Friday, October 14, 2016
Advice - Go do something that you know how to do, or learn a trade. You'll have some time on your hands over the next year, so you might want to study something that will make you employable in the private sector. You could study something like landscape architecture, accounting or even civil engineering, where if you know that hot water's on the left and shit flows downhill, you're halfway there.
But stay away from the Karma of violent things - like weapons, wasps and nasty people. I hope that you find peace without having to keep your stories straight, or that your memory improves. Certainly you're learning the value of following the rules.
Friday, August 14, 2015
Or, are they innocent?
When the ATF knocks on your door and charges you with multiple felonies, there is a very high probability that you're going to prison.
Hang down your head, Tom Willi, plead this out, go do your time and move somewhere where you can start over.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Harry was convicted on counts similar to his convictions in Virginia in South Carolina. He was sentenced to 12 years on each count....
Hopefully, South Carolina will send him back to Virginia after he serves his time.
I hope his victims are recovering and living a normal life.
Harry in South Carolina:
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
For more, click on this link to the Virginia Department of Corrections for Harry's Current Status
Watch out for people like this when it comes to your children!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Oprah isn't the only person in the world who has ideas about how to make money. Here's one of my ideas that was ongoing when Tom Willi canned me. A few of my ideas have been brought to fruition by people that worked for me - most haven't, and here's one of the biggest savers.
The reason that some politically-minded folks don't want you to know is that opening this treasure trove might annoy some of the most wealthy in influential part time residents of Monroe County - the folks at Ocean Reef. But I think I have a way to do this without upsetting ANY residents.
Somewhere around 800,000 vehicles a year cross the Card Sound bridge annually. Most of them pay a dollar, so the County gets $700,000+, cash money every year from the Card Sound Bridge.
The trouble is that it costs almost a half million dollars a year to pay the toll collectors and maintain the buildings there.
When I was Director of Technical Services for Monroe County, one of the least popular things I wanted to do was to fully automate the bridge tolls. I found that, for about what it costs for a year to pay all the people that collect tolls 7 days a week, 365 days a year, the County could replace the toll plaza with an automated toll collection system with camera enforcement that would then cost 10% as much to operate.
That's right. No people. Pay your money - cash, credit card, SunPass (or a KeysPass) - or get a ticket in the mail.
So that will eliminate several Public Works jobs. It will also put tight controls around the cash at Card Sound. The current controls there would give any auditor heartburn. I suspect that Danny Kohlage hasn't checked in on state of the art in cash management at toll booths lately.
I spoke with Emelio Suarez, who is the director of technology for Florida's Turnpike, who said that the Turnpike Authority might be willing to install collect tolls and maintain the toll plaza, like they do for a number of County owned bridges in the state, for a cut of the revenue.
This was ongoing when Tom Willi made the decision to part ways. I hope Emelio's not waiting to hear from me.
So, how would the County collect an extra $1,000,000+++?
- Raise the tolls to $5.
- Automate the toll plaza, tear down the current structures and give the lots to ROGO for the hotels the County wants to build.
- Pay the Turnpike Authority to install and manage SunPass.
- Offer mail-in rebates for over $50 per calendar year for COUNTY RESIDENTS (not transients) with a Monroe County address and proof of payment to SunPass.
That's just my million dollars worth. Will one of the Commissioners put this on an agenda?
Is there anyone at Monroe County that could execute this project? THAT, my friends, is the issue. GIVE IT TO THE TURNPIKE AUTHORITY!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
1. Copy machines
There are huge Xerox copy machines in almost every office in the County. The last Director of Technical Services pissed off a commissioner's aide (guess which) by suggesting that they share a machine with the Marathon Airport. Nope. Didn't happen. "Too much confidential information" said the aide, in an office governed by Florida Sunshine laws. (Little do they know that investigators can snoop at any time, copying their "confidential information" for anything run through the machine to a disk drive. The marvels of modern technology!)
Now, both this commissioner's office as well as the Marathon Airport pay thousands per year EACH for a lease for 40,000 copies per month for a shiny new Xerox machine a total of almost 1,000,000 pages per year out of ONE BUILDING! Do you thing they're actually copying that. Nope. Not 10% of that, I'd guess. These deals were done individually by each department, "under the radar" by the use of a lease appoved by a County other than Monroe!
There are 4 or 5 of these Xerox machines at every facility. THE COUNTY IS PAYING FOR MILLIONS OF SHEETS OF PAPER PER YEAR THAT THEY'RE NOT USING! Budde's Office Supply is one of the highest paid vendors of the County. County employees have tried to buy copy machines competitively and Budde goes nuts and call every commissioner every time the issue is raised.
Solution: Get rid of all but ONE copy machines IN EACH BUILDING and save $100k OR MORE per year - two employee's jobs! Make those big ass county employees walk a few more steps! 2.
