Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Alright, If They Have To.

At tonight's streamlined commission meeting there was one item of substance.  A completely fake "discussion" about the role the Village might play or might not play in Social Media.

Actually, they were talking about the Facebook page, North Bay Village Residents Speak, and whether or not issues brought up on the Facebook page should be addressed by the Village.  
Our very well paid attorney, Dan Espino of Weiss Serota, who so far has not found the time to brief the commission on the financial risk presented by the Velken case nor to explain what it means to the Village that our public easements have been stolen from us by private property owners,  found time to research an opinion that "oh oh, talking to people can be dangerous so best not to engage."   

Our Deputy Village Manager, Mario Diaz, presented a compromise plan that I worked out with him and managed to speak for 20 minutes without once acknowledging that the only trusted source of information in North Bay Village is the Residents Facebook page or that the plan was worked out with the Facebook administrator - uh humm - ME.  

Our Village Manager, Ralph Rosado, who wouldn't have his freaking job if it wasn't for the combined community efforts of the Facebook page only heard ONE THING - DON'T POST ON NORTH BAY VILLAGE RESIDENTS SPEAK.  

Our commission members, three of whom don't bother to talk to residents in any forum and I am specifically referring to Vice Mayor Marvin Wilmoth, Commissioner Andreana Jackson and Commissioner Mary Kramer's husband, sat there just staring, while Commissioner Julianna Strout talked about reading the page and reaching out (not  borne out by any activity on her part but whatever...) and our Mayor at least had the grace to acknowledge that the page has been a civic good and that it was damn hard work to keep it going through one of the most corrupt administrations in North Bay Village history but then started complaining that sometimes people bring issues there that belong elsewhere.  Which is precisely the point.  It's the Village Administration's job to get the conversation to the right place.  No different than if someone told them about a problem while on line waiting for coffee.  

Instead of Doing Their Jobs, They Sit Around Worrying About Other People

The fundamental issue here is trust.  The Village has not yet earned the trust of the residents to get the right information at the right time.

They are working on it.  Hard.  And making strides.  

Latham has seemingly been everywhere at once and Rosado has finally started to communicate the successes he has led, but both of them rely on a volunteer force of Facebook moderators and community leaders to get their message out.   And then feel free to dismiss the efforts with no acknowledgment.  

A Little History

The North Bay Village Residents Speak group began 10 years ago when we were being lied to about the developer's plans to put a strip club behind Channel 7.   After that threat went away, I decided to keep it going because there was literally nowhere else to get any information about North Bay Village.  Without any publicity or marketing, it grew to over 2000 members and over the years was the place where it was brought to light that:
  • We didn't have Police Chief or Village Manager because Lewis Velken was working informally as a contractor without any written agreement.  
  • Commissioner Douglas Hornsby was removed illegally from his seat.  
  • Treasure Island Elementary crashed and without the pressure of the Facebook group would either be a D school or shut.  
  • During Hurricane Irma, it was the only source of information in the Village.  
And too many issues to enumerate here.  Just scroll through the posts from 2018.

No wonder that commission hated it.  

Andreana Jackson
Mary's Husband
Andreana Jackson walked away when she decided that it was more personally beneficial to try to please the former mayor than do the right things by the people who supported her.  
Mary Kramer arranged for her husband to be on the commission, where he has done virtually nothing.  NO, PEPE, YOU HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DOWNTOWN EXPRESS.  

Both of these were active collaborators in the mismanagement of North Bay Village.  Read the transcripts and the depositions.  It's no surprise they don't like the information out there.  

But What The Hell Is Wrong With This Administration?  

In a dizzying change from the lies and cover-ups of misdeeds in the last administration, I find myself  fighting for the last year to get out the information about the things that are going right in North Bay Village.  Not what I expected.  

In spite of management's best efforts to keep under wraps the success of our police department, the professionalization of our staff, the long overdue dog park, the free transit WHICH HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH PEPE, the streets finally being mostly done, the excellent work on the hurricane, the airily dismissed North Bay Village Residents Speak  has persisted in getting out the information that for some reason this successful management wants covered up.  

I think our Village Manager, Commission, and Attorney are so deeply ingrained in believing that the people who pay them, the people they serve, are nothing more than bothersome noise, to be managed, not spoken with.  

I'm pretty disgusted.  

Kevin Vericker
February 11, 2020

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