May had a curious buzz to it in North Bay Village. Aside from the new City Hall digs, the results to the resident survey was due. There had been an onslaught of solicitation to participate in the survey: it was mixed in with bills, village notices, and links sent through mailing lists. The village held a special commission meeting just to hear it. It seemingly did not disappoint: through a third party residents had their collective concerns amplified and commissioners were handed a map.
The 62-page marketing plan, which many on the commission carry a full-color copy of in their binders, is a treasure trove of issues and opinions most politicians would spend considerable shoe-leather and campaign funds to acquire.
Promptly it was praised by the commission, the sentiment being that it was unbiased and professional.
Yet, as the SunPost previously reported, buried in the report is a murderously-hostile take down of the elected officials in NBV. It said the Village lacked: transparent government, sincere leaders, democratic principles, civility, actual law enforcement, good decisions, residents willing to rate the administration, communication, and any solution for problems.
Recently the SunPost brought the survey’s assessment to the attention of the Mayor and Vice-Mayor of North Bay Village, Connie Leon-Kreps and Eddie Lim respectively. They seemed to not have been aware of these harsh words,and asked for the page numbers where the criticism appear.
“Corruption within and self interests in public offices is at its peak,” Lim read word for word from the report. He snorted “What the hell are they talking about?”
At first a jovial Lim brushed off the harsh words by suggesting that the report was talking about government in general.
Yet a closer inspection of the writing found that most assumptions made in report ended in the phrase “in NBV.” If the report didn’t use “NBV” it used the moniker “Village,” making whom the report was referring to insufferably clear.
In light of this, Lim was asked for comment.
“In my opinion most municipal elected officials do try to be transparent, as much as possible,” said Lim “We get a few cases of people going to jail, yeah, but they are the bad ones. There are always rotten apples in any bunch.”
“So I’m not really concerned,” he said. “If you compare it to the previous commission you know how much problems we had, it was very dysfunctional.”
Mayor Leon-Kreps felt the report came directly from disgruntled residents who took the survey.
“The people, they may have written that on the survey,” said the Mayor. “ That is not a fact!”
“You may have a couple of residents , who maybe in the room right now, that would tell you that we are corrupt and we are not transparent,” said Leon-Kreps.
The SunPost interviewed the Mayor and Vice-Mayor after a budget workshop where residents had a chance to suggest where the monies for the upcoming budget should go.
“You heard it, maybe one or two made a positive comment, the rest was negative,” said the Mayor.
“We don’t have a vision, we are wasting money, we are not using our brains,” She laughs after reenacting the type of typical criticism she hears a lot as mayor.
The SunPost reminded the mayor that the report was written in voice of the student’s findings and assessment and was not a parroting of written answers from residents. Peppered in the criticisms are phrases like “our observations showed” and “we found” that made the voice unmistakable.
The Mayor countered by guessing the students probably Googled NBV and found its’ nefarious past, as well as the negative writings of local bloggers.
“I know the village, unfortunately you get all the bad [on google] because you have a certain group of people that all they do is put negative on there,” said Leon-Kreps.
NBV has two prominent bloggers: NBVReality.com written by resident Kevin Vericker, and Mario for North Bay Village written by resident Mario Garcia. The blogs are never afraid to voice their displeasure with village procedures and officials, but both present their position as trying to help the village.
Still the Mayor and Vice suspect different agendas. They point out that the survey said majority of the residents are satisfied. The survey does indeed have more than 50% of residents as satisfied with the administration of the village.
However, the SunPost also pointed out to the commissioners that the report makes a note that less than half of the respondents of the survey actually answered that question.
“I ran with the mindset of cleaning up the corruption of North Bay Village,” said the Mayor. “I have accomplished that.”
“We brought in a professional village manager. We have a professional staff now. And we have improved , and will continue to improve the quality of life for the residents of north bay village. We can not be more transparent,” said Leon-Kreps.
Leon-Kreps and Lim also brought in Dennis Kelly, the former Village Manager who was fired last year, and only recently concluded a year-long lawsuit over severance.
Lim pointed out to the SunPost that the students never bothered to talk with him or his fellow commissioners. Leon-Kreps agreed.
“It was one sided,” said Lim.
“We are not Sweetwater or North Miami,” said Leon-Kreps.
The SunPost light heartedly asked if that meant Leon-Kreps would never be lead out of the village in handcuffs.
Her demeanor changed, and in a somber voice says: “unless someone sets me up.”