By Frank Del Vecchio, Special to the SunPost
Miami Beach is under a cloud of corruption.
Sadly, I’ve lost confidence in the city manager and hold him accountable for failure and corruption during his tenure. I also fault the mayor and commissioners for not taking him to task earlier. They should do so now. Essential reform, including audits and investigations, cannot be entrusted to the city manager.
The city manager has had all the machinery of government at his disposal for the past twelve years, yet in spite of many red flags failed in his duty to deliver effective and clean government.
His successes in budgeting, cultural enhancement, and development are highly visible. Out of public sight are ineffectiveness, incompetence, and corruption.
There are deeper problems in the Building Department than employee arrogance and arbitrary treatment. In 2006, the Chief Electrical Inspector was charged in a kickback scheme. In 2008, three Building Department officials were indicted for taking $110,000 in bribes. It took a felon wearing a wire to educate the city manager to corruption under his nose.
Even after the Building Department prosecutions, the manager ignored other red flags. In Code Compliance he should have mounted an internal investigation when 80% to 90% of residents’ noise complaints were dismissed as invalid. It took the FBI to do his job: last month, five Miami Beach Code Compliance officers, including the supervisor, along with two firefighters, were arrested for extorting $25,000.
This administration is very effective at PR. Residents are cultivated, flattered by invitations to participate on boards and committees and rub elbows with top officials at social events. They are under the illusion they are in a participatory democracy presided over by a brilliant chief executive officer and a populist mayor.
Attempting to hide corruption under the veil of a “Magic City” is no longer possible. The truth is out. A reckoning is essential.
The city will not collapse if the manager is removed. He has lost credibility. The damage for which he bears responsibility can be repaired, but not while he’s in power.
Del Vecchio, of the South Pointe Residents Association, is a civic activist and retired attorney.