Sunday, December 18, 2016

Don't F With Me, Fellas!
Tuesday, December 13, 2016 was the night that North Bay Village Mayor Crazy Eyes Kreps officially started her sweet, sweet campaign to take revenge against every single man, woman or child who ever, ever questioned her or dared to disagree with her.  She was in rare form as she chaired the dais, starting the evening out by demanding the police chief remove a long time resident from the meeting for talking, losing her place less than 40 minutes into  the meeting, not knowing the procedure for electing a vice mayor and not understanding the process for appointing a new commissioner.

All trivial compared to her bombastic, disorganized, dishonest attacks on the entire village staff, because, Damnit, she will be avenged.  

Okay, so let's talk about the agenda.  

First up was the confirmation of the previously agreed replacement commissioner-at-large.   Douglas Hornsby, a longtime North Bay Island resident (there are no other kind) had been agreed in advance to be the candidate and was predictably selected by a 3-1 vote.   The pro-Hornsby commissioners were Jose Alvarez, Eddie Lim and Crazy Eyes Kreps.   Commissioner Andreana Jackson voted for another candidate, Marvin Wilmoth.  

Wilmoth, a young and dynamic member of the Planning & Zoning Board, a holder of an MBA from Columbia, and someone with a clear vision of how the projects in North Bay Village should be overseen and executed was dismissed by the Council of Elders of North Bay Island because he's black he works in Real Estate Development and because one of the elders decided that the people speaking in his support were "outsiders."   It was definitely because of this and not because he's black and we already have a black commissioner because he doesn't live on North Bay Island.  

Other candidates included Joshua Furman and Jane Blake but Jane Blake dropped out after her husband, former Vice Mayor himself Alvin Blake, got up and enthusiastically endorsed her opponent Joshua Furman.  Nobody on the dais was planning to vote for Furman or (Ms.) Blake, but it was sad to see her thrown under the bus like that by her own husband.  After his disavowal,  Blake meekly approached the dais at the end with the small, dignity saving lie that she was withdrawing because she hadn't been on any committees in a while.   

As part of the deal to support the Mayor's choice, Eddie Lim was supposed to regain the title of Vice Mayor which Mayor Crazy Eyes stripped him of in favor of now former Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez who then ran against her.   The Mayor of course didn't understand the procedure to select a Vice Mayor and so it had to be deferred until next Month when rumor has it that she will screw Lim over again.   

With that out the way, the Mayor then spent 45 minutes berating the Village Manager for a budget item to hire project management auditors to make sure that the multimillion dollar projects are being executed on time and budget.  Her reasoning was unclear but her belief in her correctness was unwavering in its resistance to the facts put forward about the legal requirements for funding this work by both the village manager and the village attorney.   They are enemies!  They must not be heard!  

And so the funding died, putting the loans in technical default, with the mayor and a visibly frightened Commissioner Alvarez voting No, while Commissioners Lim and Jackson voted  Yes.   

And the evening went on like this, the Mayor shouting, speaking in non sequiturs and avenging every imaginary slight she has kept bottled up for years.  

She explained to the Police Chief that "some residents" definitely not the voices in her head were worried that his decision to use a repair facility in Miami Beach where he had good experience and who were cheaper than our current situation was actually a ploy to move our police department to Miami Beach.     

She tolerated an audience member shouting out all night while threatening to have people who weren't even there arrested for disrupting the meeting.  

In her biggest failure of the evening, an ordinance proposed to ban the heinous, discredited practice of reparative therapy failed to pass.  Reparative Therapy is a pseudo-psychological practice that proposes to change gay people straight.   It is practiced on adolescents, truly a form of child abuse, and is widely denounced by organizations such as the American Psychological Association, the AMA and really any non bigot who has heard about it.  The Ordinance in question would have banned the practice in North Bay Village.   

But the mayor, who to her credit introduced the ordinance, has frozen out the LGBT community in North Bay Village and never mustered the support required for the village to take a potentially risky stand against this practice.   There was no prework, no discussion of possible ramifications should some deep pocketed organization choose to sue North Bay Village, no discussion of HIPPA and other potential violations and no attempt to engage community support.   So when these uncertainties came before the commission, there were no answers and no compelling reason to vote for the ordinance and it died.   I'm sorry it did but I also know that the two commissioners who voted against the ordinance did so because they did not want to expose the village to risks they did not understand.  

In fact, all 4 then passed a resolution condemning the same odious practice, but that has no legal ramifications.  

And so the evening went until 12:30.   Nothing on the boards, broken promises to "unify" North Bay Village, a badly managed meeting that wasted the time of everyone there, except for the Mayor because she got her revenge.  She got hers.  

Kevin Vericker
December 19, 2016 

Friday, November 4, 2016

NBV Election Season - It's Not The Heat - It's The Stupidity

No sooner than I finish writing about the ECO's and the half truths presented to be "facts" than another ridiculous piece comes around, this one about the mayor.   It purports to be from a group called "United For A Better North Bay Village" Seriously, look in the black print, hold it up to a white light, use a magnifying glass and you will see that printed in the lower left hand corner.

Or don't bother - there is no such group according to the Florida Secretary of State.

The flier informs us that the mayor was censured and that she tried to get Benedict Kuhne to defend her at a cost to the village of $650.   Both these facts are true and well documented but this piece gives you no useful information.  The censure was for stating without proof and then refusing to retract an accusation that the mayor made against her fellow commissioners.  She accused them of criminal acts of conspiracy and collusion and refused to retract the statements.  Then Mrs. Kreps attempted to engage an attorney and have the village pay for it at $650 per hour to do something.   Since there's no defense and no legal action, it's not clear what.   But if you going to write a piece, don't assume a nasty picture and words are enough.   We're smarter than that.
In order to balance this piece out, a new group called "Truth & Transparency" have been sending out odd emails.  They are Transparent in their support of the mayor, but Truth, eh, not so much.

