No Mercy!

Scream for MercyNothing makes me angrier than fraud, especially when it comes to elections.  If you are committing fraud, either as a candidate, an elected public official or a voter, I will not rest until you are brought to justice and scream for mercy.

This is to notify Philippe Bien-Aime, who is running for North Miami City Council District 3, that he’s next on my list.

Start screaming for mercy, baby.  I ain’t messing around!

According to the Statement of Candidate Philippe Bien-Aime filed with the City of North Miami and the State of Florida, he claims he lives at 531 NE 133 Street, North Miami, Florida 33161.

According to the Public Records of the Broward County Property Appraiser, he lives at 12460 SW 1 Street, Plantation, Florida 33325.

Phillipe Ben-Aime Broward Property

According to the Public Records of the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser, the property located at 531 NE 133 Street, North Miami, Florida is owned by one Suzanne Joseph, who receives a homestead exemption.
Phillipe Ben-Aime DadeProperty
Granted, neither Ben-Aime nor the co-owner of the Broward property, Sara Jane Ternier, declared a homestead exemption on that home (the Warranty Deed shows they are husband and wife), but a thorough investigation of Philippe Ben-Aime turned up some interesting results.

The phone number that he gave to the North Miami Clerk, 786-224-8636, is completely untraceable.

Phillipe Ben-Aime Phone Tracer Report

This is probably because it’s a “burner phone,” purchased solely for the purpose of having a Miami-Dade County telephone number.  Considering that he purchased a phone on January 12, 2013 with campaign funds, this is probably the number of that phone.

The phone number that I tracked down for him in Broward County, 954-306-2053, is a landline in his name and is also associated with his wife, Sara Jane Ternier, as well as one Marnatha Pierre.

Phillipe Ben-Aime Phone Search
Phillipe Ben-Aime Phone Search-Broward
I also heard, but have not yet confirmed, that Ben-Aime’s children attend public school in Broward County.

SO WHY THE HELL IS HE RUNNING FOR OFFICE IN NORTH MIAMI?

Obviously for the perks that North Miami elected officials are rumored to receive.  But, that’s a whole other scandal for another blog.

Listen up, DUDE.  It’s bad enough when private citizens commit voter fraud.  And, believe me, there are plenty of them to go after!  But, when a person runs for public office ostensibly to serve the residents of a city, and DOESN’T EVEN LIVE IN THAT CITY, that is completely and utterly despicable!

Unfortunately for Philippe Ben-Aime, I have the Florida Elections Commission on speed dial.  I also am no stranger to filing complaint after complaint until I get results.  I am committed to routing out voter fraud and election fraud, and I AM RELENTLESS.  (Just ask Myron if you don’t believe me.)

I strongly suggest that Philippe Ben-Aime bow out of the race before it gets ugly.

Just saying, of course.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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North Miami’s Circle of Corruption

Circle of CorruptionThere is so much corruption in the City of North Miami that it’s almost impossible to keep up with it all.  It’s even harder to keep track of all the players and the intertwined relationships they all have among themselves.  Never mind that theory called Six Degrees of Separation, in which it is believed that everyone in the world is connected to every other person by a maximum of six steps.  In North Miami, the politicians in the Circle of Corruption are connected by no more than two.

The bigger problem, however, is that those politicians are no longer content to contain that Circle of Corruption within their own city.  They are bound and determined to spread their toxic waste to North Miami Beach.

As I reported in Who’s election is this anyway?, one of the candidates being endorsed by NMB’s Pierre (a/k/a L’il Frantzie P), Jean D. Berrouet received a $500.00 donation from a company called Compas Investment Group, LLC.  That company is owned by Herby and Julina Dorval.  Turns out, Herby Dorval’s connection to North Miami is not just through his partner, Elmitide Tillus, as I noted in the column.  Herby Dorval’s relationship with North Miami mayor Andre Pierre goes way back.

In August of 2011, Andre found himself in hot water, as usual, for using a city facility, the Gwen Margolis Center, to host a private event.  City facilities are only supposed to be used for public events, but Andre didn’t care.  According to an article in the Examiner:

“Pierre initially admitted that the event was a private one in an interview with the Miami Herald Monday and then quickly backtracked saying as mayor, any gathering he attends in the city’s boundaries makes it an official city event. “If I’m sponsoring it and I’m part of an event happening in the city of North Miami, yes, it’s considered to be an official city event,” Pierre said.

North Miami City Manager Russell Benford said he took the mayor at his word that the affair was open to the public and approved the mayor’s request to use the park facilities for free. “I was not aware it was a private event,” Benford said Tuesday. “We have an internal facility request form and it indicated it was for a city function for community leaders. That’s the information that we had.” The party, according to attendees, was to honor several recent graduates of FIU’s nursing program.

