"What the f---"
"Sh-h-h! Get your shoes off!"
It was Lincoln Basel, MVB's art critic. I quickly removed my shoes and sat next to him. "What the fuck," I whispered, "is going on?"
"We're worshipping the Christopher Mazzella Buddha."
I looked up at the towering statue. I wondered how the hell they got it up the steps and into the office. It took up most of the office space it was so goddamn big. I looked around. Another group of true believers, so close they were rubbing shoulders with the Buddhists, were kneeling in front of the Elita Loresca altar doing their best to om away hurricanes. No one was working. I turned to Lincoln and tapped him on the shoulder to get him to open his eyes and stop his praying. "Lincoln," I whispered, "just one question. Why?"
"The Miami Herald has uncovered more bad news about local government. Some chick named Barbara Gomez, Director of Miami's housing agency, is under investigation for steering over a million dollars to one of her ex-husbands who once did time for smuggling cocaine."
"But that's normal here. Do you think it requires founding a new religion?"
"The Herald also reports she's under investigation for steering millions of dollars to developers who failed to deliver on public housing projects."
"Yeah, so? This is the norm here. I don't think--"
"Her other ex-husband is Rene Rodriguez."
I stopped short. Rene Rodriguez was the Teflon bureaucrat who once directed Miami-Dade county's corrupt and mismanaged public housing agency before taking an early retirement.
"We think, " Lincoln whispered, "Christopher Mazzella and his staff will need all the help they can get."
I couldn't argue with him. It appeared the tentacles of corruption and greed were running deeper than anyone had suspected. I shifted onto my knees and started praying, crossing myself, and genuflecting for all I was worth.
UpDate (6/28): The Miami Herald reports today that the Miami city manager is forcing the Godfaddah (aka Miami Housing Director) to take an early retirement. Downside: She may walk away with a penison worth $1 million.
UpDate (7/13): Barbara Gomez, the Miami Housing Director, is fired and loses million dollar pension. Also fired, Mary Conway, Chief of Operations, for allowing a group of employees known as "The Firm" to operate a private business out of that department.