Is Coral Gables the New Doral?

The city of Doral became the laughing stock of Florida, manifested by bruising public battles, insults and threats among commissioners, city manager, mayor, and public security staff.  Coral Gables has started to look a little like Doral as three commission surreptitiously forced out its city manager.  Obviously, the concepts of transparency, openness and participation, so well displayed during their election campaigns, are singularly foreign to the three commission who have created this crisis.

The city of Coral Gables is being tested to its core by the decision of three commissioners (called the “Gang of Three” by some) who have pushed out its highly respected and successful city manager, Pat Salerno.  The three commissioners don’t comprehend their role in a strong city manager form of government, in which a prudent distance is kept between the administration of the city led by  the city manager and the city commission, whose job is set and guide overall policy, approve financial resources and broadly represent the interests of all citizens.

The city of Coral Gables urgently needed a strong administrator during recent years and it still needs a strong city manager in the years ahead–not a Slesnick/Brown-like compliant city manager responding to the interests of a small cabal of local developers and self-aggrandizing politicians.

The fiscal soundness of the city is now uncertain, with months ahead of searching for a new city manager (perhaps no self-respecting, experienced city manager would take the job under these circumstances.)  During this time the Gang of Three will have a free hand to mismanage the city, its budget and staff.


The City of Coral Gables, So Much Gained and So Much Now Lost

In last few years the City of Coral Gables, under the leadership of a new mayor and city manager, reversed a course of incompetent administration, failed political leadership, questionable morality and ethics, and total financial mismanagement, all inherited from the Slesnick Era.  The city was left by Slesnick with no reserves, overpaid public security staff, and a huge pension debt (still not resolved after a huge effort).

A new period of transparency, cautious tax and income management, careful staffing and directed priorities has led the community to feel that the city has begun to overcome its main problems.  Smart investments have been made in the city streets because of long postponed maintenance.  Plans were made to create a new central city culture, to compete with the best in the Miami-Dade region. But there is still much to do.

Three days ago, a cabal of three city commissioners dramatically pushed the city down an uncertain road, an uncertain future, of gerry rigged budgets, surely guided by a renewed culture of personal and commercial interests and arrogance.  Nothing will be gained by the resignation of the city manager, Mr. Salerno.  He has been a tough, competent and experienced manager–just what the city needed and will need until the goals of the city can be fully achieved.

Rest assured that the profile of a new city manager that will be sought by the Cabal of Three will be one of compliance, not leadership, while the three likely push through a new budget with more spending, higher taxes, guided by priorities with quiet support of private interests.

There is only one recourse:

  • The city commissioner should immediately reject the resignation of Mr. Salerno.
  • The three city commissioners, Keon, Lago and Quesada, should resign immediately and a new election should be called to test their support among voters. 

Reactions to Salerno Resignation Engineered By Keon, Lago, and Quesada | GEORGE VOLSKY

This is an email from Mr. George Volsky:



Comments about the resignation of City Manger Patrick Salerno, widely seen as being manipulated by three commissioners Pat Keon, Vincent Lago and Frank Quesada, came fast and furious. Most email and telephone calls were serious and respectful, but even more comments about the three commissioners, indicating the depth of the respondents’ feelings, were are too strong to be literally quoted here.

Several credible sources, who asked not to be identified, said that executives of the Dade Medical College, a controversial nursing school, were also behind the move to oust Salerno.

“Damn,” emailed Mike Eidson, whose Coral Gables law firm is one of the most prominent, nationally, in the litigation sector. “Unbelievable,” emailed author David Doheny, an attorney and former prosecutor.

Tim Persons, a friend in Washington, who also read my Salerno report yesterday, wrote:

I am sad at this development. After Salerno was put through the malignant and ad hominem mistreatment by (Ralph) Cabrera and (Don) Slesnick, this was most undeserved. I am especially shocked that (Frank) Quesada was part of this. Sure, although Salerno does not suffer fools gladly, he more than proved the competence over and over again. What a loss to Coral Gables after what he and my friend Jim Cason have done for the City Beautiful. I can only conclude that your prediction that his was a pyrrhic victory is true.

Gonzalo Sanabria, a prominent Coral Gables resident, whose brief comment on the issue was included my yesterday report, emailed me a letter he sent last night to Mayor James Cason, with copies to the Salerno opponents:

Dear Mayor Cason: We respectfully request that the public be allowed to have a special meeting and openly seek a solution to reverse the resignation of City Manager Pat Salerno. As it took an entire city by shock and surprise, it would be appropriate and transparent for the citizens, taxpayers, and voters to find justification as to why this happened and how to re-institute Pat Salerno as our City Manager. We would also like to know what this would fiscally mean to the City in an unnecessary run up in expenses to seek out another City Manager when we have the best one we have ever had run this City still working for us until April 18.

Anna Louise Fulks, another prominent resident, sent a copy of an email to Rick Hirsch, Managing Editor of the Miami Herald:

Dear Rick: emailing you George Volsky’s column regarding the resignation of CG Mgr. Pat Salerno. I couldn’t have said it better. Pat Salerno, who I consider a friend, was an honor graduate from UM and when the position of City Manager was open after CG had suffered one scandal after another, Mr. Salerno was hired for the job… he was basically coming back to his roots, purchasing a home in the Gables, and devoting himself in bringing back a work ethic and loyalty to the City. Unfortunately, except for Mayor Jim Cason and Vice-Mayor Bill Kerdyk, it was not reciprocated by the newly elected commissioners, Pat Keon and Vincent Lago (both of whom the Miami Herald endorsed) and Frank Quesada. What were they thinking? I as well as many others are terribly disappointed in the betrayal of Mr. Salerno, however, I don’t think this will be the end of it.

In a request to me, Ms. Fulks wrote: “Please see what you can do to get Pat Salerno back.”

To give the Miami Herald’s reported his due, in the news story today about Salerno’s resignation, he pointedly indicated the niggardliness of the complains against Salerno by Lago, one of his three adversaries. Lago, the Herald said, was miffed because in a police report he received from Salerno’s office a few pages were missing.

via Reactions to Salerno Resignation Engineered By Keon, Lago, and Quesada | GEORGE VOLSKY.

City Manager is Pushed Out by 3 Commissioners

The City Manager is Pushed Out

As reported by Mr. Volsky today:

Coral Gables, April 8. Three commissioners: Pat Keon,

Vincent Lago and Frank Quesada, today plunged this city

into a serious institutional crisis by forcing the resignation

of the City Manager Patrick Salerno.


email post from Mr. George Volsky


Sadly we seem to have a group of commissioners who think they are professional managers and not policy makers.  And who want to quietly run the city for the interest of friends and not the community as a whole.  This is a huge setback for the city with management taken over by small minds and not big thinkers.

More On The Biltmore Disaster

There are plenty of reasons to think that the Biltmore lease change is a bad deal for Coral Gables. Here are a few of them. In short, the Biltmore management cannot be trusted. It would be a good time during the recession to look for a new management team that will serve the needs of all Coral Gables citizens and not just a few politically connected people.

Seaway’s management subsidiaries haven’t paid hotel and golf course rent for two and a half years. It has withheld financial reports, and failed to properly maintain the property. Leading up to their non-payment of rents, the Biltmore management borrowed millions of dollars from Great American Life based on its ability to repay. The city has not seen those financial disclosures and has been negotiating using financial information limited by Biltmore’s management. If Biltmore management’s claims had any merit, it should have made rent payments and sued the city in court for maintenance expenses. Instead the management stopped paying rent and told the city to renegotiate its lease. That broke the lease and was dishonorable.

Read more:


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 283 other followers