Herby Dorval, a Haitian radio host, said he and other Haitian radio hosts planned the celebration to honor recent graduates from FIU’s nursing program and to inspire young Haitian Americans to pursue higher education. Among the honorees was Dorval’s wife.”

By accepting a $500.00 donation from Andre Pierre crony, Herby Dorval, it’s quite apparent that Jean D. Berrouet is a member of North Miami’s Circle of Corruption.

Moving right along.

As I reported only this morning in It’s all about the money, Part II, North Miami candidate Hans Mardy paid $2,000.00 to Sinal Consulting Group, LLC to work for his campaign.  I alluded to the fact that one of the principles, Maxo Sinal, was connected to several other key members of the Circle of Corruption, but it took a reader to remind me that I had already written about Mr. Sinal last summer!  In Oh! Marie!, I wrote:

“Back in August of 2011, Councilwoman Steril was accused of “steering a $5 million contract to a company run by her friends.”  The Miami Herald ran that article on August 2nd, but unfortunately it’s not online anymore so I can’t post the link.  Email me if you’d like a copy.  The article stated that at a council meeting in April, 2011, she voted to award a bidding contract to Kaufman Lynn Construction of Boca Raton for an improvement project in the city’s Claude Pepper Park.  According to Mayor Andre Pierre’s nephew/campaign manager Ricard Brutus, who got busted for soliciting bribes, Ms. Steril’s good friend and campaign consultant, Maxo Sinal “would make money off the contract.”  By sheer coincidence, Mr. Sinal was “hired by Kaufman Lynn to serve as the community liaison on the project.”  Ironically, a man named Jeff Cazeau, who claims to have recommended Mr. Sinal to Kaufman Lynn, was also Mayor Pierre’s campaign consultant.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave.”

Tangled indeed!

Another ex-officio member of the North Miami Circle of Corruption would be our very own Pierre, a/k/a Frantz Pee-Air.  Along with the other Pierre in a Pod, a/k/a Andre, North Miami city clerk, The Hon. Michael A. Etienne, Esquire, his law partner Phillip J. Brutus, and former North Miami mayor Joe Celestin thrown in for good measure, The P Man is endorsing not one, but two, candidates to run for office in the City of North Miami Beach.

While I have already established the North Miami connection with Jean D. Berrouet, the other candidate Yvenoline Dargenson does not appear to be a member of the Inner Circle.  Not yet, anyway.

However, appearance is EVERYTHING.  And, from the appearance of this full color, two sided mailer sent out last week, it appears that the members of the Circle of Corruption have every intention of bringing her into the fold.

Mailer 1

Mailer 2

The old adage that you are judged by the company you keep has never rung truer.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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It’s all about the money, Part II

MoneyAs promised, here are my observations on the North Miami City Council candidates’ Campaign Treasurer’s Reports.

Waste Pro and its lobbyist are betting on councilman Michael Blynn to keep his seat and keep them happy.  He voted to privatize the city’s sanitation department and give Waste Pro the lucrative contract.  In turn, Blynn scooped up two thousand five hundred clams for his loyalty.*  As he and other principles of Waste Pro did for Andre Pierre and Marie Steril in their 2011 re-election bids, Russell Mackie, the regional vice president of Waste Pro of Florida, Inc., and his company Waste Pro, each gave Blynn $500.00 in October of last year.  In December, lobbyist/lawyer Ronald L. Book gave him $500.00 personally and $500.00 from his law firm, Ronald L. Book, P.A.  For good measure, Book’s wife Patricia, kicked in another $500.00 through her company, Confection Connection, Inc.  Nothing like keeping it all in the family.

*I was just advised that Blynn did not vote to privatize, but neither had Pierre or Steril before Waste Pro donated to their campaigns.  I guess they wanted to secure Blynn’s support for a future vote.  Just saying.

So what did Book, Mackie, and various other donors get for their total contributions of $4,325.00?  $741.00 worth of “professional design services campaign materials” and $300 worth of campaign ads from Placemats R Us.  At least Blynn’s not a big spender.  Not as of December 31, 2012 anyway.  When the most recent CTRs are published, we’ll see if that changes.

At year end, Joseph Haber collected $7,255.00 (including a $5.00 loan), and spent $7,165.65, leaving $89.35 left in his campaign coffer to start the New Year.  Almost all of his money has been spent getting his face out there and making sure his name is known.  His very first purchase was for $1,174.24 in T-shirts.  By year end, Haber also spent $571.32 in Facebook advertising, $450.00 to Placemats R Us (WTF?), and the rest of the money on printing, volunteers and, obviously, websites.  Just google “Joseph Haber North Miami” and you’ll see a sh*tload of websites dedicated to Joseph Haber’s campaign, including Facebook, his blog, twitter and, of course, the now infamous Joseph Haber Election Countdown.  The dude’s creative, I’ll give him that much.  He also has way too much time on his hands.

