Letras y alternativas

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No se acaba el relajo en Miami

Publicado el viernes, 07.29.11  [DEBAJO, APARECERIAN ARTICULOS SOBRE EL TEMA ENUNCIADO ARRIBA, EN EL TITULO]

Alcalde Carlos Giménez paga altos sueldos a asesores

Carlos Gimenez

MATTHEW HAGGMAN

mhaggman@MiamiHerald.com

Carlos Giménez, alcalde de Miami-Dade, está pidiendo concesiones a los empleados del condado en un intento por reducir los costos. Al mismo tiempo, está otorgando altos salarios a su nuevo círculo de altos asesores que rivalizan -e incluso sobrepasan- algunos de los costosos paquetes de compensación pagados en la administración previa, que fue sacada de su cargo por un voto de revocación.

El grupo de asesores personales anunciado el jueves será:

•  Ed Márquez, un ex administrador de la ciudad de Miami que ganará $267,000 para servir como uno de los cinco vicealcaldes, una posición recién creada similar a la de asistente del administrador del condado;

•  Jack Osterholt, quien deja su puesto como director ejecutivo del Consejo de Planeación Regional del Sur de la Florida y ganará $250,000 como vicealcalde;

•  Genaro “Chip” Iglesias, el ex administrador de la villa de Key Biscayne y anteriormente ayudante de Giménez, quien ahora servirá como jefe de gabinete y vicealcalde por $225,000;

• Alina T. Hudak, la administradora del condado y principal administradora cuando Giménez fue electo el mes pasado, quien permanecerá como vicealcaldesa ganando $259,000;

•  Y un quinto vicealcalde que se contratará en días próximos.

“Quiero las mejores personas disponibles para que me ayuden a reducir el tamaño de este gobierno y los costos”, dijo Giménez. “Algunas veces eso no es barato”.

Las medidas forman parte del esfuerzo de Giménez para reestructurar el liderazgo de su oficina en un equipo de cinco vicealdaldes que suministrarán asesoría y supervisarán departamentos que son administrados por un director. Previamente, había un alcalde y un administrador del condado, junto con un equipo de cinco a siete asistentes del administrador del condado.

El anterior administrador del condado George Burgess ganaba tanto como $345,515 más $100,466 en beneficios anuales.

Giménez prometió reducir el número de departamentos y las ineficiencias de un gobierno ampliamente considerado como torpe e inflado. El ha buscado dar el ejemplo al proponer reducir en un 20 por ciento el presupuesto de $7.3 millones de la oficina del alcalde y disminuir el número de posiciones de 55 a 44.

También redujo a la mitad la compensación al alcalde, lo que significa que Giménez ganará $150,000. El alcalde también recibirá un paquete de beneficios de $10,000, mientras que cada uno de sus segundos recibirá $16,375 en beneficios, de acuerdo con la oficina del alcalde del condado.

Pero, mientras Giménez le ha pedido a los empleados del condado “hacer sacrificios compartidos para un bien mayor”, él hace pocas demandas a su nuevo círculo interno en lo que se refiere a compensación.

Por ejemplo, bajo el ex alcalde Carlos Alvarez, a los asistentes de los administradores del condado se les pagaba lo mismo, o menos. En el 2008, Susanne Torriente, la entonces asistente del administrador de la ciudad y ahora una asistente del administrador de la ciudad en Fort Lauderdale, ganaba $206,783. A Cynthia Curry, ex asistente del administrador de la ciudad, se le pagaban $253,768.

Giménez está otorgando los nuevos salarios a la vez que intenta lograr nuevos contratos con los sindicatos del condado. Sus propuestas retirarían un reciente aumento salarial para los trabajadores de las bases, duplicaría la contribución de los empleados al seguro de salud e impondrá una nueva contribución a las cuentas de retiro de los empleados.

“El alcalde pide grandes sacrificios para los empleados al mismo tiempo que contrata su personal con salarios sorprendentes”, dijo John Rivera, quien encabeza el sindicato de la policía del condado, la Asociación Benevolente de la Policía. “Eso hace mucho más difícil a los sindicatos vender las propuestas a sus miembros. No tiene buen aspecto”.

