  So while it is true that Gonzalez has a history of losing, he has a present of being a winner.   Please don't sue me. 

Contributions to Kreps and Gonzalez Campaigns.
But the real winners in all of this are the Developers, the Village Contractors, and the Lobbyists.  Without their political courage and willingness to finance their interests, North Bay Village might have gone into the future with a competent, stable  mayor and a commissioner who's connected to the community.  Without their tireless efforts, Mayor Kreps may not have had the  money to hire two strip club lobbyists to run her shadow campaign. 

Special thanks goes to the voters who didn't show up, those 2/3rds of you.  Your ability to not give a crap inspires all of us!  I mean you only had 14 days to vote.  What?

Now we can look forward to a future of high rises blocking our bay views, no enforcement of the required bay access, a sewer project that will take years, a substandard school, no parking solutions, and a commission led by an idiot.   Good job all. 

Kevin Vericker
November 5, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

It's Time to Get It Right

Today I want to talk about why I support Mario Garcia for Commissioner at Large and why you should too.  

Tomorrow's election is about whether or not North Bay Village becomes the kind of village that plans for future and takes care of today, or if we remain stuck in the old dysfunctional governance of yesterday.  

First of all, without running, he garnered the majority of the votes in that race in 2012.  Seriously;  723 votes to 681 for Gonzalez.  But Mario had withdrawn from that race because it wasn't the right time, Jorge Gonzalez had promised to be open to many points of view and seemed like a man of his word.  Lesson from this:  Trust the Voters.   Many had met both candidates and could not bring themselves to vote for Gonzalez and they turned out to be right.  

You might think this is just a weird fluke, perhaps because of the alphabet, and just another example of North Bay Village Crazy™ in the elections but consider a second race, Stuart Blumberg vs. Wendy Duvall, where Blumberg had dropped out following a series of personal attacks by the ruling clique.  Same ballot position (first alphabetically) and no race, but Duvall garnered the majority of the votes - 542 vs, 944.  

Gonzalez has been more than a disappointment.  His arrogance, his bullying, his lack of ethical judgment, have caused us real damage.  I won't write about all that here since Stephanie Kienzle did a great job of describing that in her blog today.  Click here for that "must read."

After two years of attending every commission meeting and most board meetings, after himself being targeted by Gonzalez and Kreps for his volunteer work on the Business Board, after watching Gonzalez freeze out anyone who was of no direct benefit to Gonzalez, Mario decided to run again this year, along with Jorge Brito.  Brito has been suffering his own blows at the hands of the strip club lobby that Mayor Cara Dura Kreps hired to do her dirty work since she has such a terrible record. 

This campaign has been tough and Mario Garcia has been up to the challenge.  He works a demanding full time job as a Nurse Practitioner in an inner city Miami clinic, has three grandchildren who are at his house all day, and still finds time to attend community meetings and to run a campaign.  

It's this tirelessness more than anything that recommends Mario Garcia for Commissioner At Large.  He's honest to a fault, willing to learn, willing to be wrong even, but he will not be shut down or shut up.  Garcia listens, learns and acts.  And talks.  He explains his reasoning.  He engages with people.  Garcia worries that long after someone has shown themselves to be of bad character and ill will, that they should still be heard.  

The Village is at a crossroads.  Regardless of the outcome of the election, we know we need water infrastructure, a huge undertaking.  We know we need to solve the Open Space issue with our rapidly diminishing possiblities.  We know we have to solve our over-saturated parking.  We've known all of this for years.  

In this election, you are being asked to vote for the incumbent who has dismissed and ignored all of these issues, while accepting gifts from foreign developers and bullying residents who want to talk about the issues, or vote for Mario Garcia who worked to earn your trust long before he asked for you vote.  

I'm Team Garcia all the way and I hope you are too.  

Kevin Vericker
November 3, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

North Bay Village Drama Queen Award for 2014 Goes To...

