When will the top cop lawsuit be settled

Michael Miller, Executive Editor

Michael Miller, Executive Editor

Will there every be a resolution: A while back the former chief of police Orlando de Castro Martinez, filed a few lawsuits against the city, the mayor and against now Vice mayor Bob Welsh. What seems to be the biggest of the suits pertained to the firing of the chief and at this point the chief  has pretty much prevailed and should the court order stand, he’ll get a boat load of money plus attorney fees. Of course, the city has appealed and the end of this thing could still be awhile, or perhaps sooner, that is if one side or the other screams out “NO MORE.”

And speaking of going away, went for another another walk, Sunday morning up and down Sunset Drive from US1 to SW 57 ave and the business district of the city of pleasant living is in dire shape. It seems as though the shine, the sun, the pizzazz has one away. No exaggeration. Deep trouble is upon us and the immediate future doesn’t  look so good. The alarm bell is ringing loud and clear and the business people, the landowners, the city and investors oughta put their collective heads together and come up with a plan to help rebuild the city, so that the sun may once again shine on Sunset Drive.

Couldn’t help but see David Singer, the Palmetto Bay Councilman at CasaCuba and boy oh boy, he’s still steaming mad at his now former friend and former political candidate David Zisman. For whatever political shenanigans may or may not have occurred. Singer claims that  he wants to get Zisman under oath and ask a boat load of questions. Singer told me that his process server has been trying to find Zisman, but to no avail. Wow, can’t find him! Golly guys, its hard to miss Zisman. He’s a pretty big guy, runs a business on US1 and sports a very big smile on his face. Folks, this one is a goody and I can’t wait to see the answers to all the earth shattering questions that may or may not be answered. 

A Writ of Mandamus filed by land use attorney, Nancy Stroud on behalf of long time South Miami citizen and activist, Beth Schwartz, as well as, other unnamed city residents is reaching its final decision by a judge late next month.
Beth Schwartz said “We the people expect our elected representatives and city manager to work within the law and play by the rules, by respecting and  adhering to the city’s charter. Unfortunately that has not been the case. They have blatantly violated the charter therefore causing residents to take drastic action and seek outside council to initiate a lawsuit against the city.” Schwartz also stated that, “South Miami city hall property could be worth upwards of $70 million or even more, so why would elected officials and this city manager entertain an inappropriate offer for only $15 million when It’s certainly not enough to pay for a new city hall, police station and sewers.
The Writ of Mandamus is demanding that the city adhere to its own city charter. The judge assigned to the case has required the city to justify its reasoning in allowing a 3/5 vote to take place as opposed to a 5/5 vote. Last week, the city requested more time in order to hire the Tampa firm of Carlton, Fields, Jordan and Burt to provide legal representation starting at $550/hr. plus expenses. The resolution to hire the firm was sponsored by Mayor Phil Stoddard and supported by Vice Mayor Bob Welsh and Commissioner Lieberman. Commissioners Harris and Edmonds voted against the resolution.

Approximately two years ago, an Ordinance sponsored by Stoddard to change the zoning of  South Miami City Hall from PI (Public Institution) to a less restrictive Commercial use passed using a 3/5 vote. The less restrictive, higher density zoning change would allow the city government to sell the property to a developer in exchange for a new city hall to be located somewhere in the proposed high density building which will be also leased to other tenants.  However, the city Charter requires that a less restrictive zoning change requires 5 out of 5 votes. According to the Writ, the charter change which was adopted by a vast majority of South Miami voters approximately 8 years ago was violated. Only Commissioners Edmond and Harris adamantly objected and voted “no” with Mayor Stoddard, Vice Mayor Welsh and Commissioner Lieberman voting in favor of the up-zone of the city hall property located at 6130 Sunset Drive. 

Former Mayor Horace Feliu, who has been a constant opponent of the sale of City Hall to developers stated, “The non binding ballot question last November regarding the sale of City Hall was dishonest, deceptive and disingenuous and the current administration knows it.” Feliu also stated,  “ aside from destroying the character of our historic site, the increase density will also increase our carbon footprint, exacerbate traffic on Sunset Drive, as well as, create a greater demand for electricity further justifying FPL’s demand for building another power plant.” 

I’m guilty. I totally take for granted the amazing weather here in South Florida – and pay no attention whatsoever to the plight of our friends way up North who are still struggling through these first few days of “spring.” So as they keep shoveling and hovelling (if that’s a verb…), my biggest dilemma is trying to figure out which color Guyabera would pair best with the “South Food, Wine, & Spirits Festival.”

This first-ever festival of its kind for South Miami takes place April 1-2 on Sunset Drive between US1 and SW 58 Ave. It promises to be a lot of fun with more than 200 brands of beer, wine, and spirits on hand – or rather I should say, “in hand.” Get details at www.somifoodwineandspiritsfestival.com.

Another amazing event right around the corner is the Moonlight Concert over in Coconut Grove’s Barnacle Historic State Park. While some may call it the area’s best kept secret, this monthly concert series keeps on delivering good times and great musical talent, by mostly local acts.

In fact, I think I’ll wear my peach Cubavera to this next show, a perfect note on which to end Mother’s Day. The April 9 (6:30 to 8:30 p.m.) show features Keith Johns, a Miami-raised folk artist that delivers richly nuanced stories in his unique voice with lyrics that are soulful and honest. Hey, don’t forget – picnics, blankets, and lawn chairs are always welcome at The Barnacle. Tickets are $10 for adults ($8 for members of The Barnacle Society), $3 for children (ages 6-9), and free for kids under 6. For information, call the Park Ranger Station at 305-442-6866. The Barnacle Historic State Park is at 3485 Main Highway Miami, FL 33133.

Final Thoughts
Here’s some good news about a member of our news team, Bill Kress. He not only regularly contributes to the pages of the Community Newspapers, but also operates his own PR firm, Kress Communications where he serves as a consultant to a number of small businesses and non-profits, especially around Coral Gables, South Miami, and further into South-Dade. 

Just last week, Bill extended his PR agreement with ChamberSOUTH as provider of publicity and social-media coverage of the organization’s many member events. And days later, he signed an agreement with the Minority Chamber of Commerce to serves as the organization’s exclusive PR firm, providing its membership with similar services in addition to serving as chairman of its newly formed Corporate Image Committee. Congratulations to Bill. We’re glad to have you among our ranks and wish you continued success. 

Thought of the Day:
When someone lies to you it is because they don’t respect you enough and they think you are too stupid to know the difference.

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About the Author

Michael Miller
Michael co-owns Community Newspapers with his brother Grant and serves as Executive Editor of the group of newspapers. He enjoys writing about local politics and area businesses. Michael can be reached at michael@communitynewspapers.com

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