Former Miami Commissioner J.L. Plummer may have been clobbered at the polls by Johnny Winton, but the seasoned pol isn't leaving office empty-handed. Plummer will soon receive $30,000 per year retirement pay. Back in 1993 the city adopted a measure to give a $2500 annual pension to commissioners who served more than twenty years. Plummer was the only one who qualified. In 1994, at the behest of Plummer buddy Cesar Odio, the commission sweetened the deal, pegging the pay to the highest amount earned during the last three years of service. Although Plummer's salary as a commissioner was just $5000, his overall compensation was valued at $29,285 thanks to generous car and telephone allowances.
With a monster shopping mall on the way and the U.S. Southern Command's top brass moving into a city-owned mansion in town, Coral Gables manager Jack Eads is mighty busy at home. But consider the problems at his weekend getaway. Eads, who served as condo president for a joint in Melbourne Beach, is under attack by a neighbor. A retiree named John Adams is suing the City Beautiful's manager and owners of the building, claiming Eads's (and the others') negligence allowed potassium to build up in a well. Adams's cat, Mitzy, and his dog, Betsy, both died from heavy concentrations of the stuff, he says. Indeed both Adams and his wife, Rae, suffer from heart and kidney problems, he alleges, because of the well water. "Eads was a bad guy," Adams comments. "He did a bad thing, I don't know where this story is going to end." Eads did not return a call seeking comment. A hearing in the case is scheduled December 14.
Homestead Mayor Steve Shiver has problemas, too. First New Times picks apart a questionable dump-related deal involving a political supporter. Then questions are raised about the mayor's recent re-election, which allegedly included absentee balloting by voters whose addresses are at the bottom of Biscayne Bay. And now a watchdog Website, www.miafla.com, has picked up the following fascinating confluence of fact: Miami-Dade government gave almost one million dollars to a group called Affordable Housing Solutions for Florida Inc. Shiver and a man named Larry Goldberg are directors of that group. The pair are also directors of a for-profit corporation called Solutions-Royal, Inc. There's no intimation that either Goldberg, who lists a Miami Beach address, or Shiver did anything wrong. But the Website also includes Homestead's conflict-of-interest policy.
What's happening with your tax dollars? The downtown Metromover is eating them. Although it costs about $15 million per year to operate, it brings in less that $1 million. Six out of twenty stations close at 7:00 p.m. Another one, Bicentennial Park (which cost tens of thousands of dollars to build), is shut down completely because of low ridership.
The Miami Herald's national reputation, singed by mass defections of reporters and years of criticism in national magazines, has gotten a boost lately. Sort of. The respected Columbia Journalism Review, in its November/December edition, rates the Herald as the nation's seventeenth best newspaper, just below the Raleigh News & Observer and tied with that paragon of fine journalism, the Minneapolis Star/Tribune. And the November 15 New York Times, while citing falling circulation numbers, painted a picture of a newspaper more or less on the upswing: The Herald "confronts virtually every challenge facing urban newspapers, only more so," wrote Times staffer Felicity Barringer.
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