For Whom I Would NOT Vote In The Coral Gables Election

Following a process of elimination, I would not vote for the following:

I would not vote for Mr. Slesnick.  He has had 10 years in government and has led to city to its present state.  We lived with a corrupt and unethical city manager, we had taxes increased even in bad times, we saw the virtual collapse of the Country Club and, of course, we have the still secret audit of the Biltmore lease, and unrestrained support for city unions and pensions.  Add to this a poorly run IT Department and EDEN software, a weak Finance Department and a widely criticized Building and Zoning Department.  You have  here a good number of reasons to end the Slesnick Era.

I would not vote for Mr. Rosenblatt.  His program is to continue more of the same with lots of sponding on rehabilitating Miracle Mile (where he has a business), settle the Biltmore lease and keeping taxes low.  I am glad to know that taxes are low and, presumably, potentially could be raised just a little more in the future.

I would not vote for Mr. Sanabria.  He is supported by the Fraternity of Police who are completely and virgorously defending the benefits of good salaries and even better pensions that they have acquired over the years with the acquiescence of the mayor and city commission.   I don’t believe that Mr. Sanabria can be counted on to defend the voters against more taxes and fees.

We need three strong votes against more taxes for the future–we will not get them from Commissioners Anderson, Kerdyk and candidate Sanabria, so electing Mr. Sanabria would be budgetary lethal for the taxpayers of Coral Gables.

I might not vote for Mr. Kedyk.  I don’t see that he has contributed any heroic measures to the city (I know that many don’t agree with that view), and he has clearly voted for taxes, but not as many taxes as Mr. Slesnick might desire, nor more than Mr. Cabrera would have wanted.  The facts are that he has consistently voted for taxes.  He never raised a voice against the former city manager, had no problem to approve the UM Grid and he has been relatively quiet about the Biltmore, the Country Club and similar issues.  He is not a reformer and we need real reforms in the organization and financial management of the city of Coral Gables.  Almost certainly he will be elected so one should be careful about the other candidates that you vote for, if you want real reform and to reduce your taxes.

I might not vote for Mr. Quesada.  He appears to be a nice enough fellow, but he is a totally unknown quantity in the city.  He seems like the continuation of the Slesnick-Kerdick-Withers coalition and  the business-led support for the unbridled commercial growth of the city, which sucks in police, fire protection and other resources away from the residents and taxpayers who are having a hard time paying their taxes and fees.

Pitbull Politics in Coral Gables

Local politics now fully replicates the methods of national political compaigns with its smears, innuendo and behind-the-back attacks.  Some candidates prefer to confront their opponents through sleazy smear campaigns rather than facing and accusing their opponents openly, perhaps out of fear of the outcome or of an inability to prove the accusations.

This Pitbull Politics is being led by the candidates’ backers (good name, backers) spreading baseless and partial truths or lies about other candidates.  I would like to hear the candidates make their accusations in public, rather in those deplorable mailers.

Pitbull Politics does nothing to improve the quality of life in the city of Coral Gables. Rather it distracts from the deep issues of city budgeting and spending, the need to renegotiate pensions and salaries, taxes and fees, capital spending, the Biltmore lease, Miracle Mile rehabilitation, the Country Club, and the intention of some candidates to continue a model of taxing and spending, ad infinitum.

I guess that is its purpose.

Volsky on “Alvarez ‘Bleak’ Numbers Bad News for Slesnick”



At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, a friend who is very knowledgably about the intricacies of Coral Gables politics, woke me up. Without apologizing for that early (for Sunday) telephone call, he said: “ Get up and tell me how do you think Slesnick felt when he saw the  front page of today’s Herald?” Still half asleep I asked what he was talking about. “Have a look; I’ll wait.” After reading the “Bleak poll numbers for Alvarez” headline, and reluctant to overstate, I said: “I presume Don wasn’t very happy about it.” My friend snubbed me into silence: “You are kidding me, Slesnick must have had a fit, and that’s because he knows that he’ll get another, even worse headline very soon.” Asked to explain cryptic statement, my friend refused. “You will see in a day or two and it will hit a person close to his re-election strategy. Go to sleep.”

I didn’t. After I read the whole Herald article about the March 15 election to recall Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Natasha Seijas, I thought I understood my friend’s interpretation of Slesnick’s mood this morning. (Presumably he at least glanced at the Herald’s page 1. On Monday, the Herald front-paged results of another poll according to which Miami-Dade voters, irrespective of their social background and political orientation, strongly disapprove of all county elective official,  a negative attitude that could not be much different in most local municipalities.)