Their main points seem to be:
  • The mayor is not a realtor and the vice mayor is so this makes the mayor an environmentalist, a conclusion unsupported by any facts.   Just to be clear, in the five and a half years, the mayor has never once introduced a piece of environmental legislation.  Not once. 
    The realtors she compares to are Jorge Gonzalez, who pushed for the PACE program allowing us to make our houses more resilient and if Florida does not pass Amendment 1, will allow us to install private solar energy while Jackson has led island wide cleanups and fought hard to bring the trash and environment to the forefront.
  • The mayor was apparently cleared by the Commission on Ethics on October 25 of making "false statements."  Well, maybe they did.  We have no way of knowing because the CoE, a corrupt organization designed to protect the powerful, does not clear people and no investigation is closed until the board votes on it, which will happen on Nov 9.  Must be leaky.

  • Then there is "Sign Gate" which definitely happened.  The Village code enforcement decided to enforce an obscure regulation and removed all political signs closer than 25 feet from the center of the roadway on North Bay Island.  All signs.

    I believe they did this to impress Jodi Foster and it was a stupid move.   Commissioner Chervony is furious and posting all about it.  I imagine the other candidates are too.   It was a disgrace and I wish our code enforcers showed half the initiative in removing obstacles from our sidewalks that they did in this matter.  
    It's the dark implication that "someone must have done this.  Another candidate perhaps?"  Yeah, well it was the Village Manager.  Take it up in the right place. 
So if you haven't voted yet, be selfish.  Think what's in it for me?  Will my town be better with this one or that one?   And ask why this weird distortion?   We're small enough if you need to ask a candidate what they are for or against, you can find several on Facebook or just call them.   It's that simple.

Kevin Vericker
November 4, 2016

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Sleazy Lying Scumbags. Hello North Bay Village.

Lurking around in the sewers of Florida politics is the peculiar group known as Electioneering Communication Organizations (ECO's).   These organizations exist for the sole purpose of disguising political agendas that are too dirty to own publicly.  

You've seen 2 of these pieces in the North Bay Village Election cycle.  They came from a group called "Common Sense".  Hey, with a name like that who could be against them?  It's just common sense, right?  

So who are these civic minded publishers who are so concerned with the political future of North Bay Village?  Well, that's a bit hard to say.  

"Common Sense" is an ECO headquartered in Tallahassee, City of Dreams.  Common Sense is registered to Mark Herron and is funded mainly by Floridians For A Strong Future (also registered to Mark Herron, as are dozens of other clandestine ECO's.)   Why two?  Well, it's to make it less obvious who is paying for this.

To understand who is looking out for their own best interest in North Bay Village, follow the money. Look at who contributes to Floridians For A Strong Future.   The contributors are property developers and the lobbyists who represent them. In other words, the same people who benefit from North Bay Village having a poorly run commission that allows them to do what they will.   Not a single resident of North Bay Village gave 10¢ to these ECO's because the ECO's are not citizen focused, they are focused on profits.  Here's the link to the contributors.

This year Common Senses spent money to link Jorge Gonzalez to Donald Trump, which is odd because I don't think Gonzalez and Trump chat regularly, although I haven't asked either of them.  But I'm pretty sure Trump is not interested in North Bay Village.

Another flier by Common Sense exposes that Richard Chervony can be crass.   Perhaps they should rename themselves "Common Knowledge" because that surprises no one.  In fact when I read the flier, I thought "Hmm Chervony seems unreasonably restrained."  The ECO then went on to make the bizarre claim that he voted against local school funding, a weird lie, but what they really wanted you to hear.   Chervony in fact vigorously supported the school funding but did insist on reports on how the money was spent which some found objectionable, especially the mayor.  TIES is now a D school.

If it's not true, then it must be against some sort of campaign law?  Nope.  Not in Florida.  There is zero accountability, which is why ECO's are beloved by skeezy politicians.  

And how the profiteers love our current mayor.  Her disorganization on the dais and her complete lack of interest in zoning issues, along with her predisposition to give rich people whatever they want, is perfect, if what you want is to use a small island city to play real estate shell games.

Just look at our causeway.  None of the developers were going to build there.  They are all hoping to sell and profit by holding their parcels and their magical thinking has made our causeway a sad, desolate ruin.   A better organized mayor with a competence in zoning would be a threat to that but we don't have one.  

And our mayor loves to use the ECO's.  Two years ago, she was supported by ECO's who helped our mayor take a strong stand supporting the right of profiteers to steal from the Kennedy House residents and attacked her opponent Jorge Brito for objecting to this.  That it turned out Brito was right  and multiple convictions followed, including one of the mayor's closest campaign workers, Alejandra Salcedo, is not something Common Sense or the mayor has published.  

Our mayor also used the same ECO to disparage her openly gay colleague for well, being gay at a time when that meant arrest.   So I'm only surprised that this year seems milder but no less dishonest as Connie Kreps continues to enjoy the fervent support of people who enjoy their special profits.  

Hiding behind these dark, clandestine committees is a bad thing.  We are not getting information but carefully crafted scare tactics.  I urge each of you to contact the Mayor at and ask her about the mailings.   Does she agree?  Does she approve?  And ask her about her trusted campaign worker's conviction.   

After all, it's only Common Sense.  

