Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Project Update - Dig We Must

The Good News - The four projects that have disrupted the streets around North Bay Village, mostly on Treasure Island, have an end date in sight.  The goal is to have the projects completed in March and the streets restored to their previous condition by the end of March. 

WARNING - The March date is the plan but throughout the project new information and unexpected issues have delayed them before so it's more likely to be May, in my view. 

Still, this information from tonight's Town Hall, which can be viewed in its entirety at this link came as welcome news to the 7 residents and 2 dais members who attended and should be welcome news to the thousands of Facebook group members who have been following this seemingly eternal project.

Overview of the Projects - 

There are actually four projects. 

Repair and update the water main lines, the ones that bring water to our homes.  Most of the lines were either lined or replaced depending on their condition and that part is completed.   

Repair and update the sewer lines, the ones that bring waste from our homes.  Like the above, most of the work has been completed and when the pump stations are reconfigured and replaced, planned by March, we will have a functioning village sewer system.  

Repair and update the stormwater outflow and install new catch basins.  This is the system that carries away the water in rains and other floods.   Most of the work has been accomplished and is on track for March.  

Replace the water meters with smart water meters.  This will not only bring greater efficiency and accuracy in measuring water usage for billing, it will allow the consumer to view their water usage over time and understand their own impact on this.  It's the last step and can't be done until the rest are signed off and more good news, the asphalt patches on the sidewalks will be replaced.  

No.  Not yet.  

Some important things to know is that this is one project designed to get the water system to a stable, level point.   It will not repave the streets, improve resiliency, bury the power lines, address the parking issue, or eliminate many of the issues we had with the road surfaces before.  

It won't get us a dog park.  

There is a lot to do for North Bay Village to move to the future but at least we seem to be reaching the end of the project to give us a solid foundation.   

The Remaining Issue - Communication

The Village has been missing in action in communication about the project.  Nearly completely.  A few feeble attempts in the last few months to update on the Village Facebook page, occasional updates at commission meetings and weirdly an invite to attend a weekly meeting on the project during working hours.   

Even tonight, when I brought up that it matters to be proactive and the Village at least once should send a mailing to every household with the project status and where to get more information, it was met with condescension and a refusal to commit, peppered with excuses that "it's hard."   

Bullshit.  There are ~4000 housing units in North Bay Village.   The cost for such a mailing on a critical subject that affects every aspect of our lives, including our ability to sell our homes or attract new residents, and understand what our tax money is doing, would be about $1 per household.   A simple update.  This piece took me about an hour to write and will reach some people.   The Village Facebook page will reach others and some will even check the website, but a project of this magnitude deserves an active communication plan that people will see.  

I hope our administration finally gets it.  We're tired of being the last thought in this Village and I look forward to seeing a little more useful work on this.  

Kevin Vericker
January 29, 2019


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Why Not Hire Carlos Noriega To Be Police Chief?

In April of last year, North Bay Village Police Chief Carlos Noriega was called into then Village Manager's Marlen Martell's office and abruptly fired.  The only reason given was that Martell wanted to "take the police department in a different direction."  

Noriega felt differently and quickly filed a federal lawsuit alleging among other things that he was fired at the direction of then mayor Kreps, who wanted him out for not squashing investigations involving herself, her friends and political allies, and for filing a complaint against Village Attorney Norman Powell alleging that Powell had  copied and kept possession of criminal justice and homeland security information through a third party without obtaining permission.  

The lawsuit is in the deposition phase.  

Following Noriega's dismissal, the Village found Lewis Velken, a retired Miami-Dade lieutenant and installed him as police chief two days after he applied, in an arrangement whereby he is paid through a third party so as to not interfere with his pension, for which he would be otherwise ineligible.  

This possibly illegal arrangement is under investigation by the Florida Retirement System and law enforcement agencies.  According to sources, the village manager and the village attorney approved the arrangement but the contract was never brought forward to a commission vote as required by law.

In the meantime, Martell herself was fired for apparently failing to deliver fireworks that Connie Leon Kreps wanted, and the role of village  manager has been temporarily assumed by Lewis Velken who still remains outside the village payroll.  

In the meantime, the police department is run by a competent, pleasant interim chief who has no eye on being permanent police chief.  

