Friday, October 19, 2018

At Long Last, Robert J. Alvarez

Only known photo of Robert Alvarez
at a Village Meeting
Last week at the Great Mayoral Debate of North Bay Village, there was a second, less heralded introduction.  At long last, rumored candidate for Commissioner At Large made an appearance.  He spoke at the beginning of the debate, addressed the assembly bilingually, and announced he was running to improve the neighborhood.  Then he left.  

This was literally the first time he showed up to a community event and identified himself.  

Robert Alvarez has only reported raising $420 in the race and has been a ghost candidate for the campaign, while Julianna Strout has been actively campaigning since May 2018 and has sent out emails and updates regularly.   

When the Herald reporter, Sarah Blaskey, finally got to speak to him, the conversation was a little bizarre as she reports in her Twitter feed:  



But from the little we say, we can glean several things.  

Ana Watson Friend of RJ Alvarez
He is friends with Ana Watson, facing trial on 4 counts of condo felony fraud and named in every major internal NBV investigation, he doesn't think that he needs to talk to the press or residents, and that he's putting little to no effort into his campaign.  

In a place that's not North Bay Village, he would not be a contender.  

But it is North Bay Village.  We elected another Alvarez with almost the same profile just two years ago over the far more experienced candidate.   

Why? I don't know what his strategy is.  It's not like he's been around town but I'm pretty sure if past is predictor of the future, and with friends like Watson, Kreps and Jackson, he's betting on something nasty.   

Negative campaigns work.   Watch for it.  

Kevin Vericker
October 19, 2018



Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Amendments

North Bay Village Amendments

Regarding North Bay Village, let's just make it simple.  Vote NO on all of them.  

It helps to understand the process.  The Commission appoints an Advisory Review Board who studies the Charter and makes recommendations for updates.  

These changes are then presented to the Commission for their consideration and they vote on what ones to include and why.  

The Commission may also put on amendments of their own.  

This year the Advisory Review Board was dominated by the news that Ana Watson, while charged with four counts of felony fraud, was appointed by the Commission on the grounds that she's friends with Kreps, Cattabriga and especially Jackson.   They held their meetings, prepared their presentation to the commission and ....

Nothing.  On July 30th, the commission did not hear any presentation from the Charter Review Board and voted on all 16 of them without understanding any of them.   

None of them including the bullshit NEPOTISM one.  They never define Affiliation and this piece of garbage was proposed by our tire fire of a commission because, and I swear I am not making this up, Mayor Crazy Eyes decided that since Marlen Martell was related to someone who married someone who worked in the same city office as a relative of another employee, this was NEPOTISM and it's on our ballot.  And that's not the only crazy one.  

Save yourselves time.  Vote NO on every North Bay Village Amendment.  None of these matter.   

The State Initiatives:


Let's take time to kick off the easy ones.  Those are Amendments 1,2 and 5, which are simply partisan designed to benefit the majority party in the legislature.  They were proposed by the legislature because they didn't want to have to control taxes. 

Amendment 1 is there so they use a Homestead increase so that voters won't be affected but leave the bulk of taxes to businesses, tourists, and second home owners.  Easier than fiscal discipline

Amendment 2 does address non Homesteaded by enshrining in the Constitution an already existing tax break.  It would be unpopular for the leg to vote on that so they are kicking it  to the voters.  

Amendment 5 A 2/3rds requirement for any tax increases in Florida.  No.  Majority should have power.   

Vote NO on 1,2, and 5

The other ones to Vote NO on:

Amendments 6,7,9,10 and 11.  These all have disparate themes in them. 

Maybe the worst is 6.  It looks like a well intentioned effort to enshrine already existing victim's rights in the Constitution.  Who could argue with that?  Except it also forces judges to retire at 75 so the legislature can remake the court more to their liking.   Two subjects - one already a law and the other a trick  Vote NO

Amendment 7 - First part is to pay for the children of First Responders who die in the line of duty to attend state colleges.  That's usually a law so why this?  Oh, so they can hamstring the same state colleges and universities by restricting their control over costs.   Cynical AF, as the kids used to say.  

Amendment 9 - Ban Offshore Drilling and Ban Vaping Indoors.  I admit, I want to vote for this.  I think offshore drilling is a catastrophe and I don't think vaping indoors should be normalized (even though I do it) but it's a trick.   A critical subject and a trival subject.  Maybe I'll vote Yes just to spite them.  

