MIAMI MIRROR – TRUE REFLECTIONS
may remain in the hands of a dominating clique for decades. People may worship absolute power in church, but a passion for politics, which involves the relative distribution of absolute power, isanathema at the dinner table and workplace because it results in arguments, hard feelings, and violence. Furthermore, many folks are just too busy working, taking care of kids, and watchingthe games to devote much time to researching the qualifications and conduct of the people whohold sway over the future of their families, so they leave that to the experts who rule according totheir prejudices and biases.The City of Miami Beach, like 77% of cities in the nation, conducts its elections on a nonpartisan basis as if it should not matter whether the candidates are Republicans, Democrats, or otherwise.That means the ballot itself does not state what parties the candidates belong to, therefore theelectorate, largely uninformed about most if not all the candidates, does not have the minimum benefit of knowing from the ballot what their basic political ideals are supposed to be. Nonpartisan elections are a consequence of the movement in the 20s towards running cities like businesses, or nonpolitically, because it was believed that filling a pothole has nothing to do with political parties. But it certainly does. A city official told me that the plan to have the policedepartment’s internal affairs unit investigate complaints of misconduct against all city officials,not just police officers, was put on hold for the nonpolitical reason that there was no budget for the additional resources needed. But the reason for no budget allocation is political. Theinspector general has declined to service the city, and there is only one cop in the corruptioninvestigations unit, and he is assigned to task with the F.B.I., with its limited resources, so wemust patiently await the next arrest of a few miscreants over whom there is little or no oversight.The City of Miami Beach also adopted the weak mayor, strong city manager form of government, recommended by reformers in the 20s to curb corruption and take politics out of city administration. The city manager is hypothetically like a business CEO subject to generaldirection of a part-time board of directors, the city commission, on which the mayor, a glorified commissioner, sits as a chairperson with no power of veto. So the city manager, who is supposed to be a nonpolitical business manager, and who is really the most powerful city official of all, isnot even elected. How democratic is that? Kansas City Boss Tom Pendergast lauded the reformwhen it came to pass in his city, claiming that it made his job easier. It was indeed easy for himat the time to install his own councilmen and city manager.Jimmy Morales, Miami Beach’s current city manager, is a professional lawyer and politician. Hereplaced Jorge Gonzalez, a professional city manager. Gonzalez was suddenly forced intoretirement after fourteen years by a faux opposition on the commission spearheaded byCommissioner Jonah Wolfson, who most strongly objected to the former manager’s negotiationwith a development company for construction of what would be the grandest convention center in the country. Gonzales was soon hired as city manager by the City of Bal Harbour, where realestate development is also thriving. Wolfson, after endorsing sitting commissioner Góngora for mayor, switched his allegiance to Levine, a wealthy developer who has his own ideas and developers for the project. Levine said he looks forward to working with Morales. Perhaps ahandful of people really understand what is going on with the project. Others, who have heard about it but have not had the time nor will to consider the details, say that whatever happens will be business as usual, i.e. traditional corruption.