On November 4, the Carnival Center's Knight Concert Hall was converted into a YMCA dance — literally. The YMCA of Greater Miami celebrated 90 years in the Magic City. The gala raised $350,000 and honored some of our most illustrious individuals.
The star honoree was county commissioner and YMCA vice-president Natacha Seijas, who was recognized for her "20 years of commitment to the community," her nasty disposition toward her fellow man notwithstanding. This is the woman who once warned her former commission colleague, state Sen. Gwen Margolis, she would be taken "out in a body bag" during a public budget hearing.
Another fabulous guest of honor was event chairman Gilberto Neves, chief executive of Brazilian firm Odebrecht Construction Inc., the gala's lone platinum sponsor, forking over $40,000 to the Y.
County hall insiders snicker that Odebrecht is the Portuguese word for "change order." The county recently agreed to pay Odebrecht and its joint venture partner an additional $35 million for delays on the year-behind-schedule $800-million south terminal project at Miami International Airport. Odebrecht was also part of the team that built the $446 million (that's $102 million over the original budget) Carnival Center.
The accolades didn't end with Neves. The YMCA also recognized former county manager Steve Shiver, felonious developer Silvio Cardoso and politically-connected electrician Hector Ortiz. Ortiz and Cardoso, through their firms, contributed $15,000 a piece, earning themselves a sterling sponsorship for the celebration.
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Shiver was a disgrace as county manager, doling out cushy positions to unqualified friends and no-bid contracts to companies using his lobbyist friends.
Cardoso is a former Hialeah councilman who pled guilty to attempting to bribe an FBI agent in the early Nineties. He received a lenient sentence in exchange for his testimony in the failed prosecutions of former Hialeah mayor Raul Martinez.
Ortiz, his son, and his two companies, Horsepower Electric and Pio & Sons, were banned from doing business with the county for two years stemming from a criminal investigation in which he allegedly bribed a county official.
All of which goes to show you that money does wash away slime in the Magic City.