March 20, 2013

Miami’s mayor says city more financially stable under his tenure

In his fourth ‘state of the city’ address, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado criticized the past administration, and touted his staff for getting the city’s finances in order.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, in an expansive 47-minute “state of the city” speech at City Hall Wednesday, took credit for lowering taxes and upgrading services.

But four years after taking office, the mayor still couldn’t resist bashing the administration of his predecessor, Manny Diaz. The first half of Regalado’s speech was all about how Miami has recovered from four years ago, when “our city’s future was in jeopardy.”

The mayor focused on how he, along with the city commission, enabled the city to overcome a $100 million deficit, and how — in his opinion — the past administration wasn’t nearly as accessible as his.

His example: There was a bell in place when he arrived that visitors to the mayor’s office had to ring to get assistance. He saw it as an obstacle.

“Being mayor was not about cutting ribbons, grandiose ambitions and even grander parties. . . . The first day as mayor I had the bell removed,” he said.

As an improved service, the mayor touted the city’s new recycling program, which provides a single bin for all recyclables and has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in collection costs.

He took credit for being in charge as the city has reached “financial stability.” But he did not mention the massive turnover in upper management during his tenure, two pending investigations by the Securities & Exchange Commission, or that his past three budgets have been balanced only by resorting to a state statute that allows the commission to make unilateral changes to union contracts.

Noticeably absent from the event were Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff, who the mayor said was in Tallahassee meeting with Florida Department of Transportation officials about the redesign of downtown’s Interstate 395 bridge, and Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, a foe who has sued the mayor, saying he tried to drum her out of office.

The mayor ended his speech by saying his vision centers on four things, all under five feet tall: his grandchildren.

“I am committed to leaving them a legacy of wealth instead of debt, committed to leaving them not just great parks, schools and museums, but with a fiscally sound city that they can count on to be safe and clean, a city they will want their children, and grandchildren, to call home,” he said.

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