First it was 228 Miami-Dade police officers facing layoffs, then it was 110. Now, apparently, it's zero.
At a press conference yesterday, Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez said that no officer job cuts were now on the table for next year's budget after he had come to new agreements with various county unions.
"I had never wanted a single police officer to lose his or her job," Gimenez said. "Today I can announce that not a single sworn police officer will lose their job because of our budgetary challenges."
The announcement came after weeks of saber-rattling between the mayor and police union. Earlier this month, when 228 county officers were facing layoffs, police officials scheduled a meeting of 400 officers at FIU's football stadium to brief the officers about the job cuts; Gimenez promptly vetoed the meeting and then announced, on August 14, a revised budget that reduced the number of layoffs to 110, although the layoffs could be avoided, the mayor said then, if various county unions agreed to altered health plans.
Yesterday, the mayor announced that the county had reached a deal with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees A.F.L-C.I.O., Local 199, the fourth union to come to terms with the county. The union has 9,000 employees, which brings the total number of county employees to accept the health deal to 15,000, according to a press release.
"Once again, I want to thank the leadership of Local 199 for joining our GSA, Solid Waste and Aviation unions in sitting down with my administration to craft responsible solutions to our budgetary challenges," the release said.
"I know that working together, we can all find innovative ways to responsibly manage Miami-Dade County's future employee costs while remaining committed to ensuring that our government is more efficient in its use of hard earned taxpayer dollars."
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John Rivera, the president of the county police union who has frequently sparred with Gimenez, told the Miami Herald he suspected the mayor's announcement, which came two days after Daniella Levine Cava upset incumbent Lynda Bell in a county commissioner's race, was politically motivated. Levine Cava had been heavily supported by the police union.
"In politics, there's no such thing as a coincidence," Rivera said. "I don't think it's a coincidence that he's doing all these things now to soften his image."