Amendment 10 - Looks like it has something to do with Terrorism (it's against it) but no, it forces Miami-Dade to establish an elected sheriff's department to further politicize our public safety.  Nah.  

Amendment 11 - This is a true #FloridaMan amendment.  It's three actually:

  • Part one repeals a 1920's clause that prohibited Asians from owning land in Florida and failed to pass in 2008 because racists and stupid people thought it had something to do with illegal immigration (it doesn't) and they are counting on the same people to mindlessly vote against this.  
  • Part deux is a clause to remove barriers to high speed rail.   (That's related to immigrant status HOW?)
  • Parte tres is a clause that makes it easier to obtain a pardon for someone convicted of crime after that crime is deemed no longer a crime.  Or an expungement.  
Actually, I just changed my mind.  I'm voting YES on 11

And Voting  on these:  

Amendment 4 - Restoring Voting Rights to Convicted Felons After They Have Completed Their Terms.  YES.   Florida put this restriction in as part of Jim Crow era attempt to disenfranchise African American voters who were promptly arrested and charged with the felony of wanting to vote and it worked so badly that the Southern Alabama idiots are trying to keep it in.  It's unfair, unjust and leads to terrible outcomes.  You do the crime, you serve the time.  You should not have a lifetime of punishment afterwards.  

Amendment 3 - I'm voting NO because I don't like casinos or what they do to neighborhoods.  You probably don't agree.  

Amendment 13 - I'm voting YES for the same reasons above - I don't like that people bet on dog races.   

Amendment 12 - HELL YES.  It restricts government officials from lobbying while in office.  Can you believe they are allowed to now?  

Kevin Vericker
October 18, 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Negative Campaign Lies Work

It happened again - my favorite kind of positive thinking bullying.  You know the kind, also called "meta-bitching" where the person complains about the complaining and proclaims themselves a positive person.   They're not.  They're ignorant.  

The truth is that negative campaigns work.  And nobody knows this better than Laura Cattabriga's political mentor and friend, Mayor Kreps.   

On any objective measure, Cattabriga is a terrible candidate for mayor and a failed commissioner.  Her record alone of destructive votes should disqualify her:
  • Voted for a change to zoning regulations that increases maximum height to 400 feet, then denies it.  
  • Voted to hire legal services, lobbying services, and communications services without an RFP.
  • Voted to remove parking from Treasure Island.  
  • Voted to pay out over $200,000 in legal settlements to three employees.  
The list goes on.  Her supporters should be a disqualifier:
  • Ana Watson, who is facing four counts of felony fraud. 
  • Mitch Edelstein, who ran all of Connie's campaigns, while lobbying for strip clubs and developers. 
  • Every developer who she already paid off above. 
  • Herself.  She's put in $25,000 so far to her own campaign for a position that pays ~$12k per year.   
  • Faked an endorsement from the police by using two officers in uniform for her campaign flier without permission.
  • Publicly attacked the Village Clerk for legally appearing in another video, reportedly with the Village Attorney's okay.  
And then even talking about her positions
  • Suddenly she concerned with resiliency.  Didn't put a nickel into resiliency in the budget.
  • Now she announces she wants a dog park.  Never brought that up.  
  • In a whiplash turn, she announces that she is in favor of every thing that Latham proposes.  
Her strategy then:

Present herself as an angel of positivity, seeking a bright positive campaign and then being dragged down by the "negativity" of others.   

Following her signature on the Fair Campaign Voluntary Pledge, Laura Cattabriga and her supporters have engaged in the same old nasty campaign crap we have seen for decades in this town.  

  • A series of anonymous videos using racism, homophobia, and mocking the disabled have been produced and circulated to bully people who are perceived to not support her.

    Cattabriga claims not to know who did it but I don't believe her.
  • Her repeated claims that her opponent committed a state crime on his homestead exemptions (he did not) and that he doesn't live here (he does.)

    This is an inoculation against her own, documented homestead issue.
  • Cattabriga "wonders" if her opponent even lives here and her supporter, the Vice Mayor, has been wobbling around town telling people that he does not.

    That's what ethicists call a "lie."
Why even bother to bring this up?  Aren't people smart enough to see low life like Cattabriga for what she is?

Well, yesterday, the oldest living voter (self reported) in North Bay Village said, "I can't vote for him.  He doesn't live here."  Not to single out a specific case where age and wisdom apparently passed each other on life's journey, but that's what happens.  