Greg Blackman, presidente del capítulo local de la Asociación de Supervisores Gubernamentales de la Florida, mostró su sorpresa ante los paquetes de pago a la vista de la anterior decisión de Giménez de reducir el salario del alcalde.

“Hubiera pensado que mantendría el mismo enfoque con los vicealcaldes”, dijo Blackman, cuya organización representa a los administradores de nivel medio del condado. “Obviamente ése no es el caso. Estoy sorprendido porque nos pide asumir algunos recortes drásticos, pero no parece ser igual a la parte alta de los vicealcaldes”.

Sin duda, las nuevas contrataciones de Giménez se unen a su personal con una limitada seguridad laboral. Giménez asumió en una elección especial después que de destituyó a Alvarez. El debe presentarse a una reelección en agosto y su témino finaliza en noviembre.

El alcade también dijo que sus contrataciones tienen un gran historial de administración pública y todos han estado al frente de gobiernos locales.

“Creo que los salarios están de acuerdo con su experiencia y capacidad”, dijo Giménez.

Entre el personal principal de Giménez también está Lisa Martínez, quien será una alta asesora ganando $130,000, y su ayudante Inson Kim, quien se convertirá en director de política y asuntos legislativos con un sueldo de $105,000.

Para dos de los vicealcades entrantes, el traslado al Ayuntamiento resultará en un significativo aumento de salario. Iglesias recibía un salario de $178,000 para dirigir el gobierno de Key Biscayne. Osterholt, quien previamente sirvió como el principal administrador del condado Broward, ganó $160,000 en el Consejo de Planeamiento Regional del Sur de la Florida, financiado por los contribuyentes.

Márquez está dejando el sector privado como primer vicepresidente de la First Southwest Company, una firma asesora financiera a los gobiernos. Previamente tuvo una serie de cargos en el sector público, con el condado y como principal funcionario financiero de la Junta Escolar de Miami-Dade.

Bajo la propuesta de Giménez, las nuevas contrataciones, junto con todos los empleados del condado, contribuirán con un 10 por ciento de su salario para pagar por el seguro de salud.

Aún así, en medio de un desempleo de dobles dígitos, los contribuyentes han mostrado poca paciencia cuando los políticos les dan grandes paquetes a sus subordinados. La revuelta publica contra Alvarez fue inicialmente provocada, en parte, por revelaciones de que le había garantizado aumentos salariales a su círculo íntimo de asesores mientras declaraba que su gobierno debía “hacer más con menos” y que “todos estamos juntos en esto”.

“Suena como que el alcalde está reduciendo” la oficina de la alcaldía, dijo el líder sindical Blackman, al reconocer las reducciones de presupuesto y de personal. “Pero aún así es mucha compensación en un momento en que pedimos que todos participen de un sacrificio compartido”.

Read more: http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2011/07/29/v-fullstory/992844/alcalde-gimenez-paga-altos-sueldos.html#ixzz1TWaCispm

DEBAJO, EN COMENTARIOS,  SE IRAN PUBLICANDO OTROS ARTICULOS IMPORTANTES …

julio 30, 2011 - Posted by | Archivo/ARTICULOS

4 comentarios »

  1. BERNADETTE PARDO: Alicia en el Miami de las maravillas
    .Bernadette Pardo
    bpardollada@yahoo.com
    En la ciudad de Miami hay al menos una empleada contenta y se llama Alicia. Alicia Bravo fue contratada el mes pasado como viceadministradora de la Ciudad de Miami con un salario anual de $160,000. Más que bastante para sobrevivir en los tiempos que corren. Su contrato incluye además $600 mensuales para gastos de automóvil y $200 mensuales para celular. Lo que me hace preguntarme por qué la ciudad siempre escoge las compañías más caras, cuando por ejemplo el teléfono se puede resolver por $49.99 mensuales.

