To anyone with common sense, a town manager getting into business with his boss -- the mayor -- would seem like a stupid idea. But Golden Beach Mayor Glenn Singer and his subordinate, Town Manager Alexander Diaz, swore to investigators from the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission that they were completely unaware their partnership in a sub shop wasn't on the up-and-up. To avoid a public hearing and hefty fines, Diaz sold his interest in City Slickers Subs & Salads in North Miami in August. Diaz and Singer also agreed to pay a $250 each for investigative fees.
The pair broke off their partnership two months after New Times first reported on their dubious partnership in June -- but a new Ethics Commission report this morning spells out just how shady the business pairing was.
According to two probable cause affidavits that had been prepared against Singer and Diaz, ethics investigators found out that the mayor chipped in $200,000 and the town manager threw in $50,000 for the restaurant venture. In an interview with New Times in June, Singer downplayed the partnership. "It was just a small investment in a small investment," he said.
At the time, Diaz was awaiting trial on his second DUI offense in three years. He was arrested on February 24 after he was seen swerving across a median on Biscayne Boulevard near NE 99th Street, going 60 mph in a 35-mph zone. Diaz told New Times that his first DUI arrest in 2009 had been dismissed. Despite his legal troubles, Singer refused to suspend Diaz.
After receiving a call from ethics investigators, Singer insisted that he and Diaz did not know they were in violation of the county's conflict of interest ordinance. To avoid a public hearing, Singer made Diaz sell his part of City Slickers to a third party.
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The commission also announced that it's charging South Miami Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro with violating ethics laws by steering city business to his wife's companies.
Based on a complaint by The Strawbuyer blog author Mike Hatami, the commission found that de Castro used his wife's auto tag agency three times to obtain tags and titles for forfeiture vehicles, as well as using his city e-mail account to solicit business for his wife.