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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Miami-Dade County Commisioner Abruptly Resigns

It has been three years since we had anyone on the Miami-Dade County Board of Commisioners leave office because of the taint of corruption. Could it be that this new modern-day record is ending, or is it an issue of health? Barbara Carey-Shuler resigned from the Miami-Dade County Commission, effective Monday, November 12. Ms. Carey Shuler, an African American, was orignally appointed to office, 26 years ago following the McDuffie riots. The riots occurred in 1979 after a beating and slaying of an African American by 4 police officers in Miami's Overtown neighborhood, following a period of African Americans being displaced from much of the neighborhood to make way for a freeway exchange. Carey-Schuler emerged as a community spokesperson who advocated the need for increased job opportunities for Overtown residents and more Black police officers.

Ms. Carey-Shuler was a long time political ally and mentor of sorts to the late Arthur Teele who served on the Miami city and Miami-Dade county commisions. In the more recent past she distanced herself publicly from Teele, becoming a strong ally of his rival Miami Mayor Diaz and his city manager and commssion allies. She supported Mayor Diaz's former employee and hand-picked candidate Michelle Spence-Jones who won the election for Teele's former seat over the Teele legacy candidate.

Carey-Shuler has come under scrutiny for some questionable dealings, including the securing and non-payment of a low-interest loan for a school she started. Questions regarding conflict of interests and preferential treatment in qualifying for the loan had brought criticism but no charges. The school she founded, the Carey Technical Institute, eventually defaulted on the loan.

Carey-Shuler was criticized for inconsistencies with payroll records at her job with the school system. She was a high salaried employee of the school district who received pay for a considerable amount of hours that she was not there, but were on her time sheets. More recently, her name surfaced in an ongoing state attorney's office investigation into an organized ring involved in fuel theft at Miami International Airport. She has also been criticized, as others on the commission have, about her close relationship with lobbyists.

At Wednesday's commission meeting, officials were addressing agenda items when a little before 5 p.m. they all received a letter that led to Chairman Joe Martinez calling for a recess. Ms. Carey-Shuler's letter announced her resignation citing her need to attend to health problems of family members and as well as her own on going health concerns. Ms. Carey is 65. Some are speculating about outside pressure that has perhaps forced Ms Carey Shuler to resign, either in connection with the airport case, lobbyist dealings or other unknown causes.

Miami-Dade residents became hopeful in recent months that we would began to elect officals rather than have them indicted or convicted or resign in a cloud of scandal.

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