Homestead mayor, probed by prosecutors, gets pink slip from nonprofit

 
 
Homestaed Mayor Steve Bateman, who lost his lucrative side gig amid a state attorney's investigation.
Homestaed Mayor Steve Bateman, who lost his lucrative side gig amid a state attorney's investigation.
Daniel Bock / For the Miami Herald

bbrasch@MiamiHerald.com

Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman has been fired.

Not from his mayoral office, the one that pays a modest $6,000 a year.

He has been dumped from the one that paid him the real money — $125 an hour. That’s his job with Community Health of South Florida, Inc., a nonprofit that needs favors from the city.

Early this year, Bateman leveraged his elective office to secure a secret side job as construction consultant for CHI..

Now, Bateman said, because of an article in the Miami Herald and a television piece by CBS4’s Jim DeFede, CHI has let him go. Both reports revealed the lucrative relationship between the mayor and the healthcare outfit.

That relationship is part of an ongoing investigation of the mayor by the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office.

CHI is an organization that provides affordable primary and behavioral healthcare services to South Florida. According to its website, it operates nine primary care centers and 42 school-based programs.

It needs a favorable nod from the Homestead City Council to further expand its operations in the city.

Without disclosing the relationship to his colleagues on the council or to the public, Bateman accepted the job with CHI, earning as much as $4,500 during one 38-hour work week, according to invoices reviewed by The Miami Herald.

He also didn’t disclose the relationship to Miami-Dade government administrators when he lobbied them to fast-track a Homestead sewer system expansion that is necessary for CHI to proceed with a proposed children’s clinic in downtown Homestead.

County officials, including Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his top aides, thought Bateman was speaking to them in his capacity as mayor.

CHI Chairman and CEO Col. Brodes Hartley confirmed to CBS4 in late June that CHI was employing Bateman — and that Bateman had suggested the arrangement.

“I didn’t bring it up. I didn’t initiate the discussion with him,” Hartley said at the time.

He said he hired Bateman because “he has a construction background.”

Bateman has a county license to install awnings, shutters and screen enclosures, but isn’t a general contractor. And he isn’t a registered lobbyist either.

CHI refused to confirm Bateman’s firing.

“I can’t talk about it,” said Tiffani Helberg, CHI’s vice president of communications and development.

She said Hartley wouldn’t be talking about it either.

Bateman said that the stymieing of the sewer project is hurting the city he loves.

“We’re holding back real jobs,” he said.

Follow @ben_brasch on Twitter.

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