Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Opa-locka may oust City Manager Steve Shiver at special meeting Tuesday

Then Miami-Dade County Manager Steve Shiver speaking with Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor on a tour of the city in 2001
Then Miami-Dade County Manager Steve Shiver speaking with Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor on a tour of the city in 2001 Miami Herald File

Opa-locka city commissioners will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday to decide whether to terminate a 30-month contract with their newly hired city manager Steve Shiver, just days after he penned a letter to the governor detailing the city’s financial crisis.

A local contractor also has recently accused him of soliciting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for the city paying his final invoice on a sewer project.

“When the mayor and I spoke about coming to Opa-locka, she insisted that I do what was necessary and that I fix their problems,” Shiver told the Miami Herald on Monday. “And when I began doing that, the same elected official told me you can’t fix Opa-locka — this is how we’ve always done it.”

The commissioners will discuss Shiver’s future less than five days after he wrote that he had “inherited a city operation where outside forces and lack of consistent management have significantly impacted the financial health of the organization,” in a letter to Gov. Rick Scott.

“Due to numerous changes in City Managers and top staff, poor decisions over recent years have led to today’s major cash flow crisis,” Shiver detailed in the Oct. 22 letter. “The City remains challenged in paying its bills timely and, every two weeks is challenged just to meet staff payroll needs.”

Commissioner Luis Santiago, who sources say is sponsoring the legislation to fire Shiver, did not return calls seeking comment Monday evening.

Opa-locka hired Shiver, a former Homestead mayor and one-time Miami-Dade County manager, in early September with a salary of $150,000 a year. The vote was 3-2. Mayor Myra Taylor and commissioners Terence Pinder and Luis Santiago approved his hire, and Vice Mayor Timothy Holmes and Joseph Kelley voted against.

Shiver previously served as county manager from 2001 to 2003 under then-Mayor Alex Penelas, after spending four years as Homestead’s mayor from 1997 to 2001.

A 2010 county audit cited Shiver’s role as a private businessman in dealings with the Homestead Community Redevelopment Agency, which was established after Hurricane Andrew ravaged the region nearly two decades earlier. In 2007, Shiver convinced the Homestead CRA to pay $1.9 million to a company with whom he worked to buy 4.2 acres of depressed real estate in Homestead. The audit found the sales price was more than market value; the land was never developed.

In these latest allegations against Shiver, George Howard, president of Pembroke Pines-based United States Association of CDC, accused him of soliciting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for the city paying the company’s final $272,000 bill on a sewer project. Howard has said city officials ordered changes that added $272,000 to the cost. On Oct. 14, commissioners voted 4-1 not to pay him, based on advice from Shiver and the city attorney. Only the mayor voted in favor of Howard.

Howard, in a letter obtained by the Miami Herald, claimed Shiver “expressly stated” the bill could only be paid if he paid a kickback to Taylor. Taylor has said she didn’t know what the letter was about. She could not be reached for comment Monday.

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