Philippe Ben-Aime loaned his campaign the entire $2,800.00 and proceeded to spend the bulk of his $2,119.83 expenditures on a turkey giveaway ($650.00), holiday cards and stamps ($256.77), radio advertising ($500.00), and a cell phone ($427.63).  He also filled up his tank ($70.01), bought more cards ($125.00), opened a bank account ($70.42), purchased a CD of the voter rolls from the County ($20.00), and he’s good to go.  Door to door giving out turkeys?  We got us a campaign, folks!

Hans Mardy loaned himself $5,000.00 and received a $500.00 “in kind” donation from a printer for “holiday cards.”  He spent $5,221.00.  Of that money, $2,000.00 went to Sinal Consulting Group, LLC.  The rest went for ads, printing and postage.  As an interesting side note, one of the principals of Sinal Consulting, Maxo Sinal, used to be in business with Manny Cherubin (of Petite Cayemite) in the now defunct corporations Taptap Transportation Group, Inc. and Digo Enterprises, Inc.  Also interesting is the fact that Michael A. Etienne’s law partner Phillip J. Brutus was the Registered Agent for both companies.  Maxo Sinal was also partners with Jean and Kettia Monestime in the defunct company RODEXP, Corp., and another dissolved company, MOVEMENT DES JEUNES DE MIAMI, INC., of which Jean Monestime was the Registered Agent.  We can see that Hans Mardy has “friends in high places.”

As I mentioned in yesterday’s column, It’s all about the money, candidate Katiusquie Pierre spent $115.00 on her hair and makeup to take $65.00 worth of campaign pictures.  She spent the rest of the money on web design, advertising, volunteers, voter list and $349.84 on “Gas, Campaign Refreshment, and Office Supplies.”  (Hat tip, Kat:  I’m pretty sure you need to break down that last expense separately.  Just saying.)  As of December 31, 2012 she took in $1,953.00 ($1,040.00 of which is in loans), and spent $2,033.00.  I’m pretty sure this is illegal since North Miami Beach EX-mayor Myron Rosner got arrested for, among other things, writing campaign checks against money he didn’t have.  However, unlike Myron, Ms. Pierre is a novice at this campaign thing and this $80.00 shortage could be a mere bookkeeping error or oversight by her Treasurer, Gabriel Demosthene.  Still, this needs to be corrected by an Amended Campaign Treasurer’s Report.  As I also mentioned yesterday, it’s against campaign finance laws to accept CASH donations in excess of $50.00.  Ms. Pierre should also figure out a way to fix that mess.  Oy vey!  As yet another aside, I wish to point out that running for office is complicated.  I suggest people read the rules book before they decide to run.

Stephanie Kienzle

“Spreading the Wealth”

Note:  I inadvertently left out my critique of candidate Jacques Despinosse’s CTR.  I’ll write something up in another column.  Keep an eye out.

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It’s all about the money

Follow the moneyLike I said, you can tell a lot about a candidate by looking at their Campaign Treasurer’s Reports (CTRs).  Unlike NMB, over in North Miami, Reports listed on the Clerk’s election webpage are only posted through December 31, 2012.  Residents have no way of knowing who has donated to the various campaigns or how the candidates have spent their funds since the first of this year.  I guess the Clerk has been too busy running interference in the North Miami Beach election to pay much attention to his own.  Our city’s CTRs are posted through March 31, 2012, thank you very much.

As a result of the delay, you can view only four of North Miami’s eight mayoral candidates’ Reports.  Prior to January 1, 2013, Kevin Burns, Modira Escarment, Michael McDearmaid, and Lucie Tondreau did not report any contributions or expenditures.  With a scant five weeks until election day, voters have no way of knowing who these candidates are in bed with (financially speaking, of course) or how prudently they are spending their donors’ dollars.

As for the council races, there are no reports posted for Mary C. Irvin, Carol Keys, or James Herard.  Ms. Keys only threw her hat in the ring on February 5, 2013, so it’s understandable she has no report yet.  However Ms. Irvin filed on on September 14, 2012 and Mr. Herard on November 21, 2012.  They had plenty of time to start raising money and campaigning if they were serious about winning.

As everyone who has ever run for office knows by now, in order to get elected, candidates rely on getting their names and pictures out into the public eye and in your face as nauseatingly often as possible.  Just ask North Miami Beach EX-mayor Myron Rosner and North Miami current mayor Andre Pierre about their strategy of renting bus benches to post their pre-campaign (but really campaign) signs under the guise of wishing voters a faux happy holiday season.  Myron’s attempt at name recognition was an epic fail, but Andre’s tomfoolery got him re-elected, which only proves that there are more low information voters in North Miami.  As well as more tolerance for public corruption.  Hopefully, this time around voters will wake up.  I aim to help them do just that.

