Miami-Dade Commissioner Lynda Bell made a promise she hasn't kept

When Lynda Bell narrowly won her county commission seat last November, the Homestead politician promised she would reform the way Miami-Dade County government operates. Nine months later, we're still waiting.

In fact, since she took office, her decision-making has been from another planet. Consider her following missteps:

• In February, she appeared on Spanish-language radio station Radio Caracol and vowed to do "everything within [her] power to stop" Cuban artists from performing at a concert that was to be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway. When speedway officials canceled the three-day event in April, the American Civil Liberties Union demanded an investigation to determine if Bell had used her public office to stop the show.

• In May, Bell moved into a spacious new district office in Palmetto Bay that will cost taxpayers $170,000 over the next four years. She also spent $28,100 on office furnishings. According to Eye On Miami blogger Genius of Despair, who first reported about the commish's new digs, Bell could have remained in her predecessor's old office at the South Dade Government Center at no cost to taxpayers.

• She recently launched her first salvo to get rid of the county's department that protects the local environment. On July 7, she persuaded her county commission colleagues to form a task force to review how the Department of Environmental Resources Management designates sensitive wetlands, a move that has drawn criticism from the Tropical Audubon Society.

• And, oh yeah, one of her former legislative aides — an African-American woman named Lois Jones — has filed racial discrimination complaints against the white commish with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Jones declined to comment about the specifics of her complaints, but it is not the first time Bell has faced allegations of racism. When she was Homestead mayor, she and city council members were widely criticized for taking no action to ban the Confederate flag from the town's Veterans Day parade. Bell — who represents Kendall, the Redland, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, and Homestead — did not respond to three messages seeking comment.

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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.