In his June editorial, Gazette publisher Tom Curtis wrote the following; “I have neither the time nor the desire to dig into this subject or I might miss my deadline.” Deadline aside, Mr. Curtis’ lack of desire to fully investigate our community issues leaves a lot to be desired. He was opining about my “scathing” letter criticizing City Manager William Alonso and City Planner Chris Heid for their failure to impose a potential million-dollar parking fee on the developers of 1 Curtis Parkway. The subject has been extensively documented on MiamiSprings.com.
Mr. Curtis also left out important details about my ethics complaint against Mr. Alonso to the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics & Public Trust. I also filed the same complaint against City Planner Heid, and former City Attorney Dan Espino. My complaint was filed under the Miami-Dade County Citizens’ Bill of Rights Truth in Government provision and was based on their failure to correct the record when a board member erroneously stated that the new development would provide shared parking for the public. The Ethics Commission dismissed all complaints by stating; “Therefore, because the Miami-Dade Citizens’ Bill of Rights does not create or impose any duty to correct erroneous information, the Complaint does not sufficiently allege a violation of that legal provision.”
At the Ethics Commission hearing I stated it’s time to incorporate such a legal provision. Shouldn’t we expect and demand that government officials correct and clarify wrong information? Mr. Alonso wasn’t at the board meeting, but as City Manager/Finance Director shouldn’t he be ultimately responsible for establishing truth and facts? Not according to the Ethics Commission which stated; “The Miami-Dade Citizens’ Bill of Rights does not create or impose any duty to correct others or to be responsible for the false statements and knowingly omitted significant facts provided by others under one’s supervision.” Sadly, the Ethics Commission’s “Truth in Government Provision” has major loopholes that severely undermine the establishment of truth and public trust.
The City of Miami Springs provides advertisement revenue to the Gazette, possibly a mutually beneficial arrangement. The city gets reasonable advertising rates and our beloved and appreciated Gazette gets some needed revenue as it struggles like all printed news outlets. But this establishes a sticky and conflicted relationship.
Mr. Curtis often criticizes residents for their lack of involvement in city affairs. But when a resident criticizes or publicly disagrees with city management, he sometimes insultingly refers to them as naysayers, complainers, etc. Some say Mr. Curtis is a cheerleader for city management while trying to deflect and disparage resident criticisms. For instance, MS.com publisher Nestor Suarez spoke intelligently and civilly at a recent public forum about the critical failure to collect parking fees and Mr. Curtis dismissively called it a “rant.” To his credit, Mr. Curtis has never failed to publish any of my critical letters.
Some years back, a previous mayor/councilman used his elected position as a bully pulpit to criticize the Gazette for what he perceived as negative coverage. He referenced the City providing revenue to the Gazette, clearly linking and alluding to why should they continue to provide the Gazette revenue if it printed negative coverage of the city.
I’ve heard that Mr. Curtis received a phone call from City Hall after my recent “scathing” Gazette letter. Do city officials have a pattern of “reminding” Mr. Curtis about the revenue and that critical coverage of city issues and management is not welcome? A sneaky attack on the Free Press? Is that why Mr. Curtis has “no desire to dig?” For the sake of credibility, independence, and basic journalistic standards we strongly urge Mr. Curtis to commit to doing comprehensive investigative reporting, regardless of how it reflects on City Hall. The residents deserve nothing less.
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