Sunday, July 17, 2011

Miami-Dade library execs make big bucks

"It's a huge sh*t sandwich, and we're all gonna have to take a bite." -Lt. Lockhart, in Full Metal Jacket, 1987

News item: Seeking to close a $400 million budget gap, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s budget proposal, which includes a laundry list of cuts, features one particularly tough measure: shuttering 13 libraries across Greater Miami.


The reductions would save about $18 million, while eliminating 191 jobs in an overall plan that eliminates 1,292 positions countywide.


“This is one of the most difficult things any of us have had to do,” said Library Director Raymond Santiago. “But it is a tough time, and tough choices were made.”
-Miami Herald article, July, 14, 2011
Library director Santiago is correct; these are tough times.

The cutbacks will be painful for many of the library system's patrons. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of library users - many of them from low income families - will have to adjust.

Some will travel a little farther to find a library. Hopefully when they get there, it will still be open. Some library hours will be shortened because of the cutbacks. And some patrons will have to wait a little longer to use a computer.

Library patrons are not the only ones affected.

The Herald story says that the mayor's plan calls for 191 jobs to be cut in an overall plan that eliminates 1,292 positions countywide.

Painful, to be sure.

But, will the pain reach those those in library management?

The most recent figures show that there are 13 people in the county library system who make over $100,000 a year.

Library Director Raymond Santiago - who spoke so eloquently to the Herald of "tough times and tough choices" - earns slightly less than $200,000 a year.  In addition, he receives almost $10,000 a year in "executive benefits" and a $6,500 annual car allowance.

In all, the library system's top earners take home a combined $1,660,357 a year according to the most recent figures available. (See chart below)

Their executive benefits total almost $42,000 a year. And the total for their car allowances is $16,250 annually. 

Tough times...for some, but not all.

Maybe some of those losing their library jobs can work at the new Marlins Stadium. Just a thought.

Click chart to enlarge.


  1. I'm usually a big fan of RP, but I think this post may be an error.

    The MDPLS is a very large organization both in terms of headcount and sprawl. It would be weird if the people in charge of running it were not expected to have training in libraries and management, and experience. It is not at all strange that this background would command a six-figure salary. (I express no view on the cars, although if their jobs involve moving around the branches it might make sense.)

    I think this sort of a blog post risks being a cheap shot unless you've looked at what the people in the jobs are expected to do, what qualifications they are expected to have, and what comparable jobs (if they exist -- ours is an unusually large system, which is a very good thing) pull down elsewhere.

    The idea that we should run a complex entity like government -- or libraries -- on the back of low-wage, under-trained, or inexperienced personnel is a recipe for government failure. Don't buy into the right-wing frame of first not paying government employees then cutting their budgets because the people left behind run things badly.

    Rather, ask whether the MDPLS works well? Seems to me it is one of the few shining stars in the local government firmament.

  2. What I'm saying, Mr. Froomkin, is that if we're going to have to make sacrifices, then ALL of us should have to make sacrifices.

    For instance, why does someone who makes almost $200,000 a year get an extra 10 grand in executive benefits?

    There seems to be this perception in government that there's this bottomless trough of taxpayer money and let's get as much of it as we can.

    Hopefully, Carlos Gimenez will introduce some real reforms into county government.

  3. Thinking that library managers deserve $100,000 a year or more is what got us into this financial fix.
    That works out to about $50 an hour (260 eight-hour workdays), and no book-dusting required. I'll bet a top pay of $75-80,000 a year would attract qualified people.
    Those of us who pay the taxes that pay these rich salaries are learning how to say, "Enough."


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