Concise List of Coral Gables Government Failures—Please List the Sucesses

The following may be found in today’s Coral Gables Gazette

Letter: To jog mayor’s memory, here’s what we know

Posted on Sun, Aug. 30, 2009

Once again, our rude and arrogant mayor Don Slesnick (in the Aug. 25 commission meeting) characterized his detractors and the concern of residents as charged by “misinformation”.

In response to the city’s email “Straight Talk”, I replied “One big problem the city has is not admitting to any mismanagement or bad decisions, and everyone knows there have been plenty of them. As long as the city externalizes all the blame for the current situation, it will have no credibility with the public, and the public will continue to be angry and reactive.”

So, to jog Slesnick’s memory, what we, the public, know about:

1. The failed annex project.

2. Overpaying for the “Blue” building and then having to make extensive renovations.

3. The street closure by City Hall

4. The B&Z scandal, and extensive payments to the nonworking Margaret Pass, including a car.

5. Unanswered questions about the JCC building deal.

6. Supporting Manager David Brown despite his:
a. Falsifying records.
b. Corrupting a city employee in his cover-up.
c. Unwarranted advancement and promotion of his mistress who was observed publicly screaming obscenities at the manager on a city street (an offense for which termination is appropriate).
d. P-card scandal and costs of his drinking and dining.
e. Sexual harassment suit
f. Writing himself a $25,000 walk-away bonus.
g. Withholding information from the Commission (such as how much in arrears was the Country Club of Coral Gables on rent and taxes).
h. Failure to oversee (Country Club manager) Granada LLC
i. “Handshake” agreement in the Museum Project
j. Questionable relationship with the management of the Biltmore Hotel

7. Failure to deal with the wage/benefit/pension system when the writing was clearly on the wall that it could not be sustained. (And why are some employees getting life insurance?)

8. Failure to audit, supervise, or provide oversight to departments such as B&Z, I.T., Finance, and the city attorney.
a. Uncommon numbers of lost/unavailable/nonexistent financial records (such as in re the Biltmore Hotel).
b. Highly questionable expenditures and poor record keeping (IT)
c. Building and Zoning Dept., enough said. Troubled a long time.
d. Outsourcing much legal work plus failure to prevail. (And why is our attorney in the Granada LLC suits primarily a bankruptcy attorney?)

9. The financing of the museum project is unclear as to the city’s involvement.

10. The extensive use of monies from the Sunshine State Fund which avoids the need for taxpayer approval of projects.

11. The number of city fees quietly increasing, such as the business tax, permits, and parking fees. These are occurring despite a proposed large millage increase.

12. Multiple fiascos involving the Country Club of Coral Gables (a publically-owned facility) including financing errors, the allowance of illegal and unethical practices by the management, and absence of oversight.

13. That no one in this administration has said “Gee, I goofed on that one.”

There is more, but I’ve said enough to make the point. Hope this ”refresher-course” will help the mayor’s recall.

Katherine de Blij
Coral Gables

About Stephen E. McGaughey
International consultant in economic development programs and projects

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