HOMEWEBSITE.html
SERIESCRESPOGRAM_SERIES_-_MASTER.html
LINKS2012_LINKS.html
2013 ARCHIVES2013_ARCHIVES.html
DOCUMENTSDOCUMENTS.html
CONTACT ME2012_CONTACT_INFO.html
 OLD ARCHIVESOLDER_ARCHIVES.html
CRESPOGRAM REPORT

SEPTEMBER 23, 2013

LOOKING FOR THE $10 MILLION DOLLAR PONY
THE MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT IS IN REAL TROUBLE, BUT COMMISSIONER “ETHICS” SARNOFF, THE CHIEF OF POLICE AND THE OTHER DWARFS ON THE COMMISSION HAVE BEEN PLAYING A GAME OF THREE-CARD-MONTY WITH THE TAXPAYERS THAT DOESN’T BODE WELL FOR THE SAFETY OF THE CITY

PAGE LINK - COPY AND PASTE

Copy the link below, and it will be a permanent link to this page that you can post on Facebook, or anywhere else.

There are any number of reasons for why Commissioner “Ethics” Sarnoff chose to make the staffing problems of the Miami Police Department “his” issue over the last year or so, but given the fact that the Commissioner’s entire political career has been fabricated on one lie after another, starting with the false claims about an illustrious grandfather who wasn’t, and moving on to numerous documented falsehoods and just outright lies, anytime that he opens his mouth on an issue folks really need to pay close attention, because what he says isn’t always what he means, or for that matter the claims that he makes aren’t necessarily based on the reality of the situation that he’s talking about.


Miami’s Chief of Police Manny Orosa is also no stranger when it comes to saying things that aren’t true and to providing testimony someone else wants him to say as evidenced by my recent stories about his testimony under oath in the Frank Carollo ethics case.


So when you have Commissioner “Ethics” touting a plan to get an extra $9-10 million dollars from the taxpayers to provide funding to hire as many as 100 new policemen - a feat that everyone with any knowledge agrees cannot realistically happen in the next few years - and a Greek Chorus of folks from Coconut Grove shows up at City Hall who’ve never before demonstrated that they even knew the directions of how to get there - then people really need to pay attention, because this is Miami, Bitches! and the clueless have often been led down the Primrose Path by people with hidden agendas.


But before we get to all of those machinations, lets deal with some facts that I think most reasonable people with some knowledge of the issues will agree with.


The Miami Police Department is in serious trouble! They have a lot of troubles but the one that’s gotten the most attention recently is that they only have not managed to recruit enough new officers during recent years to deal with normal attrition, but over the next 24-36 months as many as 300 officers and senior staff will be leaving as part of retirement and the DROP which will result in a real manpower shortage for the department.


In addition, the department suffers, like many major departments do from a gradual loss of new officers, who once they gain some experience look to go to calmer, safer police departments, as well as those who are currently looking for employment with other departments rather than continue to put up with the politics, low pay, lack of benefits and bad morale that now permeates the MPD.


Some would argue that money is the single, if not only reason that the department has these problem, but money is only part of a larger series of problems that have beset the department under the administration of Tomas Regalado.  As the Mayor, Regalado is allowed to choose who he wants to be the Chief of Police, and he has chosen badly.  Therefore, he bears the ultimate blame for the problems that now focus everyone’s attention on the department.


I was actually surprised while reviewing the video of the last Commission meeting to discover that one of the speakers, a former Executive Recruiter named Sam Debrow, was so readily able to discern, from the comments of the people at City Hall that day, including approximately 200 police officers, what some of these problems were.


Here is Mr. Debrow providing his professional opinion on the low and the on-going implications for the department.

As just one of a number of examples of how the politicization of the department has occurred, consider how local art dealer Gary Nadar famously explained to the Miami Herald last January, when questioned over why he thought it was okay for the Miami Police Department to provide him with 24/7 ON DUTY police protection for free, said:


            “It was a gentlemen’s agreement,” said Nader. 

            “This exhibit would not be here without the help

            of the mayor and the police chief.  They under-

            stand the importance of art for a city.”


You’ll notice that Gary Nadar didn’t mention the City Manager being part of this gentlemen’s agreement. That’s because Johnny “The Doormat” Martinez was all too happy to sit back and let the management of the city become a process where “gentlemen’s agreements” superseded his authority. (You can read PART I and PART II of that story.)