    Ahora bien, lo verdaderamente maravilloso del contrato de Alicia se encuentra entre paréntesis justo al lado de los números que fijan su sueldo. En el paréntesis se dice que el salario de Alicia estará exento de cualquier reducción salarial que le exija la ciudad al resto de los empleados. O sea que Alicia no estará obligada a tomarse un mes de vacaciones sin sueldo como está exigiendo la ciudad a todos los demás. ¡Y yo que pensaba que las vacas sagradas vivían en India, cuando en realidad las tengo aquí cerquita en Coconut Grove!

    Felicidades a Alicia por su nuevo empleo en la Ciudad Mágica del País de las Maravillas, Miami. Y mi agradecimiento al bloguero Al Crespo por dar a conocer el memo del administrador Johnny Martínez detallando los pormenores del contrato maravilloso de Alicia.

    Read more: http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2011/07/29/993487/bernadette-pardo-alicia-en-el.html#ixzz1Td68CDeW

    Comentario por napoleon03 | julio 31, 2011

  2. AGARRENSE CON EL ARTICULO EN ESPANYOL DE MYRIAM MARQUEZ. PARA AGARRARSE LAS TRIPAS CON LAS MANOS. SIEMPRE HAY AMANUENSES DISPUESTO A APLAUDIRLO TODO:

    MYRIAM MARQUEZ: El talento hay que pagarlo.
    mmarquez@MiamiHerald.com

    En Cuba un título universitario no vale un centavo: camareros que tratan de ganarse la propina de los turistas ganan más que los médicos o abogados. A menos, por supuesto, que esos médicos y abogados abran restaurantes en sus casas, lo que sucede cuando el gobierno se lo permite.

    Tal vez esa mentalidad deformada ha empezado a infiltrarse en el entorno político de Miami-Dade. Si no, ¿cómo se explica que haya tanta gente escandalizada ante los sueldos que van a ganar los nuevos vicealcaldes contratados por Carlos Giménez? Son personas talentosas con largos currículos de servicio público y, en algunos casos, vasta experiencia en el mundo de la empresa privada.

    ¿Cuánto debemos pagar a los cinco ejecutivos que supervisarán a más de 27,000 empleados, quienes a su vez prestan servicio a 2.5 millones de habitantes? Incluso en una recesión, un título universitario, la experiencia y el talento tienen algún peso. No tanto como hace algunos años, claro, pero no tan poco que la disponibilidad de talento se afecte y acabemos con amigotes sin experiencia al frente del gobierno.

    Como están las cosas, el funcionario mejor pagado que se ha contratado hasta ahora, Ed Márquez ganará $267,000 y $16,375 en beneficios. El administrador condal anterior, George Burgess, ganaba $345,515 más $100,466 en beneficios. Márquez supervisará los departamentos de Finanzas, Presupuesto, Recursos Humanos y Tecnología, áreas en las que hay que ahorrar.

    Jack Osterholt, ex administrador condal de Broward, también estaba ganando muy bien en la industria privada cuando la muerte de un director en el Consejo de Planificación Regional hizo que se incorporara para ayudar en tiempos difíciles. No ganaba tanto como merecía, pero ese no era el objetivo, era un empleo temporal. Ahora ganará $250,000 por la supervisión de entidades normativas y fomento económico.

    Alina T. Hudak, quien asumió la administración del Condado cuando Burgess renunció, gana ganando $259,000 y $16,375 en beneficios, una reducción de 10 por ciento, mientras Giménez le baja el sueldo a los gerentes no sindicalizados en 10 por ciento. Hudak, una administradora condal versátil, respetada y experimentada, supervisará el lado operativo del Condado.

    Genaro “Chip” Iglesias, antiguo asistente de Giménez y ex administrador de Key Biscayne, será el jefe de despacho y vicealcalde con un sueldo de $225,000, donde supervisará el control emergencias y seguridad pública.

    Otro vicealcalde, que todavía no se ha anunciando, supervisará las entidades de acción comunitaria y servicios humanos, una parte muy importante del gobierno del Condado.

