October 27, 2021
‘Untenable and unsustainable’: Miami Mayor stands by manager’s move to oust police chief
 
 
By Joey Flechas
 

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez broke his silence Tuesday at City Hall about the controversy that has erupted around Police Chief Art Acevedo, who is suspended and facing termination as soon as Wednesday.

Suarez, a key player in the hiring of Acevedo — whom the mayor called the “Michael Jordan of police chiefs” while introducing him to Miami only six months ago — had for weeks refused to speak publicly about whether he stands by his pick, or discuss Acevedo’s allegations of corruption at City Hall.

In a press conference outside his second-floor office, Suarez stood by the decision of City Manager Art Noriega to suspend the chief and recommend his firing to the commission. But he also wished Acevedo “the best of luck in the future.”

“This is not about fault,” Suarez said

“I and every elected official had the expectation and the hope that this would work out.”’

The mayor said it was “obvious” that Acevedo’s personality and leadership style did not mesh with the city leaders, and that moving to fire him was a “difficult decision” that “marks the beginning of the end of an unfortunate episode.” 

He said a situation where a top city administrator such as Acevedo is “at war” with the city’s elected leadership “is simply untenable and unsustainable.”

Suarez answered 10 questions during the 12-minute news conference before departing for his office as reporters continued to shout questions.

Prior to Tuesday’s press conference, Suarez had kept a low profile as Acevedo — who was still the police chief in Houston when he announced he was coming to Miami — and a majority of Miami’s city commission went to war.

The mayor did not attend two lengthy, dramatic meetings in late September and early October where commissioners — mostly Joe Carollo — excoriated Acevedo over his record in other police departments and over his fashion choices and dance moves during fundraisers in Texas. At one point during one of those days, Suarez did a live interview about cryptocurrency from his second-floor suite at City Hall instead of coming downstairs.

After Acevedo alleged corruption among commissioners, who flung accusations of impropriety back at the chief, Suarez only released a few prepared statements that shifted focus to Noriega.

Suarez told reporters Tuesday that he would not opine on the allegations made in Acevedo’s eight-page memo, saying that he was not “an investigator or a prosecutor.” He said Acevedo did not consult him before penning the memo.

“When you [Acevedo] throw down the gauntlet that way, you set up a scenario that can be untenable,” he said.

Suarez — who is running for reelection on Nov. 2 — attributed his recent silence to the complicated nature of the situation, and his 44th birthday, which he spent celebrating with his wife and children last Wednesday.

At one point last week, the mayor scurried away from Univision reporter Erika Carrillo who pressed him for answers after a City Hall event, and a police officer from his security detail physically blocked her for a moment from getting closer to the mayor.

On Friday, he told the Miami Herald that often times, “leadership means speaking up and driving a public message. 

“Other times it requires quiet work and discretion,” he said in a statement.

Commissioners have the ultimate say on whether Acevedo is fired or stays. A 2 p.m. Wednesday public hearing to decide what to do with the chief has tentatively been rescheduled for late Thursday afternoon, though Suarez said a Friday hearing remained a possibility.

In the meantime, Assistant Police Chief Manny Morales has been named interim chief in Acevedo’s stead.