To the editor:
Each of the three (3) City of South Miami mayoral candidates gave their response when asked why they wanted to be mayor of the city. As the incumbent, Mayor Stoddard had a window of opportunity to showcase and boast about his accomplishments in nearly six years as mayor. He chose to do that by posing four questions and I am somewhat baffled by his responses. As a resident and taxpayer in this city, my view and experiences the past six years are entirely different.
1. Are we safe? If you look at all of the crime statistics and isolate those that seriously affect us: no. We have a South Miami police lieutenant who was in a leadership role with the Police Explorers, now arrested and charged with various sexual acts upon minors in the group. Another police officer became the subject of a full expose and story about his career in the department. He also has many department violations but was promoted to lieutenant over many other more experienced senior officers. He now has desk duty and is off the street. Another police officer shot a city resident who was unarmed and the facts are still under investigation. It is not unusual to see three or four police vehicles together at the infamous speed trap in front of City Hall. Their time would be better spent patrolling the city.
2. Is the City of South Miami a good place to live and work? The small hometown aura has been under siege by developers getting approval to split lots, build more than is in character with the surrounding area, and in the process, razing lots, annihilating our trees and landscape. The city wrote a tree ordinance that they have been notified does not comply with the ruling Miami-Dade County Landscape Ordinance. Despite that official notification, they have continued to permit the lot clearing and chopping down of specimen trees. The relentless pursuit of this administration to purchase land owned by the FECI for dubious purposes, and the possible commitment of the city taxpayer’s money is unacceptable. Our downtown area continues to get more restaurants when the average life span of these establishments is two years. The wealthier developers get gifted with a parking bonus but the taxpayers foot that bill in the end result. The sweetheart deals with FPL continue, along with using FPL to install lighting for a privileged few. So much for this mayor’s promoting solar energy.
3. Are we getting a good deal for our taxes? A municipal pool was built without any heating so it cannot have year around use. The original estimate for yearly maintenance of $50,000 has now gone beyond 500 percent. We foot the bill for that fiasco. For a city of 2.5 square miles and approximately 12,000 residents, we pay a disproportionate amount for legal assistance. Our city attorney cannot handle the numerous lawsuits and other legal issues brought about by this administration. Our city tax was lowered by a fraction of a percent rather than giving the budget surplus back to its rightful owners, the residents. That was put into a “trust fund” to be used for whatever the administration wants. And the final question:
4. Is our city in good shape going forward? Our communities have realized that we are all one city and will not allow this administration to use divisive tactics to isolate us by color, creed, ethnicity, gender, or income. Clergy has been enlisted to help divide us but it won’t work. We all want to live in a city that respects everyone, their neighbors, their standard of living and their right to enjoy their homes without looking at high rise concrete buildings out of their windows. We all drive vehicles, whether new or old. We’re entitled to park and have parking for those that visit us. No one should be disenfranchised. We’re all one city.
We need a new mayor. Good luck to the two candidates that took the challenge to return our city to The City of Pleasant Living.
Marie D. Valenti