    La diferencia entre Carlos Alvarez y Carlos Giménez: Alvarez aumentó los impuestos y Giménez los bajó para el año fiscal entrante.

    Giménez ha establecido un presupuesto que reduce el sueldo de sus principales asistentes en 20 por ciento: menos altos funcionarios y todos ganan alrededor de $250,000. Pero eso no es todo: todos y cada uno de los propietarios en Miami-Dade verán bajar los impuestos a la propiedad del condado porque Giménez propuso, y la comisión condal ya lo aprobó, eliminar el aumento de impuestos establecido por Álvarez y exigir a todos los gerentes y empleados no sindicalizados que contribuyan 10 por ciento de su sueldo a su seguro médico, ahorrando de este modo millones de dólares al Condado. Además, él está renegociando los contratos de todos los empleados sindicalizados para que renuncien a los aumentos de sueldo prometidos por Álvarez durante estos duros momentos económicos.

    Oh, y Giménez —manteniendo una promesa de campaña— gana $150,000 y $10,000 en beneficios.

    Pero comparar a Giménez con Alvarez es una ridiculez. Criticar a los nuevos gerentes porque van a ganar bien es otro ejemplo de la cultura de la queja que personifica a esta ciudad.

    Antes de ponerse a echarle con el rayo al nuevo alcalde, veamos qué nos depara en los próximos tres meses. Si demuestra que estoy equivocada, seré la primera en aceptar las críticas.

    Lo único que les pido es que no me devuelvan a Cuba.

    Read more: http://www.elnuevoherald.c​om/2011/07/30/994506_myria​m-marquez.html#ixzz1TuNXMc​qx

    Comentario por napoleon03 | agosto 3, 2011

  3. Political Cortadito blogger cries foul after ejected from Hialeah event

    Local blogger Elaine de Valle says Hialeah Police Chief Mark Overton forcefully removed her from a political event at a city facility, at the behest of Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez’s campaign.

    By Christina Veiga and Patricia Mazzei

    Cveiga@MiamiHerald.com

    A local blogger has accused Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez of abusing his power as the city’s top administrator in the midst of a hotly contested election.

    Former Miami Herald reporter turned political blogger Elaine de Valle on Wednesday said the Hialeah police chief forcefully removed her from a political event at the Goodlet Park community center at the behest of a Hernandez campaign aid.

    De Valle, who has become a colorful and controversial figure in city politics, says the incident is only the latest example of abuse of power by Hernandez’s allies.

    “I feel like I’m in Cuba,” said de Valle, 46.

    Hernandez is running to retain the seat he inherited in May after former Mayor Julio Robaina stepped down. Hernandez faces former mayor Raul Martinez in a runoff election Nov. 15th. Early voting starts Thursday.

    De Valle’s blog, Political Cortadito, has been openly critical of Hernandez and the current administration.

    On Wednesday, she said she was “battered” by Hialeah Police Chief Mark Overton, who she said grabbed her by the arm and asked her to leave an event where Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart announced his endorsement of Hernandez. At about the same time, Martinez held a rival press conference announcing the endorsement of former state Sen. Roberto Casas.

    Overton’s office did not return calls for comment.

    “I feel that the mayor is using his power through the police force to intimidate, silence and harass me,” said de Valle, who writes as her alter ego Ladra — Spanish for a dog’s bark.

    De Valle said she was issued a trespass warning when she tried to report the incident to two police officers who were standing outside. She was previously escorted out of a city budget meeting after speaking out from the audience.

    Hernandez campaign aid Arnie Alonso said the mayor is “absolutely not” abusing his power.

    He added: “At no time did the chief put hands on her. She was the one that became agitated when she was asked to leave.”

    Alonso said de Valle was ejected from the event because “she’s not a credentialed journalist representing a respectable media outlet.”

    De Valle’s blog has broken political stories and receives thousands of visits a month.

