Is Miami City Attorney in bed with developers?

Victoria Mendez
I happened upon the City Commission meeting today to find our District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell calling for the removal of City Attorney Victoria Mendez. He released a letter saying that Mrs. Mendez is tied in with the Battersea Woods re-platting issue . . . intimately.

Thursday was to be the day that the Battersea Woods project was to be heard. That's where the developer wants to put seven houses on the single house plat of land.

Ken's letter, which he read to the commission and residents today, claims in part:

1) Mrs. Mendez intervened improperly in a zoning matter in order to overrule a determination of the zoning administrator, an overreach of her position that is in opposition to our city code. 

2. Mrs. Mendez ignored the opinion of experts both inside and outside her department when their findings were not favorable to the request of a lobbyist friend. This includes re-assigning analysis of the issue within her department after an assistant city attorney made a finding unfavorable to the lobbyist.

3. Mrs. Mendez mis-characterized the events related to this issue when queried by our office.

4. Upon being asked to provide backup information to help us understand the issue, Mrs. Mendez withheld dozens of vital documents. These documents conveniently included all reference to her involvement in the issue at the request of the lobbyist.

He goes on to say, "I believe the level of impropriety that I have been able to document warrants the removal of Victoria Mendez from her position as city attorney, as well as an independent inquiry into her department's policies for handling zoning matters and public records requests."

Mrs. Mendez's former role with the city was as zoning section lawyer.

This may explain a lot. I suggest the whole Planning & Zoning department be investigated. There were many of us who know there was something wrong going on regarding tree removal, development and such. Complaints and emails are ignored, the department always seemed to side with the developers 99% of the time. I personally know people who were approached by city workers offering them to "take care of any zoning issues," like trees and up-zoning, and more, for a fee. 

What was decided in the end was that there would be a discussion at the next Commission meeting in two weeks, to review what the city attorney has done. Battersea is on hold and the next step is to discuss whether to hire an independent council to review the situation.