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Grant Miller

I attended the June 12 meeting of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and the Public Trust – and once again, Stephen Cody’s ethics case against Phil Stoddard was front and center.


As is turns out, Stoddard served Cody with a subpoena and now wants Cody to produce years of financial records in what appears to be an attempt to find out how he’s making money. We’ve been told that Stoddard also wants to know if Cody’s getting paid by Florida Power and Light.

A little background: Cody was chairman of a state political action committee that opposed Stoddard’s reelection and also supported other candidates like Gwen Graham. He was also a director of a Florida non-profit corporation that gave funding to the PAC.

People involved in politics form these kinds of entities all the time. Phil has even formed PACs over the years to suit his own political desires. The way in which he clutches his pearls and moves to his fainting couch is more than a little disingenuous.

But it seems that it wasn’t Cody’s connection to the PAC or the corporation he formed that was bothering Phil. Perhaps it was Phil’s gut feeling that Cody was secretly on the FPL payroll. Phil’s been waging a war against FPL’s attempt to bring power lines up US 1 through South Miami.

Back to what just might matter: After a written public request and a much inexplicable delay, the city has finally produced the sign-in sheet for the two meetings where Cody attempted to speak.

Back in January 2018, during the midst of Phil’s attempt to get reelected, Cody appeared at a city commission meeting and signed in to speak. When meetings begin, the sheets are brought up to the city clerk, who then passes them to the Mayor.

Cody was there to talk about how Stoddard’s bungled attempt to fire Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro that had cost the city about $1.5 million.

The sheet for the January 16 meeting shows that Cody was the first to sign up. There was a column for the speaker names, their addresses, and the topic that they wanted to address. Cody noted that he wanted to talk about “Investigations.” There’s also a note next to Cody’s name, in what looks like Stoddard’s childlike block printing, that reads “unreg. Lobbyist.”

Since Phil twice stopped Cody from speaking to the South Miami Commission, he’s sent me a steady stream of messages telling me that his violation of the Citizens’ Bill of Rights in both the county and city charters isn’t the story. To Phil, the story is, for whom is Cody secretly working.

I asked Cody about it. He said he’s not on FPL’s payroll. Nor is he a member of the Illuminati or the Bilderberger Group. He’s not even an undercover agent for the CIA or MI-6. Although he did mention that he found out that his paternal grandfather was Canadian, which may mean that Cody can claim Canadian citizenship.

Canadians. That may be the new avenue for Phil to go after Cody. Cody looks like he’s enjoyed far more than his fair share of maple syrup over the years. I jest because Phil’s concern just might be running amok.

Stoddard in front of City Hall. Photo credit: ROBERTO KOLTUN / Miami Herald

The Ethics Commission took up the motion for protective order filed by the Commission’s Advocate, Mike Murawski, and Cody’s lawyer Rick Yabor. They seemed to be troubled by Stoddard’s attorney Ben Kuehne, asking Cody to cough up four years’ worth of bank statements and tax returns and a host of other irrelevant paperwork. I’ve written previously about the “forensic colonoscopy” that Kuehne was trying to give Cody.

Stoddard’s lawyer Ben Kuehne and Cody’s lawyer were directed by the commission to narrow down the scope of documents Cody will have to produce. In doing so, the commission gave Kuehne a metaphorical rap on the nose with a newspaper.

By the way, Carillo had a source in the city that got him photographs of the sign-in sheets showing that Cody showed up as a private citizen. When news that the sheets were now in the public view, the city finally sent them to Cody.

That may have driven a stake through the heart of Phil’s defense that Cody was a secret lobbyist for FPL. Cody signed up to speak as a private citizen. Unless he has proof that Cody was hired by FPL to talk about his incompetence, he doesn’t have a defense.

Just hoping and wishing for something to be true isn’t evidence. And most people know it or at least should know it.

What’s at stake here is whether Phil survives as mayor. The Ethics Commission can’t remove him, but the city charter says that if he intentionally violated Cody’s rights, he forfeits his office. The sign-in sheets lead to the only conclusion that Stoddard intentionally tried to silence Cody.

