Kendall residents give Mayor Carlos Gimenez an earful

Kendall residents give Mayor Carlos Gimenez an earful
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There were only 75 people or so at the Kendall Federation of Homeowners Associations meeting Thursday when CAM01160Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez stopped by for a conversation.

But, boy, did he get an earful.

After a short, quickly forgettable back-patting speech, the mayor took questions. And one by one, residents lined up to ask questions that were more accusatory than inquisitive. The meeting went a little longer than expected due to a public spanking or two.

“I was one of your strongest supporters, but I’m disappointed,” said Barbara Walters, seemingly channeling Ladra.

“Part of the problem these days is a lack of trust, which dates back to before you were mayor,” Walters said, tossing Gimenez a bone. “You became mayor and I think we all had a lot of expectations.”

Carlos Garcia, one of the founders of RollBackTolls.com, a group of activists that worked last year to stop MDX from increasing tolls, complained that the mayor was inaccessible and unresponsive.

“We tried to reach you numerous times. We called your office. We went to your office,” Garcia said, referring to last year’s campaign where they got multiple municipal mayors, county commissioners and elected leaders to sign letters to the MDX in opposition to the higher tolls.

“And I couldn’t get the time of day from you or your staff,” Garcia said, adding that the mayor finally did agree to gimenez kfhameet with the group for a hurried meeting in Coconut Grove where he seemed distracted and uninterested — sorta like he was at this meeting, fidgeting around, smirking when he didn’t like what he heard and resting his chin on his fist like a petulant child. He had an aire of “I’m just here to be seen” and “Are we done yet?” the whole while.

Garcia continued undeterred: “You were elected because you said you were going to hold the line on taxes. This is a tax for us, a very burdensome tax,” he said, recalling their conversation back then. “You said you would speak to the other side and the next day you were at the Paris air show.

“Did you ever speak to the other side,” Garcia asked.

“I never did. Sorry,” the mayor answered, sorta shrugging his shoulders. “It’s one of the things that fell through the cracks.”

Oooops.

Ladra can’t help but wonder if he’d have been so casual about it if any press had shown up. Curiously, the mayor’s office — which sends out a press release every time he sneezes — didn’t tell anybody about this appearance of his in the community. There was no media there except for Political Cortadito and Mira TV (with Ladra, so watch us Friday night).

Maybe that is also why Gimenez promised… wait, let me not use that word, because he’ll say he never really “promised,” like he never “promised” employees he would lift the 5% … he told Garcia he would schedule a meeting together with him and with MDX Executive Director Javier Rodriguez. (Can Ladra go, too?)

“And I will tell him to bring his books. What we need to do is educate ourselves about what MDX is all about and what MDX does with its money,” Gimenez said, adding that he can’t take sides until he learns more.

gimenez staff
Carlos Gimenez brought a deputy mayor and four senior staffers, but still had to get back to people on several issues raised that couldn’t be answered

Well, mayor, it sounds like you need to educate yourself. Because Garcia seems pretty up to speed. According to the activist, MDX spends more than $60 million per mile of expressway, which includes such costs as “$8,000 palm trees as far as the eye can see.” If you don’t think there’s fat there, that’s an entirely different  problem that needs to be addressed differently.

Longtime activist Jane Walker also expressed disappointment that Gimenez did not join the other electeds who came out against the higher tolls.

“We were asking for restraint,” Walker said, adding that former Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower had time to send a letter from her own European vacation at the same time Gimenez was at the Paris air show.

“I still want to know what was accomplished there,” she said.

Ouch! But, honestly, so does Ladra.

“One of the most important roles as mayor is leadership,” Walker said, adding that his self-described ignorance on certain matters — “we’ll get back to you” was a standard reply, even though Gimenez brought a deputy mayor and four senior staffers from different departments with him — is not a valid defense.

“One of the biggest problems in this county is transportation. And our mayor is not speaking out on this issue. I’m not against tolls. I’m asking for sanity. And you have to be involved in this,” Walker told him, or scolded him.

