Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 24: Dade PBA Could Use Some Scrutiny

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Groups that lobby are sometimes a shadow government and need as much scrutiny as the governments the public elects. Locally, the Dade County Police Benevolent Association is one example.

The behavior of the organization leading up to today's Miami-Dade County special election for mayor has been troubling, to say the least.

During the last couple of years, PBA leadership has apparently been in a state of denial about the economic crisis, angling for raises for officers while plenty of salaries have been frozen or cut and layoffs of thousands of public employees have come about. Part of the voter anger at former Mayor Carlos Alvarez and various commissioners has been the result of the caving in on their parts to PBA and others on salaries.

The PBA's political action committee has had an attack flyer targeting mayoral candidate Carlos Gimenez; as District 7 commissioner, Gimenez voted against their contract.

One has to wonder how connected PBA might be to a television ad by the Accountability Project that targets not just Gimenez, but also former Mayor Carlos Alvarez. If there is any connection, it would be the ultimate act of betrayal to a former police officer - Alvarez, Miami-Dade's police chief before he was elected mayor - who did PBA's bidding.

PBA's mission statement (which could use a good editor for the math) says: "Incorporated in December 1963, the PBA is an aggressive, pro-active union of professional law enforcement officers seeking to protect your rights. For more the 30 years (sic) we have worked to promote professionalism among law enforcement officers."

Presuming that it actually means almost 50 years, John Rivera and PBA's other leaders currently aren't living up to that mission.

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