The Junket Queen

Not all Millan's junkets are subsidized by governments (whether Spain's or ours). One recent trip came courtesy of cosmetics giant Estee Lauder. A couple of months ago the company, which sells its merchandise at MIA, flew Millan and Mayor Alex Penelas's wife Lilliam to New York City for two days to participate in an event it was sponsoring, an event Millan repeatedly referred to as "Breast Awareness Month" but which in fact was "Breast Cancer Awareness Month."

Millan, of course, isn't the only commissioner who travels. Earlier this year Commissioner Gwen Margolis suffered through a European excursion -- hitting London, Paris, and Vienna -- with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony. (No, she wasn't sitting in with the violins. She and members of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau were promoting Miami as a bastion of culture and fine art.) Last year she went to Spain.

Other commissioners take the occasional working journey as well. Miriam Alonso flew to Ecuador last year, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla shuttled off to the Canary Islands, Dennis Moss spent a couple of days in the Bahamas, Jimmy Morales ambled down to Costa Rica, and Javier Souto sauntered off to Guatemala.

But no one can compare with Millan's nomadically ramblin' spirit. She noted that when Commissioner Pedro Reboredo was chairman of the committee that oversaw the airport, he wasn't reluctant to travel, either. And she's right.

Between 1993 and 1996, Reboredo hit all the international hot spots: Madrid, Paris, London, and Frankfurt. He also traveled an inordinate amount in North America. According to county travel records, he would jump on a jet and "inspect" various airports. During those three years, he eyeballed airports in Seattle, Vancouver, Boston, New York, Newark, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Denver.

Just imagine him wandering through these facilities, perhaps wearing a spiffy uniform and white gloves.

What's that over there?
That's the runway, sir.
What's that for?
That's where the planes land.
Ah, very good, very good. I'm pretty sure we've got one of those in Miami.

Between Reboredo's rigorous inspections, Millan's global vision, and all the conferences attended by aviation department staffers, you'd think Miami's would rank among the greatest airports in the world. It doesn't. It's a joke. And you don't need to go to Spain or China to recognize that.

Just walk through MIA. The roof leaks. The carpet looks like crap. The food is awful. And it took years to provide something as simple as baggage carts for passengers. Perhaps Millan can do for some sprawling state agency what she's done for MIA. Perhaps she can apply those same high ethical standards to the Department of Children and Families or the Department of Elder Affairs. As Jeb Bush considers a Millan appointment, he might want to consider that as well.

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