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NUMBER 95 - JUNE 24, 2019
IN JUNE AND JULY THE MIAMI CITY COMMISSION MEETINGS TRADITIONALLY BECOMES THE PLACE WHERE THE WORST ABUSES OF PUBLIC TRUST AND MONEY OCCUR. THIS YEAR LOOKS LIKE A BANNER YEAR FOR THE PIGS AS THEY LINE UP TO SCREW THE TAXPAYERS BY GIVING THEMSELVES, THE MAYOR AND THE CITY ATTORNEY AND A HANDFUL OF HER STAFF CUSHY PENSIONS FOR LIFE
Summertime in Miami is always a bad time for the residents of the city, not only because the weather becomes unbearable and the threats of a hurricane becomes a constant worry, but because it's the time of the year when the city commission often conspires to engage in their worst acts of political chicanery and theft of public money.
This year is no different, and the agenda for the commission meeting on Thursday is chock full of questionable and financially sleazy deals including the attempt to bring the ULTRA Music Festival back to downtown Miami where ULTRA's own attorney conceded last year, when he was trying to argue what a good deal it was for everyone if ULTRA was allowed to setup on Virginia Key that the sound generated by the multiple stages on the Key would not create the same problems for the residents who lived along Biscayne Bay as it had done for the residents who lived in the condos that formed "a wall" across the street from Bayfront Park.
When ULTRA'S own lawyer essentially concedes that they screwed over the folks who live downtown it take a lot of balls for the Mayor and the City Commission to now claim that it's good for the city to screw those folks over again for the sake of someone else having a nice financial weekend as a result of this event.
When the agenda came out for this week's meeting, the language in the stylus of Draft Ordinance 5434, had been changed, and so had the sponsor. The highlighted portion shows you what was added and changed.
Then there is the final vote on the Little Haiti Innovation District which has created so much opposition from residents of Little Haiti and surrounding neighborhoods not only because it will essentially destroy whatever semblance of a community called Little Haiti would remain after this out-of-scale, gentrified development with rental units costing as much as $2500 - $3000 a month is built, but because Commissioner Keon Hardemon has acted in such a high-handed way in structuring what amounts to a private benefits deal for for a handful of his political supporters and pals that did away with the previous committed to affordable housing component by the developers.
There's also the move to issue $150 million dollars in bonds to cover the cost of building a new municipal building for the city on the lot next to the existing municipal building (MRC), which the city, after getting the voters to support a referendum that didn't spell out what the deal was, or who would be responsible for, much less reveal the real costs of building a new administrative building, now seems to be hell bent on approving a deal that could end up costing the taxpayers a lot more money for a building that won't solve the problems that the city has with a lack of adequate space to accomodate all of its needs, includes a need a new City Hall, and a new police headquarters.
If that weren't enough, there are several other squirrelly deals that are flying under the radar, including this one.
PENSIONS, PENSIONS, I WANT A PENSION
"For part-time work, if I serve my four years or eight years,
I don't deserve a lifetime pension."
Commissioner Ken Russell
July 28, 2016
That was Russell's response to an unsuccessful effort in 2016 to revive the pensions for the Mayor and members of the Commission that never got beyond the wish list of those commissioners who wanted their pensions reinstated, but were afraid to reveal who they were.
While that effort never got off the ground the desire never went away and this year the effort has come back.
Faithful to the usual chicanery that goes on when the city commissioners set out to screw the pooch, the city was cute in how they've reached the point where a first reading of the ordinances reinstating pensons for not only the Mayor and the Commissioners, but also reinstating pensions for the City Attorney and a handful of her senior staff will take place this week
Last Valentine's Day, at the very end of a 45 page agenda, was a notice of future legislation.
The original language in the ordinance that removed the Mayor, City Commissioners and the City Attorney and her staff from the AFSCME Pension Plan was done back during the city's last financial crisis in 2010, and included, as you can see in the description in the revised Division 6, a lot more people than just the handful of employees at the City Attorney's Office whose pension were ended..
What points to this being a sweetheart deal besides the BAIT AND SWITCH substitution of the language in the proposed ordinance - a tactic that made the whole notion of a "60 Day Public Comments" period nothing but a bad joke, includes the way in which the description is written as to how these individuals will be able to purchase, "creditable service under the Plan for credit for prior non-membership service..."
