Tuesday, April 4, 2017

North Miami Beach Water Utility Operations Question 04/03/2017 Overview and thoughts


To Privatize or Not to Privatize


Last year the City of North Miami Beach opened a Request for Qualification for "Water Operations, Maintenance, and Program Management Services." On the evening of Monday, April 4, 2017, the city commission took the city manager's recommendation, permitting the manager by 4-2 vote to negotiate for a contract proposal to privatize the program management, operations, and maintenance services for the city's water and waste water utility. I attended the meeting to find out why some in my community felt concern about the future of the area's tap water.


North Miami Beach and the condescension of chairpersons

I arrived at the end of the formal presentations by paid representatives on the value promised to North Miami Beach in exchange for privatizing the operation of the city water utility, which serves an area beyond the bounds of the municipality.

Like many in the audience I learned of this local privatization question recently, found it important enough to come out and witness the fuss.
What fuss!
"I've already told folks," Mayor Vallejo starts in after a comment shouted from the audience, "that during a meeting you have to learn how to, you have to know how to conduct yourself in a meeting. If you cannot follow the rules you're not going to be able to be here."
The Mayor's equanimity seemed fleeting at some points during the night. The Commission seemed genuinely flustered by, as I imagine, and untypically packed crowd. Standing room only when I arrived around 7. At previous meetings in other jurisdictions I witnessed similar condescension from chair-persons. To preface the public comment portion of the meeting he continued in that tone.
"I would ask everyone to make sure that your comments, please do not recycle your comments or be repetitive with previous speakers. Please also make sure that when you speak, when you add something to the conversation that it's something based on facts...this is not a question and answer forum."
I couldn't hold back quiet chuckles, but I didn't come for the entertainment! I wanted to learn about the question at hand, specifically approval for management of the City of North Miami Beach to negotiate a management contract for their water utilities.

Early on in the public comment and exchange between Mayor Vallejo and resident Ed Navarro got out of hand.
When Navarro brought up the subject of Flint, Michigan, leading to some stirring in the audience, the Mayor chimed in like Kanye West.

"I'm going go to let you finish. I'm going to give you your time. Folks, I've said it three times. This is not a political rally. This is not a political rally."
Ed Navarro visibly upset for the interruption says, "you're here to serve us, this is my time."
After a little more exchange the Mayor kicks Ed Navarro off the podium with 35 seconds left on the clock leading to a louder exchange and various uproar from the audience.
"How can we have respect for you if you don't have respect for us?"
The Mayor states, "we're not here to be insulted."

Later, clearly disturbed by the ruckus audience, the Mayor makes a comment about members of the audience never having run for office.


Eventually the mayor and police ask more people to leave. 


Toward the end of the meeting the more exuberant members of the audience erupted in quite a loud spectacle which stopped the meeting in its tracks for a few minutes.
It ended rather peacefully once all the protesters left.

North Miami Beach Water Utility Operations Question Public Comment 04/03/2017

The following concerns a public meeting of the North Miami Beach city commission concerning potential negotiations over private operation of their water utility.

I decided to type up notes on public comment in a different place than my general meeting write-up. I do not write a transcript here, only what I found worthy of follow-up for the topic of discussion.





Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Donald Trump presidential election victory speech, transcription. With some omissions.


Thank you. Thank you very much, every one.
Sorry to keep you waiting. Complicated business. Complicated business.
Thank you very much.

I just received a call from Secretary Clinton. She congratulated us, it's about us, on our victory and I congratulated her and her family on a very very hard fought campaign.. I mean she, she fought very hard. Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely. And now it's time for america to bind the wounds of division. We have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats across this nation I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It's time.

I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all Americans and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country. As I've said from the beginning, ours was not a campaign, but an incredible and great movement made up of millions of hard working men and women who want a better future for themselves and their families. IT's a movement comprised of people from all races, religions, and beliefs, who want the government to serve the people, and serve the people it will.

Working together we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding our nation and rebuilding the American dream. I've spent my entire life in business looking at the untapped potential in projects and in people all over the world. That is now what I want to do for our country.

Tremendous potential. I've gotten to know our country so well. Tremendous potential. It's going to be a beautiful thing. Every single american will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airport, schools, hospitals. We're going to rebuild our infrastructure... which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it. WE will also finally take care of our great veterans, who've been so loyal. And I've gotten to know so many over this 18 month journey. The time I've spent with them during this campaign has been among my greatest honors. Veterans are incredible people.

We will embark upon a project of national growth and renewal. I will harness the creative talents of our people and we will call upon the best and the brightest to leverage their tremendous talent for the benefit of all. It's going to happen.

We have a great economic plan. We will double our growth and have the strongest economy anywhere in the world.
At the same time we will get along with all other nations willing to get along with us. We'll have great relationships. We expect to have great great relationships.

No dream is too big, no challenge is too great. Nothing we want for our future is beyond our reach. America will no longer settle for anything less than the best. We must reclaim our country's destiny and dream big and bold and daring.
We have to do that. 
We're going to dream of things for our country. And beautiful things. And successful things once again.

I want to tell the world community that while we will always put Americas interests first we will deal fairly with everyone. With everyone. All people and all nations. 
We will seek common ground not hostility. Partnership, not conflict.

Now I'd like to take a moment to thank those who helped me with this what they're calling tonight a historic victory...
...What great group. You've all given me such incredible support. We have a large group of people. You know they kept saying we have a small staff. Not so small. Look at all the people that we have...we have go tremendously talented people up here. I tell you. It's been very very special...

