Miami Beach fix was in for Joy Malakoff; now mayor has majority

Miami Beach fix was in for Joy Malakoff; now mayor has majority
  • Sumo

It looks like the fix was in after all.

Political observers in Miami Beach have been saying for weeks that Joy Malakoff had the inside track to be appointed interim commissioner, replacing former Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who was forced to resign mid-term to run for Congress. On Wednesday, Malakoff got it.

At first, it looked like there was going to be a standoff. Commissioners Michael Gongora, Mark Samuelian and Micky Steinberg chose former Commissioner Saul Gross from a final pool of 10 (from an original pool of 37). Mayor Dan Gelber and his two pocket commissioners, John Elizabeth Aleman and Ricky Arriola, voted, as predicted, for Malakoff.

Mayor Dan Gelber

Gelber went to take a second vote, but first he wanted to motivate his colleagues on the other side to switch, so he started talking about the expense of an election in April, which could be more than $600,000 with a runoff.

“So for those six meetings that person serves, it would cost $100,000 a meeting,” he said. Okay, now, “reconsider your choice.”

The message was clear.

After a second vote got the same result, Gelber suggested they could draw a name from a hat. But others did not want to relinquish their responsibility and after a short recess in which one can’t help but wonder if the Sunshine Law was violated, the came back and Steinberg — who was the weak link all along — was the first to cave. After that, they wanted to make it unanimous.

The truth is Malakoff should have been disqualified because of the sneaky way she tried, right after she left office for health reasons, to get a $50,000 city contract to promote passage of the G.O. Bond with voter outreach. What does she bring to the table anyway? Experience? Knowledge? That there’s no learning curve? If that’s the case, there were several other candidates that fit the bill without the baggage,  including Gross.

But then again, this wasn’t about replacing Rosen Gonzalez with the best possible interim commissioner until the November election, or even with someone who does not have this cloud of doubt over her head. This wasn’t about choosing someone to represent the will of the voters,  because then the commission would have just let Rosen Gonzalez serve out her term, as the voters intended. No. This was about representing a different will. This was about replacing her with someone that will vote the mayor’s way the next 10 months, plenty of months to do damage and spend a bunch of money.

Among the things that may come up is spending of the G.O. Bond that the Beach voters overwhelmingly approved last year even without Malakoff — or anybody else because the job did not exist — selling it. Now she gets her hands on those funds through the temporary commission gig.

A flyer, or “hit piece” on Malakoff that appeared at City Hall and tables at Puerto Sagua — where the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club meeting welcomed candidates for the vacancy Tuesday — urged commissioners to keep her away from those funds. “With Malakoff, corruption wins and the people lose,” it says.

There is no disclaimer as legally required on the piece, so nobody knows who paid for it. But a Miami Herald reporter posted a video of political consultant Randy Hilliard dropping some of them off at City Hall. Hilliard did not return a call or text message from Ladra. But most recently he worked on the 2015 campaign of David Wieder against then Mayor Philip Levine, and lost. Weider was one of the candidates who spoke Wednesday for the job.

But what is most important here is the fact that the way the commission split on this issue is the way it splits on most issues, and naming Malakoff interim is a way to get the Gelber faction a fourth vote on everything else. She will never vote against him. And he knows that.

That’s why Gelber is the biggest disappointment in this whole fiasco. The former prosecutor and state rep ran on a campaign of integrity and ethics. He had the opportunity to show that by taking the leadership step and changing his vote to Gross, who he said was his friend and entirely capable. An ethics stickler would try to avoid even the perception of wrongdoing.

But I guess that fourth vote is just too valuable.

We should watch every vote very closely for the next 10 months, since the mayor basically has carte blanche to do as he pleases now.

11 Responses to "Miami Beach fix was in for Joy Malakoff; now mayor has majority"

  1. Judith Wurtman   January 24, 2019 at 8:15 am

    What an uniformed prejudiced self serving article based on total fabrications , It is similar to the fabrications that are coming out of Washington. There is something called evidence based opinions but I assume the writer failed science courses since the allegations are in the realm of fiction . What about producing some facts or is it easier to write nonsense.
    Fortunately Mrs Malakoff’s appointment may stave off the hungry wolves of real estate developers for a while and those who are in the pockets of the entertainment business. Did anyone acknowledge how hard Mrs Malakoff worked to get a handicapped accessible beach for people in wheelchairs over the protests of residents who didn’t want their beaches cluttered with the disabled? What does the writer of this scurrilous column have to say about that? Does the writer feel that we should not fix our streets, sidewalks, playgrounds parks and other infrastructure? Presumably because the writer did not want the bond issue to pass.

    • Ladra   January 24, 2019 at 12:47 pm

      Ms. Wurtman (sorry for the grief you had to put up with in high school):

      What on Earth is fiction? The vote was 3-3 twice. If Malakoff was there it would have been 4-3, which is the guarantee the mayor has from now on. Anything he wants, he can get at least a 4-3 on it now. That’s why it was fixed.

      How come we have been hearing since December that this job was going to go to Joy Malakoff? The whole selection process was a sham.

