Mayor talks county cars, Facebook flap

MIAMI - Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez had a lot on his plate this week, from a Local 10 investigation about hundreds of county-owned vehicles sitting idle to a controversy over a firefighter's Facebook posting.

When Gimenez was elected last year, he inherited a fleet of about 300 mothballed cars, vans and trucks purchased years ago by the previous administration.

"I understand that at one time, there was up to 1,500 vehicles in that garage, and that was the product of the commission. When I was on the commission, we reduced the size of the fleet and we ordered the size of the fleet to be reduced by 10 percent," Gimenez said.

The mayor said he is working to get those vehicles out into service.

"We'll continue to push out those vehicles and get them to where they need to be," Gimenez said.

Running Miami-Dade County government is a big, complex job. Gimenez has been at it for less than a year, but he has made it leaner and more efficient. This week, he eliminated 527 vacant jobs and nine department directors' jobs and got rid of benefits worth up to $10,000 for top county executives.

"We need to move forward. We need to tighten our belts, and we need to prove to the people of Miami-Dade County that we are part of this community. We will show that with action and not just words," Gimenez said.

A comment Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Capt. Brian Beckmann posted on Facebook about the Trayvon Martin case caused a firestorm and displeased the mayor.

"I and my co-workers could rewrite the book on whether our urban youths are victims of racist profiling or products of their failed, (expletive), ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents," the post read.

"I thought they were reprehensible," Gimenez said of the comments. 

"He's got First Amendment rights," Local 10's Michael Putney said. 

"You have the right to make all these statements, and you're not going to go to jail. You won't be prosecuted, but in terms of your employment, there may be consequences to be paid for that," Gimenez said. We're looking to see, and I'm waiting for the fire department's report and their investigation. WE want to make sure that this is done right, and whatever it is that happens, that it sticks."

The mayor expects to get a recommendation soon and indicated there would be some punishment for Beckmann.

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