If you were either unlucky enough to have attended the City of South Miami's special commission meeting last Friday or because of some sort of morbid curiosity actually sat down and listened to the hearing online, you wold have heard former City of South Miami city manager Hector Mirabile repeat again and again how he was the greatest city manager the city (or any other city for that matter) had ever had and how he single handily reformed the city and turned it into the flourishing town that it is. He goes on further to say that he was being fired for no reason whatsoever other than as a retaliatory measure for filing an ethics complaint against one of the commissioner and for refusing to fire his buddy, the police chief, Orlando Martinez de Castro.
That's all well and good if it was true, but it's not. There are things that I know about that I can't reveal at the moment that will further disprove the former managers claims of being the greatest thing since sliced bread, for a moment, put aside all the bullshit and high faggotry from last Friday's commission meeting and read the City of South Miami's mayor's response to Mr. Mirabile's allegations. From his blog...
In his “good bye and good luck” speech, outgoing City Manager Hector Mirabile made a final series of statements about me and my colleagues on the City Commission that have typified the attitude he has expressed in public and in private over the past year. I present one example here by way of illustration.
In explaining my termination decision to the Commission and residents of South Miami, I stated that the City Manager had not followed a Commission directive to identify possible alternative revenue sources to replace revenues provided by the expiring FPL Franchise Agreement. Here is why this directive was important and remains important:
Beyond the regular utility tax, the FPL franchise agreement tacks an additional 6% tax called a “franchise fee” onto your monthly bill. FPL passes most (but not all) of that money through to the City. The franchise fee is a hidden tax on the residents and businesses, but an important revenue stream for the City. When FPL raises your rates, the City gets its cut. A darker side is that the franchise agreement gives FPL the right to put infrastructure anywhere it chooses in the city. Under a renewed franchise agreement, FPL will claim the right to locate transmission lines on US 1, on SW 80th St, or anywhere else it chooses, which is predicted to lower adjacent property values and economic activity by about 12%.
So, I sponsored a resolution to the City Commission that would direct the Manager to explore alternate ways to cover the franchise fee revenue stream, and let the City get out from under FPL’s thumb when our franchise agreement comes up for renewal in 2014.
The City Commission unanimously passed the resolution on 19 April 2011, as indicated in the 4.19.11 After Action Summary prepared by the City Clerk. But here’s what the Manager said on his way out the door:
“Now let’s go with the allegation that really – you thought that this one set me off – the allegation of not following his PERSONAL directive. By the way, this Commission never told me to go out and find an alternative to franchise fees; that was just the Mayor. But I did it anyway. Why? ‘Cause, hell, who wants to piss off the Mayor. I guess I did. So, but really, that’s the only reason I went ahead and asked Mr. Riverol, ‘Hey, can you come up with any alternative to the franchise fee?’ The answer was ‘No, we can’t.’ Not unless you want to make another fee that YOU all are going to have to pay, and basically chew me out, cause we ran out of things to charge you for. There’s so many things we charge you for. If you want to, read it [the schedule of fees]. We went ahead and approved it. They did, anyway. All I did was come up with it. So I gotta come up with more things? What do you want me to charge you for? Every time you come in here and look for the information booth, I gotta charge you a penny like the bank does? When you go into the Internet, I gotta charge you? I mean, granted, the one thing that turns out to be a cash cow turns out being the public records request. And Commissioner Welsh, I’ll keep taking your money if you’ll keep hiring me because, aside from the lawyers that just paid $5000, you’re number one on the collections, so I appreciate that. Now, I personally explained those fees to the Mayor, and I told him ‘No, we couldn’t do it’. So I don’t know why. I guess he didn’t like my answer, but now he’s accusing me of violating the Charter because HE PERSONALLY directed me, which, by the way, is against the Charter. It’s the Commission, through resolution and ordinances – that’s the only way. So I’m being fired because I gave him the information and he didn’t like it, and now, because I followed the Charter, he didn’t like that.”
