Lynda Bell’s Country Tentacles

by SDM

Here at SDM, we talk politics with enough insiders to know one thing about Commissioner Lynda Bell: she sees Palmetto Bay as a key to holding her seat.

If you doubt us, take a look at where her district office is located. Yep, it’s right there in the center of Palmetto Bay next to the Starbucks at approximately SW 148th Street. She moved her office from its customary (and cheap) location at the South Dade Government Center because she wanted to physically plant herself in the heart of District 8’s voters.

It’s also no secret that lots of Palmetto Bay’s backroom wheeler-dealers have cozied up to Mrs. Bell, viewing her as a conservative alternative to South Dade’s historically left-wing commission representatives.  SDM sympathizes with the last part, for sure.

But after reading about Commissioner Bell’s latest familial favoritism involving her daughter (for another example see Lynda Bell’s Misuse of the Public Trust, which describes Bell’s naming of a public housing project after her mother), SDM has to wonder Bell’s Village People ought to reconsider their support.

The Miami Herald and Eye on Miami have detailed recently Commissioner Bell’s weird relationship to the City of Sweetwater, which eventually caused the Police Benevolent Association to object to a promotion granted to Bell’s daughter. Take a gander at these interwoven connections:

El Nuevo Herald weeks ago requested access to the personnel file of Officer Méndez, the daughter of County Commissioner Lynda Bell, as well as the files of other officers.

However, police spokesperson Jorge Fernández de Lara said this week that “higher authorities had requested that police personnel files and other documents” be kept secured because they could become evidence in an investigation.

Fernández de Lara, who did not identify the “higher authorities,” said those documents are locked in the department’s evidence room despite the fact that they are public records.

Méndez’s family has also received other benefits from the city of Sweetwater.

In October of last year, the city gave a contract to Fence Assured LLC, a fence installation company owned by Méndez and her husband, Damian.

City officials could not specify on Friday how much money the city has paid to Fence Assured since the signing of the contract, but the company has installed several wire-mesh fences at several Sweetwater properties, including a piece of land on Northwest 17th Street that, according to images published on the company’s website, are used by two city helicopters.

In February, Bell promoted legislation at the county commission to lift a ban on wire-mesh fences at homes without revealing her daughter’s business in this field. The Eye on Miami blog first reported on the fencing company last week.

Méndez started working as a police officer for the city of Sweetwater in January 2011, less than a year after being fired from the Homestead Police Department. Méndez lost her job as a reserve officer in Homestead, where her mother had been mayor, after allegedly threatening her boyfriend with a gun in February 2010. Méndez’s lawyer argued then that it had been in self-defense.

SDM understands how a mother would want to protect her child, but this story sounds like a bad country song.

I was drunk the day I threatened my old boyfriend,

So Homestead kicked me off of the force.

But before my defense lawyers got to the police station,

My mama got me a Sweetwater job!

And I’ll hang around as long as they will let me.

And we’ll fence every city lot for the right price.

You don’t have to call me Lynda’s daughter,

You should never even use my maiden name!

SDM Wonders: How did South Dade end up with two jokes on the ballot at once? We really need a break from Lynda Bell and Joe Garcia.

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