I am writing in regard to the article written by Lance Dixon which was published online Aug. 4, and which appeared in the Neighbors section Aug. 7 ( Mayoral candidates have all faced criticism).
The reporter and I met for almost an hour some five days before the publication, and we had a frank “off the record” discussion about my client, Bel House, and other matters. Regarding the Bel House issue per se, I told the reporter that I doubted that anyone who was quick to condemn all involved had ever read the lease agreement between the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency and my client.
While there is no doubt that the outcome of the transaction was terrible for the CRA, I am confident that no one knows that my client was to give $675,000 back to the CRA upon the conclusion of a $2 million dollar lawsuit my client brought against its insurance companies for previous damage to the Bel House property.
The result of that suit was my client receiving a mere $109,000, and so my client — not the CRA — canceled the lease so the CRA not spend any more money as none was to be received from my client.
The loss to the CRA was very costly, and my client lost a total just over $800,000 in legal fees — none to me, by the way — and lost the property to the bank.
As to the reference made regarding my filing a pleading on behalf of the former North Miami mayor, Kevin Burns, I advised the reporter that this issue had been written about years earlier, and that I filed it on behalf of my long-standing client, the second mortgagee, who could have been wiped out, and to prevent a default by Burns.
That was the extent of my involvement, I received no compensation from anyone, and if the same situation arose today, I would certainly do it again. And I would do it again no matter what is said by others — such as law professor Bob Jarvis — who have never spoken to me about this.
Apart from the facts, which in the court of public opinion no one even cares about, the question arises as to why, after more than five years, is this issue dredged up again. The answer is simple and obvious. There are those in the community who see this as a good way to smear a mayoral candidate that they don’t support — and any collateral damage — i.e., me — is just fine with them.
Finally, had I known that the article was going to be framed in the manner and tone that it will, no doubt, be received, I would have appreciated my “off the record” comments being made very much on the record.
John C. Dellagloria, Pinecrest
North Bay Village must change auditors
The North Bay Village Charter instructs the Village Commission to appoint an outside auditor to audit our accounts and financial transactions. North Bay Village chose well with the audit firm of Keefe, McCollough & Co., for the past four years, under a three-year contract plus a one-year extension during a software conversion.
Following protocol, the village advertised a “Request For Proposals” for auditing services, and six firms applied. An evaluation committee brought recommendations to the commission for final selection.
On July 8, the village manager put this item in the consent agenda, where no discussion takes place, and nominated Keefe, McCollough & Co. to continue. One resident suggested the commission pull this item from the consent agenda for discussion. The commission agreed and pulled the item. The discussion was simply a comment by the mayor that she was happy with the recommendation. The renewal was then approved 4-0. (I was absent from this meeting.)
But there was a problem. A 2002 commission resolution requires the village to change auditors every three fiscal years, in keeping with best audit practice.
This information wasn’t in the RFP. Keefe, McCullough & Co., ranked No. 1, wasn’t eligible to bid under the law. It’s important to note that while the mayor spoke forcefully to grant the renewed contract, she had also voted in favor of passing the three-year restriction.
The current proposal by the village manager is to pass a resolution allowing the same firm, but with a different partner to oversee the contract. This may be a good compromise, but currently North Bay Village is in violation of its own law. The village risks legal action by any of the five competing firms and charges of obscuring finances by legal authorities.
The process needs to be voided and a clean process redone urgently. The commissioners on July 8 broke the law and are accountable. The mayor should have remembered her vote to limit auditor terms before approving this extralegal extension. Tainted votes are never acceptable.
Richard Chervony, Village Commissioner, North Bay Village