The 2018 election was a clear statement from the voting population that they want an end to the drama.  

Yet the drama continues.  The lawsuit has been a parade of people deposed, including me.  The village has spent tens of thousands of dollars embroiled in the suit.   Most of the police just want to do their jobs and few people in the public understand why this is going on.  

The village attorney and commission on Wednesday held an executive session, closed to the public, to evaluate the village's position in this and while I have no direct knowledge of the meeting, it is clear that they did not make an offer to meet Noriega's terms.  

And what are those terms?  

Noriega wants his job back and his termination rescinded.   

That's it.  

On the one hand, we seem to have a village attorney and two commissioners who will not and cannot provide any reason in public (or in private) for continuing the lawsuit.  The village is headed by a third party contractor under investigation for the way he chose to be paid.   The police are at a standstill.  

And yet the lawsuit continues.  

During his tenure, North Bay Village saw the restoration of the community programs abandoned by the previous police chief, had a police department headed towards accreditation and in spite of then mayor Kreps' attempt to smear the cops about the hurricane party, had a police chief who took legal and quick action to discipline bad behavior among the officers.  

Carlos Noriega has detractors in the police department but virtually none in the community.  

Marlen Martell herself was axed after 90 days, and a $127,000 settlement, for failing to anticipate the mayor's whims and the only reason she has ever given is the "different direction." and it seems like she was tossed aside as soon as she did the dirty deed of firing Noriega.  

There is no credible dispute that Noriega properly served his whistleblower complaint when he felt that the laws had been broken or even a hint of other scandals.  He is entitled to that protection.  

The risk of the lawsuit prevailing and Noriega being reinstated is extremely high.  

Pursuing the lawsuit will cost the taxpayers easily $200,000 or more in legal fees.  If the court orders Noriega re-instated, the cost to the taxpayers will likely exceed that number as the court will find for back pay and legal costs in addition.   If the Noriega prevails but the court does not re-instate him, the cost could exceed $1,000,000 and we would still be stuck in the bad decisions of the  past.  

But if the commission follows the voters and puts an end to this ill advised firing, reinstates Noriega, lets him run the police department, the risk goes away.  

The only people who would be unhappy but not in any way harmed, seem to the be the ones who dragged the village needlessly through this and being unhappy is just part of life.  

If you agree, now is the time to contact the commissioners and let them know to drop the  matter, fix the administration and move along.   They can be reached by clicking on the captions their pictures. 
Commissioner Jose Alvarez
Commissioner Andreanna Jackson

Mayor Brent Latham

Commissioner Julianna Strout 
Vice Mayor Marvin Wilmoth

(Special note:  the incels, 4 of them, plus one very lawyerly sounding troll, will start posting their filth at LEO Affairs about this.  But anonymous haters don't qualify to signify.  Have at it, kids.)

Kevin Vericker
January 25, 2019

Saturday, January 19, 2019

North Bay Village Causeway Redevelopment

Rendering of the Proposed Boardwalk
On Thursday, January 17, there was a Village meeting to present the proposed development plan for the north side of the causeway.   The key part was the unveiling of the concept drawings of the Boardwalk, a walking structure designed to be built over the water.  This is different than the "Baywalk" which is the section of waterfront that is on solid ground and is part of the widely ignored public easement requirements for any new waterfront projects in North Bay Village. 

You can see a detailed rendering here

Clearly, it's a great concept and what we've been waiting for since what?  2008? 

I love the curved design which serves the dual purpose of preserving the needed sunlight for the seagrasses and the coral rocks being put in to help the shoreline, while creating an interesting walking space with different views.   I'm a little less crazy about the height variances since these could be obstacles for people with mobility impairments and don't really match the Florida flat landscape of the islands but that might work out well.  It was a bit hard for me to envision. 

The Boardwalk will be open to the public through walkways to be constructed between the new buildings.  
The design company, Coastal Systems, has experience in this type of project and seems very confident that it can executed. 

Financing:  Coastal Systems is working with a very ballpark estimate of $4 million, the bulk of which should come from impact fees from the new buildings and grants. 