Negative campaigns work and Cattabriga knows it, so do the strip club promoters, the developers, the overpaid legal staff and the host of her supporters.   It keeps decent people off balance and on the defensive and in the meantime, allows Cattabriga to swan about the village claiming she is the experienced professional and in a stunning display of caradura Cattabriga bemoans the negativity.   

And people buy it.  Because it's easier than thinking.  

Kevin Vericker
October 17, 2018


Monday, October 15, 2018

Lot of Talk About Illegal Homesteads

Laura Cattabriga made up a story about her opponent Brent Latham and his property inherited from his grandfather.   The story was so weird that I couldn't help but wonder why she would even invent such a thing. 

But I think I have a clue.   Came across this piece of information.  Seems the county had a problem with homesteads that Cattabriga claimed between 2004 and 2011. 

I'm sure there's a good explanation.  With Cattabriga there always is. 

Kevin Vericker
October 16, 2018


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Brent Latham and The Debate

If you're looking for a report piece by piece on last Thursday's debate, you're not going to find it here.   

The entire debate is online at the Village Website and you can watch from the comfort of your own streaming device.  

Yesterday, I posted about Laura Cattabriga and the Debate.  Today I post about Brent Latham.  I'm supporting him which should come as a surprise to nobody.   
My primary reason is that I fundamentally believe that in order for North Bay Village to recover from the damage of the last 8 years under this administration, we need candidates who are not part of the North Bay Village Crazy™ politics of mismanagement.   That includes me.  
But a warm body is not enough.   It's not a rescue type of thing.  
Latham actually has a strong background in international organizations such as the United Nations, a nonprofit he ran in Peru and most impressively was brought in as part of the FIFA team to manage things post-scandal.   He's also a quick study who understands what went wrong here.  
So on to the debate.  
Temperament - When Cattabriga attacked Latham's family and children, Latham kept his cool.   When the Vice Mayor began disrupting from the audience, Latham kept his cool.   When he was accused falsely of Homestead Fraud, Latham kept his cool.  
But in this purposeful barrage of attacks and untruths, what he was saying could easily get lost.  
Strategic Planning - both candidates seem to be on board that without an overall plan for the Village the commission is directionless.  Latham however is clear that the Strategic Plan does not belong as a subset unassigned function of the Finance Department because it has to include every aspect of the Village - Planning, Public Safety, Resident Services, Accountable Government.  Simply having the occasional get together to put up aspirations is not enough and that's what we've done.  
Involving Residents - Communications is a clear issue.  The best example is that there was a building moratorium in place throughout September and there is currently a "conditional moratorium" in place.  The residents didn't know about this and we still don't know what this means.  This matters a lot.  If you are selling your house, you have to disclose this.  If you are submitting plans for any new construction, the permit will be held back.   Latham was clear that his experience in communications is that the more the better.   
The next example is when will the sewer project be finished and when the streets be repaved.  The opponent said it's all on the Village webpage.  Somewhere.  I can't find it.  
Latham was clear that this schedule needs to be front and center with residents. 
Boards that are actually tasked with studying issues, being heard by the commission and involved in the process are critical and Latham stressed his experience in this area and that the expertise lies in the room of gathered citizens.   The boards have been mostly vacant and are not included anymore for the most part in the commission meetings.  Latham thinks that has to change.  
Resiliency and Sea Level Rise - Latham was very clear that the Village can't go this alone.  Miami Beach has a forward thinking program on Sea Level Rise and Resiliency, as does the City of Miami.  We have $0 in the budget for this effort.  Latham wants to take the budget apart and find the money to start now, before it's too late.  
Development - in the last month, the Commission has approved two deals that are at best questionable for the Village.  The parking lot next to Happy's had a deed restriction that only allows it to be used for parking, a major problem in that area, and the commission lifted that.   For no good reason except the seller of the property wanted it lifted.   No negotiation, no understanding of the complex issues around the original restriction (hint: it was a court case settlement), no telling the developer that he would still need to replace the places.  
In another move, in a poorly advertised "special" meeting, the Commission approved height variances up to 400 feet (40 stories) on the northside of the causeway, smaller units, shallow setbacks, no requirements for types of business and for some reason dock sizes into a single piece of legislation that gives away most of our control over the causeway because the current holders paid too much.  Again, no negotiation and no clear understanding of the mix of businesses or residences being proposed.  
Latham was clear that these kind of wholesale changes would not simply be for the benefit of the developers but all the stakeholders.   
Village Services - We hired an attorney without an RFP because the mayor liked him.  He's making an unprecedented $204,000 per year and there was never a competitive process to see if we could get better value.  
Employees have totaled payouts ranging from $21,000 for a 40 day employee to $127,000 for a 4 month employee, presented as "waivers not to sue."   Latham was clear that handing out 6 figure severances would not happen without fully understanding why and in this case, it's clear that the fear of lawsuits is based on the demonstrably hostile work environment in Village Hall.   That has to be fixed.  
The Police - The Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed Latham and Julianna Strout.  Of all the village services, they may have suffered the most under the political pressure over this administration.  In the last year alone, they've had 2 police chiefs and 2 interim police chiefs.  The police need stable command and Latham committed to that.   
The Firings and Resignations - We have an interim Village Manager, an interim Village Police Chief, an Interim Village Clerk, a Village attorney with less than a year's experience.  While Cattabriga found this constructive and exciting, and bizarrely stated that the previous police chief was let go because the police should not investigate commissioners for crimes.   
Latham was clear that a professional government requires professional officials and that the process of hiring for these positions should not be on political expediency or personal likes.   We need a stable government.  
Working With Our Neighbors - We're small.  We can't go it alone.  Neither candidate is for annexation with Miami Beach but Latham was clear that he intends to work with our neighbors to discuss recreation, transportation, resiliency from climate change, and any issues of mutual benefit.  We need to examine these closely and carefully with the resident's participation.  
Political Contributions - Cattabriga brought up that one of Latham's supporers has a lawsuit against the Village, Latham owned it and promised that when the issue comes before the Village, he will recuse himself.  Cattabriga then falsely and smugly stated that a commissioner could not recuse themselves when there is an apparent conflict of interest.  They not only can, but should.  
Cattabriga has solicited contributions from every vendor to the village and has no intention of recusing herself when payback comes.  
My Conclusion - There's no savior, no one person who can undo the politics of chaos and self interest that have held North Bay Village back.  But Latham has the stuff to unite the Village and get us back on track.  
Cattabriga doesn't.  She sued her way on to the commission, and now is using whack a mole negative accusations against her opponent while excusing her own failure to perform because she's "new".  She's not.  She's the same old story without the crazy eyes.   
It's time for a reboot and Latham can do it.  
Kevin Vericker
October 14, 2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

