DeFede: Press Conference Justice, Miami Style

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Jim-DeFede-600x450 Jim DeFede
Jim DeFede joined CBS4 News in January 2006, providing reg...
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MIAMI – (CBS4) – Last week we saw something I like to call Press Conference Justice.

Press Conference Justice is different from actual justice in that with a press conference the truth matters little. What counts is the show. The stagecraft. The sound bites.

“Today it’s the beginning of the end of the culture of corruption in the City of Miami,” Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado declared at the start of his press conference to announce the arrests of eight individuals on a variety of charges.

On its face it seemed quite compelling — three police officers arrested for abusing their power, an assistant director of a city department arrested for using city employees and resources to allegedly remodel his house, and four employees of two nonprofit agencies accused of fraud and theft.

“This is not another scandal,” Regalado went on to say. “This is not another black eye for the City of Miami. This is something that we had to do, This is something that we promised the people of Miami; to look into the wrongdoing in all the departments of the City of Miami and to rectify those issues that were done wrong in the past.”

The message was simple: As the city’s new mayor, Regalado was letting everyone know that his Administration — including his police chief, Miguel Exposito – were responsible for ferreting out these eight evil doers. But more important, Regalado was giving one last shot to the city’s old regime – former Mayor Manny Diaz and Diaz’s handpicked police chief, John Timoney.

They were always bitter rivals — Regalado and Diaz — and Thursday’s press conference merely allowed Regalado another opportunity to say how much better the city was going to be now that Diaz and Timoney are gone.

Never having been a fan of Diaz or Timoney myself, I also think the city is better with them faded from memory. And I think anyone — especially a police officer — who violates the public’s trust should be rooted out of government. But Thursday’s arrests suggested a whole new problem.

Thursday’s arrests were timed and made so that the mayor could make his speech and declare that there was a new day in the City of Miami. And let’s face it, staging arrests for the purpose of holding a press conference is as dangerous and as scary as anything Manny Diaz or John Timoney ever did.

The law — and not press conferences — should drive the decision when someone’s liberty should be taken from them and they are placed in jail.

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