An Uneasy Alliance

The real story behind Alex Penelas's secret dealings with Republicans

The resignation last week of County Manager Merrett Stierheim was the opening salvo in this long campaign. Although rumors persist that Stierheim was forced to resign, I believe he was smart enough to see what lay ahead. He knew that Penelas, having won re-election, no longer needed him. The mayor hired Stierheim as a way of gaining credibility in the Anglo community, but thanks to Elian he lost that credibility forever. His only concern now is keeping Cuban Americans happy, since they're the only reason he is in office today.

As the civic discourse shifts to creation of a strong-mayor form of government, it is almost certain to include charges that the county manager has been ineffective. Why else would a change be necessary?

Rather than stick around and risk having his good name besmirched, Stierheim left on his own terms. Penelas may feign a national search to replace the manager, but ultimately he'll choose someone in Miami-Dade County he can control, creating the next best thing to a strong-mayor government.

At least until he and Lacasa can dine together again and plan their next moves.

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