Veteran Miami-Dade Clerk Harvey Ruvin dies; opens seat up to politiqueria

Funeral Thursday is open to the public at Miami-Dade Auditorium

Was he the last of the good ones?

Longtime Miami-Dade County Clerk Harvey Ruvin, who served in the role for three decades after being a county commissioner for two decades, died Saturday. He was 85.

“Tonight, we are heartbroken to learn of Harvey Ruvin’s death — a public servant who embodied the best of government, and someone I was proud to call a friend,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava tweeted Saturday.

“Harvey Ruvin’s leadership helped create a Miami-Dade County that is welcoming, loving, progressive, and forward-leaning,” said Commission Chairman Oliver Gilbert in a statement. “He will be missed.”

That’s what many judges, attorneys, reporters and civic workers are saying about a man who got along with everybody. The funeral Thursday is not only open to the public, it will be at the Miami-Dade Auditorium on Flagler Street starting at 11 a.m. The interment and shiva will be private.

Ruvin will forever be the longest serving elected in the county, since term limits have made that kind of decades-long service impossible.

First elected mayor of North Bay Village in 1968, Ruvin has never been involved in any kind of nefarious shit, for all we can tell. And for someone who was in office as long as he was and not have a major scandal (fingers crossed) is unheard of in Miami-Dade. Instead, the Clerk’s Office — which oversees much of the county’s court system, including evictions, divorces, traffic citations, real estate sales, wills and other legal matters — has consistently improved during his tenure.

The office also provides clerks for the Miami-Dade County Commission and serves as custodian of public records and public funds. And it has been credited with ushering new technological advances to enhance the level of efficiency in services and access to records while keeping costs down.

We should name an award after him.

Now we are going to have to replace him. How do we do that? Well, voters probably won’t get a chance until 2024.

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Miami-Dade Chief Circuit Court Judge Nushin Sayfie appointed Luis Montaldo, 49, the clerk office’s general counsel — who has been doing Ruvin’s job already in his absence — as interim clerk.

“As we all continue to mourn the loss of our longtime Clerk Harvey Ruvin, it is important that the people of Miami-Dade County continue to be well-served by the Clerk’s Office to which Mr. Ruvin devoted so many decades of tireless work and dedication,” Sayfie said. “Mr. Montaldo was Mr. Ruvin’s General Counsel and right hand for many years, and I am confident that he will well and faithfully lead the office of Clerk as it continues to provide essential services for the people of Miami-Dade County.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis could leave Montalvo there or appoint his own interim through 2024. It depends. Is Montalvo Republican?

What do you think the guv’s going to do? Ladra doesn’t think he gives this opportunity up. DeSantis and his local political consultant David “Disgustin” Custin have been instrumental in getting Republicans elected locally, including to the county commission and the Miami-Dade School Board. This will give them another seat on their developing bench.

And with the growth of GOP registered voters over Democrats in the county, the next person elected could be a Republican anyway. It’s going to be a highly contested race as the relatively quiet seat becomes a hot commodity.

Even if it’s another Democrat, it’s going to be hard finding another Renaissance Man like Ruvin, who served in many notable positions and is the recipient of many prestigious awards including president of the National Association of Counties (NACO) and “2003 Public Technologist of the Year” named by the Public Technology Institute.

Ruvin also won Computerworld Magazine’s “2004 Medal of Achievement” for utilizing technology to achieve massive savings and enhance the public’s accessibility to records. That same year, he received the much coveted “2004 Public Administrator of the Year” awarded by the South Florida Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). In 2016, Ruvin earned ASPA’s coveted award as South Florida “Elected Official of the Year,” and he is the only person to have earned both recognitions.

“He was a true public servant,” said Commissioner Raquel Regalado. “You know EEL was his baby. He was the one who championed it and put it on the ballot.

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“He made it a point to have lunch with every county commissioner and establish a line of communication,” Regalado said.

That helped him successfully navigate three decades of political and real world changes to Miami-Dade County. Ruvin was the county clerk in the administrations of mayors Stephen Clark, Alex Penelas, Carlos Alvarez, Carlos Gimenez and the current La Alcadesa Levine Cava.

Half of the readers are thinking “Wtf is Stephen Clark?”

As an early and consistent environmental watchdog, Ruvin chaired the County’s Climate Change Advisory Task Force (CCATF) as well as its Sea Level Rise Task Force (SLRTF), missioned to advise the County regarding Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Adaptation Planning. As a commissioner, he began Miami-Dade’s residential and commercial recycling system, efforts to curb greenhouse gases that offset 40 million-plus metric tons of carbon emissions, an endangered land preservation program that at the time of its creation was the largest of its kind in the nation and, more recently, leading the county’s Sea Level Rise Task Force.

He also established Miami-Dade County’s annual “Baynanza”, a celebration of Biscayne Bay’s environmental and historical significance which incorporates the Biscayne Bay Cleanup Day attended by thousands of volunteers to remove debris from the shoreline, a 40+ year tradition.

For his environmental efforts, Ruvin received the “Defender of the Everglades Award” by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Friends of the Everglades. In 2009, he was named the Inaugural Recipient of the “Reitmeister- Abess Award” for Environmental Advocacy by the University of Miami Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy.

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Some of his other many awards include the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce “Man of the Year Award,” the coveted Tropical Audubon Society Conservation Award (the only person ever to have been named twice).

Yet, for him, one of the greatest honors was when a newborn manatee at Sea World was named “Harvey” in recognition of his work on behalf of the endangered species.

Seriously, we need to name a government award after him.