Commissioner Gonzalez has no enemies but he is profoundly disliked by his friends, which is what made it so difficult to find endorsements for him.  So few were willing to go on record that he finally had to hire someone to write endorsements and then go around the village begging for a name.  Don't believe me?  Here's his most recent flier - note that the fulsome endorsement from "a North Bay Village Resident" is all written out but no one knew who they could claim said this.  This is an actual posting from Facebook on October 27 of a flier he sent out on October 22.   Pretty sad.

Al Blake ??? or someone else neutral???
Comrade Gonzalez is also excited by this endorsement from Sally Heyman, scrawled on the back of a business card.  I kid you not.    He got so excited that he cropped the below picture from his event at Shuckers (to cut out the developer and the random woman) to put on the above endorsement flier. 
Scrawled on the Back Of A Business Card

A random woman (who looks pretty eager to leave), Commissioner Heyman, Comrade Jorge, and Scott Greenwald
A now a big finale - Comrade Gonzalez was endorsed the North Bay Village Fraternal Order of Police.  It's true.  And it was surprisingly inexpensive (for him.)  The police union rewarded him for his support to give raises all around, block any questions about the stolen NBVPD police truck, the phone monitoring scandal, the police chief's wife employment, or the lack of speed enforcement.  In fact, the FOP found this so honorable that they didn't even bother to interview anyone else.  Once Jorge handed over the cash, they were 100% behind him,  Well 90%.  Well really it was just one guy but he really likes Gonzalez.  

So there you have it folks.  That proves it.  People who are assigned to like Gonzalez do so, casual notes scrawled in a bar are his testament and he's bought the trust (with our money) of people we wonder about.  

In the meantime, Comrade Gonzalez is bellowing threateningly because he will not tolerate  the questions about his bankruptcy (he has one but says it was not his), his tax delinquency since 2010, the court's judgment that he owed nearly $1m, why he got an all expense paid trip to Turkey in May, why he voted for an ordinance to hide gifts.  He believes it is unfair campaign practice to ask these questions.

And for this and many other reasons, please join me in presenting the North Bay Village Drama Queen of the Year 2014 to Comrade Jorge Gonzalez.

Our Endorsement of Jorge Pablo Gonzalez

Kevin Vericker
October 28, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Red and Yellow Flags

If everything were going fine, there would be no need for elections, candidates, or even discussions, right?  If everything were easily resolved, there would never be a need for a meeting.   But disagreements, different viewpoints and history are all part of the discussion in deciding who we pick to represent us.  

I make no secret that I have little respect for Commissioner Jorge Gonzalez.  His arrogance on the dais, his blocking of other viewpoints, his weirdly uninformed twinning of North Bay Village with the city of Isparta Turkey, his ethical lapses, have led me to believe that he does not belong on the dais.

Click to embiggen

How to separate personal life from public life can be a tricky question.   

The Miami Herald article on the race points out Gonzalez's bankruptcy, his delinquent tax status and a $1m judgment against him.  These are all yellow flags.  Imagine you were hiring someone to handle your money and these flags were there.  Because you are hiring someone to handle your money when you elect a commissioner.   In the job interview, you would bring these up.   

And if the job applicant replied as Gonzalez did, “It has nothing to do with North Bay Village or my service as commissioner of North Bay Village.” I know I wouldn't hire him.  The Yellow Flag would become a Red Flag.  Out of the race.

Because it does have to do with us.  Maybe he learned from his mistakes.  Maybe there's another explanation, but a flat out "None of Your Business" when you are applying for a job that is specifically about financial management?  Find another place.  

Now the question becomes, do you share this in a campaign?  I say yes, it's relevant information and needs to be out there.  It's a very good reason to position one candidate over the other.  It's not unicorns and happy songs.  It's not "PPPositive" but it's real.   We need to know.  

There is a line.  Commissioner Gonzalez and his family are none, zero, of my business or your business.  His religion or lack of is none of my business or your business.  That he leaves the cap off the toothpaste or obsessively keeps putting it back on is none of my business or your business.  And that line has been respected.  

