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