The sister-in-law of a Miami assistant manager who was hired by the city’s Parks Department shortly after arriving from Cuba has quit her job.
Dayami Davila, 44, resigned on Wednesday, a day after El Nuevo Herald reported on allegations of nepotism in the department. Davila’s husband, Juan Carlos Cabrera, the half-brother of Assistant City Manager Luis Cabrera, however, remains on the job.
During a public hearing last week on the city’s budget, a part-time parks employee complained of unfair hiring practices and criticized the hirings of Cabrera’s relatives.
Interim City Manager Daniel Alfonso said he asked the city’s independent auditor to look into the matter after hearing the allegations.
“As far as I can tell and according to the people answering questions, the correct process was followed,” he said. “But I asked the independent auditor to look into because I wanted to make sure that the investigation is done by an impartial third person.”
Luis Cabrera has said he had nothing to do with the hirings. Parks Director Juan Pascual, who is under Cabrera’s supervision, also said Cabrera did not influence his decision to hire his half-brother.
Juan Carlos Cabrera and his wife came to Miami from Cuba at the end of 2012. Soon after obtaining his work permit, Juan Carlos Cabrera applied for a city job. A week later, city officials authorized the filling of a full-time, temporary parks inspector position that pays $12.75 an hour. He started in March.
His wife got a job at the Jose Marti Park gym two months later. She earned $10.63 per hour and worked about 25 hours per week.
Yamilet Moreno, the part-time employee who complained at last week’s hearing, said the problems in the Parks Department don’t end with Davila’s resignation.
“It’s not her fault this happened. They need to get rid of all the mafiosos who run this city for their own personal gain,” said Moreno, who works 20 hours per week at the Jose Marti Park community center and makes $8.86 an hour.
Moreno said she plans to go before the City Commission next Thursday along with several other parks employees to talk about unfair hiring practices.
“This is just the beginning,” she said. “I am tired of this.”
Alfonso said he has directed Pascual to give preference to temp workers with seniority when nonentry-level jobs open up. That way, current city employees can get first dibs at the jobs before outsiders.
Also, the Parks Department was given the budget to promote 12 long-time temp workers into permanent positions. Some of these workers — who get no benefits and have no union representation — have been with the city for more than a decade, working 40 hours a week for less than $9 an hour.
“We are trying to make things better,” Alfonso said.
Commissioner Francis Suarez said he will add an item to next week’s agenda about the city’s hiring practices of both part-time and temp workers.
He also wants to discuss the city’s so-called living wage ordinance, which was approved several years ago but has never gone into effect. During last week’s meeting, commissioners voted to suspend the ordinance for one more year.