Thanks to Jorge Gonzalez, Miami Beach Is Now Dade's Most Corrupt Town
The biggest blow of all, though, landed on April 11, when the FBI announced a mass corruption bust. The city's chief code compliance officer, Jose Alberto, along with four other officers and a firefighter, had allegedly collected more than $25,000 in payouts from a club owner snitching to the feds. Another firefighter helped arrange a cocaine shipment through the club, the FBI says.
It got worse for Gonzalez: The Herald disclosed that the men had a laundry list of earlier brushes with the law, including cocaine possession charges, DUIs, and attacking a police officer with a rock, yet all kept their jobs.
Last Tuesday, the scandals all came to a head when Gonzalez paid a visit to the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club at David's Café II, an informal gathering of city power brokers. He tried to placate a furious crowd of residents by telling them that surveys showed most Beach folks were doing just fine. "People are happy and the government is meeting its expectations," he pleaded.
But Frank Del Vecchio, a retired attorney who has lived on Ocean Drive for decades, was having none of it. "You are not the person who should lead reform," Del Vecchio said. Gonzalez's cool veneer cracked. He grasped at the microphone in Del Vecchio's hand, drawing gasps from the crowd. But before surrendering the mike, Del Vecchio delivered a parting shot: "You are the person who should resign effective today!"
Two days later, Gonzalez's resignation was official. Commissioners accepted the deal without allowing public discussion. But outside city hall, residents buzzed over the move. Some called for changes to the strong-manager system to prevent a repeat of the abuses of the past 18 months. Some laid all the blame on Gonzalez.
Others, such as legendary Herald crime reporter and mystery writer Edna Buchanan, were more cynical.
"For a long time now, money has talked at city hall, not the people who live in this city," Buchanan said. "As long as the millionaires and the European developers are the priority, it doesn't matter who's running this place. It's not paradise for the people who live here."