This deal represents a violation of the City Charter.  Everyone in city government knows that the City Manager - especially during the tenure of Johnny Martinez - was that the City Manager was little more than a figurehead that allowed the city departments to be influenced and ordered around directly by the Mayor and Commissioners.


The politicization of the Miami Police Department by the actions of the Mayor and the City Commissioners, more than a lack of funds, is what is at the core of the problems that now beset that department.


The politicization of a government agency, especially a police department, results in its resources being syphoned off to accommodate the wants and needs of politicians regardless of the cost or damage to the city at large, which eventually leads to a failure to adequately deal with the issues of crime in the community.


If you were reading the stories on this website back in early 2011, then you’ll recall that I wrote then about the fight between former Chief Exposition and the Mayor over the police department having to provide $84,000 worth of off-duty police security for the 3 Kings Parade, because the Mayor wanted to suck up to his pals at Univision Radio and promised them that they wouldn’t have to pay for police security for their parade.


Nor was he shy in getting the police department to eat the $10,000 plus in police costs provided for Gloria Estefan’s Women In White protest rally that also took place that year.


These actions also represented violations of the City Charter, abuse of power and the failure to secure City Commission approval for un-budgeted expenditures. (My original story about this, with the documents, including emails can be found HERE.)


Professional management of a city like Miami calls for the equitable allocation of resources and accountability, but this has always been anathema within the political culture of Miami where favoritism, cronyism and back-room dealing-making are the favored way in which government services and resources are allocated and expended.


To further understand the kinds of problems created because of gross incompetence and political interference, the department is currently facing a crisis because of a lack of Sergeants and Lieutenants who constitute the department’s middle-management. There hasn’t been an exam for either of these ranks in years. The Sergeant’s list used for promotions supposedly expires at the end of the month.


The Lieutenant’s list is so outdated that the word came out several days ago that the Chief will soon be appointing 12 Lieutenants from a “Temporary List” of Sergeants who have already announced their intention to resign through the DROP, so as to minimize the costs.


These appointments, like all of the appointments made during Regalado’s term as Mayor, are not being made on merit or as a result of an open and fair process, but on political expediency with the consequence that at least some of these appointments will be based solely on favoritism.


It’s against this background that the current struggle over the problem of hiring more police is being playing out.


To deal with some of the other issues, let’s explore them one at a time. 


THE DEPARTMENT’S FAILURE TO RECRUIT AND TRAIN NEW OFFICERS IN ITS ACADEMY


At the last Commission meeting Commissioner Frank Carollo towards the end of the meeting stated, “Every single year that I’ve been here we have budgeted for x number of officers and we never get them.”


That’s true, but why hasn’t it happened?


Why hasn’t the Miami Police Department been able to reach their recruitment goals, especially since back in October of 2009, the City of Miami Police Department opened a $35,400,000 Police College and Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial High School Academy that provided the location for the Police Department’s Training Academy.


In the almost 4 years that have passed since the building was dedicated and the Academy went into operation, I was able to obtain records that showed that total of 254 individuals entered the program, yet only 23 became Miami Police officers.

If you exclude PAC #98 class, where the class was made up of Miami Police Department recruits, the number of individuals who chose, or were hired to become Miami Police Officers was 12, or approximately 3 individuals per year.


To get a better understanding of what this really means, here are the complete records of every class, naming each individual and where each one who completed the program went to work after graduation. 


The individuals who show a blank for whatever reason either chose not to seek employment with a police department, or were not hired.

The conclusion from these records is that for whatever reason the Miami Police Department’s Training Academy ran a program where the overwhelming majority of graduates chose to go and work for other police departments.


How does that make any sense in light of the current problems the department has with vacancies, and more importantly, what does it say for the leadership of the department that this was allowed to occur without any steps taken in the later part of 2012 and the early part of this year to correct this imbalance?  


How can a police department run its own police academy and run a program that trains new police officers for other police departments, and not its own?


As it is, one of the solutions that the department has taken is to turn a blind eye to the caliber of some of its recruits which resulted in an anonymous letter being widely circulated recently that detailed the less than stellar exploits of two recruits that should never have been hired.


For those who haven’t read that letter, I urge you strongly to take the time to read it and comprehend what the information reveals about how your safety might be affected if you end up with one of these new cops coming to your aid.  The letter is HERE.


THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE (FOP)


The problems with the contract negotiations during the time of the Regalado administration have been legion. If any one thing could be identified as the cause of low morale within the department, then this is it.


