Wednesday, June 20, 2018

More Ethics BS and The Mayor Wants to Fire Marlen Martell

Norman C. Powell's Proudest Accomplishment -
Actually claims he's a free speech hero for this.  
Current North Bay Village Fixer / Attorney Norman C. Powell, formerly a registered strip club lobbyist in North Miami Beach, has one client - himself.  He's collecting a base of $204,000 per year plus he's up for a sweet part time gig in Biscayne Park and all he has to do is bully the dais and try to keep the investigations away from the mayor.  

Norm is doing this through a combination of questionable moves, loud defense tactics, and most importantly by bullying anyone who gets in his way.  

Norm's got a big, lying, dishonest, false police report that he is pushing on Frank Rollason, one that was closed out but Big Daddy insisted be reopened just because and in that complaint, Finance Director Bert Wrains and Commissioner Eddie Lim are directly accused of issuing an ~$15,000 payment to cover a personal expense from Frank Rollason.  This is a crime to fabricate a complaint and use police resources for a false investigation.  

The complaint was apparently concocted by a four charge fraudster in collaboration with Norman and it's going nowhere but Norm needed to make sure he slapped Eddie Lim up some more.  

So Norm decided to cuck Eddie Lim by fabricating an Ethics Complaint that said that Eddie Lim was trying to get business in the Village.   Powell got his second to bottom girl, Commissioner Laura Cattabriga, to express her fake concern that Eddie was representing a petitioner .  (Seriously, Laura Cattabrigga being "concerned" is like an Italian Soccer Player getting "injured", pure cheap theatrics hoping to score.)   
Laura Cattabriga is "concerned"

Anyway, Norm and Laura went off to Ethics and filed a complaint C18-18-4 accusing Eddie of abusing his position on the commission by, well, it's not clear by what.   And Ethics had to investigate it and today dismissed the complaint because it was always not true.  Here's the complaint dismissal for your review.  Here to see the closeout memo.  

This is part of a larger pattern.  Earlier this year, Norman C. Powell and Vice Mayor Andreana Jackson concocted a fictitious complaint against former Commissioner Chervony and at Powell's insistence, the police department wasted tens of thousands investigating a wholly fictitious complaint.   

Police Chief Noriega's complaint shows a very different view of Norman C. Powell's claims that the police chief withheld information from him.  

And of course we have second to the bottom girl, Laura Hughes Cattabriga, undeclared mayoral candidate and designated successor to Crazy Eyes who took a closed internal investigation and colluded with Norman C. Powell to slam the North Bay Village Police Department on NBC6.   

Just remember, we're paying him $204,000 per year base to do this part time.  He's smarter and richer than you or me.  

The Mayor is Trying to Fire Village Manager Marlen Martell.  

Well, that was quick.  At last week's commission meeting, Mayhem Martell presented the most half assed proposal for July 4th fireworks ever seen.  Not only had she not accounted for where people might go to look at the fireworks, she was planning to put them between Benihana and Shuckers burt couldn't be arsed to get their input and had no idea of what the police impact might be, three weeks before the event.  Now Martell really did screw this up because she's not very good at her job but it's kind of Crazy Eyes' fault because Martell was the only candidate she could find who promised to fire the police chief.   But Mayor Crazy Eyes does not take responsibility for anything ever and has been sending nasty emails around about Martell.  

 I'm guessing we'll hear more about this next month and the mayor will try a move.  

Kevin Vericker
June 20, 2018

Thursday, June 14, 2018

In Unity, Nothing Is Accomplished

If there was a theme, besides cognitive dissonance, at last night's commission meeting it was that at long last the Commission has managed to find better ways to ignore what's happening right before their eyes.  By 11 o'clock, the commission was simply repeating how happy they were now that they were unified and calm.  It was totally delusional but that seems to be where they are at.  

Okay, so a summary of last night's meeting, Tuesday June 12, 2018.  

It started promptly at 7:30 PM (Special note:  from now until further notice, commission meetings will start at 6:30 PM.)  The mayor led the pledge of allegiance, then presented an award to our previously unknown FPL Liaison and the commission recognized the long, valuable service of our police dispatcher who is retiring.  

During Additions and Deletions, the mayor put an item under new business regarding Village Clerk Yvonne Hamilton's employment.

The mayor wants to fire Ms. Hamilton and at that point believed she had three votes to do so.  This was following her now long standing tradition of pulling these moves late at night at the end of the meeting.  

Spoiler Alert:  It didn't happen.  At midnight, when the subject finally came before the dais, the mayor realized that she did not have the three votes she thought she did and so instead spent a few minutes ranting about how she, the mayor, had, unprovoked and illegally, given Ms. Hamilton a negative performance review and that further, Ms. Hamilton had not signed some bullshit called a "loyalty oath"  (Special note:  The mayor may have been referring to the "Honor Code" in section 38.37 of the Village Code but since that mentions ethical behavior, well, we don't have to get Dr. Freud out of his comfortable grave to explain that slip.)
Freudian Slip

After some soothing from Norman C. Powell, it was agreed that the Clerk will enter discussions about an employment agreement which the mayor pretended was what she was hoping for all along.  

Back to the meeting and the jam packed agenda.  

Well, it wasn't that jam packed.  It was mostly the mayor detailing her recent trip to Boston to attend a meeting of mayors where she learned all sorts of interesting things like inclusion, communication matters, meet residents where they are, residents expect honest answers.  Basically, all the things she has failed at and why she is so terrible for the village.  

The mayor then went on to ask the Village Manager when the streets will be repaved ("Maybe next year?  But no commitments." replied the manager.  I suspect the new manager will be the mayor's next target) and a few other things.  

