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
$50,000 News Flash! Cops Are Cranky
Filed under: News
Results from a Miami Police Department "work climate" study are in, and it suffices to say the men and women who patrol the streets aren't too happy with the department's top brass.
According to the survey, 64 percent "of those who were interviewed said they were mistreated at work, and 60 percent indicated they experienced some level of conflict" with management. "Disrespect," the survey continues, "is further perceived as a workplace challenge emanating from the offices of the Chief [John Timoney] and Deputy Chief [Frank Fernandez], and others in senior management."
The officers don't like Timoney? Shocker! Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the chief feels he's above the law, what with the way he's ignored for months the Civilian Investigative Panel's subpoenas to testify over the use of a Lexus given to him by a local car dealership.
The survey, which cost the city $50,000, garnered the participation of just 22 percent of the department's sworn officers for its "confidential" questioning. (That tells you something right there.) A majority of those officers said the workplace "lacked respect and dignity" and that too much emphasis is placed on statistics (ha!) rather than service to the community.
Nothing like stating the obvious. City leaders will undoubtedly find a positive spin on the results; we can hear them now: "Hey, at least a majority of officers said they liked and respected their immediate supervisors, like the sergeants and lieutenants."
But the words of one anonymous post on a law enforcement discussion website says it all: "OK so what did this survey accomplish? It put 50K in the pocket of [Champion, the survey company] and it put on paper what we have known for years. How is it going to change things? Well that's easy — it won't! [Timoney and Fernandez] will use the report to wipe their butts the next time they use their private bathrooms." — Tamara Lush
Killing Time on Your Dime
Filed under: News
From 7:30 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. every weekday for the past month, Beatrice Coldros has reported to a cool, quiet room in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools' Region III office in Miami Springs. Once she gets there, the pretty thirtysomething guidance counselor spends her workday doing anything but work. Lately she has passed the time reading Oprah Winfrey's most recent book club selection, Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose.
Coldros is one of 17 teachers, counselors, and nonadministrative school employees who are being investigated for alleged misconduct and were exiled from their jobs.
In Coldros's case, she ran into trouble with Palm Springs Middle School Principal Melissa Wolin, who supervised Coldros for four years before the guidance counselor transferred to Westview Middle School last summer. After Wolin filed a complaint questioning her mental fitness, Coldros was banished from Westview. "Every year she wanted to know when I was transferring or leaving," Coldros says. Wolin could not be reached for comment.
Coldros's predicament is a microcosm of the school district's screwed-up bureaucracy: employees essentially being paid to sit on their hands. They even get their full, one-hour lunch break. Some have been there for almost the entire school year. Meanwhile budgets are being slashed.
Patrick Williams, a language arts teacher at William H. Turner Technical Arts High School ("Good Teacher, Bad Principal," November 8, 2007), was ordered here last October, after his principal accused him of harassment (without proof). "I just watch DVDs," he says, "or read books."
On a recent weekday visit, Riptide saw one detainee concentrating on circling letters in his word search puzzle book, with an Uno card deck and Sudoku book also on hand. Behind him, a heavy-set woman with short black hair munched on a Miami Subs pita.
Riptide's stay was cut short when Regional Superintendent George Nuñez entered the room. With a $142,771 annual salary, Nuñez is an exclusive member of the school district's $100K club, a group of 400-plus school administrators making six-figure salaries.
"You know you're not supposed to be here during work hours," Nuñez huffed as he escorted Riptide to the door.
"Well, they're not actually working, are they?" Riptide pointed out. Nuñez angrily refused further comment. If Riptide had its way, Nuñez would be placed in teacher detention — without pay. — Francisco Alvarado
Withering in Wynwood
It sucks to bring bad news to a park. But in Wynwood, folks have come to expect it.
Two teens sitting near basketball courts at Roberto Clemente Park last week shook their heads at the latest blow delivered by the City of Miami: The park won't be getting the extra million-plus that city Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and other officials promised to build a bigger center and a gym ("Nail the Neighborhoods," February 7).
"They wonder why there's youth crime," says 17-year-old Javontate Richardson, who is studying to be a computer technician. "They ain't got nowhere to go."
Richardson and his 18-year-old friend Devon Gee, president of the park's Teen Leadership Club, have grown up at the park along NW First Avenue. They're tired of seeing the community center shuttered — as it has been for three years. The city has lagged in making improvements needed to reopen it.
In December, officials promised to build a better center with $1.8 million already set aside. Then they whetted Wynwood's appetite by pledging to find an extra $2 million.
Over the past two months, during community meetings organized by Miami en Acción, city officials have broken those vows, shaving off 3,000 square feet from the promised 10,000-square-foot center. "They don't want to invest in a low-income community. The new plan is an insult," says Saraí Portillo, an organizer with the community group.
Sarnoff tells Riptide he might have tapped a private contributor to chip in $400,000 to build a library and learning center at the park.
Gee and Richardson think the city doesn't care about people like them or their neighborhood. "This part," Gee says, pointing at the forlorn park around him, "it's like it's missing." — Janine Zeitlin