    “The fact that her blog is well read or controversial or striking is not a reason to bar her from a press conference,” said Sam Terilli, a journalism professor at the University of Miami and former Miami Herald general counsel. “This is a community center, and once they open it up to the press and the public to attend, then they have to allow people to attend with out regard to their political points of view.”

    The Hernandez camp often accuses de Valle of being paid the Martinez campaign. She vehemently denies that, and says she supports herself through freelance work. Martinez’s camp has also said de Valle is not on the campaign payroll.

    Hialeah Police spokesman Carl Zogby said Wednesday only one other trespassing warning had been issued to de Valle after, according to a police report, she caused a scene at Hernandez’s campaign headquarters. De Valle denies that.

    She became the subject of another police report after she repeatedly questioned the mayor and council president outside an IHOP about who had paid for a senior citizen pancake breakfast, an incident de Valle’s cameraman caught on video — and has gone viral online, at least among political junkies.

    Other candidates have similarly claimed Hernandez has overstepped his bounds.

    Alex Morales and Danny Bolaños, who are running for council with Martinez’s support, were bounced from a public housing facility when they tried to join a party there. Two incumbents, and Hernandez allies, were at the event. Morales was issued a trespass warning, he said at the time.

    And Martinez raised a fuss about being tailed by Hialeah police at the request of Hernandez’s office.

    The police chief told El Nuevo Herald officers were responding to a complaint from the mayor’s office that Martinez was campaigning at a city housing facility without approval. The police report says Martinez was observed eating pastelitos with a bunch of old folks.

    Wednesday’s incident was reminiscent of a similar situation a few months ago in Miami.

    In August, a security guard stopped blogger Al Crespo at the entrance of the Miami Riverside Center, the city’s main administrative building, saying Crespo could not go upstairs without an appointment.

    The city cited a new policy — created the day Crespo tried to enter the building — requiring visitors to register with security and “press, media, magazines, social network, social network, social media and social blog visitors” to arrange their visit with Miami’s communications office.

    The communications office reminded reporters about the policy in a release Tuesday.

    “They’re trying to create some sort of orderly process,” said Mayor Tomás Regalado, a former reporter. “I do think the media should be able to interview anyone they want.”

    For more Hialeah news, follow @Cveiga on Twitter.
    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/11/09/v-fullstory/2494536/political-cortadito-blogger-cries.html

    Comentario por napoleon03 | noviembre 11, 2011

  4. Metro
    Francisco Alvarado

    Win a Pulitzer, Then Move On

    The Miami Herald exposed sleazeball developers. Then both the county and the newspaper forgot.

    ON A RECENT RAINY AFTERNOON, BARBARA TUITT SITS ON THE COVERED FRONT PORCH OF HER TIDY FOUR-BEDROOM HOUSE IN LITTLE HAITI. A POSTER OF JESUS CHRIST HANGS ON THE TAN WALL BEHIND HER AS SHE EXPLAINS HOW TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS WERE WASTED ON HER BEHALF. SIX YEARS AGO, THE TRINIDAD NATIVE SAYS, SHE PUT DOWN $5,700 OF HER OWN MONEY FOR A HOUSE IN OVERTOWN. THOUGH THE CITY OF MIAMI PAID DEVELOPERS $1.4 MILLION FOR CONSTRUCTION OF SEVERAL HOMES, INCLUDING HERS, ONLY THE WALLS AND ROOF WERE FINISHED. THE NEXT YEAR, MIAMI’S HOUSING CHIEF ORDERED HER INCOMPLETE PLACE TORN DOWN BECAUSE THE MONEY HAD RUN OUT. THAT COST THE PUBLIC EVEN MORE.

    “It was such a waste,” she says. “All they had to do was install the electrical wiring.”

    Tuitt’s misadventure in affordable housing was one of dozens highlighted in the Miami Herald’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2006 series, “House of Lies.” Those eight articles, including multiple graphics and photos,were truly astounding.
    Politically connected developers and nonprofit community organizations, the newspaper showed, had received hundreds of millions of dollars to do nothing. Three prominent builders were indicted on grand theft charges.The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) even took control of the county’s housing agency for nine months.

