OPINION: Who Does Staff Work For?

By: Maria Cruz, resident since 1976

Once again today at the Coral Gables Commission Meeting  I was able to see how the employees, yes, the staff, decides what is best for us the taxpayers and residents. Thanks to Vice Mayor Lago who put it on the Agenda everyone should know what I am talking about.

We have been complaining about the Traffic Circle at Miller Road and San Amaro Drive for over 10 years. Several studies have been ordered to the tune of almost $50,000. When the first one ($27,748) did not come back the way the Public Works Department wanted, and even though Miami-Dade County agreed with the proposed solution, the stalling, the push back began. Instead of accepting the solution and changing the now called “roundabout” from two lanes to one, another study was ordered! Another $18,600!!!!To make the long story short, the staff successfully delayed the process and nothing happened. Traffic engineers, consultants, staffers, have come and gone. Now we have a new traffic engineer, but we are in a pandemic!!! We need more studies, more statistics, and we have to wait until the pandemic is finished and we are back to normal before a decision can be made!

What arrogance from Ed Santamaria, now Assistant City Manager, then Public Works Director, who back in 2017 wrote that he was looking for funding while waiting for the answer from the County!! Now he proposed to have more studies, more statistics and at least a year from the end of the pandemic to come back with the solution. Who does he work for? Who pays his salary? How come he was not interested in delaying the bicycle paths even though the residents didn’t want them?  I guess it all boils down to what the staff wants. If they agree that a project is important, regardless of what the residents want, and or what the elected officials have decided, they will push to make it happen. If they don’t agree with it they will stall, delay, etc. until they can, in fact, stop the project.A very sad day for the City Beautiful!!!

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12 thoughts on “OPINION: Who Does Staff Work For?

  1. The situation is even worse in the building department, there are no standards as we when work gets done. Building permits taking over a year even after having to hiring two expeditors! No coordination between departments. Yes The situation is out of control. So sad

  2. I don’t care what any of you say “Zero Pat” is not good for Coral Gables.

  3. If you want to live in a Soviet style “green” community, then by all means vote for Vince Lago.

    One example: He wants us to go back to paper bags even though paper bags create a bigger carbon footprint. Duh.

    Mr Lago has even proposed at a Commission meeting that your Gables tax dollars be spent to locally subsidize city employees’ purchase of electric vehicles FOR PERSONAL USE! You can’t make up such nonsense.

    As Maggie Thatcher said:”Socialism doesn’t work because eventually you run out of other peoples’ money.”

    If you Gables residents want city staff to run your lives then by all means vote for Maria Cruz’s favorite Commissioner, Mr. Lago.

    PS: Gables Insider, stop taking Lago’s massive campaign ad monies and start reporting the truth about his radical green agenda. His ads here buy your silence.

  4. Juan Malez,
    THAT Lago guy is one of the best, most honest politicians we have had in years. He supports the people and what WE want and really listens to us. If you think Keon will make a better Mayor, you are dead wrong. She only cares about what she thinks is right, not what the citizens of Coral Gables want. She is the Mayor’s sidekick, and we know where that is going. Don’t throw stones in a glass house.

  5. Juan Malez, Thanks for reading my opinion piece. You seem to know me very well and I would appreciate it if you would let me know what facts I omitted. You seem to be very aware of my concerns about how the city is run. I am very surprised that the staff was willing to publicly admit that there are roundabouts that are more dangerous and have more crashes, and expose the City to possible lawsuits. Wow, you must be very smart to figure out how much it would cost to fix the roundabout. Almost as much as the bicycle paths that we were able to stop.
    As to your comment about Mr. Lago I don’t think he even lived here when the circle was proposed and the neighbors objected to it.
    I would love to speak with you if you would like to help me better understand the City Beautiful.

  6. Maria,

    You failed to mention some facts (as usual). Staff said that there are other roundabouts in the city that are more dangerous and have more crashes. There were also improvements implemented at San Amaro/Miller just last year. It takes time to assess said improvements. It’s part of analyzing a problem scientifically. But you wouldn’t know anything about that. I’ve heard you preach and preach over the years about fiscal responsibility. Why would you want the city to spend half a million dollars on a roundabout that is not priority. Oh yeah…you work for that Lago guy and Lago has a special interest in that roundabout since he lives next door.

