Yes, folks. I know I broke up with North Miami a few months ago. I said it. I meant it. But like a bad marriage that just won’t end, trying to extricate myself from North Miami politics has proven to be a messy divorce. No matter how hard I try to make a clean, amicable break, I keep getting baited by nasty taunts and civility goes out the window. If I had to describe my relationship with North Miami on Facebook, my status would be “It’s Complicated.”
Within hours of my praising North Miami mayor Lucie Tondreau for doing something good (see: It takes more than fences), she got herself embroiled in a brand new North Miami scandal. Considering this is North Miami we’re talking about, is anyone shocked?
At about noon yesterday I started receiving calls and texts about the breaking news that Lucie was being implicated in (what else?) yet another absentee-ballot fraud scheme similar to others that have been plaguing South Florida politicians lately. The Miami Herald was the first to go to print with the story that Investigators raid North Miami mayor’s business in absentee-ballot requests case, which was continuously updated throughout the day. The Herald also posted the search warrant, which you can view by clicking here.
Then the rumors started flying that her “campaign manager” had been arrested. I tried all afternoon to confirm those rumors through various sources, to no avail. It seems that many people heard the same rumor but until Nacivre “Charlie” Charles was actually booked by the Miami-Dade County Department of Corrections at 3:25 pm, which the Herald reported immediately in another update, no one knew for sure if it was true.
According to Tondreau’s Appointment of Campaign Treasurer filed for the North Miami 2013 election for mayor, Charlie was officially the treasurer for her campaign. Nowhere does it mention who managed Lucie’s campaign, but according to some political “insiders” I spoke with, it’s commonly believed that State Representative Daphne Campbell was her “de-facto” campaign manager.
In any event, Good Time Charlie was arrested for driving while his license was knowingly suspended, and that “it’s unclear if that arrest was related to the search of Tondreau’s business,” according to the Herald article.
I don’t know about you, but I find it particularly amusing that he was charged with KNOWINGLY driving with a suspended license. I can only picture the traffic stop:
Officer: Did you know your license was suspended?
Officer: Did you know absentee-ballot fraud was a crime?
Charlie: It wasn’t me.
While no one inside the State Attorney’s Office or the arresting agency is talking, only a complete idiot would believe that Charlie’s arrest for having a suspended license a couple hours before the raiding of Tondreau’s office was a totally random coincidence.
Speculation about this “coincidence” is running high with good reason. Unconfirmed rumors of the arrest were circulating through City Hall and beyond since early morning, and yet the booking wasn’t official until late afternoon. The big question is this: Why did it take so long between the arrest and the actual booking? Rabid viewers of all 465 episodes of Law & Order’s 20 seasons, not including marathon reruns on TNT, will tell you that interrogations of suspects can take hours and sometimes days. One can only guess what questions Mr. Charles was asked until he was finally allowed to pose for his mug shot.
Just saying, of course.
Here’s the thing. The Herald reported that online ballot requests for 60 people were sent from a computer in Lucie Tondreau’s office, despite the fact that Florida law “allows only voters or their family members to submit the forms online.” The article further states, “An Internet Protocol computer address that was used to submit the suspect requests was apparently traced to Tondreau’s office.”
Can you say “BUSTED?”
Unsurprisingly, Lucie claimed innocence, stating, “We have nothing to hide.”
Of course, she also has nothing to worry about because, as Channel 10’s Glenna Milberg reported, Ben Kuehne has come to the rescue. Whether or not Lucie had anything to do with this absentee-ballot fraud scheme, in the end it won’t matter. Kuehne, who also represents the disgraced EX-mayor of North Miami Beach Myron Rosner in his never-ending criminal trial for multiple felonies, is the Master of Delay.
Kuehne is also defending Lucie against an eligibility lawsuit filed by former mayoral candidate Kevin Burns, the outcome of which has yet to be decided by the 3rd District Court of Appeals. It appears that there’s a good chance the Appellate Court will kick the case back down to the Circuit Court, which will give Kuehne even more time to stall the lawsuit. At least until Lucie’s first term as mayor is over, possibly even giving her a chance to run again – and win – another election.
Even IF Lucie is implicated in this absentee-ballot fraud case, by the time it gets to trial, North Miami will probably have at least two more mayors. Maybe even three.
So, you see, folks. Having a relationship with North Miami, even a long distance one, can be very complicated. As hard as it is to break up with a dysfunctional person (or city), if you’re an action junkie, like I seem to be, the drama alone is compelling enough to keep coming back for more excitement and pain.
However, my favorite Dolly Parton song comes to mind. Here You Come Again…
And here I go!
“Spreading the Wealth”