Apparently, Mayor Carlos Alvarez didn't think the budget meeting would pack enough drama into his day, so he decided to schedule an early-afternoon news conference yesterday to call out the Miami Herald. You can watch the nearly hour-long proceedings on CBS4's website.
"I think we should start taking really more advice from the Herald. This is an organization that has a virtual monopoly in Miami-Dade County and is going bankrupt. How can you do that? Poor leadership. Poor planing. Bad business model. Bad employees. How can you have a monopoly and be going bankrupt? But we're to follow their idea of Public Administration 101. OK," Alvarez quipped.
Why so angry, Alvarez? The mayor contended that yesterday's front-page story about pay raises handed to police majors was biased and timed with the budget hearing to whip people into a frenzy. He also stated that the issue was old news, because he had given an interview on the matter to Channel 41 four weeks ago. We can't speak to the Herald's choice of timing, but Alvarez must know that giving an interview to a Spanish-language channel that's far from first in the ratings doesn't absolve the issue from further coverage. Especially in the English-language media.
Alvarez also seized on an internal Herald email that was accidentally sent to his spokesman.
It read, "I am happy to run down to county hall if we really feel we need to get something from him, but my hunch is it will be pretty vanilla."
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The email's writer, unsavvy reporter Matthew Haggman, happened to be in the press pool. Alvarez repeatedly asked him: "How did you feel?" to the point of coming across childish. Haggman explained that while writing the story, he had tried all day to get a quote from the mayor, and when Alvarez didn't make himself available, Haggman was simply letting a colleague know he was planning on heading down to county hall in a last-ditch attempt. Alvarez didn't have much of a reply.
The mayor also repeatedly said the pay raises to the majors were justified and had been in the works for 18 months. He said that captains who worked under majors made up to $10,000 more than their superiors -- a point that got mostly buried in the Herald story underneath a load of data outlining other pay raises in the police department under Alvarez's watch.
So here's the thing. The mayor might have gotten a few "LOLs" in our book for asking why we should follow the Herald's "idea of Public Administration 101." But we're certainly not signing up for the Alvarez School of Journalism either.
Perhaps it would have benefited Alvarez to, um, you know, actually talk to the Herald one-on-one. His suspicion that yesterday's article was timed is valid, but if he would have come out and put all future pay-raise issues on the table for both the English and Spanish media in the first place, he couldn't have complained about their timing.