Judging by the deluge of responses I received, you’d think my last blog post was about a presidential election instead of the “race” for city manager of North Miami. I got calls and emails from several people wanting to express their opinions on my opinion about current Interim City Manager/wannabe Permanent City Manager Arthur Sorey.
Most people agreed with my assessment that Sorey is simply not the right choice for this powerful position. But the few who didn’t had plenty to say. Oddly, it felt like I was being lobbied for an endorsement. Or something.
Sorey’s supporters wanted me to know that he has been a loyal employee of North Miami for years and years, and that he has done such great things for the city.
Whatever “great things” he’s done for North Miami does not discount the fact that he exploited his position as a city employee in order to purchase a home under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. In partnership with the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, this program was specifically designed to provide “housing for lower income households at or below 80% of the area median income.”
Let’s not overlook the fact that Sorey’s salary at the time was over and above the maximum allowable limits set by HUD.
Yet, just like former Councilwoman Marie Steril’s mother, Sorey was able to obtain a $50,200.00 Purchase Money second mortgage from the City of North Miami toward the purchase of a home that North Miami owned and refurbished using HUD funding.
And as in the case of Steril’s mother, this $50,200.00 mortgage would be completely wiped out after fifteen years as long as Sorey did not default on the loan.
Sources claim that even though there were many North Miami residents who would have benefited from this program, preference was given to city employees to purchase these homes. Who could blame them for trying? After all, this was “free” money.
Courtesy of the taxpayers, of course.
According to his “supporters,” since he was appointed as Assistant City Manager last July, Arthur Sorey has been able to “get things done.”
These would also be many of the same individuals who sang Aleem Ghany’s praises, and we already know how effective he was at “getting things done.”
For that matter, look at how effective Stephen Johnson was at “getting things done!”
Here’s the thing.
It literally drives me crazy when public officials are so blasé about the incompetency and corruption that goes on right under their noses. It is truly astounding that almost no one at City Hall is clear on the concept how critical this particular position is to the future of North Miami. The city manager is the single most important, not to mention most powerful, employee on the government payroll. This individual is responsible for managing a multi-million dollar, taxpayer funded budget. It is imperative that the person chosen for this position has a proven history of making fiscally responsible decisions, both professionally and personally.
The fact that Arthur Sorey allowed his home to go into foreclosure, and had to be sued for non-payment of a credit card bill for less than $2,000.00, should be a huge red flag. If Sorey can’t manage his own checkbook, why would anyone trust him to manage North Miami’s checkbook?
For the record, I have never met or spoken with Arthur Sorey. I’m sure he is a perfectly nice man. I’m sure he did a perfectly adequate job as a budget director, and is quite capable as a deputy city manager. I’m sure there will be an opportunity for him to prove himself capable of achieving a city manager position one day. I’m also quite sure, however, that under the present circumstances, he is simply not qualified to take on the job as CEO of the City of North Miami.
It’s nothing personal. I just call it as I see it.
The Mayor and Council must not take this decision lightly. They should not make this choice based on political expediency. Ideally, the new city manager should be someone who has never worked or held office in the City of North Miami, and who can run the city with an unbiased eye, free hand, and absolutely no allegiance to any politicians, employees, and/or especially lobbyists.
Residents of North Miami, I implore you to attend the council meeting on Tuesday night and urge your representatives on the dais to make the right decision.
Do not forget that YOU are the stockholders of YOUR government. You fund it. You own it. You have a right to insist that your tax dollars are spent wisely.
The Mayor and Council need to be reminded that they serve at the pleasure of the people.
Not the other way around.
“Spreading the Wealth”