North Miami / NMB

North Miami

Ethics board drops charges against North Miami official

 

pbuteau@MiamiHerald.com

North Miami’s deputy city manager won’t be penalized over the city’s hiring of her husband for a temporary job because she did not create the job nor did she directly hire him, the Miami-Dade ethics commission decided Wednesday.

The county’s Commission on Ethics and Public Trust found probable cause for three ethics violations against North Miami Deputy City Manager Lumane Pluviose-Claude because the city hired Marc Claude three times for temp work in 2012 and 2013.

But the commission dismissed the charges because Pluviose-Claude wasn’t directly involved.

A county ethics rule forbids local governments from hiring people whose family members hold high ranking positions in the same body.

Calls made to Pluviose-Claude’s direct line at City Hall were not returned Wednesday.

The commission also dismissed a fourth count against Pluviose-Claude, in connection with the hiring of her son, McLamy Claude, as a junior camp counselor with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department in the summer of 2012. He was paid $7.67 per hour.

“Her son was going to the camp for about seven years in a row and came back to be a junior counselor,” said Rhonda Victor Sibilius, the commission’s spokeswoman. “The board didn’t think that rose to the level of probable cause for a violation.”

Claude’s husband, Marc Claude, was hired for a temporary job on Feb. 29, 2012. He was hired again on Aug. 19, 2013, and when that contract was terminated, he signed another contract with North Miami on Sept. 7 which started on Oct. 1. He was paid $8,780 in total.

In its investigation, the commission noted that Pluviose-Claude said in a statement that she urged the then-finance director not to hire her husband. “Not because of any legal or ethical reason, but because she simply did not want to work in the same organization as her spouse,” a commission attorney wrote in a memo.

The commission will send a letter of instruction to North Miami’s city administration as a reminder of the ethics code and an order to not violate it.

“The letter will be addressed to the city because other people made the hiring, not Ms. Claude,” Sibilis said.

In other action, the commission will attempt to set a hearing date for a pending ethics complaint against North Miami Councilwoman Marie Steril.

Steril’s mother, Marie Charles-Brutus, received high-end counter tops and appliances because Steril insisted city staff make upgrades to Steril’s house, which was subsidized through the city.

The ethics commission found probable cause in March that Steril exploited her official position when she asked for the nearly $8,000 in upgrades.

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