To sidestep union demands and deal with its burgeoning financial crisis, the City of Miami declared a situation of financial urgency. It is the second straight year the city has done this.
The idea stinks. (The text of Martinez's declaration follows the jump.) It gives the union 14 days to negotiate new contracts and puts the power squarely in the administration's lap.
Now, I'm not saying some city employees aren't overpaid, They are, particularly in the fire department. But the city has been bending over for its unions for decades -- particularly in a 2007 contract -- and only now is waking up. This is another result of the poor planning and management that was described in staff writer Tim Elfrink's recent story that started the ball rolling on Mayor Tomás Regalado's recall.
The pretty good Miami Herald story about the fiscal urgency decision describes the union anger. It fails, though, to point the finger at the city's ineptitude, which recently caused a bond downgrade and is likely to cause layoffs before the year is up. It fairly notes that commissioners were forced into a corner when they adopted Regalado's lowering of the tax rate. Sounds rather like Bush tax cuts, doesn't it?
So far, only the police union has voted for the Regalado recall. The fire union, which has been treated better, stopped short. It should move forward.
More important, voters should consider this ineptitude when considering commissioners and the mayor next time around. It is an embarrassment to the Magic City -- particularly after the fine stewardship of Regalado's predecessor, Manny Diaz.
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Here is the full text of Martinez's declaration of financial urgency:
Please be advised that I am declaring a financial urgency pursuant to section 447.4095 Florida Statutes, with regard to our collective bargaining obligations involving the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 20, AFSCME Local 1907, AFSCME Local 871, and International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 587. By separate letter, the City's collective bargaining negotiating team will contact the representatives of these employee organizations and begin the (14) day period of negotiations.
Johnny Martinez, P. E.