The same mayor who in the last year forgot who gave him a $100,000 sports sedan to drive, and who forgot to turn over relief monies to Haitian earthquake victims, now says he can’t remember why he ordered dozens of expensive official looking police-style badges.
North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre claims he purchased the badges for his staff. One of the badges was inscribed “City Clerk” while another 43 badges have the words “Mayor’s Staff” and feature the Florida state seal.
The issue critics say, is that the mayor shares a staff of only three people, with city council. Police chief Stephen Johnson said that he ordered the badges at the mayor’s request.
Invoices show that 20 badges and cases were delivered to police headquarters on Aug. 16, and another 24 on Nov. 5. According to the invoices, the total cost amounted to $4,151.
When reached for a comment by the Miami Herald, Pierre said, “My staff uses them as credentials at official events. I don’t know if the city-issued IDs are really official credentials.”
Pierre said he doesn’t remember how many he handed out, but he says that the remaining ones are in a box in his office. He also claims that he only asked for and received 20 badges.
Johnson said that it’s possible that the second set of badges is somewhere at police headquarters, and that he may possibly have ordered them by mistake. “I don’t know where they are. I don’t know why they need badges. I’m the new chief. If someone asks me to order badges, I order badges,” he said.
Pierre claims that even though he talked to Johnson about getting official badges, he didn’t actually order him to purchase them. “I had a conversation with the chief. It wasn’t an order I gave to the chief,” Pierre said. “The chief didn’t have to order them if he didn’t want to.”
Meanwhile the city manager, Russell Benford has scheduled a meeting with Johnson to determine why the badges were ordered in the first place, and where they are.
Upon learning of the badges, city council members expressed concern that so many badges that look just like police badges, were ordered for no good reason.
`There’s no reason for us to have it,” said Councilman Scott Galvin who stopped accepting his city-issued badge in 2001. “This opens up all sorts of Pandora’s boxes for abuse and misuse.”