Alvarez: End Political Division, Work To Help Miami-Dade

MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – In what may be his last State of the County address, embattled Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez admitted that he has made mistakes as the county’s ‘strong mayor’, but in comments that appeared addressed to those seeking to have him recalled from office, he urged critics to abandon efforts to “divide us politically” and to work with him.

Speaking before a packed Miami-Dade commission chamber with an audience made up mostly of county employees and elected officials, the mayor’s speech was heavy on the accomplishments of his administration in tough economic times, and salted with comments appeared addressed to those who are trying to have him removed from office.

That recall effort, led by billionaire businessman Norman Braman, was sparked by the Mayor’s decision to raise taxes while increasing some county worker salaries. Alvarez acknowledged he had made some voters unhappy.

“I am aware that my recommendations haven’t always been popular, and they certainly haven’t been politically safe. I am the first one to admit I have made some mistakes,” he said.  “But I can stand before you today and say, without hesitation, that it has never been about me or my popularity.  It has always been about doing right by the community that I serve.”

Alvarez defended some of what he called his “tough decisions.”

“First and foremost, we didn’t put the safety of our community at risk,” he said. “We rejected the idea of laying off more than 200 police officers who keep criminals and predators off our streets.”

He also defended decision he said kept Miami-Dade Fire Rescue strong.

“Our budget prevented the layoffs of more  than 400 firefighters, maintains response times, keeps fire stations open and units in service, he said.”

But addressing one of the major criticisms against him, without ever referring to the recall effort, Alvarez said the county did take steps to keep the budget in check by cutting salaries.

“We have fewer employees today than we have had since the 1990s,” he said. “Most employees of this government are making less today than two years ago.”

Despite the tax increases that have fueled the recall, Alvarez said the county had addressed $1 billion in budget shortfalls over the last 4 years.

“Our belt tightening isn’t done,” he said  “All of our department directors have been told,again, to identify cuts to reduce their budgets by three percent.”

Seeming to reach out to his critics, he asked people to reject the county challenges as a chance to score “political points.”

“Attacks are easy. Solutions are hard,” he said.

He asked critics to take his outstretched hand, and seemed to speak directly to the voters who may have the chance to turn him out of office next month.

“I have overwhelming confidence in the citizens of Miami-Dade County,” he said. “I am confident that once they have all the facts…once they compare what could have been to what actually is…they will reject cynicism and negativity in favor of optimism and hope for our collective future. ”

The mayor’s critics say he did an about face last year, agreeing to union givebacks of $132 million that set the stage for the controversial property tax rate hike at the center of the recall effort.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, who wants to be mayor himself, told reporters Wednesday, “We didn’t have to raise taxes.” He continued talking about the controversial Marlins ballpark, “Certainly I would have spent that money at the convention center instead of a baseball stadium. We’d have a lot more jobs created out of that.”

On the other side, Commissioner Natacha Seijas, who is fighting to get her name off of a recall ballot with Mayor Alvarez said, “He (Mayor Alvarez) did make tough calls and I made tough calls, but it was for the best of the community. I have no regrets.”

Alvarez also dealt with specifics he believes shows how the county is responding to the nation’s economic problems.

“We recognized the economic downturn for  what it was: an opportunity,” he said.

Acknowledging the county’s 13% unemployment rate is still too high, he said a host of county supported projects, ranging from the port tunnel project to the new Marlins ballpark, have created or saved almost 3 thousand jobs.

He said the county has a balanced budget, solid bond ratings, and cash reserves, but pointed out problems that need to be addressed.

Mayor Alvarez said he was disappointed the new federal budget did not include money for the “Deep Dredge” project to help prepare the Port of Miami for new, larger cargo ships, and issued a call to elected officials in Tallahassee and Washington to put aside differences and work to provide this funding.

He also addressed the continued financial problems at Jackson Memorial Hospital, the county operated hospital of last resort for the poor and. Without offering specifics, Alvarez said, “We have got to do everything within our power to keep Jackson Health System viable.”

Mayor Alvarez said despite the county’s problems, he believes county government has the plans and the resources to pull through.

“We haven’t shut the door on opportunity.  We aren’t marking time. We are moving forward, and our collective success relies on having a vision, staying the course, and pulling together in a positive way to move Miami-Dade County forward.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Kenneth Karger says:

    BALONEY!

    Ken Karger

  2. Whitemanzen says:

    What a joke. More hyprocricy coming from this crook.

