AUGUST 25, 2009
As he called for unprecedented job and salary cuts, the mayor of Florida’s most populous county gave his top aides huge raises and concealed it by omitting the pay hikes from public records.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carolos Alvarez evidently knew he would come under fire for drastically increasing his friends’ salaries while publicly calling for nearly 2,000 layoffs and pay cuts for all county employees amid a dire financial crisis. So, he did what any shady politician would do; hide the information from the public to avoid inevitable outrage.
Alvarez, a Republican who once served as the county’s police chief, backdated the hefty pay hikes to last year so that they would not appear in public records requested by a county commissioner investigating the questionable increases. The local newspaper broke the story over the weekend and incensed commissioners have vowed to substantially slash the mayor’s budget.
As he publicly preached about the county’s $427 million budget deficit, Alvarez secretly gave a dozen of his closest advisors bonuses that amount to more than 10% since last year. The mayor’s chief of staff now makes more ($206,783) than the President Obama’s chief of staff (Rahm Emmanuel), who earns $172,200. Others got hefty increases as well, including the mayor’s senior advisor (26% salary increase) and spokeswoman whose annual salary got bumped 54% to $124,999.
All the while Alvarez is calling for a 5% pay cut for all county employees and the layoff of at least 1,700 workers. As the state’s most populous county, Miami-Dade has about 2.5 million residents and 35 municipalities as well as a vast unincorporated area. Like many local governments across the nation, Miami-Dade is experiencing a huge budget shortfall caused, in part, by severely diminished property tax revenues.
It’s bad enough that the mayor gives his pals hefty raises during the cash crisis, but as a newspaper editorial puts it, hiding it from public records is disgraceful and obscene. Many have called for the mayor’s resignation and one county commissioner called him a hypocrite while another confirmed that the county salary structure is out of control.
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