Could Stoddard leaves his office in disgrace or just in shame. Stay tuned.


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10 COMMENTS

  1. Stoddard is pathetic,and will lose in the end. Us poor saps are taken to the cleaners to pay his legal bills. His legacy will be one of ignominy, and not just because of this case. Everyone’s sins and wrongdoings catch up with them eventually, and Stoddard seems to believe that he is exempt from this Law of the Universe. Stoddard is a young puppy only 60 years old, who still hasn’t learned this lesson. Some have to learn the hard way. Unfortunately there is collateral damage.

  2. Does anyone think that Stoddard will step down, apologize to the public, and quietly exit City Hall? Not with his attitude! The Governor will have to force him out! He’ll probably retain Ben Kuhne and continue to bill the city in order to appeal the decision.
    All those who voted for him for last 3 election cycles:
    Have you finally learned that you must pay better attention to what happens in City Hall?

    • It is sad that Mayor Phil Stoddard has proven several times over of being a huge liability to South Miami. From wasting tax dollars on his failed taxpayer funded fight against FPL to using taxpayer payer dollars to fund his personal lawsuits. The wasted $1.5 million dollar lawsuit caused by his wanting to fire the former chief which he himself had voted for, praised and granted an unprecedented 5 year contract was just one of his many proven failures. But yes, let’s make sure mosquitoes thrive so that the bat population in South Miami is not affected. What an a**h**e!

  3. Pearls and fainting couches! Reminiscent of Blanche DuBois. Remember how they “practically passed an ordinance that she had to leave town” ?

  4. Why should Cody have to produce any documents at all??? The charge is against Stoddard, not Cody! Stoddard has no basis for his claim that Cody works for FPL. These attorneys would never get away with this crap if a halfway decent judge had been preciding. It looks like the dregs get these County jobs.

  5. Mr. Cody has picked Mr. Stoddard’s lock. Now people can see what drives him more clearly. He knows how to use PAC money. Slick adverts to junk city hall, buy into shops at sunset place freedom from our building code and eliminating the 5/5 requirement for the commercial district were all funded by PAC money. He and developers both want the same thing. Why not work together?

  6. Grant, didn’t the Commission on Ethics give a deadline date for production of documents? I expect that Cody’s atty. will respond in some way.
    What about Mr. Murawski and his protective order? Narrowing the scope of documents is still a violation, isn’t it? Will Mr Murawski take another action? However this is handled will set a precedent. So far, very bad for citizens. Cody had to retain an atty.. Many people who have ethics complaints can’t afford to do so. The City is forced to pay for Stoddard’s atty. The interminable amount of time taken to settle this case will discourage any citizen who wants to make a complaint. That alone has set a terrible precedent, and is certainly not in the best interest of serving justice.

  7. Dear Grant Miller,
    Thanks for keeping the community updated. If not for your due diligence, most people wouldn’t know the status of the case.
    Your work is truly a community service. Hopefully this will not drag on too much longer and justice will be served. If Kuhne can’t provide any proof that Cody is a lobbyist for FPL, this should be resolved quickly. The burden of finding that proof should be on Kuhne and should be done via his own investigation, without involving any innocent parties. Just my opinion.

  8. Perhaps I am missing something but Mr. Cody filed an ETHICS COMPLAINT, against Stoddard, period. Why in the world would the unethical ethics commission of Dade County grant part of Stoddard’s request for Cody to produce documents that are unrelated to the ethics complaint. If Mayor Stoddard wants to go after Stoddard, he can do so on his own dime. The Ethics Commission is really a non existent group of appointed clowns, paid too much by taxpayers, and one should question why they would allow Stoddard’s request in the first place. Stoddard wants to get back at Cody for filing ethics complaints and the Ethics Dept allows Stoddard’s request to produce financial documents of Mr. Cody. Are we all in the twilight zone??? Not only that Mr. Kuhne is being paid by the taxpayers of South Miami just like all the lawsuits brought against Mayor Stoddard, Commissioners, Welsh, Harris, and Liebman for the past eight years. Sickening is the only word that comes to mind.

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