By Scott Blake
Amid investigations of alleged corruption at Miami Beach City Hall, the city manager announced Tuesday a string of initiatives to root out employee misconduct and criminal behavior.
The announcement follows the arrests April 11 of seven city employees on corruption charges. The allegations mainly involve soliciting and accepting bribes from local businesses in exchange for circumventing code compliance and fire inspections.
The city has placed the seven on leave without pay and is in the process of firing them.
In a memo to the mayor and city commissioners, City Manager Jorge Gonzalez detailed five initiatives:
nPartner with the FBI. The city has assigned a police officer to the FBI's Public Corruption Task Force to "attack corruption now and in the future on Miami Beach." Also, other police personnel will get training and clearance to work with the FBI.
nBring in the Miami-Dade County Office of the Inspector General to investigate reports of employee wrongdoing.
nProvide enhanced ethics training for city employees.
nInitiate an external audit of the city's code compliance and fire inspection offices.
nAssign a senior police officer to oversee the city's Code Compliance Division.
Mr. Gonzalez plans to present contract agreements to carry out the initiatives for approval at the May 9 city commissioners' meeting.
"To enhance these efforts and assist me directly on all similar matters, we have reached out to former US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Roberto Martinez, to serve in an advisory capacity on matters related to protecting the integrity of our operations," his memo states.
"As law enforcement and internal investigations move forward, new allegations may emerge that are painful to hear," he adds, "but [that are] imperative to air and fix."