I am skeptical of that number.  Paul Vogel Park cost $4 million and it's crappy.   The cost for digging out the small strip of land between the Grandview and the Causeway is apparently nearing $1 million to prep for a park under the bridge that will not and should never be built.   God and Kimley-Horn only know what the sewer "project" is going to finally cost but it is certainly going to be notably more than we planned. 

Still, it's a good project and it's good to see forward motion on the development. 

But the Boardwalk alone is not enough. 

There has been a lot of talk about the new Unified Land Development Ordinance that was rushed through by the developers when they saw the inevitable defeat of their preferred commission candidates. 

There was a new, modified proposal presented on Thursday night, less of an overstuffed wish list and more focused on getting two proposed projects on the north side of the Causeway launched. 

There is a summary description here and there needs to be a lot of detail explained when the commission considers it. There are some things in the plan that I think people might be concerned about: 
  • The plan reduces the requirements of parking spaces for a hotel and for three bedroom units.
  • The plan allows for smaller hotel rooms than our current code. 
  • The plan requires thinner buildings with greater height so it will alter the landscape. 
For whatever record there may be, I don't see any of these as impediments.  The current requirement for 1 space per occupied hotel unit leaves too many vacant parking spaces that could have other uses and I don't think a three bedroom unit requires three parking spaces.  If that's wrong, the market will quickly correct the problem.   

Of more concern is the height.  Potentially at least one of the buildings could reach 400 feet, more or less 40 stories, and that strikes me as out of proportion to the rest of the development.  I would prefer low rise buildings along the waterfront to maintain an old school, waterfront feel but the argument of economics in construction is against that, and after say 5 floors, the view impacts are nearly imperceptible to most people.  Making the buildings thinner is a good solution, not a perfect one, but realistic and respectful of the landscape.  

It's what not in the plan that concerns me.  

  • From a commercial aspect, the lack of a requirement for shared public parking is a serious problem.  The goal of the boardwalk and the baywalk is to create a destination area in North Bay Village.  That goal will be quickly undermined if the parking problem is ignored.    

    The success of Lincoln Road, Wynwood and other destinations around Miami is based on the ability to wander.  If we create a parking situation whereby all parking is privately controlled and linked to one specific commercial establishment, the area won't thrive.

    The Village had always conceived of the lot next to Happy's as the likely site for a public parking structure to meet the needs of the Grandview Palace and have a place for people to put their cars while they explore the new Baywalk area.  

    In September, 2018, our commission inexplicably changed the zoning on the K-Lot to remove the court ordered restriction which required that it be used only for parking.   This decision should be reviewed by competent legal counsel and seriously considered for repeal.

  • Pedestrian access and sidewalks are only dealt with sketchily.  While the proposal for the new hotel, where the Best Western is, shows a sidewalk that is separated from the causeway traffic, it was not clear if it would be free of obstacles and if the concept would continue through the rest of the causeway.  Our sidewalks, except for a short stretch in front of the apartheid wall gating in North Bay Island, are a disaster. 

    Similarly, the plan for 5 easements to access the boardwalk does not include improved pedestrian crossings.  This is under FDOT but the Village can and should begin demanding that pedestrian crossings be improved.  It needs to happen. 
The plan is slimmed down and things like the setbacks are not addressed in this new version.   

I guess the other thing to talk about is the change in impact fees.   Right now, the fees are not due at approval and for the "resiliency" fee, it would be due in 90 days under the new ordinance.  That's a good thing.  

It also restricts the ability to extend indefinitely, which has been the problem with the vacant lots and should give significant incentive to start construction.   

Of course, we are once again presented with the magic of impact fee moneys and increased tax base but we've been there before.  Every new project was going to fund parks, pay for our infrastructure upgrades, and create a healthier tax roll with lower rates.   None of them did and we need to be skeptical of the current claims.   

I have other concerns.  

There is the fact that 11 buildings in North Bay Village were required to open their baywalks to the public and they have simply ignored the easements and closed them off, while the village did nothing, the reaction was "let's not re-litigate the past" but it's not the past.   It's happening today and the false concern that the Village might be found without rights to the easement will bolster and embolden the new projects to cut off the Village.   

This happening now problem needs to be addressed now.   

I do understand that "behind the scenes" and without public notice, the Eloquence on Harbor Island has agreed to comply with their legal obligations, but that is just a rumor and not posted anywhere publicly.   