Throughout the meeting the mayor continued her rambling monologues and elaborate self justifications but in complete fairness to Crazy Eyes, she did not lose her place on the agenda until 9:30 when she began reading off an item that had already been voted on, and then kept sequentially synched almost to 11:57, when she failed to call a vote on a motion to extend the meeting until 12:30  so the meeting technically was over. 

(Don't believe me?  Why should you?  Check the video at 4:26:00 and you will see that after Commissioner Alvarez was reminded via text that there was a motion needed to extend the meeting, Mayor Kreps made the motion, then had to explain that in spite of the extra dais communication about not firing Ms. Hamilton, she was still going to discuss it and then never took a vote to extend the meeting which means everything from 11:59 PM on was illegal.)  

Norman C. Powell - Incompetent or Playing a Long  Con Grift?

Which brings us to the next administration member, former strip club lobbyist and now North Bay Village Attorney Norman C. Powell, currently raking in the paper at a base of $204,000 plus bonuses to keep the dais out of jail.   

The question is:  Is Norman Powell the worst Village Attorney imaginable or is he is the best grifter we've seen in North Bay Village's history?  

Powell's services are terrible.

Let's start with the smallball - the above mentioned failure to be an effective parliamentarian.  Not a great mishap but had the mayor succeeded in her plan to fire Hamilton, it would have been illegal anyway because the meeting was illegal and that's the sort of thing that leads to expensive lawsuits and leads to increased billings from Norman Powell.  So, incompetent or grifter?

Let's get a little bigger.  Regular readers of this space know that there was a bogus accusation placed against Commissioner Eddie Lim, Finance Director Bert Wrains and former Village Manager Frank Rollason, alleging that they had conspired to steal $15,000 from the Village to pay for a personal home improvement for Rollason.  The whole allegation was quickly disproved but Powell has attempted to keep it alive for no good reason.

Well, Eddie Lim asked Powell point blank if he (Lim) was still under suspicion and Powell, who claims he has turned over the investigation, assures Eddie he is not.  Powell is in no position to discuss this if there is a real investigation so the question is, is Powell lying about the investigation being real or is he lying about his knowledge of it?  Incompetent or grifter?

Let's go even bigger.  Village Manager Mayhem Martell hired an Assistant Village Manager who is also head of Human Resources.  Now Martell apparently has never checked the hiring policies as specified in the charter, Section 4.01, and so was not sure if her hire needed to be submitted to the Village Commission for confirmation.   Martell mentioned this at the Village meeting and inquired meekly if she needed confirmation.  Again Martell should have known this and didn't. 

When she brought it up (8 minutes and 29 seconds in), Powell just sat there as the meeting went on.

Powell either didn't know what Section 4.01 of the Charter says so here it is:  Section 4.01 Paragraph G, Section 2:  "He (my note: sexist use of pronoun but refers to the Village Manager) will submit appointments of new department heads to the Commission for confirmation."

Because of this lack of confirmation, the new head of HR, the Assistant Village Manager, is not legally confirmed to that position.  This is exactly the sort of ambiguity that causes courts to look askance when an employee claims illegal actions on the part of the employer and puts the Village in a bad position at a time when we are already in high conflict.

It's also the sort of thing that leads to very lucrative billings from the attorneys representing the Village in these lawsuits.

Three major legal errors in one meeting with big implications.

And let's add in a bold faced lie.  During the discussion about a strong mayor, which Crazy Eyes claims she wanted to know more about because "a Herald reporter asked her", Andreana Jackson at 4 hours and 9 minutes inquired if the Charter Board had discussed lengthening the mayoral term to 4 years.

The correct answer was yes, twice.  And Board rejected it

Powell does not mention that although he was there and deliberately answered a question not asked by explaining that the commission can add things to the ballot.  But never mentioned what the Review Board had discussed.

The pattern continues - the illegal vacuuming up of Homeland Security Data, his pressing the Fencemaster investigations, the leaks to NBC 6, the illegal removal of Hornsby, his approach to the police chief firing.  It's bad and getting worse.

Incompetent or master grifter?

I come down on the side of he doesn't know what he's doing, he has no experience at this, and he sees his job as being the Village paid defense attorney for a mayor under investigation.  But maybe not.

Why I think Marlen Martell will soon be fired.  

There is a truly revelatory exchange at  3 hours and 18 minutes.  It was during a break and Mayor Crazy Eyes was seething over the commission's rejection of a plan to have July 4 fireworks.  Mayor Kreps says, "I want to go out with a BANG."

Now everyone wants fireworks but the plan as presented was for fireworks between Benihana's and Shuckers, no plan was in place for residents to use the lots to watch them, no plan for police presence was in place and it's probably too late to get community funding. 

Laura Cattabriga voted against it and Connie would have none of it.

During the break, she can seen and heard berating Cattabriga who is trying to tell the mayor that sometimes they might not agree.  About two minutes into Connie's rant, Martell comes over to Connie.  Connie tries to push her away saying "I don't want to talk about it!" but Martell informs Connie that her voice can be heard through the chambers (and on the recording) and that Martell is just trying to help her.  "Your voice is sounding all the way over there.  I'm doing this to help you.  Please.  Watch your thing (points to the microphone)" and walks away.  Connie then tries pushing buttons randomly and Cattabriga gives up.

This is typical of the mayor.  There can be no disagreement that is not personal and does not require retribution.   I think she will go after Martell.

And Then The Police Chief 

Police Chief Lewis Velken spoke on the item whereby the Village is seeking police accreditation, something that was already in process under Noriega.  Velken decided to contract out the process to a consulting firm and we are at back at square one.  Now Velken may have good reason to redo the whole process but he did not discuss that.  Instead, he and the commission talked about how a "civilian" was in charge of the internal accreditation and Velken had removed him.  

