CRA Executive Director is Fluent in Dutch, Which Will Come in Handy in Overtown

Today, the Miami city commission has a number of special public hearings to decide the fate of the city's budget and how to spend a whole lot of millions of dollars meant to alleviate slum and blight in Overtown and the Omni neighborhood, including a $220,000 salary and benefits package for Pieter Bockweg, Miami's Community Redevelopment Agency executive director.

Bockweg's compensation has angered city employees facing salary and pension benefit cuts who feel the CRA's top man is getting a dramatic pay raise for being Commissioner Marc Sarnoff's toady. Before his new gig, Bockweg was a project manager for the building and zoning department that oversaw development of Miami's controversial mural ordinance, which paved the way for Mark Siffin's skyscraper murals in Sarnoff's district.

Following the city commission's approval of the light-up billboards, Sarnoff orchestrated the ouster of Bockweg's predecessor, James Villacorta, during a late night city commission meeting without providing any notice to the public.

Unlike Villacorta, who was selected after the city conducted a national job search, Bockweg was handed the keys to an $80 million annual budget under the cover of darkness and none of the transperancy Sarnoff promised Miami voters following the arrests of former city commissioners Angel Gonzalez and Michelle Spence-Jones this past November.

Over the weekend, Banana Republican obtained copies of Bockweg's resume to compare it with Villacorta's. When you put their credentials side-by-side, it is very clear that Villacorta is infinitely more qualified than Bockweg to run the CRA.

For starters, Villacorta has a law degree from the University of Miami and an undergraduate degree in construction management from Florida International University. Bockweg holds an international relations undergraduate degree from Rollins College and an M.B.A from the Crummer Graduate School of Business in the grat college town of Winter Park.

Before joining the city as an assistant city attorney in 2000, Villacorta ran his own law firm and spent most of the 80s working as a project manager for Southeast Properties, D.I.C. Commercial Construction Corp. and the Green Cos. Bockweg sold contracts for a defunct Internet start-up in Virginia and ran a tourist newsletter in Miami Beach before he was hired by then-city Manager Joe Arriola to be an assistant for the economic development office.

No wonder city employees are pissed.

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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.