Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez Promises Reforms As He Fights For His Job UPDATE
Miami Beach residents are happy, the city is a well-oiled machine and -- despite a string of embarrassments by the police and a mass FBI corruption bust last month -- the majority of city employees do good work. That was City Manager Jorge Gonzalez's upbeat message, at least, to an angry, packed room at David's Cafe II this morning.
Behind the scenes, though, Gonzalez is fighting desperately for his job. Gonzalez has been meeting with commissioners before tomorrow's public meeting and fighting to get another year as manager, commissioners tell Riptide.
Update: Gonzalez says he's resigning -- but not for another year, reports the Miami Herald's David Smiley. On Twitter, Smiley reports that Gonzalez will stay on until May 2013.
Update II: Today the Miami Beach City Commission accepted Gonzalez's resignation with a departure date set for this July. The measure was quickly passed with no public comment.
The city manager didn't directly address this morning the swirling rumors that his resignation is eminent. Riptide left him a message on his cell phone after the meeting as well, which he has not returned.
Two city commissioners -- Ed Tobin and Jonah Wolfson -- grabbed the microphone during the meeting to criticize Gonzalez; Wolfson reiterated that he thought it was time for him to resign.
Gonzalez has been raked over the coals after the FBI nabbed seven Beach employees in a corruption sting last month, including Jose Alberto, the lead code compliance inspector for the city. Some of the men had been ignoring code violations in exchange for cash; others helped arrange what they thought was a cocaine shipment.
But in his speech at David's, Gonzalez tried to downplay the arrests. He threw out a litany of stats showing that most Beach residents rated the city government well in a recent survey.
"People are happy, and the government is meeting expectations," he said.
Gonzalez also pledged a number of changes in the wake of the scandal, including placing a Miami Beach cop on full-time public corruption duty with the FBI, bringing in the Miami-Dade Inspector General and doing an audit of city practices.
But the crowd at David's was hostile.
Residents brought up a number of missteps during Gonzalez's recent tenure, from last year's Memorial Day shootings, to the Beach cops caught drinking before seriously injuring beach-goers during an ATV joyride to the recent corruption arrests. The FBI probe into city employees is ongoing and many expect more arrests to come.
"You are not the person to lead," said resident Frank Del Vecchio before demanding Gonzalez resign.
The city manager is expected to keep meeting with city officials before tomorrow's commissioner meeting.
Update: Here's David Smiley's Tweet on Gonzalez's resignation. We'll update again when we learn more details:
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