MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami-Dade Police union president John Rivera had some strong words for Mayor Carlos Gimenez at a contentious meeting over budget cuts held Wednesday night.
“Folks, they’re hiding money, they’re lying to you. they’re lying to the public. They’re lying. I go the proof!” proclaimed Rivera to the audience who packed the West Miami library.
Mayor Gimenez fired back, saying the PBA head’s got it all wrong.
“What John Rivera is really good at is a great distortion of facts,” said Gimenez.
The two also went head to head.
“The only one trying to mislead everyone in this room and all the people from the media who you brought here is you sir,” Gimenez said to Rivera.
“I didn’t bring them! They came. It’s an open meeting!” retorted Rivera.
Rivera is accusing Gimenez and his administration of unnecessary budget cuts, all the while holding back on a $52 million surplus.
“Every time he speaks, you know I hear the carnival music. Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s just a shell game,” said Rivera.
At issue, some numbers the mayor’s office released in a report on the cost of pension benefits, what’s called the pension rise, and the numbers were off. Not in the actual budget, just in the released report.
The person responsible for the reporting error took ownership, admitting that an omitted decimal point made the budget look larger than it actually was.
“I am the budget director for all of you,” said Jennifer Moon, Miami-Dade County’s Budget Director. “I made a mistake and I am an honest person.”
Rivera isn’t buying the explanation.
“If you miss a decimal point and move it over, the numbers still don’t jive,” said Rivera. “When it smells like a skunk it looks like a skunk, and ladies and gentlemen, it is a skunk!”
Rivera’s fight will continue on Thursday when he goes in front of the commission on the issue of health insurance. Rivera doesn’t want his members to pay five percent toward their health insurance, and he wants about $14-million dollars worth of concessions back from the county.
The meeting should be explosive because neither side seems to be backing down.
“One guy he’s never going to intimidate is me,” said Gimenez.
Rivera countered, “Let’s look at what his history is, it speaks louder than any words I can say.”