Laura Cattabriga and the Debate

If you're looking for a report piece by piece on last night's debate, you're not going to find it here.   

The entire debate is online at the Village Website and you can watch from the comfort of your own streaming device.   

My purpose today is to unpack the questions and the statements made at the debate and I will start with Laura Cattabriga.   

I have written before that Laura Cattabriga is a master of the loaded question and innuendo while never providing answers herself and last night, her performance as the idealistic public servant confused by what she characterizes as hostile opposition shone through.   

Fabrications

Please note that I am using "fabrications" and not "lies".  Fabrications are carefully crafted stories based on disparate facts to build a conclusion.   And Laura is a master of this.   Say one thing, jump over the middle thing, add an unrelated third thing and then wonder how anyone can contradict her?  It's a classic evasion practiced by politicos and bunkum artists selling questionable products.   

Cattabriga claims to have a "natural curiosity" and "critical thinking" skills.  Seriously, she said that.  She may be all that but just doesn't understand answers very well.  

Let's look at how Cattabriga used this method last night.   


The Big Doubt.  

Cattabriga wondered if Brent Latham even lives here.  She based her question on the following facts:

  • His children attend South Pointe Elementary.   
  • He inherited a property in 2017 in Miami Shores, left to him by his grandfather, and the homestead exemption for the property still showed in 2017.
  • Had anyone ever seen him in North Bay Village before July?   
Latham answered these questions directly:
  • His children, like Laura's, attend South Pointe because they are enrolled in a program available only at South Pointe.  
  • The Miami Shores property showed the homestead for the tax year 2017.  This is the legal requirement as the owner, Brent's late grandfather, lived there and filed it. It was cleared in 2018, when homestead was no longer appropriate.  
  • Among the people who have known Brent for the last 5 years on North Bay Island are Cattabriga and her family.   
Not content to leave the doubts there, Cattabriga took a swipe at Brent's wife because she is president of the PTA at her kids' school.  

