Two former city commissioners and another longtime resident are forming the ‘South Miami Citizens for Good Government’ to address what they consider ‘dysfunction’ on the part of current commissioners.
The group was launched on Dec. 10 at a reception where the organization chair John Edward Smith announced Rev. Dr. Anna Price and Armando Oliveros Jr. as co-chairs.
“We formed on the basis of collective concern for what is going on in the city for the last couple years,” Smith said. “Our disappointment with the dysfunction of the City Commission. So Dr. Price, Mr. Oliveros and myself decided to come together and put it out there and see how people will respond to us.”
Smith has lived in South Miami for 40 years, is a business development consultant, and publisher of SOMI Magazine. Price and Oliveros served as mayor and commissioner, respectively, on the 1997-1998 commission.
Oliveros stepped down from the commission in October 1999 when he was facing money-laundering charges unrelated to his work as a city official. He served seven years in federal prison. He lost to current Commissioner Bob Welsh in the 2012 election.
Price said the group will not be advocating for particular candidates.
As an example of of dysfunctional behavior, she pointed to a recent incident in which Commissioner Bob Welsh was censured for circulating a poster called “40 Acres and a Pool,” and Welsh sued two other commissioners for accusing him of circulating other posters years ago.
“I am very worried at the direction the city has been taking for several years,” Oliveros said. “There is a lot of misinformation and inaccurate information going out to people. The commission is a joke, I have to say. It’s very dysfunctional and their information to the public is erroneous. ... We want to get the people back to vote and know who and what they are voting for.”
Those citizens will be voting on Feb. 11 in the city of South Miami election.
“We plan to build sustainability for the organization so that we can continue to address issues that are a concern to a very diverse community,” Smith said.
The “sustainability” is something the city commission has lacked, according to Smith.
“We’ve had rotating city managers over the last three and a half years,” Smith said. “That is very disruptive to our professional staff. Nothing gets done. It takes the new city manager time to orient himself/herself. Things just get put aside.”
The organization had an introductory meeting in early December and plans to issue bilingual newsletters and hold a number of community events. One event Smith noted was a candidate forum prior to the city of South Miami election. The forum will be open for other organizations, panels, associations, and citizens to participate.
“The community is very divided,” Oliveros said. “We need the unity back again. The city has been stagnant. Businesses don’t want to come here anymore because they can’t deal with the commission. If we don’t have business and money coming in, it’s going to hurt the residents.”