Friday, August 3, 2018

Friday Roundup

It's been quite a week. I want cover three big things.

The Settlement With The Deputy Village Manager

Let's start with the big controversy.  

There was a settlement agreement reached with the Deputy Village Manager, one Yolanda Menegazzo, that in exchange for agreeing not to sue the Village (it was never clear for what), she would receive 2 month's pay, approximately $21,000.   

Ms. Menegazzo had been hired by previous Village Manager Marlen Martell and after Martell was driven out for her failure to deliver fireworks on two weeks' notice to celebrate the mayor, Menegazzo was pushed out.  

Menegazzo was only at the Village for 40 days so this seems like a pretty generous settlement.

In my opinion, it wasn't.  Ms. Menegazzo had been brought it to take on the dual role previously occupied by Jenice Rosada (also driven out by a toxic work environment) of Deputy Village Manager and HR Director.   Menegazzo has a certification from the Society of Professional Human Resource Manager's, a Masters of Public Administration and nearly a decade's worth of HR experience in public sector.  She was brought in specifically to get the Village out of the current HR mess and instead wound up a victim of it, having left a stable and well respected position to take on that challenge.  

There's a lot behind it.  Our Village Attorney failed to allow the commission to vote on her contract in spite of the Charter which requires that department heads, e.g. Human Resources, be confirmed by the commission.  Although she was deputy village manager with some credible experience in the area, the police chief was (illegally) appointed to interim Village Manager.  He has no experience and was forced the next day by law to reject the "dual appointment" since it's illegal under the Florida Constitution.  

Anyway, there's been a lot discussion over on the Facebook page, with some people apparently taking the view that this was inappropriate.  

I respectfully disagree.  

Menegazzo was wronged by our shambolic and poorly run commission and financially we got off easy.   It is much worse that our mayor's ego and our poor attorney got in the way of using the talents of a bright professional who could have led us through the labor mess they have created.  

How Much Are We Paying Our Police Chief?

The second fun thing is that at the very special meeting, interim Village Manager Lewis Velken said out of nowhere that his salary was $130,000 and the previous chief was $170,000.  You can see it here on the Commission recording.  Go to 3 hours and 3 minutes.  

When Mayor Crazy Eyes heard this, she shouted "Put that on Facebook" and then cackled maniacally.  

Well, of course I will but I requested clarification since the published information does not bear this out.  Here's the email I sent, still unanswered:  

Kevin Vericker
Aug 1 (2 days ago)

to Connie Leon-Kreps, LVelken

Madam Mayor, in reviewing the video of the Monday's meeting after I left, I noted your request to post the information about the police chief's salary on Facebook and of course, I would be happy to do that.

But I'm not sure what figure is being referred to.  In looking at the budget figures for 2017-2018, the base salary for Chief Noriega was listed as $118,289 and in looking at the budget figures for 2018-2019 I see the base salary figure for Chief Velken at $130,000. 

I do note that when benefits, taxes and expenses for are added in, the budget figure for 2017-2018 (Noriega) came through fully loaded at $169,072 and that the comparable budget figure for 2018-2019 is $$171,889. 

Now Mr. Velken stated on the video at 3 hours and 3 minutes (plus a few seconds) that Noriega's salary was $170,000 last year and his own (Velken's) is $130,000. 

But I'm not sure if we are comparing the same figures.

Is Mr. Velken's $130,000 a fully loaded figure including base salary, benefits, and expenses and was Mr. Velken saying that Chief Noriega's base was $170,000?

Thank you for your prompt response and I will post as as soon as I have clarity on the numbers.  
As of today, I have no answer but Velken has told several people that I am wrong and he hopes they will tell me that.  But as of today, Friday,  no answer from either one.

The Election Race

Laura Cattabriga has filed to run for mayor and a fellow resident, Brent Latham, has also pulled papers for the seat.  At this phase, the key is to get 50 valid signatures to be on the ballot.  

The qualification period closes August 17.  

Julianna Strout, candidate for Commissioner at Large, has qualified.  No one has yet pulled papers to run against her.  

Marvin Wilmouth, candidate for Commissioner from Harbor Island, has also qualified and no one else has filed.  

Assuming no one else files, then the qualified candidates, Strout and Wilmoth, are both considered elected.  

It looks like the big race will be on the mayoral ticket.  You know I'll be writing a lot more about that.  

Kevin Vericker
August 3, 2018

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