One Down, Two To Go In North Bay Village

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Oscar Alfonso (right) and Joe Geller (center) lost their hand-picked city manager Matthew Schwartz (left).
This past Tuesday night, a coup went down in North Bay Village. The city commission voted 3-2 to fire city Manager Matthew Schwartz. Before he left the city commission meeting, Schwartz addressed the audience. "I wish you all luck," he said.

Schwartz's dismissal is the latest skirmish to rattle the tiny three-island city. For the past two years, North Bay Village elected officials, police officers and residents have been engaged in a power struggle with Mayor Oscar Alfonso and his mentor and city attorney Joe Geller, both of whom supported the Schwartz's hiring.

As detailed in a Miami New Times story this past week, Schwartz didn't win any friends by thrusting himself into the internal bickering inside the police department. Officers represented by the Fraternal Order of Police protested decisions by Schwartz to reward cops affiliated with rival union the Police Benevolent Association who helped Alfonso get elected mayor in 2008. Some residents criticized Schwartz for disciplining FOP cops who tangled with the PBA's men in blue.

Schwartz could not be reached for comment, but a close friend of the ousted city manager says he was unfairly cast as a villain. "He was constantly being lobbied by Geller and PBA representatives to go after their enemies," the friend says. "But Matt stood up to them. He wouldn't take anyone's side. He tried to do his job professionally."

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