Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Fixer and The Mayor

Ana Watson's Charges
Next week, Monday, July 30, at 6:30 PM, the Village is illegally holding a "Special Meeting" which by law requires that the meeting address only one subject.  They are addressing four subjects but since we have the terrible legal advice of Norman C. Powell, former registered strip club lobbyist for North Miami Beach, we've long since given up the pretense of being a village of laws and are now just working for cash.  

Anyway, one of the subjects is a Commission review of the charter amendments proposed by the Charter Review Board.  The Charter Review Board, chaired by Julianna Strout, has done months of painstaking work on reviewing our Charter and proposing updates.  They will present their recommendations and just like the Budget Board at the Budget Hearings, they will be ignored and the mayor will press for her insane demand that the village vote for a "strong mayor" concept with a term of four years because she was unable to cause enough damage during her eight years.  

But probably the worst insult is the continued presence of Ana Milena Watson, a close friend of the Mayor's, on the Charter Review Board and the Community Enhancement Board.  

Ana Watson is currently facing four felony charges of stealing from the Bays Water Condominium.  When an elected official, one chosen by the public, is charged with a felony, they are suspended from office under Florida law by the governor.  This is not a rush to judgment.  Instead it is a simple precaution to keep an official from using their post to influence a trial.  

Ana Watson has been an "inside" player for years.  There are credible reports that her relationship with the mayor was the catalyst for the police department purge.  The New Times did a good writeup on it saying "Columbano's April 26 firing raises new questions about the mayor and her ties to Watson." and that his firing was the direct result of his investigation into the stolen money.  

The Herald for its part discusses Watson's influence in Village Hall writing:  

"Early in his tenure, Rollason said he found a private citizen sifting through property records and making copies in the building department, unsupervised. The information was public, but neither the woman nor city staff were following protocols in place to ensure the integrity of the records.

“I told her she couldn’t do that anymore,” Rollason said. He remembers instructing the woman to go through proper channels to request access to documents, which she could review while supervised, and pay for copies just like everyone else. It turned out that the woman was Ana Watson, well known around the city as a self-described fixer for property maintenance and real estate matters. Over the years, Watson served on several city committees and was active in Leon-Kreps’ campaigns.
Several city employees said that until Rollason put a stop to it, Watson had free rein in the building department to browse and copy any documents she wanted."
The question of whether Watson should continue to serve came up briefly, with Commissioner Laura Cattabriga made a pious comment about "innocent until proven guilty and the subject died.  The mayor and the commission have also refused to introduce ethics into the requirements for board memberships.  

In the meantime, the residents of the Bays Water continue to be harrassed.  As recently as last week, the North Bay Village Code inspector was at the building following "anonymous" complaints against six different owners, none of which were borne out, and are left wondering why someone accused of theft against them continues to hold a high position in the Village boards, serving at the commission's pleasure.  

I wonder too.  

Kevin Vericker
July 25, 2018

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