Well, that's truthy.  The "civilian" in charge was a retired FBI agent with extensive certification experience so it was not an off the street temp hire.  It was a small, petty slam at the previous chief for no good reason and it was dishonest to mention one fact, he was a civilian, and not bring in the full picture.  I hate that an apparently good man, Velken, is getting caught up in the crazy.  

In her enthusiastic endorsement, Mayor Crazy Eyes thanked the new chief, proclaimed her happiness with him and hopes that he stays many years.  

I would caution Police Chief Lewis Velken that Kreps made similar declarations of admiration to Police Chief Bob Daniels, later fired, and Chief Noriega, later fired.   She doesn't understand it and it's part of her process of a hero to save her.  

So the meeting ended finally around 12:30 AM on Wednesday morning.  

It ended the way it started, with the Mayor dominating and ranting and  getting nothing done.  

  • No information on when our streets will be paved
  • Another failed series of basic meeting procedures and practices
  • No fireworks
  • No firing of Yvonne Hamilton (my opinion: good.  I'm very thankful that didn't happen.) 
  • No planning for the future. 
  • No prep work for the budget. 
Mayor Kreps should leave now. 

Kevin Vericker
June 14, 2018

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

More Questions Than Answers

By now you have probably seen or are aware of the State Attorney's Office closeout memo on the Hornsby matter.  The Herald wrote about it here and if you prefer to read things directly, you can find the memo here.

The conclusion of Assistant State Attorney Isis Perez was that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute because two of the three principals in the investigation, North Bay Village Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps and North Bay Village Board member Ana Watson (currently facing four counts of felony fraud), did not choose to talk to her, while the third subject, Mary Kramer, local attorney and employer of commissioner Jose Alvarez did agree to be interviewed, but, you know, not recorded.

The closeout memo details the process.

Ms. Watson did not RSVP to the SAO's summons for an interview and there's nothing they can do to make her do that except insist and issue a subpoena but that costs money.  So Isis can't let it go.

Isis Perez was also unsuccessful at getting Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps for an interview but fortunately watches TV and couldn't help but notice that Her Honor said on the television that she didn't know about Hornsby's past until it was made public, so if that's good enough for Judge Judy, it's good enough for Isis.

In her only successful interview, she did score a meeting with Mary Kramer  who brought an entourage and insisted on no paparazzi or recordings which is totally what prosecutors agree to with everyone suspected of a crime.

Isis summarized the meeting by saying that Mary Kramer had indeed sought the records on Hornsby for clients that Kramer would not name and that she had no idea what these unnamed people did with that information after she found it.

In order to be fair and balanced, Isis mentions the other evidence:

  • An email from Watson letting Doug Hornsby know that his failure to do her bidding would result in bad stuff where Hornsby would claim to be the victim.  Five days later the letters were sent to Hornsby.  
  • Statements from Doug Hornsby that Mary Kramer had attempted to pressure him to fire Frank Rollason and was frustrated at his refusal to do so.  
  • Statements from Doug Hornsby's wife about the pressure she got from the mayor to influence her husband to fire Rollason.
  • A different timeline in which Doug Hornsby's wife says that she had confided Hornby's past to the Kramer and Kreps prior to the request from Kramer's office indicating that Kramer knew already.  
  • A video showing a white car stopping in front of the Hornsby's house the night the poison pen letters were delivered.  (Isis Perez does not mention that the white car was quite distinctive with a black roof panel and was not checked in at the gate.)  
So in conclusion, Perez dismisses the evidence from the victims and accepts the statement made off record by Kramer that nothing untoward happened from her viewpoint and does not pursue the other two principals, North Bay Village Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps and Ana Watson.  

Our Village Attorney, Norman C. Powell, whose previous experience as a strip club lobbyist uniquely qualifies him as an expert on extortion jubilantly concurred with the Isis vindication by saying "Where is the quid pro quo?"  The quid pro quo is the action that a blackmailer wants done in exchange for not doing harm.  (Special note:  the quid pro quo may have been to fire Frank Rollason?  Evidence seems to point that way.) 

Anyway, this decision not to prosecute was actually issued on May 15 but not made public until Friday June 1 after the police chief Carlos Noriega filed his lawsuit for wrongful dismissal and a media counter narrative was called for.  In other words, it looks like the SAO hid the finding until it was needed for political purposes.  

Norman C. Powell sent out a celebratory text to the commission and  employees following the NBC 6 "reveal" of the memo.  I guess my favorite is where Mayhem Martell expresses her gratitude to Willard Sheperd who she apparently believes was the one who arranged all this.  ("What a relief.  Thank you, Willard") My second favorite is the one from David Raben, our fly Village Criminal Attorney ("Willard da man!")   I bring this up just in case you thought the job of our Village Attorney, Village Manager and Village Criminal Attorney was to serve the residents.  It's not.  It's to protect the mayor.  We just pay for it.  

So in spite of the fact that the letters were sent, the evidence that a firing was demanded as a quid pro quo, and the refusal of a key figure, North Bay Village Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps to meet with the prosecutors, Isis Perez was not able to see how any of this is a problem. 

Also, this is a nice car.

Anyone seen a car like this on North Bay Island?  Just asking for a friend.

Kevin Vericker
June 6, 2018

Friday, June 1, 2018

Better Call Saul

Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps - She's Melting
Both the Miami New Times and the Miami Herald report on the latest self inflicted wound in North Bay Village, the lawsuit filed by former police chief Carlos Noriega.