And my other concern, my suspicion is this.  

The only two projects presented, a rebuild of the Best Western hotel and the project behind Channel 7, did not vary significantly from their original plans yet there seems to be lot of pressure to get this done quickly and without close examination of the implications.  

Frankly, the lobbyist and the developers owned the commission outright for the last 8 years and never approached them about this suddenly urgent need.   It was only when it became clear that the residents were on to the scam that this redo of the ordinance became urgent.  

Mayor Brent Latham led the workshop, with Vice Mayor Marvin Wilmoth in attendance.  Latham is both enthusiastic and optimistic on getting this done right.  I share his enthusiasm but not his optimism.   History is our best predictor and we've been here before.  

I hope the commission approaches this new legislation transparently, thoughtfully and with as full a perspective as possible.  I hope they understand their role in this is not just to react but to ensure that the current residents' needs are met and the whole picture, including parking and access, are part of the plan.  

Kevin Vericker
January 19, 2019

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Our Village Manager Stephanie Leon PA Miami Lakes Realtor

Our Interim Village Manager, Lewis Velken, apparently cut a deal with the North Bay Village Administration in April of 2018, when he was appointed Police Chief in North Bay Village.
The deal was that he would not be directly employed by the Village but rather work under a contract with one Stephanie Leon, a real estate broker in Miami Lakes.  And this arrangement, whereby Lewis Velken was never an actual employee of North Bay Village, has continued during his tenure as Interim Village Manager.  

This came out last week and I am still waiting for a non-fraud based explanation to emerge.  So far none has. 

Here's the likely scenario.   

In February 2018, Lewis Velken retired with a full pension from the Miami-Dade Police Department.   

According to the Florida Retirement Plan, retirees who go to work for an FRS entity within 6 months "your retirement will be voided and you will be required to repay all the Pension Plan benefits you have received, including any DROP payout"  

Lewis Velken went to work 2 months after his retirement.   

But rather then comply with the clearly stated FRS rules, reports are that the Village Manager, the Village Attorney and Lewis Velken concocted a scheme to pay Velken through a third party, a real estate broker with no staffing agency.   

The Village did not report his re employment to the Florida Retirement System and Velken did not return his collected DROP payment and pension checks.  

In fact, he continues to draw on his pension, according to several people in Village Hall.  

Think about the implications.  

Without the commission's knowledge, the village administration entered into a $130,000 per year contract with a third party, violating all our procurement laws.   

The village police chief of record and then village manager of record was Stephanie Leon, not Lewis Velken.  There's this:

A police officer, including the Chief, gets their police powers of arrest and use of deadly force from the State through a lower governmental agency or tribal council for a State Certified police officer via the Fla Dept of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and those powers only exist when the individual is duly employed by said governmental agency.  You cannot be a certified police officer who can act ‘under the color of law’ unless you are so employed by a governmental agency (state, county, municipality, or tribe).  If you are not an employee of the governmental agency, but rather an employee of an outside private agency, you have no police powers. 

So our police chief was not even a cop.   That calls into question any actions he took as police chief, including internal affairs investigations, any arrests he authorized or access to criminal justice systems.   A smart lawyer could probably challenge any actions taken during that time.   

Then, moving along to the Interim Village Manager appointment, how is he an agent of the Village if he does not work for the Village?   Isn't it Stephanie Leon who can sign contracts, approves hires and terminations, sponsors legislation and administers the Village?  What are we paying her for?

But it's no big thing, right?  

Well, considering the Village is currently paying off a fine for the improper employment of another FRS retiree, and considering that the penalties can range from a fine to the Village for the clumsy attempt to get around the rules to a decertification of North Bay Village as an FRS employer.   

Not to mention the myriad possibilities of legal challenges by people unhappy with their interactions with the village.   

And let's not forget that this was never brought to the commission.  In fact, it appears to have been hidden from them.  And our laws are clear - the Village Manager does not have the right to enter into a $130,000 contract with anyone without Commission Approval.   

And think about the implications.   

North Bay Village reached a point when the administration saw no problem with creating a side deal to assist a new employee in getting around the law.   

Our Chief Law Enforcement Officer saw a law that was not beneficial to him and agreed to the scheme, perhaps even proposed it.   