That in the process, Cattabriga disrespected a recently deceased family member, used his memory as a way to imply criminality on her opponent's part, took a swipe at his kids for being in school (seriously leave kids out of it!) and Latham's wife.   

All so she should could put out the fabrication, which will be coming to a mailbox near you shortly. 
Complaints

Cattabriga said she only had been on the dais for only 8 months so it wasn't fair to complain that she did not do any of the things she now says she will do if only she becomes mayor.  

  • She's totally committed to combating sea level rise and it's not her fault that there are $0 for resiliency in the budget. 
  • She is wide open to communication and she can't help it if residents don't know when the sewer project will be done and the streets repaved.  They could call "Village Hall" and someone would surely tell them plus there are things on the web that might help.   
  • People throw their every grievance on her and are disappointed because she hasn't responded.  
Latham pointed out that a mayor, who is of equal power, has only 24 months and apparently Cattabriga wasted her last 8 months.   

Misinformation

Cattabriga said that Latham's promise to recuse himself should the lawsuit by a campaign donor come before the commission showed that Latham didn't understand government because you're not allowed to recuse yourself.  

This is a bit of crazy spread about the current mayor who swears that she heard it somewhere.  

It is, oh how to put this, the exact opposite of the truth.  In fact, commissioners are obligated to recuse themselves when there is conflict.  

This piece of nonsense was put out because Cattabriga has been eagerly soliciting donations from village contractors and developers and has no intention of recusing herself when their issues come up.  

"My Opponent's Supporters and Why I Took The Seat"

Okay, buckle up.  This part is rough.   Cattabriga masterfully fabricated her role in the Hornsby lawsuit by saying that she was only interested in getting at the truth of Hornsby's eligibility to serve.  Cattabriga failed in her lawsuit but she did not mention that.  Instead, she brought forth an opinion from the elections department that Hornsby needed to reregister and completely ignored the part that required the commission to follow our charter procedures to hold a hearing on the subject, which the commission did not do.   Then she claimed Hornsby's seat for herself.   

This in her mind is supported by the fact that Sissy Shute hosted a meet and greet attended by over 100 residents and every major political candidate in Miami Dade.   The crowd was open, enthusiastic and  clearly not supporting Cattabriga.  So Cattabriga is attempting to tie this into a vast conspiracy of people unaccountably out to get her.  Poor Cattabriga.   

Cattabriga never explained why she thought she should take the Hornsby seat and never acknowledged how it looked.  

Cattabriga made sweeping misstatements about Latham's suporters while refusing to acknowledge that she has very sparse but powerful support, simply painting people who support Latham as "negative" unlike her bright positive outlook.   

Cattabriga never spoke about why the subcontracted village attorney Neil Kodsi donated to her campaign, or every developer, or other village contractors.   

Cattabriga.  

Everyone Does It - The Excuse

Following the commission effort to fire Yvonne Hamilton for appearing in a video campaign diary by a candidate, Cattabriga "tabled" the motion to fire while pronouncing herself "deeply disturbed."  

When confronted on her own use, without permission, of uniformed North Bay Village Police Officers and children in campaign materials, she smiled condescendingly and explained that "everyone does it."  

It's apparently enough to fire a 29 year employee but when it's her, well.  

Cattabriga Says She Is A Fresh Face In North Bay Village

No she's not.   Cattabriga might as well  Laura Cattabriga Kreps.    

Her campaign is being run by Strategic Campaign Consultants,  (see her finance reports), the same one man show who represents all the developers in North Bay Village, as well as strip clubs around the area, and who ran Connie Leon Kreps campaigns and Cattabriga is supported by the wife of Commissioner Jose Alvarez, the Vice Mayor and the Connie Leon Kreps herself, who sat in the front row next to a PR person.    

Cattabriga did not distance herself from the shambolic steps made by the mayor, including even defending legal services contracted without any comparison, is accepting donations from village contractors, and surrounds herself with the same people who have dragged the Village down to where it is now.  

She is not a fresh face, just the same one in different lighting.  

Cattabriga's Business

When the subject came up that Cattabriga never registered her several LLC's in North Bay Village for Business Tax Receipts, she explained that like many others, she serially starts LLC's and they usually don't make money but the one she was called out on, she registered last month.  So nothing there.  