Kevin Vericker
November 1, 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Let's Talk About The Mayoral Race

Connie Leon-Kreps is a terrible mayor.  I cannot overstress this.  Since the day she pushed her way into the mayoral seat, she counts among her major accomplishments:

  • The worst police chief we have had in memory, Robert Daniels.  
  • Budget overruns every year until the commission finally said enough this year.
  • Actively blocked efforts to improve Treasure Island Elementary School which is now a 'D' ghetto grade school with no clear plans for improvement.  
  • Attacked political opponents for being gay.  
  • Loses control of the meetings sometime within minutes. 
  • Probably interfered with an ongoing police investigation at the Kennedy House that yesterday resulted in the conviction of the management team, including having Alejandra Salcedo, then under investigation and now convicted in the crimes as a key worker in her 2014 campaign.   
  • Accused her fellow commissioners of "collusion and conspiracy" without any proof and then attempted to get the village to pay her attorney $650 per hour when the commissioners censured her remarks.  (She failed but that's some caradura nerve.)   
  • Has consistently terrible relationships with the village managers, first Dennis Kelly and now Frank Rollason who she is trying to fire.  
  • Kreps pushed the food trucks out of North Bay Village and tried to get them banned from Pelican Island.  
So you have some of the bad things.  Let's balance those with the good things.  
  • After her initial opposition to village funding of the IB program for TIES, she later voted for it.  
  • ummm.   Kind of out of things.  
Kreps is not just a bad legislator, she is a bad person.  Her political skills have alienated each of her fellow commissioners, each of whom were allies of hers initially.  There's a story behind each one.  When Richard Chervony questioned expenses, she tried (and failed) to shut him down.  When Jorge Gonzalez worked long and hard to get the village in the Miami Shores Chamber of Commerce, Kreps went behind his and the commission's back to get herself appointed to the Board of Directors, probably extra legally.   With Eddie Lim, Kreps constantly disrespected him from the dais until it became intolerable.  

Kreps' relationships with residents are no better.  She is quick to perceive insult and understands disagreement as threats.  Every one of the boards has either been dissolved or reduced to impotence under her constant combination of ignoring the boards or actively insulting them.  

Finally, Kreps has broken relationships with the county and no relationships at all with our neighbor cities of Miami and Miami Beach.   

So even supports her?  There is a small coterie of North Bay Island neighbors who are only interested in their four square blocks, and those people who benefit from her lack of interest in fiscal stewardship such as some developers and village contractors.  Beyond that, very few.   

Jorge Gonzalez is running against her and I have problems with him as well.  I think he should work to restore the public access to the Bay, something he has not done, and he needs to take the lead on fixing the ugly north side of the causeway.  Sorry it didn't work out for the developers who wanted to flip but that's no reason to leave it looking like that.  Still Gonzalez is a far better bet as mayor.  

The village is finally back on a good financial track, the different commissioners have found their groove with education, environment, recreation and finance all finally having champions on the dais.  We have a real chance to move the village forward now but if we try to do it with same old craziness from the current mayor, we will fail.   

Kevin Vericker
October 26, 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Burying the Powerlines in North Bay Village

There is a proposition on the North Bay Village power lines to affirm a 2006 proposition to bury the powerlines, an attractive idea but I am recommending a NO vote on the proposition.  

To understand how this happened, we need to go back to 2006 in North Bay Village when this was on the ballot.  The year before we were sucker punched by Hurricane Wilma and North Bay Village was without electricity for nearly two weeks.  It was a messy and inconvenient time and was without a doubt a result of the poor infrastructure in our power lines.  

We knew burying the lines would be expensive. The original debt bond was for $9 million, and that did not include the cost to the individual homeowners to switch to underground power.  But two things were driving the move to underground - the recent memory of Wilma and the implied but never overtly stated promise that the additional moneys would come from the then booming condo development market.  

The Village did not move forward quickly and by 2008, the promised condo boom had turned into the slow, nasty slog that drains our resources and 10 years on leaves our causeway looking like the 3rd world.   The massive overdevelopment was never going to bring us any benefits and certainly wasn't ever going to pay for the burying.   

The Commission decided to put this on the ballot to see if there was still public support for the idea.  There probably is not and for very good reasons.  
  1. It's expensive.  Apart from the increased tax costs, each home and building affected would be responsible for trenching and paying for the new power line hookups.  A back of the envelope guess is $3000 or so to dig the trench and attach the powerline.  In addition, each house or building would have to have a code inspection to see if the electrical system is up to code for 2016.  Most of the single family homes were built in the 1950's and while some have been modernized, not all have been.  Those who are not up to current code will need to rewire their homes to meet code, at a cost to the homeowner that could be well over $5,000 or more depending on what has to be done.  Plus the homeowner pays the building inspection fees.
  2. One out of Two Houses Loses.  Right now, the pole transformers in the back serve 4 houses.  Undergrounding means that there needs to be a tranformer every 2 houses, so either I or my neighbor has to have a box installed in our front yard.  That could leave to conflict with the neighbors and it's not particularly fair.
  3. The condos who have already built with underground wires will have to pay the increased tax burden.  While by and large, the condos have brought little benefit to North Bay Village what with stealing the Bayfront from the residents, building inadequate parking, and the shady deals reducing the impact fees, it seems like the additional cost for the changes to our infrastructure should be paid by those who benefit.
  4. It's not clear that it is a benefit.  While underground wires will reduce the vulnerability to wind damage, they also seriously increase the possibility of water damage, particularly salt water damage.   When we have floods, it's mostly bay water, salt water, and damage to the lines or the transmission boxes means a complicated process of drying and desalinating the boxes before they can be back in service.   
I just can't see how this would benefit us.  The powerlines are ugly and worn out (so am I!  Boom!) but FPL/Atlanticbb/ATT need to harden the aboveground infrastructure to make them less susceptible to wind damage and upgrade our grid to make us more resilient.  I believe the benefits from that effort will pay us back much more than undergrounding.  If North Bay Village were built today, we would have a whole different picture of our infrastructure but given the difficulties and expenses in this proposal, we are better off sticking with the status quo.  And if the Gang of 3 don't up their game, we can always force the issue later.

Kevin Vericker
October 20, 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The North Bay Village Election and My Take

The country is in the grip of the strangest elections I can remember (and I'm old) and many people have deep concerns about the national outcome including me.   Still, let's talk about North Bay Village where strange comes to live.

We have four things to vote on:  
  • Commissioner from North Bay Island Island
  • Commissioner from Treasure Island
  • Mayor
  • Whether or not to bury the power lines.  
You know I have opinions but I'm going to save the powerlines and the mayoral race for another post.  

Commissioner from North Bay Island:   
Richard Chervony deserves to be re-elected.  He's worked diligently and hard to improve North Bay Village.  He kept our taxes low.  He is seemingly everywhere with constituent help and was the constant voice of information during the recent hurricane scare.