Several other people talked about the fiasco that is the MDX. Others brought up other traffic issues, the need for a neighborhood park along 157th Avenue, the proposed move of the Dade County Youth Fair to state land in West Kendall (Gimenez says he is opposed because “it’s outside the UDB”), skyrocketing insurance rates and the Pet’s Trust initiative referendum that the mayor and county commission ignored.

“I’m all for technology,” said a woman named Nancy, referring to the mayor’s opening remarks about embracing hi tech. “But there are 20,000 dogs being murdered every year. I think that takes precedence over technology.”

She said she voted for him. “You sounded like an honorable person. And then you did what you did with the Pet’s Trust.”

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Around 20 people stood in line to ask questions — or scold Gimenez for one thing or another.

Cheryl Taylor, with the Pet’s Trust, asked why we should believe Gimenez would mind the people’s will on another straw ballot vote the mayor has floated on increasing taxes for libraries, parks and museums, when he didn’t respect the mandate on the no-kill shelter.

“In November of 2012, almost 500,000 people voted for the Pet’s Trust initiative,” Taylor said. “The impression so many have of you is that you don’t care what people think.”

Why would he honor a straw ballot now “if you haven’t done so in the past,” she asked.

“I will honor it,” the mayor said, adding that it is a different time and indicating, yet again, that people didn’t know what they were voting for (even though the ballot language included words referring to “an increase in ad valorem taxes”).

“I will make sure people understand that if you vote for this, I will follow through,” Gimenez said.

But he’s not honoring the Pet’s Trust initiative referendum: He told the audience that he would propose to keep funding for Animal Services at the same level as last year, which is not the $19 million plan that the people apparently voted for without knowing what they were voting for.

“I do not feel there is community support to increase taxes,” Gimenez said, about increasing the animal services budget by $4 million instead of the full amount last year. Several homeowners attending said they would happily pay a bit more taxes for maintained or improved services or the animal care program.

“I did the best I could,” the mayor told them.

But judging from the crowd Thursday, his best is just not cutting it.

14 Responses to "Kendall residents give Mayor Carlos Gimenez an earful"

  1. Tired Resident   April 25, 2014 at 2:10 am

    The county offers tuition reimbursement for full time employees to attend classes and be reimbursed for half the cost.

    Consider this:

    Librarians are highly trusted. Mayors, well, not so much.

    Mayor Gimenez, consider attaining a Masters Degree in Library & Information Science. Many in the ranks come to the career as a second Masters with another profession under their belt.

    There’s only 115 librarians left in Miami Dade Public and one or two leave every other week. So you may have a shade of a chance to be hired at the entry level of $43,000 (if the three year hiring freeze is lifted.)

    But, as a public librarian, people can begin to believe in you again. Of course you will require intense public service and communications training, but be assured that public service at MDPLS will educate you in how to properly treat the customer – and EVERYONE is your customer.

    Reply
  2. Domenic   April 25, 2014 at 5:50 am

    It is a wonder to see the citizens of this county cornering Mayor Gimenez at a meeting and focusing their line of questioning on library employee layoffs and the Pet trust. The majority of citizens of this county cannot see the forest for the trees. Here we have a mayor whose political campaign of 2012 committed the most audacious absentee ballot scam in the history of the state of Florida and no one pressures him on that issue. Does the fact that Mayor Gimenez hired fraudulent absentee ballot managers Al Lorenzo and Jose Luis Castillo to run his campaign and those individuals subsequently hired multiple boleteros and boleteras to steal ballots from elderly and even mentally ill citizens bother anybody? Does Gimenez’s alliance with Michael Pizzi, Carlos Hernandez and Esteban Bovo in the north end of the county for the purpose of establishing his campaign headquarters at the office of State Senantor Rene Garcia’ office and the use of Hialeah Councilwoman Vivian Casals-Munoz slate of boleteras bother anybody? This mayor can lie through his teeth for the rest of his life if he wants but if you appreciate democracy and you believe that a vote is sacred then you know that Mayor Gimenez was elected fraudulently and should have been removed from office a long time ago. Libraries and Pet trust issues are important but are they more important than the millions of dollars that Gimenez is funneling to his lobbyist and consultant friends through the read door of the Stephen Clark Centre? It is high time for this community to wake up and to call this phony politician on his web of lies and deceit.