Our partnership with the RNC was so important to the success of what we've done. So I also have to say I've gotten to know some incredible people, the secret service people. They're tough and they're smart and they're sharp. And I don't want to mess around with them, I tell you. And when I want to go and wave at a group of people they rip me down and they put me back down in the seat. But they are fantastic people so I want to thank the secret service.
And law enforcement in New York City. They're here tonight. These are spectacular people. Sometimes underappreciated, unfortunately, but we appreciate them. We know what they go through.

So, it's been what they call a historic event. But to be really historic we have to do a great job. And I promise you that I will not let you down. We will do a great job. We will do a great job. I look very much forward to being your president and hopefully at the end of two years or three years or four years or maybe even eight years you will say, so many of you worked so hard for us, but you will say that, you will say that that was something that you were very proud to do. And I can only say that while the campaign is over our work on this movement is only just beginning.
WE're going to get to work immediately for the American people. And we're going to be doing a job that, hopefully, you will be so proud of your president. You'll be so proud of your president.

Again, it's my honor. It's been an amazing evening. It's been an amazing two year period. And I love this country.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Nearthead Dade MAC! Come on out!

If you live in this area of unincorporated dade, or the surrounding areas this meeting may interest you!
June 21, 2016 at 6:00pm Northeast Dade Municipal Advisory Committee
Public Hearing on Proposed Incorporation


Highloand Oaks Middle School, 2375 Northeast 203rd Street, Miami, FL 33180

The Northeast Dade Municipal Advisory Committee (NEMAC) will conducta public hearing...to present the findings of the completed study...in accordance with requirements...public is invited to attend and express their views and concerns regarding the proposed incorporation. Notification...sent to all property owners.

http://www.miamidade.gov/incorporationandannexation/northeast-dade.asp
305-375-5143


I may find out more about this, however come out if you have interest!


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Differences between transparency and disclosure.

Understanding when disclosure satisfies the notion of transparency assists in adequately analyzing efforts of public officials to increase transparency by demanding more disclosure.

In the middle of town, in a tiny room sits a person watching a screen for an important message which they should immediately give to the general public. In designing the room public officials considered two possibilities for achieving the end goal of informing the public as to the contents of the message.
In a first option the watch-person, upon seeing the message, should leave their seat, exit the room, and personally inform the public of the message's contents.
In a second option officials install a window behind the watch-person, allowing passers by to look in to the room and read the message for themselves, and when a message appears the watch-person should also personally inform the public.

Both options satisfy the notion of disclosure, with the same possible effect of important information achieving public dissemination, but only the second option provides transparency.

In option 1 we cannot verify the extent to which the message delivered matches the contents on the computer screen. The public relies on the watch-person. but we can quickly develop criticisms on the efficacy in such a practice. What if our watch-person's brain jumbles words, resulting in their misunderstanding the message and delivering it inaccurately; what if a neighboring town bribed the watch-person to either fail to deliver the message or deliver a false message?

Let me more essentially compare the important difference between the options.

Option 1. Someone may voluntarily provide information which the public cannot verify
Option 2. Someone may voluntarily provide information which the public can verify regardless of disclosure

To achieve transparency requires all parties in question have verifiable access to necessary information. Any time the news reports incorrectly they disclose falsities. How inconvenient then that they rarely provide, in their reporting, access to the evidence they use to proclaim facts. Could a student turn in a research paper without properly presented citations?

In a society which proclaims the virtue of transparency, I wonder why we practice imperfect disclosure rather than necessitating any actual transparency. Technology, particularly software, renders trivial the solutions to this transparency problem.  The problem must lie somewhere else.  One need only watch a commission meeting on purported transparency legislation to clearly see that Commissioners don't want transparency, or that they value their privileges more than their responsibilities.

Transparency in government necessitates public access to information despite the voluntary participation of the bodies or individuals involved.

Any questions?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why I support Levine-Cava's campaign fundraising transparency ordinance!

(the following is still a draft, and should be edited for accuracy and clarity)


I begin with the short and sweet of it.

County Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava's proposed ordinance to increase campaign fundraising transparency is a step in the right direction. There is little burden in a simple disclosure in campaign finance reports accounting for when candidates and officials raise funds on behalf of political organizations. Any notion that politicians should spend their time raising money, but that it's a burden to do so in the light of public view calls in to question the purpose of  public service. What's more, I question the integrity of any politician who opposes this legislation because they think it would burden them. Here's looking at Barbara Jordan, and others on the commission.

I previously criticized the proposal in hopes that it could promote public discourse about what transparency really means in our times, but unfortunately none of the county commissioners I reached out to took my words to heart, and instead hide behind ennui. Laziness. In that regards I will clarify my criticisms so that people understand I do not oppose this ordinance, as I find nothing egregious about it.

While I still hope for more discussion on the topic, I don't see a need to continue criticizing this particular effort, as my criticisms receive no actual conscious attention. I prefer a move in the right direction, than to stifle progress over knit-picking. I still think find critique valid and important to the over-all issue of transparency in government, but future ordinances can address this--the proposal in no way limits possible increases of transparency in the future, which is precisely what establishment fears. Don't buy the disingenuous suggestion this ordinance would burden politicians. Even if it does, they accept that burden as servants of the public. They serve special interests, or their own, when they oppose transparency.