In a quick and private, informal ceremony, Carlos Gimenez is expected to be sworn in this afternoon in front of his wife, his parents, his mother-in-law, his sister-in-law -- all the retirees, essentially -- and Judge Ivan Fernandez, who will administer the oath and make him the mayor.
Photographed here at his victory party with his entire family behind him Tuesday, Gimenez will surely miss his children's presence. Carlos Gimenez, Jr., his wife Tania, the mayor's daughter Luli Gato and her husband Danny and his daughter-in-law Barbie have been by his side throughout the campaign. But most of them have to work today and can't make the event.
The mayor himself has already been at work since Wednesday, the day after he narrowly defeated former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina for the Miami-Dade mayor's seat. He has 15 days to prepare next year's budget for commission review. But since he is not really officially in charge until the canvassing board certifies the election and a judge makes him swear on a bible to take care of us, he can't really tell his minions what to do. County Manager Alina Hudak and others have been sharing information with him because, well, they know he is going to be their boss eventually. It makes sense to get on his good side. He already told Hudak that he wants to cut the mayor's salary and benefits by half and get as close to 25 departments, from 50, as possible (though we don't know if he can do that in two weeks). He is also looking at recommending other cuts, like the car allowance for commissioners, which he may just lower to $400 or $500, and offer more credit if the car is a hybrid. He has said he wants to roll back the "Alvarez tax" hike. In fact, the swearing in is scheduled for tomorrow right before a staff meeting where he is expected to ask top administrators to provide him with multiple budget scenarios, recommending 10 to 20 percent reductions.
In fact, that's why he's in a hurry to get sworn in. There is a meeting scheduled with department heads at 2 p.m. tomorrow -- but it may get pushed back or rescheduled if the canvassing board does not certify the results by noon so he can be sworn in at 1 p.m. Because he can't spend county resources, he can't give directives, he can't really negotiate with the 10 different labor unions, until he is mayor. (Photographed here at the victory party with some county cops, he told them that their bargaining would be easier than what he expects with the firefighters union). And if there is anything that is consistent about Gimenez, the nerdy, by-the-book, policy wonk, Richie Cunningham type, he does not break the rules.
The privacy of the event in the mayor's conference room is because a more formal and public swearing will be scheduled next week. Most likely on Wednesday. Most likely in commission chambers. And the mayor wants this to be an in-and-out thing. He has a meeting at 2 p.m. to go to and he really just wants to get to work. It is expected to last 10 minutes or less. And nobody else -- not any of his friends who helped elect him, no special interest supporters, not even his children, who have to be at work at the time, will attend this historic moment. Ladra feels bad about that. But at least the media -- which was invited at the last minute in a press release sent out by the mayor's transition team -- can capture the moment.
Gimenez planned the earlier swearing-in, however, for all the right reasons. He has two weeks to present his lean-as-promised budget and he wants to spend the better part of the day on Saturday working on just that. This mayor is not about the pomp and circumstance of a full blown affair like the kind last month enjoyed by newly minted commissioners Esteban Bovo and Xavier Suarez, who apparently enjoyed the partylike atmosphere. Gimenez would rather avoid the bigger ceremony -- except that the public is expecting it -- because he just wants to focus on the job at hand.
And that is exactly why we elected him.