Except it's not really borne out by the facts.  For one, she registered a company called Fixation Systems in 2014 to her home address.  Here's the document.  But she never paid business taxes on it.  Maybe because of the fraud lawsuit

VOLUNTARILY     

Excuse the use of ALL CAPS.  I got excited.  

Okay, I'm calm now.  

Laura Cattabriga signed the Voluntary Ethical Campaign Pledge which requires her to actively conduct a truthful and honest campaign.  It includes an obligation, not a suggestion, that the signer, again, VOLUNTARY, must not only adhere to the laws of the county, but must also not misrepresent facts (e.g. her opponent's residence), not allow her supporters to do so, and must condemn anonymous attacks on her opponent, among other things.  

So far

  • Cattabriga continues to misrepresent where Latham lives, including in her mailing today.  
  • Cattabriga's supporters have posted vile anonymous videos on Youtube attacking residents for the thought crime of not supporting her and has refused to condemn the same.  
  • Cattabriga continues to misrepresent the facts about herself by claiming no business tax violation while attacking the opponent's marriage.   
Cattabriga!

Kevin Vericker
October 12, 2018




Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Police Department


FOP Endorsement for Julianna Strout

FOP Endorses Latham and Strout



The North Bay Village Police Union, the Fraternal Order of Police, have endorsed Brent Latham for Mayor and Julianna Strout for Commissioner-At-Large.  

There are many reasons for this, mostly about how well Latham and Strout understood the issues facing the police in North Bay Village, and the fact that they have concrete plans to improve public safety, involve the police in the community and probably most importantly, to stabilize the command of the police department.   

The stability part is a huge issue.  I have spoken with cops with decades of experience in the field and in North Bay Village and their biggest single concern is the revolving door of the police chief's position.   

After Carlos Noriega was fired, supposedly to take us in a "different direction", most of the progress he had brought to the department has been lying fallow.  

FOP Endorsement for Brent Latham
When Lewis Velken was brought in after John Buhrmaster declined the position, he faced a department still fighting over union battles, hurt from the political chicanery of Commissioner Cattabriga resurrecting a dead scandal over the "hurricane party", a department halfway to full certification, and officers worried that the command direction would change yet again with the political winds.  

Velken did not have time to stamp his command style on the department as he was quickly reassigned to be Interim Village Manager and once again, the department entered what seems like an eternal holding pattern.  Velken was originally posted as a "dual appointment" but the Village Attorney needed to be educated on the fact that such appointments are illegal in Florida and I'm certain that he has not been de facto violating that.  

Things like certification matter.  It matters to the young cops who may want to move to another department to come from a certified department.  It matters to the Village because our PD is eligible for grants and sharing resources.  It matters to the citizens because we know that the PD is up to date and in conformance with best practices.  

Certification was just one of the programs dropped, then outsourced to start over again.   The K9 Unit has been disbanded.  The PAL camp was under threat until the residents made it plain that it matters to us.  There continues to be talk about eliminating local dispatch.   The PD bought GPS equipment but never implemented it.   

One issue on the table is 12 hour shifts for our police.   This is billed as a cost saving measure and it might be, but it is deeply unpopular with the cops whose lives would be disrupted by this.   It's the sort of thing that looks good on paper but only a manager with no experience of our police would think was a good idea.  

It looks leaderless over there and the cops are tired of it.  

And let's face it.  I think the cops were tired of being insulted by Laura Cattabriga.  The hurricane party was an idiotic frat boy stunt that had been dealt with by Chief Noriega.  Cattabriga dug up the corpse and paraded it on television claiming to be "terribly concerned" about it and wanting to know more.  What more she needed to know was never made plain.   

 Cattabriga Fakes An Endorsement

During the same time that Cattabriga was saying she was concerned about the "disturbing behavior" of the Village Clerk because she was incidentally filmed in a campaign video diary and justifying a payout to the same Clerk to avoid a lawsuit, Cattabriga also prepared and mailed a campaign flier featuring two North Bay Police Officers in full uniform, something prohibited by Village law.  There's a question of whether or not they gave their permission, although based on this memo by Village Attorney Norman C. Powell, it does not look like they did. The police department itself has not issued a statement on the matter nor have the officers spoken publicly.    

Powell exonerates Cattabriga while admitting that the police did not give permission. 

It seems like the Police Department are just props to Cattabriga's ambition.  It's not the first time she abused her position and it won't be the last.  But it does feel pretty creepy that Cattabriga used two unwitting cops and a group of kids in her campaign without their permission and without the permission of the kids' parents.  