Former Village Manager Marlen Martell told me that Village Attorney Norman C. Powell was aware of this from the beginning and did not raise any objections.  

Our previous mayor and at least the finance manager, issued and signed checks to a Real Estate company and never expressed any public doubts about the arrangement.  

According to two sources, our current Labor Attorney, Weiss Serota, have reviewed the situation, agreed that it's bad, and advised that we regularize the employment and hope that no one reports this to the Florida Retirement System. 

What will happen next? 

First of all, it's too late to sweep it under the rug.  And nor should it be ignored.   It's an appalling lack of ethics and possibly a crime.  

I do know that the State Attorney's Office is involved, the Inspector General of Management Services and others are aware.  We can't hide this. 

But three members of our dais have shown a strange reluctance to investigate the sketchy doings of our Village officers and if history is any indication, they will try to minimize this.   What they should do is suspend Velken pending an independent, outside investigation.   They won't.  

I hope that our mayor, Brent Latham, refuses to sign any further checks for Stephanie Leon, and that Vice Mayor Marvin Wilmoth refuses to as well.  Remember, there is no commission authorization for such payments and the payments are illegal.   

How Did You Find Out?

Is this a case of "Fake news" or "coming at people with daggers" or racism as Commission Andreana Jackson claims whenever well documented evidence emerges?

No.  It is right there in the payment reports for 2018 and 2019.   Plain as day and never questioned.  Right there on Page 125 for 2018 and Page 25 for 2019. 

The only fake news was the lack of news reported to the FRS.  

Kevin Vericker
January 17, 2019

Friday, January 11, 2019

It Looks Like A Duck

During January 8th's Commission meeting, something struck me and some others as odd.  The discussion about two charter officers, the Village Clerk and the Village Manager, included the phrase RFQ, which generally means Request for Qualifications, something you write when you are requesting a service, not when planning to recruit an employee.

The Manager and Clerk positions are both going out for advertising as they are filled with interims.  Graciela Mariot is filling the role of Village Clerk after Yvonne Hamilton was viciously savaged by Commissioner Andreana Jackson, and "Police Chief" Lewis Velken has been acting as Village Manager.   

The commission announced their intention to permanently fill these spots and so the question came up as to why the Village was not talking about job postings for these two positions historically filled by permanent Village employees.  And the answer was that the RFQ was a mistake and of course we were looking for full time employees.   

The only other charter position, Village Attorney, has to my knowledge always been contracted out so an RFQ seems about on course.  


It turns out that Lewis Velken, appointed as police chief in April of last year, then dual appointed to the role of interim village manager and police chief in July, then unappointed as police chief the following morning since dual appointments are against Florida law, is not for payroll purposes an employee of the Village. 

His services are contracted through Stephanie Leon PA, a real estate agency in Miami Lakes.  

Now I'm not a strip club lobbyist municipal attorney, but it seems like an arrangement whereby our police chief, now acting as a charter officer, is actually employed by a real estate agent named Stephanie Leon in Miami Lakes is something that would require a commission resolution, you know to agree to and understand the contract with the real estate agency.

But to my knowledge, this was never discussed on the dais and I am willing to bet that the members of the commission were unaware of this unusual arrangement.  

I even made a table of the payments.

Stephanie Leon PA
10/05/2018 Regular 0.00 10,153.84 7934

18-704 Invoice 10/04/2018 LABOR WAGES- 8/31-9/27/2018 LEWIS VELK…

Stephanie Leon PA
11/05/2018 Regular 0.00 12,692.30 8122

18-705 Invoice 11/05/2018 LABOR WAGES- 09/28/18-11/14/18 LEWIS V…

Stephanie Leon PA
12/04/2018 Regular 0.00 10,153.84 8278

18-706 Invoice 12/03/2018 LABOR WAGES FOR L. VELKEN -11/02-11/29…

For what it's worth, I asked for an explanation of Mr. Velken's salary as long ago as August 2018 but I have never gotten an answer.  Now I understand why I did not get that answer.

I hope our commission gets to the bottom of this.  After all,

If it looks like a duck.
If it walks like a duck.

Kevin Vericker
Jan. 11, 2019


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Norman Powell Dragged Through The Sunshine - North Bay Village Loses

On Broadway, there is a thing called the 11 O'Clock number, the big dramatic song or monologue that stops the show.  And like any good show, this one had an 11 O'Clock.  