2. Telephone system maintenance
There is a full time technician from AT&T that is on site at Monroe County for which the County pays over $120,000 per year. He's made a career there and has worked there for more than 20 years - yes, onsite at Monroe County as an employee of Bell South, now AT&T. He's a great guy, but the County has likely paid more for his services than any other single employee.
Considering the fact that he brings his own tools and truck, $120k isn't a terrible deal, but I know of FEW organizations of fewer than 1,000 employees who has a full time tech doing nothing but telephone and wiring work.
Solution: Get rid of this contract by invoking the non-funding provision of the contract and BID OUT for a pay-as-you go contract for service. The huge Nortel switches the County owns have capacity for FOUR TIMES the current size, the County bought TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars worth of options that have NEVER been implemented by AT&T and it is hopelessly outdated. There are PILES AND PILES of purchased and unused telephone equipment lying in rooms all over the County. Call your commissioner and ask for a tour of the telephone rooms in the Gato and Harvey buildings, the Marathon EOC, Courthouses and the Ellis buildings. Ask, like I did, "whats this?" and you will find Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars worth of Unused Junk. Time for an eBay auction!
There are a number of LOCAL wiring and computer companies who would love to have this contract or get wiring contracts and save the County thousands. The County should follow the School Board's lead, who implemented a telephone system that is MUCH less expensive to operate and gets rid of EXPENSIVE customer AT&T services.
If you don't believe any of these things, file a Sunshine request with the Clerk of Court for information about BellSouth AT&T payments and payments to Xerox and Budde's. The smoking guns are there.
And a certain technical services director was fired about a year ago for, among other things, raising these issues of waste to the previous Administrator's attention. Gee, no one wants to look bad, do they?
Let's see if the new Administrator has the balls to clean this up, but beware - the Deputy Administrator and the Telecommunications Administrator say that they're "close personal friends" but, of course, that would, "never affect their working relationship."
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I offer a single fact in the support of this statement:
One year ago, the price tag to sink the Vandenberg was $5.7 Million (Source: SportFishing Magazine: http://www.sportfishingmag.com/news/news/project-to-sink-vandenberg-off-key-west-begins-51046.html.) That's Five Point Seven Million Dollars. Today, the organization who wants to sink it says they're $2.3 Million short.
That's a 40% cost overrun. Are the same people managing this as are managing the Key West International Airport construction or the Freeman Justice Center? Imagine what would happen to YOU if YOUR cost of living went up 40% in one year!
So, let's take a look at where the money was coming from originally...
The City of Key West contributed $2 Million,
Monroe County contributed $2 Million,
Monroe County's Tourist Development Council offered $1 Million,
And the remainder of the population of the planet contributed $0.7 Million.
So, the 70,000 residents of Monroe County were coughing up an average of $70 dollars apiece for every man, woman and child, while the remainder of the scuba diving community IN THE WORLD - millions of people - could not fork over any more $700k.
Whoo-hoo! Yeah, that's a hot potential dive destination.
Something stinks here.
I'd like to see a full accounting of these funds - from Artificial Reefs of the Keys (a 501(c)(3) organization) and exactly where their money is going. I suspect that MOST of it is going to a company called Reefmakers, Inc., which is a FOR PROFIT corporation. They ARE NOT a Florida Corporation. Who owns them? Who governs what they charge? Who are THEY paying?
Who works for them full time? How much are they getting paid? Who has received "consulting fees" or honorariums? Tips?
They've certainly been given a big pile of taxpayers' money.
It is time for public disclosure as to EXACTLY where these funds went in the form of an INDEPENDENT AUDIT of ARK and Reefmakers, Inc.
Why wasn't a requirement for audit attached to the money that they were given by the Monroe County and Key West City Commissions?
Write your commissioners, the Mayor and the Governor and tell them to submit these two organizations to an independent audit by a reputable public accounting firm (or the Florida Attorney General) before another dollar of taxpayer money anywhere in the State of Florida sinks down this hole.
But remember the names of the Commissioners who voted to approve this project come election time.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Firing him without cause is easy for the commission - they simply write a check paying him for the time and benefits remaining on his contract and tell him goodbye after a 3 vote majority.
I agree with the calculations that I've read in two of the local newspapers that the total cost to the County of a Willi departure at this juncture will be about $200,000. I've heard that Willi has told some of his "friends" that it will cost the citizens of Monroe County $400,000 to get rid of him.
No matter. The County Commission can fire Tom Willi today under provisions in his contract that allow them to do so without paying him a damn thing.
Willi's contract clearly states that he can be fired for lying. It doesn't say, lying twice in a year, three times or seventeen times unless on a full moon, but clearly names lying as a cause for temination.
