Founder & Editor
The Coral Gables City Commission held its regular meeting on April 12th and discussed some controversial items where the City Manager, Peter Iglesias, showed his political agenda to try to block the interests of residents and the Commission.
The future of Burger Bob’s has been a hot item of discussion for several months. From inappropriate back-room deal negotiated by the Manager and his team of a contract that cost the City thousands in legal counsel to the letter sent by the Manager on behalf of the City asking Bob to leave requiring Commission intervention, maintaining the historic diner has been a request from the community.
The City Commission had asked staff to present a budget for a simple renovation to the locale, with a simple yet appealing look that would allow for patrons to continue to enjoy the site.
Staff returned this meeting with the City Manager’s proposed budget, a shocking $900,000 and a timeline that would not have the locale open again in 2022.
The Mayor and Commission were shocked at the number. The Mayor, who himself is in the construction industry, stated that the numbers were nowhere near in the ballpark. In fact, he asked and secured the Commission’s blessing to work on pricing the project out himself to present the Commission with a realistic number.
Manager Iglesias tried to block the Mayor’s request, stating that he would work on the numbers, but sources at City Hall inform Gables Insider that Iglesias was personally involved in the process of securing the $900,000 price tag to the Commission.
The Commission also instructed the Manager to communicate with Rita Tennyson and gauge her interest in managing the restaurant.
This was not the only astronomical price presented by the Manager and staff to the Commission.
Since her election to the Commission, Commissioner Rhonda Anderson has been working to create Coral Gables’ first dog park. An issue that has been long discussed and never created, Anderson presented a location at Salvadore Park where a dog park can be created without much fanfare and at a relatively low cost.
Enter Iglesias and his team. The price tag for a park that would require a simple fence was presented as $275,000. Another shocking number for the Commission which seemed to be getting irritated.
The reason they gave was the need to move drains and create extensive sidewalk designs.
The Mayor and Commissioner Anderson echoed each other’s sentiments that the request was for a simple park and that all the elaborate hurdles being placed need to be simplified. As the Mayor stated, drains do not need to be moved, rather new drain covers should be found. Staff was also very forceful towards the Commission stating that aluminum fencing, which is currently at an all-time high, was required instead of a chain-link fence.
The City Manager also made it a point to say that there was no place to get the money for this project. Yet, Finance Director Diana Gomez stated, during an item related to the need for an additional $640,000 for the Mobility Hub, that the City has a contingency fund with money for items such as this.
The Commission sent them back with instructions to return with a simple plan that does not break the bank.
So why place astronomical price tags on these projects? Financial troubles.
Gables Insider has been looking into the City’s finances and found that money appropriated by the Commission for specific projects is being used to cover cost overruns or mismanagement of funds by Iglesias.
One of Iglesias’ projects was the Police and Fire Headquarters. That project went over budget by several million dollars and Iglesias raided other funds to cover the difference. These overruns have forced the City to take measures to replenish the accounts with such moves as selling the Greco lot to former Vice Mayor Frank Quesada and his business partner in another back-room deal arranged by Iglesias.
Sources tell Gables Insider, the movement of funds is common place and the Commission is kept in the dark.