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As promised, here are the items we recieved during the workshop meeting last night. So many things have been happening, I have a long list of blog posts. I will work on catching up very soon.
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At nearly every Council meeting this term, Councilmembers receive additional information for the agenda at their chair at the beginning of the meeting. While sometimes it is unavoidable, this is very frustrating for a variety of reasons. First, the Council does not have time to review or digest the materials prior to the meeting. In order to have a legitimate discussion members of the Council need time to review the materials, research as necessary, and prepare a response if necessary. Getting things "at my chair" prohibits me from being the "best I can be" because I have not had time to think it over -- the pros, the cons, and the potential problems.
At the chair materials are also frustrating because,even though they are public records, the documents are not available to those attending the meetings, or those watching the meetings on the webcast. As a result, if there is an item of interest to the community, it is not only addressed at the meeting where it is "at the chair" but it also inevitably is the cause of two weeks worth of rumors and innuendo, a lot of email traffic, and a room full of residents at the next meeting.
I can't stop the documents from appearing "at my chair," but I can provide those materials on this website after the meeting. If possible, I will post the materials "at my chair," immediately after the meeting. If not, the following day. In order to catch us up, here are the things that were given to us at the Council meetings from April 2011 until the present.
April 12, 2011
April 25, 2011
May 9, 2011
May 23, 2011
June 6, 2011
June 13, 2011
June 27, 2011
July 28, 2011
August 8, 2011
August 15, 2011
August 22, 2011
Last night I had the privilege of attending the Miami Springs Airport Area Chamber of Commerce installation of officers in the Tapas Room at Holleman's. As you can see from the group photo, it was a distinguished group. Mayor Garcia administered the officer oath. I paid for our firm, Hankins & Ator, PL to join as a business member.
I am committed to seeing the development of business in our community. It is good for citizens, good for local business owners, and for goodness sakes, it is good for the Florida economy! The next general membship meeting is on Thursday, August 18 at 6:00 pm at a place to be announced. I hope to see more businesses join and volunteer to lead.
I would like to see the Chamber tap into some of the enthusiam of its new members. It needs to establish committees with hard working committee chairs and begin organizing more events for our business owners and to benefit our local businesses. There are a lot of ideas on the table, but it is just like anything else, if only a few are doing the work, only a few have an investment in the success of the ideas.
There is a lot of time and talent in Miami Springs -- the Chamber just need to remember to tap into that time and talent to be successful.
Mason and I waiting for the parade to begin.
When I was reviewing my photos, I realized that I missed posting about the July 4 Celebration in Miami Springs. I can't believe it, but I did.
Fourth of July is downright sacred in Miami Springs. The City hosts a parade in the morning and fireworks in the evening. Our little city fills up with guests for our amazing fireworks on our picturesque Golf Course. A "good" parking space is a relative term because if you have a good space to sit on your car and watch the show, it is going to take you an hour to get back to your house! We live two miles from the golf course and it would take us less tim to walk. This year, we parked on car at my office at 36 Palmetto and walked out from where we parked Bill's truck on the Curtiss Parkway median to watch the fireworks.
Our parade is another tradition that is not to be messed with. Back in the day, the parade started on Curtiss Parkway by the golf course and ended at the Recreation Center. Nearly ten years ago the parade route was reversed. Now the parade route is from the Community Center to the Country Club. The route was originally reversed, in part, because the City invested in the Golf Course and wanted to bring people to the property.
Our Council is facing a lot of marketing issues and I completely understand why that decision was made. However, for the last few years, upon the request of many residents, I have advocated for reversing the parade route and starting at the Country Club and finishing at the Community Center. This suggestion has met with some resistance from the City staff and from other Council members. This year the response was warmer than last year, and next year we will try again.
I advocate that having our July 4 post parade celebration on a large piece of land behind the Country Club that has no shade or facilities is a poor use of our resources. We bring in bounce houses, waterslides, and crafts; Optimist and other groups set up tents and serve food and drinks; we use the room in the Country Club for the cutest baby contest.
I suggest that we would not need to expend as many resources if we used the tot lot at Prince Field, opened the pool for those that wanted to swim, used the Community Room at the Community Center or the back room of the Senior Center for the cutest baby contest. In addition, the Optimist Club, a group that is kind enough to prepare and serve hundreds and hundreds of hot dogs that are purchased by the City could actually do so from the air conditioned Senior Center instead of fighting the elements in an open space in early July.
If we still wanted a bounce house, which I believe would be unnecessary with the playground right there, it could be set up in the corner of Prince Field. In fact, we could even host a community softball tournament and (gasp) charge an entrance fee and possibly make some money from event. We are fortunate to have renovated facilities at the Senior Center and a brand new Community Center with plenty of bathrooms. We should be using those spaces for the comfort of our community instead of forcing everyone to the back of the Country Club.
I am not saying that EVERYONE in Miami Springs thinks this is a good idea. Many residents near the Community Center are very happy that post July 4 events have moved across town. I don't blame them. But, when I consider what is best for the entire community, weighing the pros and the cons, moving our ever-growing party just makes sense. It is Council's job to consider what is appropriate to spend for community events, and I can't justify not suggesting there is a better use of our money than bounce houses and water slides on the edge of the Golf Course when we have a wonderful tot lot and great pool that could be used. We would be able to accommodate more people, more efficiently, if we were using the Senior Center/Prince Field/Community Center/Pool location. It just makes sense.