Here’s my take so far on the campaign finance activitity of the North Miami mayoral candidates:

The Campaign Treasurer’s Reports that are posted are quite interesting, to say the least.  For starters, Gwendolyn V. Boyd has raised a total of $38,577.00, of which $32,540.00 were loans from herself.  Luckily, she’s only spent $5,797.97, so if she’s careful with the money and is able to collect more contributions, she’ll be able to pay herself back most, if not all of the loans.  I’d hate to see her lose all that money, even if she wins the election.  That’s a lot of scratch.  As for her expenses, aside from feeding her volunteers somewhat frequently, but not expensively, and $576.31 on a photo shoot for her campaign literature, both of which are typical campaign expenses, Ms. Boyd has been extremely frugal and responsible in her spending.  Very telling of how fiscally prudent she’ll be as mayor.

Smith Joseph has raised $34,700.00, of which $30,000.00 are loans, and has spent $20,907.08.  Most of his money was spent on radio advertising and a much smaller amount on print advertising, but he also spent $3,000.00 to lease a “campaign headquarters.”  WTF?  Is he running for President?  Dr. Joseph also spent $2,000.00 on a “concert book” for a church and called it advertising.  I hope the Lord appreciates it.  One thing that glaringly stood out, however, is his payment of $3,000.00 to the ubiquitous Volney Nerette for “media/ad.”  Regular readers of my blog know that Nerette is a highly questionable “campaign worker” (read: ballot broker) who is well known for telling candidates ‘he has control of over “eighty to eighty five percent of the Haitian vote.”  He also tells candidates that “no one gets elected in this city unless they hire him.”’  In the last North Miami election, Nerette claimed to have “4,500 absentee ballots” at his disposal.  We are still waiting for the authorities to nail his ass.  Mr. Smith would do well to disavow Volney Nerette and perhaps try to get his money back.  Just saying.

Jean R. Marcellus has raised $4,000.00 in the form of $3,700.00 in loans and $300.00 in actual contributions.  He has spent $2,983.11, most of it on radio advertising.  What?  No Volney?

First time candidate Anna L. Pierre has raised $3,005.00 to date, only $650.00 in loans, and has spent $2,533.90.  As expected, most of her spending has been for advertising in the form of signage, mailers and far too much on a website.  Curiously, she spent $333.00 on the purchasing and service for two “campaign phones” to Metro PCS.  Didn’t she have her own cell phone already?  Just asking.  I’m surprised Volney Nerette hasn’t badgered her yet.

My critique on the collection and spending habits of the other four candidates will have to wait until the current Campaign Treasurer’s Reports are posted.  Get a move on, Clerk!

I will also review and report on the CTRs for the council races later on.  However, I couldn’t help but notice and share (make that blurt out while ROFLMAO) that council candidate Katiusquie Perre had the chutzpah to charge her campaign $135.00 for “hair preparation” and $80.00 for “beauty supplies” for her “campaign pictures.”  Jeez, maybe I’ll run for office so I can get a makeover, too!

A final caveat to all candidates who have not yet figured out that there are campaign finance laws in the State of Florida with which you must comply:  It’s illegal to collect cash donations in excess of $50.00 from any one source.  Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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Meanwhile, in the REAL North Miami…

North Miami City Hall…they’re having their biennial election, too.  Since I don’t live or vote in North Miami (even though this seems to be only a minor technicality for some voters and even candidates), I’ll try to refrain from endorsing anyone and just report the stories.  I expect there will be blood.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

I know very little about most of the candidates, so I simply googled their names and linked a story to each of them.  Some are boring, some are entertaining, some are scandalous, and some are just plain funny.  As more stories pop up, I’ll fill you in.

There’s quite the crowd running in the mayoral horse race.  I’d say Eight is Enough.  The candidates are:

The Council Candidates for District 2 are:

The Council Candidates for District 3 are:

What a slate!  The more interesting candidates are worth noting right off the bat.  Starting with the run to be Top Dawg, most folks know that Kevin Burns was already the mayor once and that Jean Marcellus is a sitting councilman.  As for the council races, Michael Blynn is defending his seat against three candidates, and former councilman Jacques Despinosse is vying for a comeback in the seat vacated by Marcellus.

Also clamoring for the mayoral seat are: Gwendolyn V. Boyd, former Chief of Police of the City of North Miami, and Dr. Smith Joseph, recipient of 2008’s I Care Award.  Also running are:  Modira Escarment, whose non-profit corporation showed a revenue of about $150,000 in 2011 with no accountability that I could find, and whose other non-profit went belly up within a year; Michael McDearmaid, who seems to sit on a ton of committees in the City of North Miami, including its CRA; and former singer/former nurse Anna L. Pierre, who also runs yet another non-profit, about which I could find no information other than that it exists.