However, as evidenced by the resolution and 4.19.11 After Action Summary:
1. Direction to Manager to explore alternative revenues to the FPL franchise fees was by resolution of the City Commission, not by my personal request. Nor did the Manager pursue it as a personal favor to the Mayor.
2. I followed Charter by bringing forth a resolution through the City Commission.
3. Finally, the Manager did not report to the Commission on the viability of alternative revenue streams that other municipalities have used to replace franchise fees, typically a mix of utility taxes, special assessments, and ad-valorem taxes.
The Manager did report to the Commission that the law firm Weiss Serota had opined that if Bay Harbor Island refused to renew their franchise agreement with FPL, that FPL would continue to collect the revenues from their residents and turn them over to the County. I researched the matter and obtained a copy of a Miami-Dade County Commission resolution promising not to interfere in local franchise agreement negotiations, i.e., the county would not take our money if we cancelled our franchise agreement with FPL. I submitted the County resolution to the Manager.
Ultimately, the Manager never provided the Commission with a report showing careful research on alternate revenue options as directed by the Commission in its adopted resolution.
So I stand by my assertion that the Manager did not comply with a written directive of the City Commission. In addition, in making the false claims detailed above, the Manager violated the Citizen’s Bill of Rights, Truth in Government provision detailed in the City Charter.
This example is just one of many in which the Manager dismissed or undermined my efforts to do the job for which I was elected, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly. I don’t see the benefit of going through every instance, but hopefully I have made the point that my decision to terminate was not personal, capricious, or vindictive.
Under the City Charter, a City Manager can be terminated with cause for failing to carry out a Commission directive. I chose instead to terminate without cause, also provided in the Charter – the financial cost is equivalent, and the recovery can begin much sooner.
Dr. Mirabile is smart and talented, and he has done many good things in the City for which I am grateful. But you cannot undermine the elected officials (your bosses) indefinitely and expect to keep your job. My problems began when I voted to extend the Manager’s contract. My bad. Commissioner Beasley voted against the contract extension and subsequently came under so much pressure and persecution that he declined to run for reelection.
I was elected to give the city my best. I could not do that while being undermined at every turn. I gave the Manager many opportunities to reform his behavior, yet he persisted. I truly hated to move for termination, but after a year of sleepless nights, I acted in my best conscience. Friends and neighbors, that’s the best I can do. I doubt many in my position would have held out so long.
It’s time to support our fine City staff, find a new manager, and move forward. This time we have higher standards and raised expectations. I believe we can meet them.
Well, that puts a different spin on things, now doesn't it?
Now, on another note, last Thursday, after the city commission already put forth the question of firing the city manager, City of South Miami's police chief, Orlando Martinez de Castro, decided to take off on a hunting trip. Wouldn't you call the timing of that trip slightly suspicious Look at it this way, even if the trip was scheduled before all this went down, isn't it strange of him to take off right when his good buddy, the city manager, was getting fired? For the sake of his friend the manager and the stability of the town he presides over, wouldn't you think it would have been prudent of him to have stuck around? After all, the city manager painted a picture of a town that would have descended into chaos without him at the helm, wouldn't it have been smart for the chief to have been at his job to make sure nothing went awry? On the other hand, considering how tight the chief and the manager are supposed to be, wouldn't you think he would have stuck around to help support his friend in his time of need and perhaps to quell the rumors of his own demise after his friends firing?
Strange, isn't it? I would have thought that any police chief of a major suburb or city like South Miami would have remained at his post after a change like the city manager getting fired, regardless of whether or not he had a hunting trip planned before hand. Perhaps his rational for taking the trip regardless of what happened in the city was the fact that he knew his days were numbered? Something to the effect of "I know I'm fucked so I might as well take my vacation now while I still can?"
Regardless of why the Chief took his vacation, we hope that he has a great time hunting and we can only pray that he's a better shot than Dick Cheney...