    Stop playing the victim.

  7. Ms. Cruz:

    You’re not even close to being “ripe” with your complaints and calls for action after only ten years. In what the City mothers (and fathers) like to call “The Italian Village/Riviera” section, bounded on the north by Bird Road and on the west by Granada (the main villain in this constant drama), I personally have been raising hell for more than fifteen years, intermittently joined by various neighbors who, understandably, give up/lose patience after taking the ride for three or four. I’ve persuaded mayors, police chiefs, ranking uniform/traffic patrol police personnel, and others, to come to one of the hot corners at one of the hot hours (on one occasion, even setting up a table with juice, coffee, and doughnuts (that should be in caps), thinking that the final element would capture more attention, but it still goes on: apart from this unfortunate hiatus caused by the virus pandemic, cut-through traffic to avoid the light at Bird and Granada is always a fatality waiting to happen

    As recently as yesterday afternoon, in the space of five minutes while my wife and I were out on the streets with our dog, I was “brushed back” (within an inch or two) by three separate people driving their leased cars, and driving them poorly. “Poorly” is the way that’s going to end, sooner or later.

    I’ve told the city (institutionally and constantly) that the only thing necessary (and effective) would be a couple of uniform/marked “units) (that’s cop talk) on the streets during the relevant times, in which dozens of others in this area have joined; but the police around here are too busy sitting in front of UM, in the middle of Ponce, with their red-and-blues on, machoing out; or at Giralda and Galiano, taking up precious parking spaces while they’re inside their restaurants of choice.

    Ed Santamaria’s “administrative assistant” recently summoned a bunch of us to a Zoom session, and when asked what was expected to be treated (by a couple of dozen people sitting in front of computer monitors) the reply was: “the traffic problem.” Right.

    I opted out. I’ll opt out of any future involvement in it all, unless or until: (1) elections come around again, as they are soon, at which point I’ll urge everybody I know here to throw money at any candidate who is not an incumbent and/or (2) the city finally gets sued (although the state of the law in Florida and federally is pretty dismally in the City’s favor) and I’m called as a witness (I’m a trial attorney, but in a different field; I’ll make a great witness).

    Hang in there. Stay safe. Be patient. Maybe, ask your medic for some Xanax.

  8. Ed Santamaria’s always flippant and dismissive attitude is unacceptable. I was very happy to hear that he left the Gables for another gig … but then returned (sigh!).

  9. Code Enforcement turning citizens against citizens. They on your neighbor telling on you to place a violation. Code Enforcement coach both parties (opposing neighbors) on violations, increasing animosity between neighbors. My neighbor has become a predator and is utilizing the city to further harass me. While his house is refuge for rodents which the city has decided not to pursue this issue. My Cuban deceased parents left Cuba due to this same exact behavior “ communist Cuba turning neighbors against neighbor’s in the hope of receiving favors from the government”.

  10. We lived in the Gables just over four years. It was four years of frustration with the city & their ever changing whims. Folks wonder why so many properties look sad, border on being derelict? Too many of the residents have been there decades and have neither the money nor the time to deal with the city’s forceful, corrupt ways. After our first hand experience with their corrupt regime over landscaping hidden behind walls in our rear yard that their inspector stumbled upon….we were done.
    Then there was the city employee that took pictures of our young niece in a bathing suit to which we didn’t receive satisfactory resolution from the city.
    We now love living in private, beautiful, well manicured Pinecrest and don’t miss the Gables at all.

  11. As someone who has driven this driven this road for over 20 years, this rotunda was much welcomed over the traffic light that was there.

  12. We live in an era where it can be said, elected officials and government employees gone wild. Recently I saw a city inspector rummaging through the garbage on the side of the street in my neighborhood. What kind of evidence were they looking for ?
    Another question, there is a new park on Venetia Terrace, is that a dog park ? If it isn’t can someone put up a sign stating no dogs allowed ? From a cat owner.
    Thank you.

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