But when it comes to financial misjudgments with other people's money, court cases and tax delinquency, we have to know.  

Decrying negative information as wrong is simply avoiding the complex, intelligent consideration of a candidate's suitability for office.  

Let me give you another example.  A PAC with no known connection to North Bay Village has published a letter that mayoral candidate Jorge Brito received telling him to "cease and desist" his questions about financial irregularities at the Kennedy House and he did not obey.   He neither ceased nor desisted.   

Now this is presented as a negative and I guess it is if you live in a world where random lawyers are the authority to whom you have sworn allegiance but it's important information.   

It says that someone with nothing to gain but who is concerned about wrongdoing does not back down.  I say that's a good thing and I'm glad to know it.  You might think it's a bad thing and be glad to know that.  This is information that should be out there. 

By the way, Brito did not back down and the same person who hired the lawyer to tell him to back down is currently awaiting trial.   

Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."  And facts sometimes skew negative.  

We're grownups.  We can handle it.  

Kevin Vericker
October 27, 2014

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Friday, October 24, 2014

How I Wound Up on Connie's Flier - Stranger than Truth

 You may be surprised by the flier Connie's campaign team, Strip Club Lobbyist Mitch Edelstein and Strip Club Lobbyist Randy Hilliard, put out this week to show support for Mayor Kreps.  

Now it's no secret that the Mayor's core constituency are not very attractive on fliers, but it was a weird decision to use me as an example of her supporter, since I think Connie and all of us would benefit greatly from her spending some time in a quiet, well staffed facility for the bewildered.  

But she also included Lori Blue listed as a community activist but doesn't live here and nobody knows her.  This is what I found on Google but I don't know if it's her.  

Anyway, Kreps' campaign leaks like a sieve and I had already been told that they were planning this.  (Seriously, Connie, they tell me everything.) I don't have the actual wires since this time her campaign manager decided not to wear one but I present below what may have happened.  The names have been changed to protect the guilty but this is pretty much how it came down.  

The Scene: Brainstorming Session at the 
Committee to Re-Elect the Mayor (CREEM) Campaign HQ
Apartment 1511 in The Cardboard Towers,

Cast of Characters:

Carolina Dura-Mare, goes by “Cara Dura” – an aging, vague woman running for mayor.
Imperio Tenía, goes by “Two-Times” - a Former Vice Mayor and current Cardboard Towers Caudillo
Dan Hildegard, goes by Dandy – A strip club lobbyist running the campaign.
Snitch Edelweiss – Strip club promoter and social media troll.

DANDY: Madame Mare, we’re in big trouble here. Brito keeps talking about real things and we’re losing it with the voters who can read. Our mailers were a bust, especially that first one. Pointing out that Brito is a hero, well, that wasn’t exactly your brightest idea.

CARA DURA: I was going to take over the world. But then I saw something shiny…

DANDY: We need a kick ass mailer. Something that will punch voters in the gut. Literally. Something to get them off their butts and to the polls.

SNITCH: I could go around and punch them in the knee. I can't reach above the belt but I can punch below the belt with the best of them. Everyone says so!

DANDY: Did I say “literally”? I meant “not literally”. Anyway, no knee punches. We need a good mailer. Snitch, are you wearing a wire again?

SNITCH: No, Dandy man, I swear on my eyes. No wires anymore. Wait! I know. A mailer with quotes from all her supporters! Bright shiny references!

DANDY: Good idea. Everyone, let's go. Give me names and quotes.

CARA DURA: Shiny? I see shiny things all the time and sometimes the bad voices tell me to hurt them but I don't. Usually I don't but the voices are so loud...

TWO TIMES: You could use my quotes because I used to be mayor I think and when I was mayor it was really unfair because they call me vice mayor but I say I am mayor because I have no vice and then they call me “Two Times” because I pay two city managers and two police chiefs and two attorney firms because that's not right since the first ones were paid by people who were not me and who had communication problems and then I won the election except for the votes I lost but everyone know that I am real mayor not two time vice former...

