Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Commission Takes Charge

Sunrise North Bay Village

The Bright

In an open, collaborative meeting on Tuesday night, the North Bay Village Commission took charge of the administration chaos.   

The big issue was the departure of Lewis Velken, the interim Village Manager, who is enveloped in a scandal alleging that he was paid through a third party to get around Florida Retirement System payment rules.   

Velken had served as police chief then village manager since April of last year but had been paid through a third party, Stephanie Leon PA, a real estate agency.  The circumstances of the arrangement are murky, with then Village Manager Marlen Martell explaining in sworn testimony that the arrangement was made with the participation of the Village Attorney Norman C. Powell. who denies all knowledge.  

The Herald article here is probably the clearest explanation.   

So with that background, I approached the commission meeting expecting it would be a replay of the last two meetings where the popular attempts to move the village forward were throttled by the ghosts of the past.  I was mostly wrong!  

First The Awards And The Proclamation

There was moving awards ceremony for people whose contributions to the community were ignored by the previous dais, a proclamation recognizing Black History Month read by Vice Mayor Marvin Wilmoth, and then moving quickly into the agenda, a resolution put forward by Commissioner Julianna Strout to support the Workforce Inclusiveness Act to support protections for LGBT workers in Florida and later expanded to also support the Workforce Competitiveness Act which covers public accommodation.   In a great move, the other four members of the dais agreed to cosponsor Commissioner Strout's Resolution.   It was a nice moment.  

Then they got to the serious business of hiring an interim village manager.  There were three strong candidates to choose from and  they unanimously selected the best, in my opinion.  Ralph Rosado, Phd. who runs an important consulting company in Miami-Dade and who has direct experience in municipal management.  He's also familiar with North Bay Village and has a sterling reputation.  

For the most part, the commission moved the agenda items to next month to give the Village Manager time to familiarize himself with the issues.   

Rosado started yesterday.  

The Murky

How Can We Miss You When You Won't Go Away?
During Good & Welfare, former mayor Connie Leon-Kreps took to the podium to ramble for a bit about how she was not popular as mayor, and she didn't have any support, and so on.  

Clearly she was working up to something and then it came.  

As regards the Velken matter, where she signed the checks for Stephanie Leon PA believing for some reason that the police chief/village manager was now an outsourced position to a staffing agency she never heard of, she is completely innocent and was completely misled.  Kreps attributes her deep unpopularity to her having asked questions, many questions, while she was mayor, but in this instance, she never asked a question, like, "Hey.  This is new.  When did we outsource the police and the village manager?"  

So there's that.  

Then she went into a full throated defense of Norman C. Powell.  Much like her previous outrage when the Herald reported on Norman C. Powell being cited by the TSA when he attempted to bring his emotional support pistol on a flight with him to a Christian retreat, her oration sounded lawyerly, citing precedents and other things.   It just didn't sound like her.  

But then Crazy Eyes came roaring out and said unequivocally that the previous attorney, Robert Switkes, knew and approved of people in the village being paid for no show jobs and that she "wonders" if Norman Powell were a different race, would he be facing the same questions?  

She offered a benediction to the newly elected commissioners "Don't Trust The People Who Elected You.  You shouldn't listen to them."   

Then she stomped back to her sitting place next to her second favorite strip club lobbyist and  glared at the rest of the meeting, while cackling at her own remarks about everything she heard.  

I really think we have upgraded since our last mayor.  

There's a lot to get done and there will continue to be a lot of fallout from the venal incompetence and self interest of the Kreps era but it was great to see the leadership of Julianna Strout, Brent Latham, and Marvin Wilmoth take form.   

I think their hardest get along challenge will be three bright young leaders bumping into each other's enthusiasms and visions.  They'll work it out.  All our problems should be that!  

This has success written all over it.   

Kevin Vericker
February 14, 2019 

1 comment:

  1. The Velken payscam could turn into a RICO investigation...


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