Monday, August 31, 2009

Aug. 31: "Tighten Your Belts" Means You, Too, Mayor Alvarez

By Sylvia Gurinsky

You've got to hand it to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez. In less than a few eye blinks, he managed to tick off most of the county's roughly two million residents.

That's because Alvarez, who made a big deal earlier this summer of the need for the county to slash its budget, gave big raises to a number of his employees. (Disclosure: One of those employees, Victoria Mallette, was a classmate of mine at FIU and a co-worker of mine at WPLG-Channel 10.)

While Alvarez says his staff was reorganized, a lot of that reorganization involved moving people to other county jobs, as Jack Dolan and Matthew Haggman reported in The Miami Herald last Saturday:

Add the runaround given to Commissioner Sally Heyman when she tried to get information about the raises, and the result is a big mess for the mayor.

Angry commissioners are now talking about cutting the mayor's budget for next year by as much as 45 percent. Some Dade residents are starting a petition to recall Alvarez. It's hard to blame them.

Alvarez seems to not sense that when he said the county needed to tighten its belt, that meant him and his office, too. None of the excuses he's giving can justify his actions to residents who will see cuts in services, to county employees in other departments who will lose or have already lost their jobs, or to community-based groups in various categories that will have their futures threatened by cuts to or total elimination of grants programs.

Mr. Mayor, call your staff together, tell them, "Sorry guys," and eliminate those raises. It's the only way you can save face.

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