Charlie Don't Appoint

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado's insistence that Gov. Charlie Crist appoint a replacement for suspended Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is getting ugly.

Over the weekend, Regalado and commission chairman Marc Sarnof pressured Angel Gonzalez -- who resigned yesterday as part of his guilty plea deal with prosecutors -- to come to city hall for an emergency city commission meeting to appoint Spence-Jones's replacement.

That failed miserably. Gonzalez allegedly told both men to screw themselves and refused to come in. So for the past 24 hours, Regalado and Sarnoff have been scrambling to put their Plan B into motion, which is to find a way to persuade Crist to make the pick.

According to sources at city hall, Regalado and Sarnoff went to City Attorney Julie Bru to get her to write an opinion that in this case, the governor may select who takes the District 5 seat, based on the unprecedented events of the past week that have left the city commission without a quorum. Bru stood her ground and told them no -- that the city charter called for a special election.

So Regalado allegedly approached city clerk Priscilla Thompson, requesting that she expedite the certification results of today's runoff between Francis Suarez and Manolo Reyes so that the winner can be sworn in immediately. That would give the new city commission -- comprised of Sarnoff, newly elected vice chairman Frank Carrollo, and today's winner -- the opportunity to choose the interim District 5 commissioner.

Well, Thompson didn't acquiesce, forcing Regalado and Sarnoff to again harass Bru. This time, she caved, opening the door for Regalado to continue lobbying Crist. To his credit, the governor is sticking with his decision to stay out of Miami politics.

Publicly, Regalado argues a special election will cost taxpayers $200,000, a steep price for a city facing a financial crisis. But really Regalado wants a friendly city commission to push his agenda. The last thing he wants is a special election that would allow Spence-Jones to run and, in all likelihood, win back her seat. And there is no question she would stand in the way of any plans Regalado and Sarnoff have for District 5.

City hall is already buzzing with names of possible appointees. They are Patrick Range, son of the late city pioneer M. Athalie Range; Rev. Richard Dunn, a onetime foe of Spence-Jones; Basil Binns II, an ex-aide to former city Commissioner Linda Haskins; and Charles Flowers, a retired pilot and community activist.

With all of this behind-the-scenes maneuvering, Banana Republican can't help but wonder how many times the state's Sunshine Law has been violated as Regalado and Sarnoff scheme a way to get their proxy. So Katherine Fernandez Rundle might want to park a few more investigators at 3500 Pan American Dr. to keep Miami's new leaders in check.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.