It’s no secret that the leaders of Miami-Dade’s two largest governments don’t get along lately.
Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and county Mayor Carlos Gimenez have sparred over property tax collections and got tangled over who should partner with soccer star David Beckham to build a tax-free stadium. Most recently, Gimenez referred Carvalho to the local ethics commission for possibly violating a standard government gag-order regarding redevelopment of the Liberty Square public housing project.
The intrigue was raised Wednesday, when school district officials said Carvalho was “uninvited” from a press conference featuring the mayor. But the county police, who hosted the press conference, said Carvalho wasn't invited in the first place – in an effort to keep the crowd manageable at the last-minute event.
"We didn't uninvite anybody," said Miami-Dade Police Spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta.
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School district spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego said the district reached out to the police department and asked whether the superintendent would “need to be there" since he has taken a forceful public stand in the face of a rash of shootings of young people in Miami-Dade.
A press release announced Carvalho would appear along with the mayor and state attorney.
But the superintendent wasn’t at the press conference.
Gonzalez-Diego said Carvalho was uninvited after police told her the event had become “too big and too political.”
The police department originally said the release simply went out without confirming the superintendent’s availability. The school system disputed that, saying the superintendent agreed to go.
Zabaleta later said he agreed to add Carvalho to the press release after the school district reached out. But Zabaleta said he didn’t run it up the chain of command first and the command staff had already decided to keep the event small after fielding requests from other community leaders who wanted to be at the press conference.
"Maybe I made a decision too quickly," Zabaleta said. "If we say yes to one, we have to say yes to everybody."
He added: "It's nothing like people are making it... we have the utmost respect for the superintendent and he gave us praise," on Twitter for making arrests in King's case.
As for the mayor, his spokesman, Michael Hernández, stressed the press conference was arranged by the police department – not the mayor’s office.
“To read into anything else beyond that is, at least in my opinion, unnecessary and unfortunate. This is not a political issue,” Hernandez said.
Gimenez is up for reelection this year, and though his only rival so far is school board member Raquel Regalado, Carvalho’s name is constantly floated as a possible contender. The superintendent insists he’s not interested in running for office.
Carvalho didn’t address the issue directly. But in answering a reporter’s question about why the superintendent has taken such an active role on the issue of gun violence, Carvalho responded, in part:
“I have to say that I may have stepped on somebody's toes on the issue of jurisdiction or ‘not my job.’ It may not be my job but it’s my responsibility,” he said.
This article has been updated to include new comments from the Miami-Dade Police Department.