Monday, December 10, 2018

Clean Up At Village Hall

The election in November sent one resounding message.  North Bay Village is stuck and it needs new policies, new ideas and most importantly new people to get moving.   

Brent Latham, Julianna Strout and Marvin Wilmoth were elected to do exactly that.  Each of them has strengths and experience that can be of immediate benefit.   

But all of this could run off the tracks if they don't have an administration that they can trust to execute on their policies.  

And North Bay Village does not have an administration in place that can deliver.  

Tomorrow night at the regular Commission meeting, there is an item to discuss replacing the Village Attorney, Norman C. Powell.   Doing this is critical.  

Powell was never a good choice for Village Attorney.  The previous attorney was fired in a sneak move in the dead of the night in November 2017, Powell was brought in as interim with no discussion, the commission never issued an RFP for legal services and with next to no discussion directly negotiated an outstandingly generous contract with Powell who had never worked as a municipal attorney before.  The contract included a 4 year commitment on the Village's part which is not the norm, as well as substantial penalties for terminating the contract early.   

There's very little point in reviewing all of the areas that Powell has not performed for the Village as I have detailed them through the last year but I do not believe that his contract is valid.

Powell's lack of experience as a municipal attorney and his questionable actions could be the grounds that the commission needs to fire him for cause.   

Regardless of their approach, whether it be another painful payoff to go away or a stand to dismiss for cause, Powell has to go.   Now.  

The Village employees are unwilling to perform even basic functions without the specific go ahead from Powell.  This has meant depriving citizens of our rights and services unless this one unelected official decides we deserve them.  

All of our zoning decisions up until October are at risk because the property parliamentary procedures  were not followed, presumably due to ignorance of the law.  

Most important is the trust.  In what looked like a highly political move, during the election Powell brought a video diary recorded by now Commissioner Julianna Strout to the Commission on Ethics claiming that the video was a de facto endorsement by the Village Clerk Yvonne Hamilton and may have constituted a crime by Commissioners Julianna Strout, Marvin Wilmoth and Village Clerk Yvonne Hamilton.

Powell then insisted on bringing the video, which did not contain any such endorsement, to the FDLE and speaking about it publicly at the commission meeting.  You can read more about it here.  

Powell's associates donated to Latham's opponent, a legal but questionable ethical move, and a company for which he is the registered agent also donated.  

However the commission does it tomorrow, it's imperative that he be replaced.  

There will be people against it.  

Police officers unhappy with being held accountable for their behavior support Powell.  

Powell and the main developer lobbyist Mitch Edelstein worked together for years lobbying for strip clubs in Miami and the developers know they have a friend in Powell.   Oddly, they also have a friend in the new commission but they probably don't see that.  

The former mayor and her cronies are probably worried about their legal exposure when Powell is removed and they are right to worry.  

The Village has been in trouble for a while and the solution is painful but necessary.  

Get rid of the principal in the bad decisions and build it right.  

The voters could not have been clearer and anything less will hobble the new commission right out of the gate.  

Kevin Vericker
December 10, 2018

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