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

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