It turns out that according to two prestigious polls, 67 percent of the county’s voters (which obviously include those of our city) want Alvarez removed from his post. (For Seijas, the number is 60 percent.) According to Fernand Amandi, managing partner of the prestigious Coral Gables polling firm Bendixen & Amandi, those politically highly adverse numbers prove that the Alvarez and Seijas “face a perfect storm of voter unhappiness, anger and frustration.” (In Monday’s Herald, Amandi is quoted to say that “The sense of voters is there is something rotten in County Hall.”

It would be denying reality to say that Coral Gables voters are not unhappy, angry and frustrated by the ten-year-long Slesnick mayoralty, of which during more than eight years the mayor run the city in tandem with the disgraced city manager David Brown.

Specifically, the principal reasons why county voters want Alvarez out, cited by the Herald,  fit Slesnick’s negatives like a well-fitted pigskin glove: A)  47% because he “raised the property tax base.” Under Slesnick, our taxes were raised at least three times, in addition to the increases in the cost of services and permits. B) 15% because he “has been generally ineffective as mayor.”  Only Slesnick acolytes say, with their fingers crossed, that he has been an effective mayor. C) Other anti-Alvarez recall reasons include “improper use of taxpayers money” – Slesnick-Brown lavish, city-paid meals in which (as the Bard would say) “a few small gins cours’d one another down his innocent throat in piteous chase;” and “ethical lapses” – one of many examples are our mayor’s less-than-truthful statements to the city commission about the purchase of the JCI building.

The negatives of Natasha Seijas are similar to those of Alvarez, except an additional complaint about her rudeness. That characteristic dovetails Slesnick’s behavior judging by statement by many residents-recipients of highly discourteous letters from the mayor, and his treatment of critics during commission meetings.

Later in the day, when I mentioning my friend’s puzzling statement about Slesnick’s campaign to another well-informed local political observer, his comment was that it could refer to City Hall rumors that it was Slesnick who had found and prompted an unknown Hispanic candidate to jump into the race for Chip Withers’ commission seat, which that man did practically within minutes from the qualifying deadline. According to rumors, the observer said, the mayor wants to draw the votes from two Latin contenders already in the race, Gonzalo Sanabria and Frank Quesada.

“This is an obviously ploy to help Brad Rosenblatt,” the observer continued, ”because it is a known fact that Brad and Don work together.  Brad is an active member of community groups that are either directly or indirectly controlled by the mayor,  like Don’s PAC, Gables Good Government,   the Coral Gables Community and the Coral Gables Museum Corp.”

He  recalled that something similar happened in 2001 when Slesnick run against   Mayor Raul Valdez-Fauli. “At the last moment an unknown Latin candidate appeared on the ballot, ‘magically’ in no time collected a campaign chest of more than  $100,000 and unsettled the election.”

Apt Description, Political Marketing in Miami-Dade and Coral Gables

I like this description of politics in Washington.

I think that the same perceptions applies to local government, Miami-Dade and Coral Gables.  Clearly, sharp commentary and strong questions are not welcome in local government forums.

The city is beautiful (except now for the horrible snails) and the politics are easy where you can get away with just about any sort of distortion of the truth in the commission chamber and in the election campaign.

Washington has become a city of ideological marketing, where those who would note that the emperors have no facts are unwelcome in their own newsrooms. It is a city where access matters most and those who ask tough questions don’t get access.

via Breaking News: Tax Revenues Plummeted.

Don Slesnick, Candidate for Mayor of Coral Gables: ON TAXES

Stabilizing our city’s financial foundation

via Initiatives |

Tom Korge, Candidate for Mayor of Coral Gables: ON TAXES

Since 2007, real estate values have fallen substantially. To compensate during the past 3 fiscal years, the City has increased its property tax millage rate by more than 15% from 5.250 mills for Fiscal Year Ending (FYE) 2009 to 5.895 for FYE 2010 to 6.072 mills for the current FYE 2011. Yet, the City’s property tax revenue is still projected to decrease by $3 million for FYE 2011. As a result, and because the City did not accumulate sufficient capital reserves during the real estate boom, the City has less funding available for important capital repairs and improvements. The good news is that the City must learn to live with less, to become much more efficient and effective in delivering services to its citizens.

For years, the City neglected its finances, failing to build adequate reserves. We are paying for that neglect with a higher tax rate. During these difficult times, we need to reduce, not increase, our property tax rate. As your Mayor, I’ll use my knowledge and experience to work toward meaningful reforms so we can not only avoid further tax rate increases, but also decrease our property tax rate to a more acceptable level.

via Tom Korge.

Jim Cason, Candidate for Mayor of Coral Gables: ON TAXES

I will apply my experience running large international embassies within strict budget controls to the City’s operations, in order to preserve municipal services without raising taxes.

via Why I’m Running | Jim Cason for Mayor of Coral Gables.