(He stops when there is a loud crash outside and runs to see the source.)

CARA DURA: Where is the shiny thing? I had it. It was a red dot around here somewhere! Did a bad personality hurt it again?

DANDY: Snitch, we’ve lost her. We need her back in stat or we’re doomed. CARA! Look at me. Right here. That’s it. Good girl. This is a simple question. Are you ready?

CARA DURA: Yes, Dandy. Are we done?

DANDY: [patiently] CARA, that wasn’t the question. This is: WHO-ARE-YOUR-SUPPORTERS?


TWO TIMES: Coño, the balcony fell off again and it's just lucky that I am presidente for life at this building or nobody would do any maintenance when the balconies keep falling off and I tell people “no more using the balconies” but they do anyway and then they fall off like the time the Sopranos filmed a falling off balcony scene but that was just a person not a whole balcony. You could use that.

DANDY: Thank you, Two Times, but we need to focus on the current mayor. CARA, any supporters at all?

CARA DURA: Supporters? Hmmmm. Well, you know. All those people who voted for me even though I never ran. You know. What’s his name… And my neighbor. Oh, that woman at the grocery store who told me she liked my sweater. All those people. Are we done now?

SNITCH: Dandy, we’re in big trouble. I don't think no one likes her no more. We’ll have to just make up some supporters. I'll get the inactive voter list. Those dough heads don’t even know there’s an election. They’ll never know we used their names.

DANDY: Sure, Snitch. Let’s look at that list.



CARA DURA: The blogger! What’s his name? You know, the blogger. He talks to me and sometimes only I hear him. I know he likes me because he always worries about my health. He’ll say nice things about me.

DANDY: Um, Cara, I’m not sure how to break this to you, but he’s not a fan. Actually, he despises you. And laughs at you. He’s been working on Brito’s campaign. I really don’t think…

CARA DURA: Oh, pooh!


CARA DURA: Yes. POOH!. Talk to the BLOGGER. He knows I’m a big fan. I love my gays. They’re so, well, you know, gay.

Ask Richard! Or Richard's son, David. They're gay too.

How come Richard has a son the same age? I know he's his son because he said “I'm David. Richard's son.”

I’m like their Liza. Gays love me like NASCAR Dads love Liza. And Barbra and Judy…. Oooooh! Look! A butterfly. ¡Qúe cute! Oh, it's a palmetto. Now I'm sad. Are we done yet?

SNITCH: Dandy, I don't think this is going to go down, do you? Let's bag it.

DANDY: Listen up, pixie dick! We need to get something out. Get some sound bites from the blogger and see if we can’t spin some sugar out of them. Then find someone who doesn't live here and doesn't know the place. Make sure you get one of those people without penises since they're allowed to vote now, and have her endorse. Then add in some guy who never did anything for the Village because that's our base. It's our job and we're honor bound by our ethical code as strip club lobbyists, damnit!

(DANDY and SNITCH look at each other and then laugh hysterically until SNITCH sees the big wet spot pooling around his crotch and the wire he was wearing stuffed in his Underoos starts sparking. Then he starts to cry.)

DANDY:  Cara Mia , we’re going now. Don’t worry about a thing. But we got to split. There are single moms on a pole waiting for a few snitch bucks. We'll send the letters as soon as we change Snitch's Depends.

SNITCH: Shut up. I spilled water, that's all. And the wire was to keep me warm.

CARA DURA: Well, cover the letter to Daddy in heaven above with kisses. The postman said that's best to do.

(CARA DURA begins to sing softly: I've written a letter to Daddy, To Daddy in Heaven Above. I've written 'Dear Daddy, I miss you...')

(Another Loud Crash)

TWO TIMES: Santa Mierda! The roof blew off. Where's the Elmer's glue?