Panic at t̶h̶e̶ ̶d̶i̶s̶c̶o̶ City Hall

Panic at the discoThe big news out of North Miami isn’t so much that the city’s purchasing agent, MarcAnthony Tulloch, was arrested on July 24, 2014.

I mean, sure, he was arrested by Sunny Isles Beach police for “third-degree felony grand theft and official misconduct,” according to a WLRN article published on August 1, 2014.

And, yeah, he was hired by the City of North Miami in January of this year at a salary of $79,400.00, after working at the City of Isles Beach as its purchasing manager.

Even though there weren’t any “red flags” about this employee’s background at the time he was hired, the big news is the flurry of activity at City Hall as a result of this latest news story.

Unlike Councilman Scott Galvin, I’m not sure this qualifies as yet another “scandal,” which he claims “seems to roll out every week.”

While there haven’t been any scandals on a weekly basis in North Miami since Andre Pierre left office, there is no doubt North Miami has had its share of woes lately.

As newsworthy as it may be, the MOCA lawsuit, ensuing mediation talks, and the board of trustees’ drama queen antics hardly qualify as a “scandal.”

In the last two plus years, the only real scandal in North Miami was the arrest and suspension last May of the then sitting Mayor, Lucie Tondreau.  But even that scandal hardly rocked the boat.  Councilman Philippe Bien-Aime temporarily stepped in with practically no disruption at City Hall.

With little more than two weeks to go, even the Special Election being held to replace Tondreau’s vacant seat has been uncharacteristically scandal-free so far.

Maybe because there has been relatively little turmoil in North Miami of late, City Hall went into full panic mode since the arrest of an employee for alleged crimes he committed before he was even on the payroll.

Acting Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime asked City Manager Aleem Ghany to “conduct full background checks for all employees hired in the last two years.”  According to a Miami Herald article published on Thursday, Ghany had already started reviewing “personnel files for key positions” even before he got the Mayor’s memo.  In addition to conducting “an internal review of all the financial transactions made by the purchasing department” since Tulloch was hired, the City Manager is going to conduct credit checks as well.

If the news accounts of this arrest are accurate, a background check on Tulloch most likely would have yielded nothing suspicious prior to his hiring.

Although arrested for battery in 2008, which case was dismissed, Tulloch had not been arrested from the time he was hired by Sunny Isles Beach until he became employed by City of North Miami.  As the Herald article noted, the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department didn’t even open its investigation until after he left that city and “an employee noticed that there were certain items, like light bulbs and other office supplies, that the city was billed for but did not receive.”

Wait, what?

Office supplies?

Like what are we talking about?  Pens, paper clips and staple removers?

LIGHT BULBS?

I mean, seriously, think about this.

Here is a dude who once worked in the Miami-Dade County procurement office and had served in the United States Coast Guard.  You gotta wonder what kind of a schmuck would risk a nearly $80K a year job to pilfer $2,000.00 (as reported by Local 10) slated for “light bulbs and other office supplies?”

Obviously, the kind of schmuck who, if he was gonna embezzle, should have at least made it worth his while.

(See:  North Miami Beach’s former employee, Marty King, who made off with $2.3 million tax dollars before getting busted!)

While background and credit checks for all employees are a good idea, unless there is a test for stupidity, Tulloch would probably still have been hired by North Miami.

And the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department would still have arrested him.

So this after-the-fact background check is pretty much a waste of time and money at this point.

A better use of resources, in my opinion, is that all municipalities might want to consider performing background and credit checks on everyone running for public office.

I mean, seriously, think about this.

The person who eventually becomes the Mayor of North Miami, for example, will not only ultimately oversee a city budget of approximately FIFTY EIGHT AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS, but will also Chair the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency Board and its projected $470K budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Just saying.

As far as I’m concerned, the arrest of MarcAnthony Tulloch is no more scandalous than that of any other penny ante thief who decides to use his public position for private gain.

Whether or not he stole from the City of North Miami remains to be seen.

In the meantime, he’s out of work, his reputation is ruined, and he’ll never eat lunch in this town again.

If North Miami voters don’t make the right choice for Mayor on August 26, 2014, they’ll have much bigger problems on their hands.

Early voting starts tomorrow.  Please vote responsibly.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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