    Reply
  3. Daisy   April 25, 2014 at 10:14 am

    When the lobbyist for the Miami Heat is Jorge Luis Lopez, best friend of the mayor, how can the county expect the mayor to negotiate in good fairh on its behalf? Who in the county is going to tell the mayor that such relationship is unethical and inappropriate? Is there any civic minded American in this town with enough money to pay for a recall and put an end to this tyranny?

    Reply
  4. Jane Walker   April 25, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Thank you for this article. When the Mayor admitted to not calling the other side (his promise to RollBackTolls.Com after that meeting and before the European trip) I had three streams of thought:

    1. Disappointment that he did not do what he promised. I expected great things from this Mayor.
    2. Admiration that he would admit to his short coming. We often don’t see that in politics and this cannot go without recognition.
    3. Concern: that this mayor seems to be more concerned with sports stadiums than transportation. Transportation is one of our communities largest concerns.

    Economic development, supported real estate values and quality of life issues are all supported by having a cohesive transportation vision. The downward drag of taxes and user fees (tolls) puts many small businesses (we call those “job creators”) at risk. The Dade Delegation, several members of the BCC and several municipal mayors get this. Why has our Mayor been absent from the conversation? This needs to change.

    Reply
  5. Jane Walker   April 25, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Here’s a little film footage of that night:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8EUAcNuKXc

    Reply
  6. Marisol   April 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    As a long time county resident and having the unfortunate experience of watching what goes on in dirty politics my two cents worth: our county mayor took office at a time when our budget was in extreme deficit and losing credit standing, not mentioning taking over after a major mayor recall and a “Great Depression”, for once a politician who doesn’t look at what there is to gain for himself but to look after the best interests of the county even if it’s not pleasing the every individual out there. My kudos to him and his staff for making right decisions, running the county as a business and focusing on the betterment of the people. Can we focus on the good that has been achieved as oppose to what hasn’t been done. There’s only so much one individual can do. Cut him some slack: not unless of course, your perfect !!!!

    Reply
  7. Marisol   April 25, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Why was my positive post removed?

    Reply
    • Elle   April 26, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Marisol, I believe you mean “false positive”.

      Reply
  8. teresita   April 25, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    No Daisy, he made sure that other people were recalled, but he tries to out of that by having a friend as Norman Bramman, who supports him and he makes sure he is happy. The community means nothing to him, his take on libraries is simple “People do not read anymore ” say’s the husband of a teacher. Pets mean nothing, yet he has a Big dog at home and would probably not like it if something happened to it ( by the way they look alike, kind of dumb looking )In a nut shell he wants to be adored like Beckman and will stop at nothing and if the community suffers oooops he did the best he could (yeah really!:(

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Gimenez on CBS-4: Port soccer stadium site is just ‘viable’ | Political Cortadito

  10. Elle   April 26, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    {“I did the best I could,” the mayor told them.}

    Well….if this is his best, then it is time for him to go; for it certainly is not the best for the people of this county!

    Reply
  11. Jane Walker   April 28, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    Marisol, your points are taken well but I still have some serious concerns here. It is no job for the weak of heart, to be sure.

    Reply
  12. Pingback: Mayor Carlos Gimenez Answers Questions about MDX | RollBackTolls.com "A grassroots watchdog group for toll roads in South Florida."

  13. Carlos Garcia   May 2, 2014 at 11:06 am

    He said that he would “hold the line on taxes”. He, like others, does not consider a road toll a tax, but it is. And he has failed to provide any leadership or representation for residents regarding these every increasing tolls/taxes.
    Why should the mayor or the commission for that matter, be immune from hearing from the public on MDX tolls? He has to deal with the unions, property owners, librarians, hospitals, Pet Trust etc. regarding money. We want the same public scrutiny and engagement on MDX.
    If he continues to look the other way the public backlash will only continue to grown.

    Reply

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