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

Friday, January 8, 2016

Carlos Noriega Sat Down With Me

On Tuesday, the commission will vote on whether to confirm the contract for the proposed police chief, Carlos Noriega, the former police chief of Miami Beach.  Noriega took some time in his interview schedule on Monday to meet with me.  In my last entry, I expressed my concerns about his record of interacting with the community based on the very negative reports in the press.  

I was pleased then when one of the commissioners suggested a meeting that Noriega agreed.  I found him to be open, willing to talk, and not at all condescending like the last police chief, the disastrous Robert Daniels.  To read about the concerns, you can see more here, where the Miami New Times wrote extensively about his handling of three separate incidents in Miami Beach.  

My main question was framed around the Flamingo Park incident and why it took six months to respond.  A simple question that got a simple, verifiable answer.  There was no civilian or police complaint filed after the incident.  It was not until the ACLU served Miami Beach with a lawsuit that the PD was even aware of the incident.  

Side note:  my BS shields were at Yellow with this answer but Noriega explained (and I later verified) that the investigation comes under a state law which prohibits a police investigation if the report is older than 180 days ~6 months.   And I looked up the report and it's true.  

In the aftermath of the incident, Noriega and crew worked tightly with the community to bring Miami Beach to the 21st century.  

The conversation shifted then to community in general and Noriega talked about his record with the PAL, the community outreach, the homeowners associations, crime watch and other subjects.  Noriega has a strong verifiable record in that area.  

This combination, a solid record internally at the Miami Beach PD and a strong outreach to the community will serve us well.  

Robert Daniels destroyed morale in our PD, deliberately cut out the community and left the police department in a shambles.  It won't be easy fixing it and Noriega has his work cut out for him.  But he looks like he's up to the job.  

Kevin Vericker
January 8, 2016