Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Metro-Dade Cruelty Joke

This article in the Herald yesterday is about the police union here suing the county's Inspector General's Office for issuing a report "critical" of two of the mayor's assistants (I have suppressed the urge to use the word "henchmen"). These men, senior police officers somehow assigned to the mayor, moonlighted in Panama (yes, the Central American country) over the last several years adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to their already inflated annual salaries of over $200,000 each. Moonlighting by a county employee, without specific authorization, is contrary to county policy. The police union is not happy about the Inspector General being critical. (We are dealing with sensitive people here, apparently. And perhaps in Panama one simply does not criticize the police.) The union lawsuit ought to be a cruel enough irony for the Miami-Dade taxpayer, but there's more.

According to the article, the "county ethics commission" issued a critical report against one of the men:

Last week, the county ethics commission issued a public reprimand against Morales, admonishing Alvarez's longtime confidant ``not to exploit his position for his own benefit and financial gain. . . Nothing serves to undermine the public's trust more than arrogant government officials acting as if laws and rules do not apply to them,'' stated the official rebuke, part of a broader settlement between the ethics commission and Morales . . . "

The "broader settlement" included a $1,500 fine.

A $1,500 fine? What a bitter joke.

In other news, the Daily Business Review reports this morning that "Buy-Owner, the nation's largest for-sale-by-owner company, has shut down and is liquidating the assets, unable to bear the weight of the housing crisis and rapid expansion." The article indicates that the company simply took on too much debt during the real estate expansion, and got caught by the collapse.

The Buy-Owner story is a familiar one. It's too bad that government, whether it is Metro-Dade or Washington or in between, seems protected from the discipline of the market place, at least in the short run. That discipline took 70 years or so to take down the Soviet Union. How long will it take to set right Metro-Dade and Washington and the tax-collecting entities in between? And how much damage will that delay and eventual denouement occasion, damage that could have been avoided had those entities been lead by responsible people, elected by citizens who were paying attention?

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