January 17, 2012
Artcile was originally published on Investment Watch Blog – 2012, as such Florida Public Employees has not contributed to the writing of this article.
By Farid A. Khavari
Corruption is the worst plague of an economy and a society. Unfortunately, it has infested Miami-Dade County. For this county to prosper, the corruption must be rooted out completely for the good of all her residents, and even for those who benefit from it. The consequences of corruption during of anemic economic growth can be incredibly devastating.
What are some of the consequences?
1) Permanent and ongoing increases in cost.
2) Declining service and protection.
3) Depriving people from equal opportunity.
4) Growing number of brain-drains from the corrupt community to other areas of the nation to escape the corruption and seek fair opportunity.
5) The lack of courage to challenge the corrupted politicians due to fear from backlashes.
6) Declining economy and growing social costs as corruption continues, sending that economy and society into third-world oblivion.
The occurrence of corruption festers when one or more of the following factors are used by politicians and others in the government.
a) Cronyism: This phenomenon kicks in when a politician employs his buddies, friends and those who helped him/her financially or otherwise to achieve the position, especially when these appointed people are unqualified for that position or better qualified people could have been hired at much lower cost. Even worse is when these people are hired to achieve certain goals for the politicians who have close relationship with certain groups of voters.
b) Nepotism: This is classic corruption. This often happens when the family members get involved in lobbying activities, exploiting the power and position of the politicians for financial gains. In this connection it is irrelevant whether the booties are shared with the politicians or not. Usually, the politicians gain financially directly and/or indirectly.
c) Favoritism: To this category belongs all those hires, contracts, changes of law and ordinance to fit certain groups because of returning favors for those received. Favoritism also describes when people or companies are recommended by the contributors who supported the campaign or hiring people or companies that supported the campaign themselves directly. To this group also belongs those who are not qualified for certain jobs and/or their salaries by far exceed their qualifications. Needless to say that these favors are financed by the tax-payers directly or indirectly.
d) Unfair treatments: The most common phenomenon of this type of corrupted behavior happens when all groups of government employees are not treated equally, and certain groups receive preferred treatments. One example of this would be the treatment of the police union in Miami-Dade County received as opposed to the firefighters. Now the police are facing layoffs of 300 or more on top of a 5% cut to pay. Balancing the budget through salary cuts is the wrong measure to begin with, as this leads to implementing more austerity and belt-tightening measures each year as a new balanced budget must be presented. Balancing the budget without increasing revenues is doomed, leading to more unemployment. More unemployment means less tax revenue, and this just complicates balancing the budget for the next period. To achieve increasing revenue, new and more jobs must be created. Definitely not increasing the list of unemployed people. Another case of unfair treatment occurs when certain language or other requirements are added to be able to qualify for government jobs. In Miami-Dade County, this would exclude almost all of the Anglos, Afro-Americans, and other not Spanish speaking citizens.
e) Lack of solid character: Politicians that accept donations from every interest group, especially from those who have competing interests, is another strong factor for underlying corruption. Corruption always begins with dubious character, who displays greed and dishonesty.
f) Ineptness of the politicians: Such famous examples include the funds blown on Marlin stadium as well as the drive to expand gambling in this county, which would have been financed by siphoning revenues from the anemic economy. Taking donations from the interest groups of these deals is the epitome of corruption because favors must be returned at the expense of the tax-paying residents of this county.
g) Escalating and outrageous costs: The cost of corruption is tremendously more than the sum of all its parts, which reflects in unbearable social cost for the tax-payers. This happens when the energy and the resources of the government officials are concentrated on those activities that are triggered by the corruption, neglecting their attention towards other serious issues related to the county and people. It is no surprise that the cost of living and healthcare are becoming unaffordable and getting out of control for a growing number of people in Miami-Dade County, leading to increasing homelessness and poverty.
FACTS AND FACES OF CORRUPTION IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY
Unfortunately the corruption in Miami-Dade County has reached an outrageous and shameless level! No doubt, the majority of the people do know that corruption has gone rampant in Miami-Dade County, yet they do not have a clear picture of the gravity and the sources of the corruption. Following is a short compilation of solid facts related to corruption in Miami-Dade County:
FAVORITISM NEEDS IMMEDIATE ATTENTION
- “Miami-Dade County saw it fair to take from struggling working families and give 81% of its entire $6.2 billion budget ($5.022 billion) to underworked and overpaid government employees.” The Miami Herald Blog (December 13, 2011)
- “There are 3,125 Miami-Dade County employees who get six figures this year.”—Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times Blog (November 4, 2011)
- “The specter of more jobs has always been used to manipulate our community. The new Miami Marlins stadium and its bilingual requirement—something that disqualifies most blacks (and Anglos).” The Miami Herald (December 16, 2011)
- “Genting bought the Herald property and land around it, including the Omni building, where it wants to open a temporary casino to help finance construction of its mammoth resort.” The Miami Herald (November 6, 2011)
- “Carlos J. Gimenez publicly supports Malaysian giant Genting’s bid to bring a gambling resort downtown and he’s taken thousands ($10,000) from the firm.” Miami New Times Blog (October 28, 2011)
THE HEIGHT OF SHAMELESS NEPOTISM
- “Carlos J. Gimenez, Jr., the son of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos J. Gimenez, is listed as a lobbyist for American Traffic Solutions, the company that contracts with most of the red-light camera programs in Florida, record show.” The Miami Herald (October 3, 2011)
- “…Carlos (J. Gimenez, Jr. has close personal ties to many Miami-Dade County’s elected and appointed governmental officials.” (Source: Carlos J. Gimenez, Jr. professional bio published at his employer’s lobbying Law Practice of Becker & Poliakoff official website.)
