In Miami-Dade County, cuts are for little people

Miami-Dade Mayor Alvarez demonstrates how true conservative principles work when properly applied by government. Step one: announce steep cuts in services and austerity measures for the constituents – lay off some teachers, shorten the hours at the local library, slash a charitable organization or two, and the arts… that kind of thing … because, as the town hall yelpers will tell you, we are out of money.

Step two: hand over half a billion dollars to your nearest baseball team, so they can build themselves an indoor stadium … with a pool!

Step three: give your team a big, fat raise. (Spoiler alert: we’re now on step three…)

From the Miami Herald yesterday:

When Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez delivered his State of the County speech in February, he said the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression required government to “do more with less.” Budgets must be trimmed, jobs cut and waste eliminated.

“Make no mistake, we are in for some tough times,” Alvarez warned. “We are all in this together.”

Yet, three-and-a-half weeks after the speech, Alvarez gave an 11 percent pay raise to his chief of staff, Denis Morales.

The hike increased Morales’ salary from $185,484 to $206,783 annually; he also gets $18,720 in cash and executive benefits. The raise was backdated to Sept. 21, 2008, so Morales received the pay increase over the previous five months, too.

The result: his March 8 bi-weekly paycheck was for $17,281.

On the same day, the mayor gave a 15 percent raise to Robert Villar, his director of policy and legislative affairs, boosting his pay from $95,779 to $109,879. That increase, too, was backdated to September. The policy advisor’s March 8 county paycheck: $9,747.

At a time when he is publicly preaching austerity and shared sacrifice, Alvarez has quietly used taxpayer funds to shower his closest advisors — from his spokeswoman to his scheduler to his senior advisor — with significant pay increases, county payroll data and personnel documents reviewed by The Miami Herald show.

In all, 12 employees of the mayor have received raises of more than 10 percent since last year, the county’s payroll database shows.

Oh, and step four: decry the evils of big government while paying your chief bureaucrat more than the president of the United States…

Mayoral spokeswoman Victoria Mallette said it would have been “untruthful” to tell Heyman what Morales and Villar were actually paid the first two months of 2009, because the raises they got in March were classified as retroactive.

“I don’t see the discrepancy,” said Mallette, whose own pay increased 54 percent in 2008. “We are making absolutely no attempt to mislead anyone.”

Alvarez refused to be interviewed for this story. But in a written statement, he said: “Nothing nefarious has happened here.”

After the adoption of a strong mayor form of government — and merger of the mayor and county manager offices — Alvarez realized his executives were not paid as well as those working for the manager, he wrote.

“It became evident that the salaries of members of my senior staff — my inner circle — were disproportionate with other executives in government,” wrote the mayor, who is paid $245,393 annually, with a $99,554 benefits package.

County Manager George Burgess, for instance, is paid an annual salary of $345,515, plus $100,466 in cash and benefits. Assistant county managers like Cynthia Curry and Alina Hudak earn annual salaries of $253,768 and $258,967, respectively, with $18,720 in cash and benefits each.

“To rectify the disparity, I made the decision to adjust the pay of several key employees,” Alvarez said.

By contrast, the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, earns $172,000 — far less than Alvarez’s chief of staff, and the White House has frozen staff salaries due to the recession. Oh, and Miami-Dade faces a $427 million budget deficit. To fix it, Alvarez has proposed raising taxes, laying off 1,700 county workers, scaling back government services and cutting the pay for the little people who work for the county by 5 percent. Meanwhile, his close friends and cronies get big, fat, raises. One more clip:

The two biggest winners are the mayor’s senior advisor, Luis Gazitua, and Mallette.

Gazitua, a 33-year-old attorney whose father contributed more than $30,000 — either personally or through business interests — to Alvarez’s strong mayor campaign, saw his salary jump 26 percent following a series of raises in 2008, the county payroll database shows. His salary increased from $81,094 to $85,072 in March. By July it bumped to $88,426.

Around that time, in June 2008, manager Burgess called for “significant reductions” in all departments because of declines in tax revenues.

Then in November, with no change in title, Gazitua received his biggest boost. His salary increased 15 percent, rising to $101,842. He also receives $10,170 in cash and other executive benefits.

County spokeswoman Mallette’s salary soared 54 percent through a series of three raises in 2008.

The first came in January, when her title changed from media relations manager to director of the Office of Communications. That boosted her paycheck by 10 percent, from $81,319 to $89,451.

The 4 percent cost of living bump in July brought her salary to $93,030.

Then in October, with no change to her title, she received a 34 percent raise that brought her salary to $124,999. Her executive benefit package also climbed from $10,170 to $18,720.

Oh, and the guy who updates the mayor’s Facebook page gets $46,000 a year.

You’re welcome, Miami-Dade.

Apparently this was all the talk on the lone local talk radio show in South Florida, on right wing Newsradio 610. And well is should be.

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One Response to In Miami-Dade County, cuts are for little people

  1. Fidal Castro and Hugo Chavez says:

    From your two favorate people, keep up the good work. You and Obama are lokking like us more everyday.
    Grim Ripper

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