Some city employees get fired or transferred for real or perceived political alliances that aren't in line with the current administration. Others get a 17 percent paycut forced on them or threatened with a 40 percent downsizing for retaliatory reasons.
But not everybody who works in Hialeah has it so bad.
There are created and choice jobs and "salary adjustments" for those who are connected to the Carlos Hernandez (read: Julio Robaina) administration and/or help pave their political aspirations.
Enrique Flor's story about what is clearly a conveniently created $75,000-a-year position for a one-time (or current, who knows?) hottie of Budget Director Alex Vega in Sunday's paper might be the most salacious example so far, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. (http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2010/07/27/772494/escandalo-amoroso-sacude-al-ayuntamiento.html) Ladra already wrote about the multiple program coordinator positions that could easily be combined for easier coordination and other seeming botella or needless positions -- in this economy I'd rather lose a literacy program director than a firefighter -- and later heard about this woman, who serves now administrating "workforce capacity" grants from the state. I wonder how much the city got for that. This is her second transfer. She was an internal auditor during her 2009 affair with her boss, Vega. Five months after his wife (they are now divorced) found them necking in the parking lot and tore apart his office (that is according to a police report), then mayor Julio Robaina -- who lost his heated bid for the county mayor's seat in June -- transferred the little homewrecker. In the Herald, he said it was his decision. But he did not explain why it took him five months after Flor asked repeatedly. I don't know anything about this woman or what she does, but I do think it's worth looking into before the city fires one single firefighter paramedic. (Ladra is thrilled that other reporters are calling his non-answers and Enrique had another great story about political retribution last week. http://www.elnuevoherald.com/2011/09/23/1031008/segundo-ex-empleado-de-hialeah.html).
Another position to look at is another suspected botella: Jonathan Martinez, who has worked for both Robaina, as an aide, and now alcaldito Hernandez as a "mayor's liaison" (read: spy) in four different departments: Building, planning and zoning, code enforcement and occupational licenses. His $37,500 annual salary comes in 25% allotments from each department. That way each department expense looks like it has gone down. (That comes from the cheater, Vega, we are sure). A little trip to the Human Resources department this week -- made possible by a public records request for personnel records made last week -- confirmed that Martinez had gotten the same 17 percent cut that the rest of the employees got last year. His salary went from $2,140 a month to $1,776 a month. But then he helped boss Robaina with the doomed Miami-Dade mayoral race. And his salary went back up to $2,884 a month. If Ladra's math is right, that's a 60% raise. That's hard to justify in these tough economic times that su alcaldito keeps claiming as the reason for the threates against the fire firefighters (because it's really political retribution, as these botella positions show). Martinez refused to answer questions about his position and his duties when asked at a recent council meeting. He also did not return voice mail messages left for him at City Hall.
Hernandez has another staffer whose duties and position may be questionable. Arnaldo Alonso, who took a leave of absence during the mayoral race to help Robaina, is officially the Social Service Family Assistance Supervisor. The job description says that individual coordinates referral services to individuals and families requiring assistance of social service agencies... "conducts comprehensive client assessments to collect functional, environmental, psychosocial, financial, employment, housing, educational, and health information as appropriate to develop and create a cost effective care plan; develops support systems to meet client needs by identifying and coordinating a variety of available services; evaluates client risks and assess need for immediate intervention; prepares written reports for funding agency, city, and cooperating agencies; assists in the recruitment, training, supervision and support of volunteers; interprets and explain laws, regulations and service programs to clients; determines need for and conducts inter-agency and/or family conferences; provides supportive counseling and advocacy for clients... interviews clients with problems such as personal and family adjustments, school attendance, finances, employment, food, clothing, housing and physical needs to determine nature and degree of problem; refers clients to community resources and other organizations; performs job search activities and provides job referral opportunities; coordinates and organizes community outreach workshops for clients; complies records and prepares reports; reviews service plans and performs follow-up to determine quantity and quality of service provided to client and status of client's case; accesses and records client and community resource information; secures supplementary information such as employment, medical records or school reports; responsible for case management involving individual counseling, monitoring and motivating clients; assists with the progress of clients in the fulfillment of their individual employment and training program service strategies..." among other things. Whew. But does he really do that? Alonso did not return calls from Ladra to let us know what he did and give us a peek at some of those client case reports, etc. Because from our vantage point, it looks like his duties for $3,760 a month are to drive su alcaldito around at times, answer calls for his mayoral campaign and schedule his debates as a campaign contact for the media. That does not seem like something that he should be doing on taxpayer dime and time. Maybe Hernandez's political consultant and absentee ballot broker, Sasha Tirador -- who took the time to call Ladra while I was perusing Alonso's file at the city's Human Resources department to ask if I had found anything interesting in Arnie's file (I'm actually flattered people are spying and reporting my whereabouts at City Hall) -- should be representing the candidate instead of letting a city employee do it while she calls to harass a political blogger. At least she gets paid out of campaign funds.
Interestingly enough, I couldn't find Alonso's position in the new 2011-2012 budget. But I wonder if that's because he'll be transferred or because it's divided into four or five or six different departments.