Friday, March 16, 2018

New Village Manager and I Apologize to Laura Cattabriga

North Miami Beach
Commissioner Marlen Martell

The commission voted 5-0 last night to offer North Miami Beach Commissioner Marlen Martell as the new North Bay Village Manager.   

Ms. Martell, who has an MPA from FIU, and a certification as a Certified Floodplains Manager from FEMA, is also a sitting commissioner in North Miami Beach.   This is her first job as a municipal manager although she has held several high level management positions around the county.  Her resume is posted here.

Ms. Martell was widely viewed as the popular choice as she has an existing relationship with the mayor, a long history with interim Village Attorney Norman C. Powell.  In 2011, as North Miami Beach Commissioner she voted Yes on a request to extend strip club hours to 6 AM.  Norman Powell was the attorney for the strip club owners at the time and I'm sure appreciated her support.

Ms. Martell has already been instructed to fire Police Chief Carlos Noriega and I'm certain she will comply in the next few weeks.

The Offense Was Public So The Apology Must Be Public:  An Apology From Me To Laura Cattabriga:

I don't trust people who say, "I'm the first to admit it when I'm wrong."  They are not.  Any reasonable person is the last to admit it when they are wrong and I am a reasonable person.   

I was wrong in posting unflattering pictures of Laura Cattabriga and I took them down.  

Surprising me, it was the mayor who pointed out that these pictures could be reasonably interpreted as shaming and I believe the word she used was "creepy."  

For what it's worth, I put them up as a satirical illustration of the commission "turning its back" on the public and hiding from transparency but looking at them after the meeting, I realized that the impression which the mayor explained was perfectly reasonable.   So I took them down and have reached out to Ms. Cattabriga to apologize.   

To be clear, I do not believe that Ms. Cattabriga appointment was legal and she should not have sought it or accepted it.   The removal of Dr. Hornsby was illegal, done deceptively by advertising the special meeting with the "sole purpose of discussion" and then forcing the forfeiture of office, completely ignoring the charter procedure for exactly this situation.  

So I will continue to hammer on the issue and I believe Ms. Cattabriga should step down and run in November, allowing the voters to make the decision.  That would be the dignified approach. 

Kevin Vericker
March 16, 2018

Thursday, March 15, 2018

It's All About The Math

I'll keep this post as short as the Tuesday meeting was long.  Let me sum it up.  Nothing worth doing was done Tuesday night, yet the dais and the audience were left exhausted and bickering.

There were three highlights.

State Project Funding for NBV
Highlight 1:  State Senator Daphne Campbell did a legislative update in which she wished us  a Happy 73rd Anniversary as a municipality, presented a proclamation to that effect and then told us that she had been able to get $0 in state funding for our desperately needed infrastructure.  She did inform us that there's always next year and requested a standing ovation.   Senator Campbell is very enthusiastic. 

Highlight 2:  The extraordinary contract drafted by Norman C. Powell which included a term of 4 years with a full year severance or penalty for early termination for any reason caused much concern among residents and even some from the dais. 

One concern raised was that the 12 month payout in the event of early termination amounts to an end run around Florida Statute 215.425 which prohibits severance of more than 20 weeks by presenting this as a payment in exchange for agreeing to not sue.  That's $204,000. 

Another concern was the length of the contract, 4 years, which is pretty much unheard of in legal contracts with municipalities and we have always operated on a terminate at will basis here in the past, which allows us to change lawyers if the commission is unhappy with the work done, as was the case with Weiss Serota and presumably with Robert Switkes.  Four years well exceed the current commission's tenure and it is saddling future commissioners who may not like Mr. Powell's novel legal approaches with a poison pill. 

So after much discussion, the commission voted to send the matter back to negotiation with Andreana Jackson, who was filling in for the mayor when she stopped understanding the complex numbers and was no longer able to articulate what was being discussed, proposed that the contract termination be reduced to a combination of 20 weeks severance ($78,461) plus 3 months not to sue us ($51,000) for a total of $128,461.  Or not.  By that time, the commission was so confused that they had no idea on what they were asking to do but they kicked the decision to next month. 

Highlight 3:  The math.   The subject of buying the lot on the Causeway where the Sakura restaurant was for $2.9 million was on the agenda with a due of date of March 13.   The Decision was deferred as the village is also talking about buying an off island lot for the truck storage currently on Galleon St., still has no idea how much a community center would cost and we are still on the hook for burying our power lines and rebuilding the sewers.   So the commission deferred. 

