Politics: “Plan B” Is Not Just A Contraceptive

The City’s saving for a rainy day but a heavy dew could wipe it out

By Jeffrey Bradley

Boxcars in craps is a popular but hard bet to win because rolling double-sixes is dicey. There’s only one combination in all of dicedom that results in the number 12 coming up this way, and the odds are high and the payout is low. The house retains a hefty edge; you’ll probably win some, but long-term, you’re gonna lose your shirt. So to play boxcars, you’ve got to ask yourself: am I feeling lucky today? Well, are you punk?

The City apparently is. And who with better right? When it comes to doling out money the City is the house, and the odds are stacked in its favor. (When the unions show up they foolishly think the game is rigged for them.) But in this latest round of negotiations, also called Gambling Using Other People’s Money, the City has started wisening up.

Wishing to avoid Miami’s fate where skyrocketing union contracts, salaries and pensions are causing more dislocate than the KT comet, pension debt swallows one-fifth of the operating budget forcing measures that “nobody likes.” Especially firefighters, who can, with benefits, net $300,000.00 a year.

When the heirs of Hoffa spin this sort of thing for aggrandizement—like with bogus amendments to the City charter that make them appear to be lowering costs—beware. What these apparatchiks really want are the very salaries they bemoan of others, and to exchange places. (Like we’re so ready to have union bosses in charge down at City Hall when we can barely corral the officials already there.) Putting these fief-builders in key positions would be akin to joining that roaming gnome in the jacuzzi filled with piranhas (“Naughty fishies!”) and get stripped to the bone in a hurry.

To ward off disaster, the City has circulated PlanB—the Annual Impact of Conceptual “Plan B” reductions – CWA Only—actually (it’s got nothing to do with the morning-after pill, Gertrude), a controversial memo that lays out how two millions can be saved by replacing the CWA with privatization. In point of fact, if the union isn’t denied, the rank-and-file will have to go over or, like Saturn, it will devour its own children.

This audacious plan calls “where possible, [to] consider privatizing/outsourcing, scaling back full-time to part-time” life guards and pool guards; code enforcement positions along with their call-center operations; Building Permit Clerks; and eliminating union positions in Property Management, you name it. While we take a dim view of unions for their unsavoriness, entitlements, palm-greasing, power abuses and general Soviet-style unpleasantness, judged by their own lights they can’t be faulted for shouldering up to the public trough, being invited there, after all, by the City itself, which is certainly not above placing brazen hands in the cookie-jar. The double-dipping and system-rigging that goes on is appalling, serving as apt metaphor for an economy gone off the rails—the way government, with its bigger base salary and rock-solid perks, has become more alluring than the private sector, we mean.

Time was, you opted for civil service knowing that altruism earned you less but was rewarded by security and excellent benefits. No more; government’s become the biggest employer, with the largest emollients, and things have gone topsy-turvy, with them topsy, and us turvy.

Not only do city managers and administrators get upper six-figure salaries, but premium healthcare plans, monthly stipends, and automatic cost-of-living increases to boot and can retire at full pay—and keep that pension intact when they go work for another municipality!

Terrible, terrible. Take, for example, former Miami Lakes Town Manager Alex Rey, who will shortly return to that position after heading our building department the past few years. Until then, he’ll just “consult” for them at $145 an hour—while he’s collecting his Miami Beach salary!. He’s also stepping back into a position that was demanded by city charter to be publicly advertised but wasn’t. It’s called “safeguarding pension benefits”, and it’s done all the time… transparency in government? Ha!

The City of Miami Beach finds none of this sordid, no doubt because officials expect the same for themselves or deem it “just politics” (a term we despise). So they’ll forgive us for wagging a finger of shame in the face of such greed and for having the affront to say “Stop it!”

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