Thursday, June 11, 2020

Not An Isolated Island

Updates Week of June 8 2020

A lot went on this week.

  • The Curfew was lifted.
  • Pools and Gyms are opened.
  • The Beaches are open.
  • The Dog Park is open.
  • Many other services are opening.
Before we get to the details, I want to point out something extraordinary and in my view confidence building about the North Bay Village Police Department.
The day after the Minneapolis death of George Floyd, May 25, our Police Chief Carlos Noriega ordered a top to bottom review of North Bay Village Police procedures.

The day after!

Before the nationwide protests, before the discussions, the Police Chief made sure to be absolutely clear that the use of force is a last resort, the Duty to Intervene when a cop sees abuse, and reviewed the many aspects of PD training that keep the citizens and the police safe. That's what kind of community we are and what kind of Police Chief we have. Noriega doesn't wait to do the right thing. Never has.
Monday - Marvin Wilmoth Harbor Island Commissioner and Vice Mayor, led the commission in a vigil remembering George Floyd. It was broadcast on Facebook Live and attended in person by 50 people or so at Vogel Park. It was a peaceful, respectful community statement against racism.
Tuesday - At the Commission Meeting, there was a lot but I thought I would break it down below.
  • The George Floyd Murder - The Commission unanimously passed a resolution brought to the dais by Commissioner Jackson condemning the killing and restating the commitment of North Bay Village to inclusion and equality.
  • The Services - The Commission instructed the Village Staff to plan for the inclusion of a services portal and a position to help North Bay Villagers struggling with unemployment, food insecurity, school, housing and other issues. The Commission recognizes that North Bay Village can't solve the worldwide problems but can help our community navigate them.
  • PRIDE - 2020 - The Commission proclaimed Pride Month 2020. North Bay Village has always been an inclusive community but for for 8 years, the previous mayor and her crew ignored Pride every year while greedily lapping up campaign money from the discredited SAVE organization. Mayor Latham promised and delivered.
  • Finances - There are long standing questions about our reserves and how we account for our utility bills, but the Commission heard these clearly and directed the Village staff to stop pretending not to understand the questions that the Financial Advisory Board brought up and to answer them. Be prepared for a long budget fight.

Wednesday - The beaches re-opened.
Things that Need Addressing -
The big one is the Island Walk. Village Manager Ralph Rosado has allowed the Moda walk to stay closed with no clear path to re-opening. Whether he has the need to do that is a question and it's time for the commission to start modifying Emergency Powers so that it is not a convenient political excuse for the Village Manager.
The next one is when or if the playgrounds re-open. Kids don't social distance and it may be a long time but now would be a good time to publicize what conditions must be met for the playgrounds to be re-opened.
The Finances need to be in order. Right now, there are serious questions about how much we have in reserve, how we are funding services from the utilities, what the real impact of the economic downturn is. I keep seeing people talking past each other and that makes me nervous.
It's going to a long hard road out of the lockdown, into the recession and through the civil unrest.  I hope we have the right people on staff to take us through this.

I do know we have the right mayor and a commission that usually does the right thing.

Time to come together and figure out this new normal thing.

Kevin Vericker
June 11, 2020

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