It's beer time: Thanks for your story about the Misfit Home-Brewers and all the other craft beer fans emerging in Miami ("Beer Invasion: The Misfits of Beer," David Minsky, May 17). It's good to see these guys getting some shine. They're very passionate about this craft and deserve a lot of respect and recognition.
Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower
Fire the bum: Your article about how Miami Beach has become Dade's capital of graft thanks to City Manager Jorge Gonzalez ("Corruption Central," Tim Elfrink, May 17) is great. It's nice to see some reality and some light shed upon the corrupt Miami Beach government. I have been here for many years, and I want to share with readers that this stuff is not new; it's been going on for 12 years. The city is filled with criminal elements in the ranks of government, and it's negligent in many of the largest concerns to residents. The commissioners should be grilled for allowing Gonzalez to work for two more months rather than voting on an immediate dismissal that very same day. Shame on them for taking the easy way out and allowing Mayor Matti Herrera Bower to railroad them.
Graft is everywhere: You're singling out Miami Beach? All of Miami-Dade is corrupt. There are many great public servants here (Hispanic, white, black, and every other color), but there are also many bad ones. Probably the majority are bad. Nothing will ever change. We get the bad out, and more bad get in. It's all about who you know and how much money you have. Just like Washington, D.C.
Blame the system: Running a town with a strong city manager is a horrendous form of government. They are universally overpaid, are not elected by the residents, are guaranteed a windfall retirement after their eight or ten or 15 years of so-called work is done, and they unilaterally wield the most power in town.
Closed door policy: The manager has only himself to blame. He recently asked employees to come to him if they witnessed any wrongdoing by other city employees. Well, I speak from firsthand experience that when I witnessed some strange goings-on, I was told to be quiet or I'd get fired. The audit department told me I would probably be fired for coming forward with my information. My superiors wrote me an email that we can't be critical of the administration. Gonzalez is in this mess because his door was closed, and his rank-and-file employees all feared retaliation. Long ago, if he'd had an open door, guaranteed no retaliation, and hired an inspector general, none of this would have happened. After the earlier Building Department scandal, when the chief was forced out after multiple employees were busted for bribery, it should have been the right time for reform. But Gonzalez didn't want an open door, didn't want an independent inspector general, didn't want to give the Ethics Commission any jurisdiction, and didn't want to give employees whistleblower protection. So now Gonzalez got axed. He can't say he wasn't warned.
Get involved or shut up: Dear citizens of the little city that I love: Quit bitching about Gonzalez's salary and pension. Don't pretend to be a concerned citizen now, when it was all a matter of public record before. If you cared that much, you would've known already. Still, I have a tough time seeing how everything is now his fault, but at least the city's finances aren't screwed up. And lucky for him, Gonzalez has only one more Memorial Day weekend to worry about. Register to vote and go to council meetings or somehow get involved; then I'll have an easier time listening to your headline-induced complaints.
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Citizens aren't happy: Gonzalez also fed me his "survey" line — claiming that a recent poll showed Beach residents are thrilled with his work — one time when I brought up problems at city hall. Mayor Matti Herrera Bower should go next. She is arrogant, incompetent, and quite dense, and all of these problems have happened under her watch. She is the top dog, and she should resign as well.