OCTOBER 17, 2017

I make no bones about the fact that I am a process guy when it comes to how local government works, or doesn't work.

Many of my stories about the City of Miami over the years have been about a failure to follow process, the latest being last week's unsolicited proposal to the City Commission by the Children's Museum for 25,000 square feet of Watson Island property to building an addition for their Charter School - another example of process not followed.

In Miami Shores, the notion of process is even more foreign.  The Village for so long has operated as if it were a condo board made up of a clique of privileged insiders, who gains their support by doing favors and pushing forward proposals that are supported by their idealogical friends.

In the last several weeks a significant amount of space on the local social media websites has been taken up by the introduction of shared bicycles from a company called Lime Bikes.

A lot of the conversation has centered on the lack of process that was involved that led to an agreement being approved by the Village Council.

I raised a number of those issues in my original story, and will be raising others in a story coming up soon, but that conversation and concern that has roiled some residents seems not to have penetrated the consciousness of either the Village Manager or the Village Council members, who tonight will be voting to approve a contract with Costal Risk consulting to approve a contract for an environmental vulnerability study.

This item is one of two items on tonight's Council agenda that are listed as Discussion & Possible Action Items.




By rights, this should have been placed on the agenda as a Resolution, that spelled out the terms of the agreement with Costal Risk Consulting, including the deliverables, and the back up material should have included  the materials that Benton states will be presented at tonight's board meeting, along with a copy of the contract between the Village and Costal Rick Consulting.

I raise these issues not because I'm opposed to this deal, but rather because neither I, or anyone else in the Village other than the Village Manager has any information other than the above letter from which to make an "informed decision."

I've repeatedly talked about "informed decision," because of the way that the Council, led by Councilman Meltz in June, passed a Resolution depriving residents from being able to speak on items as they are introduced and discussed by the Council.  

Here is a video snippet of Councilwoman Burch prompting Mayor Glinn to inform the residents at a recent Council meeting that if they want to speak on any of the items on the agenda they have to do it during the Public Comments at the beginning of the meeting.

When you look at the items in the Agenda Packet, the only supporting documentation for this contract is the below Memorandum written by Village Manager Tom benton, to the Village Council.

In practical terms this means that none of the residents will have any information - or have had an opportunity to read and review either a proposed Resolution, or a contract,  or any other documentation prior to tonights's Council meeting.

Therefore, they will be deprived of an opportunity to speak, or raise questions once the item is introduced and a presentation is made by the representative from Coastal Risk Consulting.

There are a couple other procedural issues that are important to this process in addition to it not being introduced as a Resolution.

The most important is the issue of the contract. I have made much about the piss-poor contracts and agreements entered into by the Village, and how few of them are actually written by the Village Attorney to protect the interests and benefits of the Village, but rather by the contractees who submit their own contracts and agreements for the signature of the Village Manager.

There are enough attorneys who live in Miami Shores who ought to be offended that this is what passes for quality legal service by a guy who acts more like an unelected 6th Council member than as the City Attorney.

A cornerstone of democracy is the right to be properly informed - before the fact - about the decisions that your elected officials want to make on your behalf.

You should also have the right to be able to speak to the issues, at a time when your comments can be made in an "informed manner," and not at the beginning of a meeting, when you've been provided with NO INFORMATION on what it is that the Council will be voting on.

Think about that, and then show up at tonight's Council meeting and let the Council members know what you think, and if you can't make it, call them up. They're your neighbors, and they should be treating you like you're their neighbors, and not keep trying to keep you in the dark.

Thank you,

Al crespo