By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
When Shiver was appointed county manager, he immediately tapped Hebert to come along with him. "I have strong confidence in his abilities," Shiver says. "I know that when I ask him to do something, it gets done."
I first encountered Hebert about a month ago, when Shiver and I met for lunch. Hebert had driven him to the restaurant. Now, of course, it's somewhat amusing to know that the Miami-Dade County Manager was being chauffeured by a man who didn't have a valid driver license. State motor-vehicle records show Hebert's license was suspended on October 26, 1998. During an interview this past Friday, March 30, he offered this explanation: "I had a speeding ticket in Broward County that I thought my wife had paid. She didn't. It was a clerical error on her part."
I reminded Hebert that it wasn't just one ticket in Broward that had gone unpaid but rather two speeding tickets in Broward in 1999 and another in Monroe County in 1998.
"Exactly," he replied. "That has been rectified and taken care of."
"So you're saying you thought your wife had taken care of all three tickets over the years?"
Hebert's responsibilities at the county remain vague. He says he's been busy working on a variety of projects. "Pretty much a little bit of everything," he told me this past Friday. "United Way stuff. Ericcson [tennis tournament] stuff. Ahh, what else? There is a lot of paperwork I've been doing, too. Reading paperwork, routing the mail, taking tours with Mr. Shiver to get a general knowledge of how the county works. I just found out I am going to be a junior assistant for Tom David."
Hebert insists he did undergo a physical exam and drug test before beginning his new job. He says he was shocked to learn last week that reporters were pursuing false allegations he may have been arrested in the past for cocaine possession. "I've never done any drugs," he affirmed. "I've never used cocaine or marijuana. I'm a country boy from Homestead. I like Jack Daniels and NASCAR."
While the media have been raising questions about Hebert's required physical exam and drug test, his boss, the county manager, has gone eight weeks since his appointment without fulfilling the same county employment requirement. This past Sunday Shiver told me he was forced to cancel the procedures because of scheduling conflicts. Initially he made it seem as though the physical exam had been planned for the same day as a funeral for a veteran police officer, but he later admitted the funeral had taken place a day or two earlier. "Everything just got bumped around," he said.
Though I realized there was no artful way to approach the subject, I still felt compelled to ask Shiver if he had used any illegal drugs in the past few years. "I'm not going to go into that," he answered. "We've got too much work at hand." He did acknowledge it was a relevant issue, and that as manager he should be held to the highest standard of conduct. But he refused to respond to any questions about possible drug use in his recent past. "I'm not going to go there," he snapped.