Mayor Stoddard is asking for a ‘mulligan’

Parties don’t trust their voters; voters don’t trust their parties
Grant Miller, Publisher

South Miami’s City Hall, erected in 1956, is a drafty place. It’s not from outside winds permeating cracks around the windows. It’s from the persistent movement of air from stale speeches, gossip, whispers, and lies…

And sometimes it’s from desperation.  

South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard set off a chain of events on Jan. 16, 2018, when he refused to let Stephen Cody speak during the citizen-comments portion of the meeting. The mayor also refused to let Cody speak again at the Feb. 6 meeting.

There is a provision in both the City of South Miami Charter and the County Charter that gives residents the “right to be heard.” Cody complained to the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and the Public Trust, saying his rights were violated.

On April 3, the city commission took up an item to pay Stoddard’s attorney’s fees for represent him during the first portion of the ethics complaint process, South Miami Commissioner Liebman was the only elected official to vote against it.

City Manager Steve Alexander put the item on the agenda as an add-on item. But strangely enough, in Parliamentary procedure-speak, it was “moved” by Mayor Stoddard. He was not only present during the debate on the item, he participated in it.

When it was time to vote on the item, Stoddard can be clearly heard on the video of the meeting saying, “This is my request.”

He voted on the item and then said, “Although, I guess I can’t vote, can I? Is it a conflict for me or not?”

A discussion was had off-mic with the city attorney. Stoddard then said, “I will abstain. With that, it’s 3 – 1.”

Stoddard’s participation in the item presents a problem and his belated “abstention” did close the self-inflicted wound. But now, the winds and whispers are whipping through the corridors of city hall like a tropical storm.  

The County Commission on Ethics voted 4 to 1 on July 18 to find probable cause that Stoddard violated Cody’s rights. The case now goes onto a full trial.

Mayor Philip Stoddard

But Phil was correct when he recognized on April 3 that he had a conflict of interest and could not vote. It goes much deeper than that. Both the city and county ethics codes prohibit and official from participating in an item or even being in the room during the discussion of an item that will benefit them.  

That’s what Stoddard did. He attended. He seconded. He debated. He voted. The talk in city hall is that Stoddard now recognizes his ethical – and epical – blunder.  

Now, like a golfer who hit a shot into a sand trap, he’s asking for a “mulligan” — a do-over.

An emergency meeting of the South Miami City Commission has been called for the purpose of pulling Stoddard’s ball out of the sand trap. He wants the commission to rescind the authorization to a hire the attorney to defend him.

Then, he wants the commission to revote to give him a lawyer on the taxpayers’ dime. This time with Stoddard out of the room. That, he believes, will make everything all right and erase his ethical lapse.  

Rumors fly outside of city hall, too. Word is that a new complaint is being filed with the County Ethics Commission at press time over Phil’s participation on April 3. We’ll have to wait to see what happens on that.

The city is on the hook for paying attorneys’ fees and the judgment in the case involving the firing of former Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro, the city is also paying for the defense of the alleged defamation that Stoddard made against Lieutenant José Lopez on his personal website – and now the city is paying for the cost of defending Phil for denying someone’s absolute right to be heard.

We need to add to all of that, a likely complaint that he violated the ethics provisions by “lobbying” from the dais to get the city to pay for his attorneys, again.

It’s time for the citizens of South Miami to say, “enough is enough.”

There is a saying in Spanish that roughly translates to, “Your reputation is like a glass of water. Once you spill it, no matter how hard you try, you can never get all the water back into the glass.”

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  1. “Mayor” ( I use the word loosely) Stoddard, in my opinion, is a corrupt,narcisstic lying individual, who would throw his own mother under the bus. For the life of me I can’t understand why he is still in office and in my opinion should not be allowed to keep his job at FIU teaching young, innocent adults (refer to the police report of his so called burgularly at his home). His only allegiance are to the developers who want to build dormitorys at the Shops of Sunset and build a new city hall, amongst other developments. It appears the walls are closely in on the “emperor” and he is scrambling to make things right Mr. Cody, perhaps you should file another ethics violation regarding this mulligan voting issue, before he tries to cover his tracts again. When this ethics issue is completed, hopefully with Stoddard losing his position as Mayor, Mr. Cody, perhaps you can research as to why Comm. Liebman who seems to have purchased condos in Colombia South America rarely resides in South Miami and has the taxpayers pay his personal health insurance. Could you also find out if Comm. Liebman, who is 40 something, has a job to pay his bills? Is the check he receives for health insurance paid to the company or is it to purchase abundant round trip air line tickets to Colombia. BTW, the city also reimburses Comm. Harris for his medicare, never has this happened in the city for the 100 years it has been a municipality. Thank you Mr. Cody for standing up for 1st amendment rights even though you are not a resident of SM. It is unfortunate that the lazy South Miami residents do nothing but send emails yet vote for this moron.As a former resident/activist, Mayor Stoddard was constantly violating my 1st amendment rights to the point that he actually sponsored a resolution a few years back to ban me from attending commission meetings. He realized he would have had a major lawsuit suit on his hands and withdrew the resolution. In my opinion, South Miami is a cesspool of corruption ever since Stoddard took a seat on the dais, and his puppets, Comm. Welsh, Gil, Liebman, Harris, City Manager Alexander and city attorney Pepe, also contribute to the stench

