Post election shake up in Doral as new mayor ushers in new administration

The election of two new council members and Mayor Christi Fraga in Doral has turned to a shake-up of the city administration as at least two top officials have been asked to resign.

City Manager Hernan M. Organvidez and City Attorney Luis Figueredo both submitted their resignation letters, which will be considered at Tuesday’s council meeting, Fraga’s first. Fraga has already nominated someone to replace him: Barbara “Barbie” Hernandez, the city of Miami’s parks and recreation director, with a proposed salary of $238,442, according to the employment agreement the council will consider.

That’s a big raise from her current salary of $153,602 in Miami. Hernandez also gets a $700 monthly car allowance, a $150 monthly cellphone allowance and a monthly expense account of $500, in addition to her health and insurance benefits.

Read related: Doral elects new mayor, Christi Fraga, and two new city council members

Hernandez worked in Doral for 14 years from 2005 to 2018, first as a parks superintendent and then as director of the parks department. She spearheaded the parks $150 million bond referendum in 2018 — which, interestingly, Fraga was against — that passed with 52% of the vote.

“Mrs. Hernandez is a passionate, experienced, and dedicated public administrator with over nineteen years of municipal and government experience as well as a history with the city of Doral and impeccable trajectory with the city’s staff, residents, current and former elected officials,” Fraga wrote in her memo to the council.

Currently, Hernandez oversees a department with 800 employees and a $63 million operating budget in Miami.

Barbie Hernandez is also the wife of newly appointed Miami-Dade School Board Member Daniel Espino, a former Doral City Attorney, who was recommended to the governor by Fraga. They were married in July.

Las malas lenguas say that this deal was made months ago, but that Fraga did not know then that she would have her entire slate to support her agenda. With newly-elected Council Members Rafael Pinyero and Maureen Porras, the mayor has the three votes she needs for whatever.

Ladra has not heard who would replace city attorney Figueredo, but it is likely to be someone else connected to Espino.

It’s all one big, happy family.

Read related: Gov. Ron DeSantis appoints Danny Espino to Miami-Dade School Board

And some insiders expect “a bit of a bloodbath,” after Hernandez is hired and begins to axe people on Fraga’s behalf and to bring in her own confidantes. This happens often when new people are elected. “To the victor goes the spoils,” is what many say to justify these political cleansings.

But it also causes uncertainty in the public offices. People are dusting off their resumés because they don’t know how deep the changes will go. And this may cause some bumps in the delivery of services.

Organvidez, who was the city’s police chief before being named manager just last May, wrote in his resignation letter that it takes effect Jan. 6.

“Over the next several days, I will be working with you and our team to ensure a smooth transition, complete high priority projects, close out other key initiatives and leave our city in a stronger position than when I assumed the city manager role in 2021,” Organvidez said.

“I will ensure that our team is on good footing for the future and that the next city manager is set up for success,” he wrote.

Figueredo asked for more time so that he would get his severance pay.

“It is certainly my desire to cooperate and assist with the smooth transition of your administration. If I resign, I would not be able to collect my severance which I am entitled to receive under Section 4 B. of my employment agreement,” Figueredo wrote in Friday’s resignation letter.

“As we discussed it is my desire to assist you, the city council, and your team with the transition. In that regard, you initially estimated that thirty days would allow for a successful transition to another City Attorney,” he said. “I am certainly prepared to work through the transition and assist in any way possible, provided that I receive the severance in my employment agreement.”