Controversy and Transparency
By: Nimmond Lockhart - SDM Editor/Chief
While the City of Homestead has their hands firmly wrapped around former City Manager, Mike Shehadeh’s neck, another storm is brewing on the “hill”: its called Hurricane Nonsense. As the winds of hell head through Home- stead, it would be wise for the residents of Homestead to stock up on all necessities including, gauze to stop the bleeding; a flash light to see through the controversy and the lack of transparency that was promised by the new administration.
It all started when Mayor Steve Bateman nominated Sergio Purriños to serve as acting city manager, (with the blessing of the council), shortly after former Mayor, Lynda Bell left the “Hot” seat.
I understand that the city’s business couldn’t go unmanaged, but to pull off a vetting process that quick sure does cast a suspicion of precipitous and covert behavior.
Keep in mind that Purriños was charged by the city of Doral for abusing credit cards issued by the city. According to a Miami Herald article, close to $11,000 was spent on lunches. Boy! At least he left with a full stomach.
That was surely a case of true transparency. Even a blind man could see right through it. (Forgive me blind people for the parallels, but I just couldn’t resist). If they were his personal card, (much like Shehadeh using his own blackberry and computer), there wouldn’t have been a problem. I’m sure that the residents of both cities could care less about the personal drama taking place in these two men’s life.
Hold up, wait a minute! I take that back. It’s amazing how people in general enjoy digging deep into gossip and controversy; even around the things they can’t see such as, other bits of “hot and steamy” text messages sent by Homestead city employees on city owned-blackberries. Oops, I don’t think that’s out yet. But hey, a little curiosity can be tantalizing.
Now, where were we?
Oh yeah, controversy and transparency.
How coincidental it was for Purriños to pull a Tiny Tim. You know, “Tip toe through the tulips”, and land right smack on Homestead property. Shortly after, he finds himself in the middle of a charter school controversy when Charter School USA and President Jonathan Hage tried to “hoodwink” the city council with a proposal that would constitute a leasing contract for 10 acres of property and land for just a measly $1 a year for 35 years.
The Purriños and Hage connection goes way back; back into time when there was cavemen and cavewomen. Oops! That was the Jimmy Castor Bunch singing their 70’s hit song, Troglodyte. Sorry about that. Again, I couldn’t help myself.
Purriños and Hage have ties to the prestigious Renais- sance Charter School located in Doral. In fact, Charter School USA is using Renais- sance Charter as a prototype for the potential Homestead charter school. Is there a conspiracy going on here? Is he part of the puzzle linking the mayor that hired him, to the developer an associate of the mayor that owns the property in which Keys Gate Middle is sitting on? By the way Charter USA is the operator of Keys Gate Middle. Again I ask, is there something going on here? You be the judge. However, I’ll leave you with this. How could you hire a person that has just as much baggage as the city manager you are castrating and kicking out the door?
That makes no sense to me.
Oh well, I’m off to the next bit of controversy and transparency.
Again, according to a Miami Herald article, written by Tania Valdemoro, the city granted 50 contractors and developers, including Mayor Bateman, a 30% break in fees, based on past site plan reviews, and other planning and zoning work. Guess who made the decision to do that?
It was Sergio Purriños.
Perhaps, this wouldn’t seem so suspicious if the city council had a say in it. Well, I guess that wasn’t possible either.
First, they would have to know about it. I know for sure at least one didn’t, which suggests that the others didn’t know as well.
Then, there is the alleged assault Mayor Bateman was accused of by some woman. It’s hard to believe that the mayor would do such a thing. It is probably much to do about nothing, although Miami-Dade Police Department’s public corruption investigations bureau is looking into the allegations.
It’s a lot to swallow in just 3 months; especially if you are a member of the city council. Just think, contracts being signed and fees given out by the city manager without the council’s knowledge; a charter school proposal shoved in their face at the last minute; the lack of sufficient vetting of a potential city manager; pending assault allegations against the mayor; and more controversial text messages by other city employees besides Shehadeh.
Will it ever end?
I know for sure that it is at least embarrassing to the city council’s young breeds, because they promised, when they were out on the stump, that their constituents would receive transparency.
Now, I’m sure they wish that it would all just disappear. Contrary to their wishes, I hope that it never goes away, because that means I would have to put down my keyboard. I’m sure there are a lot of you that don’t agree with me, but hey, I’m used to it.
I was once told that regardless of what I write, there will be people that will like it, and there are those that are going to hate it, but it’s just my opinion. We all have one. I will never try and please anyone or thing but my own conscious.
Support the South Dade Monitor. I will tell it like it is. “Stand for something or fall for anything.” I suspect that the Homestead city council’s young breeds, would agree with me.