Tuesday, March 10, 2020

March 12 2020 Agenda

I really didn't have a cool cartoon so I went with this.
Owing to  Purim, the usual Tuesday evening commission meeting this week is scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 PM.  

The agenda, available here, is jam packed and there's a lot to be decided.  

For purposes of this post, I am breaking it out into sections by topic.   

Topic #1:  Fixing The Past and the Hornsby Matter

The commission will vote on a settlement offer to Doug Hornsby, a former commissioner pushed off the dais in 2018 in what the Florida 11th Judicial Court found to be a violation of due process.   You can find dozens of articles and in my blog by simply searching "North Bay Village Hornsby" on Google.   

The key issue the court found was that the use of the unsubstantiated legal theory that Hornsby's appointment to the commission was never valid violated the clear and simple due process requirements of our charter.  

The settlement offer is for $100,000 to reimburse for legal fees.   

The commission needs to approve or reject this mediated settlement.  

If they approve, the Village will pay $25,000 from our budget while the rest will be covered by insurance.   If they reject the settlement offer, we're back in court.  

This miscarriage of justice, the illegal removal of Hornsby, is being "questioned" by several of the people who perpetrated it for their own benefit.  The usual nonsense.  

Two of the sitting commissioners, Andreana Jackson and Jose Alvarez, voted without comment to support Hornsby's removal and caused this mess.   In an ethical world, they would recuse themselves but neither seem particularly bothered about doing either the right thing or doing things the right way, so we'll see how they go.   

Opinion:  Hornsby has been more than generous in trying to be made whole in this degrading process and the commission would be well advised to accept the settlement.  It sucks that $25,000 of our money has to pay for the bad judgment of Jackson and Alvarez, and the crap legal advice they followed, but it will be much more expensive not to settle.  

Alvarez and Jackson are rumored to be up for re-election in November.  It would be stupid to re-elect them.  

Topic #2: Density

Next month, DPZ will present their full recommendations on the North Bay Village 100 plan.  I'm not going into detail in this post as there is a lot to cover, but the hot issue at the moment is density, specifically in the single family neighborhood on Treasure Island and for new multi unit construction on Harbor Island.   

To recap the issue, in a draft recommendation, DPZ suggested changing the zoning code to allow up to 100 units per acre on Harbor Island, up from 70 units currently, and to allow townhouses in the single family neighborhood on Treasure Island.  

Nobody has identified where that suggestion came from.  

A Treasure Island resident quickly gathered signatures from the single family houses on Treasure Island, 140 of them, nearly two thirds, requesting the commission to not change the zoning to allow multi-unit construction in the neighborhood and several Harbor Island community members strongly oppose increasing density due to concerns about the impact of increased density on traffic, environment and livability.  

On Thursday, there will be no final vote but the petitions will be presented about TI and the concerns noted about HI.   

Opinion:  This came out of left field.  The increased density suggestion was not brought up in the public workshops and has all the earmarks of a developer inspired suggestion.   The commission should end the discussion with a resolution instructing DPZ to deliver the final without the Harbor Island and Treasure Island density changes, or at least two versions.  There's too much history and concern to let this go forward and it could derail the whole plan.  It would be simple for the commission to do it and it's clear it's what the residents want.  

Topic #3: Hiring a Chief Financial Officer

One map of the neglected sewer impact in FTL
A candidate named Stanley Hawthorne has been recommended to be our Chief Financial Officer.  Several residents, including members of the Budget Oversight Board, have expressed concern that his experience is in public administration operations and not in public finance.   Hawthorne was also part of the group that allowed the misspending of Fort Lauderdale's funds for sewer modernization and we've seen how that worked out.  

The commission will be discussing the relative merits of hiring Hawthorne over the other candidates and will decide whether to endorse the hiring of Hawthorne or instruct the Village Manager to look further.   

Opinion:  This does not look right.  

Topic #4:  Our Charter

Commissioner Julianna Strout is leading a discussion item on the Charter.  

There is a serious need for review of the Charter and in particular the strange amendments that the Commission in 2018 put there while ignoring the well crafted recommendations of the Charter Review Board.   

The Charter is our foundational document and it matters that it reflect who we are and who we aspire to be as a community.   I hope this gets the serious attention of the three useful commissioners and I hope the outcome is a full Charter review to get it right.  

There's a Lot More

If you only attend one commission meeting this year, make it this one.  

Thursday, March 12, 6:30 PM Village Hall 1666 JFK Causeway.  

Kevin Vericker
March 10, 2020