Friday, March 15, 2019

An Exciting Cloud of Dullness

Well, I'm not going to go so far as to say I miss the old days of two weeks ago when our commission meetings were straight up exercises in unrestrained temper tantrums punctuated by brightly colored strutting egos flailing up against each other in a non-mating ritual designed to establish dominance for its own sake, but I can't say I don't miss it either.

Tuesday's meeting on the surface was an exercise in solid, rational governance.  

Let's go through the highlights.  

Women's History Month:  For the first  time, North Bay Village took the step of recognizing Women's History Month and acknowledged the struggle, the successes and the simple fact that women in North Bay Village are the key in every level of civic life.   Among the women honored were Anne Baskt, Rivien Murphy, Doris O’Hare, Jodie Wilmoth. Julianna Strout, Andreana Jackson and the  North Bay Village Staff.

Well noted and well discussed was an event sponsored by Commissioner Julianna Strout last Friday in honor of International Women's Day.  I wasn't there but from all reports it was an exceptionally intelligent and well received panel discussion on the lives of Miami women in 2019.   

Strout has committed to keeping this event, monthly if possible, to keep women's issues inculcated into North Bay Village's civic life.   And when Commissioner Strout makes up her mind, there is no barrier to getting it done.  

Personal Hero:  Ms. Sissy Shute of North Bay Island, who I've named Hurricane Sissy because of the force of her personality, was overlooked and she should not have been.  Sissy has dedicated time, money, resources, her home and her passion to improving the lives of all North Bay Villagers and always spotlighting and supporting the women leaders of our community.   I hope the commission takes a step to acknowledge her singular efforts to improve life for all of us.  

A Taost To Sissy Shute
The Sustainability and Resiliency Task Force:  Led by Deni O'Brien, the task force has begun focusing on the global issue of climate change and the local North Bay Village response.   

We hit the jackpot with O'Brien.  A retired international worker with UN, O'Brien brings the right global perspective with the knowledge of local issues and they are off to a good start.   

The Dog Park:   a simple straightforward coding change frees up the Village to place a dog park on the Sakura lot while construction is evaluated and allows for the Village to use our land for this purpose in the future.   It's funny how doing the right thing is boring and obvious.   But this has been on our list of needs for almost 8 years and doing the right thing the right way actually moved it forward.  

Charter Positions:  Our Interim Clerk Graciela Mariot has taken another position.   The commission voted to enter into negotiations with Elora Rivera, deputy clerk of Surfside, who comes well recommended by the search committee headed by Pamela Latimore, city clerk of North Miami Beach.   If the contract is successful that's one office filled.  

As regards the Village Attorney, we are being supported in the interim by Dan Espino of Weiss Serota and what a difference it makes.   Espino competently guided the commissioners through the legal implications of their legislation and acted throughout as a counselor.  A stark contrast to the last year.  

In a discussion item, Brent Latham put forth that the search committee should continue their search even though the first deadline had passed.  

His reasoning was simple since there are two new important factors here.  

With the drama and meltdowns of the previous administration, it's likely that otherwise qualified and interested firms backed away, not wanting to be the latest powder keg in a badly managed government but now that there is a restoration of sanity, we might be able to attract a wider pool.  

The second factor is to consider the idea of the village hiring an attorney on staff, which has much merit.   It would put the role inside the Village HR, allowing for things like proper background checks, performance evaluations and most importantly, the attorney can respond to changing needs in the Village and not be bound by contract.   There may be downsides but the commission agreed to consider this.   

The Projects:  Now it gets a little less enthusiastic.  Kimley-Horn is nearing the end but in spite of the pressure from the dais and the residents, remains weirdly reluctant to open, simple communication.   Following a long layout of the facts, there was no simple answer to when the project would be finished, even a good estimate, and no commitment to informing the residents 24 hours in advance of water shutoffs.   This is a major issue and I hope the commission considers this failure in future dealings with Kimley-Horn.   

Storage Facilities:  There is one proposed on the lot next to Happy's.   It will come before the commission in the near future.  It needs to be rejected and I hope it will be.   

But the mayor did propose and the commission passed a resolution putting a moratorium for 6 months on any new storage facilities.   They hope during this period to review economic and community impact of all new projects in order to clearly favor those with a positive impact. 


Kevin Vericker
March 15, 2019

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