Strong disagreements with Doral’s new city manager, Edward Rojas, over the future of the city’s police department were revealed in a letter made public Wednesday by former Police Chief Richard Blom.
Blom, who several city sources say was forced to resign on Tuesday, said Rojas plans to make changes that would include turning the police headquarters into a department of public safety, which would also oversee the code compliance, public works and public affairs departments.
“I believe I have the experience, qualifications and credentials to do that job,” Blom wrote in a letter sent to El Nuevo Herald. “However, I also feel that with so many ongoing projects and initiatives, including expanding the police headquarters, the most prudent and responsible course of action would be to name a full-time police chief capable of supervising the police department.”
Rojas declined to speak to reporters during a recess of Wednesday’s council meeting at City Hall.
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Rojas’ office made available only a letter he sent Tuesday to council members assuring them that Blom’s exit was an “amicable agreement.” In it, he added that his intention is to name Blom’s replacement on Aug. 1, the date on which Blom’s contract ends.
Mayor Luigi Boria said Wednesday that Blom resigned on his own, and supported Rojas for not elaborating publicly on Blom’s exit because “he should focus on his job” as city manager.
“As far as I know, Mr. Blom decided to go on a different path,” Boria said. “[Blom] is a man of a lot of experience. I know he has his family and wants to dedicate more time to it or pursue different horizons, which everyone has a right to do.”
Boria added that the restructuring of city government, which includes grouping together the police and other departments, is part of Doral’s urban growth. Boria said Blom was offered the opportunity to head those departments several times, but he turned it down.
However, City Council member Sandra Ruiz on Wednesday reiterated the account she gave El Nuevo Herald a day earlier, in which she said Rojas was trying to fire Blom.
“He talked to me on Friday about his plans to fire Blom,” Ruiz said. “Formally, it may appear that Blom submitted his resignation, I suppose in order to not affect his professional future, but that is what happened.”
In June, Ruiz was the only council member to oppose naming Rojas as city manager, saying he was too inexperienced.
Council member Bettina Rodríguez-Aguilera said Tuesday that Rojas’ decision to force Blom out exposes Doral to a new and unnecessary instability.
Boria rejected the suggestion that Rojas may have fired Blom, a former Miami assistant police chief, because he had been hired by Joe Carollo, Boria’s political enemy. Carollo was fired as city manager in April.
Deputy Police Chief Joe Seiglie has temporarily taken over the Police Department.