Presenting Commissioner Andreana Jackson weeping loudly in her hit number "Don't Cry For Me, North Bay Village."  Watch as Ms. Jackson enraptures the audience with her simulation of a frustrated, decent person.  

This critic would have found her performance more powerful except that leaves unexplained her own role in the savaging of former Village Clerk Yvonne Hamilton, former Village Attorney Robert Switkes (although in a stunning new development, Jackson speaks for the first time publicly about why she voted to fire him), her fabricated allegations against a resident of threats and her knife in the back to Eddie Lim.   Perhaps in the sequel?

Anyway, three members of the commission courageously aligned themselves with the right of former strip club lobbyist Norman C. Powell to collect the $204,000 plus extras annually and run rampant over the Village.  They were unelected Vice Mayor Marvin Wilmoth, along with Commissioners Mary Kramer's Husband and Andreana Jackson, who clutched their collective pearls and voted to keep Norman C. Powell in place on the grounds that:

  • It's ever so mean to talk about these things in public.  Why can't the elected officials do like previous administration and discuss the problems out of the public view and against Sunshine Law, you know like the way politics really should run?  It worked really well when the previous commission got rid of Switkes, Hornsby, demoted Lim and lynched Hamilton.
  • What will the neighbors think?  Seriously, this was Wilmoth's big concern.  That potential employees watching this public discussion would say, "Oh, me, oh, my, I don't want to go to North Bay Village.  I mean I keep reading about how awful their Village attorney is in the Herald but that they are discussing it?  The nerve.  Well, it's Opa-Locka for me."

  • Julianna Strout has an exhaustive, well researched list of missteps and straight up bad moves since the "probation" was announced.     But you know, she's blonde...

The meeting went past midnight, again, just to prove that Norman Powell is untouchable.

It was no surprise that Mary Kramer's Husband voted to keep him on the dais.  Nor that Ms. Jackson did.  Given the extent of their political debts and Norman Powell's assistance to Ms. Jackson on resolving her credit card debts, they owe him big time.

But it was a surprise that Marvin Wilmoth who as a candidate and as member of the dais argued passionately that the Village needs to get beyond all the drama and move forward, did not share  his reasoning on why he thought keeping Powell was a good idea.  He simply voted not to fire him.  So the Village is stuck.

That's not to say completely.

Commissioner Julianna Strout was well prepared with the list of issues Powell has created since the last meeting. 

The director of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics was there.  He had written a personal opinion that Powell needed to recuse himself and the commission needed independent counsel to discuss his employment.  Mr. Arrojo emphasized "personal" as the CoE is still working on a formal position. 

Mayor Brent Latham brought up that the recent confusion over the firing of Bryan Miller Olive and the retention of Weiss Serota as labor counsel had resulted in several contradictory explanations from Mr. Powell. 

These were all well presented and discussed by Ms. Strout and and Mr. Latham. 

But it was clear that it fell on deaf ears.

After the refusal to fire Powell, the three, Wilmoth, Jackson, and Mary Kramer's husband, tried to stonewall against putting any conditions on Mr. Powell's probation but Latham and Strout kept at it until they reluctantly agreed. 

Remember, the key objections to this process as stated are:

1.)  It's being done publicly as required by Sunshine.  Jackson found this to be "coming at you with daggers."

2.)  It's being done publicly and people might not want to work here.  Wilmoth was most concerned about this but there were at least three attorneys present willing to work so I think it won't be much of an obstacle. 

My take.  Unless Marvin Wilmoth steps up and acts like the reformer he claims to be, we're doomed.  It may be time to just shut the Village down.   We're so far in a hole, I don't see how we climb out.

Kevin Vericker
Jan 10 2019

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

The most positive thing North Bay Villagers did in 2019 was to soundly reject the shrill inept administration of the past.   After years of the commission being led by resentful and incompetent leaders, supported by people out to make a fast buck, after all the chaotic hirings and firings and purges, after a campaign that sharply contrasted the vision of Brent Latham and Julianna Strout with the negative  and substance free campaign of Laura Cattabriga, the self identified protege of Kreps, the voters said overwhelmingly "Enough."  and kicked the old guard out.  