Moving right along.

North Miami city clerk Michael A. Etienne, Esquire, is hoping to beat out the competition for Marcellus’ empty chair, in addition to campaigning for and endorsing two candidates running for seats on the North Miami Beach City Council.  All while juggling his busy schedule as full time lawyer and part time clerk.  He’s a busy man, no?

[NEWS FLASH:  One of my more informed readers just called to advise that Michael A. Etienne, Esquire, withdrew from the race “months ago.”  The North Miami IT Department has some ‘splainin’ to do.  Guess Michael’s plate isn’t that full, after all!]

Former candidates for office are trying again for a chance to serve the public.  Carol Keys, who lost her bid against soon to be termed out mayor Andre Pierre, who pulled out all the dirty trick stops to keep his seat on the dais.  Don’t count Andre’s shenanigans out in this race, either.  Word is that he’s backing the mysterious Lucie Tondreau, whose domicile has been under scrutiny.  Rumor has it that she hangs her hat outside the city limits, but that could just be nasty gossip.  Hopefully, the truth will be uncovered before the votes are cast.

No race would be complete without the omnipresent Hans Mardy, who conveniently moved to North Miami Beach in 2009 to run for office here, was defeated, and now resides back in North Miami, where he’s going to give it his best shot.  Again.  Have Election?  Will Travel!

New to the political arena are Mary C. Irvin, a/k/a Mary Estime-Irvin, who owns an employment recruitment agency; Joseph Haber, who is probably hoping to follow in the footsteps of his dad, former Miami Beach mayor Leonard Haber; used car dealer Philippe Bien-Aime; and Katiusquie Pierre, whose business is advertised as a “multi-service agency” dedicated to providing “outstanding services for the betterment of our society while enhancing the quality of life for the next generation.”

Alrighty then.

Googling James Herard was a bit more fun because the poor dude has the same name as the infamous Dunkin’ Donuts Robber, who is serving nine life sentences plus 125 years for going on a “human hunting” spree, shooting five and urging “another man to fatally shoot a Broward County man” on that same night.

Everyone settle down.  This is NOT the same James Herard who is running in North Miami’s District 3.  It’s just an unfortunate coincidence they have the same name.  Note to candidate Herard:  Get (and use) a middle initial!

There you have it, folks, in a nutshell.  Just like North Miami Beach, the North Miami City Council races should provide us with plenty of entertainment.  As always, I’ll be calling it as I see it until election day.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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Who’s election is this anyway?

City of NMB Welcomes YouWe are truly off to the races!

A perusal of all the candidates for North Miami Beach City Council’s Campaign Treasurer’s Reports can yield a wealth of information.  For starters, according to candidate Jean D. Berrouet’s very first Campaign Treasurer’s Report, he has received $2,600.00, including one $500.00 in-kind donation, so far through March 15, 2013.  Almost all of the money he received came from various entities owned by North Miami City Clerk, Michael A. Etienne, Esquire.

For starters, Micheal A. Etienne of North Miami personally gave Mr. Berrouet the maximum contribution of $500.00.

Then the law firm of Michael A. Etienne, P.A. of North Miami also gave him $500.00.  This contribution is actually questionable since Michael A. Etienne, P.A. changed its name to Philip I. Michael, P.A. on March 27, 2012, over a year ago.  (I hope our North Miami Beach City Clerk is verifying all contributions.  Just saying.)  Philip J. Brutus of North Miami is the Vice President of this company.

Another entity by the name of Mike Law Firm, P.A. of North Miami also gave Berrouet the sum of $500.00.  Michael A. Etienne of North Miami is the President of this company.

Radio host Nelson Voltaire also gave Jean D. Berrouet the maximum contribution of $500.00 “in-kind.”  I’m guessing this is for advertising on Voltaire’s Haitian radio show.  Of the many companies that Mr. Voltare is associated with, one is called Little Haiti Garage, Inc., of which Mr. Voltaire of North Miami is the President.

The only $500.00 maximum contribution to Jean D. Berrouet’s campaign that did not directly come out of North Miami is from a company by the name of Compas Investment Group, LLC.  Another problem with this contribution is that it does not specify whether it came from Compas Investment Group I, LLC or Compas Investment Group II, LLC.  (The North Miami Beach City Clerk should ask him to amend that entry.  Just saying.)  Either way, both Compas Investment Group companies are located in the City of Miramar.*

HOWEVER, Herby and Julina Dorval, who own the Compas Investment Group companies among others, are also connected to one Elmitide Tillus of North Miami in a company they all three own by the name of Herby & Veroneeka’s Wheels, Inc.  Therefore, there is yet another North Miami connection!

