Ex-Mayor Manny Diaz's New Book Is Full of Lies

On opening night of Miami Book Fair International in October, former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz scored the gig of the weekend: interviewing Tom Wolfe onstage about his new Miami-set novel, Back to Blood. Before a packed house of power players and literary cognoscenti, Diaz set himself up as an independent thinker who had transformed his city from banana republic to world-class metropolis.

That's the same story Diaz told a few days later inside the Freedom Tower, where he read from his own new opus, Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a Time. The book — described by the Miami Herald as a concise case study of how a poor, crime-ridden, and economically stagnant medium-size city can be swiftly changed — paints a glowing portrait of Diaz's eight-year tenure on Dinner Key. The tome even begins with a foreword by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It's no coincidence that Diaz — a lawyer who parlayed his role in the Elián González saga into the mayoral seat from 2001 to 2009 — released the book fresh off a big role in Barack Obama's local re-election effort, including a gig with the first lady at an October rally and a starring role in an anti-Romney TV ad. Insiders say a switch from independent to Democrat might not be far off as Diaz eyes a return to politics.

Manny Diaz's term as Miami mayor wasn't as great as he wants you to think.
Courtesy of Miami Book Fair International
Manny Diaz's term as Miami mayor wasn't as great as he wants you to think.

"Manny's name always comes up as a Democratic candidate for some major office," Republican political consultant David Custin says. "He can raise money, he was mayor of a major city, and has a good national profile."

Too bad Miami Transformed is the worst kind of self-promoting propaganda, riddled with omissions, distorted facts, and outright lies about his administration. The book brushes over Diaz's key role in approving the financially catastrophic new Marlins Park, his neglect of the black community, and his laughable police force.

"He makes himself sound like Moses," says Dan Ricker, publisher of the Watchdog Report and longtime observer of Diaz's administration. "He doesn't address anything negative. His biggest omission is not acknowledging any of the mistakes he made."

Lest the snow job work, let's revisit the four biggest whoppers in Miami Transformed. Diaz didn't return calls to talk about the book, so we'll let his writing speak for itself:

Erasing City Manager Joe Arriola from history: I wanted people who were not about to embed themselves in City Hall for 20 or 30 years. I wanted people full of energy and passion for change, committed to public service, who would be with me for as long as I could hold them, before they moved on (pg. 91-92).

A self-made millionaire entrepreneur infamous for blunt outspokenness on civic boards, Arriola was handpicked by Diaz in 2003 to be city manager. Soon, Diaz, Arriola, and Commissioner Johnny Winton became bosom buddies who steered the city's agenda. By March 2006, the trio also became business partners, pooling their money to buy a one-acre Coconut Grove estate for $1.3 million.

Of course, the deal was rife with conflicts of interest, because Diaz had the power to fire Arriola. Also, the deal just happened to occur at the same time Arriola and Winton were pushing to give the mayor a $53,000 annual raise. A year later, the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission sharply rebuked the mayor, writing that every act he took in his public capacity could be called into question by the existence of this conflicting relationship.

Diaz's friendship with Arriola fell apart shortly after another searing scandal later that year. This time, it was the revelation that the two men had held a secret meeting in May 2004 with Hank Adorno, a lawyer representing seven residents suing the city over its fire fees. To avoid paying everyone in Miami a refund, Diaz and Arriola surreptitiously agreed to a $7 million settlement. When that deal leaked, it was struck down by a Miami-Dade judge and Arriola was forced to resign in June 2006.

Astoundingly, Diaz's book doesn't mention Arriola a single time, aside from a brief thank-you in the acknowledgments.

Arriola, for one, couldn't care less if he's been erased from Diaz's revisionist history. "God bless him for writing a book," Arriola tells New Times. "I have no intention of buying it or reading it."

Whitewashing John Timoney's record: Miami deserves the best chief of police, and we succeeded in finding him. John Timoney's impressive character was reflected in how he managed the police department and how he earned the trust of those in every community in Miami (pg. 132-133).

While Diaz saw Timoney as a crime-crushing Batman, many Miamians viewed him more as the villainous Two-Face. During the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations, Timoney trampled on the Constitution by unleashing 2,500 cops in riot gear against 12,000 mostly unarmed protesters. The cops used rubber bullets, shields, batons, concussion grenades, and stun guns to unleash a hurting denounced worldwide by human rights groups.

Then, in 2007, New Times published an investigation titled "America's Worst Cop," revealing that Timoney had taken 30 taxpayer-funded jaunts around the world, from Belfast to Los Angeles, staying at posh hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental. He was out of town for at least 138 days, not counting vacation, during the four years and nine months he was chief, charging taxpayers more than $28,000 for his trips.

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Mr. Alvarado’s “review” is based on the premise that if you disagree with him, then you must be a liar.Nowhere does Mr. Alvarado make any factual assertions to contradict any of the facts in the book.This is perhaps because he did not read it in full, a practice that seems all too commonplace.When attacking someone, why read what he has to say?

Alvarado accuses Diaz of not covering topics that Alvarado is interested in, so this transgression makes Diaz a liar.This accusatory practice is alive and well in totalitarian regimes, the Republican Party, and now the New Times.

By all accounts, Diaz was a successful mayor and has become the object of national acclaim.This makes him a target of lesser men.It is nothing new for the unsuccessful to attack those who succeed; jealousy is a bad thing.Perhaps Mr. Alvarado should ask why he did not score "the gig of the weekend" to interview Mr. Tom Wolfe?Or why the current mayor (also a purported journalist) was not given that honor?

George Hoover
George Hoover

Dracula the bloodsucking politico que no sabe na'

Gabe Yunes
Gabe Yunes

this fool always reminds me of ''kiko'' from el chavo de 8 lol!!

Miguel Alfaro
Miguel Alfaro

"Quien no tenga pecado que lance la primera piedra". Mentiroso o no, este Alcalde me compro' una pintura, al igual que Carollo, a quienes les estare' eternamente agradecido!

miamitrev2 topcommenter

This is the type of stuff MNT should focus on

Congrats on your first solid article of the year

drakemallard topcommenter

If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: ' "The public sucks. Elect me." Put the blame where it belongs: on the people.”

If we lie to the government, we go to jail. If they lie to us, and they do it all the time, it’s not a problem. People used to believe that our better days were ahead of us as a nation, but I think that our better days are behind us


Great article, way to get the truth out there.

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