    One problem. Like many great journalistic projects, the whole thing was quickly forgotten or shrugged off by authorities.

    Here’s where the major pieces of that investigation stand today:

    • Charges were recently dismissed against one of the three people criminally charged in the scandal, Juan Delgado. This makes it likely that his codefendant, former Miami mayoral candidate Raul Masvidal, will soon go free.

    • Developer Oscar Rivero, the mastermind of a $4 million scheme to defraud the government, is working a comfy desk job at the pricey Biltmore Hotel after a two-year jail term.

    • Federal auditors recently concluded The Miami-Dade Public Housing Agency had improperly spent $3.6 million related to affordable housing grants. They ordered the money repaid.

    • And, worst of all, Miami New Times has discovered that county commissioners are doling out multimillion-dollar no-bid grants to politically connected developers through an affordable housing slush fund financed with property tax dollars.

    Since the award-winning series ended, housing regulators and Miami’s major daily newspaper have dropped the ball. County leaders haven’t fixed much in the way of providing housing for the poorest residents, and the Herald has published little about that fact. And need remains high. In 2009, the most recent year available, 22,275 people needed government assistance to find a place to live, county figures show.

    Even more people probably need help today, says Marcos Feldman, an analyst with the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University. Affordable housing developers have raised rents during the recession. “Low-cost rental apartments are drastically undersupplied,” he says. “These shortfalls need to be addressed urgently.”

    Meanwhile, the culprits who profited from the scandals profiled in “House of Lies” have escaped any real punishment. The most important one, Rivero, was a disbarred lawyer and son of a Hialeah bus driver. He parlayed his time as an aide to former Miami- Dade Mayor Alex Penelas into positions on public boards around town and work in the lucrative business of affordable housing. In 2002, Rivero received more than $4 million in grants and loans to build 120 homes in depressed areas of Miami and South Miami. The Herald’s series exposed how Rivero had failed to build the projects while amassing more than $4.9 million in personal real estate, including an 11,000-squarefoot estate that featured a wine cellar and elevator, among other ostentatious amenities.

    Rivero was arrested for grand theft in August 2006. To avoid more charges, he pleaded guilty two years later and promised to cooperate with public-corruption prosecutors against others implicated in “House of Lies,” including former Miami-Dade housing director Rene Rodriguez and ex-county commissioner Dorrin Rolle. However, there have been no subsequent indictments that have mentioned Rivero’s testimony. He went to prison November 11, 2008, and was released January 26, 2010. He was required to build seven homes with Habitat for Humanity, which he did, according to the nonprofit’s chief executive, Mario Artecona.

    After his release, Rivero secured a job in the executive offices of the Biltmore. The hotel’s president and owner, Gene Prescott, did not return a phone call to explain why he hired the ex-con. Asked for an interview, Rivero declined. “No, thanks,” he said.

    Masvidal and Delgado seem to be faring even better than Rivero. Both men were charged with grand theft and organized scheme to defraud. Prosecutors alleged Delgado aided Masvidal, known philanthropist and formerropist and former banker, in a scheme to bilk the county of $3.2 million in public money for a county office building that was never completed. Delgado, who was the general contractor, doctored bills so that Masvidal, the developer,could hide the personal purchase of a $150,000 watermelon sculpture, the Herald series showed.

    This past October 6, Miami-Dade Judge Dennis Murphy threw out the case against Delgado, ruling that the statute of limitations had run out and that parts of the prosecution’s case were unconvincing. The State Attorney’s Office plans to appeal the ruling, but if it stands, Delgado’s dismissal will help bolster the defense of Masvidal, who is awaiting trial.

    And at county hall, little has changed from the days before the series was published. “House of Lies” also showed how the county had squandered nearly $35 million in federal funds that were supposed to be used for the redevelopment project. But during the time HUD controlled the housing agency in 2008, former Mayor Carlos Alvarez and county commissioners bickered with federal officials over reform. In the end, the county agreed to only turn over management of Section 8 rental assistance to a private company and finish redeveloping a paltry 175 homes in Liberty City — where 850 African-American families had once lived.