Usually, if a candidate is running for a seat on the North Miami Beach City Council, one expects that the voters and residents of North Miami Beach are supporting and endorsing that candidate.  Other than our very own L’il Frantzie P, who appointed Mr. Berrouet to the NMB Library Board in 2009, there doesn’t seem to be any support from North Miami Beach for Jean D. Berrouet.  Just saying.

*As for folks from other cities outside NMB, keep the name Miramar in mind.  More will be revealed.

Just saying.

Stephanie Kienzle

“Spreading the Wealth”
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And the race is on!

As of noon today, the 2013 Election Season for the City of North Miami Beach officially started.

Let the insanity begin!

Race

Vying for Group 2, a/k/a The Open Seat, are the following candidates:

  • Jean D. Berrouet
  • Anthony “Tony” DeFillipo
  • Hillel Hellinger
  • Margaret “Margie” Love
  • Jaime Miller

Challenging Councilwoman Beth Spiegel for Group 4 are the following candidates:

  • Rene Alfonso
  • Yvenoline Dargenson
  • Muriel D. Kemp

Challenging Councilwman Barbara Kramer for Group 6 are:

No one

 

That’s right.  Absolutely NO ONE is running against Barbara Kramer!  All hail the Queen of NMB!

Queen

‘Nuff said about that.

Meanwhile, the Gadfly has been gearing up for campaign season and, boy, is my dirt digging posse busy!  Stay tuned, folks, ‘cuz you’re all in for an entertaining time.

Stephanie Kienzle

“Spreading the Wealth”

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Follow up to the NMB Police Officer’s Q&A

In response to my previous column, the officer wrote:

Stephanie,

Firstly, thank you for posting my comments on your site. I think sunlight is the best disinfectant. Many citizens I think will be surprised to learn they’ve lost so many services they once had, and now that they are aware I think they will be better able to see the consequences of these ill-advised decisions.

Let me also say that I do stand corrected. It was unfair of me to focus all of my attention on Mayor Vallejo. He is, as you said, just one of seven decision-makers and so to hold him singularly to blame was wrongheaded of me. Thanks, I appreciate hearing your input.

Mayor Vallejo, I apologize.

That said, these cuts could have been avoided and as a long-time employee of the police department I am saddened to see what has happened to this once great agency. I hope my concerns are shared by those at city hall, and I hope that BOTH SIDES work together to repair the enormous damage that has been done to the agency….for everyone’s sake, but mostly, for the citizens who pay my salary and deserve the best.

I am also pleasantly surprised to hear you speak up for our wonderful gang unit. And as I said, the most experienced member of that unit has already been forced out. Make no mistake, Stephanie, she did not want to leave. She would have gladly stayed here until the end of her career, but she got tired of the awful working conditions and so she left for a better opportunity elsewhere. I hate to say it, Stephanie, but that actually seems to be the city’s plan…to drive officers out. There seems to be an unreasonable dislike for senior officers, as Bob White so capably showed on your site, and so they seem to want to make working conditions so unacceptable that older, more experienced officers seek better jobs elsewhere. I hope that I am wrong, but that is indeed how it seems.

The gang unit was but one of the proactive tools your police department once had to try and PREVENT crime from happening in the first place, not just report on it after the fact.

The street crimes (tac unit) was another. Plain clothes officers in unmarked cars were sent to areas of high crime in an effort to catch the robbers or car thieves in the act of commiting a crime. Now, a marked patrol car goes there to report upon it after the fact.

As one of your readers said, speeding along NE 19 Avenue is getting worse. It is actually getting worse everywhere and traffic fatalities are on the rise. We’ve now had three innocent souls die in car crashes in just the last few months. And if a lack of money is our problem, then why elimimate a unit that brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year?

Anyway….thanks again, Stephanie. I hope together we can put some pressure on those in charge and convince them to change the course and direction of this city…so that we can all have a better place to work and live. Happy Easter!

 

When I asked him if I could publish his remarks, he responded:

 

Stephanie,

You may publish any of my remarks on your site. In fact, please do. Let’s talk about this. It is the best if not only way to resolve this.

Jodi was an exceptional officer. Professional. Experienced. Well trained and all of those wonderful attributes came at the expense of the taxpayers of North Miami Beach…and now Miami-Dade County is getting all of those benefits at absolutely no cost to them. As I said, it makes no sense for IBM to recruit intelligent well-qualified employees, invest 26 years and countless dollars training them to be the best at what they do, then let them leave and go to work for a competitor. That is a poor business model. The police department is a business and we need to run it like a business. We need to make cuts, but we need to make cuts in a smart way, make cuts in a way that allows for the citizens to continue to receive the best service at the least cost. And I submit to you and to your readers, that is not what is happening right now.

