Monday, January 20, 2014

The Yo-Yo Vote Continues. Guest Blog by Norma Rae

Vote, Veto, Vote...Veto

Once again, the County Commission has rejected the unfair and unreasonable demand by the Mayor to continue giving up 5% of our pay to support healthcare. It was an 8-5 vote, just like last time. The healthcare accounts of the county are over-flowing with all the cash we have given in the past four years. There is more than $80 Million in SURPLUS. That’s a big enough cushion to pay for healthcare – without anyone paying premiums for the next three months! That’s crazy surplus. That surplus money can only be used to pay healthcare claims. Why does Gimenez want to keep building up that surplus? No one has a good explanation.

The Mayor says he is a fiscal conservative, or some such thing.  Then why has he let the Wall Street people downgrade our bonds and why have they issued statements saying our county finances have a negative outlook?  In all my years working at the County, we have never had anyone downgrade our bonds.  And we do a lot of financing. We have got all that Water and Sewer financing staring at us now.  The Gimenez financial train wreck is going to hurt us for years to come. This is the real problem at the county, not the amount of surplus in the healthcare accounts.

One of those 5 Commissioners who have been supporting the Mayor needs to override the Veto.  They don’t even have to change their original vote.  They can say they voted against the return of the 5% because they have concerns about the future.  We understand the hesitation, with the Mayor throwing up so much dust and confusion.  His own staff call this 5% contribution to healthcare “smoke and mirrors” finances. One-of-the-five can just say:  “We will never get out of this veto-cycle unless the majority-vote decision of the Commission is allowed to stand.”

One of the Five (Sosa, Bell, Heyman, Zapata or Bovo) should end this on Wednesday.  Just say it is time to move on and vote to override.  Nine votes and this nonsense will be done.  I know the employees will be glad to get this yoke off of their shoulders.  It is time to get back to focusing on delivering excellence everyday.

And, just like when the local economy was in collapse, I am sure the employees will be willing to work with the Commission to make sure we continue to deliver services to this county - without causing the County to have a hard time paying its bills.  We got to make sure Gimenez doesn’t destroy this government. We provide critical services to every resident and visitor that comes to Miami-Dade. Override this veto on Wednesday, and let us get back on track and work with the Commission for a better future.   

the Mayor to continue giving up 5% of our pay to support healthcare. It was an 8-5 vote, just like last time.  The healthcare accounts of the county are over-flowing with all the cash we have given in the past four years.  There is more than $80 Million in SURPLUS.  That’s a big enough cushion to pay for healthcare – without anyone paying premiums for the next three months! That’s crazy surplus.  That surplus money can only be used to pay healthcare claims.  Why does Gimenez want to keep building up that surplus?  No one has a good explanation.  

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mayor Gimenez had no problem giving corrupt Juan Kuryla a massive $300,000 County Director's salary, a 70% increase while the current Port Director remains in his job and while all other employees get cuts. Kuryla's background includes personal bankruptcy, coworker love affair leading to divorce, shady dealings with potential port vendors and clients resulting in Inspector General investigation, scheming to get PBSJ a port contract at the same time PB was being indicted for fraud, a fraudulent scheme with convict Hardemon for material hauling from the Port, wining and dining family and friends on the county credit card on foreign junkets, an embarrassing episode in Dubai on County business, inability to show up for work before 10am, aggressive behavior toward law enforcement at traffic stops and other unstable episodes. He is favored by this administration and commission because of his ability to cater to their needs, including numerous junkets like the June 2014 trip he is organizing to Spain and France for insiders paid by taxpayers. The 2014 Port budget also includes a $5 million item for payment in a legal judgment against the County for a judges ruling that the Port of Miami has a way of doling certain business permits illegally protecting incumbents -- ``creating a handful of entrenched privileged companies". The judge said evidence showed other ``established, qualified, competent and trustworthy,'' companies were denied permits even as some incumbents who didn't use their permits received automatic renewals. Kuryla works the backchannels and selection process, where privileged insiders are awarded business while those who are not tied into the system of lobbyists, commissioner aides and certain County staff are denied. Kuryla should be fired, not promoted. Divide his salary among honest employees. Stop the travel junkets for friends and family, save millions.

