The Autocrat

Some say Miami Beach's Jose Garca-Pedrosa is a strong city manager. Others tend to employ more colorful language.

Micky Wolfson was out of town and could not be reached for comment about the matter. Wolfsonian interim director Cathy Leff declined to comment.

Sighs the city manager: "This city is very tough to manage. I've learned that sometimes people say or write one thing and then say something else to a commissioner. And you have two commissioners [Liebman and Susan Gottlieb] who ran on platforms that they would be commissioners full-time, so they are always here micromanaging the city. It's difficult to manage successfully."

The mayor, who insists that he is no Garcia-Pedrosa acolyte, says he's certain his city manager wasn't employing any strong-arm tactics regarding the Wolfsonian. "It almost borders on criminal to make that accusation," Gelber bristles. "I think it is outrageous. This guy does his job. I think he's honest and honorable."

The mayor is not alone in his support. As Garcia-Pedrosa nears his second anniversary of service with the city, he has begun to pick up endorsements from people who initially were critical of his style. On Ocean Drive some influential proprietors admit the manager is growing more flexible. "I think he has been moving in a different direction," offers Mark Soyka, owner of the popular News Cafe. "[At first] he bombarded the public with a lot of changes that generated a lot of resistance. He did come on strong and with kind of an agenda. I sense some changes in the last few months. I feel that he's reaching out to listen. We all share the same vision. I feel that this period is definitely a beginning and we're working on it. Let's see if we can get together and work out our differences."

Adds Gerald Schwartz: "Garcia-Pedrosa may rankle a couple of people because he is strong. When you have a strong-manager form of city government, you can't cry foul whenever somebody acts like a strong city manager. And he is a strong city manager. He can stand the heat, so he doesn't have to get out of the kitchen.

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