    That’s not all. This past January, commissioners learned that Miami-Dade government must repay $3.6 million in federal grants to HUD. A 2009 audit concluded that county officials couldn’t show how grants distributed in 2007 were being used to create jobs, improve housing for low-income and moderate-income people, and provide meals to elderly residents. Commissioners balked at repayment, alleging Miami-Dade taxpayers weren’t responsible for the mess.

    Yet some commissioners have shown no restraint in handing out property tax money to favored affordable housing developers, including those who donate to their campaigns. In 2004, Miami-Dade voters approved a $2.9 billion general obligation bond program that– among other things – set aside about $137 million for affordable housing projects in each of the 13 commission districts. These funds are administered through the county’s capital improvement office and not the housing agency, so affordable housing safeguards put in place after “House of Lies” don’t apply.

    Three times since 2009, commissioners have doled out grants from the $137 million pot to developers of their choosing without bids or much oversight. The first deal came before the county commission on January 22,2009,when Commissioner Barbara Jordan wanted to give a $7.5 million loan to Georgia Ayers Development LLC to construct a 72- unit apartment building in Opa-locka. The entity is owned by the Biscayne Housing Group, a local development company specializing in affordable housing. County commissioners voted 12-1 to approve Jordan’s proposal.

    That loan was later changed to a grant. Jordan did not respond to a request for comment.

    Seventeen months later,the county commission voted 10-1 to approve Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz’s request for a $10 million grant for Consolidated Real Estate Investments, whose owners are developing an apartment for senior citizens in Sweetwater. The same year, Diaz was running for re-election, and Consolidated’s principals, Raul and Nidia Rodriguez, each donated the $500 maximum to the commissioner’s campaign. The couple gave another $5,000 through companies they own. Diaz did not respond to a list of questions about the grant emailed to his spokeswoman, Olga Vega.

    Katy Sorenson, who was a county commissioner representing parts of South Dade from 1995 until last year, was the only elected official to vote against both deals. At the time, Sorenson, who is now president of the Good Government Initiative, informed her colleagues that awarding millions of dollars to developers without competitive bidding would create the appearance that elected officials were doling out patronage. “The idea of just giving away general obligation money didn’t make sense to me,” Sorenson says. “I thought it was better to have developers compete for the dollars. That way you avoid any questions about these deals being a political fix, which undermines the public’s trust in government.”

    Commissioners appear to have dismissed Sorenson’s concerns. They have continued approving no-bid deals. This past July 19, the county commission voted 11-0 to approve Commissioner Bruno Barreiro’s request to award a $3.7 million grant for construction of a 24-unit senior citizens apartment project by the Related Group. The Miami-based real estate conglomerate is owned by Miami Dolphins Chairman Stephen Ross and powerhouse Democratic Party fundraiser Jorge Perez. Related and Ross Perez Holdings each gave $500 to Barreiro in 2010.

    Barreiro insists it was no sweetheart deal. “I looked at developers who have done work in my district who can turn projects around fast,” he says. “That is why I picked Related.”

    The Related Group finished the project earlier this year, but only one-third of the building is set aside for affordable housing.

    Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch notes that in the years since the public housing investigation, the newspaper has done four other award-winning investigative series, although none about public housing. The struggling daily also lost Debbie Cenziper, the reporter who wrote “House of Lies,” to the Washington Post. “We will stay on top of the housing issue going forward,” Hirsch insists.

    Tuitt, the Trinidadian lady whose house was torn down before she could move in, has found a home in Little Haiti. She avoided City of Miami bureaucracy. “These days it is even harder for poor people to qualify to own their own home,” she says. “No one sticks up for us. It’s a shame.”

    http://digitalissue.miaminewtimes.com/article/Metro/885290/87870/article.html

    Comentario por napoleon03 | noviembre 11, 2011


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