Local political drama doesn't get much better than what broke out in Miami, yesterday. The Miami Herald reports that the city's police chief Miguel Exposito claims that city officials offered him two $200,000 checks to "leave his position as chief quietly." The first to be paid when he agreed to the offer; the second when he returned to being a civilian.
It's not clear yet whether any laws were broken or whether federal or state authorities are looking into the allegations, but the announcement caps a tumultuous relationship between the chief and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado. The Herald gives us a brief on the dramatic history:
The battle between the police chief and the mayor began over a year ago, in April 2010, after a series of botched, high-profile public corruption arrests. The next month, the relationship deteriorated when Regalado pushed through an ordinance to allow video gaming slot machines to operate in the city — against the wishes of Exposito, who says the so-called maquinitas are a form of illegal gambling under state law.
Later, in the summer, Miami police were involved in a string of shootings of black men. Protests from the black community and family members of the dead men put pressure on Regalado to remove the chief. By then, Commissioner Dunn had joined the fight.
The chief and the mayor's differences peaked in October, when Exposito ordered his department to seize hundreds of the slot machines — 11 days after Regalado's ordinance passed.
In December, Exposito held a press conference at police headquarters to say he was notifying federal authorities that Regalado had interfered with the raids.
This morning, the two came head to head at an anti-gun rally, according the Miami New Times. Regalado said he knew nothing of the offer.
"If that offer was made, he should have reported it to authorities months ago," the New Times reports Regalado said. "I am very concerned about the city's image as we work on a new budget."
For his part, Exposito showed up with flanked by senior police officials. He said he went public with the offer, after a local blogger dredged up a voided $200,000 check made out in Exposito's name. The check, he said, confirmed the offer.