His key accomplishments include:

  • The Health Clinic at Treasure Island Elementary School and a new program to provide dental care. 
  • Consistently introducing and shepherding through environmental legislation including the styrofoam ban.  
  • Involved himself in the details of the budget to direct the first budget in years that maintains city services, rewards village employees, keeps the reserve healthy and lowered the taxes.  This is not the usual approach and I know how hard he worked to make this happen  

 Chervony's done a great job in his tenure and he has my unqualified endorsement.

His opponent, José Alvarez, is a nice guy who I hope will contribute over the next few years.  His major accomplishment, creating village rules around AirBnB and other short term rentals, was good but most of the work was done by his wife and I have not heard any compelling reasons why he would be a better choice than a successful sitting commissioner.  I was disappointed that he did not attend the budget meetings - the budget dictates what the village can actually do for the next year and being present would have mattered.  Great guy and with experience, he may be ready next time.

Full Disclosure Note Here:  Chervony and I have had massive, epic public battles.  NBV Thunderdome battles and we very well might again.  I fully expect some mysterious PAC will soon send you information on that.  I stand by every nasty thing I said and I'm certain Chervony will say the same about me.  (I dunno, I didn't ask).  But who would you rather have?  Someone who fights like hell and then does the right thing or some smiley backstabber?   My choice is obvious.
Commissioner for Treasure Island:  
Andreana Jackson has stood out in her rookie year.  On a steep learning curve, she has taken a firm stand on environmental issues affecting North Bay Village and is fighting hard to clean the place up.  Jackson has also worked hard to learn the commission processes, build bridges to the community and genuinely question what she does not understand.  She's very aware of knowing what she doesn't know and seeks advice from her best sources.

Her accomplishments in the last year include:

  • Sponsoring legislation to clean our streets.  
  • Leading cleanup efforts in the Village
  • Promoting Science Technology Engineering and Math at Treasure Island Elementary
  • Taking part in an uncomfortable and politically risky move to restore civility to the Commission.

Andreana is more than potential and is a proven contributor to the Village.  

Her opponent, Dr. Joshua Furman, is a long time resident and an exceptional person.  He is a doctor with a practice locally and a bright man.  Like Alvarez though, his grasp of the complexity of village issues is hampered by his not showing up.   He needs to know the issues, the nitty gritty stuff, before he should replace someone like Jackson who dives in 100%.  I hope to see more of him on the boards but he does not have the experience or the knowledge we need now.

So that's my view.  Yours?

By way, if Jose Alvarez or Joshua Furman would like to write about why they feel they are better qualified, I'll open the blog up to them publish unedited any replies they would like.  

Kevin Vericker
October 14, 2016

Sunday, August 28, 2016

All Politics Are Local

It continues to surprise me how little attention people pay to local elections.  It matters very much who we choose for President, Congress and Governor but the most immediate effects are from the local governments.   

Tuesday, there is a primary and an election for county mayor and I thought I might share some of my views on the races that affect us the most here in North Bay Village.   

First up, for State Senate, Michael Gongora is a former Miami Beach Commissioner who knows North Bay Village well.  On the Beach, our closest neighbor, he successfully championed porgrams for the elderly, for the community at large, and made demands on developers for community improvement.  He has been a constant presence in North Bay Village.  In my view, he should be our State Senator.  He gets the life of the fragile beach cities.  

Kevin Burns is also running and his record is nearly identical.  Burns has a long history of community involvement in North Miami, served as their mayor in fact.  He has led countywide campaigns for equal rights and has consistently put his constituents first.  I didn't vote for him, mostly because I feel that Michael Gongora is better acquainted with North Bay Village but it was really nice to have a choice between two well qualified, experienced candidates who know how to get stuff done.  

Jason Pizzo has not bothered to vote since 2008, has been a Democrat for all of 5 months, and has funded his campaign from his Dad's companies.  He needs to get some experience and show good judgment in why people should vote if they want me to vote for them.  

Daphne Campbell is a very bad choice.  I could write about it but my friend and fellow blogger Stephanie Kienzle has really nailed it.  You can read Stephanie's take here.

State Rep - in spite of the fact that he keeps making it difficult with his crazy endorsements of our mayor and for Jason Pizzo, David Richardson has represented us faithfully and well.  He may be my favorite person to disagree with.  David  should stay the hell out of our local election.  Supporting Kreps is a mistake for NBV'ers and for the local LGBT community but show me the candidate without flaws and I'd hate him more.  So David has my vote.  

Finally, on the Circuit Court Race, I voted for Oscar Rodriguez-Fonts.  The guy's been a public defender, a city attorney, and in spite of being a Republican (I'm not, you know) understands very well the rights of the community, the needs of the police, and has always been committed to fairness regardless of the cost.   I'm voting character here.

Finally, Amendment 4.  Just vote Yes.  It's crazy that we don't have extensive, cheap solar energy in the Sunshine State.  This would give homeowners some serious tax relief for generating electricity.  It's safe, clean and effective.  

I know there are other races, particularly for county mayor, but I don't have a strong opinion or even a well informed one, so I chose not to write about them.

Well, there are two races I have opinions on.   Both of them represent why the Democratic Party can't put its act together in Florida.  

For Senator, Pam Keith would be a natural in any Democratic party.  A bright woman, with vast international experience, a Navy veteran, an attorney with a long record of public service and a well reasoned progressive.  Her opponents are a couple of white boys with money and ego where they should have experience and judgment.  But it's Florida and it's the Florida Democratic Party, so the odds are stacked against her.  It's a terrible shame and I hate to sound defeatist, but I've watched our state party mess this up time and again and I expect this time will be no different.  

For Congress, did you even know there were Democrats running to take on Ileana Ros-Lehtinen?  Bet not.  Now I like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a lot.  I think she is a woman of integrity and political courage.  I disagree with her on many specific political policies and probably will not vote for her but I have no question about her commitment to her constituents.   We are far better off being represented by her than being ignored by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, our previous representative.  Anyone in North Bay Village remember what DWS has done for us?  Me neither.

