Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Miami-Dade County shell game continues
In an Oct. 13 Miami Herald story headlined "Miami-Dade’s Gimenez reshuffles County Hall, keeps department heads at their current salaries", staff writer Martha Brannigan reported,
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez named five new department directors and two interim heads this week as he slashes the number of county departments to 25 from 42.

But don’t weep for those gold-plated bureaucrats left without a seat when the music stopped.

Most of the displaced department heads are staying on — at their current six-figure salaries – at least until the new department directors figure out how to revamp their refashioned empires in a quest for efficiency.
County spokeswoman Suzy Trutie confirmed that displaced department heads “will continue working in their respective departments’’ indefinitely, while the new bosses figure out how to organize and streamline operations. It’s unclear how long that might take.
In an answer given in response to a Miami Herald editorial board questionnaire, Gimenez wrote: "County government is far too bloated. It currently has 60 departments, agencies and offices and could function efficiently with 25 departments, the same as the State. We will reorganize and consolidate county departments, eliminate unnecessary positions, and reduce top-level salaries and executive benefits."

So how's the mayor doing in his quest to get rid of the "bloating?"

A couple of weeks ago, 555 county employees received lay-off notices.

It remains to be seen how many of those will actually be laid-off.

One of those receiving a pink slip was Victoria Mallette-O'Bryan, an "Emergency Management Governmental Coordinator" at the County's Office of Emergency Management. Before joining OEM, Mallette-O'Bryan was the spokesperson for former mayor Carlos Alvarez.

But, to paraphrase Martha Brannigan, "don’t weep for Victoria Mallette-O'Bryan."

Random Pixels has learned that within days of receiving her pink slip, Mallette-O'Bryan was on her way to another well-paid county job....for the time being.

County spokesperson Suzy Trutie tells me in an email that "Mallete-O’Bryan is temporarily on loan to the Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department pending the results of recruitment. Victoria Mallette O’Bryan’s salary is $85,020.00, minus 10% salary contribution towards healthcare."

Additionally, Trutie sent me this information on George Navarrete and Marlen Brant, former director and assistant director respectively of Miami-Dade's Office of Capital Improvements.

"George Navarrete, and Marlen Brant are on loan to the Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department pending the finalization of the department’s restructuring. George Navarrete’s salary is $181,485.98, minus 10% salary contribution towards healthcare. Marlen Brant’s salary is $103,145.90, minus 10% salary contribution towards healthcare."

Now, here's a little background the Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department.

The director of Parks and Recreation is Jack Kardys.

Kardys has been with the county for 30 years. He was appointed to the parks department in 2007 after then mayor Carlos Alvarez fired Donnell Rodriguez, who had been heading the department.

From an Aug. 14, 2007 Miami Herald story:
Continuing to flex his new power over Miami-Dade County government, Mayor Carlos Alvarez on Monday demanded the resignation of Parks and Recreation Director Vivian Donnell Rodriguez.

His administration gave no immediate explanation for her removal. A memo from County Manager George Burgess said only that Donnell Rodriguez "is separating from the county," effective immediately.

"I will not detail the reasons behind Ms. Donnell Rodriguez's departure, but wish her much success in future endeavors," Alvarez said in a brief written statement.

His spokeswoman, Victoria Mallette, said Donnell Rodriguez "was asked to resign and she accepted."

Donnell Rodriguez said it was "a mutual parting of the ways," but also said she "didn't know it was coming."

"It was surprising but not shocking," Donnell Rodriguez told The Miami Herald.

She said Burgess asked to meet with her Monday morning, and Alvarez was not present.
In Feb., 2011, Kardys showed Alvarez just how grateful he was for his job.

He played a major part in the effort to prevent the recall of Alvarez.

From a March 9, 2011 Miami Herald story:
On Feb. 10, the entire county parks department – numbering nearly 1,000 full-time employees – was ordered to attend, on taxpayer time, a 10 a.m. meeting at the Dade County Auditorium. The featured speaker: County manager George Burgess.

“This meeting is mandatory for all staff (both full time and part time) regardless of their schedule,” said an email sent on behalf of county parks director Jack Kardys . County park and facilities would be staffed with “a skeleton crew.”

At the meeting, Burgess railed against what he claimed were misrepresentations in the local media about the budget pushed by Alvarez last September. Then he said he wanted to discuss the “elephant in the room:” Without mentioning Alvarez or the recall, Burgess said: “If this passes, we all better be worried.”

Burgess told The Herald his intention was just to inform employees about the choices ahead. “I don’t want to brainwash them,’’ he said. “There are no expectations they have to act a certain way.”
So, if Gimenez campaigned on a platform of reform, why isn't he "reforming" instead of re-shuffling.

One long-time observer of county politics put it to me this way: "What you have to understand Bill is that both Alvarez and Gimenez ran on promises to reform the system. But once they got in they became defenders of the system. I'll bet that when this is all over, no more than a few dozen people will be out of a job."

And another source told me, "For the life of me, I do not understand why Gimenez has kept all of those Alvarez loyalists. He will regret it later."


  1. You have done a nice job of tracking these rats who go from job to job without the inconvenience of a job interview. By the way, Marlene Brant is the wife of Bill Brant, the former Director of the Water & Sewer Department under Alvarez. She married him while serving as a Water & Sewer employee under his direction.

  2. Thanks for revealing how much of a skunk Jack Kardys really is. Plus he lives in Broward. How can the mayor have someone running our county park system who doesn't even live here? Why is Gimenez keeping around these Alvarez cronies?

    Maybe Robaina was right... Gimenez and Alvarez are two peas in a pod.

  3. on loan? on loan? how can regular county employees being laid off get that sweet deal? what a bunch of garbage by sleazy political characters!

  4. This is clearly abuse of the system. We all thought it would stop once Gimenez was voted in however, he is just continuing to pickup has beens from the Alvarez/Burgess administration. He obviously realizes the county is too big for him to manage and he needs old-timers around to do the work we voted him in to do. He better fire those displaced directors now or it will cost him the next election. Taxpayers should not be shilling out 2 director salaries for one job especially at their horrendous salary and benefits. They would never give rank and file that privilege. What they leave out on the layoff letters is "don't let the door slam your butt on the way out."

  5. I have no doubt that these moves are being orchestrated by crony-in-chief Alina Hudak. Remember in March of this year when Hudak stashed her former assistant Alex Munoz in the Parks Dept deputy director position? I bet Hudak and Kardys are conspiring to place Navarette in the same unnecessary position that Munoz held before his recent no-compete promotion to Animal Services Director. The whole reshuffling of the Burgess/Alvarez cronies makes me sick to my stomach.

  6. Is it Gimenez's management philosophy to loan people who are not needed to other departments? Talk about a bad practice. I would rather receive a rebate on my taxes than see overpaid political hacks retained on the payroll even though their jobs are no longer needed. 


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