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