    • And everyone wonders why South Miami has lost everything. Just look at the area and talk to the businesses. There are over 20 empty stores on Sunset Drive !!! You make excuses and never address reality. Mayor Stoddard, be an honest politician and pay for your own lawyer fees, not using the taxpayer money we need to bring this City back to its luster, STEP ASIDE. Allow someone who knows how to lead take over. You owe this to the taxpayers.

    • “Burro” don’t know if you are a man or woman, or who you really are. You posted (2) posts to this article within 10 minutes of each this afternoon all supporting Mayor Stoddard. Your 1st post was a question, “Is Stephen Cody a South Miami resident?” That question roused my curiosity. FYI, one doesn’t have to be a resident of a particular city to speak at public remarks. Duh, that is why Mayor Stoddard is burning in hot water right now since the Ethics Commission found probable cause that he does just that. Second (2nd) text of yours is your questioning Grant as to Mr. Cody, again, whether he was a south Miami resident as well as giving equal sides. Burro….. as a former resident of the city of south Miami who was bullied and harassed by Mayor Stoddard for years because he feared my research would question him, he constantly stated, on record that “reminding everyone that I no longer live in the city of south Miami, so my comments were to be ignored and of no value. Your second post reminded me of Mayor Stoddard once again, because Mayor Stoddard enlightened us all in a commission meeting that Grant Miller wouldn’t answer his calls or allow him (Mayor Stoddard) to give his side. So my question to “burro” you sound exactly as Mayor Stoddard, is it possible that you are Mayor Stoddard’s “troll?” Not an outrageous opinion because Mayor Stoddard is known to use trolls to defend him on other blog posts and newspaper article. For your information, Burro” there is no other side. Just take the time and go to the South Miami website and play tonights, August 13 special commission meeting, where it explains it all, all facts. It appears Mayor Stoddard is not well liked, has nobody to stick up for him, unless of course Steve Alexander, because he needs his job, and Mayor Stoddard didn’t get a mulligan, better yet, his request for the taxpayers to pay his legal fees didn’t pass, and Stoddard recused himself. LOL

  2. Its sad that is Mayor Stoddard just reaps the benefits of being a Mayor. I don’t get involved But dealing with South Miami for over 15 years I seen it get destroyed by this mayor. I had to move my business out of South Miami. all the wealth that surround it, that small business had to close and investors cant revamp it. Its a shame that the community has to travel to eat and shop because of Mayor Stoddard has tried to bring the city back to 1950. Please move with the times. You already have destroyed and closed family businesses because of your policy and not letting new business come to help bring people to shop and eat and for the unfortunate parts of South Miami he does nothing take it for me. We know. He needs go

  3. Dear Grant –
    Why do you have no details about the other person in your article. There’s plenty on the Web about Stephen Cody. You have not done a good balanced job of reporting – you have not interviewed the Mayor, you have not described his point of view, you have not told your readers whether Stephen Cody is, indeed, a South Miami resident. Could you please explain why this article (as well as others that you have written) do not provide a balanced view. Perhaps some of the wind you write about is the gossip – one-sided stories – that you publish in what you call a newspaper.

  4. If it was not so tragic, it would be funny. This so-called Mayor just has no clue how to behave as an elected official. The citizens and voters of South Miami should force his resignation.

  5. I agree with the comment from Burro. We hear only one side of the story and not the other. I would like to know more about the other person.

  6. This is typical behaviour of someone who continues to blame others for his poor judgement. He is happy as long as someone else picks up the tab. I surmise that living an entire adult life in academia la-la land tends to create a false sense of entitlement. A land where it doesn’t matter what you say or do, you will be paid regardless and without any accountability. Sad that FIU had to scrape the bottom of the barrel and hire someone with a PhD in psychology of all things.

  7. Stoddard is AMAZING. I am sure you are the one with all the problems and corrupt life. Please remove me from this poor excuse of a “newspaper”. When its all lies and biased, it is NOT news.


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