In reference to questions raised regarding abstention. There were three meetings in which I either abstained or recused myself from voting on issues related to Dade Medical College: 1) the March 11, 2011 CRA meeting in which I recused myself, 2) the November 16, 2011 CRA meeting in which I was absent for the entire meeting, and 3) the December 14, 2011 CRA meeting in which I recused myself. In all three cases, the city council addressed the issue without me. My absence during those council votes removed any conflict of interest.
The practice on abstentions and disclosures changed on January 16, 2013, when Joseph Centorino, executive Director and General Counsel, Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust promulgated a memorandum to all elected public officials of Miami-Dade County or any municipality within Miami-Dade County entitled “Voting Conflict Procedures.” Therefore, I cannot be held responsible for non-disclosure on the basis of the conflict since the aforementioned three CRA meetings and associated issues occurred prior to January 16, 2013.
Insofar as the pump station is concerned, at the February 20, 2013 city council meeting, I stated to the city council on the public record that I was meeting with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to discuss several issues of importance. I subsequently appeared before Mayor Carlos Gimenez in my official capacity as Homestead Mayor to discuss four issues; one among them was the pump station. According to Section 2-11.1, Code of Miami-Dade County, I am exempt from registration because I appeared in my official capacity as Homestead Mayor which I so stated on February 20, 2013.
The approval of the new pump station would benefit all of Homestead, and not as the media has stated only CHI, Dade Medical, and three other properties in downtown Homestead. This pump station, which is located below ground between US1 and Krome Avenue on Lucy Street, is fed from numerous other local pump stations. It is the last and most important station in that local sewage network before the treatment plant.
The pump station is operating over capacity according to Miami-Dade County criteria. Both residential and commercial development in Homestead have come to a standstill and the creation of hundreds of jobs has been stopped because Miami-Dade County will not approve building permits until the capacity issue is resolved. My involvement is therefore official, legitimate, and my actions are well within my official purview as mayor.
The assertion that the city council “voted not to fund the measure (the pump station) at this time” is imprecise. On June 19th, the city council removed the pump station from a budget amendment addressing several other issues, and determined to instead place it in the Fiscal Year 2013 – 2014 budget because Miami-Dade County had not concluded its review of the pump station. In either case of approved budget amendment on one hand or placement in the following year’s budget on the other, the completion timeline would be similar.
At that June 19th meeting, I recused myself and disclosed the conflict from an issue related to Homestead High School where my son attends. I subsequently completed the appropriate paperwork related to the recusal. The city council proceeded with the meeting during my absence and addressed the budget amendment.
Once again, it is election season in Homestead. My political opponents have manufactured false complaints and have conspired to cast doubt on my honesty and integrity by attempting to create a media circus. The media is fabricating a story by presenting plausible impressions to the public. The media is asking the public to “connect the dots;” dots that they have cleverly created.
I say to the public that actions speak louder than words – look around to see how much has been accomplished with the leadership of this Mayor and Council. Just to name a few, three new high schools in three years with a fourth on the way when there had not been a high school built in 30 years. City-wide beautification, a free trolley system moving 600 people a day and no new taxes in the last three years.
I strongly recommend that media be considerably more detailed, precise, and objective in its reporting. Generalities and half-baked truths are damaging and injurious to well-intentioned public officials.
Mayor Steven C. Bateman
City of Homestead