There is now an ongoing row over how to fix the toxic administration the previous commission put in place, but that's for another post.  

The important thing is the voters said "Enough."  

Laura Cattabriga, who got less that 1/3rd of the vote in last election, has not gracefully accepted the referendum on her style and cronies.  This is surprising because during the mayoral debate, where Laura spent most of her time making false claims of residency fraud against her opponent, Brent Latham, Ms. Cattabriga took time out to compliment herself on her "critical thinking abilities."  

You think she would apply that now to understanding why she lost so severely.   But like her mentor, Connie Kreps, Cattabriga (CattaKreps?) is now skipping around the Village announcing that what she heard during her disastrous campaign was the people only want to hear bright shiny news about North Bay Village and she is taking on the task by creating an all good news blog and Facebook site to disseminate bright shiny information and not the dank, nasty information she sees elsewhere.  

Here's a link to the Facebook group:  https://www.facebook.com/NBVRising/

Now it's not clear in her first post on the new blog if it is a singular or group effort because she/they write "We decided to start this newsletter to fill a void in North Bay Village life." I can't tell if Laura is using the Royal We, The Kreps Multiple Persona We, or is referring to herself and her backers, but Cattabriga then goes on to extol the virtues of positivity in the Facebook group rules and announces that anyone not meeting this measure of positivity will be banned.   

False positives actually can hurt
As readers of this blog may have discerned, I am not a big fan of "positive thinking."  I find it tyrannical, as the kids say, it's gaslighting

It's bullying practiced by people who are doing harm and then announce the real harm is that you don't look on the bright side of things. When you point out issues, they find themselves "offended" by your negativity.  

The way to create positive news is to do the right thing, something Cattabriga demonstrably did not do during her short tenure nor in her disastrous and expensive campaign.  
But doing the right thing has not really been at the core of the Cattabriga universe.  

Still, I'm a reasonable person and while there is no question that this blog is not a place to come to for Sunshine and pictures of kittens, I regularly look at the Facebook group North Bay Village Residents Speak, which I moderate, with a critical eye.  Is the group doing more harm or good?  What are people saying and how are they saying it?  Should I intervene or let the sometimes combative discussions play themselves out?   

And here's what I find, and I believe an honest look will bear this out.  

The group is mostly discussion, some complaints and criticisms, but overwhelmingly it breaks down broadly into Information like when the  next village meeting is, recommendations like what restaurants have opened or where to find a housecleaner, photos of life in North Bay Village, and a lot more on pets than I ever expected.  This has been true for years.  

Don't believe me?   I just went through the last 40 posts on the site and this is how they broke out:

Humor or Inspiration717.50%

*Pets:  I think this is an anomaly.  There are more posts about pets as you go further back.  

Yet I know that there is an impression that is a small group of malcontents.  It's not.  With 1,839 members it follows the usual social media platform patterns with about 5% of the members posting actively and most reading the posts.  And these conversations are often from different perspectives, except everyone agrees on the manatees and dolphins.
North Bay Village Spirit Animals

The group has for years been the only regular source of information in North Bay Village covering school events, road construction, power outages, bridge and traffic closures, public safety and village events and reaching out to the residents.   

That in a large, and largely unmoderated group, there are people who would rather blame the messenger than read the message is not the fault of the group.   

Ms. Cattabriga will find that out.  People want news they can use, not puffy pieces with a one way slant.  But still, I wish her luck.  

Kevin Vericker
January 5, 2019


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 In North Bay Village

'You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.'

E.L. Doctorow

It's a New Year and North Bay Village is on the verge of getting the overhaul it so badly needs.   

The new administration came into a chaotic mess, with an interim village manager and an interim village clerk and a village attorney who just can't seem to stay out of the papers.  

It's not going to be easy.  The chaos has resulted in some people making serious amounts of money for very little work vigorously defending themselves, and there is a well founded fear of previous and current commission members that they could get caught up in the legal consequences of their misfeasance.   Still, keeping focused, this commission can reclaim our government for and by us.  

As we go forward into 2019, I hope our commission remembers that they can only see as far as the headlights and they need to keep steady on the path forward.   

Kevin Vericker
January 1, 2018 2019!