Kevin Vericker
October 9, 2018


Sunday, October 7, 2018

What a Difference A Day Makes


Timeline:  

September 11, 2018 North Bay Village Commission Meeting

Vice Mayor Andreana Jackson moved to fire the Village Clerk on the grounds that her incidental appearance in a campaign video diary was an illegal endorsement of two candidates.  According to reports in the Miami Herald, the Village Attorney had approved the filming and no one could cite the law that had been violated.  

September 28, 2018 North Bay Village Commission Meeting

Commissioner Laura Cattabriga describes the allegation that the former Village Clerk somehow was promoting two candidates by being incidentally filmed in campaign video diary as "disturbing."   Then Cattabriga votes to pay the clerk not to sue but describes the payment as a nice thing to do for a long time employee, like the flowers, but not the vase, that the commission bought for her.  

September 29, 2018 The Miami Herald

The Herald article on the video incident  includes a description of how the matter had been turned over to the State Attorney Office for criminal investigation and the possibility that the clerk and the two candidates could face fines and even jail time.  Village Attorney Norman C. Powell was quoted in the same article saying "when anyone calls me I have an obligation to report it" and denied having been consulted about the video beforehand.   

October 3, 2018 My House

A campaign flier from Laura Cattabriga arrives and includes a photo of two uniformed police officers, a North Bay Village employee, and several children at a North Bay Village event.

Understand that the layout was approved, the printing done, the mailer set while all the while Cattabriga was joining in on the gang fight to fire the Village Clerk for ... appearing in a campaign video diary.  

Whether this was done with approval of the Police Department, the consent of the two officers, the consent of the Village Employee or the parents' consent is not clear as the interim police chief has referred all questions to the Village Attorney as this is could be a legal violation of our Charter and State Law and the police don't involve themselves in criminal matters.  

Lewis Velken, the interim Village Manager has not replied to any questions.   

My view:  There will be no consequences for Cattabriga.  She is the preferred candidate of the people who get paid by the Village.  The law only applies to candidates that they worry about.  

Andreana Jackson practicing international diplomacy

In the meantime, Vice Mayor Andreana Jackson is reported to be taking time out from her international diplomatic efforts supporting the people of Taiwan to wobble around town wondering if a mayoral candidate actually leaves here, according to several people who have run into her at various food buffets.   

So there's that.  

Kevin Vericker
October 7, 2018







Thursday, October 4, 2018

Laura Cattabriga - Uses The Police As Campaign Props

Officers Lisa Gittner and Frank Pliega of the  North Bay Village PD
Less than a week after the Miami Herald story and less than a month after Village Clerk Yvonne Hamilton was accused of violating State and North Bay Village law when she was filmed accepting candidate qualifications from Julianna Strout and Marvin Wilmoth, Laura Cattabriga sent out a campaign flier featuring two in uniform North Bay Village police officers.   

 Now whether the officers had "permission" to appear in the ad, were supporting her campaign, or had their images used without their consent, this is shocking malfeasance from a commissioner who claims to have been greatly disturbed by an innocent video appearance and joined in the bullying that led to Ms. Hamilton's resignation.  

Cattabriga!  

Kevin Vericker
October 4, 2018

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Implications and Imprecations

Julianna Strout
The fallout from the commission's unjustified decision to drive out Village Clerk Yvonne Hamilton, the last adult in the room in our government, continues to dominate our elections.   

For those who don't know what happened. on September 11th, the mayor and vice mayor teamed up to take a Commission on Ethics complaint written by the mayor and  present it as founded in order to insult and bully Yvonne Hamilton out of her position as Village Clerk.  The key piece of information the mayor withheld, even when directly asked, was that the Commission on Ethics found that the complaint was not justified and there was no reason to take any action.  You can read the results of that investigation here.  

In a second and equally disturbing attack, the mayor and vice mayor also went after Ms. Hamilton because the candidate for commissioner at large, Julianna Strout, and commissioner from Harbor Island, Marvin Wilmoth, were filmed submitting their campaign qualification documents to the Village Clerk.  According to Strout and the videographer, they had received permission to do so by Ms. Hamilton and in the same account, this was cleared with Village Attorney Norman C. Powell.  But even had they not, the public is entitled to record most government business transactions, with specific exceptions in criminal matters and involving children, in the State of Florida.   Hamilton neither speaks nor displays any message of support for the candidates and in fact, does not speak at all on the video.  

