Arrests Loom in Miami City Government

New chief takes aim at corrupt politicians

Crooked members of Miami's city government had better get their bail money ready.

“Our unit has been in operation for four weeks and we will have arrests,” new Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito said Friday. 

It was the news of the day but it was overshadowed by the latest from City Hall, when Mayor Tomas Regalado accepted the resignation of City Manager Pete Hernandez.

“This is not breaking news,” said the Mayor. Indeed he was right. Nice guy Pete Hernandez was a dead man walking the minute Regalado won the election for Mayor.  Pete was former Mayor Manny Diaz’s guy. Hernandez was nice enough to stick around and shepherd the beginning of the transition at City Hall.

The Mayor will pick another City Manager in due time. 

What went on in the police station has a bigger message. The Chief said arrests were on the horizon.  Exposito announced at the same time the creation of a corruption unit as part of Miami PD’s Internal Affairs Division.

Leading up to the election and after, the Mayor and Exposito had been seen huddling during the usual events that surround campaign.  Regalado had made it very clear that he wanted to look hard at how things were working in the city. He hinted that he was not sure all was kosher in the various departments that make up the city government.

Regalado underscored his concern about corruption and waste when he invited the local FBI special agent -- and introduced him at -- the inauguration.

Exposito is clear when he explains how the new unit will work. “We will not target the elected officials, there is a potential conflict of interest," he said. Exposito is appointed by the City Manager but it is really the Mayor’s call. What the investigators will put the eye on are the city departments and non-government organizations that accept city funds.

Who will watch the politicians, the office holders? That’s the State Attorney’s job , the FDLE, the FBI, said Exposito. 

Regalado said often that he was not happy with “the culture” within city government.

He was often the no vote on many expenditure issues. Exposito says his new unit will also focus on government waste. That comes on the heels of the release of an audit of city credit card holders. Privately called  “nit picky” by some employees the audit did detail expenditures that indeed need explanation.

Exposito gave no timeline for the arrests.

Hank Tester has been covering news and politics in South Florida since 1992.

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