It’s telling that in a recent article that appeared on the website of a well known, right-wing political website called NEWSMAX, the mayor described his administration’s dealings with the city’s unions this way:


        "We broke all the contracts with the union, created

        [new] contracts with salary reductions, and capped

        the pensions at $100,000, because in the city of

        Miami, you had [young] people retiring with $150,000,

        $140,000 per year for life. [In Miami] ... firefighters

        and police officers retired young," Regalado, a former

        broadcast journalist, says of the bitter fight and

        lawsuit he weathered.”


Now whether or not the contracts were “broken” or whether in the case of the FOP, the union leadership played a part in selling out their members because of the friendship between Regalado and former FOP President Armando Aguilar, is relevant to the fact that many FOP members hold a grudge against both the city and Javier Ortiz, who took over after Aguilar decided not to run for reelection last year for the damage done to them by these contracts.


The outcome of this over the last three years has poisoned relationships between the and the rank and file and the Chief and his senior staff, the union members and the Mayor, and many within the FOP and their President Ortiz.


It is not good either for the residents of the city, nor for the department when the men and women who put their life on the line everyday feel that they’ve been treated badly. Putting aside the normal grousing that occurs in organizations like police departments, the resentments within the rank and file of the Miami Police Department runs deep, and the poison has leeched its way into the fabric of the department that cannot necessarily be corrected just by giving the cops more money.


To add insult to injury, and no matter how legitimate their claim for more money for salaries and benefits might be, the FOP union’s leadership has managed to do irreparable harm to their cause, to the police department and to the city by the release of 2 TV commercials encouraging potential police recruits to ignore the City of Miami and find a job with another department.

It is hard to fathom how any union leadership would decide to produce and release these TV commercials without understanding at some level their potential damage to their department, and to the long-term safety of his city. 


Rather than helping the recruitment process, the FOP engaged in an activity designed to hurt the process at a critical time, yet as a reward FOP President Javier Ortiz  wants the city to take money away from other departments and services to undo the damages that occurred to his members as the result of his negotiating tactics.


Understandably, there are other folks within city government who aren’t too happy about that, because they see themselves, their departments and the services they provide being thrown under the bus if the money to cover this $10 million demand comes from their departments.


THE COCONUT GROVE FOLKS SHOWED UP


I’ve been writing about The City of Miami since 2010, and during that time I have on more than one occasion written about the failure of folks in general, and especially folks in Coconut Grove failing to pay attention to the happenings at City Hall. Especially for failing to show up at City Hall for the budget hearings.


Well, they finally did. 


Led by a political consultant named Fernand Amandi, who  was referred to as a “Grove activist,” a group of good folks from the Grove came prepared to demand more police protection.


These good folks were pissed, and they all lined up and talked about the need to support the police and demanded that the money be found to increase the pay of existing officers and to hire more police. 


Several of them shared their experiences of being burglarized, or having their bike’s stolen.


Almost all of them came with that special expectation that a lot of folks in the Grove develop over time that even though they had never before bothered to care about what occurred at City Hall, now that they and their neighbors had become victims of burglaries, or had their bikes stolen, their demands for more police protection required immediate attention.


Their concerns were real, and so was their anger, but at the same time over the last 4 years none of these fine folks seem to have bothered to spend much time in acquainting themselves with how their city was being run, nor had any of these folks ever expressed much, if any public concern for other folks in Miami who live in areas where everyone and everything from little kids to old people to the neighborhood dog gets shot with an alarming regularity.


I guess it never occurred to these folks that one of the ways crime migrates from poor to rich communities is that if you let it flourish in the poor communities, the criminals will get emboldened and decide in their own Darwinian way, to go to try their hand in neighborhoods where the swag is better.


Even then, folks in affluent communities never bother to think about that relationship even after they’ve discovered that the burglars went through their stash of porn and stole their fancy coffee maker. Then the only thing they care about is demanding that more police come and protect them.


As for those poor folks, well, it’s too bad that they’re being robbed with far more frequency along with being shot and killed, but that’s THEIR problem.


The idea of community for a lot of people, both rich and poor seems to wane when things happen beyond the end of their street or their little neighborhood. 


Now, I understand all that, and since I don’t live in Coconut Grove there will be people who will be quick to say, ‘Hey, fuck you, you don’t live here or pay taxes here, so shut the fuck up!’


Touche.


But before anyone gets too carried away with indignation, you might be interested to know that Johnny Martinez, the City Manager, DOESN’T live in Miami.


