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Something don’t smell right in the City of North Miami Beach

Written by Reginald J. Clyne, Esq.

What’s going on in North Miami Beach? Mayor Anthony DeFillipo lives in Davie, but pretends he has residency in the city. Now he’s being prosecuted by the Miami-Dade County state attorney for three counts of voter fraud, each a third-degree felony. Gov. Ron DeSantis has just removed him from office because it’s in the “best interests of the residents of the city of North Miami Beach.”

The Black commissioners who protested DeFillipo’s role as mayor because of his residency claims have been vindicated, because every vote he took was by definition invalid. Now, Commissioner Michael Joseph will hopefully prevail in the 120-day-violation lawsuit that was filed to unseat him.

On top of having a mayor who shouldn’t have been on the dais in the first place, it seems like a racist plan was put into effect to push out the city manager and city attorney, who are both Black. And it now appears that the historic promotion of a Black female police chief is about to be undone. Gains in diversity and inclusion are being squashed. Maybe justice will vindicate those who were and are being forced out.

DeFillipo, soon to be convicted of those three felonies, knew or should have known that his gig as mayor was up on Jan. 13, when Luis E. Suárez, an attorney hired to conduct an independent analysis of his residency status, wrote that DeFillipo was violating the city charter by living in Davie while pretending to still be a resident of North Miami Beach.

Other than racism, can someone explain the systemic removal of all senior Black city employees? Can someone explain why commissioners, who are not supposed to be involved in personnel decisions, are systematically excising all Black leadership? It might be time for the inspector general to investigate ethics violations. Who knows, maybe more heads will roll in the North Miami Beach. If enough do, future elected officials may walk a straighter and more narrow path.

Sometimes, when things don’t smell right there’s a reason, and the stank coming from North Miami Beach has reached the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. I want to congratulate the SAO for taking the correct but perhaps politically risky position of going after a sitting politician. But DeFillipo needs to go.

What gets in the head of some people? Though DeFillipo ran for mayor of North Miami Beach, the city apparently wasn’t good enough for him on a personal level, so he moved his family to Davie. Clearly, he doesn’t love the municipality where he’s been serving as mayor. Perhaps DeFillipo should just remain on the board of his homeowners association to get his stewardship fix. Why pretend to be mayor when you don’t even live in the city? Is power so important to him that he’ll lie and cheat to keep it?

I have never run for office – intentionally. I don’t have the stomach for it. But for those few political leaders with integrity and genuine love of community, I applaud you. For many others, who just like the title and rush of being “important,” you need to grapple with your higher power and learn some humility.

Reginald J. Clyne, Esq. is a Miami trial lawyer who has practiced in some of the largest law firms in the United States. Clyne has been in practice since 1987 and tries cases in both state and federal court. He has lived in Africa, Brazil, Honduras and Nicaragua.


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