This just in to the Riptide desk! An earth-rattling news bulletin! Joe Arriola has nothing to say!
Miami's usually braggadocious former city manager declined comment about the $1.1 million in bonuses he awarded to non-union employees earlier this year. Arriola approved the bonuses despite even though he claimed that rising union employee pension costs were depleting the city's reserves.
"Please call Rosalyn Marks at the city or the new city manager," Arriola coldly responded via e-mail when confronted withy the lengthy list of handouts. Marks and Arriola successor Pedro Hernandez could not be reached for comment.
The 393 bonus recipients include some well-paid former and current city big wigs including Miami's ex-chief financial officer (now city commissioner) Linda Haskins and Police Chief John Timoney.
Haskins received a $10,614 kicker to her $170,000 annual salary (which she earned before resigning her civil post to sit on the city commission). She says the bonuses were a way to reward non-union employees who did not have the benefit of automatic annual five percent pay increases. "It is a performance-based incentive that is used in the private sector," Haskins notes, adding that she earned more than $300,000 (excluding stock options) before becoming a public servant more than five years ago.
The $10 Gs was worth it, Haskins says. As Miami's CFO she claims she saved taxpayers $30 million by convincing city commissioners to revamp a health insurance plan. "It would take the city a lot of money to get someone with my know how," Haskins boasted.
Haskin's brimming self-confidence aside, it is still tough to swallow why Timoney should receive an extra $13,655. After all, he's the city's highest paid employee with an annual $173,000 salary plus benefits such as a car allowance and security detail. And his department underpays its incoming rookies compared to other jurisdictions.
Others who received bonuses include deputy police chief Frank Fernandez ($8,259), Timoney's executive assistant Angel Calzadilla ($3,418), public facilities director Laura Bilberry ($1,981) and ex-assistant city manager Alicia Cuervo Schreiber ($10,075). -- Francisco Alvarado