When the temperature drops below 70 in Miami, we who live here start shivering, but Santa Claus can’t wait to enter tropical-paradise airspace.
While piloting his flying sleigh over Florida, he sheds his huge red coat. He winks at Rudolph, the reindeer whose red nose lights the way. This is going to be a great gift-giving season.
“Ho, ho, ho!” the big man cheers.
Yet there is danger ahead. And it’s not a Grinch conspiracy. Descending through a gritty chimney caked with toxic sludge, Santa and his over-stuffed magic bag get tangled up in vines and stuck by their sharp thorns.
Down below, he sees colorful stockings brimming with hopeful wishes.
“Where have I arrived?” he asks, confused. Then he sees a palm tree drawn on a wall inside a circle. It’s Miami City Hall.
Smiling broadly, Mayor Tomás Regalado welcomes him with a big hug.
So much is needed at City Hall, the mayor tells Santa, beginning with a heaping helping of ethics.
Santa realizes that he’s going to need a lot more special gifts than he’d planned. He asks to borrow a cell phone so he can call the elves back at the North Pole workshop.
How soon would it take to find a top-notch public-corruption lawyer, he wants to know. That’s at the top of Regalado’s wish list, to defend himself against a federal lawsuit.
The mayor spots Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones in a hallway and points.
“It’s all her fault!” he whines.
The mayor and the commissioner cross paths. Their eyes seem to launch missiles at each other. The glare of this radiated vengeance nearly blinds Santa.
City Attorney Julie Bru seems to have the same wish. She’s an attorney for the City Commission. Santa doesn’t quite get it. Why would an attorney want another attorney?
She explains she cannot provide legal counsel on the dispute because she is mentioned in the lawsuit. Santa, still baffled, nonetheless reaches deep into his bag and pulls out two lawyers: one for Regalado, another for the commissioners.
He leaves them with a hearty “Ho, ho, ho!”
The next supplicant is Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. He wants another trip to Brazil with his wife, Teresa, much like the last one, when the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau footed the bill, but this time make it first class accommodations more lavish than those traditionally enjoyed by dignitaries who promote Miami abroad.
Sarnoff pressures Santa: “Would it be too much to also ask for my own yacht so I can sail in the Volvo Ocean Race regatta? And while you’re at it, the nautical skills to circumnavigate the most dangerous capes in the world?”
“That’s a heavy request,’’ says Santa, but he reaches into the bag and pulls out everything that Sarnoff wants.
With another “Ho, ho, ho!” he’s off.
Commissioner Frank Carollo invites Santa to a Cuban cafecitoand croquetas, and takes the opportunity to ask for a satellite phone with a direct connection to city Police Chief Manuel Orosa, so he can complain should a patrol officer dare to question his behavior behind the wheel of his Lexus.
And he also asks if it is possible to get a Batmobile so he can fly over, rather drive around, other vehicles. This delights Santa, who instantly complies, and instead of Ho, ho, ho!’’ chuckles “Hee, hee, hee!”
Orosa has his own list of wishes — for himself and his officers. Where to begin? An invisible blanket to cover and hide from view the betting houses and illegal gambling maquinitas, which might take the heat off the cops who are under the FBI’s magnifying glass, as well as the gambling entrepreneurs who are paying "gratuities" to some of their "friends." The chief also requests from Santa a magic disinfectant to clean up the department, as well as a crystal ball to see how the internal investigations turn out.
“Oh, my! ” Santa says. He is now looking at City Manager Johnny Martínez approaching. “I am not Mandrake the Magician,” he tells himself, predicting the manager’s whims. “Santa, is there any gift to lessen the lack of financial integrity in our city?” he asks full of hope. “Perhaps a potion to bewitch investigators from the Securities and Exchange Commission?” Sorry, that’s not something produced at Santa’s workshop. Anything else? “A finance director, maybe, who would comply with the requirements of the job? Sure, I can do that. “Ho, ho, ho!” he cheers while he pulls out the new administrator from his magic bag.
It’s getting late. The reindeer are anxiously waiting on the roof. Thousands of children still need a visit. But first, Santa must make a stop at Miami-Dade government headquarters. And that, my friends, is a fable for another time.