Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Carmel on the Case: Mayor's Ride
When angry telephone calls started coming in to North Miami City Hall, safety became a big issue, and for the first time, 7News has obtained some of those calls. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
Lucie Tondreau: "If you disagree with it, it is too bad."
It started with telephone calls to City Hall.
City employee: "Can you give me your account number so I can straighten that out for you?"
Caller: "Who killed Kennedy?"
The caller was upset about his water bill, among other things.
Caller: "I'll tell you what, you keep double billing me and everything else, you've got a recording of some lady that's known to be a satanic worshipper."
He left this voicemail at another number.
Caller: "Why are you not at your job? OK, we'll call somebody else. Let's get you out of there."
The caller laced his rants with racial comments which we will not broadcast.
Caller: "You're gonna have a war on your hands, and they're gonna storm that building."
The calls were traced to a resident in the Keystone community who, when contacted by 7News, yelled at us and then hung up. A police sergeant had the same problem.
Police Sgt.: "I'd love to help you; you're going on like a 5-minute tirade each time. At this point, I must ask you to cease and desist from calling any local government numbers to tie up their phone lines."
Police investigated and closed the case after the State Attorney's Office determined, "no crime had been committed," but it was enough for the city to beef up security and the mayor to become concerned about her safety.
Lucie Tondreau: "It is my right to be accompanied by a police officer when the city is being threatened by, God knows, all type of crazy people."
The city manager says Lucie Tondreau is an active mayor and often on city business at night.
Stephen Johnson: "And she says, 'I know that other cities -- mayors -- have a police officer with them. Is there any reason why it doesn't happen here?'"
The mayor says it was the manager's idea.
Lucie Tondreau: "The city manager suggested that I have, not only me but also the council that are attending city functions, to be escorted."
Carmel Cafiero: "So it was the manager's idea, not yours?"
Lucie Tondreau: "Definitely."
Regardless of who had the idea, not everyone on the council thinks it's a good idea.
Scott Galvin: It's unnecessary and it's a waste of city resources. We as council members are not aloof. We are not above other members of the public, and we're certainly safe on the streets of our own community."
Council member Carol Keys agrees.
Carmel Cafiero: "So you feel safe to drive your own vehicle around the city?"
Carol Keys: "Oh, absolutely."
Carmel Cafiero: "Do you think the mayor should?"
Carol Keys: "I think she should."
We were not able to reach the other two members of the council to get their opinions. The city says either a police officer or a sergeant will be assigned as needed to the mayor and city council members. The cost? Anywhere from $46,000 to $81,000.
Carmel Cafiero: "And you think that's a good investment?"
Stephen Johnson: "I think that, if it's the desire of the council, if there's a need, you do it."
Meanwhile, the ethics commission is investigating, but the mayor is not concerned.
Lucie Tondreau: "But I surely like the attention. Thank you for putting me on television. I love it. Thank you."
Carmel Cafiero, 7News.
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