Well that was enough for our Vice Mayor and Mayor to throw around wild accusations that somehow in exercising their right to record government transactions, North Bay Village Candidates Julianna Strout and Marvin Wilmouth were being supported by the Village Clerk and the clerk needed to be fired immediately.  

This is normally the point where the Village Attorney might step in, remind the dais that per Jose Arrojo of the Commission on Ethics that it was hard to imagine even the most expansive reading of the ordinances governing officials and elections could not support the view that a crime had occurred.  That did not happen.  Instead our Village Attorney sat back and told the dais that the issue had been referred to the State Attorney's Office for investigation, which it had.  No mention was made of the CoE emails to the village about the absurdity of it, and later Arrojo was quoted as saying he did this "out of an abundance of caution."  My guess is he did it under pressure from the Village Administration.  

Vice Mayor Jackson and Mayor Kreps failed at the September 11th meeting to fire Hamilton but a toxic work environment and a hostile atmosphere led to her decision to resign and accept a settlement of five months salary for her mistreatment.   There's only so much a dignified professional can take.  

Mayoral pretender and faux commissioner Laura Cattabriga even had the cara dura to lie straight up as she enthusiastically voted to settle in lieu of a lawsuit that this was just a nice thing to do for a long term employee, kind of a bonus, when in fact it was an agreement not sue over a hostile work environment.  Cattabriga!  She has such a unique perspective.  

Back to our story.  Like the time that Cattabriga et al decided to create a media frenzy over the Hurricane Party, where several of our police had already been disciplined for their conduct during Hurricane Irma, someone decided to go to the media with the story of how Julianna Strout and Marvin Wilmoth were involved in this totally legal video.   In the article, the dead on arrival allegations that the video somehow violated state law and the North Bay Village charter are restated.  Jose Arrojo again brings in his view that even under an expansive reading of the law, it's hard to see how there was a problem.   

So with Hamilton gone, what's the purpose of pushing this false narrative?  

I'm worried.  And you should be too.  This narrative that Julianna Strout and Marvin Wilmoth were wrongly exercising their rights as citizens of Florida to somehow undermine an election is not supportable, but in North Bay Village, our top employees are worried about their lucrative positions come November when it looks to all reasonable observers that Cattabriga will lose the mayoralty and that two commission seats will be filled by people who get that North Bay Village needs to be run for the benefit of the residents not the employees.   

The Village Clerk, now occupied by an interim sure to be confirmed, plays a key role in our elections process.  I am concerned that since it has become clear that Julianna Strout does not face serious opposition since her opponent has not made any campaign moves, and since Marvin Wilmoth is unopposed in the At Large race, there will be an unhealthy and extralegal move made on them to fill the seats with commissioners more to the liking of the top employees whose livelihood depends on the current commission makeup.  

Think I'm crazy?  Okay, I'll go with that but maybe I'm not wrong.   Just consider what's happened this year:
  • In spite of the clearly spelled out provisions in our charter (Section 307.b) as how a commission seat forfeiture should be handled, the commission voted in a sneak attack to remove Doug Hornsby.  The lawsuit is working its way through the court but there is little question that his removal was illegal. 
  • In spite of strong state laws protecting whistleblowers, the administration fired Carlos Noriega, our police chief, and the two detectives who were investigating corruption in our village.  The lawsuits are working through the courts now.  
  • In spite of there being no such obligation, Village Manager Marlen Martell was given $127,000 in payments not to sue the village for her treatment.   Deputy Manager Yolanda Menegazzo got $22,000 after 30 days employment  not to sue, Village Clerk Yvonne Hamilton got five months salary not to sue and the same offers were given to others who did not take the money.   
  • In spite of there being no precedent, our village attorney has a four year contract and a pre-agreement of nearly a year's salary, you guessed it, not to sue.  
The list goes on so it's not hard to imagine that when the election turns out the way the village residents want, these same underhanded tactics might be used to create a commission friendlier (read: in debt.) to the current paid employees.  

I could be wrong.  I hope I'm wrong.  

During the campaign, Laura Cattabriga supported by her campaign consulting firm, who not incidentally are the chief lobbyists for unfettered development and strip clubs, will spread rumors, disinformation and wild accusations to try to secure her election.  Watch for it.  It's coming.  

Kevin Vericker
October 2, 2018