Oct. 30, 2015

New city manager Steve Shiver accused of demanding bribe


Story by Derek Joy


Financial woes and perpetual allegations of criminal wrongdoing continue to plague the city of Opa-locka.

The latest is that recently hired City Manager Steve Shiver has been accused of an extortion attempt.

George Howard, president of United States Association of CDC Inc. (USACDC), is demanding payment in the amount of $272,602.14, for a change order for Pump Station 5, dated May 22, 2014, according to City Clerk Joanna Flores.

Following a private meeting with Shiver, after twice failing to win consent for payment from the City Commission, Howard then launched a written salvo at Shiver, accusing the city manager of demanding a $150,000 payment be made to Mayor Myra Taylor.

“I stand by my letter to the city manager 1,000 percent. I refuse to take back any of that,” said Howard. “There is a bigger issue here. If I hadn’t put it in any writing, who would have believed me?” said Howard.

Howard waivered when asked whether the meeting with Shiver was before or after he had been twice denied payment. Shiver recalls the meeting with Howard occurred after the City Commission failed to approve a payment for the second time.

This installment of another raunchy political saga raises more questions than concrete answers.

The city recently parted ways with City Manager Kelvin Baker, replaced him with Opa-locka CRA Director Ed Brown on an interim basis, hired former Homestead Mayor and Miami-Dade County Manager Steve Shiver, who then engineered Brown’s ouster from the CRA.

That was a bit of drama that paled in the shadows of the city’s penchant for running budget deficits. Shiver balanced this year’s budget, staving off a deficit for a third consecutive year just weeks after being hired, only to be accused of demanding a bribe.

According to Howard, he entered into a contract with the city Opa-locka in 2012 to work on Pump Station No. 5, located at 2331 NW 135th St.

He said there were no design plans when he entered into the contract, while noting, that complications delayed the project, which was completed April 6, 2015. Howard said the project took three years because the city didn’t have any money in 2012, among other factors contributing to the delay.

Shiver emphatically denied the allegations in Howard’s letter.

“That’s false. Absolutely no merit to it. I will be completely cleared,” said Shiver. “If I had contrived an illegal payment to the mayor, I would have said pay him at the first meeting, the second meeting.”

Shiver is no stranger to questionable financial/business practices. Brown, during proceedings to oust him from the CRA, cited Shiver’s questionable business dealings in public and private sector that were well chronicled by the Miami Herald.

There were never any formal charges against Shiver in any of his financial failures in the public or private sector. Still, those escapades raised valid questions for opponents of Shiver’s hire as city manager.

It is unclear whether or not the $272,602.14 Howard is demanding was included in the $1.8 million in unpaid vendor contract carried over to this fiscal year. It is also unclear of the origin of Howard’s contract.

“The work was completed April 6, 2015. The station is functional,” said Howard,

Meanwhile, Howard is threatening legal action against the city. Shiver is steadfast in his denial of the extortion attempt.