After only seven months on the job, Miami-Dade County homeland security director Joseph Piñon is out of a job today in a bureaucratic shakeup, the Miami Herald reports. For now, homeland security duties will be shared by police and fire-rescue officials, much as they were before Piñon was hired.
A turf battle between the two agencies led to the creation of the Homeland Security Office and the resignation of longtime emergency manager Chuck Lanza, who questioned the county’s ability to respond to a terrorist threat.
Assistant County Manager Susanne Torriente said, “There were some deficiencies, some things that were not being done,” She said it remained unclear to most agency heads, for example, how color-coded threat levels such as “orange alert” affected their operations. She also said better coordination was needed with municipalities.
Piñon, 54, was selected from among a field of 287 applicants to serve as the county’s first homeland security director. He earned $94,000. Piñon said a lack of administrative continuity — he reported to four assistant county managers in his first five months — along with budget cutbacks and limited staffing hampered him. “I was trying to put everything together, but I was never able to fill out the positions,” Piñon said. “It was just me.”
County sources say Piñon annoyed the mayor’s staff by supplying information to the media or granting television interviews without prior authorization. E-mails from Miami city officials to Mayor Alex Penelas’ office included complaints that they had not been fully informed about grant opportunities. “Are we really going to do this thing together or is he going to do this puppy on his own?” wrote the mayor’s chief of staff. “We are just having a hard time trusting him when he comes to us for `help’ and seemingly leaves us out of the mix.”