Assistant City Managers Alice Bravo and Luis Cabrera - although he lists his Momma’s address - DON’T live in Miami.


Miami Police Chief Manny Orosa, DOESN’T live in Miami.


Most of the cops and firemen who work for the City of Miami DON’T live in Miami.


A whole bunch of Miami City employees DON’T live in Miami.


In fact, I suspect if they could pull it off, some of the City Commissioners wouldn’t live in Miami.


Residence doesn’t count for all that much when it comes to Miami. Miami is as much state-of-mind and an illusion created by pop culture as it is a real bricks and mortar place.


So, even though I DON’T live in Miami, I believe I have as much right as all those other people who DON’T live in Miami to write and talk and criticize what goes on in Miami.  I have after all contributed in my own small way to the pop culture illusion over the years as a producer of TV commercials and music videos that featured the city as a supporting player.


Because I don’t live in Miami, it also makes it easier for me to say some of the uncomfortable things that folks who do live in Miami don’t feel free or comfortable saying, like responding to the comments about the self-absorbed, entitlement attitude of some of the fine folks who live in Coconut Grove.


The first thing I’d like to say in regard to that is where were ALL OF YOU concerned folks on July 25th, when the City Commission met to decide on the tax milage required to create a budget?


That was the meeting when you could have actually made a difference, or at least been relevant to the political process that resulted in the setting of the tax milage for this budget?


Of course, one of the ironies that often comes when folks show up demanding that government provide more cops, or more firemen, or more of anything thing else is that very few of these same folks want to face the realities or seriously discuss how these services get paid for.  


The City of Miami for the last 4 years has been under the grip of a weak Mayor who was hell-bent, at whatever the costs to the long-term health of the city, wanted to be able to claim when he ran for reelection that he had lowered taxes every year he had been Mayor, even if that reduction was only measured in pennies.


Therefore, back on July 25th, when the City Commission met to set the tax milage, that’s when all of you fine folks from Coconut Grove should have shown up, raised your voices and stamped your feet to demand that the city made sure they had the financial resources needed to cover the costs associated with professional and competent police protection and all the other services that the citizens of a major American city expect from their local government.


None of you folks did that, but now, AFTER the milage was set, and AFTER the budget was created you stroll in wanting $10 million to be immediately found to pay for more police because someone stole your bike or broke in your house.


Now, no way do I wish to minimize the impact of those crimes on the folks who were the victims, but what’s happening to you now has been happening to folks in other parts of the City for a long, long time and nobody from your part of town gave much of a rat’s ass when those folks were  showing up at City Hall looking for help.


If the truth be told, more than a few of you have always been ready to object to collecting or spending more tax money to solve those problems when they were occurring in other parts of the city.


I know that in my travels through the city I’ve come across a lot of folks who would sympathize with your crime problems but who could tell you of their own crime problems; the blood in the streets; the kids who are afraid to sleep in the dark, and of all the other terrible and horrible things that happen in Miami on an almost daily basis, and ask you why you hadn’t bothered to show any concern or interest in getting the City Commission to do something about those problems


Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not some pinko, lefty commie, I believe that folks from the Grove, or the Upper Eastside, or Little Havana or any other part of Miami have every right to go before the City Commission and make demands anytime they want, and if you succeed, then  good for you.


At the same time however, someone needs to point out that if what you want - and wanting more cops, and better paid cops is not a bad thing in and of itself - but if in order to accomplish your goal other folks and other parts of the city get hurt by depriving them of other needed services just to make you happy, then that’s not necessarily a smart thing to do in the way you want to do it.


Cops have the most dangerous jobs in local government, followed by the firemen, so they deserve to make a respectable salary to compensate them for the risks they take, and given the screwing they got over the last 3 years, they should be at the front of the line.  No question.


But there are a lot of other city employees who also got screwed over the last 3 years, and a lot of services that got cut that also deserve to be treated fairly.


To take $9 or $10 million from a budget already hamstrung by an inadequate tax milage rate in order to give it all to the Miami Police Department is neither fair, nor even smart.


If you watched the little video clip above, then you heard the Executive Recruiter guy, Sam Debrow, say that even from his limited perspective, solving the problems of the Miami Police Department would take more than just money.


He was absolutely right!


The sad part is that the biggest change that needs to take place is to get rid of the Mayor who hired the Chief of Police who become a very big part of the problem.  But unfortunately that’s not going to happen.


