Just when we thought Doral was going back to a calmer era, the city is once again facing some bumps on the road. This time the Chief of Police Richard Blom is out the door. Only after 17 months on the job, it is fair to say the Chief was doing a pretty decent job. During his tenure, Doral increased the number of police officers and had a better handle on the drug problem among our youth.
But this is Doral, and the word stability seems to be low in the city’s priorities. Blom and his replacement would be the 3rd and 4rd police chief respectively that Doral would have in less than two years. For a position that is of utmost importance in any city, changing chiefs so often doesn’t reflect well, no matter how progressive or developed a city may be. So why get rid of someone that apparently was doing a good job? There could be many answers to that mystery. First it is true than in Doral, as it happens in any municipality, a new city manager has the authority and freedom to put together his or her own team of Directors. At the end of the day, his closest collaborators usually make or break a manager’s overall performance.
But judging by what El Nuevo Herald reported after Blom resigned, his “dismissal” looks more like payback time, and –you guessed it- it has to do more with former Manager Joe Carollo. Other media outlets also put the blame at the fact that there was a “leak” inside the Police Department. More than a leak, it was a constant waterfall of information from the police to Mr. Carollo even after he was fired by the city council. In an apparent move to block the information flow, the manager had no other choice but to close the cascade allegedly perpetrated inside the police walls.
This opens the gate to more questions. Did former Chief Blom know something about Doral that could damage the city’s reputation or those of the elected officials? Why does Carollo insist, as reported by El Nuevo Herald, that the problems at Doral happen because is “governed by corrupted elected officials?” Does Carollo have evidence of that? As DFJ reported before, there has been a lot of accusations in Doral but no serious process to prove it and as far as we know, nobody has filed a defamation lawsuit.
There is also the upcoming overhaul of the city structure. The new manager is looking to create a Safety Department combining police, code enforcement and public works. Chief Blom was allegedly offered to oversee this department but there was no final agreement. Another reason why he stepped down. We could conclude there might be a little bit of true in all of the above.
The city is approaching its budget season and charter amendments will be presented before the voters in August including the new salaries for elected officials. But July is more about zoning changes and construction. Judging by the marathon of meetings that started at 9am on July 9th (about 13 hours according to the last count) everybody seemed to be in a hurry to approve projects that were placed in the back burner for some time.
We are all for progress but hopefully this new furor of multimillion-dollar condominiums under the fancy word of “mix-used” are developed in a smart way and will not overload the already crowded streets in the city. Let’s hope Publix or Winn-Dixie is thinking of adding one more store in Doral. Actually a top-notch hospital would not be a bad idea. Though the city has done an incredible job of adding open space and recreation areas since its incorporation, there is still a need for a good emergency center.
During the July 9th meeting, two major projects received the go-ahead at least after first reading: Transal Park and Contempo Townhomes, the first located on the Southeast corner of NW 87th Avenue and NW 27th street and Contempo, located on NW 33rd Street and NW 91st avenue.
No surprising the city is also looking to renew the contract with ATS, the company in charge of the red-light cameras. Undoubtedly there will be more traffic and intersections prone to accidents. Luckily, another company that was also on the agenda to be considered for a contract was turned down. The red-light camera company by the name of Redflex has been in trouble lately. According to the Chicago Tribune, Redflex company officials admitted last year that a large contract with the wind city was probably the result of a $2 million bribery. The scheme involved a former Chicago city official who oversaw the red-light camera program.
Thankfully Doral is not Chicago but only a close oversight of the city administration and its procedures can guarantee that our city is not tainted with schemes like the ones perpetrated in the city up north. Our police force and other law enforcement agencies are the first line of defense not only to protect us but also to prevent public corruption. But we all have a role to play in our government. The more we get involved, the more we can protect our hard-earned tax payer dollars.
We just celebrated the 4th of July and Doral once again opened its arms to residents from all over the county. Over 30,000 people attended the celebrations at J.C. Bermudez Park, setting a new record of attendance. Let’s remember that one of the best things this country has to offer is the fact that we are a nation that is ruled by law. We have lost a lot of blood and treasure to defend this form of government. Doral will thrive now that it’s beginning its second decade of existence as long as that rule of law prevails.