Opa-locka Update: The hole keeps getting deeper.

first law of holesIt sure is a shame that Opa-locka city officials didn’t heed the sage advice of Will Rogers, who said, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

On the contrary, as recently as last week, acting city manager Yvette Harrell threw all caution to the wind when she pillaged a restricted account in order to cover payroll checks.  Apparently, the Ghost of Kelvin Baker still haunts Opa-locka City Hall.

Although he resigned as city manager last July (and was quickly snatched up by the City of Lauderdale Lakes), his Opa-locka protégés apparently took their cue from Kelvin’s “very special brand of creative budgeting” by illegally depleting reserve accounts to cover municipal expenses.

The fund that Ms. Harrell tapped into was a “bond reserve set aside to pay investors in case Opa-locka failed to make its payments on the City Hall purchase,” according to a June 21, 2016 Miami Herald article, Opa-locka targeted in new federal probe.

In addition to its current investigation of public corruption by the FBI, Opa-locka has now come under scrutiny by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for “the city’s controversial purchase last year of its gleaming City Hall in a major bond deal that was approved while the city was quietly bleeding millions in tax revenues,” according to the Herald.

Not only did Yvette Harrell’s withdrawal of approximately $600,000.00 violate the terms of the bond agreement, which requires that Opa-locka maintain a specific level of funding in the restricted account, but she unilaterally made the decision to do so without council approval.

As a result of her actions, Harrell was confronted by the city’s Finance Director Charmaine Parchment, who had already publicly exposed Opa-locka’s financial troubles in May, and by Budget Director Keith Carswell, who both “demanded the city manager take the plan to the city’s bond lawyers and the city commission.”

In response, Harrell fired the Budget Director, who in turn is now suing the city for unlawful termination.

Who didn’t see that coming?

Overstating the obvious, Keith Carswell’s attorney told the Herald, “You do not tap into bond reserve funds that have been pledged to secure a bond offering.”

It should be noted that Carswell’s attorney is Mayor Michael Pizzi of Miami Lakes “fame”, who also stated with no trace of irony, “It was one of the most irresponsible things that I have ever heard in my 30 years of government.”

Alrighty then.

As the Miami Herald article noted, this new examination of the bond issues “will allow federal investigators to gain a true picture of the city’s financial conditions.”

Accordingly, it’s impossible to believe that Kelvin Baker, who mismanaged Opa-locka for three years, will escape the SEC’s scrutiny.

Just saying.

While Opa-locka residents are understandably outraged by the massive corruption uncovered at City Hall, not to mention the outright theft of their hard earned tax dollars, they cannot absolve themselves entirely from the disaster they created when they voted for criminals time and time again.

If nothing else, the bitter lesson that Opa-lockans should learn from this debacle is that elections have consequences.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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8 Comments

  1. marc cooper says:

    Pizzi formerly represented the City of Opa Locka…how can he now be suing his former client?

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  2. Aletheia says:

    You have to be a special kind of stupid to not tell your council (and get their approval) that you are raiding a Bond Reserve Fund to meet payroll! How did Yvette Harrell ever land an Acting CM position in the first place? Did she not hear about other CMs, like loser Kelvin Baker, getting into trouble for tapping restricted funds? Did they just pluck this woman off the street and give her the job? These minority communities just keep recycling their trash. Don’t be surprised to see Harrell wind up in Lauderdale Lakes, if they show her the door!

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  3. Patrick ONeal says:

    I did not vote for our Current mayor and was quite vocal about not voting for her and why people shouldn’t have voted for her. I am however a minority in this city and anything I say would be considered racist. I still am waiting to hear how they are going to make the city manager put back the $40k he exchanged illegally for vacation that he had not accrued. This is unacceptable. I as many other are waiting for the shoe to drop but know that the sad fact is that people in this city don’t listen and don’t pay attention and don’t get angry until it is too late. Why re-elect those who have had legal issues involving the city in the past.

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  4. […] late June, then-acting city manager Yvette Harrell was caught illegally tapping into a “bond reserve […]

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  5. Concerned Citizen says:

    If you worked for the City of opa locka or any other city, wouldn’t you want your payroll check? How can we check the facts to make sure that there may be some people that are not corrupt?

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    1. Stephanie Kienzle says:

      If you live or work in Opa-locka, you can probably assume there are at least some people who are corrupt. Unfortunately, there is rampant corruption in most cities, especially in South Florida. Even more unfortunately, there is very little anyone can do about it. When the top cop, i.e., State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, is the most corrupt public official in the county, nothing will ever be done to put a stop to any of it.

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  6. Lawrence C Miles-Trice says:

    Herrell and Taylor are tied together with bed sheets.

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  7. […] to void the tickets by City Manager Yvette Harrell (who just happens to be the subject of an SEC investigation for illegally tapping into a restricted account to cover payroll […]

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