Miami commissioners said a goodbye of sorts Thursday to the man who has run the city’s billion-dollar government during the last four years, but stopped short of laying out the welcome mat for his proposed replacement.
After a somewhat rocky tenure in which he survived two commission attempts to fire him, Daniel Alfonso was granted a roughly $85,000 severance package by commissioners that also allows him to burn vacation time from Friday until Jan. 10, his last official day. In his absence, one of his top lieutenants will oversee the city.
Alfonso had hoped to leave the city’s employment Jan. 2 to take a job as vice president of facilities management for Nova Southeastern University on Jan. 18. But commissioners convinced him to stay on the city’s payroll an extra eight days after Mayor Francis Suarez withdrew a proposal Thursday to name his replacement.
Suarez had planned to bring former Miami International Airport CEO Emilio González to commissioners Thursday for a ratification vote required under the city charter. But with González watching at City Hall, Suarez pulled the item, saying he wanted to give Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon and Commissioner Joe Carollo a chance to meet with González after attempts to meet with them fell through.
“It’s appropriate and fair that both of you have an opportunity to meet with the new city manager,” Suarez said.
The move was partly gamesmanship.
Suarez and Carollo have been subtly feuding over Gonzalez’s appointment, with Carollo pushing for a national search that commissioners shot down later Thursday by a 4-to-1 vote. Word surfaced ahead of the meeting that Carollo was planning to evoke a city “5-day rule” in which a commissioner can force an item off the agenda if it lacks substantive information.
In this case, Suarez submitted a nomination proposal to commissioners without González’s name and without his proposed benefits package and $285,000 salary. Carollo, who has argued that the city ought to have a more “transparent” process, said Thursday the 5-day rule “could have been used today. I’m not saying it would have.”
Suarez withdrew Gonzalez’s name with the intention of appointing him on Jan. 3 — ahead of the city’s Jan. 11 commission meeting, which he can do under the city’s charter. But Carollo countered by convincing Alfonso to stay on the job an extra week, saying that he thought Suarez wouldn’t want a situation where he appointed a manager who couldn’t get the votes needed to stay on the job.
“Hopefully we resolve it on the 11th,” Carollo said. “And hopefully we have a happy ending.”
Suarez agreed: “Cheers.”