In his lawsuit, Carlos Noriega says he was fired after he named names and dates in the ongoing investigation into the extortion against Doug Hornsby.  Specifically, he names Connie Leon-Kreps, the mayor of North Bay Village, Mary Kramer, employer and spouse of Commissioner Jose Alvarez and Ana Watson, a friend and ally of the mayor who is facing four counts of felony fraud, as suspects in the case and he named them on May 24, 2017.  

Further, he says that he was fired this year because of this and he is seeking compensatory damages and reinstatement.  

North Bay Village Commissioner Jose Alvarez
In the meantime, our mayor, Connie Leon-Kreps, along with the wife of Commissioner Mary Kramer's Husband, one Mary Kramer herself, have refused to cooperate with State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle in the extortion investigation, while Ana Watson continues to serve on two Village Boards while awaiting trial for four felony fraud counts.   

It's getting even dicier in here.  

You see, you can say whatever you want in a lawsuit but when the legal process known as "Discovery" hits the courts, people, even mayoral people, even people who are only on the commission because their employer/wife told them they had to be, even people on trial for other crimes, face serious penalties like jail time if they lie.   They can of course plead the Fifth.  

This case will require "Discovery" and they are all going to have to state their participation in the circumstances that led to the police chief's firing, even faux Commissioner Laura Cattabriga who lost twice in her lawsuits to unseat Doug Hornsby and who only prevailed when one Norman C. Powell, our Village Attorney whose only known qualification was his work as a registered strip club lobbyist in North Miami Beach prior to his employment by our commission, made up a new law that got her the seat.  

Sidenote on Laura Cattabriga.  She is either a disingenuous liar or a complete tool who last month leaked an internal affairs tape on our police department and pretended she didn't know that the investigation had been closed and disciplines issued.  Cattabriga did this to destroy our police department and because she wants to be mayor.   Also, she refused to vote for an Ethics clause on our boards because she did not want to unseat Ana Watson, who is facing four counts of felony fraud.   Cattabriga!  

Anyway, our Village Manager, Marlen Martell, a strip club supporter from Norman Powell's days workin' the circuit for Black Diamonds, is named in the suit as she was the one who actually, on paper, did the firing.   Marlen Martell, whose nickname is Mayhem Marlen, was brought in to run the village in spite of the fact that her previous experience was as "Assistant to the City Manager", you know "Get me those files, Mayhem Marlen" kind of assistant, not an Assistant City Manager as Kreps falsely claimed, and is the nominal person in charge of the Police Department.  

Mayhem publicly stated that she wanted to take the North Bay Village Police Department in a "different direction" which she promptly did by hiring a police chief whose previous highest rank had been lieutenant and who has never had departmental command responsibility.  Also, who is not averse to Leaking Laura Cattabriga's misuse of police videos. 

Oh, by the way, don't believe me that Martell is a key supporter of Strip Clubs.  Here's a quote from her after she was the swing vote on extending the hours for Norman C. Powell's client Black Diamonds in North Miami Beach.  

“We need to make sure that our Biscayne corridor doesn’t have these type of establishments.” — Councilwoman Marlen Martell, before voting yes to approve the Black Diamonds extension.  Source: Miami Herald July 9, 2015
Anyway, so here we are.  Getting sued.  Waiting for court dates, trials, more revelations, more scandal.  It needs to be over.  

Kevin Vericker
June 1, 2018

Thursday, May 31, 2018

North Bay Village - Is It Over?

The Herald printed two articles recently about North Bay Village.  

The first one, available here, is about the shambolic revenge firings and the desperate attempts to keep a resident on trial for fraud on Village boards while trying to keep the extortion investigation from reaching the dais.  

The second one is about a thought experiment on the part of Miami Beach to annex North Bay Village.  Proposed by Ricky Arriola, a Miami Beach commissioner, the article which is available here talks about the pros and cons of such an annexation but most importantly addresses the question of why this would even be considered.  

And the answer to that is very simple.  Our mayor, Connie Kreps, is a failure.  For eight years, she has presided over a dais that she is constantly ripping apart, proposed no serious plans for North Bay Village, attacked any and all residents who have questioned how the village is run, disappeared during hurricanes and in a final sprint before her being termed out (or removed) from the dais, has replaced three of our key officials with people who have no experience in the position.   Kreps is also gunning for Village Clerk Yvonne Hamilton's job to complete her revenge cycle.  

And it is revenge Kreps wants.  

That's pathetic.  When accomplishment fails, revenge is not the solution.  

The bottom line is the annexation discussion needs to be about what's best for the NBV residents.

The mayor should not be trying to shut it down.  If she were any good at her job, she would be coming forward with why it's a bad idea, not snark and childish retorts.  

I have no doubt that our village attorney, Norman Powell with his $204,000 annual contract, our police union with their old fights and generous salaries and benefits, and the developers who use North Bay Village to park their money will fight this tooth and nail but for the residents, we want to have this discussion.  

The government chaos has left us with less confidence in our PD, we see dirty poorly maintained streets, no plan for sea rise, a declining school and no rec services and we question why our taxes are higher than the beach and our values are so much lower.  

I hope this moves forward.  I have reached out to Ricky Arriola and I hope he will hold a series a public meetings in North Bay Village about what the vision and next steps are.  

The beach is not a paradise but it runs a hell of a lot better than we do here.  NBV's government owes it to us to have this discussion with the Beach and with the residents, then let the residents decide.  

Kevin Vericker
May 31, 2018

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Connecting the Dots

Today's Miami Herald has an excellent overview of North Bay Village's current situation.   Seriously, go and read it now.  What I've been trying to do for 8 years to expose the power for the sake of power that has been ruining our town,  Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey summed up concisely in one article.  Here's the link to the article: 

 How a dispute over stationery turned this mayor's tenure into a Greek tragedy

And if that does not work, here's a PDF of the same.

