There they go again

Micheal Miller
Executive Editor
We said this would happen.

Hector Mirabile was terminated from his job as City Manager of South Miami.

Unfortunately for the good residents of the City of Un- Pleasant Living, this move put forward by Mayor Stoddard and supported by City Commissioners Welsh and Harris, leaves the City not only high and dry but totally-wrecked on the shoals of all City Managers fired before Dr. Mirabile.

During the Nov. 7 Commission meeting, the Mayor (our self-professed “Town Dad”) chose to launch a sneak attack against Mirabile by bringing up his motion to terminate him — without the benefit of having such action placed on the agenda. Then, after asking for his head and recommending he be “terminated without cause,” Dr. Phil took great pains to enumerate a list of complaints against Mirabile. Among the purported slights that damaged the delicate egos of certain elected officials was a revelation that Hector Mirabile and Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro were (gasp!) “friends.”

After some opining, City Attorney Pepe decided that the Mayor’s motion was not properly noticed on the agenda and the entire travesty was delayed for discussion at a previously- called special meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on Nov. 9. That meeting was then abruptly moved to 3 p.m. which meant light public attendance with its ‘special’ meeting status meaning no public comment. Only after some wrangling at the dais did a 3-2 vote give people permission to speak. (Note that our “Town Dad” and “Bicycle Bob” were the dissenting votes, something to remember that the next time one of them crows about “transparency in government” or First Amendment rights (which are usually their own).

What they heard from the majority of the public attending was ‘Please don’t do this.’

But “The Three Amigos” did it anyway, and after having gotten their way, Mirabile and all City staffers left the chambers en masse. Perhaps the most amusing part of the evening was a subsequent effort to determine which city staffer could serve as interim city manager (aka: “a sacrificial lamb”). Having induced Kelly Barket of the Building Department to assume the yoke, we extend him our thanks and our sympathy.

In what can only be described as nonsensical timing, The Three Amigos have fired Dr. Mirabile during urgent contract negotiations for the future existence of the Murray Park Pool, as well as only one week before a traditional “State of the City” address, normally a positive reflection of current city affairs.

What does all this mean to good government in South Miami? Simply more of the same stumbling and bumbling by three individuals who have proven they have no place in administering municipal affairs. Their action also appears as a clear violation of the City’s Charter through the attempt to coerce Mr. Barket (or any new City Manager) to do what Mirabile legally could not do: dismiss Chief Martinez de Castro, the man they most fear.

It means more wasted time and money, loss of continuity in city government, and most certainly, predictable losses of upper echelon staff due to a devastated morale. And finally, it absolutely assures that at the highest levels, South Miami municipal government remains embarrassingly dysfunctional. South Miami deserves better than Stoddard, Welsh and Harris.

They have navigated our Ship of State into a Ship of Fools.

Thought of the Day:

The trust of the people in the leaders reflects the confidence of the leaders in the people. — Paulo Freire

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Ken Harms’ letter asks Mayor Stoddard to resign

A four-page letter signed by former City of Miami Police Chief Kenneth Harms sharply criticizes South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard and concludes by encouraging him to “step down” from office.

Stoddard claims the chief’s letter is “another attempted smear job” by South Miami Police Chief Orlando Martinez “and his pals” Commissioners Valerie Newman and Harms.

While spending the best part of four pages explaining the reasons for writing the document, Harms charges that based on his experience, Stoddard’s conduct “may well have violated the city charter, county and state laws.”

It is at the end of Page 3, however, that Harms describes what appears as the last straw for composing the letter, referring to a burglary report of March 3, 2011 at the Stoddard home that has been reported previously in newspapers, on television and online.

The report cited by Harms includes the admission to police by Stoddard that at the time of the incident he had appeared “naked” in his home when also occupied by two young girls, one of them an exchange student and the other, his adopted daughter.

Harms writes that on Nov. 9 he first read the police report and “other documents related to you.” The ex-chief then states “as a trained law enforcement officer, investigator and manager I was appalled, and quite frankly disgusted with your admitted conduct and other aspects of the report.”

The “implications” of such behavior lead Harms to suggest Stoddard submit to a “psychosexual evaluation” in addition to resigning his office.

In answer, Mayor Stoddard has responded: “I categorically deny any wrongdoing. This is a matter in which the police were aware of all relevant facts over 20 months ago. Mr. Harms’ statements about me in writing are false and defamatory.”

Stoddard goes on to state that police interviews taken at that time were “without a hint of improper conduct on my part, or the part of my wife,” adding “the South Miami Police would have been “grossly negligent to wait 20 months to take action.” Charging Harms with a “smear job,”

Stoddard claims “police brass altered the file 16 months after the burglary,” lost original notes and added material contradicting the original report.

Letter from Mayor Philip Stoddard

Dear Neighbors:
You may have seen or heard that Commissioner Valerie Newman and ex-City of Miami Police Chief Ken Harms have accused me and my wife of improper behavior.

I want you to know that these accusations are absolutely false. They are part of a political smear campaign against me and other members of the City Commission who are routing out some of the worst corruption this city has even seen. Last week the Commission fired the city manager, a man who had been protecting a corrupt police chief. Now the police chief and his promoters, Valerie Newman and Ken Harms, are fighting back by attacking my family. Remember, Newman and Harms strongly pushed the hiring of the city manager and police chief. Unknown to me at that time, the manager and chief had a relationship that goes back decades.

First I’ll set the record straight:
Twenty months ago (March, 3, 2011) a masked intruder came into our home early in the morning, terrified my family and stole $6,000 worth of computers. At 6:13 am that morning, I was awoken by a horrific scream from the 17-year-old exchange student who was part of our family that year. I vaulted out of bed to defend her, as any parent would, without taking time to get dressed.


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