Phil Spinella, owner of A&B Body Shop in Homestead, insists the damage he repaired on Mayor Steve Bateman's city-issued SUV was caused by a blown tire.
"There is no question about it," Spinella said via a telephone interview. "The tire's rubber housing took out the rear bumper. That's what we billed for. As a courtesy to the city, We also touched up the front bumper."
This past March 31, I speculated the Ford Expedition may have been involved in a crash that Bateman and city Manager Sergio Purrinos failed to report. Local blog Homestead is Home raised similar concerns in a post that appeared one month before mine.
There were just a few things off about the whole incident.
For example, Purrinos assistant Marlene Volkert had explained the damage
occurred as Bateman and a city councilman were returning from a trip to
Orlando on January 24. Yet text messages from Purrinos to Bateman
indicated the SUV was banged up three days earlier. In one of the messages, Purrinos informs Bateman not to "worry the fire has been put out."
Spinella says he can't remember the exact date he put a bid in to repair the Expedition or when he picked up the SUV from the city's motor pool. I submitted a public records request for the three bids the city received this past April 12. Yesterday, city clerk Sherry Ader confirmed receiving my request but that she was still working on getting me the information.
Purrinos did not respond to two requests for comment sent to his city email address. But the city manager sent me a letter asserting "there was no accident." And there was "certainly no cover up by myself," Purrinos wrote.