The article neatly sums up what is happening but there is one piece of further information you need to know.  The Herald reports about Ana Watson, facing felony charges for fraud, who was appointed in February to our Charter Review Board and who the Commission has defended as the best person for it, going so far as to reject even a simple Ethics training so as not to have to acknowledge the problem of a mayoral ally under arrest still bullying her way around the city.  

Here's a photo they used of Ana Watson supporting Mayor Kreps: 

Ana Watson Third from the Left Working the Campaign

But let's look at another angle.   In the below photo, Alejandra Saucedo who was at the heart of the Kennedy House scandal that resulted in the arrest and conviction of the property management team for stealing from the owners, an investigation that then police chief Robert Daniels tried to squash and that the mayor used to discredit her opponent, is there supporting the mayor too.  

When the Kennedy House residents, led by Jorge Brito, finally forced the hand of the North Bay Village Police Department and the county to investigate and prosecute this outright theft, Alejandra Saucedo turned state's evidence and was key to the conviction, while she walked away from the charge.  The mayor had worked hard to suppress the investigation and even had the cara dura to use Brito's efforts to stop the blatant robbery against him in an ugly campaign.  Here's that trash that the mayor used and the arrest record for Alejandra Saucedo.  

Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres - A Spanish proverb meaning "Show me your friends and I'll tell you who you are".   Mayor Kreps, making us cringe since 2011.

Kevin Vericker
May 23, 2018

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Should Miami Beach Annex Us?

The Miami New Times reports that Ricky Arriola, Commissioner of Miami Beach, wants to talk about annexing North Bay Village.  

There's a lot to talk about in this idea and I first heard about it two weeks ago.  The MB Commission Meeting was supposed to have it as a discussion item last week but postponed it because their agenda was running long.  

The New Times article only covers the proposal and Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps dismissal of the notion.   There is much to think about.  

The Advantages to North Bay Village:
  • Property owners would most likely see a 10-15% in the value of our properties.  It's true.  Our price per square foot for similar properties is lower than surrounding communities and particularly North Beach.   
  • North Bay Village would get access to Miami Beach Rec Services and other programs that we don't have now.  
  • Currently, developers decide where and how the properties will be developed and while holding them for flipping, as they are on the causeway, have such minimal community obligations to maintain the properties that the causeway looks like a wasteland.  
  • Ricky Arriola talks about the small talent pool to run for office and we've seen the effects of that.  
  • For me, the big one would be the larger city being able to address our most pressing issue of sea level rise and hurricane preparedness.  As a national headline, "Small town by Benihana's flooded" is less compelling than "Miami Beach underwater" and our problems would have higher priority.  
The Disadvantages to North Bay Village:
  • We would lose our local police department.  Most residents like the police department but the current administration, in particular Laura Cattabriga, have been hitting them hard and it's a big question of whether the current model is sustainable.  This needs to be figured out.  
  • For single family homeowners, we could lose our side yard pickup.  Granted this only affects 10% of the homes in North Bay Village.  (Note:  we have 3,264 housing units in the Village, about 330 single family homes)
  • Miami Beach does not have district representation and that could hurt us.  
There is more.  

No city in Miami-Dade county has ever offered themselves for annexation.  While new ones have been established, only Islandia has ever disbanded and that's because nobody lives there.  Opa-Locka has an effort to unincorporate and moneyed interests are fighting them at every turn.  

We will see that here.  The developers who control the commission will fight this hard.  I suspect the police will too and Mayor Kreps, taking a cue from Kim Jong-Un, has already said, "Maybe we should annex Miami Beach." and pledged to fight this idea, which will probably be as ineffective as every other pledge she's made.  

I imagine she and her handlers are already working on anonymous email campaigns to derail things.  

But for the rest of us, it seems like it's time to discuss it.  

Kevin Vericker
May 22, 2018

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I Wonder if the Mayor Is Okay?

The Herald published a very good article about last week's meeting.  I haven't written anything up because frankly I wonder if it's even worth giving the crude attacks from the Village Attorney and the mayor the light of day.  

But after a full week, it occurs to me that people may be losing sight of the very important issue.  

This is really about desperately trying to keep the extortion attempt against Doug Hornsby, from reaching the dais.  

The meeting was filled with the defensive outrage of Mayor Kreps and Village Attorney Norman C. Powell.  According to the two of them, things are far worse than meets the eye and they can only release selective information but if we knew the truth, boy, the blogger would be singing a different tune.  

First up was Mayor Kreps in which she defended the firing of Robert Switkes because Eddie Lim received poor legal advice resulting in Kreps having to file an ethics complaint against Lim and the CoE agreed with her.  So there's that. 

Then she hopes that the former village Frank Rollason is exonerated in the investigation of an anonymous complaint that Rollason, Bert Wrains and Eddie Lim conspired to use village money for Rollason's personal gain.  

Of course, Rollason was exonerated.  You can read the police investigation here.  But just for the hell of it, Kreps and Powell have reopened the investigation to keep the smoke blocking the extortion investigation.  

Kreps then went on to say that new Village Manager Marlen Martell had no choice but to fire Carlos Noriega, our former police chief, because he would not cooperate on something.  She didn't mention what but then she went on to say that the former police chief was under investigation for overtime fraud and FEMA fraud, had bloated the salaries of the police department, did not enforce the Short Term Vacation Rental ordinance, and mishandled the  hurricane party.  She provided no proof but once again, created a diversion from the question of the extortion investigation reaching the dais.  

Then the mayor moved on to Hornsby.  After saying that she sincerely likes him, she drew some odd distinction between "Citizen Restoration" and "Voting Rights".  I didn't understand it and she didn't either since one of her lawyers fed her the line and it does not appear in any of the court records.  

Finally, she urged Villagers to "connect the dots" which she failed to do.  

What she did do was casually slander everyone she's angry at while providing no proof.  

In closing, Kreps said her remarks would be posted on the Village Facebook page, which as of May 16, 2018, they have not been nor are they on the Village website at 

No proof.  Nothing substantial.  Just a performance for the press in the hope that an upcoming Herald article would be favorable for her.  It was not.  The article was simply accurate.  

The Big Show - Norman C. Powell Takes Aim

This is probably as good a point as any to note again that last week's meeting was a theater piece playing to an audience of one - the Miami Herald.  Marlen Martell noted in her report the following:  "Interviewed with a Miami Herald reporter. Hoping for a positive and factual review of our wonderful Village."  The hope was that the Herald would write an article about how well the dais is handling all the controversy.  They didn't.  

Powell reiterated with more specificity the same accusations that Mayor Kreps had thrown about.  
In his report he claimed:

  • The Fence Investigation into Rollason, Lim and Wrains was substantial and still open. 
  • There were serious problems with the police and FDLE is involved.  
  • FEMA funds were misappropriated and hinted that the Department of Justice was now involved.
  • Carlos Noriega never made a whistle blower complaint.  
  • Powell's direction to vacuum up the data on the village's servers including Homeland Security data was the right legal move to prevent tampering.  
  • There are "6 or 7" other issues which the FDLE has found "probable cause"
  • That another complaint against Eddie Lim came from the "community" (an anonymous email)
Then he shifted to me, the blogger, and recounted a meeting he and I had in January at which he told me to call him if I had any concerns.  (We did have that meeting and he did say that.)  Powell said that I was not vetting information with him, which is true.  When I tried, I got argument, not discussion, but that's a good defense attorney for you.  Not a good municipal officer but still...

Powell is a first amendment advocate, as witnessed by his earning boatloads of money defending the rights of strip clubs to make more boatloads of money, so there's that, but he had to set the record straight on the abuse of irresponsible writing.  (Maybe if I charged $1 per touch?)

None of the above have any substance.  The Rollason matter was based on an anonymous email from a known fraudster IP address, FEMA audits are routine and the vacuuming up of the village servers was done without Homeland Security's authorization.  The rest are too vague and unsubstantiated to even intelligently discuss.  

Why The Drama?

The answer is very simple.  

The biggest worry of our dais is that the extortion investigation will reach the dais.  That our elected officials will be implicated in a ham handed attempt to destroy Doug Hornsby and although the civil penalties for this are slight - it's a podunk town with a history of nasty politics - the reputation damage will be grave.  And Norman C. Powell was brought in at $204,000 per year plus additional costs to stop that from happening.  

The audience for last Tuesday was just one person - the Miami Herald reporter - and the hope was that it would be a slam dunk destroying the credibility of the critics (me) and would win in the court of public opinion what the courts found baseless.  

When that didn't work, Laura Cattabriga and the village administration colluded to release dark shadowy videos from the Internal Affairs investigation into the famous "Hurricane Party" and hope that by destroying our police department's reputation, the pressure would go away.  They found a willing accomplice in Willard Sheperd of NBC 6 but the report had no substance.   Watch it here.  

This will all continue to grow as a coverup and all of it could be simply handled if the State Attorney's Office goes ahead with pressing charges in the extortion.   That's what will bring the curtain down and I wish I knew why they are delaying.  

Kevin Vericker
May 16, 2018

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Hornsby Extortion - The Origin Story

Here's something you probably have lost sight of.  The event which set off all of the purges was the extortion attempt on Commissioner Doug Hornsby, claiming he was ineligible to serve.  Everything that follows including the illegal behavior, the firings and Honsby's removal was not about Hornsby's conviction in Tennessee for cocaine in the 1980's but about extortion of Hornsby to get him off the commission.  

If you haven't been following the police firings, the removal of Hornsby and the whole sordid mess, start here and work your way back.   

There has only been one (1) (ONE) legal opinion on Hornsby's eligibility to serve as a commissioner in North Bay Village and that was in December of 2017 when the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics considered the issue and put forth the opinion that there was no evidence to support the claims that Hornsby was ineligible to serve as commissioner.  Read their conclusions here.  

As regards Hornsby's eligibility, there is nothing illegal.  The court cases sponsored by Marlene Brody and Laura Cattabriga et al were always false and the court tried to give them every opportunity to improve their case but the plaintiffs could not and wound up dropping the case.   

The removal of Dr. Hornsby was done when registered strip club lobbyist North Bay Village Attorney Norman C. Powell dishonestly misrepresented a discussion meeting to be a kangaroo court to remove Hornsby.  Powell was lying about the law and doing it because the courts were ready to throw the matter out.  

When Village Manager Marlen Martell fired police chief Noriega and replaced him with Lewis Velken, who in turn fired the two detectives investigating the extortion attempt, they did so to cover up crimes that seem very likely to reach the dais.   

When the Mayor tried to intimidate me from writing about the extortion attempts, it was to block information from reaching the public.  

The Core of the Hornsby Matter

In the late 1980's while living in Tennessee, Doug Hornsby was arrested and convicted on cocaine charges.  The guy had a problem.   

Hornsby was not the only Vietnam Vet to come home with a drug problem but his was an exceptional story.   

Hornsby served in Vietnam as an unarmed medic, having claimed conscientious objector status as he enlisted in the US Army.   He saw combat, saved lives, was wounded twice and received two purple hearts.   Hornsby never carried a gun.  

His service was mindful, courageous and principled.   

