In the year since Michael Pizzi took over as mayor of Miami Lakes, the town has lowered taxes, earned the notable Playful City USA designation and partnered with Miami Dade College to open a campus.
But it has been a tough year for Pizzi, one of the pioneers who helped transform Miami Lakes from community to town.
Beneath the calm surface of the small Northwest Miami-Dade bedroom community -- known for its sports fields, green spaces and grazing cows -- the mayor and his critics are locked in a pitched battle for control of the town's soul.
On Wednesday, the town was startled by reports of an overnight fire at Pizzi's law office, one that authorities said was intentionally set.
No one knows if the arson has anything to do with the town's political acrimony. Authorities have not named any suspects, but Pizzi has his own thoughts about that.
He blames his critics for creating an environment susceptible to such an attack.
But Councilwoman Nancy Simon cautions that it is irresponsible and premature for Pizzi to speculate that there is some sort of "covert political movement to harm him."
"In any community you have dissenters, but I really don't think we have any residents that would stoop this low,'' she said. "And I think it's important the people understand the investigation is still open and it may turn out not to be political at all."
Did the fire target Pizzi? The mayor thinks so.
"They're on a never-ceasing, never-ending pattern to sabotage everything that's going on. The more successful I am as mayor, the more they ratchet it up," Pizzi said. "No matter what we do these people will still be throwing bombs."
Read more at MiamiHerald.com