      And don’t be disingenuous. The problem with the Wellness Center that Ms. Cohen wanted to build was that it was not just for wheelchair access to the beach. That was a real estate deal and you know it. Malakoff is not the only commissioner who created “adaptive Beach days” near Allison Park for the wheelchair bound and other handicapped individuals to enjoy the beach. But go ahead and rewrite history in your own version. Now THAT would be fiction.

      By the way, I don’t care about your G.O. Bond one way or another. I don’t live on the Beach so it ain’t my money. What I do care is if your elected leaders use it as a slush fund to reward their cronies and contributors. And you should care about that, too.

      Thanks for your input.

      Love, Ladra

  2. No fan   January 24, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Kristen Rosen Gonzalez was “forced to resign mid-term” to run for Congress???
    No, in truth a neophyte commissioner having not having even served half her inaugural term chose to walk away in order to seek greater glory in the US Congress and lost.

    A lesson in hubris

    IMO the whole story is a flawed arguement based on a false premise.
    As I’ve said before, the
    Beach voters have exactly what they voted for.

  3. Deco Dence   January 24, 2019 at 10:24 am

    In all due respect Ladra, this is not one of your better posts.

    It’s not “fixed” if a majority of commissioners want Joy Malakoff to return. That is their absolute right.

    Mayor Gelber already had a 5-2 majority on most issues. Kristen and Michael Gongora were the 2 back benchers for some issues, but not that many. They would make their counter points, then vote with the majority.

    Choosing Saul Gross or someone else instead of Malakoff would not have changed the outcome on the vast majority of issues.

    The state “resign to run” law is just that: a state law that applies to everyone in Florida. Kristen was one of countless incumbents affected by it, both Democrat and Republican. More importantly, the legislature merely closed the “Charlie Crist Loophole” that was enacted to allow him to run for Vice President. This loophole created a pathetic parade of career politicians getting a free ride at higher office.

    Miami Beach (and all cities) need a charter amendment that requires immediate resignations for anyone who qualifies to run for another office that overlaps with their current term.

    Although those anonymous fliers were the work of amateurs and morons, they were not illegal because Ms. Malakoff is not a “candidate” under Florida law.

    Thank you for your time.

    Be better everyone!

    • Ladra   January 24, 2019 at 12:39 pm

      Dearest Deco, while I agree that resign to run is the right way, this law was passed AFTER Kristen Rosen Gonzalez began to campaign under different rules and AFTER voters voted for her under different rules. They should not have been retroactive but it was precisely why the GOP-led legislature passed it now, same as when they tweaked it to allow Crist to stay in office and run for VP. Both were wrong. Laws should not be targeting or making life easier for candidates. That is why they should not be retroactive and need to be applied moving forward.

      Also, Kristen ran for Congress with the full support of her constituents, a community she would have continued to represent in the same way she has represented them at the city level. There was no abandonment here. She would not have run if they had not supported that move.

      I understand what you are saying about the 5-2 split, but this still guarantees nothing less than a 4-3 vote on everything. Time will prove me right.

      Love, Ladra

  4. Hubris   January 24, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    The fix was in. Proved by todays vote.

    Kristen made a huge mistake. She should have honored the voters and served for her full term. Entering a campaign for Congress was hubris. Ken Russell at the City of Miami was guilty of the same sin but he dropped out of the Congress race after taking $300,000+ from City vendors and developers. Russell remains in his City seat helping Francis Suarez give away 73 acres of a City park to billionaire Jorge Mas. And helping vendors and developers who contributed to his aborted Congressional race.

  5. David Wieder   January 24, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    The implication that I had anything to do with the wretched, scurrilous Malakoff hit piece is reprehensible. I was as surprised as anyone else to see it. If Randy Hilliard did send it, and that is not proven, simply because he worked on my campaign in 2015, is guilt by association. Shame on you.
    The fact of the matter is that I deeply regret applying, not because I was not appointed, but because the result was already predetermined. Going through the process was an
    exercise in futility for those who thought they ever had a chance in the first place.

    • Ladra   January 24, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      Mr. Wieder, I am sorry if you felt there was an implication. That was not the intent. Please remember that I supported your campaign for mayor in 2015.

      I do believe, however, that it is relevant information, whether you were a candidate or not, but especially because you were a candidate. It is possible that he did it FOR you or on your behalf but without your knowledge.

      I am in agreement with the rest of your judgement. This was a done deal and the sham process was an insult to all the fine people that applied. I am sorry that was done to you. And I hope you run for office again — and soon.

      Love, Ladra

  6. Constantly Coorious   January 25, 2019 at 8:36 am

    Randy Hilliard’s hit piece was the kiss of death for Saul Gross and anybody affiliated with the washed up political ‘consultant’.. his foiled attempt to takeover MDPL and now this – it seems he just can’t commit fraud without getting caught. Shame on Matti Bauer and Saul Gross for affiliating themselfs with him. Now the question remains: who is paying his bills. Good work Joy

  7. Wayne Roberts   January 26, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    The timing of the press release the city distributed 9 minutes post vote made me come to the conclusion it was indeed fixed. They had a lengthy quote from both Gelber and Joy released before the conclusion of the meeting. Impossible indeed.

  8. Count. LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz   January 27, 2019 at 3:09 pm