So that's it.  My take on the primary.  Now go vote!

Kevin Vericker
August 28, 2016  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

North Bay Village Scratching Post

This is a post I've been avoiding for a long time.  Any discussion of the feral cat problem in North Bay Village quickly descends into bitter arguments flying right past each other with the anti-feral cat people expressing their frustration, sometimes crudely, and the cat carers violating Godwin's Law, which states that the first person to invoke Hitler loses the argument.   But since fools rush in where angels fear to tread, here I go.  

The situation is that the village stopped Animal Control a few years back.  The Board exists in name only and there has been no serious attempt on the part of the administration to control the feral cat population.   The population has been growing from a combination of breeding and new cats being abandoned.  The problem is worse on Treasure Island.  

There is a group, small and informal, who call themselves the Cat Action Network, who feed the cats, trap them for participation in the Trap Neuter Return program and who defend their right to do so.  

Residents are concerned because there are seemingly more cats everyday and the CAN people use the public sidewalks for feeding.  When questioned, their responses can be pretty nasty. There are concerns about public health and the quality of life problems the feral cat population bring.  

While the Trap Neuter and Return Programs have been shown to reduce feral cat populations, this is only true when there are a combination of factors involved.  These factors include vigorous enforcement of anti-abandonment laws, a large scale public awareness campaign about the program so that affected residents are included in the plan, legislation that designates and controls the feeding, trapping and return areas and times, and a strong adoption and placement program.  

We don't have that.  All we have are some self appointed guardians of the cats who believe they are being kind and perhaps are, but who have taken upon themselves with no authority whatsoever to simply declare that Treasure Island is a "cat sanctuary."  It is not.  It is a neighborhood that people live in.   

The CAN does care about the cats but that's not enough.   If cats are to live in a community and the population is to be managed through TNR, it's incumbent on this group to create community support and ensure their actions are legal and in accordance with the rest of the community.  Otherwise they are just maintaining a large outdoor accommodation for their pets.   

In the Facebook Group North Bay Village Residents Speak, this subject always causes controversy.  And legitimate concerns are brushed aside with mistaken assertions about the posters who are concerned, several of whom have domestic cats and on the other side, well, some pretty nasty language has been used.   

The problem of the growing feral cat population is shared between the Village administration which has dismantled all of the boards while not addressing this problem, and the Cat Action Network, who if they did not cause the problem, have certainly made it worse by their unilateral decision to make other people's property a cat habitat without legal sanction and without regard for the people affected.  
It's time to stop the craziness.   There is an election coming up.  Ask each candidate what they plan to do to balance the needs of the community with the desire to control and protect the feral cat population.  If the candidate is an incumbent, ask what actions they have already taken and why is the problem getting worse?   Demand that the city take charge of the problem.  

For the Cat Action Network, I get it.  You like the cats.   But these are feral cats and they live in a community.  You should be working with the village and the community to create a useful and comprehensive program.  I have heard the argument that you spend your own money and time to feed and TNR the cats.  I have hobbies too.  But I don't expect my neighbors and government to pay for them.  And that's what you're doing when you unilaterally turn someone else's neighborhood into a cat sanctuary without involving them.  You are pursuing a hobby.  And I might add that most of you don't even live here.  Stand up and do the right thing if you really give a damn.  

Kevin Vericker
August 4, 2016

Friday, July 15, 2016

He's Right

Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez
Mayor Kreps
Rey Trujillo was right.   The former North Bay Village Vice Mayor, former North Bay Village Commissioner, former North Bay Village Planning & Zoning Chair, former North Bay Village Candidate for Mayor, former North Bay Village Chair of the Connie Leon-Kreps Mayoral Campaign, and former North Bay Village resident returned on Tuesday night to address the commission.   He requested that Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez submit his resignation from the Commissioner At Large seat immediately.  

Jorge Gonzalez has declared his candidacy for mayor against his former best friend, Mayor Connie Kreps and under election law, will be required to resign sometime before Election Day.   

Trujillo's argument, long and poorly stated, was that there is legal precedent that a candidate should resign as soon as the candidacy is announced.  

Rey Trujillo was right.  There is legal precedent but it may not be the law.  

Trujillo then stated that by resigning now, the voters would have a say in filling the At Large seat in November.  By delaying his resignation until nearer Election Day, that will most likely cause the commission to select a new At Large member rather than the voters.   

Rey Trujillo was right.  

Finally, Trujillo stated that even without legal compulsion, not resigning and opening the seat for election would be "sneaky".  

Rey Trujillo was right again.   

My question is "Has Rey Trujillo met Jorge Gonzalez?"   I mean, does Trujillo seriously believe that this is a man motivated by his love of public service?  Of course he has!  In the world of North Bay Village Crazy™, Trujillo ardently supported Gonzalez in his last election bid.   They were besties, homies, compas, and entirely in agreement that they were destined to control our village.  

Jorge Gonzalez will probably lose his mayoral bid because like everyone else who has dealt with Mayor Crazy Eyes, he will underestimate her willingness to go nasty and does not understand that the interests that support her do not want to lose their useful idiot.  

But that's not the point.  The point is, Rey Trujillo was right.  

Kevin Vericker
July 15, 2016

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The New Normal

Dallas.  Orlando. Charleston. San Bernardino. Newtown.  All acts of domestic terrorism that have become such a part of our awareness that we know right away what happened in these places, and many others.  In each, military assault weapons were turned on other Americans, police officers, club kids, church goers, city workers and children, in mass shootings.   The cost to our psyche, our sense of safety and to our moral sense of who we are is beyond measure.  

But this new normal has another real cost.  Economic.   

In North Bay Village, our first costs are showing.  At the initial budget meeting, Chief Noriega laid out the cold facts of our own vulnerabilities.   While the chances of a North Bay Village suffering this kind of attack are infinitesimally low, just as they were everywhere they happened, the new normal is the reality that our police need to be prepared for random terrorism.   

