A few mornings every week I have breakfast with my grandfather. We shoot the shit, talk about what’s going on at work, and argue/discuss issues from the morning headlines. (To give you an idea of our respective demographic groups, he reads the paper version of el Nuevo Herald, while I read a bunch of online papers/blogs/magazines.) As we had our cafesito this morning, the shitstorm that will become Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s week remaining time in office dominated our conversation.
Now, my grandfather and I don’t see eye to eye on a wide variety of issues (i.e. he was a two time Bush voter, I was not), but we had the same reaction to Matthew Haggman and Jack Dolan’s excellent article on compensation in the Mayor’s office: Se jodió la bicicleta! Literally translated this means “The bicycle is f#*!&d”, but in the common parlance of our times it means that the proverbial pooch has been screwed. We were in complete agreement that this was not good government, and that the Mayor had made a big mistake in cutting the budget of ‘feel good’ programs (my grandfather’s words) while bloating his staff’s salaries. If my grandfather feels betrayed/pissed, then I can only imagine what the rest of the population of Dade County feels (I take him to be a typical Dade County voter if there is such a person).
I don’t care whether the pay increases have merit or not. I’m positive that the jobs performed by the Mayor’s staff are difficult and worthy of high salaries, but the County is not flush with money. When times are tough you slim down. These raises are unacceptable, and undermine the important work that these folks do. I don’t want to get into specifics, but I will recount an interesting exchange I had with Miami-Dade Communications Director Vicki Mallette a few weeks back regarding the Dade County Budget, as she is one of the main characters of this drama.
Let me start by saying that Vicki has been a great partner in communicating with us on a variety of issues. I might not agree with her on every issue, but I do appreciate her regular contributions to this site. She recently contacted me to inquire if I had any ‘questions’ regarding the budget. We scheduled a phone call and I proceeded to study the budget in anticipation of our conversation. I noticed the cuts to Parks and Rec, Cultural Grants, and most notably, Transit. In our conversation, she made it clear that the lack of a 3.5% increase to the transit budget (as passed by the County Commission in March) was one of the most painful ‘cuts’ to make (totaling $4.2 million).
I made a point of voicing my disappointment over the lack of transit funding, but assured her (and Matthew Pinzur, who was also on the call) that I was not going to make a point of writing about the budget because it was a dog and everyone was affected. While transit is the main focus of this site, it is not the only important part of the budget – and ‘everyone’ has supposedly been impacted. I thought that a 5% salary cut across the board was reasonable and that it didn’t make much sense for me insist that transit be spared when everyone was slimming down.
Fast forward to this morning. I can’t describe how upset I was to read that the Mayor’s staff had been given such ridiculous (and retroactive!) raises in face of the cuts made to transit and other departments. During our conversation I made it clear that transit needed significantly more funding, to which she replied that transit already had a sizable general fund contribution at $143 million (I informed her that it was actually considerably less than other metropolitan regions) and that restoring the cuts to transit would have to be made up with cuts in other places. (Something I don’t necessarily agree with either. A minor increases in property tax, amounting to $20 per house, could make up a big part of the budget shortfall.)
As we learned last week, the 3.5% increase in the general fund contribution legally has to be reinstated or MDT will face even greater problems, but if that were not the case the $4.2 million could have come from not raising salaries at the top, including your salary Vicki. Not to mention cutting more than 5% from the salaries of those in the ‘inner circle’ (starting with the Mayor and Manager and working down – say 15%). I wonder what other aspect of public safety, culture, or community outreach is being compromised because of this sort of mismanagement. As chief executive, and ‘strong mayor’, of Miami-Dade County the buck stops with Mayor Alvarez. He wanted to be ‘stong mayor’, and now he is going to feel the political repercussions of that responsibility. I hope he is ready.
Subscribe via Email
Find us on Facebook
- Dan on Miami at Manhattan Prices
- Marta Viciedo on Making Miami’s Mean Streets Safer
- Rudy on Imagining Townhouses in Little Havana
- Mr. E. on Lackluster Mayoral Candidates Promise More of the Same on Transportation
- hello miami on How Miami Greets Its Visitors (and Locals)
- Mike Moskos on How Miami Greets Its Visitors (and Locals)
CategoriesAccident Architecture bicycles bike lanes Bike Miami Days biking Biscayne Boulevard Brickell bus Climate Change Coconut Grove complete streets Downtown Miami FDOT High Speed Rail Metrorail Miami Miami-Dade County Miami-Dade Transit Miami 21 Miami Beach Museum Park News Parking Parks Pedestrian Pedestrians Pic o' the Day Planning Real Estate Development Rickenbacker Causeway Sprawl Streetcar Traffic Transit Transitography Transit Oriented Development Transportation Tri-Rail Uncategorized Urban Design Urban Development Boundary Urban Growth Urban Planning Walkability
- All Aboard L.A.'s Bike Commuter Train December 7, 2013This train is not steel wheels on steel rail - it is multiple two-wheeled rubber tires, commuting together, providing support and safety to novice cyclists, but sometimes it backfires. Interviewed is a frustrated motorist who intimidated them.
- How Would Losing Your Sight Change Your Approach to Design? December 7, 2013Alison Prato speaks with architect Chris Downey, who lost his eyesight five years ago following surgery to remove a brain tumor, about how his approach to design and his experience of the city have changed.
- Social Impact Bonds Aim to Attract Investment in Public Health December 7, 2013A pilot project hopes to pioneer a new type of investment by alleviating asthma among lower-income children. Project developers hope the Fresno Asthma Impact Model could become a national model for improving health and reducing costs.
- Map of D.C. Metro Expansion Plans Unveiled December 7, 2013A preliminary map of D.C. Metro's long-term expansion plans that was unveiled this week has riders salivating at the prospect of a station finally being built in Georgetown. A third line could serve Virginia.
- Want to Buy a Bike Share System? December 7, 2013After three years of operation, Melbourne's publicly subsidized bike share system is for sale. Though ridership has increased each year since opening, private investment is seen as crucial for expansion.
- Friday Funny: Pointless Diagrams December 6, 2013Illustrative diagrams are one of the primary tools used by architects and planners to explain existing conditions and design concepts. An art project that produces frivolous diagrams reveals the heft that well crafted drawings bring.
- Putting a Value on Creative Capital December 6, 2013A new report from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates the impact that all those actors, writers, and artists have on the national economy.
- With TOD Planning, Boston Suburb Embraces a Different Brand of Urban Renewal December 6, 2013With the long-awaited extension of Boston's Green Line train to Somerville expected to arrive in a few years, the city has embraced a planning and development process much different from the one that "left behind some of Somerville’s worst spaces."
- Republican Rift Plays Out Over Carbon Pricing December 6, 2013Embracing the inevitability of some sort of carbon pricing scheme being adopted by the U.S. Government, many of the nation's biggest corporations are incorporating such costs into their financial planning. One major player isn't giving up the fight.
- Walking to School on the Rise Across America December 6, 2013A new report from the National Center for Safe Routes to School finds that the percentage of students walking to and from school "increased significantly" between 2007 and 2012.
- All Aboard L.A.'s Bike Commuter Train December 7, 2013