By the late 1980's however, he had developed a problem and the law intervened.   Hornsby served his time in prison and under the laws of Tennessee, his rights to vote were automatically restored.  

You read that right.  When Hornsby registered to vote in Florida, he had every reason to believe that he was eligible and no court has found otherwise.  

In between the time he completed his sentence in Tennessee and he moved to Florida, he completed a second medical residency at Harvard under a rehab program.  In North Bay Village, he developed a key radiology practice and he and his wife Sissy settled into the rhythms of life here in an almost 1950's domestic relationship with Hornsby practicing and Sissy dedicating herself to community causes.   

In 2016, he was approached by Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps who asked him to consider applying for the Commissioner At Large vacancy created when Jorge Gonzalez resigned.    Hornsby did.  

At no point did he hide from the mayor or anyone else his public record of conviction and imprisonment.  

The extortion attempt happened after Hornsby fell out with the mayor and her crew over the mayor's desire to fire Frank Rollason.   

The clumsy anonymous emails and physical snail mail threatened to destroy Hornsby's reputation by disclosing the already very public record and let him know "that's how this city runs." which I think means by threats and shaming.  

Since Hornsby had always preemptively disclosed his past, the threats seemed empty and designed to get him to leave the dais.   And he fought back by bringing the reports into the light of day or at least the light of the dais by disclosing the extortion publicly at a commission meeting.  

And since then, every action taken by our dais with regards to the firing of the previous village attorney, the hiring of an inexperienced registered strip club lobbyist as village attorney, the removal of Hornsby, the firing of the police chief, the firing of the two detectives investigating, the installation of Laura Cattabriga on the dais, the planned firing of Village Clerk Yvonne Hamilton and the hiring of inexperienced village manager Marlen Martell all reek of a desperate attempt to kill the extortion investigation before it reaches the dais.   Nothing good has come of this.  

And Hornsby was never ineligible to serve.  

Kevin Vericker
May 5, 2018

Friday, May 4, 2018

Isn't There More to this Story?

Yesterday I covered the New Times Article about the firing of Sam Columbano, a North Bay Village detective, which from all appearances seemed to be about his investigation of the mayor's ties with a local supporter and friend who is facing four felony counts of fraud yet remains on three of our boards.  
The firing of two North Bay Village detectives who were investigating the extortion of Doug Hornsby, the embezzlement at a Harbor Island co-op and a false complaint about former village manager Frank Rollason conspiring with Eddie Lim and Bert Wrains look to even the most casual observer like a coverup.  
But wait... Mayor Kreps supporters are going around darkly muttering that Frank Rollason and (fired) former police chief Carlos Noriega are definitely under investigation for felonies by the  FDLE and the Feds.   They really wish they could talk about it but they can't but don't worry, we'll see the truth come out.  

Over at the Incel site, LEOAFFAIRS, an anonymous troll site where cops and cop wannabes post racist and misogynist rants and untruths, the keyboard warriors have been in particular taking me to task as putting out one side of the story while knowing it's not true. 

Here's the problem.  The second side is nothing.   There's no there there.  

The two "other side" stories are:

  1. Former Village Manager Frank Rollason is being investigated for a FELONY by the state isn't he?   Well, that's not true.   It was debunked in yesterday's post.   It was never anything more than an "anonymous" complaint that was easily debunked when Frank Rollason shared all his receipts for the project bills he was accused of conspiring to get the village to pay.  It was a lie.  Don't believe me?  Read the full accounting from the North Bay Village Police here.

  2. Yeah, but the Feds were all over Village Hall pulling records and files on Carlos Noriega, right?

    Yeah, no, not like that.

    The village's claims for reimbursement for FEMA funds after Hurricane Irma are being audited, just like every other city that claimed reimbursement money.

    So the Feds have been requesting files for all overtime, not just the police.  It's what they have to do by law.  Just like your insurance adjuster asks for receipts.  There is no fraud investigation.  
What both these lies have in common is that they are designed to distract from the deliberately executed tactics to rid the village of the people who are investigating alleged crimes that could reach the dais and have already destabilized our government.  Smokescreens put up by self interest.   

Of course, I could be wrong.  I know there will be a stream of invective launched at me from the so called "other side", lies, whispers, threats, all anonymous. I've been there.  

I will reiterate my longstanding offer.  If anyone wants to on record, with your real name, to dispute the facts of the situation, I will publish your stuff unedited.   If you want to chide me and tell me that I don't have the facts, but want to remain anonymous, I will respect that and publish any supporting information you send me.   But it has to be real stuff to support, not just the voices in your head.  

But if you sit behind a keyboard wearing your anonymity to disguise your bullshit, cowards don't deserve the light of day.  

Kevin Vericker
May 4, 2018

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Coverup Is Worse Than The Crime

By now, even the most committed of Mayor Kreps' supporters have to be shaking their heads in disbelief.   

Last month at the commission meeting, Eddie Lim brought up for discussion whether or not the village should remove appointed board members if they have been charged with felonies.  

Andreana Jackson said something about "innocent until proven guilty" and the mayor deferred to the Village Attorney who reminded the mayor and the dais that board members serve at the pleasure of the dais and the dais can remove them at any time.  

Mayor Kreps did not take the hint and the item died for lack of a second.  

And so Ana Watson, currently under arrest and facing trial for four counts of defrauding her co-op with false checks remained on the Charter Review Board and the Community Enhancement Board.  

The Miami New Times wondered why and published an article detailing the close links between Watson and the mayor along with the news that while Watson has been allowed to stay on the boards, the cop in charge of the investiation, Tom Columbano, was summarily fired, allegedly in retaliation for investigating the Mayor's close personal friend.   You can read the article here.  

