For one hour Wednesday, Facebook and Twitter became a direct link to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez as he hosted a virtual budget town hall meeting on social media.
Mayor Gimenez was expecting a litany of questions and a wide-range of opinions from voters who wanted to either learn more about the budget or vent their frustrations.
“Oh I am aware,” Mayor Gimenez said while laughing. “Yeah, I know that.”
Among the comments directed at the mayor:
“I’ve never heard so much ‘filler’ in my life.”
“Laying off 400 police and corrections? I will make sure you never get re-elected!!”
“There is a new recall effort being launched against you. How would the county pay for that?”
Mayor Gimenez did address the current contract stalemate between the county and the police union and insisted that employee salaries are not down.
“They “police” are no longer contributing four percent of their salary to healthcare one year and then the next year the other five percent that they contributed, so that’s nine percent right there that went back into their pockets,” Mayor Gimenez said. “County employees still get merit raises. They get longevity bonuses.”
Police union chief John Rivera said he remains completely committed to officers not conceding any salary and healthcare benefits back to the county.
“Every week I say morale can’t get any lower and man, I’m proven on,” Rivera said. “Morale is so bad in our department there’s officers that don’t even want to show up to work.”
The virtual town hall was manned by communications director Mike Hernandez who tried to consolidate the questions to give the mayor more time to expound on his answers.
“A lot of the issues here are very complex,” Mayor Gimenez said. “People have misconceptions about what we can and we can’t do. And you just can’t explain it in 20 seconds why you do a certain thing; why you can do a certain thing. So that particular format (social media) is great.”