And there is a cost.   Chief Noriega laid out an initial capital plan spending $240,000 for training and equipment for the PD to respond to mass shootings and other terrorist acts.   Nobody knows how much it will be to sustain the effort but Noriega made a compelling case for why North Bay Village can't afford to ignore the new normal.   We are vulnerable as an island city with a dense population and an easy tropical lifestyle.   

The budget is not final and there may be adjustments but there's little question that the commission will do the right thing and fund this preparedness effort.   

This is money that could be spent on things we need and want but because of the new normal, we have to spend our money on this.   

Kevin Vericker
July 10, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Great Election of 2016 - North Bay Village

I know.  I've been absent without leave for 2 months now.   It's not that nothing has been happening.  I've just been busy and the better discussions are going on over at North Bay Village Speaks on Facebook anyway.  

But today, it became official.  Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez formerly a BFF of Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps has announced that he is running against her this November.   

After all she's done for him, promoted his election the first time, supported his re-election the second time, cast aside the sitting vice mayor Eddie Lim to move Gonzalez to the Big Boy Chair, sponsored him to her friends at the Commission on Ethics so they could use the office to persecute other candidates, Gonzalez threw her to the curb like an old used shoe just because she's a little bit batty.  

Gonzalez is just like all the other men in Connie's life -

Her former bestie, Richard Chervony, turned on her after she had him appointed commissioner and then she refused to let him speak on matters about the village.  Connie got quite annoyed at him in fact and instead of shutting up, he decided to act like he was a commissioner. and you know do things.  That was intolerable to her so she dumped him or he dumped her or whatever.  But they are not friends.  

Her former 2nd bestie, Eddie Lim, didn't particularly enjoy being told to stop talking during his commissioner reports because Connie finds it boring when the subject is not her and Lim took umbrage when she accused all of her fellow commissioners of "collusion and corruption" with no specifics.   

Her former 3rd bestie, one Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son Of A Gun Village Manager Frank Rollason who she lied about (said she had seen him in 10 years when she had publicly supported him in a failed run for office 5 years earlier) and brought in to get around the village hiring process as a "temporary" village manager and who she stood by through thick and thin, is now the object of her ire as she is trying to get him fired but he's more cunning than she is so she can't.  

Yes, Gonzalez  is just like all the nasty dudes in her life for whom she does so much and then they dump her just because she's batty and mean and manipulative,  Also, she's not very smart.  (Neither am I.  I play a game at each commission meeting to see how soon into the agenda she's been managing for 5 years before she gets lost.  Last week was a record at 28 minutes in.  A more intelligent person would not do that.)  

Gonzalez has his own baggage, an enormous ego inversely sized to his limited intellect, his penchant for bullying and his Trump like sensitivity to criticism over his bankruptcies, tax delinquencies and other matters.   Frankly, they seemed like a dream couple to me.   But sometimes, it just doesn't work and like the War of the Roses, this political marriage made in hell will play its way out on the North Bay Village stage.  

Should be fun!

Kevin Vericker
June 21, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Censure

Tuesday night, April 12, was a first in the long, conflictive history of North Bay Village.  The commission censured a sitting member, in this case the mayor, for her accusations of “Collusion and Conspiracy” against her fellow commissioners, both collectively and individually.  It was a sad moment, made necessary by the mayor’s refusal to retract or support her accusations.  

Let’s start with the facts.   

In March, there was an item brought up on the dais to discuss whether the commission should as a whole be advised and have the opportunity to discuss awards given to individuals and organizations on behalf of the Village before these are awarded.  North Bay Village has not had this as a requirement in the past, allowing each individual to decide who would be honored by the village on their own.  At least one member of the dais thought that since the awards were on behalf of the commission and village, the other commissioners should be made aware and their views taken into account.  

Mayor Kreps took this as an insult to her issuing awards on behalf of the village and instead of engaging in the discussion, which was about awards procedures in the future, she took the opportunity to emphatically and deliberately state that her fellow commissioners were engaging in “Conspiracy and Collusion” which is a criminal offense under Florida Law.  

Commissioner Lim, visibly shaken but maintaining a calm voice, asked the mayor twice to retract her accusation from the dais and the mayor ignored him.  

This month, Commissioner Chervony decided to introduce a Resolution of Censure to condemn the mayor’s use of false and baseless criminal accusations.  In the end, the commission voted 3-1 to sustain the censure.  Eddie Lim voted against.  

A censure is a statement of disapproval.  It carries no legal penalties nor does it involve and removal from office.  What it says is that a member’s behavior does not fit the standards of decorum.  

Why The Censure Matters

Regardless of the mayor’s feelings about the issue at hand, Kreps had no right to accuse her colleagues of criminal behavior.  And once she did, she had an absolute obligation to apologize and retract her statements.  And she refused.  

On April 12, she had the opportunity again to explain and resolve the matter but Kreps didn’t.  She doubled, actually tripled down, by packing the room with supporters to whom she lied.  Kreps claimed that the issue was about an award she gave to SAVE, which used to lead the fight for gay and lesbian rights in Miami and is now a corporately sponsored PAC publicity machine.  It’s on the people who showed up, that they didn’t take the time to read the resolution or to review the issue at hand.  

The mayor opened the meeting by reading a statement refusing to apologize, explaining that strong words were spoken in the  previous meeting and that she had been attacked.  Her defenders included two former commissioners, Rey Trujillo and Al Blake, neither of whom addressed the issue, several residents and Tony Lima of SAVE who tried to frame this as anti LGBT issue.  

If the mayor had apologized, or even simply retracted her statement, the issue would have died.  But this mayor sees danger and insult everywhere and is vicious in her response.  She brought this on herself and it’s painful to watch.  

