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
Andrea.jpg
Commissioner Andreanna Jackson

Latham_Brent_IMG_0852_00004.jpg
Mayor Brent Latham

Strout_Julianna_IMG_1025_00008.jpg
Commissioner Julianna Strout 
Wilmoth_Marvin_IMG_0848_00002.jpg
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

1 comment:

  1. Reinstating Chief Noriega is not only less costly it’s the right thing to do!

    ReplyDelete

Comments are available to all but you must have a name and a contact. If your comment contains either foul language or slanders against individuals, it will be deleted.