Homestead’s former mayor Steve Bateman made headlines when he was arrested in late August and charged with using his public office to get a paid secret consulting job.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office says that Bateman pushed a nonprofit to hire him as a consultant at $125 an hour to move the company’s Homestead construction project through Miami-Dade County all the while Community Health of South Florida Inc. had business in front of the City Council.
But Bateman, who was suspended from his mayoral post by Gov. Rick Scott, is not the only candidate in the upcoming Homestead election who has a colorful record.
From an arrest for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon to mortgage-default lawsuits to a lawsuit alleging fraud in a local Baptist church’s pastoral election, most of the 13 candidates vying for the four open seats have had their share of run-ins with the law.
The Miami Herald conducted a background check on all candidates whose names will appear in the Oct. 1 primaries ballot.
Bateman owes about $1,100 in 2012 taxes for a property he owns on Southwest 187th Avenue in Homestead, according to Miami-Dade County records.
Reached by phone Tuesday morning, Bateman told a Miami Herald reporter that he had someone else on the other line. He did not respond to a followup call.
At a recent mayoral candidates’ debate he said job creation is at the forefront of his platform. He proposed an on-and-off ramp from the Florida Turnpike at Southwest 328th Street.
“Over 10 million people cross that intersection a year,” he said, adding that much of this traffic is going to the Florida Keys or the two national parks surrounding Homestead. “If we can get 10 percent of them to stop, we would have done a hero job.”
Then, during his closing remarks at the debate, Bateman waved a handout and said that one of his opponents, Jeff Porter, also has conflict of interest allegations on his record.
When Porter was serving on the dais in 2002, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust investigated him for allegations that a company he owns with his wife, World Wide Supply Solutions, did business with Homestead. Records provided by the ethics commission show that the company received checks from the city, including one for $3,103 in March 2002. The issue was settled with Porter pleading no contest and agreeing to a settlement and a $250 fine.
Porter said the staff sent a request for quotes for a job the city needed done. Porter and his wife responded, and it turned out World Wide Supply Solutions was the low bidder.
“There was never a vote in regards to any action with the company at all,” said Porter. “The purchases were well below the dollar amount to be in front of the council. … Once I realized what had been done, I went to the city attorney and said, ‘Look this company sold something to the city. He said, ‘Don’t do it anymore.’ We had already stopped everything prior to this complaint but I couldn’t undo the fact that the sale had been made. I said let me pay the fine and let’s go on with life.”
At the helm of Porter’s platform is adding police officers to the city’s payroll.
“There’s a national standard per capita to police officers and right now we are probably about 25 below the national standard,” he said during the mayoral debate.