You’ll have to excuse me. I’m having a moment and I beg your indulgence. As cynical as I am, it might come as a surprise to you that I almost naively cling to the idea that for the most part people are principled. Silly me, right?
When I started this blog three years ago, I was completely unaware of the journey I was about to take. It all started with that now infamous budget meeting when the then North Miami Beach City Manager, Kelvin Baker was in the hot seat for mismanaging the city. Realizing he was about to be fired, he accused the City Council of racism and called in the NAACP. That pissed me off and unleashed my inner raging bitch. Once Kelvin was fired, the gory details of his incompetence that eventually emerged was good fodder for follow up stories, but it was that one pivotal event that began my adventures in political blogging.
What even I didn’t realize at the time was that my intense distrust (and dislike) of the sitting mayor, Myron Rosner, would turn into a personal charge to rout out fraud and corruption in North Miami Beach. I had long suspected Myron of being dirty, but even I had no idea what I would eventually discover. Ousting Myron from office became my primary purpose. From his bullying of city employees, to his freaking “Happy Holidays” bus benches, to his siccing of Code Enforcement on me in retaliation, I became a woman possessed (and obsessed) with bringing him down. The tagline from my favorite movie, the Blues Brothers – “We’re on a Mission from God” – became my mantra.
I firmly believed I was on the right side of the law and I pursued truth and justice with a vengeance. Myron’s eventual arrest was the Holy Grail I was seeking. The outcome of his felony trial, which as yet remains to be seen, will be somewhat anticlimactic in comparison. Criminal lawyer Ben Kuehne will do what he does best, so I have even less faith that Myron will pay for his crimes. But that perp walk was still satisfying as all heck.
Somewhere along the road I started writing about North Miami politics. If I thought that corruption in North Miami Beach was rampant at the time, it didn’t even come close to what was going on south of our border. As hard as I tried to bring former mayor Andre Pierre down, he was untouchable. Even Myron, as devious as he was, could never hold a candle to Andre’s Machiavellian ways. In Andre, I met my match. Starting with my very first blog about North Miami on November 11, 2011, The City of North Miami: Corruption “R” Us, Andre received dishonorable mentions in a grand total of ninety nine of my columns since then. I kid you not! Just enter “Andre Pierre” into the search engine on this website to see for yourself!
And yet, throughout his storied political, and allegedly criminal, career, the only punishment he has received so far was an $8,000.00 fine from the Florida Elections Commission. Big freaking deal! By all accounts, Andre Pierre should be in prison. Instead, Andre is now free to continue running the city behind the scenes since all his puppets have been firmly ensconced in City Hall.
Here’s the thing, though. I’m one of those freaking annoying patriotic people who believe in the Constitution and the Rule of Law. I proudly fly Old Glory not just on U.S. holidays, but every day of the year. I fervently support our Troops. My favorite holiday is Independence Day. Saying that I’m proud to be an American doesn’t even begin to describe the love I have for my country and the gratitude I feel to be a United States Citizen.
By the same token, when someone violates the laws of the United States, or even the State of Florida, or even of our local governments, that person also violates my trust. When that happens, all my respect goes out the window. Yes, I am that annoying person who believes in principles over politics. Yet, I make no apologies.
Say whatever you will about the members of the North Miami Beach City Council. Whether you agree with their individual or collective decisions (with the exception of Frantz Pierre, who is just as corrupt as the Other Pierre), I firmly believe in my heart that not a single one of the other six who sit on that dais is corrupt. Every one of them – Mayor George Vallejo, Council members Barbara Kramer, Beth Spiegel, Marlen Martell, Anthony DeFillipo, and even Phyllis Smith (as annoying as she can be) – all have the best interests of the residents of our city at heart. Not one of them has a hidden agenda. And none of them are in it for personal gain. Should I ever find out that any one of them is corrupt, that would be the end of my trust. I would write that person off and be done with him or her. I feel that strongly about principles.
North Miami, on the other hand, is beyond redemption. To say that its entire government is one dysfunctional mess would be the understatement of the year. The citizen activists who work tirelessly to clean up their city seem to be fighting a lost cause. Keeping up with the corruption in North Miami would be a full time job, and frankly, I have neither the time nor the inclination to do so. From what I can tell right now, North Miami is a lost cause.
This is not to say that North Miami isn’t a city of progress. As I’ve already mentioned several times, development is coming along nicely, business is booming, the arts are thriving, and city services, such as the parks and police departments, are probably the best in the county. Anyone not privy to the sordid politicking going on would never know that North Miami is anything but a vital and successful city. Visitors to the city are rightly impressed. That’s the craziest part of all!
That North Miami Beach, despite our honest, ethical and in-the-sunshine governance, is still struggling to get on the map, only serves to prove that no good deed goes unpunished.
And yet, just like my unwavering faith and trust in the United States of America, I still believe that there is hope for North Miami Beach. That spark of hope may flicker from time to time, but does somehow continue to burn. If it didn’t, I would have left town years ago.
With the promise of new development, starting with the Marina Palms and now with the Parkview Business Center on the horizon, along with the proposed renovation of West Dixie Highway, I am beginning to believe that NMB will really, and finally, stand for Now More Beautiful.
This is not to say it will all happen tomorrow. We still have a myriad of problems to solve and obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is to fix the pension issues and restore our Police Department to its former glory. I’m no Pollyanna. I know there is much work to be done and it will take years to accomplish all our goals.
But we can take heart in the fact that, despite all our difficulties, we are not North Miami. NMB does not have that evil specter of fraud and corruption in our city that permeates the culture of North Miami government. As long as there is fight in me, I will do everything in my power as a resident of North Miami Beach, and a dirt digger, to make sure we never fall into that pit of depravity.
As always, I reserve the right to change my mind. But as of today, North Miami, I’m breaking up with you. We are SO over!
“Spreading the Wealth”