Commission on Ethics drops case against Phil Stoddard

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Mayor Philip Stoddard

At their latest meeting, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics dismissed the complaint filed by Stephen Cody against South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard.

Cody originally brought the complaint because he twice attempted to address the Commission about Stoddard’s efforts to fire former Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro. Stoddard used the pretext that when Martinez agreed to act as Acting City Manager when that office became vacant, he forfeited his position as Police Chief.

Grant Miller, Publisher

The Chief’s firing and the lawsuit and appeal that followed cost the City of South Miami in excess of $1.5 million.

The Ethics Commission voted in 2018 that there was probable cause find that Stoddard violated Cody’s rights under the Citizens’ Bill of Rights and rejected Stoddard’s argument that he could have reasonably relied up City Attorney Thomas Pepe’s opinion that Cody was a lobbyist.

However, in a meeting held on July 17, 2017, the Commission held that Stoddard was permitted to rely upon the opinion of Pepe, regardless of whether it was faulty or not, and dismissed the matter with prejudice.

Benedict Kuehne, Stoddard’s attorney, has stated that Stoddard will pursue Cody for attorneys’ fees.

However, the Commission on Ethics is only allowed to award fees to a party against whom a complaint was made if it first finds that the complaint was frivolous.  Since the Ethics Commission made no such finding of frivolousness, there does not appear to be a basis for an award of fees.

Stoddard is term limited out and will finish his time as City Mayor in February 2020.


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Well, it certainly amuses me to see the rationale for firing the Chief all over again. Just read the words, “when he agreed to act as Acting City Manager…” Who offered it to him, an alien from Mars? This entire issue has always been about getting rid of a contract employee before his contract expired. He fell out of favor with those who gave him the contract despite a number of citizens speaking out against the idea. In fact when I asked one Commissioner why he would agree to such terms he told me, “It was the Chief’s way or the highway.” Just think how much better for all concerned, including the Chief, if the elected officials had listened to their constituency.

  2. Is there no better picture of the Mayor of South Miami in the Community Newspapers’ files? This unflattering, mottled photo of a nationally known official does nothing to enhance the Newpapers’ image – especially when the Mayor the Community Newspapers loves to hate actually has something go right for him.

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