The problems with the police department today starts with this Chief. There were plenty of problems that he inherited when he became Chief, but he hasn’t done much to make things better, and in fact, many would argue that he’s made them a lot worse.


IN CONCLUSION


So here are the problems as I see them.


Tomas Regalado, is an incompetent Mayor whose lack of management experience and Tammany Hall behavior in turning a blind eye to the wholesale corruption and undermining of the repeated appointment of weak City Managers, has done irreparable harm to the City.


Manuel Orosa, a Chief of Police, who never should have been allowed to stay on the police force after he testified against his fellow officers in the Leonardo Mercardo case, much less allowed to rise through the ranks to become Chief, should be replaced ASAP.


The command staff under Orosa, comprised of officers with months, or at best a few years left before they retire should be weeded out, and replaced with a younger, more competent group of professional managers.


Javier Ortiz, the current leader of the Fraternal Order of Police who with former FOP President Armando Aguilar, sold his membership down the river when he thought it was in his best interests to make nice with the Mayor, and who is the Poster for, what a bad cop looks like is a divisive and untrustworthy leader and the FOP morale will never really improve as long as he remains the President.


Marc Sarnoff, who made the issue of increasing the number of police officers “”his issue a year ago, but who conveniently didn’t try to rally all those fine Coconut Grove folks to show up at City Hall on July 25th, when he was stage-managing his speech on the need to increase the tax milage in order to pay for the needed increase in police, was then, as always playing both ends against the middle.


While Sarnoff talked the talk, but he was very careful to make sure to position himself as the lonely champion outvoted by his colleagues when it came to voting on increasing the milage. Don’t believe me, go watch the video of the meeting.


While his support for more cops is probably real, he alone among the Commissioners understood the political realities and has made this issue part of a long-term strategy to position himself as a defender of law enforcement regardless of the outcome.  It’s all part of his long range plans to run for another office. Never underestimate Sarnoff’s deviousness or his long-term planning skills.


And then there’s the officers in the Miami Police Department who’ve been jerked around by both the politicians and by their union leadership, and who rightfully feel abused, unappreciated, and screwed by all of these people. Some will leave for other departments. Some will feel angry at being trapped and will continue to contribute to the bad morale, but hopefully the majority will try to do the best that they can in spite of all the bullshit.


The bigger problem for them and the police department is what comes next. Unless the politicization of the department is reigned in and a professional Chief and senior staff is brought in, all the money in the world will not make any real difference in reducing crime on the streets. 


The lowering of standards cited in the anonymous letter I provided a link to above, are but the tip of future problems for the city, the department, and for the officers who will be forced to work and depend on these unqualified new hires for their safety.


Lastly, there are all the irate citizens who have a legitimate right to be upset about an increase in crime in their neighborhoods, whether it be Coconut Grove or Liberty City, but who are clueless as to who is really to blame, or to understand the real workings and problems related to the management of their police department. 


Things are never as simple as some folks would like, and all of these folks too bear some of the blame and responsibility for what has happened. They voted for Regalado and Sarnoff and the other nitwits on the City Commission, and now they are reaping the results of the incompetence, political cowardice and cronyism that these people brought with them to City Hall.


What has happened to now regarding the problems with the police has been equal parts ignorance, political interference and a failure of responsible leadership.


Will things change, and change for the better?  Probably not.  Too many people have a vested interested in keeping things the way they are, and the only possible good news, in a bizarre kind of way would be the replacement of Manual Orosa with Luis Cabrera as the Chief of Police next year.  That could end up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back and force the US Justice Department to come in with both feet to supervise the department.


It will be interesting to see what happens at the next Commission meeting, and where in the budget the $10 million that some believe will solve all of their problems will come from.


It’s Miami, Bitches!

So if a guy can come off the streets, sit in the Commission Chambers for an hour and figure out that the problems in the police department extend beyond an issue of money, then why haven’t all the rocket scientists at City Hall been able to figure it out too?


It’s simple, many of them are also part of the problem.  In fact, it’s the Mayor, the members of the City Commission and a spineless City Manager who are really responsible for the problems that now beset the police department.


Those problems all begin with the politicization of the Miami Police Department that has occurred during the Regalado administration by both the Mayor and the members of the City Commission who have repeatedly violated the City Charter in their effort to have the Chief and the department do what each of them wants.


You cannot minimize this issue, and you only need to watch the Chief of Police, under oath in this little piece of video from the Frank Carollo ethics hearing describing how he deals with the members of the Commission to appreciate what a problem this has become.