Wednesday, May 09, 2012

There's nothing to see here, folks...move along

Miami Beach Commissioner Ed "Mad Dog" Tobin and City Manager
Jorge Gonzalez are seen on Wednesday after Gonzalez announced
he was resigning effective July 8. (Click on all images to enlarge.)

I want my money back.

I showed up at the Miami Beach City Commission meeting Wednesday afternoon expecting something resembling an MMA Extreme Fight Night Cage Match.

Instead, I got Sesame Street.

Yesterday, Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez announced he was resigning after almost 12 years on the job. In an email to the mayor and commissioners, Gonzalez said his resignation was effective May 10, 2013.

When Commissioner Ed "Mad Dog" Tobin heard that, he fired off an email to Gonzalez that one city hall insider called, "a humdinger."

From Local 10:
Miami Beach Commissioner Jonah Wolfson said that Gonzalez's delaying of his resignation until May 2013 was "a disrespectful slap in the face to the commission."

"To say, 'We'll do it in a year,' cheats the taxpayers," said Commissioner Edward Tobin.
At Wednesday's meeting, many expected that Gonzalez would be fired. And that's why I was there.

But, shortly after 5pm, Gonzalez stunned a packed commission chambers by announcing, "After a great deal of thought, personal introspection, I've concluded that the time is now, so I will be resigning my position effective July 8, 2012."

From the Miami Herald:
Gonzalez changed his resignation date late Wednesday afternoon. The commission, after hours of sniping publicly, accepted the new date without discussion. “We’ve heard enough,’’ said Mayor Matti Herrera Bower.

Bower and Commissioner Jerry Libbin voted against accepting the resignation.
It was over.

The much-anticipated fireworks never materialized.

Dozens of pro-Gonzalez Miami Beach residents - many of them wearing lime-green  t-shirts given to them by the firefighters union - quietly filed out of the room.

Outside the commission chambers, the residents milled about as TV cameras jockeyed for soundbites.

With nothing newsworthy to photograph, I puttered about and shot pictures of what, at times, seemed like part class reunion, part carnival sideshow.

Here are some of the images I made, both inside and outside the commission chambers.

Lobbyist Eston "Dusty" Melton and political reporter Michael Putney.
Prior to today, it had been about 3 years since I'd visited Miami Beach City Hall. In my absence, they apparently installed a luxury sky box. That's where I found Melton and Putney relaxing comfortably.

Everyone knows who Putney is, but Melton is known to few outside government circles.

Here's how the Miami Herald's Carl Hiaasen described Melton - a former Miami Herald political reporter - in a 1989 column.
You remember four weeks ago when poor [Dade County] Mayor Steve Clark screwed up and voted the wrong way on a big airport construction project. No sooner had the mayor opened his mouth than his phone started to beep.

On the other end was lobbyist Eston "Dusty" Melton, the mayor's chum, ghostwriter and moral compass. Melton is to Steve Clark what Edgar Bergen was to Charlie McCarthy.

It just so happened that Melton was also a paid operative for the construction firm that stood to gain an extra $220,000 from a favorable vote on the airport project.

Apparently the mayor was reminded of this connection during the frantic phone call. He immediately arranged a new vote, absented himself (as originally planned), and the airport funding squeaked through.

If you know a Miami Beach firefighter; you may be
able to get one of!
At times, it seemed like every fourth person in the commission chambers
was on a mobile device. Standing from left to right are Ed Tobin, Jorge
Gonzalez and City Attorney Jose Smith.

I was surprised to find that Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower looks so much
different in person than she does on TV.
Filmmaker Alfred Spellman, right, poses with Miami Herald reporter
David Smiley and Smiley's new haircut.
Most exciting moment of the afternoon occurred when TV cameraman on
left accidentally bumped into old guy in RECALL t-shirt. Old guy
briefly threatened to kick the crap out of cameraman. 
Filmmaker Billy Corben talks politics with former Miami Herald reporter
Edna Buchanan. Buchanan was hoping that Gonzalez would be fired
on the spot and escorted from the building.
Photographer Jacob Katel, left, and Miami New Times managing editor Tim
Elfrink, far right, pose with Alfred Spellman.


  1. Thanks for the pics and background. "remember Jake, it's just Chinatown"

  2. Well all I can say is that Jorge should have paid more attention when I was reporting problems in Building, Fire and Audit.

  3. A survey is only as useful as the questions posed - " How satisfied are you with how the city deals with city hall corruption?"


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