Any government that is created and vested with power to govern becomes a potential instrument of corruption and abuse of power at the expense of those governed. At the heart of municipal government is its power to collect revenues (fees, taxes, etc.), to enforce municipal codes, and to manage and spend the money it collects. It is a corporation whose officers and staff can be tempted to exploit their positions for personal gain. It is also a corporation that builds assets and invests wealth in other corporations yet is not obligated to return that wealth to its citizens. That wealth may be invested in the stock market or other revenue generating assets, and may be spent on various operations for which the public does not oversee what is going on or ensure accountability. There are many ways in which corruption can proliferate, either visibly or unseen.
Once corruption festers it usually grows rather than being halted and reversed, as there are often too many influential players involved in the corruption for enough of them to have the desire or courage to fix or reform things. What can the public do then? Options may be limited.
Corruption occurs countywide and rarely gets prosecuted:
Miami Beach's building director at center of public corruption probe:
City uncovers freelancing scam
"We are arresting virtually an entire arm of city government," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle said during a news conference in the lobby of the city administrative building.
The Capital Improvements department has 48 employees, City Manager Pete Hernandez said. The 10 arrested worked together on city construction plans.
The 11th person who will be arrested worked in the zoning department. All are charged with racketeering, theft and fraud among other charges, and each potentially faces 23 to 95 years in prison and loss of their city pension.
The group put together construction plans and designs for clients from the Keys to Ocala, designing everything from shopping centers and day-care centers to private homes, Fernández Rundle said.
They even got the city to buy specialized equipment and computer software that the city had no use for -- so they could use it to do their freelance work, she said.
"These 11 city workers decided that their government paycheck was insufficient and that the taxpayers owed them more," she said.
A controversial no-bid Capital Improvements contract that benefited prominent City Hall lobbyist Steve Marin has grown by at least $21 million during the past two or so years. That and other cost increases have left the department cash-strapped -- placing about $39 million worth of planned projects at risk.
Meanwhile, The Miami Herald reported in 2005 that when Conway was the department's director, she was significantly involved in deciding which contractors from a preapproved list received city work -- a list that included her husband Scott's employer, Louisville, Ky.-based Corradino Group.
Corradino Group at the time had received more work than any of the other 22 firms on the list. But county ethics officials, noting that Scott Conway did not have an ownership interest in the company, said no ethics laws had been violated."Note: Joseph M. Corradino of the Corradino Group was elected as Pinecrest's fourth mayor in 2016. He served on the Pinecrest Village Council from 2006-2014 and previously was a member of the Village's Planning and Zoning Board for four years
The Corradino Group also developed the Growth Management Plan for Cutler Bay. As you can see, some private enterprises profit from the business they get from municipal governments and other government corporations. When government and the corporations it contracts with are managed by people who are financially benefiting one another or who have dual roles or other conflicts of interest, the public often gets fleeced.
Financial Reports from Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, and Miami-Dade County (if you can't tell whether or not the finances show efficiency and accountability consider that there may not be much meaningful accountability with a new municipality. Even the financial reports are just detailed summaries of the data reported by the corporation/government, they are not audits, so there can be a glowing report even if, for example, a contractor is massively overbilling the city or employees are fraudulently getting paid for overtime.)
The Shell Game: Money Laundering And Miami Area Real Estate.
How secret offshore money helps fuel Miami's luxury real-estate boom
Regulators to dig deeper into U.S. luxury property deals
Why isn't Treasury's crackdown on real estate money permanent?