I believe that the Commission can prove that Tom lied about several things - I believe that there are too many examples to pass up this opportunity to potentially save the taxpayers $200,000 - or, if Tom makes other claims - $400,000.
After all, if you're going to have to fight Tom in court, you might as well fight for the entire enchilada. Litigating for $200k isn't materially much different that litigating for $400k and, given what I believe I know about Tom, the County is likely going to end up in litigation with Tom Willi.
So how do you fire him for cause?
Play back the audio tape of Tom talking to Jeb Bush about evacuation times during the public meeting. Note that then Governor Bush gave Tom a huge opportunity to correct his misstatement about evacuation times.
Compare Tom's statements with known facts.
Was he lying? Or was he just incompetent, misstating important facts that concern the safety of citizens of Monroe County?
I believe that Tom lied to the commission when recounting his discussion with Judge Sandra Taylor. Watching her at the meeting, it was clear that they had a different recollection of an earlier discussion about closing the Marathon courthouse.
So, ask Judge Taylor to come to the County Commission meeting. If she comes, ask her point blank in the public meeting - does she believe Tom Willi lied to the Commission?
I have a list of lies Tom told the media about me and my firing and can dispute them with facts. I have audio of Tom's statements and the facts are indisputable.
Hmmm... saying something that isn't factual... lies or not?
Lying is only one of the reasons he can be terminated with cause.
I suppose that there's a screw-in-the-lightbulb joke there somewhere - "How many Tom Willi lies does it take for him to lose his job?"
Twice during Tom Willi's tenure, his management has been characterized as less than competent by Grand Jury's.
How is this NOT incompetence - another reason for termination? The Grand Jury chose to look at two construction projects and found that both of them were mismanaged. Tom Willi is named in both reports.
Commissioners, now that you've found the courage to get rid of Tom, do it in a manner that makes it clear that you're not happy with him and without pouring another big pile of County money down a hole. Something tells me that the County Attorney's office would be more than happy to litigate this - Tom doesn't have a leg to stand on and this will give you the only position that may allow you to negotiate a reasonable settlement and the end of Teflon Tom's reign of incompetence at Monroe County.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Warning - this blog is, in its entirety, my opinion. If you want facts, these opinions might point you in the direction of truth, but that's up to you!
I just completed my first day as the ex-director of technical services for the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners in Key West, Florida. That is sort of like the Chief Information Officer. I was responsible for Information Technology, Telephone Communications, the Public Information Office and Monroe County Television, the local government channel.
I've never been treated so shabbily in my life.
So why blog about it?
In Florida, government operates under what is commonly called "open government" or "sunshine." In Monroe County, the culture seems to mean "never put anything in writing that you don't want in the newspaper." There is a lot of talking about ways to do things and opinions expressed that make the public record look sort of stupid in the light of sunshine.
There are a lot of memo's that travel around in brown envelopes as communication. There is a full time courier to cart these things around buildings. I haven't seen that in 20 years, but came to realize that a lot of these messages weren't being captured for the public record. I was tasked to "make us paperless" by Mr. Willi when I was hired and proceeded to set an example by using electronic communication almost all the time.
I expected to "go on the record" for most of what I did and have done so for the most part. My email has recorded many of my opinions and recommendations. I have always thought that this provides a good record of action in a public or private organization and, if you're honest, a good record in the event of litigation.
One of the first projects I undertook in this position was to install an email archiving system. Emails should all be there from sometime last summer.
When I started sending emails, I noticed that some people wouldn't reply. They would call or even call a third party to relay a message. My boss, Tom Willi, particularly would not reply. When I asked him about if he read a particular email during one of our infrequent meetings, he told me to assume that he reads his email.
A typical message circuit would be that I would email Tom and he would reply verbally through the Deputy Administrator, who then would, most likely, call a supervisor in my department who she went to high school with. So, more often than not, I was getting direction from a supervisor in my department. Sometimes Tom would give the message directly to this supervisor - never directly to me. Is that just weird or is it by design? I honestly don't know. I suspect that this convoluted message route is at the heart of Mr. Willi's "management style" issue with me. I expect straightforward communication and don't like playing "telephone".
So, this blog is to bring my opinions to light. These are just my opinions. If you want the truth, feel free to contact Monroe County and ask for emails or any supporting documents for anything I refer to in this blog. Likely, you can examine documents, like emails I sent that were never answered, personally.
Suggestions for public requests: 1. All messages sent from Mickey Baker that includes Tom Willi as a recipient, either in the "To:" field or the "CC:" field. 2. All messages sent from Tom Willi to Mickey Baker.
I'm not happy about raising issues and having them ignored. The taxpayers deserve better.
My ex-coworkers and ex-employees deserve better.
