What concerns him most, Kearson says, is that his union chose to investigate a dues-paying member. It smacks of a deal between union president Cox and both Cesar Odio and Miller Dawkins, he asserts. "For the union to spend funds -- my funds -- to investigate me is ridiculous. When I called Cox to complain about it, he told me that I was stepping on a few toes [when I went after Charles Dawkins]." (Neither Dawkins nor Odio could be reached for comment.)
There is almost no way Dawkins or Odio could have influenced the union's decision to represent Charles Dawkins or to investigate Kearson, Cox counters. The union didn't support Dawkins in the commissioner's last two elections, he points out. And as long as he is union head, Odio can't fire him for any reason. (A supervisor in the Division of Property Maintenance, Cox receives his city salary even though he works exclusively for the union. His sole responsibility is to his union members, who have expressed their confidence by retaining him as union president eight years in a row.)
Cox admits that he did spend "a few thousand dollars" tracking Kearson's work habits. But he claims to have spent far more union money defending city employees that Kearson tried to have dismissed. "I was forced to spend the money to investigate him because he was harassing so many of my members. I didn't have a choice."
Unlike the other fired staffers, Casta*eda has the option of returning to work for the city, though not at the management level. Should he go back, he would take close to a 30 percent pay cut from the $98,700 he earned as director of the Community Development Department. Odio has given Casta*eda 21 days to decide whether he wants to return to the city. Casta*eda says he plans to take all 21 days before making a decision.
Charles Dawkins could not be reached for comment for this story. On December 4, he appeared before the city's civil service board. Speaking through his union-appointed attorney, Dawkins leveled abuse-of-power charges against Casta*eda and Kearson, claiming that his transfer to Beckham Hall was a form of punishment that stymied his chances of advancing through the City of Miami bureaucracy. Earlier, in a letter to the board, his lawyer argued that City Commissioner Miller Dawkins has often clashed with Kearson and Casta*eda, and that the two former employees "embarked on a program of vengeance by interfering in Mr. Charles Dawkins's employment with the City."
The board voted unanimously to investigate the incident.
Kearson is certain the conclusion will be in his favor. "This man can't keep a job in the city," says Kearson, who intends to appeal his dismissal before the board. "Nobody wants him, but nobody can fire him.