News: The North Bay Village Commission Retooled at Contentious Special Meeting

The Resignation of Mayor Corina Esquijarosa left an empty seat on the commission, as well as the need to appoint a new mayor and vice mayor.

Out of nine applicants, Richard Chervony of North Bay Island was chosen by the commission amidst groans from the crowd. One woman just repeated “no no no” above the commotion.

Interim-Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps tried to keep order at the meeting she chaired. “I’m asking you to be respectful,” she said. “You asked us not to nominate Mr. Trujillo and he withdrew his name, no one knew he [Chervony] was going to be selected. “

The vocal backlash did not agree.

“It was orchestrated,” said resident Jorge Brito. “If it wasn’t Plan A it was Plan B.” Brito admitted to being a little emotional after vote.

Earlier in the evening there was a perception that applicant Reinaldo Trujillo, a former commissioner and active political figure in the city, was sure to get the seat.

The belief was also held by Commissioner Frank Rodriguez.

“We all know here, that you[Leon-Kreps] and Mr. Lim are going to appoint Rey Trujillo to the position of commissioner,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not a big secret.”

Rodriguez offered the comment after it was ordered that the strip club issue should not be brought up during the public comment portion.

“The subject of the Isle of Dream project will be addressed when it comes up at the December and January meetings,” said Commissioner Eddie Lim. “End of story.”

“No it’s not the end of the story,” Rodriguez retorted. “The tax payers deserve to know what is going on here.”

Rodriguez thought the issue of a proposed strip club, on the old site of radio station WIOD, was relevant to the selection of a new commissioner. Trujillo as a commissioner had voted yes as a commissioner when previous attempts to open an adult nightclub made it’s way to the commission.

As a member of the Planning and Zoning Board, Chervony voted against recommending the strip club project to the commission. As a commissioner Chervony told the SunPost he would keep an “open mind.” He said he will study the noise and economic impact the project might have on the city, and that he will take the public wishes in his consideration.

“They didn’t elect me, but I will listen to them,” he said.

When Trujillo made his case as to why he should be appointed to the commission he did not speak on the strip club issue. He didn’t speak on any issues. He choose to use his time to clear his name from some accusations that had been made, specifically ones by another applicant to the empty seat- NBV Blogger Kevin Vericker. He brought with him what seemed to be a heavy box filled with papers that he said cleared him from any wrong doings Vericker filed to the Miami Dade Ethics Committee.

“It’s all here, all $261 worth that clear me,” he said patting the box. “I work with ethics and integrity.”

“I have been a constant watchdog on the city,” Vericker told the room. “Irritating many people.”

Trujillo withdrew his name from consideration after public backlash to his possible appointment.

“We would still be here fighting,” Trujillo told The SunPost after the meeting about the situation had he been nominated. “I did it for the good of the city.”

Chervony won the seat by a 3 to 1 vote. Commissioner Rodriguez being the only no vote.

“The only thing I can do work hard to prove my detractors wrong and make them into supporters,” Chervony said.

With a full commission, Interim-Mayor Leon-Kreps nominated Commissioner Lim to be Vice-Mayor, and the newly sworn-in Chervony seconded the nomination. It passed 4-1 with Rodriguez being the lone no vote.

Right after that Lim nominated Leon-Kreps to be mayor and was seconded by Chervony. The vote again passed 4-1 with Rodriguez again being the only no vote.

The new Commission then unanimously approved the contract for new Town Manager, Dennis Kelly.

The agreement is for three years with a salary of $130,000. He could also receive a bonus after his first positive evaluation by the Commission. That amount is not specified in the contract, and it is up to the Commission to decide how much, and even if to give it.

Kelly asked during the negotiations to be given usable vacation days from the start, instead of having to incur them with time. He was given 25 with the condition that he only use 5-6 days at a time so the city can insure it has a manager during the first year.

Added to the contract, which was negotiated by Commissioner Rodriguez and with the city attorney, was the subject of termination. It has provisions for if he is terminated with or without cause. Without cause Kelly would receive a severance package and his vacation and sick days, with cause he would not. This was meant to head off another messy situation like that with former city manager Matthew Schwartz who was fired and then threatened to bring a law suit to the city. To hold off the lawsuit, the commission agreed to “hire” Schwartz as a consultant for $65,000. Schwartz was not binded to do anything as a consultant.

Kelly’s start date is December 19, 2011. He is moving down from Arkansas, and told the SunPost while he is up there he is going to be doing his homework on the city so he’ll be ready when he arrives.

The contract gives the new manager up to $2,500 in moving expenses. It is subject to receipts.

Few residents made much of the new city manager except for applause, they were more distracted b y the appointments.

“We need fresh ideas,”said resident Mike Tannhouser of the appointments. “Someone that has no connections to the powers the be.” He has been a resident since 1992 and thought it was a missed opportunity to add fresh blood to the commission. “It’s the old guard.”

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