By Jeffrey Bradley
If the Rule of Three obtains—in our book it surely does—as in, Three strikes, yer out! (or in for third-time felons); three-leaf clovers (you lose); or Selichah, the Biblical three strikes of forgiveness—then the City Manager’s time has come.
Time is like sand in an hourglass. It finally runs out.
How so? In politics, as in life, actions have consequences. And the Rule of Three demands that continued transgressions be called to account. In this case our city manager, George Gonzalez, one for hitting safely, stepped up to the plate and whiffed over successive political screwgies.
Strike One: the departed-away Ms Curry, Cynthia, by name, was, for the city manager—how shall we say it?—a fiasco. From jump street, l’affaire Curry was handled with singular ineptness. How could such a supposedly astute politician be snookered so easily? His defense of having no idea she was under investigation for financial impropriety was strictly, you know, ham-on-cheese. The term, we believe, is willful ignorance. Which has no place at all in a position that pays a ton of money for making good decisions. To the end, with her ship dead in the water and listing, he reiterated unqualified support. Public outrage was palpable to this tone-deaf imbroglio smacking of steamroller tactics employed by the County where the will of the people is pfttt. To date, there has been no LTC explaining her departure, or even if she is gone.
Like Hydra’s heads, you can’t lop off a political problem without two more replacing it.
Strike Two: Recently, the CIP (capital improvement projects) Director went fisticuffs with another city employee. Seems Charles Carreno and Emanuel Mayer, special assistant to the city manager on capital projects, scuffled over who really runs the show. And while we’re not adverse to pistols at dawn or a barroom brawl in settling disputes, who knew that such mayhem occurred down at City Hall? Apparently, the City Manager, for one—and anyone else who ran afoul of the irascible Mr Carreno. For some little time, reports have dribbled in from the 17th Street Irregulars (our spies, column-fives and iconoclasts hanging around the levers of power) that the Director possesses a flamethrower temper capable of clearing a room quicker’n a can of capsaicin spray. And all this was known to George Gonzalez when he set about hiring him. Maybe it was just bad luck. Maybe.
Strike Three: The City Manager not long ago reported Commissioners Tobin and Weithorn to the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission, who took them in tow. A report purloined by the Irregulars reveals a vexing tale of graft and rascality that quickly devolves into little else than a call to more closely hew to the Sunshine Law. Whatever the merits of these allegations (note to Commissioner Weithorn: It’s just politics) there seems a lot of folderol over nothing. Or something. One surmise? The City Manager is hanging on by the thinnest of threads, with this method of marginalizing two possible nay votes revealing a desperate political hardball. Could it mean he was just a vote or two shy of hitting the bricks with his golden parachute?
There’s probably nothing sinister about all this, tho’ the trend is a little disturbing. These awkward gyrations from a man who consistently maintains a milquetoast veneer are startling. Has his deft touch left him? Has he been tainted by that Miami arrogance, ala “I’m guilty but innocent” Ms Curry? Or does this cavalier high-handedness bespeak a to-hell-with-it attitude of a man with one foot on a bar of Ivory and the other on a banana peel? (We remember seeing the City Manager speak on behalf of streetcars once to a packed commission gallery before crumpling like wet cardboard when ex-Mayor Dermer shot him a glare. Perhaps there’s a touch of the-mouse-that-roared here, after all.)
As Goldfinger said to Bond, “Once is happenstance; twice coincidence. The third time is enemy action.”
Where’s Oddjob when we need him?