It’s ironic that the proximate cause was an award, a key to the cty, that the mayor gave to SAVE.  SAVE, previously known as SAVE DADE, was formed to advocate for LGBT equality and in a hostile environment on the 1990’s, finally led Miami in joining the 21st century.  I was proud to be member, a Guardian (think dues over a $1000 per year) and to volunteer on their projects.  A few years ago, SAVE went in a different direction and much to my surprise, showed up in North Bay Village to endorse Connie Leon Kreps and give her money as a favor to David Richardson.  It was simple political manipulation without consulting anyone in the North Bay Village gay and lesbian community. .  

Kreps has not once brought a resolution to the North Bay Village commission on any issue of importance to the LGBT community in North Bay Village, never met with the local LGBT residents and in fact during her tenure, has done the following:

  • When a routine resolution was introduced by Commissioner Chervony to support an effort to stand against LGBT students being bullied in the school system, the mayor specifically demanded that the LGBT and school wording be removed and replaced with North Bay Village stands against all bullying.  October 10, 2013.
  • In August of 2014, a PAC supporting the mayoral campaign engaged in “pink smearing”.  They portrayed the mayor’s colleague on the dais as a puppet master and made a point of attacking the only out gay commissioner on the dais by bringing up an arrest record from his youth.  This is an old McCarthy like tactic from the 1950’s, called pinkwashing, to smear one’s opponents with accusations of homosexuality  or association with known homosexuals.  Sadly it still works today.
    The mayor refused when requested directly to disown the filthy pamphlet and I was pretty shocked when SAVE refused to condemn the mailer.  In fact, that’s when I withdrew my Guardian support.  
  • Last year, a year of great strides for the LGBT community as marriage equality became the law of the land, the mayor remained silent on the subject never acknowledging the legitimizing of North Bay Village’s LGBT communities marriages.  
  • Just two weeks ago, she was notable by her absence at the Pride Parade, where virtually every Miami-Dade official Republican and Democrat showed their support except our mayor.  

The award itself was a simple economic transaction.  The mayor gets a campaign donation, SAVE gets a patina of legitimacy, and the circle goes on.  It should never have been given.  

Nevertheless, not a single member of the dais objected to the award.  There were questions about what SAVE had done for North Bay Village (nothing).  The question being debated was whether the commission  as a whole should approve such awards or should a single member be authorized at her discretion to give awards out on behalf of the village.  

Pretending that this was either a personal attack on the mayor or an homophobic attack on SAVE is part of a large pattern of cynical politics as usual.  It was about commissioners refusing to accept a deliberately framed libel thrown against and were the mayor any sort of decent leader or person, she would have simply acknowledged that she was wrong and moved foward.  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Missing In Action But Back Now

I've been super busy with entirely constructive and exciting new projects.  Life is going so well for me right now that explaining all this stuff would be bragging and you know I desperately want to hate to do that.  But I've been neglecting my self appointed duties to keep you informed so here's the roundup.  

Tuesday night was the commission meeting.  Let's talk about the stuff that got done.  

  1. The commission voted 3 - 2 to approve a contract to create 3 renderings of the proposed Village Hall, hold a workshop with the community to discuss and then move forward with revisions to the selected concept.  The cost is $58,000.

    This was a really fun process to watch.  4 of the commissioners were talking about how to best achieve the outcome of a new village hall.  One commissioner, Chervony, did not like the proposal because he wants the village to first decide the priorities of what should be in the renderings - e.g. office space, public space, parking, anything really - and then send it out to bid.  Chervony also expressed reservations about the cost, not that it was too high or too low, but that there was no justification presented.

    The other three commissioners, Jorge Gonzalez, Eddie Lim and Andreana Jackson thought that without a baseline of the proposals, the plan would remain stuck and their view prevailed.  

    Why was that fun?  Well, that's how discussions go.  You agree on the outcome and then decide how to get there.   It was good to watch.

    The mayor voted against the renderings but at this point, it's impossible to understand what she's doing.

  2. The Harbor Island Parking issues were brought up again.  The consensus seems to be that combination of the permit program and the lease of the lot by the 7904 West Drive building has resulted in a net positive for the residents but there are still deep concerns about the permit process and the sustainability of the parking lot lease.

    There is a special commission meeting planned for March 22 to work on the issues.

  3. Two developers have suggested that the village consider changing its name to the "Isles of North Bay" but it doesn't seem to be getting much traction.  I don't like it.  It sounds like a self described upscale condo development in my view.   But they did present and the subject will continue to come up.

    Beyond that, some administrative business and the meeting was over.  
Nah!   No it wasn't.   The really fun part, the part that causes me to type in all caps WTF happened near the end.   

You see the mayor has been handing out awards right and left.  She does this because she wants to act like people truly like her and in order to encourage them to keep liking her.   And on Tuesday, she create a new one that she gave to Tony Lima of SAVE, an organization that previously worked to advocate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender residents of Miami-Dade but has since decided to go statewide, and to Jose Pinto, the contractor who restored the JFK bust.   (If you're interested, stick around to the final paragraph for a discussion of SAVE in North Bay Village.)  

The newly created award is a "Key To The Village" to honor the recipient for services.   

Well, as part of the New Business, Commissioner Chervony brought up that such awards typically require the approval of the commission.  While any commissioner is free to acknowledge anyone or any cause as deserving of our note and gratitude, a formal award should not just be created and presented as though it were agreed by all when there was no discussion.   

Mayor Kreps lost it.  Totally lost it.  Want to see  it?  Go to this link and play the meeting.  Jump ahead to 3:27 and be sure to watch the whole thing.  At the 3:36 the mayor begins screaming accusations against her fellow dais members of "collusion and conspiracy."  Those are criminal charges by the  way and Commissioner Eddie Lim took umbrage at the charge and the insult.  He repeatedly asks the mayor to retract her accusation.  She ignored him and went after the other commissioners as well.

Vice Mayor Jorge Gonzalez spoke about the inherent conflict of unapproved awards during election season and wondered what, if anything, SAVE had done in North Bay Village.  Commissioner Chervony mentioned the Community Enhancement Board had voted against the award to the sculptor because he was a paid contractor rather than a volunteer and that several volunteers were being overlooked.   The mayor blamed staff for that oversight when Commissioner Jackson asked about the subject and Commissioner Jackson then reasonably asked why the mayor had not followed through there.  

