Smooth Operator

Personal financial embarrassments and allegations of sexual impropriety have done nothing to spoil Derrick Miller's political fortunes in Opa-locka

"I've called Derrick whenever I've had a major problem," the mother continued. "For the past three or four Christmases I don't have nothing to give my kids because I'm on low income and disabled or whatever. Derrick has always come through for me, and not only for me but for a lot of families. For the dinner on Thanksgiving, for the dinner on Christmas. Derrick is such a humane person. He is the only person I have met who gives things unconditionally. He doesn't expect nothing in return. And I'm telling you right now, my three kids are teenagers just like Jenny. I got twin girls who are fifteen and a son who is sixteen, and I have let all three of my kids get in the car with Derrick and go out with Derrick, and never has any of my daughters said that he touched her or nothing.

"And my two daughters are way -- I'm talking way -- prettier than Jenny. They're way more developed. My daughters look like models compared to Jenny."

The mother said Miller had stopped by recently and had mentioned that a New Times reporter was trying to reach him. She told New Times she would call Miller and try to convince him to telephone the paper. He never did.

Yolanda Mercado and daughter Jenny have yet to hear from the police
Steve Satterwhite
Yolanda Mercado and daughter Jenny have yet to hear from the police

Last week the Opa-locka City Commission held an emergency meeting to deal with yet another financial crisis. Faced with a massive budget deficit, new city manager Newall Daughtrey proposed laying off 35 employees and reducing the city's work week by five hours for all retained employees. Derrick Miller attended the meeting. Before Daughtrey presented his report, Miller led the commission in prayer, asking the Lord to guide the government "through these turbulent times." After the meeting he politely declined to discuss the Jenny Caba case, the Sandra Doughlin complaint, his financial records, the firing of Tony Robinson, or anything else.

"I'm in counseling now, and my counselors and my attorneys and God have all advised me to sort of stay away from the newspapers, if you can understand what I'm saying," he imparted with a smile. "A lot was crashing down in my life all at once, so I needed to get some counseling. I'd love to talk to you, but I've been told that I shouldn't."

Miller added that he is about to start publishing his own newspaper, concentrating exclusively on good news in Opa-locka.

Despite repeated inquiries over the course of a month, no one in the Opa-locka Police Department would disclose to New Times the status of the Jenny Caba investigation, much less the department's findings. Even Yolanda Mercado has been unsuccessful in her attempts to obtain copies of the police reports generated by her complaint.

Derrick Miller has so far successfully defended himself against the sexual-harassment charges brought by Sandra Doughlin. Last June the Florida Ethics Commission cleared him of "charges that he misused his official position to obtain sexual favors from a city employee," according to a commission press release. According to Doughlin, Miller also has successfully defended himself against a complaint she filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Opa-locka City Commission has voted to spend up to $10,000 to cover Miller's legal fees.

Jenny: "He drives one of those yellow cop cars. I've been seeing him pass by every day. He never used to pass by here. Now I don't go outside until I have to."

Jenny's younger brother Julio: "He passes by every morning."

Yolanda Mercado: "Tony [Robinson] is a real nice guy. He knows what's going on. I look at it this way: [Miller] knows that Tony knows something. That's why he threw Tony out, you know? Tony wanted to clean up Opa-locka.

"I bet this guy is laughing. ďHa ha, they can't do anything about it.' I bet any money he's laughing."

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