Special note:  in defending the length of Norman Powell's contract and the generous severance terms, our mayor stated that the previous village manager had proposed buying this same lot for $2.9 million, which matched the appraisal.  The proposal was supposed to be submitted in February but of course Rollason had left.  

The mayor was certain it was all a trick and implied there was more to it than Rollason was letting on.  

Her new BFF interim attorney Norman C Powell said so and instead proposed that we purchase the property for $2.6 million. 

Great, we save $300,000.  

Oh wait, there's about $300,000 in fines outstanding against the property and the $2.6 million dollar offer also included forgiveness for the fines.   So the the net to the city would have been - ready for it - $2.9 million.  

The mayor found this brilliant and absolute proof that Norman Powell was looking out for our best interests in ways that Frank Rollason did not. 

The other commissioners did not and so they deferred action on the item until next month and instructed the village attorney or the village manager, it's not clear who, to go negotiate some more.  

And before you ask, I'm not sure why we need the Sakura lot.  We can't even take care of what we have.  

Lowlights:  So many.  Andreana Jackson badgered Eddie Lim all night.  The mayor decried criticisim of her as misogyny and racist.  The questions about Mr. Powell's behavior and contract went unanswered.   Here's a video of Andreana Jackson screaming at Eddie Lim.  It's unedited.  You can see the whole mess at  

Kevin Vericker
The Ides of March, 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Commission Pays Norman Powell

Interim Village Attorney Norman Powell is up for permanent hire tomorrow night at the Commission Meeting.  And he has negotiated one sweet contract!  Powell's gonna get PAID, baby.  

In spite of the fact that he has none, zero, nada, experience as a municipal attorney, he is demanding $17,000 per month, a cool $7g more per month than Bob Switkes, our previous attorney.   

But it gets even better.   

When Powell accepted the position following the sneaky firing of Bob Switkes in November, residents were outraged that Switkes had been fired in the dark, at 11 PM, by a Sunshine busting cabal of Kreps, Jackson and Mary Kramer's Husband.  It had been planned well in advance and Norman was ready to jump in.  

But he's not going to let that crap happen to him.  Powell's too smart.  His contract stipulates that if the commission decides to terminate, it can only do so if the item has been noticed and at a public hearing.  No way he's gonna get Switkesed.   

Here's where it gets really good.  

The Village Must Pay Norman Powell $204,000 If They Terminate The Legal Agreement.  

That's right.  Norman's getting paid.  No matter if he doesn't show up for work.  No matter if he continues to break the law with his bad legal advice.  No matter...what.   His contract states that he gets 12 months pay ($204,000) if the Village decides not to continue the agreement.  

How Stupid Does He Think The Commission Is?  

It is a trick question.  Very stupid is the answer.  

The Mayor is finally getting some relief from the voices in her head as Norman Powell assures her suavely that she really is the victim here and if she just trusts him, he'll punish all those mean people who don't say so.   "Just trust me, baby.", he might whisper, "Just trust me.  But you know I got to get paid, right?"  

Commissioner Mary Kramer's Husband
Commissioner Mary Kramer's Husband.  Well, he just wants some peace.  Just some peace.  No more wife as a subject of interest in a criminal extortion investigation (*as noted by our previous village attorney) .  He'll vote a big Whatever and truly mean it.  Because he's his own dude, damnit?  Right?  

Is $204,000 like a lot?  
Recently installed and soon to be challenged by a lawsuit fighting that installation, Vice Mayor Andreana Jackson has finally gained access to the exclusive environs of North Bay Island and is currently basking in being the Mayor's principal handmaiden.  Besides, she's no good at money!  What with all those nasty credit companies suing her!  

 New Commissioner (*Pending the results of a current lawsuit) Laura Hughes Cattabriga is facing some stiff legal bills of her own as a result of her lawsuit against Doug Hornsby so she could take his place on the commission.  Seems that she is being sued for Hornsby's legal costs, and there is a lawsuit to set aside her illegal appointment to Hornsby's seat.  

Cattabriga owes big - to her lawyer, to Norman Powell for acting as her de facto lawyer, to the mayor and to Mary Kramer's Husband's wife and she sure ain't gonna pay it out of her pocket.    

So $204,000 of taxpayer money?  Yes please.  

Tomorrow night, March 13, Item 10c, which has already been agreed by 4 of the 5 commissioners will be passed and Norman Powell going to finally hit the jackpot.  

Unless of course, enough residents show up to question this.  

Kevin Vericker
March 12, 2018