Response to the “dirty little secret” column

South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard

Community News publisher Grant Miller wrote a column in which he accuses unnamed South Miami City commissioners of improperly directing staff,  (“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, Community News, 25 June, 2018).  Grant wrote: “It’s a dirty little secret that members of the commission frequently pick up the phone and call staff and tell them what to do. Can’t help but wonder of [sic] that happens to Code Enforcement?

Grant has not taken my twice-daily phone calls since the article came out, so I’m forced to respond in writing.

Frankly, I’m skeptical of his claim.  Outside the three charter officers hired directly by the Commission (the City Manager, City Clerk and, City Attorney) no staff are directed by elected officials.  If elected officials directed city staff in the past, it has certainly not happened for the past six years under our current City Manager, Steven Alexander.  Mr. Alexander, INSISTS that elected officials go through him when engaging his staff, a rule enshrined in the City Charter.  If Mr. Alexander approves a commissioner to engage staff directly on a specific matter, he still insists that he be copied on all correspondence with staff.  If the conversation is by phone or in person, Mr. Alexander gets briefed by staff afterwards.

Grant wonders aloud about Code Enforcement.  Residents and business owners frequently send complaints to the mayor or commission members, and they are always welcome to do so.  When I get a code complaint by phone, text, or email, I forward it by email to the City Manager (thereby making it a public record), and the Manager relays it to staff.  I may bike over and take a look myself before doing so.  If the matter is easy to resolve, like a fallen traffic sign, I’ll refer it to Deputy City Manager, Shari Kamali, with a copy to the Manager.  If the originator asks to have his or her identity withheld, I honor that request provided that I can verify the person’s name and address.

If I’m biking through the City and I see a trip hazard, damaged infrastructure, or a pile of trash where it doesn’t belong, I snap a cell phone photo and email it to the Manager and Ms. Kamali (who oversees Code and Public Works) for follow-up.  But, if I see a problematic code infraction on private property, I’ll most often inform the property owner that the matter is a code violation, since many people simply don’t know the code rules, or don’t realize that someone actually cares.  That usually does the job.

Do I have a bias?  It’s surely true that I bike some routes more than others, and I’m more annoyed by illegal trash on the public easement than by a blue tarp on someone’s roof.  But we have no “dirty little secrets”.

Provided Grant can lay off the undocumented innuendo, he’s safe to take my phone calls again.  Grant’s son and my daughter are working in the same office this summer in DC – we proud papas always have lots to talk about.

Best,

Philip Stoddard


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2 Comments on "Response to the “dirty little secret” column"

  1. Sharon McCain | July 5, 2018 at 6:16 pm | Reply

    I have to laugh. Anyone who has followed Mayor Stoddard for too many years knows he is quick to respond in writing regarding accusations to him when someone like Grant Miller or anyone else that is quick to come up with facts that discredits him…. that is his modus operandi, has been since the day he stepped into office. Fortunately for all the residents in the city Mayor Stoddard has lost credibility, and there is much distrust, especially when he is forced to defend himself.

    Thank you Grant Miller for writing this article. Unfortunately, when Carmen Baker, Head of Code enforcement left the city, code enforcement went to pot, basically non existent unless someone on the dais has an ax to grind with an activist or anyone else the dais cares to pick on. Code enforcement exists in name only, now under City Manager’s puppet, Sherry Kamali, who wears many hats because Alexander basically does nothing, collects an absorbent salary for doing nothing and delegates many titles to Ms Kamali that includes huge bonsuses/salary increases at the expense of taxpayers. She doesn’t supervise code or make the department work unless she is told to by a higher up (wonder who they can be) As a past resident I still patronize the merchants of South Miami and everytime I visit I take a field trip around the city. It is just filthy dirty. Graffati is all over, garbage on the streets, residences are unkept, and the list can go on forever. It certainly doesn’t look like Coral Gables, Pinecrest or Palmetto Bay. Many times I have witnessed code enforcement officers (The code enforcement dept is small with only 3 officers) walking out of restaurants together with drinks in hand, and each and every time there were at least (2) officers (so who is minding the store) I guess this observation proves one of Grant’s many points.

    It just amazes me and many who unfortunately reside in the city of the double standards of Mayor Stoddard and the rest of his puppets, oops I meant commissioners. One commissioner owns his home, his wife’s home, and many properties in the city that resemble a single family residence, but are chopped up into one room thus referred to as boarding houses located in single family residences. It is a known fact that many years ago one of the city manager’s repeatedly had to go to the properties of this resident, who is now a commissioner, because of code enforcement issues. The front yard of his private residence looks like an open air upkept garage. Dead oak leaves all over, his handyman possessions sprawled all over the place, empty home depot cans, shovels, just about anything is just thrown on the front of his house. A mosquito heaven for sure. His boarding houses certainly do not look maintained, in need of much repair, and a bunch of trash always visible. Proceed to another commissioner’s home He and his wife appear to have taken ownership of the swale in front of his house by extending their property with plants. The whole lot is overgrown, never maintained, and is an accident waiting to happen because the right of way is obstructed for everyone that travels that street. Lastly the third commissioner is really a code enforcement’s dream, that is if there was a real code enforcement department. He was reported to Code not long ago because his house looks like an auto repair shop on Commerce Lane. He has three rusty cars in his driveway, and two other cars. Apparently code enforcement was called, he got wind of it and conveniently turned the cars around so that the license plates would not be visible ( all cars housed must have up to date registered plates even if not driven). Apparently emails showed Shari Kamali is truly clueless in this department.Nothing was done by her, guess if your a commissioner you live by different rules. Besides all the cars, everyone knows that this commissioner, spends most of his time in his newly acquired home in South America and actually attends commission meetings via phone, so obviously maintenance is neglected. I might add that his house looked like this prior to his acquiring homes in South America. He hardly cuts the grass in the summer and at times it grows to at least 3 feet high and since last summer his hurricane panels have stayed up until recently, almost a year. The house basically looked abandoned. It doesn’t look like he has a roof, because years of leaves have accumulated on what was once his visible roof top. So how can commissioners pick up the phone and dial code enforcement on residents when they are quilty of code issues themselves? The answer is because they can, even though they are not the city manager, who is manipulated by all of them.

    Mayor Stoddard’s statement that he and the commissioners are not allowed to interfere with the City Manager’s job is ludicrous and laughable. Stoddard takes pride in wearing many hats in the city, i.e. city manager, city attorney, city planner, chief of police and the list goes on. Mayor Stoddard wasn’t allowed to interfere when City Manager Mirabile was there, and one of the reasons he was terminated, because Stoddard wanted to run the city as well as being Mayor.

    It is my opinion and that of others that if you don’t support Stoddard and his soldiers, oops I meant commissioners there are double standards so, Grant your article is spot on. There is no question Stoddard believes that his residents and those that read your article or any article he authors are gullible enough to believe anything he puta on paper because he feels it will put out the fires. This response by Mayor is merely more of the same, bullcrap, written to defend himself, of which he seems to be doing a lot of that the past couple of years.

  2. Tic tod, Phil Stoddard. Tic toc.

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