Buh-bye, Lesly. Don’t let it hit you on the way out.

youre-firedLesly Prudent’s free ride in North Miami is finally over.  City Manager Aleem Ghany handed Prudent his walking papers in a firing that was long overdue.

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.

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).

NMCRA Website

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.

Adieu

I can’t wait to see what he does next!

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

 

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14 Comments

  1. barbix says:

    And forensic audit is coming up…

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    1. barbix says:

      And indeed as you say the audit is coming up…maybe cleaning house…. but good job by the manager…. let’s have more sunshine. Back in the day the CRA stationary’s logo was HOT for Honest Open Transparency!

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  2. Guest says:

    You Go Aleem! Yaaaaaay! Finally, someone who can take this city in the right direction. Aleem is sharp, dedicated, and he’s a GOOD PERSON. I’m so happy to see the council hire someone with some brains and good sense. The past few years have been an utter joke in that city. Steve Johnson was the most incompetent person to have ever worked as a CM in the history of city managers.
    Lesly Prudent is just part of the detritus that Pierre left behind. Clean house Aleem! Whip that place back into shape.

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  3. Ned says:

    I do support Mr Ghamy’s decision to reign in the excessive administrative cost over the CRA; however, the CRA has been the personal piggy bank of North Miami’s politicians to pay off their political hacks and supporters.

    Remember, Mr. Crapp’s salary was high compare to other CRA in South Florida:

    http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/stories/2008/04/07/story1.html?page=all

    How is some people’s memories are short when we forgot about Bel Air’s apartment financial follies with now candidate Kevin Burns’ support of this project in exchange of legal $ 2,600 in political donations from the Bel Air owner under Crapp’s leadership at CRA.

    Here is the official record on who voted for Crapp’s $ 198K salary and who did not vote for Crapp. It was Kevin Burns who was one of many leaders who started the ball rolling down the wrong pike for North Miami’s finances:

    http://www.northmiamicra.org/docs/2006_05_23%20Executed%20Resolution%20(R-5-2006-9)%20approving%20Crapp%20Contract.pdf

    This is why a financial forensic audit is needed before the election to show the voters about the truth on financial mismanagement and poor strategic decision making since May 2003.

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    1. barbix says:

      Ned, thank you for this. Unfortunately I think people don’t want facts when it comes to candidates (but I hope I am wrong!) it’s a “that’s MY gangsta” approach to voting – meaning I don’t care what you’ve done or how you operate, I just want the (X colored skin or nationality) or (Y colored skin or nationality) in office.

      I think this is NOT great thinking and I am holding out that people can vote for the BEST candidate… but that brings us back to the fact we don’t have any new fresh faces outside of the pack that is running. But I don’t blame others for not running, if you have a job that is making good money and on your career track and one you enjoy, why give that up to by Mayor. Only, if you are retired or have other means would someone consider running… as new faces I am saying… Or maybe we need a young person just starting their career. Or maybe the audit will come out and people can be honest about what they may have done, and take responsibility and turn new leaf?

      How about a debate in North Miami where all the candidates do a Mea Culpa on every skeleton in their closet! Now THAT would be honest open transparency! Maybe you can suggest some other current or past city employees that should join that tell-all! Get it all out, turn leaf and move forward.

      Brief thoughts.

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      1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

        Barbix, the position of mayor or councilperson in North Miami (as well as in NMB) is NOT supposed to be full time. It is supposed to be considered a public service, part time, with a token salary. The nature of both charters are such that both cities are supposed to be run as a manager/council form of government. This means that the council is only supposed to legislate policy and the manager is supposed to run the city.

        Unfortunately, we all know this is fiction! The mayor and council of both cities micromanage their respective governments, either through the city attorney or city manager, or both. The salaries for mayor and council (at least in North Miami) have been increased to the point that the job is now considered a full time position. Hence, career politicians are spawned.

        Never mind that this violates the North Miami City Charter. Rules be damned, right?

        Yeah, you shouldn’t have gotten me started.

        However, until the election, I intend to do my own “background checks” on all three candidates and report my findings. If I find skeletons, they will be outed. “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.”

        Just saying.

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        1. barbix says:

          There’s a lot of skeletons…some very hidden I am sure… and you can also go back to see why and when the position of Mayor got a pay raise… Go Stephanie!

          And to your point, yes civil service but – even for me – to consider running it would take up so much time that it would take away from other things. And for people with careers it just cannot work as the brain cannot divide time that way, it is just the nature of how thoughtful people live their lives. At least I think so…So yes I do think if I or anyone was to run, they must be fully committed AND not rely on the salary – so you are only going to get people who can afford to live on that kind of salary a year (and/or for which it is a cool/power thing to be Mayor)- which means in many cases they have other means or do not have jobs that demand their time… Hope this makes sense.

          And maybe I am wrong. That is always possible. Happy digging! I think in the end it is a wash this election – and I do think the more OPEN the candidates can be themselves, the better. I say just be honest, no ones perfect and the idea of a “tell-all” debate/town hall would be fab. I’ll meet you there with popcorn!

          Happy Monday.

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          1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

            If the council was simply legislating and leaving the management of the city to the city manager (a novel idea, right?), there would be no need for it to be a full time position. Think about this: How many laws really need to be created in the first place? Half of them are unnecessary and the rest are never enforced anyway. Just saying.

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          2. barbix says:

            Well I agree and not. Right now North Miami needs strong vision for major changes and transformation and I think that demands a lot of thought and time – ***IF**** That is being done!! So it would take a leader committed 24/7 to that, besides the day to day managing – a Leader to take NoMi to the future …. that’s alls I’s got!

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  4. Ned says:

    Stephanie … You are absolute correct about the form of government in North Miami, NMB, Aventura, Sunny Isles Beach, and Miami Shores with the council-manager form. However, this form of government had not been practiced in North Miami since May 2001. Just review the Merry-Go-Round with city managers and city attorneys in both cities with the various mayors in charge.

    This is why it is important that we have following actions in North Miami and break the cycle of corruption:

    1) Full support of Mr. Ghemy as city manager by the whole city council including the mayor on the day-to-day affairs.
    2) Conduct of complete forensic financial audit before the elections. Plus, the implementation of monthly financial statements by the city administration to the city council and its citizens.
    3) A citizen panel of qualified North Miami residents in conducting a national search for the next CRA director who will work Mr. Ghemy, Ms. Monestime, Mr. Etienne, and the whole city council with implementing real action plan on downtown redevelopment and development of a vibrant 7th Avenue commercial business district. No more pipe dreams or boondoggles to reward your political supporters and/or hacks! The next CRA director needs a vision with some ‘outside the box’ creative thinking. Just take a look at Wynwood and Midtown Miami with their redevelopment over past 14 years while North Miami fiddles around with no results!

    In summary, the best crime prevention tool is creating local, good-paying jobs by new businesses including national well known grocery stores and middle class department stores like J C Penney or Kohl in a city like N Miami or NMB.

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  5. […] fires top community development officials, regarding City Manager Aleem Ghany’s decision to fire CRA Coordinator Lesly Prudent and CRA Finance Manager Aldwyn Thomas, in an effort to reorganize the city’s Community […]

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  6. […] DOLLARS, but will also Chair the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency Board and its project $470K budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal […]

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  7. […] CRA “Coordinator,” whose job was created for him during the Andre years, was finally shown the door, proving to skeptics everywhere that City Manager Aleem Ghany was the right man for the […]

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  8. […] has been making all the right moves, starting with the firing of Lesly Prudent, continuing with his request of a state audit of the city’s finances, and then recommending […]

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