Go back in time to when the city government and the police union were trying to avoid layoffs by negotiating concessions. I can tell you for a fact that concessions were offered to the city. Maybe not as much as they wanted, but they were indeed offered. That said, does it or does it not make sense to you to take whatever concessions you can get in order to reduce the need to layoff police officers? For instance, and these numbers are a ballpark and not precise, but the city wanted something like a 15% reduction from the union and the union was only willing to offer around 9-10%. Without a 15% reduction, the city said they’d be forced to layoff 15% of the police force…and so they ultimately did, but wouldn’t it have been smarter and better for the city to have accepted the 9% cut the union offered and then only layoff 6% of the police force? I mean, even if I give the city every benefit of the doubt and accept all of their facts and figures as the gospel truth, it still would make more sense to me for the city to have accepted whatever cuts were being offered in order to avoid having to layoff fewer people which in turn would require cutting services?

If the city had accepted the concessions offered by the union, then they could have saved some of these positions, Jodi would still be fighting gang crime here in NMB and your tax dollars would have been better spent and your neighborhoods would be better protected. That is my point.

And I think it is absolutely worth remembering that no other police department anywhere in Dade County resorted to laying off police officers. Doesn’t that, to you, smack of what is going on in Washington these days? If you cut a measly 1% out of the federal budget then the first thing that has to go are the most essential services, and the fat and the waste and the fraud remains? Here is where I am perhaps a bit more skeptical than you of the city, but are you telling me there were not other places, less essential places the city could have cut that wouldn’t have required eliminating 15% of your police department? 15% is not a small figure. NMBPD went from 113 cops down to just 96. NMBPD lost all of its special services, units that it had for decades and the only units that had the freedom to proactively combat crime in NMB.

The mayor and council could have clipped coupons to reduce its grocery bill, or they could make their family of residents eat 15% less food. They chose to put you and the other residents on a diet by reducing the amount of groceries they provide for your money. In my opinion, that is penny wise and pound foolish.

And sorry for burying the lead, but I think if you look into the dispatch statistics you’ll be personally SHOCKED at the dramatic impact these layoffs have had on police response time. And that is actually the most objective and statistically accurate way to judge the effect the layoffs have had on the service you and others receive. If you check into it, you will find that calls are being held for a lot longer before they are being dispatched and it is taking police officers a lot longer to arrive on these calls. The police department works almost every day at what is called “minimum staffing”, meaning we’ve the minimum number of police officers required to properly staff a shift. That is entirely due to the layoffs. So because we’ve just the minimum number of officers, calls have to be held by dispatchers who are waiting for an officer to clear his or her last call and become available to receive another. Officers are assigned zones, areas of the city for which they are responsible. Another casualty of the layoffs is the disintegration of what is referred to as “zone integrity”. Now, because we are short-handed and calls hold for a long time before anyone becomes available, dispatchers more frequently are forced to dispatch a call to officers without regard for their zone assignment, meaning officers assigned to Eastern Shores are routinely sent to the Jackson North area to handle a call, because the unit assigned to that area is in Eastern Shores finishing up with another call. NMB officers are now more than ever criss-cossing the city responding to calls as quickly as they can….like a police version of whack-a-mole, only not fun or funny. If you request from the police department a printout of the dispatch records and compare pre-layoff to post-layoff you are going to be amazed by how badly the layoffs have negatively impacted the services you and other taxpayers are receiving right now. Ask the city to provide you with the statistics on the number of traffic citations issued by your police depaertment, pre-layoff versus post-layoff, and again you will be amazed by how far the numbers have fallen. These are iron-clad statistics, not subjective, not my spin, but hard and fast evidence of the impact of laying off 15% of your police department.

To my brothers and sisters in blue, we too need to be ready and willing to work with city hall and get this resolved….and I think to a large extent we have. As I said, the union did offer concessions before the layoffs and 9% is nothing to sneeze at. That is quite a large hit for anyone, even Bob White the notorious cop hater on Stehanie’s site, to take overnight. But, as with the police cars, the union has and continues to try and work out a solution with the city. We are still having to play musical cars at the beginning and end of every shift, Stephanie, and despite the fact the union has offered time and again to pay a reasonable fee to pay for the cost of driving the cars to and from work, the city won’t even make an offer on that topic. The city refuses to even make an offer to try and settle what should be an easy solution. Why is that, Stephanie? That makes no sense to me at all. All around us, all around the nation, police officers pay a fee to cover the cost of take-home cars so the citizens don’t pay it….yet here in NMB, the city won’t even talk about what seems an obvious and simple solution. How come? And at what cost? So because the city won’t even talk about a fee for the take-home cars, officers have to come back to the station to park their cars each day, and parking the police car means having to remove your personal car from the parking space so there is room to park the police car, then after swapping parking spaces, officers have to remove some of their personal items from the car since the car is to be left at the station overnight. All of this takes times, all of this removes officers from service and makes them unavailable to respond to calls for service from the taxpayers. There are periods of time every day when no one, no police officers are available to respond. Does that make sense to any reasonable person….when the solution is so simple and so easy? The union is begging to pay, but the city won’t take our money? Imagine you are the victim of a home invasion or a violent robbery, and there is not a single cop able to come to your aid because they are all in the parking lot moving around cars? How stupid is that? How unfair is that? And how avoidable is that?

