How does one know when she’s overstayed her welcome and become but a shadow of the effective, aggressive prosecutor she may have at one time harbored ambitions of becoming? How does one know when it’s long past time to clean out one’s desk, take down the nameplate on one’s office door, and call it done?
If anyone has the answers, please refer them to the Graham Building on NW 12 Ave. in Miami, to the attention of Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who, regrettably, has no clue that her 19-year tenure as Miami-Dade’s state attorney should already have been consigned to history by now.
It is not merely because she has been in office so long that merits her retirement, but that she has been in office so long and deteriorated into a mediocre (at best) prosecutor whose failures to pursue prosecutions in some prominent and impactful cases of recent years are multiplying faster than her successes at securing convictions for any.
Rod Vereen, Rundle’s main primary challenger, isn’t convinced that she’s performed the “incredible job” as she recently described her years as top prosecutor. He says it’s time to “bring to this office a new direction.”
In their only joint appearance thus far, during a June 20 Q-and-A with the Miami Herald editorial board, Rundle wanted to “remind everyone of the magnitude of this office,” the fourth largest state attorney’s office in the nation, with nearly 1,200 employees, and a 250,000-strong caseload.
She loves numbers. She threw out lots of figures and stats attesting to how much the county’s crime rate has dropped and how many bad cops and bad public officials her office has prosecuted.
What she didn’t address are the concerns that a growing segment of Miami-Dade citizens have with her administration of justice – or lack thereof – concerns not measured by metrics so much as by newspaper headlines, TV news reports, water cooler chatter, and gut instincts: They see, hear, and read of how many cases never see the inside of a courtroom, or whose prosecutions are bungled, or dropped, or never even pursued.
Nothing ignites the public’s ire like public corruption. And though she likes to boast, as she did during the Q-and-A, that she created the first public corruption unit anywhere in Florida in 1994, and cites accolades that hail hers as the “most active public corruption state attorney’s office” in the Sunshine State, the public perception remains that Miami-Dade is the corruption capital of America.
“Miami has become the hub of corruption in this country,” Vereen, reflecting what many think, retorted. “I don’t see major corruption cases being prosecuted by her office.” He said he sees them being successfully prosecuted in federal courts, but not in the local courts in which the Rundle’s SAO has jurisdiction.
Rundle’s mistakes, blunders, and outright failures litter the judicial-criminal landscape of our county. She may cite “most active public corruption state attorney’s office,” but critics will cite these:
- Neglecting to pursue charges against any public official implicated in the Miami-Dade Housing Agency scandal (2006);
- The failure (to date) to file any charges whatsoever in the accounting scandal at Miami-Dade Transit (2010).
- The lack of any convictions against top-level Wackenhut company officials accused of bilking the county on its public transit contract (2010).
- Dropping the ball in State of Florida v. Michelle Spence-Jones (2011);
- Infuriating many residents by refusing to go after then-North Bay Village Mayor Corina Esquijarosa for alleged homestead exemption fraud (2011);
- Allowing friction between her office and the FDLE to botch state officials’ preparations to indict U.S. Congressman David Rivera on 52 criminal counts last summer.
- Overlooking (to date) the myriad instances of rampant crookedness that seem to follow North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre’s administration around like cats outside a tuna cannery.
The stale and increasingly irrelevant Herald, whose editorial endorsements have about as much of an impact anymore on voters as a pebble plopping into the bay behind them, endorsed Rundle in this race, but did so largely on the basis of long-ago and long-forgotten accomplishments from the past, including one from when she was still an assistant state attorney under Janet Reno in the ’80s.
That’s the trouble. Rundle is too much a candidate of the past, when what the SAO sorely needs is policy reform and a change in direction. That, dear voters, can be best effected by electing someone new, thus throwing open the windows of the Graham Building and letting in some fresh air, for a change.
After 19 years, we sure could use some there.
WHAT A WALKING, TALKING FIASCO HE IS
Bet Republicans are starting to worry about crowning Mitt Wrongney their president-to-be in a few weeks.
What a sloppy week this was for the Etch A Sketch Man. A callous comment in London one day, a comment uttered in Israel requiring clarification the next day, a press aide’s insult to the traveling media the next….
What have I left out? (I’m sure I’m leaving something out.)
Aides didn’t want him in London to begin with. They implored their man to remain on home soil where the jobs-and-economy theme resonates louder, rather than be seen in the politically awkward photo op of rooting on silly-looking, French-beret-wearing U.S. athletes and his wife’s prancing horse in a foreign city.
(Seriously, dressage? An Olympic sport? I honestly had never heard of this…this…activity until I heard it mentioned in context with the Romneys, nor had I any idea that it was an Olympic…sport. Really? Prancing horses? In the Olympics? Can we declare war on the IOC?)
Mitt-the-Twit and Team Romney come off looking ever more not-ready-for-prime-time or the Big Time. These rank amateurs comprise a presidential campaign? Seriously?
Prancing horses. A sport? Seriously?
WHO NEEDS TO SEE A MOVIE AT THAT HOUR?
The tragedy in Aurora, Colo., brought to mind some vexing questions – none of which I’m suggesting are causes of or contributors to last week’s awful violence, but questions nevertheless:
Why must any movie have its premiere one minute past midnight? This practice is becoming prevalent. Would it dampen movie studio profits any if they waited till a more sane hour of the day to unveil a flick for first-time audiences? Hardly.
A glimpse online revealed that several local cinemas in Miami-Dade were packaging the latest film about the caped avenger in a NoDoz-poppin’, 8 1/2-hour-block Dark Knight trilogy (with breaks built in), some showings scheduled at 9 p.m., ensuring that many cinemas employees wouldn’t be closing up and going home until, I guess, six in the morning or later.
And lastly, why on earth are kids as young as six (as was the youngest victim) doing up at midnight anyway? Regardless that school is out of session, children and their tiny, growing bodies aren’t meant to endure grown-up hours. If I had a dollar for everytime I’ve been in a store or out in public at some late hour and spotted young children of all ages out with their parents…
Too many knuckle-headed adults exercising all too little prudence and maturity, if you ask me. I mean, I didn’t win the privilege of seeing the other side of 9 p.m. until I had reached age 10. It was a while longer before I managed to push that to 9:30′s edge. Being able to stay up to 10 p.m.? Wow! What a luxury! That must not have come until I was about 13.
Nobody needs to see a movie premiere at that hour – It’s not going anywhere, people! You’ll have plenty more chances to catch it. It’s going to be showing for weeks! – and no child should be up at that hour.
Case closed. I’m already a better parent than a lot of these twits, and I’m not even a father. Jeez. The state of American parenthood today, such as it is….