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NUMBER 111 - OCTOBER 18, 2018
THE IMPERIAL MAYORSHIP OF FRANCIS SUAREZ IS THE BIGGEST DANGER FACING THE CITIZENS OF MIAMI SINCE HIS DADDY TRIED TO STEAL AN ELECTION WITH ABSENTEE BALLOTS SIGNED BY DEAD PEOPLE
In the short time that Francis Suarez has been Mayor, he is proving that behind his smooth and polished ways he a danger to the residents of the city in ways that few, if many people have fully comprehended.
Last week's episode where it was revealed that he had, on his own, authorized the pouring of concrete and removal of real grass in order to lay down fake grass along the swales on Brickell Avenue, was a window into the way that he envisions behaving if he is allowed to become the Strong Mayor of Miami.
Up to now, he has for the most part been skillful in manipulating the image of a young, photogenic, well spoken, educated and forward thinking scion of a powerful political name in the Cuban exile community as a way to cover the nakedly raw ambition of a politician who is as devious and mendacious as anyone who's managed to bamboozle the citizens of this community into electing them to office, which is saying a lot, given the often cited claim in a 2013 New York Times article that Miami is a city, "that produces a limitless number of crooked politicians."
Suarez not only relishes the trappings of power, like being escorted and chauffeured by a personal Sgt-At-Arms/Bodyguard wherever he goes, as evidenced in this photo of him at the National Conference of Mayors where he was escorted not only by his Sgt-At-Arms (BLUE arrow), but by the Chief of Police too. (RED arrow.).
If the City Attorney, who oversees a staff of 20 or so attorneys, and a support staff of another 15-20 paralegals and secretaries is prohibited from outside employment, then what about a Mayor who is both the Chief Executive and Administrative Officer of a city with over 4000 employees?
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CITY MANAGER IF THIS REFERENDUM PASSES?
Another issue that has not been widely discussed is the admission that Suarez made to me at the Shenandoah Homeowners Association meeting a couple weeks ago that if the referendum passes and he becomes the Strong mayor, current City Manager Emilio "Colonel Klink" Gonzalez will continue to do the same job, with the same compensation - $310,000 - and the only thing that will change will be his title, which will change from City Manager to Chief Operating Officer.
Here is the portion of the video of that meeting where that was discussed.
But it's not just the trappings of power that Suarez seeks and enjoys, because there is ample evidence that the kind of power he really wants would make him in many ways an Imperial Mayor, as powerful, if not more so, than dictators like the hated Castro brothers that he and his Cuban exile supporters have spent decades vilifying.
There have been references in the mailers sent to voters by those who oppose Suarez's efforts to become Strong Mayor about what the future would hold if Suarez were to become a Strong Mayor, but mailers do not provide an opportunity to deep dive into the City Charter changes he is proposing as part of his effort to become the Strong Mayor, which first and foremost would make him the Chief Executive and Administrative Officer of the city.
ONLY KINGS AND DICTATORS CHOOSE THEIR SUCCESSORS
Perhaps the most naked and ambitious example of the imperial vision that Suarez has for himself is the language that would allow him to maintain control over the office of Mayor, even if he were to die in office, or be removed for illegal activity.
Language that supposedly the hand-picked committee that Suarez chose to to be the front for his effort to become the Strong Mayor of Miami, came up with.
Here it is. (Pages 4-5 of the proposed Charter.)
I should point out that when I requested a copy of the minutes where this language was crafted and approved, or for that matter any other meetings held by this committee, I was told that since the committee was not a public entity, those minutes, if they existed were private, and not subject to Florida's public records law.
This of course opens the door to speculation as to whether the 5 individuals named above actually came up with this language, or even had a meeting where they approved this language.
What's especially revealing is the portion of the language in section (2), that says, "If the office of the mayor becomes temporarily vacant by reason of disability, suspension, court order or other lawful action.."
This language can only be read as implying that these "lawful actions" would only be put into play in response to the unlawful actions of the person in office, thereby providing that individual an opportunity to appoint a successor capable of using the levers of power to coverup or thwart any investigation.
Most importantly is the way in which this change would allow the Mayor to appoint his replacement as soon as the first meeting after these changes take place, and once approved could not be changed, no matter how that replacement individual behaved in the time between his appointment that the time he might assume the powers of the Mayor.
Who else but a devious and conniving politician looking ahead to possible threats to his power or freedom would want such language in the Charter defining his/her powers?
This is not only an unprecedented reach for dictatorial power, but reveals just how much of a control freak Francis Suarez is!
"I'M NOT A MULTIMILLIONAIRE"
You could have fooled me when I read the above claim in the interview done by Raul Guerrero, the editor of Downtown News, that he did with Suarez on the Strong Mayor issue.
Ever since I wrote my original story about the $1.45 million dollar house that Francis Suarez and his wife purchased in the South Grove in July, I've been asking where he got the $309,000 for the down payment and closing costs, because even if he isn't a multimillionaire, he has certainly gotten accustomed to living like one? (HERE, HERE.)