We, the police officers of North Miami Beach, appreciate the citizens and we know the citizens have treated us very well. These are tough economic times and we would love to show them the same appreciation in return, but the decisions that are being made by the decision-makers in our city are making that almost impossible. Almost every single day I have to apologize to a citizen for how long it took me to get there, but once I am there I try as best I can to solve their problem. Maybe that’s we need here, fewer decision-makers and more problem-solvers. I call on the mayor and council to become problem-solvers, not just budget-cutters or decision-makers. Anyone can eat 15% less food, but a smart shopper figures out how to eat the same amount of food for less money.

I will be sure and pass along your kind words to Jodi the next time we chat. :D

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An NMB police officer wants your comments

Got QuestionsIt’s no secret that many members of the North Miami Beach Police Department have been less than thrilled with certain changes that have been implemented because of the budget cuts last year.  One police officer made the following request to me:

Stephanie,

Perhaps you could create a blog addressing some of these issues and raising some of these questions on your website? It would be interesting to hear the thoughts of residents on the cuts to the budget as well as police services. Agree with the mayor or not, it is certainly a controversial topic and it would surely increase the traffic on your site. Yes?

Never one to back down from a challenge, I said, “Sure.  Why not?”

I decided to post his unedited comments and questions, and throw them out there for discussion among my readers.  As a courtesy, I am giving this police officer a chance to voice his opinion in a public forum.  I think it’s only fair to give him the opportunity to air his concerns and address the residents he serves.

Although this officer specifically charging the Mayor with the sole responsibility of implementing these policies, I would just like to point out that, unlike Miami-Dade County, we do not have a “strong mayor,” but a “council-manager” form of government.  As directed by our City Charter, there are seven elected officials on the dais, each of whom have only one vote in any decision.  In addition, the city manager is responsible for implementing policy and negotiating contracts.  Regardless of whether anyone agrees or disagrees with these policies, the credit and/or blame should be shared equally by all those who run North Miami Beach.  In my opinion, whatever the outcome, it’s a team effort.

That’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.  Without further ado, below are the comments and questions posed by this police officer.  Please feel free to post your comments, as they would be greatly appreciated.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

Mayor V can do whatever he wants with the budget. The consequences of his decisions will impact the quality of police service received by the public, then the voters can express their approval or disapproval of his performance at the ballot box. Democracy in action.

Citizens….has Mayor V’s layoff of 17 cops made police response time better, or worse?

To fill the holes created by Mayor V’s layoffs the police department eliminated the gang, motorcycle and community patrol units.

Citizens…has the absence of a gang unit made the city seem more safe, or less safe? Does there seem to be more shootings, less shootings or about the same?

Citizens…has the absence of a motors unit made traffic seem better or worse in your neighborhood? Do cars seem to be driving faster on your street, slower or about the same? Do you see more cops on traffic stops, less cops on traffic stops or about the same?

Citizens…has the absence of a community patrol unit made your neighborhood better or worse? Are there more problem homeowners on your block, less or about the same?

Detectives routinely have to temporarily suspend work on their criminal cases and are forced to work uniformed patrol to fill in the holes created by Mayor V’s layoffs. Every day there is a detective assigned to cover shortages on the road.

Citizens…are you happy with the level of service and communication you get from detectives assigned to your case? Has the need to take detectives away from their cases resulted in better service, worse service or about the same?

Citizens…is your tax bill 15% smaller or is just your police department 15% smaller?

Citizens…does Mayor V’s decision to layoff 15% of the police department make your home more valuable, or less valuable? Easier to sell, or harder to sell?

Citizens….what impact do you think Mayor V’s layoffs and budget cuts will have on the quality of recruits that choose to come to your city in the future? Do you think it possible to pay less than everyone else and still have quality recruits?

Citizens….what impact would poor caliber recruits have on lawsuits and civil liability, and how does that ultimately impact you, the taxpayer? Do you think Opa-locka pays out more or less than North Miami Beach in civil settlements as a result of police corruption and brutality?

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