City of Coral Gables: Salerno’s Achievements

The recently resigned city manager of the city of Coral Gables, Pat Salerno, published a list of achievements of his period of administration.

I think that these are his main achievements:

  • Strong and decisive management.
  • Minimization of the involvement of city commissioners in the day-to-day life of the municipal government.
  • Weakening of the culture of fiefdoms in the city offices.
  • Implementing sound financial management, including reducing taxes and growing reserves.
  • Ameliorating exaggerated salaries, benefits, and pensions of police and fire services.
  • Planned, organized and financed improvements in the city’s infrastructure and beautification.

Hopefully, the city commissioners will direct the new city manager to sustain the above culture, and not fall pry to the Slesnick/Brown culture of city commission intromission and micro-management.

City of Coral Gables–Achievements during the Salerno Era

The city manager circulated this rather impressive list of achievements.


That the city manager would suddenly resign his position and that there is not a single word from the mayor and commissioners to the community is dumbfounding (sorry, we got an email from Mrs. Slesnick!).

This is hardly a good demonstration of public information, transparency and participation.

The process seems to be more like that of a secret society than a public commission–this not necessarily a good sign for the selection process of a new city manager.

Is Coral Gables the New Doral?

The city of Doral became the laughing stock of Florida, manifested by bruising public battles, insults and threats among commissioners, city manager, mayor, and public security staff.  Coral Gables has started to look a little like Doral as three commission surreptitiously forced out its city manager.  Obviously, the concepts of transparency, openness and participation, so well displayed during their election campaigns, are singularly foreign to the three commission who have created this crisis.

The city of Coral Gables is being tested to its core by the decision of three commissioners (called the “Gang of Three” by some) who have pushed out its highly respected and successful city manager, Pat Salerno.  The three commissioners don’t comprehend their role in a strong city manager form of government, in which a prudent distance is kept between the administration of the city led by  the city manager and the city commission, whose job is set and guide overall policy, approve financial resources and broadly represent the interests of all citizens.

The city of Coral Gables urgently needed a strong administrator during recent years and it still needs a strong city manager in the years ahead–not a Slesnick/Brown-like compliant city manager responding to the interests of a small cabal of local developers and self-aggrandizing politicians.

The fiscal soundness of the city is now uncertain, with months ahead of searching for a new city manager (perhaps no self-respecting, experienced city manager would take the job under these circumstances.)  During this time the Gang of Three will have a free hand to mismanage the city, its budget and staff.


The City of Coral Gables, So Much Gained and So Much Now Lost

In last few years the City of Coral Gables, under the leadership of a new mayor and city manager, reversed a course of incompetent administration, failed political leadership, questionable morality and ethics, and total financial mismanagement, all inherited from the Slesnick Era.  The city was left by Slesnick with no reserves, overpaid public security staff, and a huge pension debt (still not resolved after a huge effort).

A new period of transparency, cautious tax and income management, careful staffing and directed priorities has led the community to feel that the city has begun to overcome its main problems.  Smart investments have been made in the city streets because of long postponed maintenance.  Plans were made to create a new central city culture, to compete with the best in the Miami-Dade region. But there is still much to do.

Three days ago, a cabal of three city commissioners dramatically pushed the city down an uncertain road, an uncertain future, of gerry rigged budgets, surely guided by a renewed culture of personal and commercial interests and arrogance.  Nothing will be gained by the resignation of the city manager, Mr. Salerno.  He has been a tough, competent and experienced manager–just what the city needed and will need until the goals of the city can be fully achieved.

Rest assured that the profile of a new city manager that will be sought by the Cabal of Three will be one of compliance, not leadership, while the three likely push through a new budget with more spending, higher taxes, guided by priorities with quiet support of private interests.

There is only one recourse:

  • The city commissioner should immediately reject the resignation of Mr. Salerno.
  • The three city commissioners, Keon, Lago and Quesada, should resign immediately and a new election should be called to test their support among voters. 

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