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Even more troubling for Penelas is the prospect of Gittens instigating wholesale changes at MIA, including the introduction of what locally is a novel concept: ethical government. Any sort of change makes Penelas's cohorts nervous, but the thought of ethical government really gives them the willies.

Hoping to stop Gittens, Penelas manipulated the black community in Miami by announcing he would rather see Cynthia Curry named aviation director. Both Curry and Gittens are black, but for some reason elements within the local black community swallowed Penelas's bait and rallied around Curry.

County Commissioners Betty Ferguson and Dorrin Rolle, as well as Rev. Victor Curry, were played for fools by Penelas. They are dupes. Rather than siding with Penelas, they should have attacked him. Cynthia Curry is not qualified to be aviation director. She has no aviation experience. Gittens has been in the aviation industry and running major airports for eighteen years.

On the other hand, Curry is qualified for the post of county manager. She spent years as an assistant county manager. But Penelas didn't make her county manager because she actually would have known what she was doing. Instead he sought to place her in a job completely foreign to her. The most regrettable part of the story is that Curry allowed herself to be used by the mayor in his efforts to professionally demolish another black woman. Those efforts have failed so far: The commission approved Gittens's hiring on Tuesday.

Penelas had wanted the two most important jobs in the county -- manager and aviation director -- to go to people who have no experience in those areas. And for all this good judgment he deserves a 60-percent pay raise? Now that his asking price is so high, I guess I should stop describing him as a two-bit political whore.

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Jim DeFede
Contact: Jim DeFede