Until Friday, Prudent held the position of “Coordinator” for the Community Redevelopment Agency, a job created for him by former Mayor Andre Pierre as a Thank You note for helping him get re-elected in 2011.
According to a Reorganization Memo from CRA Executive Director (and City Manager) Aleem A. Ghany, the dispensing of Prudent, his staff and his “leased location” will save the City of North Miami a tidy annual sum of $251,000.00.
For years, Lesly Prudent had been plying his trade to local municipalities in an attempt to add “Director of an Important Government Department” to a resume that already includes, “Master Teacher,” “Dedicated Assistant Principal,” “Community Activist,” and of course, “Haitian Radio Show Personality.”
In 2010, Prudent’s good friend, North Miami Beach Councilcritter Frantz Pierre, tried to strong-arm then City Manager Kelvin Baker into offering Prudent an Assistant City Manager job. When Baker refused, Pierre got him canned. Baker needed firing anyway, but that’s beside the point.
Prudent lucked out in 2011 when his other good friend, Andre “No Relation to Frantz” Pierre, handed him a sweet government gig on a silver platter.
According to the City of North Miami’s CRA website, Prudent walks on water. His official city bio glowingly states that, “Mr. Prudent’s focus is to assist the Executive Director [sic] fulfill the CRA’s mission, that is to increase the tax base of the City and enhance the neighborhoods through brick and mortar projects.”
It would seem, however, that the only thing Prudent increased was his bank account, and the only thing he enhanced was his presence on Haitian radio. All on the City’s dime.
As for the time he spent “coordinating” the CRA, according to a Miami Herald article published on June 26, 2014, North Miami needs monthly updates on its finances, auditor recommends:
The main discrepancy the report revealed was with the accounting between the city and its community redevelopment agency (CRA). The city’s process is to pay most of the CRA’s project costs, according to the report, and then provide the CRA with an invoice and adjustment. The firm called this a “control weakness” and reported that a discrepancy of about $100,000 was not sorted out until this month.
The presentation also pointed out that some accounts receivable and liability schedules were received late and had to be changed later in the auditing process. The firm suggested that the city “determine the appropriate level of financial staffing resources and software application training.”
Aleem Ghany took the auditors’ recommendation seriously and determined that “the appropriate level of financial staffing” was out of control. He rightly decided to reign it in.
In the three years since Lesly Prudent was hired, his salary increased by almost 42% from $77,900.00 to $110,000.00. On top of that, the costs of running the “leased location” of the CRA office was $42,000.00 annually. In addition, the CRA Finance Manager was earning $109,000.00, and “other professional entities” were grabbing $45,000.00 of the CRA operating budget, which is projected to be $470,439.00 for the fiscal year 2014-15.
As Mr. Ghany pointed out, this “new operations plan” will free up “$251,000.00 annually for redevelopment projects.”
The firing of Lesly Prudent is also just one more step toward the freeing up of North Miami from the some of the remaining influential tentacles of what was one of the most corrupt administrations in the City’s history.
Aleem Ghany should get a standing ovation for this one act alone.
It’s worthy to note that the North Miami Redevelopment Agency was created by Resolution No. R-12-2003-1 on December 9, 2003. On June 28, 2005, the City Council adopted Resolution No. R-6-2005-2, approving an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement with Miami-Dade County, which was finalized on September 1, 2005. In plain English, this Agency was formed for the purpose of redeveloping blighted areas in North Miami, and to determine the boundaries of the CRA area.
The Agreement gave the Agency the power to, among other things, acquire land and buildings; repair, rehabilitate or demolish structures; lesson density; and provide land for needed public facilities. In addition, the Agreement gave the Agency the power to acquire “air rights without regard to any requirement that the area be a slum or blighted area” and “the power to construct foundations and platforms necessary for the provision of air rights sites of housing (and related facilities and uses) designed specifically for and limited to families and individuals of low or moderate income.”
Considering that approximately 60% of the City of North Miami is located within the CRA boundaries, I’d say the North Miami Redevelopment Agency is a pretty powerful arm of the local government. It’s also one that should be required to have an extremely high level of transparency and accountability to both the City of North Miami and to Miami-Dade County.
Then again, this is North Miami we’re talking about. Where transparency and accountability have never been known to be high priorities.
A perfect example of the lack thereof can be found on the the Community Redevelopment Agency website, where the Annual Activity Reports and Independent Audited Financial Statements are published.
While Tony Crapp was the Executive Director of the CRA, he published reports for the Fiscal Years 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. In those days there was no such position as “CRA Coordinator.”
Both of those reports contained a Section 1 for: Activity Report, Agency Purpose and Mission, Organizational Development, Programs Objectives and Accomplishments, Tax Increment Schedule; and another Section 2 for an Independent Audited Financial Statement.
Tony Crapp’s “CRA Director” position was then abolished and replaced by a “CRA Coordinator” position for Lesly Prudent, who was chosen by a “secret committee,” in a City not known for its adherence to Sunshine Laws.
Interestingly, as you can clearly see, the sun also didn’t shine on an Annual Activity Report for the Fiscal Year 2010-2011, which was either never published or one simply doesn’t exist (which shouldn’t surprise anyone).
An Annual Activity Report was filed, however, for the Fiscal Year 2011-2012, during which time former City Manager Stephen Johnson was the Executive Director. It was also the first full year in which the CRA had a “Coordinator” position. (Note that no report has been published for the Fiscal Year 2012-2013, even though that year ended on September 30, 2013.)
The 2011-2012 report contains a section listing the same items in Sections 1 of the previous years, but instead of a Section 2, the Table of Contents (see page 3) merely states that an “FY 2011-2012 Independent Audited Financial Statement” is an “ATTACHMENT.”
I dare anyone to find the “ATTACHMENT.”
It just might actually be there. Somewhere on the website. I just can’t find it.
In any event, the decision to ditch Lesly Prudent was long overdue.
Apparently, so is a forensic audit.
As one of Aleem Ghany’s first major decisions right out of the box as City Manager, his getting rid of deadwood like Lesly Prudent is a really good omen.
Aleem obviously knows that North Miami (and especially its Community Redevelopment Agency) is in desperate need of an overhaul and he’s not afraid to wield the axe.
I can’t wait to see what he does next!
“Spreading the Wealth”