Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mayor Christine Moreno

Howard Neu was the mayor and he'd asked me to chair his re-election campaign. He'd appointed me to the Planning Commission. I declined chairing the Commission but accepted the vice-chairman position. I had way too many things going at the same time. I'd helped him form Task Force 101, also known as The Mayor's Economic Task Force. Then twenty years ago he suggested that I run for John Haggerty's seat on the city council. Running against an incumbant didn't exactly seem like a good plan but he said that he'd help me raise money and endorse me. Why not? I figured, I'll give it a shot. I went to the city clerk's and filed to run for Haggerty's council seat. Within a day or two I heard that Haggerty had decided not to seek re-election.(Did Howard Neu know something I didn't?) I was in! With the mayor backing me I was unlikely to draw new opposition.

WRONG! Next thing I hear is that Howard Premer, the owner of radio station WKAT, had filed for the seat. Now things were getting tough. It would be difficult to raise the kind of money that Premer could just write a personal check for! I considered dropping out until somebody told me that Howard Neu was now backing Howard Premer, not me. Supposedly in exchange for a weekly radio talk show. This was WAR! Never piss off a scorpio, and I was pissed big time.

A few weeks later my wife Claudia and I were attending a Chamber of Commerce dinner at the Miami Shores Country Club. We sat with city attorney Will Splitstoesser and his girlfriend, a young good looking barely out of law school attorney, Christine Moreno. Her father was a realtor and very involved in the city but Christine hadn't been. Christine was sitting between Will and myself as we discussed the upcoming election. Suddenly she asked "How come nobody is running against Howard?" At exactly the same tme, as if we'd rehearsed it, Will and I both turned toward Christine and said in unison "Why don't YOU run?"

Come morning and I started getting phone calls. They were all "Did you hear that Christine Moreno went to the city clerk's office and filed to run against Howard Neu?" A plan formed in my evil scorpio mind! I must admit that the plan likely resulted in my losing the council race by a narrow margin, but even with all his money Premer won by a very narrow margin. Right after the votes were tallied he told me that up until the last precinct was counted he wasn't sure of the outcome.

Getting back to the mayor's race, which is where I'd invested way too much time and effort, a friend who was familiar with the city's politics and the major players, but whose voice wouldn't be recognized by the Miami Herald reporter (this was before caller I.D.) called the reporter almost every day with more juicy morsels about the mayor. No deeds truely illegal, but enough off track to raise serious doubts about him, along with whom to call to follow up on the items. The day before the election the editor at the Herald wrote something like yes, Christine Moreno was young and inexperienced, but there were too many doubts about Howard Neu. They endorsed Christine. She won. She became North Miami's first,and so far only, female mayor.

A year or two later Howard Neu packed up his law practice and moved up to Broward County.

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Blogger WGibson said...

what a great story, remind me never to piss you off.

10:10 PM  

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