When I wrote that North Miami Beach Councilwoman Phyllis Smith lost it at the budget meeting last week, little did I know that it was only half the story. After she had her very public meltdown on the dais, she took her act on the road.
Well, into the hallway, anyway.
Here’s the thing.
According to the city Charter, North Miami Beach has a council-manager form of government.
What this means is that the City Council gets to make the laws.
That’s it. They don’t get to enforce those laws. They also don’t get to run the city. That’s the City Manager’s job.
The Council gets to hire (and fire) three employees, and three employees only.
Those are the City Attorney, the City Clerk, and, most importantly, the City Manager.
The City Manager gets to hire (and fire) everyone else.
The Council can direct their three employees to do something.
They don’t get to tell anyone else to do anything.
After more than seven years in office, Phyllis still hasn’t managed to grasp that concept.
Phyllis attends every single seminar hosted by every single organization in Miami-Dade County and beyond, all of which are designed to train elected officials how to do their jobs. Most notably, Phyllis is now enrolled in the 2014 Leaders of Excellence class of the Good Government Initiative. I imagine that North Miami Beach taxpayers have spent countless thousands of dollars sending Phyllis to these seminars and classes so she can learn how to be an ethical and effective member of the City Council.
I’d say the taxpayers have been ripped off royally. Judging by her behavior, Phyllis has obviously learned absolutely nothing about her role as a public official, much less what it says in her own city’s Charter.
Oddly enough, Phyllis had no problem
ordering directing Leisure Services Director Paulette Murphy to paint the bathrooms at the Washington Park Community Center.
Even more oddly, she had no problem announcing to the world at large what she did.
At a public meeting.
Her faux-motional outburst caused quite a stir. Aside from witnessing her over-the-top (even for Phyllis) histrionics, everyone who was paying attention was astounded that not only did Phyllis violate the Charter, but she had no idea that she did.
What she did on camera was incredible.
But what she did when she stepped out of Chambers was unforgivable.
At least four sources told me that Phyllis accosted Paulette Murphy in the hallway, waggled her finger in Paulette’s face, and screamed at her for “throwing her under the bus.” She then ordered Paulette to “go back inside and fix this mess.”
The problem is that Phyllis is the one who created “this mess.”
Paulette Murphy surely must know that she doesn’t have to take verbal abuse from Phyllis, or anyone else for that matter. I’m told she simply walked away from Phyllis and left the building.
Good for her!
If Paulette was “guilty” of anything, it would have been of doing her job. Based on comments made by City Manager Ana Garcia after Phyllis’ outburst on the dais, she inferred that Paulette let her know that Phyllis had ordered her to have the bathrooms painted. If that’s the case, Phyllis overstepped her bounds as an elected official.
Clueless as she is, Phyllis doesn’t understand that she caused the problem, and then blamed Paulette for her own mess.
Ever since the very unflattering story about her Montana license plates was published in the Miami Herald, which outed her as a tax evader, Phyllis has not been a happy camper. Never mind that the article exposed her wrongdoing. She’s just ticked off that the article was published at all, yet again blaming someone else for problems of her own making.
While Phyllis might be distraught about the messes she herself created, she has no right to treat Paulette, or anyone else, the way she did.
She also has no right to give a directive to someone who is not her employee.
What Phyllis does need to do is read the freaking Charter.
It would also help if she shut up long enough to actually learn something from all those seminars she attends.
Phyllis Smith is in her eighth year in office. Next May, she will ask the citizens of North Miami Beach to let her keep her job for another four years. How many more seminars do you want to pay for?
“Spreading the Wealth”