Volsky on ” The ‘NO’ Candidates”

GEORGE VOLSKY

THE “NO” CANDIDATES

Campaigning is almost over; Coral Gables residents will vote next Tuesday, hopefully in large number. Even the ugly snails are gone so voters will not gnash their teeth seeing those  huge plastic blobby artifacts on the way to precincts. And the city’s mood, like in the country at large,  is wary and distrustful of politicians and their promises.

The campaign has been long and, many residents opined extremely, disgustingly costly.  Three mayoral candidates have collected and spent about three times what the job pays, $34,736 a year. One commissioner candidate amassed five times a commissioner’s $28, 225 salary.

Our April 12 election takes place against the background of historic changes in the Miami-Dade County government. On March 15, mayor Carlos Alvarez was unceremoniously thrown out of office by an 88 percent recall vote. He was defeated because county voters – including overwhelmingly in Coral Gables – resented his tax increase and his arrogance.

The question is whether the Miami-Dade political ambience will replicate in Coral Gables. Our residents have been equally burdened with four tax increases in the last 10 years and, as most of them complain, arrogance at the top of our officialdom,  the office of mayor occupied for the last decade by Don Slesnick.

This column does not openly endorse candidates. But it will recommend for whom NOT TO VOTE and why. The NO candidates are Slesnick, Brad Rosenblatt and   Rene Alvarez.

Slesnick: As mentioned above, he has been mayor for 10 years, which most people would think is long enough, if not too long. Politics requires injection of  new blood; our presidents can only serve for two 4-year terms.

Maybe if Slesnick were a good mayor exception could conceivably be made. But he has not been one. By most accounts, as this space has many times reported, dressed up in  official trappings and self-propaganda he pretended to be important, yet divested of them he has shown to be lacking any substance.  And he isn’t one to suffer from qualms of conscience and the necessity to be truthful.  He has more than two faces of Janus, none genuine.

Slesnick’s word is not his bond. His habit of taking credit for accomplishments of others is totally unrestrained. For me the most galling is Slesnick’s repeated claim (Miami Herald, March 24, 2011) having established the city’s free Trolley System.  There is not a single well-informed resident who doesn’t know that the project’s author was Commissioner Bill Kerdyk. More to the point, Slesnick several times publicly urged that the city charge for Trolley rides, which would have killed the system.  Two other Slesnick accomplishment claims  (the Herald, Febr. 3, 2011) “Streamlining government bureaucracy” and “Stabilizing our city’s financial foundation” are equally untrue.  It was City Manager Patrick Salerno who about two years ago began reducing city employment. And only Slesnick can say that a  $196 million pension deficit  – which grew from zero since he came to City Hall – equals “stabilizing” Coral Gables’ finances.

One could go on and on. In sum: For the past 10 years Slesnick wasted resources when parsimony was necessary, spent recklessly when caution was advisable, and ignored truthfulness, the obligation of worthy politicians. Thus, like M-D Mayor Carlos Alvarez, Slesnick should be retired.

Rosenblatt : For over a year, Rosenblatt, president of BID, the much-criticized downtown public relations group, was promoted, basically by Slesnick and his poodles, as a financial and business “wunderkind.” Rosenblatt was praised (including to me) as a young, very creative executive. But Brad’s laying it on with a trowel exploded like the construction bubble. The respected  former Bal Harbour mayor, attorney Richard Olsen, called him publicly (on Channel 10 TV) “a thief.” In years past this would have been immediately followed by a duel to death, and of late by a lawsuit at least. But Rosenblatt didn’t respond at all. It also became known that he was arrested on an  embezzlement charge. (According to the Herald, he later pleaded no contest, was put on probation, the sentence was withheld, and the case was sealed.)

Before the above particulars – and others also less than palatable – were publicized, and even after  they were made public, Rosenblatt collected about $150,000 for his city commission campaign. He kept repeating that because he wasn’t convicted and has no felony record, everything was fine.

Still, money and propaganda cannot wipe all.   Certainly if Rosenblatt were not a candidate for public office nobody would give a hoot for his past. But money doesn’t whitewash all, at least I believe in Coral Gables. Voters should send Brad Rosenblatt back to his couture business, where I wish him well.

Alvarez This man has been totally unknown in City Hall and elsewhere in Coral Gables until he paid his registration fee virtually  10 minutes before the city’s candidate qualifying deadline. Writing about city affairs for the past 15 years, I have neither heard of him or seen his face.  It is irrelevant whether, as some people say, he is a “plant” – that’s put there to draw voted from two other legitimate Hispanic candidates in Group 4, Gonzalo Sanabria and Frank Quesada – or not. Alvarez, not related to former M-D mayor Alvarez and Jorge Alvarez, a real “plant” who in 2001 muddled Slesnick’s race against Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli – has every right to jump into the race even with 1 second to spare. But the very act shows the candidate’s lack of seriousness, which most people believe demeans the solemnity of our democratic system.

Finally,  whoever might be your favored candidate, please vote next Tuesday.

 

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

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