Hiring a City Manager might be the most important thing the current Council does. We must find someone who is prepared to develop our 36th Street corridor because we must increase our tax base. As we have learned throughout the stalled annexation process, we must do what we can to equalize our tax base while maintaining our quality of life.
The tax base is not the only reason to develop 36th Street, however. We also need to develop 36th Street because it is dangerous and not just unkempt, but kind of ugly. Our residents know about the businesses that are "little gems" on 36th Street, but because of its appearance and crime rate, visitors are not encouraged to stop and have dinner, spend money, stay the night, etc., etc., etc.
Where do we stand on the City Manager search? Our HR professional drafted an adverstisement and job description that was discussed at the special meeting on July 28, 2011. After some discussion, we agreed the requirements should include a Masters Degree with three years experience, a BA degree in Public or Business Administration with five years experience, or progressive experience in local government of at least five years. We also agreed that we needed to include "economic development" as one of the preferred characteristics.
Once the ads are posted and resumes begin to come in, the received resumes will be public record. There has been quite a bit of chatter about the process being "open" and "transparent." For goodness sakes, this is government, by law the process will be open and transparent. The reality is, after the resumes are received and catagorized by Human Resources, if a citizen is interested, he or she could request to see all the applications that were submitted and the spreadsheets that are prepared and presented to Council "drilling down" the applicants for comparasion purposes. Then, in this age of amazing technology, he or she could go to our website and WATCH the Council meeting and/or special meeting where the candidates are discussed and the decision as to who to interview is made. Finally, the candidates are going to be interviewed in public at a noticed meeting of the City Council.
Any resident or business owner that wants to be involved in the process can keep up with the process, attend the meeting where candidates are interviewed, and then even discuss his or her opinion with the individual Council members. Is this a great country or what? While I can't speak for the other council members, if you are interested and have a strong opinion as to a candidate, I want to hear from you. There is an African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. In this case, I am not afraid to tell you, we will be better off if our village is interested, educated, and opinionated about the hiring of a City Manager.
Updated: August 2, 2011. Jim Borgmann has been a good City Manager for Miami Springs -- not perfect -- but very good. Now that he has decided to retire effective January 1, 2012, there are a lot of residents and business owners who would like the Council to terminate his employment sooner (for a variety of reasons). Many of the reasons are good reasons. In fact, on June 13, when I received the report from Finance Director William Alonso providing a preview to the large deficit for the next budget, due in part to Jim’s end of employment payout, I too thought that maybe the City could get by without our City Manager for the next six months in order to save money and balance the budget without cutting services. After all, one of the things that Jim was best at was bringing on very competent people in senior management within the City.
My first thought was, maybe Jim could leave after the August budget meetings to save money? Certainly, Assistant City Manager Ron Gorland is well qualified to serve as interim City Manager during the search process, and William Alonso could guide us through the final part of the budget process.
In addition, I immediately wondered why the City was going to owe Jim $115,000 upon his separation from employment. As a result, I obtained a copy of his contract. The contract provides that Mr. Borgmann is entitled to accrued sick, vacation, holidays, etc. It also provides on Page 3 that he must provide at least 30 days notice of resignation. Finally, it provides that if the City terminates him, it must provide 120 days of pay in lieu of notice.
Obviously, this changes the analysis of what is in the City’s best interest. It clearly does not make ANY sense to terminate Mr. Borgmann when we are contractually bound to pay him anyway. Especially when we consider that we presently do not have a City Planner and we are aggressively working to finalize commercial zoning revisions while also expanding code enforcement throughout the city.
Some believe we can circumvent our contractual obligations with Mr. Borgmann by “accepting his resignation immediately” thereby saving the City about $100,000. That is some pretty big wishful thinking -- even I wish it were so. Cute and clever opinion and argument, but no basis under the law. Lawyers have this saying that was recently articulated by David Cole, a Georgetown University Law Professor, “When you're a law student, they tell you if say that if you can't argue the law, argue the facts. They also tell you if you can't argue the facts, argue the law. If you can't argue either, apparently, the solution is to go on a public relations offensive and make it a political issue... to say over and over again "it's lawful", and to think that the American people will somehow come to believe this if we say it often enough.”
We must not treat Mr. Borgmann’s employment as a political issue. His retention is a business decision for the City. We cannot ignore the basic legal principles that govern his employment contract, or for that matter, any other issue before the Council.
Upon his return from vacation, our Budget Director drafted a memo outlining the costs associated with Mr. Borgmann's seperation from the City. It establishes that the actual NET savings for terminating the City Manager on June 27, 2011 (and obviously that did not happen), would be $44,918 -- not $140,000 as was suggested by members of Council. While the memo is not exact, it appears that terminating Mr. Borgmann on August 8, 2011 would save the city less than $30,000. Indeed, my argument stands, it does not make sense for the City to terminate Mr. Borgmann's contract while searching for a new City Manager -- it saves the City very little money and it creates another void in our workforce, which is already very, very lean.