(Is there any question as to who those “elected and appointed governmental officials of Miami-Dade County” are?)
- “A possible conflict has forced Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to sit out the awarding of a $50 million contract to a local construction company that employs his son Julio and uses his other son Carlos Jr. as its lobbyist. Munilla Construction Management submitted the lowest bid out of seven firms vying to be the general contractor on miscellaneous construction projects at the county’s airport. As Miami-Dade government’s chief executive, Gimenez is supposed to ultimately decide if MCM get the deal.” Miami New Times Blogs (September 23, 2011)
- “Miami-Dade Mayor (Carlos J. Gimenez) talks about fiscal responsibility, but he doesn’t practice it. Many of the mayor’s cronies from the city of Miami fire department are now double dippers. William Bryson and Genaro Iglesias, both retired from the city of Miami, were appointed to positions of fire chief and vice mayor, in Miami-Dade. The Miami Herald (October 27, 2011)
- “The deputy mayors’ salaries, which ranges from low of $225,000 to high of $267,000.” The Miami Herald (August 4, 2011)
- William Bryson and Genaro Iglesias receive each an additional $10,000 per month for their pension–$120,000 annually!
- Mayor Carlos Gimenez receives, in addition to his salary, another $140,000 for his pension as a retired firefighter.
CORRUPTION LEADS TO FAILURE
Incompetency and corruption lead both to economic failure. Replacing former Mayor Carlos Alvarez with Mayor Carlos Gimenez has changed nothing—only compounded the problems and increased the economic woes of the Miami-Dade County, in term escalated the suffering of the residents of this county.
Here are some examples from the media reports about the economy in Miami-Dade County since Mayor Carlos J. Gimenez took office in July 2011.
- “Third-quarter foreclosure filing rose 13.2 percent to 9,170 in Miami-Dade County.” The Miami Herald (October 14, 2011)
- “Bank repossessions – the final stage of the foreclosures process – rose 50 percent to 2,296 in Miami-Dade during the third quarter.” The Miami
Herald (October 14, 2011)
- The unemployment rate in Miami-Dade County is 11.5%, among the highest in the nation! Nothing has been done to change it.
- 1,286 jobs were eliminated in Miami-Dade government and 13 libraries were closed since Mayor Carlos Gimenez become mayor in July 2011. But don’t worry, over 3100 top “managers” will not face reduction of their six-figure salaries!
- 300 more police officers will be receiving pink slips very soon.
BALANCING THE BUDGET
- “What started as a $239 million hole in Miami-Dade County’s 2012 budget is growing by the day as the county and its 10 unions struggle to reach new contract terms.” The Miami Herald (November 16, 2011)
- “Each and every day that the county and its 10 unions fail to reach accord on new contracts, the county digs itself $300,000 further into a hole.” The Miami Herald (November 16, 2011)
- “The county says it is seeking a cut totaling 21 percent in salary and benefits from police.” The Miami Herald (October 17, 2011)
- “The (police) union says the proposed cuts, for some officers, actually would total to more than 30 percent – a number the PBA that would drive away talented officers and recruits, endangering public safety.” The Miami Herald (November 12, 2011)
Interesting is the statement and the nerve of Genaro Iglesias, Deputy Mayor/Chief of Staff, Miami-Dade County, the right-hand man of the Mayor Carlos J. Gimenez:
“One point that isn’t up for debate is the need for county government to tighten its collective belt.”
(Source: The Miami Herald (November 23, 2011, Page 20A)
If they want austerity, they need to start with themselves, meaning Genaro Iglesias, William Bryson and Mayor Carlos J. Gimenez who each receive between $277,000 and $370,000 for their salaries and pensions.
It should also be reminded that it was just a pure sham when Mayor Carlos Gimenez accepted a cut of 50 percent cut in salary from what the former mayor Carlos Alvarez was receiving. Mayor Gimenez gets a $150,000 in salary plus $10,000 in bonuses and another $140,000 for his pension as former firefighter—a total of whopping $300,000!
For comparison, the salary of the Florida governor is a meager $130,000.
Incompetency and corruption come always with a high price and we all end up paying for it.
Investment Watch Blog – 2012: http://investmentwatchblog.com/why-corruption-in-miami-dade-county-must-be-rooted-out/#.TxUblKVSSO5
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