Thursday, December 5, 2019

Fixing The Boards

Special Note:  The Commission Meeting For December 2019 is Monday, Dec 9, not Tuesday.  

The Commission will be in Tallahassee next week and so have moved the meeting from its usual Tuesday spot to Monday night. 

The agenda is relatively light with one big bill on the agenda - an omnibus ordinance to reshape the boards.   It's a needed reform.  The Boards have over the years been created and changed numerous times and some of the simplest structural issues have gotten out of whack.   You can read the ordinance here.

Buried on Page 17 is this (bolded emphasis mine):

Sec. 32-15. Appointments, Vacancies, and Resignations. 
Each member of the Commission, inclusive of the Mayor, shall be authorized to appoint one member to each advisory board. The appointment shall be made by transmitting a written authorization to the Village Clerk. The appointment shall be announced at thenext available Commission meeting, either the by the appointing Member of the Commission or the Village Clerk. Where an advisory board has more than five members, each member of the Commission shall be authorized to appoint one member and the remaining members shall be appointed a majority of the City Council at a regular Commission meeting. 
This is a huge problem.

It is a profound change from the way it is done now where an interested member of the public submits an application and the application is considered by the full commission and the appointment made by majority vote.    This works and it works well.  There is no need to change it and the only justification being offered is that "other cities do it."   And it's true, they do and it does not work for the benefit of the public or the commission.

Citizen Example:  Under the new scenario, if two residents had particular expertise in say business development, one knowing well how to attract desired chain stores to the Village while the other specializes in startup and small business incubation, each would have to figure out which elected official they needed to approach, make their case, and hope  they got the right commissioner.

If a commissioner sees the need for diverse viewpoints and knows both candidates, she is constrained by Sunshine from proposing that another commissioner appoint the candidate. 

We are a small community and this will not work for us.   It should not be the duty of a citizen - contributor to engage in politicking in order to serve on a board.  Our current system allows for this.   The change will not.  

Commission Example:  Unless a commissioner is able to choose from a pool of qualified applicants, their appointment will be entirely informed by their personal experience.  They may never hear of the startup specialist or the particular finance disciplines out there.   And commissioners are a part time job.  Will they really have the breadth to find expertise they need in all the areas? 

Second Commission Example:  This opens the boards from their advisory role to being a proxy fight.   We've seen it.  In 2016, one of our two still functioning boards was the Community Enhancement Board.   In mid 2016, it became the battleground for then mayor Kreps' fight to fire Village Manager Frank Rollason and not only did the board stop functioning, the fights carried over to the commission dais.   It was a disaster and it was because it was packed with appointees whose only interest was loyalty.   As a commission, is that what you want?

So Why Was This Even Proposed?  

The Village Manager is making the proposal.  Dr. Ralph Rosado has been working very hard to professionalize the Village after the last 8 years of chaos and this move, to make North Bay Village more like other cities, is on paper a good idea.   

As an old academic joke has it "That works very well in practice, but how does it work out in theory?"  

Believe me, it's always a slide splitter of a joke at meetings of statistical analysts.   

In theory, this would bolster the professionalization of the village boards but in practice it removes what makes them effective and put an undue burden on both the public and the commission.   

The best course for the commission is to amend the ordinance to leave the current selection process in place while adopting the rest of the resolution.   

That's their job and I hope at least the three useful members will take this seriously.  

Kevin Vericker
December 5, 2019

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