  3. LMMD says:

    WHEN WILL THIS GUY FACE REALITY AND REALIZE HE’S A FAILURE AS A LEADER? NO WE DON’T WANT TO WORK WITH YOU – WE WANT YOU OUT!

  4. Cuban Community says:

    The people have spoken. We want you out. Stop trying to muster the Cuban Community to stand behind your corrupt administration. The Cuban Community has grown up. We are not our fathers and grandfathers token vote. We are Americans and as Americans we want the best leadership for our community. You Mr. Alvarez are unwanted and you must take heed and leave.

  5. SOMEONE WHO CARES says:

    Mr. Major.
    First you must start by your office. You must stop reserving five parking spaces in your headquaters by FIU. Everytime i try to park close to the mall your cones are reserving your spaces that people that need to work need.Most of the time your cars are not in. Stop using so many body guards it is a waste of taxpayer money. Stop using perpotend LINCOLN mercury SUV.

  6. justme000 says:

    THE NUMBER #1 CROOK IN MIAMI – DADE.GOD HELP US.

  7. Yason Gonzalez says:

    I wish they were sent back to where they came from. Then, they’d be in the right place to do what they do best (corruption)

  8. Jane Doe says:

    Give us a break. We all know a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots and neither will Alvarez.

  9. Clay Renoit says:

    A BIG FAT LIE…..LIE…AFTER LIE ..HE IS WORRED THAT HE WANT HAVE THE MONEY SAVED TO PAY HIS OWN TAXES….HE IS A PILE OF POOH. WORM POOH, NOT PIG POOH THATS TO GOOD OF A NAME FOR THIS RAT….HE SAID THE PEOPLE CAN VOTE ME IN CAN VOTE ME OUT AND THEY DID JUST THAT..SO TAKE THIS JOB AND PUT IT WHERE THE SUN DON’T SHINE..YOUR A CROOK AND A RAT AND YOU NEED TO LEAVE JUST LIKE YOU SAID VOTERS THAT VOTED YOU IN CAN VOTE IN OUT…..SO GO STOP CRYING LIKE A BABY….OH I CAN’T HAVE IT MY WAY….PLEASE PEOPLE I DID WRONG AND WILL DO WRONG AGAIN….I AM SORRY I WILL NEVER TAX PROPERTY OWNERS AGAIN……..LETS SHAKE HANDS ON IT…YOUR A PIG NO YOUR THE PIGS POOH….( PLEASE FIRE THIS JOKE) SO WHAT WHAT YOU DID FOR EVERY POLICE AND FIREMAN…LIKE YOU WHERE THE ONE TO SAVE JOBS AFTER RAISING PROPERTY TAXES AND GIVE RAISES…YOUR A ****** THERE IS NO WORD THAT I CAN CALL YOU….CRY BABY!!!!! WORRED maybe the billionaire will shake on it….look what a deal…..NO YOUR JUST A CRY BABY

  10. Clay Renoit says:

    PEOPLE CAN VOTE ME IN CAN ALSO VOTE ME OUT..SO THE PEOPLE DID THAT WHATS NEXT? please people i need my job…LIKE YOU HAVE MADE PROPERTY OWNERS DO…..TAX US TO DEATH….SOMEONE NEEDS TO STOP PLAYING AND SEND THIS GUY HOME FOR GOOD…GIVE HE HIS WALKING PAPERS, WITHOUT PAY……

  11. OutWithTheCrook says:

    Hes a an ex-crooked cop and he just raised taxes on Miami Dade so all his buddies can get a raise. All he cares about iarehis buddies and the stupid police and fire unions (PBA,etc) that keep him in there. Out with the Crook!!

  12. phantom says:

    First to Cuban Community.. If you claim you want the best for our communities or country for that matter, how the hell we ended up with Obama as President. Now for the rest of you, are you people stupid? Alvarez is not the #1 corrupt Official. There are thousands out there in our entire nation. Educate yourselves ignorant fools. Read and research. The whole freaking country is corrupt. All the way from Obama to the bottom bathroom cleaners. Capitalism= Corruption

    1. GAIN AND AGAIN says:

      phantom: I was hoping to hear something constructive from you, but the fact that YOU LIVE IN THE USA and are a BIGOT says more than enough! By hiding behind your alias “phantom” are you not a COWARD, TOO?
      Do you vote?
      Why don’t YOU RUN FOR OFFICE?
      Or, are YOU IN OFFICE ALREADY?
      As far as EDUCATION: I consider you IGNORANT, BIGOTTED, AND INSANE. Look around and smell the coffee.
      STUPID and IDIOT should be your ALIAS.

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