On April 20th, the City Manager Jorge M. Gonzalez spoke at the Miami Beach Chamber’s Quarterly Pillar Breakfast addressing nearly 200 of the community’s business leaders. He had been scheduled to speak for some time, but in light of recent events involving corruption of key city employees, attendees were looking to the Manager to answer the hard questions.
He began by touting the positives of the City including being number 1of 25 in room rate and occupancy in the country as well as a history of low tax rates and recurring increases in resort tax collection, offsetting his budget by 60% of revenue from sources that are not ad valorem. These successes were something to be proud of and discussed.
He went on to depict the Chamber as being about leadership which sometimes takes the conviction and courage to make unpopular decisions.
Some decisions can reflect poorly on yourself. With this his meaning was clear, he had lead the focus of investigating corruption in the building department. Then again, found evidence that lead to the termination of the Director of Procurement and is now demanding prosecution. Most recently he is working with the FBI in pursuing the prosecution of the Code Enforcement Officers and the Fire Department representatives who engaged in “entrepreneurial” activities. He vowed to aggressively pursue any vested retirement rights of convicted parties.
All that being said, he offered the attendees an apology. With the hard questions being answered, the manager went on to give an overview on the developments of the City. Memorial Day will have stricter enforcement of laws but welcome visitors who want to be part of Miami Beach. The North Lincoln Road area is being expanded to enhance the businesses with the created ambience of the New World Symphony.
Attendees included leaders in Real Estate, Development, Service Industry and Hoteliers, many of which are also longtime Miami Beach residents, each looking to the Manager to partner for solutions to not only corruption within the City, but also an image of corruption spreading to investors.
The City Manager ended by reinforcing his pledge to seek out corrupt employees and beyond that, employees who had knowledge but remained silent. As a gesture to reestablish that each employee is in service to the public, he is requiring all City employees to reaffirm their oath to the City. The City Manager thanked the Chamber for inviting him to speak and invited the leadership to continue in a mutual dedication to identify solutions.