Letters from the Issue of September 24, 2009
Surfside speaks: As a longtime resident of Surfside, I was particularly interested in "Baby Got Fatback!" (Francisco Alvarado, September 17). The mayor and some commissioners of our wonderful little town (population: approximately 5,500) have plunged Surfside into financial chaos in just three short years. This has nothing to do with property values; the town collects more money today than it did five years ago.
New Times has uncovered only the tip of the iceberg of the financial disaster confronting Surfside and other municipalities. A closer look is warranted. I believe it is not simply what top officials are paid, but the real cost of these employees; compensation and pensions are exorbitant, especially for such a small town.
In Surfside, residents are paying much more, getting much less, have lost their community center and pool, and are about to suffer from the loss of important town services such as the library. Even our beachfront lifeguards are threatened. We can and must do better!
A visionary speaks: We would be best served if we eliminated all the top tiers of government, such as commissioners, mayors, attorneys, and the balance of worthless garbage. When dumping this trash, special mention should be made of sewer creature Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and his cronies. His style of management makes former Cuban president Fulgencio Batista look like an angel.
We should have the communities of Miami Beach, Miami, Miami-Dade, Surfside, and Coral Gables under one governing body. It would require fewer people in high-paying positions and be able to better organize service in a cost-effective way. New York City, with 7.5 million people and very diverse communities, has successfully governed the five boroughs. Why can't we?
A mean, mean man speaks: Public services and programs should be the last things on any budget chopping block. Somewhere along the line, the system got hijacked and the elected politicians let greed and power obscure their memories of why they entered politics.
Budget cuts should begin at the top, where they will least affect services and programs set up to help the people. But this is Dade County; common sense got thrown out with the baby and the bath water decades ago.
It might be time to bring it back in style in a legal and civil way. Who's going to stop an angry mob coming for them? The police? If cops have any sense at all, they will be right in the middle of said angry mob. I'll bring the tar; all it'll take is a few phone calls to roofing companies tired of getting the shaft. The question is where to get the feathers? Hmmm.
A wannabe city manager speaks: "Baby Got Fatback" is polemic and rife with overgeneralization. Yes, there are certain officials who do not serve the community in a capacity that warrants the salaries they receive. But many officials, who have worked many years serving the public, deserve their pay. Professionals such as city managers and city attorneys manage the money and advise elected officials. Without them, you would have an even larger mess on your hands. The county and city commissioners are the ones who mostly waste tax dollars (on illicit subsidies, handsouts, and graft).
I know how this works. I have worked in municipalities before, and I have family and friends in municipal government. I currently teach a governmental systems course. These professionals are working, weekly, sometimes until midnight at commission meetings (after getting into the office around 9 a.m.).
It's upsetting that this article targets many hard-working individuals who serve taxpayers. Highly skilled, knowledgeable workers have to make big decisions (for better or for worse) that could severely affect how your city operates, thus directly affecting you. Pay them less, and you might end up with more corruption.
We Won, We Won
Miami New Times dominated newspapers of its class in the recently completed Florida Press Club con test. Staff writer Tim Elfrink finished first in general news writing and second in serious feature writing. Natalie O'Neill took top honors in light feature writing. Gus Garcia-Roberts scored a pair of firsts in minority news reporting and religion writing. Francisco Alvarado brought home two seconds in public safety reporting and sports feature writing. And food critic Lee Klein took second in criticism.
Another recent result: Garcia-Roberts took first in the profile category in the recently completed South Florida Black Journalists contest.
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