Before there are outraged cries of "Isn't she innocent until proven guilty?", let me explain why the state of Florida suspends elected officials following a felony arrest.  

There is reasonable concern that someone facing a serious charge will use their position to influence investigations and to obstruct evidence.  

It is not to declare them guilty without trial.   It is a sensible legal precaution and Norman Powell should have advised the commission that their best interest is to remove Watson or anyone else charged with a felony, particularly one investigated by that same government, from positions of influence and information.   

I have little doubt that Columbano was fired because of his investigation of a close mayoral confidante.  I have not spoken with Columbano but indications are that this is part of the pattern of the dais to suppress information and investigation that could touch the dais.  

What pattern you might ask?  

Two days before Columbano was summarily dismissed, another North Bay Village detective  named Sam Bejar was called in and fired.  

Bejar had been investigating an anonymous complaint that former Village Manager Frank Rollason, in collusion with Village Finance Director Bert Wrains and then Vice Mayor Eddie Lim had used village funds to pay for a personal home improvement project at his property, the construction of a fence.  

The "anonymous" complaint was sent to Village Attorney and Registered Strip Club Lobbyist Norman C. Powell and was accompanied by a series of check registers, obtained by one Maria Posada, that made the above allegations.  

The whole thing was easy to debunk.  There were no checks that matched the amount of the fully permitted fencing project at the Rollason property and one Rootin' Tootin' Straight Shootin' Son of a Gun Frank Rollason had all the invoices and the receipts from his project showing the money was paid from personal funds.   In other words, there was nothing there.  

But some strange things came up in the investigation.  

  • The anonymous complaint came from an email address "" and the sender IP was not masked.  That sender IP is the same one in the embezzlement case.   Reading the memo prepared by Sam Bejar (available here) points pretty clearly to involvement by the same person facing trial for embezzlement.  
  • Norman C. Powell, the actual complainant, refused to cooperate with the investigation.  
What happened next is as the kids say, "Skeezy AF".   After Bejar briefed the new chief on his intention to close out the investigation as "UNFOUNDED", Bejar was summoned to a meeting with the Village Manager, Marlen Martell, Village Attorney and Registered Strip Club Lobbyist Norman C. Powell and new Police Chief Lewis Velken and fired.  

Bejar was instructed to close out the investigation but while trying to do that, his computer was taken over a 3rd party and he watched as files were being deleted.  

This is an email that Bejar wrote to the chief on April 24 in lieu of a closeout report.  Let me warn you right now.  Bejar has perfected the economical writing style of a detective and although the email is only 4 pages long, each sentence is packed with information.   It's a dense read and if you just skim it, you will lose the thread quickly.  Here is the email, a public record.   BEJAR EMAIL.

It is increasingly obvious that this is not about one case of financial fraud.  The mayor, members of the dais, the Village Attorney and the Village Manager are in active collaboration to derail any and all investigations, including the one at the core of all of this, the Hornsby matter, that threatens to implicate the dais in criminal actions and they are not going to stop.   

The Scorecard so far stands:

Chief Carlos Noriega was fired for filing a complaint about illegal copying of Homeland Security information and open investigations by Xact Data Discovery at the direction of Village Attorney Norman Powell. 

Detective Tom Columbano was fired for investigating Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps' ally and friend.  

Detective Sam Bejar was fired because his investigation could not be used against a former Village Manager.  

But stay tuned.  On Tuesday May 8, Mayor Crazy Eyes has put a discussion item on the agenda regarding Village Clerk Yvonne Hamilton's "employment agreement".  Kreps makes no bones that she dislikes Hamilton and Hamilton's insistence on doing things legally.   Kreps will move to fire her.  

Kevin Vericker
May 3, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Marlen Martell Fires The Police Force

When recently hired Village Manager Marlen Martell was interviewed and offered the job, the price was clear - fire Chief Carlos Noriega.   This direction came from the mayor and the village attorney and Martell complied quickly.   

Noriega was fired because the North Bay Village PD is actively investigating the extortion attempt against Douglas Hornsby and because another investigation, involving a close political ally and personal friend of the mayor, has already resulted in an arrest.   While awaiting trial, the person in question serves on two of our key boards.   

To the casual observer, this is suspiciously redolent of a coverup.  It looks and feels like a neurotically desperate attempt to squelch legitimate criminal investigations out of fear that they could reach the dais.  

What happened yesterday only reinforced that.  Sam Bejar, who was brought on by Chief Noriega, had been charged with managing the PD Internal Affairs investigation into misconduct and was working closely with the detectives investigating the extortion and the embezzlement cases, both of which are seen as threats to the dais.   

As is usual when a new chief comes in, Lewis Velken sat down with Bejar on Monday to review the open investigations and the case load.  It doesn't paint a pretty picture and from what I understand, Velken, who had a stellar reputation at the Miami-Dade Police Public Corruption team, acknowledged the gravity of the situation and reassured Bejar that he should continue with his work.   

Tuesday, Village Attorney Norman Powell and Village Manager Marlen Martell overruled the police chief, called Bejar into a meeting without the chief present and summarily fired him.   

The protocol lapse of overriding the chief in his first week is the mark of amateurs and the whole thing stinks of retaliation and suppression to protect.   Norman Powell should have known better and Marlen Martell, fresh from her betrayal of the voters who trusted her in North Miami Beach, should have been more politically astute than to engage in something so idiotic, but they don't know.  Neither one has experience in running legal or city management, Powell was a strip club lobbyist in North Miami Beach until the end of 2017 and Martell was a commissioner in the same city (who voted to enhance the strip club experience) and resigned leaving her city in chaos.  They are enablers for an increasingly antidemocratic mayor and commission.   

We need the feds, badly.  

Kevin Vericker
April 25, 2018