Anonymous said...

The publicly known reason against restoring the 5% is the Gimenez threat of lay offs. While I agree with the points in this piece, any argument on this subject has to address his ritual countermeasures. Staff providing services to the public are not a priority, and the Mayor is proud to be able to muddle a few dollars property tax savings with the loss of chunks of service. He just ensures that the Spanish population hears an anti-government message that he tones down for the English speaking audience,

Anonymous said...

If the Commission does not allow Gimenez to transfer money from the departments to the healthcare surplus, there is no reason to have layoffs.

Anonymous said...

How long can the healthcare fund be solvent without the transfer of money from the departments? The correct amount needed to keep it state sanctioned is 30 days and the county wants 60 days, correct? This should mean $60 million in the fund and the rest is excess?

Anonymous said...

The County upped the contributions from departments by $39 Million in the last budget...fully anticipating the end of the 5% contributions on January 1, 2014. This gambit by Gimenez is simply to pile up cash in the healthcare accounts...for reasons unknown. It needs to end, so the Commissioners can start dealing with the real financial problems at the County.

Anonymous said...

Explain upping $39 million from the departments. How can departments pay more than the set number of employees at the 5% especially since there are less employees due to attrition and some departments have hired no new employees in over six months.

Anonymous said...

Look to the bond markets. It's possible this reserve is used as equity to show County's solvency and helps get financing for infrastructure projects they want.

Anonymous said...

The bond markets do not look at the Self-Funded Healthcare Reserve in assessing the fiscal integrity of the county. It is a restricted use fund, so it doesn't help with the overall bond rating. The rating agencies look at the Emergency Contingency Reserve for the entire county...that fund has only $42 Million. For comparison, the City of Miami has over $70 Million in their unrestricted reserve account. That is the real problem for the County.

Gimenez has burned through the reserves in the Library District, tapped the reserves in the Fire District, and allowed the Countywide Contingency Reserves to get dangerously low.

The Fringe Benefit assessment per employee paid by the departments went from $5,900 per employee last year to $7,400 per employee this year; that is a $1,500 jump, times 26,000 employees = $39 Million of new money in the healthcare account.

Anonymous said...

I am sick and tired of Miami-Dade County employees complaining about their pay and benefits. If they hate their jobs so much they should leave.

Anonymous said...

Dear sick and tired, even if the bottom 12,500 people leave, the problem still exists. Your across the board statement is hot air. Contribute solutions.

Anonymous said...

The problem is too many "public sector" employees complaining about their pay and benefits when they get paid 50% to 100% more than comparable private sector employees. Oh, by the way, almost no private sector employees get defined benefit pensions. The solution is for our country to elect better leaders and our educational system needs to do a better job educating our students. Smarter graduates make better employees.

Ira said...

I read in the paper that the county offered to exchange the 5% deduction for a 3.5% pay cut. That's a 1.5% increase for everyone.

Why is a 1.5% pay raise not sufficient for these greedy union employees?

Manny said...

I am your boss, the Miami-Dade taxpayer, and I am tired of your whining.

Your salaries are the highest in our community and among the highest among state and local government employees across the nation. You get free individual health insurance (AvMed High Option), and civil service protection that makes it almost impossible to fire you.

And after no pension contributions for decades, you now pay only a piddly 3% towards your pension while we, the taxpayers, pay the majority of your pension contribution.

If you don't like your generous salary and benefits, please quit. There are tens of thousands waiting to take your place.

Anonymous said...

No one is whining. It is about taxation. Should Gimenez decide to tax every employee in the public and private sector to fund the operations of Miami-Dade County, then maybe it would be OK. But, why should there be an income tax on public workers? This is Florida. We don't have an income tax. I gave up 16% of my compensation so the homeowners could get a property tax break. Why should I quit my job and go to work at the Outback Steakhouse? I love my work. I am just tired of subsidizing every property owner in Dade County with my wages. Quit your whining about paying taxes. In a metropolitan community we all pay property taxes and sales taxes to provide for services. If you don't want to pay any taxes, move to West Texas and live in a trailer on the prairie.

Anonymous said...

Ira, the Mayor is playing games with the pay cut of 3.5% and ending the 5% healthcare contribution. The 5% is pre-tax, so the County is getting over on the IRS and not including it in the W-2 gross pay. The Mayor is being cute by pretending he is giving me a 1.5% raise. You cut my pay, it is no raise. After giving 5% of my pay for four years, it is an insult to cut my pay and impact my credit rating. I'm trying to send my kid to school, and a pay cut for no good reason just ain't right.

It's like when they lower your property value and increase the millage...in the end, it is the same damn tax. Don't trust the Mayor at all. Or, your property value goes up and the millage rate goes down...but you are paying the same taxes. Let's get a new Mayor that we can trust.

Anonymous said...

I'm tired of the rhetoric of county employees being paid so much and getting so many benefits. County employees are required to have degrees, certifications, licenses and experience for almost every job- the responsibility associated with most of the positions have no comparable in the private sector. Please stop making the comparison. Why not aspire to have more people making more money in our community rather than suggesting that a sector of our community make less?

Anonymous said...

What do you think happens to surpluses in health care account when the plan is dissolved and the pay cut becomes a pay cut? Hint,
He sure isn't returning it.
Hint 2, 60 day will be just fine with him then.

Alphomse said...

"Why not aspire to have more people making more money in our community rather than suggesting that a sector of our community make less?"

WHY? BECAUSE I AM THE ONE PAYING THE BILLS. YOU ARE LEECHING OFF THE REST OF US AND WE CANT AFFORD IT.

I ALSO DONT WANT TO SUBSIDIZE A CORRUPT HIRING SYSTEM. YOU WERE HIRED BECAUSE YOU ARE CONNECTED TO A FRIEND OR A FAMILY MEMBER. WHEN THERE IS AN HONEST CHANCE FOR OUTSIDERS TO PARTAKE IN YOUR RICHES, THAT MAY CHANGE THE EQUATION.

WHILE I AM AT IT, I WANT EVERYONE WHO WORKS FOR THE COUNTY TO LIVE IN THE COUNTY. AND NO MORE TAKE HOME CARS.

Anonymous said...

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of City and County employees live in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. These employees take our money and leave. Thousands of employees use "take home" vehicles. That means us, the taxpayers, pay for the vehicles (sometimes new $50,000 SUV's) and we pay for all the fuel and all the maintenance. Sometimes public sector employees trash the vehicles and not only do they keep their jobs but they get new vehicles. Too many County employees are whiners.

Geniusofdespair said...

You are so foolish last two anonymous.You are drinking the Koolaide: Unions are the problem...
Union Busting: The Real Call from the Koch Brothers

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-b-keegan/union-busting-the-real-ca_b_828237.html

Just keep buying into that and their will be no middle class left. Especially you two.

Anonymous said...

The unions and their teams of union promoting pr hacks are the problem. Sleazy whiner public sector employees are also a problem.

Anonymous said...

Genius, above comment: I was a county employee for 20 years. There are many dedicated employees, on the other hand there are hundreds if not thousands who have their jobs and get their promotions through nepotism, connections, family, friends. the worst offenders for placing them are commissioners, and top administrators, insiders. Dept Directors only keep their jobs if they "play the game". I've seen it first hand. the system is corrupt. There is a reason the other commenters have there pessimistic views.

Anonymous said...

For those of you, who are commenting on County Employees, just want you to know that we work hard for every dollar that we earn. Stop being so insensitive about us fighting and asking back for what we work to earn and achieve. I have a college degree (Masters) and have had to defer my loan payment because I can’t afford to make my payments. I obtained this degree so I can be extremely knowledgably in my position so I can deliver the excellence that I need to serve (You) the public. My children cannot get anything that they apply for (summer jobs, financial aid, and free lunch) because I supposedly make a little above the income Poverty limit. I don’t want the system (Welfare) to take care of my family so I got an education beyond high school so I can take care of my family. I also encourage my children to get an education and a trade so they too can be independent. I said all that to say that we as employees should not be bashed for asking back for what we earned. Despite the pay cuts, I don’t think that any one of you out there can say that your services were affected by us although we have had pay cuts. Some say that we get paid more than others but that was their choice to accept jobs with less pay than others. Maybe one day when your jobs and salaries are affected, you will feel the crunch then maybe you will understand.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe one day when your jobs and salaries are affected, you will feel the crunch then maybe you will understand."

Uh, hello? Those of us in the private sector have been getting whacked since 2007.

I have sympathy for county workers when it comes to the weird George Burgess fix that essentially disconnected the cost of insurance from the user of the insurance. Charging a 5% override is neither equitable or fair.

But the real problem is that the county has too many workers and lots of folks who are paid too much. It needs to change.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous Listen to what you said “Private Sector", that’s just the point!!! Private equals lesser responsibility and Work moist of the time on a smaller scale!!! Let’s not forget that County handles are larger scale of customers so don’t you think that the more work the more pay!!! If private sectors had salaries affected since 2007 then maybe they are to come on board with the Public Sector who serve a larger scale of customers and yes the more work the more a salary should be. You know it’s funny how you and others think that public employees get paid more but after surveying a couple of my friends that work for private companies, it has come to my attention that they get paid much more than Public sector employees. If I were you I would look into that info before you follow suit with what others are saying around you. FOOD for THOUGHT!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Koch brothers? Why not invoke liberal icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt instead? Roosevelt openly opposed bargaining rights for government unions and warned us of the damage government employees could inflict.

"The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service," Roosevelt wrote in 1937 to the National Federation of Federal Employees. Yes, public workers may demand fair treatment, wrote Roosevelt. But, he wrote, "I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place" in the public sector. "A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government."

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that the County employee who added comments to this thread cannot write? The County employee has terrible spelling and grammar. The private sector has much higher standards if someone wants to get promoted.

Anonymous said...

You know it’s funny how it went from salary to grammar. Why can’t we focus on the issue at hand? I am pretty sure that if the employee had to write for the purpose of their jobs, this would not be the intent for the employees to use incorrect grammar. Let’s focus on the content of the blog and not the employee itself. They have enough pressure dealing with the 5% so grammar is the least of their worries. They were not the ones to mess up the budget., All that should matter to you folks is that your garbage is picked up, you have clean water, and all the other services that they provide to you people is continued to be delivered with excellence. If this is not affected then GRAMMAR should be least of your worries.

Geniusofdespair said...

Grammar and spelling don't count here. Many people comment from their phones.

Anonymous said...

I have read so many different comments... some out of hatred of color people's advancements. "If you don't like your job quit!" The BULLSHIT I've heard the most is how "THEY" would claim to pay our taxes!

I am lmaoooo at YOU ignorant ass people. We work for everything we earn. At the end of every pay period.... I don't recall seeing anyone else's name on my pay stub paying MY taxes! Second of all... that 5% "contributions" is not a contributions! As I recalled... A contributions is what you give willingly, not bullied out of by a dictator.

If it was a contributions... shouldn't we be able to stop contributing on our on will? By the way that's a rhetorical question!

It's so ironi! This "5% contributions" reflects the 5% grant monies being cut from the funds the county receives from the Fed's. The MAYOR, and his colleagues need to subsidize it's mismanagement of funds penalties.

To all those that feeling that county employee's are robbing you blind... how can we survive without these services? The pass few mayors management to turn "MY AM ME" into a third word city. The people here are deserving of BETTER leadership!

I EARNED EVERYTHING I'VE GOTTEN!
A NEGATIVE THINKING BITCH NEVER GAVE ME ANYTHING, BUT CRABS.

What's the difference between the county mayor, and "CASTRO"??? Blog that!!

I smell a crook! You gotta love Castro


Anonymous said...

Castro couldn't have been wrong¿!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting how the only response to the public sector employees seeking a restoration of their salaries is for those who aren't in the public sector to try to tear them down?

It really is a testament to the long-game of conservative think tanks' drip-drip-drip of ideas like how retirement pensions are bad, health insurance for everyone is bad, how the public employee (the last bastion of the middle class unfortunately) is considered "greedy" because they want a decent salary.

Ok, not interesting. Sad.

Prem Lee Barbosa said...

can anyone address what kind of solvency that $80M surplus gives this account?
I'm sure the expected costs of the account are going to grow exponentially as more and more employees retire or get older and require more expensive treatments.

Just curiosity...

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