Between the chauffeured SUV's and bodyguards, and the deference and obsequiousness that he is being paid as an up-and-coming political star, Suarez has developed an exalted sense of entitlement that has allowed him to think that he can ignore or brush aside hard questions that he finds objectionable, and the single most objectionable question that he's faced during this campaign to become the Strong mayor has been the whole issue of his remaining a part-time mayor, while continuing to practice his lucrative practice as a real estate lawyer.
Suarez has repeatedly claimed that he needs to continue working as a lawyer because the costs associated with his lifestyle and the manner to which he and his wife believe that they are entitled to enjoy cannot be financed on the salary of being the Mayor of Miami.
As I and others have pointed out, no one ever stuck a gun to Suarez's head and forced him to become a public official, or to go out and leverage himself by assuming a million dollar mortgage in his first year as mayor.
And, as I pointed out in my stories, in addition to this new mortgage, Suarez is also making payment on mortgages totaling $494,297 for the house he was living in and the ownership of an investment condo, neither of which has in the years since he purchased them provided much in the way of equity.
No one begrudges the Mayor's personal choices as to how he wishes to finance his lifestyle, if those choices were not ones that also impacted his decision on how much physical and mental time he would devote to being the Mayor of Miami.
He's right to point out that he does spend a lot of time as Mayor, but what he'd rather no one ask him about are the blank dates on his office calendars which point to the fact that he also spends considerable time practicing law.
The other part of this money issue is the way in which the language in the Charter has been rewritten that changes the way in which the mayor's salary will be calculated. Here is the actual language from the proposed changes to the City Charter. (Page 5.)
Why create a Strong Mayor who is supposed to take over the responsibilities of the Chief Administrative Officer of the city, if the current Chief Administrative Officer is going to remain and continue doing the same job, and at the same salary?
SUNSHINE LAW? WHAT SUNSHINE LAW? WE DON'T NEED NO SUNSHINE LAW HERE
A third major change, and one with the potential to remove almost all of the deliberative and decision making by the city commission behind closed door is this new proposed language in the Charter.
First, notice how the language specifies the specific amount of money - to the dollar - that each of the city commissioners will be paid: $58,200.
Then notice how instead of having a similar specific amount for the Mayor, it states that in no event shall the "compensation" be "less than 75% of the compensation to the Miami-Dade County Mayor."
On the one hand, while refusing to consider an increase in the salary of the Commissioners which remains frozen to that of the mayor's salary back in July 16, 2003, it provides for an increasing compensation for the mayor based on the salary of another elected official who is not part of the City of Miami government.
In street terms you could describe this as, "Hooray for me, and fuck you!"
Francis Suarez has actually said that he doesn't want to be paid a penny more than he's currently being paid, but that's a lie, because he knows, since he's the one who approved the language, that if the referendum passes he will see his compensation increase from approximately $130,000, to $300,000, because the County Mayor's total compensation is $399,000.
There is a difference between salary and compensation, and this difference is one that Suarez and his supporters having been playing with to confuse the voters.
If the compensation package of the mayor of Miami-Dade County increases while he's in office, his salary would also increase automatically.
To further appreciate the fallacy of his claim justifying his need to continue working as an attorney to make ends meet, consider that the City Charter also contains the following language as it regards the activities of the City Attorney.
One of the most pernicious ways that public officials get around the Sunshine Law is to engage in private meetings where issues are worked out in advance. It's often evident that these kinds of meetings have taken place when an item that everyone believes warrants discussion is introduced and moved with little or no comments.
In the City of Miami the practice involving the wholesale passage of Resolutions and Public Hearing Items bundled together and passed as part of the Consent Agenda are telltale signs that either by osmosis, or by prior arrangement, some of these items were discussed in advance, thereby allowing them to be passed without comment.
Here is what the Florida Sunshine Manual says about "informal" discussion between members of public bodies like the City Commission. (Page 24-25.)
I could go on listing the questionable or downright duplicitous and dangerous changes to the City Charter proposed as part of this Strong Mayor referendum initiative, but hopefully the issues I've discussed above will convince you that this effort being put forward by Francis Suarez is not a good idea.
This does not mean that the current city manager/city commission form of government is necessarily a better way to go, but the fact of the matter is that the city manager/city commission form of government became the overwhelming choice of cities and villages across the country because of the abuses exhibited by strong mayors in cities across the country. You can find a long list of them HERE.
In Miami on the other hand, it's been city managers like Caesar Odio and Donald Warsaw who've gone to jail, so neither form of government is bullet proof from crooks taking advantage of the system.
But as bad as the current form of government might be considered by some, the notion that a Strong Mayor form of government is the solution is definitely a case of not just having a fox guard the henhouse, but inviting him in, and having a table set with the finest silverware at his disposal for eating all the chickens he can lay his hands on.
It's always going to be Miami, Bitches!