Tom, if you're reading this, you know this is true. Communication and culture starts at the top.
Performance and Firing
I did the job for 4 days short of a year, and, in my own opinion, which I believe is defensible given the record, did a great job. My employees love me - with a couple of notable exceptions. I provided new services for citizens, stabilized and upgraded a scattered and failing information technology environment and improved (but did not fix) the abysmal license compliance situation - all on a budget that, for the first year, didn't even include my own salary.
My boss, the County Administrator, Mr. Tom Willi, called me from 150 miles away where he was attending a convention and gave me no other reason than, "it's not working out" and "management style" with absolutely no specificity when pressed.
Other than Division Director and County Commission meetings (large, once per month meetings) we met maybe a half dozen times over the course of the year. Mr. Willi has no specific schedule for Division Directors and required an appointment, which I did seek (and was granted) several times.
In fairness, I was out Tuesday (a rare occurrence for me) for a surgical procedure and he had a County Commission meeting on Wednesday in Key Largo - I did not travel there, but was in the office in Key West, most of the day after my procedure. I had no warning, coaching or any comment from Mr. Willi other than a December 21, 2006, performance evaluation, where he depreciated his "below expectations" evaluation in the "managing people" category, and told me that I was a "victim of mother hen syndrome", told me I was "doing a great job" and to "keep it up". Of course, he and I were the only people in the room, but the evaluation is part of the public record.
I had "Exceeded Expectations" evaluation in technical areas. I had never worked as a manager in the public sector before, so, given attached comments, took the review in stride.
Mr. Willi's Management Style - Communication?
Mr. Willi has been criticized harshly elsewhere for "poor communication." The local newspaper and two of five County Commissioners have called for his resignation. On February 8, 2007, a special meeting was called to evaluate terminating his contract. He was, in my opinion, contrite and promised to "improve communications." His answer has been to hire a consultant and conduct communications workshops with groups striated by management level.
Here's the entire 3 hour meeting if you're really interested, but a Google of "Tom Willi" will get you a good flavor of what the perception is about Tom:
So, I'm left to wonder why I was fired because Mr. Willi won't (or can't) come up with a reason other than the ambiguous "management style" with no details. I find this offensive and just plain bad management. It benefits no one except Mr. Willi.
My Speculation About Why I Was Fired
Yesterday, a reporter with the Key West Citizen (newspaper) called me within 2 hours of Mr. Willi's call. Here's an accurate reflection of what I thought and told the reporter at the time:
I don't know any different than that now. Assuming that Mr. Miller (in the article) is telling the truth, he knew that I was getting fired before I knew. Mr. Miller told me that he is a close personal friend of both the Mayor and Mr. Willi, so this is entirely possible, given Mr. Willi's communication issue. Was Mr. Willi telling his friends that I was fired before he told me?
Taking the Job was My First Mistake
I knew when I took the job that would be the 4th director in about 5 years, so I’m a bit to blame for taking the position without clearer ground rules before beginning. What happened to the other folks is a story in itself... the last guy died, literally, in the office.
Fear Based Culture - Communications
A recent workshop with the Carroll Group with most of the County Division Directors in attendance was held in the first part of May, entitled, "Knowledge Based Leadership." The workshop assigned this group the task of evaluating and addressing what we thought were the most significant communications problems within the County. The group concluded that "communication without fear of retribution" was at the top of the list of problems. Coincidentally or not, I was the only member of the group who did not have the one year career service that would prohibit Mr. Willi from summarily firing me.
Good luck to that group on that topic. Now that the consultant has backed away from the group, the leader is Andrew Trivette, who is up for a huge raise as he gets promoted from "acting" to actual division director. I'm sure Andrew intends to be objective - he is really a good guy - but I don't see how he can be, given reality.
Back to why I might have been fired
I really don't know WHY, I got fired. My best guesses are:
- I uncovered some bad decisions that someone made a while back and I had asked for money to fix them in the 2008 budget. It seems likely that I may have touched the “third rail” at some point, criticizing expenditures for technology projects or consultants in place that are, evidently, controversial or worrisome to someone. (Future blog topic.)
- I pissed bureaucrats off when I suggested that they might actually change the way they're doing things, like discontinuing brown envelopes in favor of email or eliminating 3 reams of manual telephone bills in favor of an electronic system.
- I KNOW that I upset some long term county employees by complaining of workplace behavior and changing responsibilities.
- I pissed off this fellow who is a friend of Tom's and the Mayor and he ranted.
- County is short-sightedly eliminating payroll - I saved a LOT of money this year, stay tuned I will detail it in a future blog, but a lot of it came from reining in consultants (see item 1)
It is difficult to know what you're doing wrong if your boss doesn't tell you.More detail later on problematic projects and consultants in place when I arrived...