Thursday, March 28, 2019

Carlos Noriega Reinstatement Is Definitely On The Table

Last January, in a frighteningly named "Shadow Meeting" our commission met with the attorney from the League of Cities, as well as then Village Attorney Norman Powell and Lewis Velken, a contractor posing as Village Manager, to discuss the Noriega Lawsuit in a meeting excepted from Sunshine.   

These meetings are supposed to be confidential until the matter is resolved, although at least two of our commissioners seem to believe they are under the seal of the confessional.   The meetings are not and become public record once the matter is litigated.  

Anyway, this town is a porous as our sewer lines and very little stays confidential.  According to second hand and third hand reports, the commission was told that if the matter goes to jury trial, Noriega would prevail and the village could be on the hook for both reinstatement and punitive damages.   

The commission was asked about settlement options including reinstatement and rejected the option of reinstatement, based on one commissioner's concern that Noriega had investigated the spouse of another commissioner, and on two false narratives presented to them, both now debunked, about Noriega.   

Well we all know what happened next.  It was uncovered that the Village Manager position was being paid through a third party.  The Florida Retirement System opened an investigation and the manager resigned, and after initially denying any knowledge of the payment scheme, emails emerged showing that the Village Attorney knew at least as long ago as September 2018 that this was going on and he resigned.   

The Village went into negotiations this week with Noriega and according to third hand reports, started out with the firm position that reinstatement was off the table.   A deal not including reinstatement was proposed and the Village Commission needs to vote on this offer April 9.   

"Shadow Meetings" suck.  The firing of Noriega and the dismantling of the North Bay Village civic structure was done right out in the open by former Mayor Kreps and her colluders, ruining reputations and leaving the village to a group of self interested incompetents but suddenly fixing this must be confidential?  I will continue to fight for the information to be public.   

The worst part about this super secret negotiation this week is that the commission's position was highly influenced by two provably false allegations.   

There has been no follow up meeting with the commissioners to lay the evidence out that the allegations of insubordination and improper searches may not have happened as presented, and so the January position stood. 
Our current Village Manager Ralph Rosado, and our current Village Attorney, Dan Espino, had an absolute obligation to call a second meeting as the new information became available to inform the commission of the facts they now had so the commission could make an informed decision.   That did not happen.   
Our commissioners are citizen volunteers and rely on the professional and legal advice of the people who are paid to provide it.   The net effect of failing to inform the commission is that now obsolete information informed a bad decision and a bad faith negotiation.   

The commission should listen to the community, who were very pleased at how Noriega reconstructed the police department, and the commission should demand that the staff they hire ensure that they have all relevant information at the right time.   

The deal as reportedly negotiated stinks.  It was done in bad faith, without a properly informed commission, it did not take into account the community desires which should count for something, and restated a position that neither our current attorney or current manager had been part of.  

The vote is April 9 but before then, the commission should hold an open meeting to discuss the deal on the table, get the community input on the settlement, lay out the accusations and decide based on the best information available if Noriega should be reinstated.  

Otherwise, it's just the same dirty self serving politics that brought this village to its knees.  We'll be stuck.  

Kevin Vericker
March 28, 2019 

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