Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Arrested Development

(Correction below) Let's start with one definition of "arrested."  According to Dictionary.com, the third definition is "verb (used with object) ... to check the course of; stop; slow down: to arrest progress."

If you want to see arrested development, then just look at our causeway, littered with vacant lots and stalled projects.   

Now why this is the case has never really been clear.  While the rest of Miami-Dade worries about too much development, these lots have been sitting vacant for the better part of a decade, waiting for something to happen.  

Last September, in response to developer pressure, the commission passed a first reading of an omnibus ordinance to the Unified Land Development Code which addressed a broad number of the developers' issues and concerns.   It was passed by the commission at the time with minimal discussion and no public input.   

Completely unrelated, developer donations began flowing into the failed Laura Cattabriga Campaign.  

Anyway, progress on this was arrested and the second reading is now on five months later, following the elections.  There have been several open meetings discussing the changes and substantial rewrites of the ordinance.  It's complicated as heck and I'm not going to break it down here because I'm not your mommy but if you want to review it, you can see the detail here.  

In stark contrast to the previous administration, this commission is first having a public meeting, Thursday at 5 PM, at Village Hall for a discussion item to dig into the details.   You can see that agenda here.  

This is a big ordinance and I expect that the commission meeting following the P&Z will have some very significant amending to do to make it work, but that it's open and being explained bodes well for a successful outcome.  

And I won't be there as I have other commitments on Thursday but for all the Facebook warriors and the people concerned about un-arresting the developments, it matters to attend both meetings.  

Another Definition of Arrest: 

The main definition, the one we usually associate with the word is "verb (used with object) to seize (a person) by legal authority or warrant; take into custody:  The police arrested the burglar."

Sure enough, it wouldn't be a week in North Bay Village without some news on the subject.  

It seem Ron Book, our Village Lobbyist, was arrested following an incident with his Lamborghini on 595 the other day.  The Miami Herald reports:  "Well-connected state government lobbyist Ron Book, father of state Sen. Lauren Book, was booked into Broward County Jail Sunday night on DUI charges." and that "The [arrest] report says Book couldn’t complete the field sobriety tests and refused to give a breath sample at the Broward County DUI Center."

So there's that.  

Book was appointed North Bay Village lobbyist by the previous commission which bypassed the RFP process required in our charter and replaced Fausto Gomez, our longtime lobbyist, who had brought in some serious cash for Village projects over the years.   Ron Book of course is famous, well, for being famous and some think the Village was lucky to get him.  

Probably failed mayoral candidate Laura Cattabriga felt that way as Book promptly donated $2,000 to her failing campaign through two of his corporate entities, according to her campaign reports.  

North Bay Village hasn't heard from or seen Ron Book, besides paying him monthly, since the appointment which is an unusual thing.  Most lobbyists make it a point to update the administration on legislative agendas that might bring benefit to the municipality.  At least that's what Gomez did.  That's probably why they fired him although the commission did not explain their reasoning at the time. 

(Correction 2.27.2109:   to Ron Book Payments - It seems North Bay Village never actually executed the contract with Ron Book and has not been paying him.  That explains why there have been no updates.  Also, it raises the question of why and how we went through a full legislative session without anyone representing us in Tallahassee.  It seems that the previous commission, Mayor Crazy Eyes Kreps, Laura CattaKreps, Andreana Jackson and Mary Kramer's Husband voted to fire Gomez and hire Book but legal and admin just never really go it organized.)  
Book joins the list of North Bay Village contractors who have been arrested while working for us and I'm sure we will hear a glorious defense of how this is trivial and not related at all to his job performance.  

We'll see if Book's arrest arrests (3rd definition "impedes progress") the ability of the Village to gain some influence in Tallahassee.  

In other legal news, the Velken matter continues to simmer.  

According to several sources, the State Attorney's Office has opened an investigation in addition to the Florida Retirement System case (2019.74) inquiring as to how the Village approved a third party payment to former Village Police Chief/Manager Lewis Velken, without even a contract.   I have been told that Isis Perez is the lead on this case and that the public corruption investigators are involved.   

So our commission has their hands full.   

It will matter to be there on Thursday at 5 PM then for the second meeting at 7:30 PM as the big issue of how development will be managed on the Causeway needs to hear from the residents, not just the people who will make money off the projects.  

Kevin Vericker
February 26, 2019

1 comment:

  1. Without a breath-analysis or blood test, they have no evidence of chemical influence. Ron Book could easily argue in court that he was just exhausted, and not drunk or on drugs.
    Classic DUI defense.


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