Medley Councilman Gerardo Silva Jr.
went ham on his town-issued credit card, racking up more than $2,500
in personal charges since he took office in November 2010. His
purchases included $500 in discounted suits, a $688 iPad2 with a $80
case and keyboard, and $230 shoes from Nordstrom. Silva also used
town funds to buy an $800 high-definition projector and $70 laser
remote for the device.
But the councilman says there nothing
wrong with his spending spree since the town allots him and his
colleague an $800 clothing allowance and that his electronics
purchases were all approved by the mayor. His opponents "are making a
big deal about it because it is an election year," Silva says. "It
is a targeted attack on me because I don't go along with everything
the town council does."
Since taking office, Silva has been a vocal critic of the way Vice Mayor Jack Morrow and his other colleagues conduct the town's business. He's demanded an audit on the construction of the new town hall, which he claims has offices "that look like presidential suites."
He's questioned the need for buying sports cars for the Medley Police Department and increasing officers' pensions. "I'm the one who's been asking for accountability," he says.
Silva's spending habits came to light after town resident Olga Quin requested all of his expenses for the past two years. Quin
could not be reached for comment
, but she told the Miami Herald
that she requested the records because Silva promised he "would cut costs."
Quin contacted Banana Republican after we posted this article, claiming Silva has no excuse for abusing his town-issued credit card. "He is only making a stink now because he is getting called out," she says. "He thought he could do everything on the down low and that the residents are imbeciles."
Quin, who voted for Silva, sent copies of his credit card receipts to the other council members, who on Wednesday voted to cancel all their credit cards and require council approval for any expense reimbursements requested by them. Silva was the lone no vote.
Silva insists his purchases were not a big deal because he never hid anything from the town's mayor, Ramon Rodriguez. Plus, he adds, the town council's $800 clothing allowance does not prohibit him from shopping for nice clothes and shoes. "If the residents are not okay with me buying clothes then we shouldn't have been budgeting for it," he says.
Silva could not understand why anyone would complain about his shopping sprees when he's been the one criticizing expentidtures that have cost residents tens of thousands of dollars. One other councilman, Roberto Martell, also used his card to buy $800 in clothes.
But for a guy who spends his time criticizing his fellow council members for wasting taxpayer money, you would think he'd be a little more frugal with his own expenditures. For instance, he overspent his allowance by $500,which he claims he paid back.
When we asked him why he needed to buy a $230 pair of shoes, Silva asks in return, "If you are on your feet all day, don't you want to have comfortable shoes on?"
When we asked him why he needed an iPad2 when the town already issued him a lap-top computer, Silva retorts: "The iPad2 is just more versatile. It's what everybody is using."
Yet Silva didn't do a very good job of securing the iPad2 or his city-issued laptop. This past March 3, while Silva and his wife attended a party in the Celebrations Ballroom in Hialeah Gardens, an unknown thief broke the back window of his car and stole both items.
Quin says Silva is trying to deflect criticism because he can't take the heat. "His term is not even up this year so it's not about the election," she says. "He has no logical argument."
She added Silva could have purchased a decent pair of comfortable shoes from Dr. Scholl's instead of splurging at Nordstrom and that he didn't need an iPad when he already owns an iPhone. "The guy is a joke," she says. "He gets $35,000 a year as a councilman and its his only job. This man could not shop at Nordstrom by his own means."
She requested his expenses after finding out Silva had traveled to Orlando, Chicago and San Francisco on the taxpayers dime. "Not even our mayor has gone to those cities," she says. "Silva has been taking advantage of our town."