The expanded language in the stylus reflected two completely new sections to the Pension Plan that had not been included in the February 14th version. The first one was, "DIVISION 4 CITY OF MIAMI ELECTED OFFICERS RETIREMENT PLAN."
This process of allowing members of a pension board to set a "uniform rate," of buy-in at some time in the future not only raises a serious question of a cooked deal done largely out-of-sight - this is the City of Miami that we're talking about here, and you have to remember that last year - which raises questions of why this process isn't included in the language of the ordinance.
Transparency is seldom among the virtues practiced by the city official when it comes to doling out money..
COMMISSIONERS WILLIE GORT AND KEON HARDEMEN SHOULD BE MADE TO WEAR AS MASK AND HOLLOR "STICK 'EM UP!," WHEN THEY VOTE FOR THIS SELF-SERVING DEAL
No one should ever underestimate the degree to which the members of the Miami City Commission will go to do a deal that they can benefit personally from.
The BAIT AND SWITCH that allows the City Attorney and her senior staff to sweete their retirement with a pension plan deal, also creates a really sweetheart deal for the members of the Miami City Commission.
Again, let me walk you though this deal.
First is the draft ordinance that will be voted on on Thursday that includes this new language. I have highlighted the portion that immediately benefits Willie Gort in GREEN and the portion that benefits Keon Hardemon - who's got one foot out the door to run for county commissioner next year - in RED.
What happened between the publication of the February 14th agenda, and the agenda released for this week's meeting is that the Suarez administration engaged in a classic BAIT AND SWITCH by substituting new language in the ordinance that provided for both the City Attorney and her senior staff, as well as the Mayor and the City Commissioners to line up at the trough to have their pensions reinstated.
Let me walk you through it.
Here are the draft copies of ordinances 5434 and 5435 that were part of the February 14th Commission Agenda Packet. You will not find any reference or mention of pension provisions for the Mayor, the City Commissioners or the City Attorney and her senior staff in either document.
The first thing that everyone needs to understand and get clear in their minds is the difference between what the Mayor and Commissioners get in SALARY, and what their TOTAL COMPENSATION PACKAGE IS..
This is really important because when you look closely at the above language you will see that the Mayor and Commissioner's pension will be based on COMPENSATION, and NOT ON SALARY.
The Charter states that the salary for each commissioner is $58,200.
COMPENSATION is much harder to figure out because there are several ways to calculate it, and given that the amount of their pensions will be based on COMPENSATION, you can bet that the amount will include everything that they can claim is "compensation," from contributions to health insurance to their rental car allowance to their magazine subscriptions, memberships and travel per diem.
COMPENSATION could easily reach $100,000 or more.
Let's start with Willie Gort.
This is his second time as a commissioner., which means that he's already got a pension for his first go around in the 1990's, and since his first pension was calculated on a salary of less than $58,200 - the Commission salaries were increased in 2003 - he stands to get an immediate bump from that, and he'll also get a bump from the COMPENSATION provision, which again, has got to be a lot more than it was back in the 1990's.
But as good as it is for Willie, who retires in November after having termed out, it's even better for Keon Hardemon, who obviously had the provisions customized exclusively for him, as he prepares to walk out the door early next year.
Again, look closely at the language above and you will see that in Sections 1 and 3, that the requirement for participation in the plan requires an individual to have served for a period of "(seven)7 or more years."Now go back and look at Section 2, and you will see that that has been changed to "(six) 6 years or more years."
You can call this The Hardemon Gift, because this coming November, Keon Hardemon will have served on the City Commission for "6 years," and given that's he's not going to be around in November of 2020 for his seventh year - he'll either be a newly elected County Commissioner, or an unemployed lawyer - this change in the number of years needed to quality for a pension was written just for him.
Also, look at the 5% bump that allows the Mayor and Commissioners to eventually receive 100% of their COMPENSATION.
Given the continued cries from some of the Commissioners including Commissioner "Comemierda" Carollo about how the city is going broke, it would help to know what the financial impact of these new pension benefits will mean to the city, but alas the agenda for this week's meeting does not include financial impact study on these additions to the pension fund.
And best of all, if you didn't notice, guess who's sponsoring both of these ordinances?
Commissioner Keon Hardemon.
In It's Miami, Bitches!, that's known as a double, FUCK YOU!
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