Mayor Crazy Eyes responded by pointing to the back of the room at a staff member who was in another conversation and instructed the staff member to "stop laughing."   

This issue is not going away.   The Mayor levied some serious charges here and the commission has a right to have a say in the awards given in the name of the village.  She should publicly and fully apologize for her outbursts and work with her fellow commissioners to put an approval in place.  Keep it classy.  

Final note on SAVE.  As I mention above, it was a once proud promoter of equality for the LGBT community in Miami-Dade.  But in recent years, it has taken a different turn and SAVE endorsed Mayor Kreps in 2014 against the explicit concerns brought up about her failure to involve the gay community in North Bay Village.  Kreps then refused to disavow a PAC supporting her that used McCarthy era homophobic smear tactics against her fellow commissioner Chervony and her opponents.  SAVE also refused to condemn the tactic and since 2014, Kreps and SAVE have refused to meet the gay community here in North Bay Village.  Kreps never acknowledged the historic marriage equality decision and SAVE has never asked the Village to do anything to support the goal of equality.   Full disclosure, I am a former Guardian of SAVE (means gave more than a small amount of money) and when I tried to get answers from Tony Lima, the executive director, he accused me of personal attacks on him and refused to address any of the issues.  So no more checks for SAVE.  The empty fictitious award gleefully accepted on Tuesday from a cunning, paranoid mayor pretty well sums up the ugly side of local politics.  It's a shame really.  

Kevin Vericker
March 12, 2016

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Litter of Lunacy - Commission January 12

It's taken me a full three days to feel like I could write about the new and special kind of crazy that our commission is operating with.  Tuesday, January 12, was one for the books.  The mayor was sniping at the village manager, the village manager was passively aggressively cutting down the Community Enhancement Board, one commissioner dropped two F bombs and referred to assholism on the dais.   Jorge Gonzalez suggested that the village acquire police dogs to chase off  the village cats (he may have been kidding) and nothing got done.  

It wasn't all bad.   It started out with two good things. Andreana Jackson of Treasure Island was sworn in to the commission replacing Wendy Duvall.  She's bright, engaged and willing to ask any question that needs asking.  
Carlos Noriega was ratified by the commission unanimously as police chief.  Noriega's a good choice, in my view, and we did well.  

But the rest?  Holy spinning nutballs it was crazy.   How crazy you ask?  Let's break it down. 

Mayor Kreps  does a terrible job of chairing the meetings.  She frequently loses her place, talks to herself in front of everybody, misunderstands procedure and is just generally a mess.  Kreps usually melts down about an hour and a half into the meeting but on Tuesday, she screwed it up right out of the gate and forgot to swear in the new commissioner which would have made the whole meeting illegal.  The Village Clerk reminded her and it was right on the printed agenda in front of her.  

Well, that part was just stupid and nobody ever accused Mrs. Kreps of overthinking but it set the tone for the night.  

Consistently throughout the meeting, Mrs. Kreps tolerated someone sitting in the audience catcalling, laughing loudly, and talking over the dais.   Kreps encouraged a rambling seven minute discourse from someone who made no sense.   Kreps interrupted her fellow commissioners and in one the rudest moves, turned to the village manager during his report and said, "Oh, are you still talking?"  It was that kind of night.  

Not to be outcrazied, the Village Manager, one Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of A Gun Rollason gave a manager's report that was little more than a litany of incompetence and complaint.   Among other things, he mentioned that the village was now reimbursing the cat ladies for the food they litter on the sidewalks nightly, that he was well aware that 7525 East Treasure Drive is coming online in the next 2 months with 160 apartments and 98 parking spaces and no, he had no plans to deal with it but he could definitively say that the owners had no plans either, he asked for pile of emergency funds from the reserves for things he had not put in the budget, and had no comment at all about the visitor parking morass on Harbor Island.  

Then they all joined in a singularity of cynical catfighting, no, not about the actual cats, but about the boards.  The Mayor, the Vice Mayor, the Village manager have systematically destroyed all the active boards except for one, the Community Enhancement Board.  Now the mayor has been using the CEB as sort of an alternative commission to talk about every issue under the sun and to try very hard to get Frank Rollason fired. 
Rollason for his part regularly reports nonsense back to the CEB and tells them things that are not true.  Jorge Gonzalez is now planning to run against Kreps for mayor this year and ignores the board entirely.  

There are two separate complaints about this board in front of the Commission on Ethics - one about sunshine violations against Kreps and the other about misrepresentations made by Rollason.   The CoE will of course decide who they want to support in this year's mayoral election Kreps or Gonzalez and will find accordingly but this is bad.  

Because he is cunning where competence is called for, one Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of A Gun Village Manager Frank Rollason decided to put an item on the agenda with all the things that the CEB has been discussing.  This is legal but incredibly inappropriate.  It was a punk move on Rollason's part and it failed.  

Two members of the CEB gave their report, the mayor lost her thread, nobody on the dais slammed down their hand and said, "This is Bullshit", although I did hear a distinct "assholism" from one.   The commission had no idea what to do with the item and it just died.  Then they took no action on the Animal Control Board, called it a night and went home.  

Here's what they didn't cover:
  • The Visitor Parking program on Harbor Island whereby anyone who wants a visitor pass has to go in person to the police department with the license plate number of the car who will be visiting and proof that they are visiting a legitimate approve resident of Harbor Island.  
  • The lack of a Parking Plan for Treasure Island where 7525 E. Treasure is coming online with 98 parking spaces for 160 apartments.  Conservatively, that will result in 150 to 200 cars looking for street spots in an area that has few.  
  • The deteriorating sewers.  
  • The fact that all the properties on the north side of the causeway are letting their site plans and building variances expire meaning there is little hope of them being developed in the near future.  
Kevin Vericker
January 16 2016