Mirabile urges crime crackdown; elusive $150,000 under study

By Suzell Rodriguez….
City Manager Hector Mirabile, formerly a police major himself, wants a crackdown on crime beginning with a cleanup of abandoned cars and areas that attract drug trafficking./

“We have a big drug problem for a city of our size,” he stated with outspoken comment on an issue resonating with many local residents before the City Commission at its October 5 meeting.

The newly-appointed manager said he has consulted the police department to make sure city assets are being used to their utmost potential, urging that police and community “come together under a different mindset to effectuate needed change.

“This needs to be on every police officer’s agenda, not just assigned to one specific department. This is a community effort,” Mirabile emphasized, describing a “broken window theory” that will encourage crime when the surrounding environment is allowed to disintegrate.

“In urban areas, a new perception must be formed to avoid continuing vandalism bv cleaning up foreclosed houses, removing abandonded cars and keeping clean neighborhoods,” he stated.

The manager also said that sports, after school activities and mentoring programs are “fantastic tools to keep kids away from getting involved in delinquent lifestyles.”

Defending the city of which she is a “proud resident,” Commissioner Velma Palmer said a direct correlation exists between crime and unemployment, adding that although the city has crime ,like other places, “we live in a relatively safe city.”

She hoped that programs currently being installed will help ensure the future safety of the city by maintaining the same ideas as the Manager, i.e., that children will stay out of trouble with the support of community programming.


Long time resident Dick Ward focused Commission attention on a city ordinance that derives $150,000 from South Miami Hospital, a non-profit corporation, given to the City of South Miami annually for beautification purposes.

Although upheld for a few years beginning with its signing dating to 1986, the funding has still not been used for its intended purpose, Ward declared, noting that from fiscal 2003-2004, required funds failed to show up on the city budget due to a possible pooling of the money.

“There has been a major misappropriation of those funds”, Ward maintained, although conceding that technically, the Commission didn’t knowingly misappropriate the funds but needed to exercise more diligence. Agreeing with Ward, Commissioner Brian Beasley said that the funds seemed misappropriated.

Manager Mirabile said he will throughly review the ordinance to make sure the funds are being used in the manner intended.

Also on the agenda: the five-year contract given to new Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro, some commission members and residents voicing sceptism while Manager Mirabile justified the decision, commenting “A contract creates stability.”

Mirabile explained that the contract was given to Mr. Martinez as the most qualified candidate for the position, allowing “the job to be done” without constant fear of early termination.

Mirabile also affirmed the contract as perfectly legal, and that it had been detailed to include an ethics portion of significant importance because the Police Chief position may be the most important city post behind that of the Manager, involving ultimate leadership and security responsibilities for the city which Mirabile termed of “paramount” importance.

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