Norman Braman's advice to voters notwithstanding, there is a measure on the ballot that deserves a resoundingly emphatic YES! And that is the question asking voters to make the Miami-Dade Inspector General's office a permanent part of the county's home rule charter -- in effect our local constitution. By punching yes, the county's watchdog agency -- which deserves credit for recovering $175 million in stolen taxpayer funds and sending more than 215 public trust betrayers to jail during its 12-year existence -- could never be abolished by the county commission.
Some of the notorious public corruption cases handled by the inspector general include:
- The 2004 Miami International Airport fuel farm heist.
- The 2005 bust of a former circuit court judge for defrauding a program to help disadvantaged kids.
- The 2006 probe into abuse of the county's off-duty cop services.
- The 2007 arrest of a prominent former Miami banker for defrauding the Miami-Dade Housing Agency.
- The 2008 scam by a TSA employee to obtain free parking at Miami International Airport by claiming to be handicapped.
- The 2009 audit of a non-profit agency for inner city children ran into the ground by a former county commissioner.
- The 2010 investigation into high-ranking police officials moonlighting in Panama on the public dime.
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Last week, we interviewed Christopher Mazzella, the county's inspector general, to get his take on why his office should be woven into the home rule charter. Here is what he had to say: