Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Guayabas from the City Beautiful. By Former Commissioner Maria Anderson

I attended the Coral Gables Mayoral debate on Monday night, March 9 at the Coral Gables Congregational Church and am still amazed at the things that come out of Jim Cason’s mouth; same old, same old guayabas [1] of biblical proportions.
“For ten years nothing was done other than lamentations…I came in and decided we needed pension reform we could live with…” (Mayor Jim Cason, circa 2011)

“In Coral Gables before Jim Cason created pension reform, the city was formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep…” From the morass of former Commissions who had done nothing comes Jim Cason’s revisionist account of everything Coral Gables.  Pretty soon, he’ll take credit for Merrick’s vision.  Step aside George; enter Jim with his version of history.

Jim, I was Commissioner from 2001 – 2013, and in the time span before you arrived in 2011, the heavy lifting of pension reform had taken place.  Let me clarify a few facts so that voters can hear the truth you can’t seem to muster up enough courage to tell.

The City’s pension plan was non-contributory from 1989 – 2003.  In that scenario, the City paid 100% into the plan.  The employees did not pay into their pension.  The Commission in 2003 changed that, and 2 of 3 unions began to pay into the retirement plan, and by 2009, all the unions were contributing. We also capped the overtime people could use towards their retirement calculations.  Prior to then, it was unlimited.

Over the next 3 – 5 years, the assumption rate of the plan was lowered twice to allow the retirement board to re-balance the portfolio into more stable, less risky financial instruments.  The old retirement plan was also closed for new hires.

The years from 2001 – 2011 were productive ones, and in a time period of two economic downturns and 09/11, pension reform was a top priority.  Interestingly enough, we also managed to restore the majority of our historic infrastructure and also replaced an aging garbage and fire fleet.  Hmm, for your claims we did nothing, we sure did accomplish a lot.

Jim, it’s ungracious to demean predecessors who served their hometown with great pride and at substantial sacrifice.  You might grab hold of Winston Churchill’s wise advice as you move forward, “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”

[1] Guayabas | gwa'ʝaβas| fibs; lies

Maria Anderson was Coral Gables City Commissioner from 2001-2013.  She is now an ordained UCC minister and a hospice chaplain, but still cares about what happens in her hometown.

1 comment:

Bob - Florida said...

Gosh it's great when someone sets the record straight - revisionist history is usually crap. I knew and worked with Maria Anderson, during my term on the Urban Environment League, and she was crackerjack!