New aviation director says he wasn't interested when first contacted
Sherri C. Ranta
County's new aviation director, Jose Abreu, said Tuesday that he received the
call to duty twice from the executive search firm looking for candidates for
thought I was a good match. At that time, I really was not interested. I knew
(interim aviation director) Carlos Bonzon was interested. He's great,"
said Mr. Abreu, who will leave his position as Florida's secretary of transportation.
"I figured with Carlos over there and me in Tallahassee, we could do great
Bonzon said by mid-March that he was no longer interested in the county's top
aviation job, citing personal reasons. Executive search firm Korn Ferry International
called again, and this time, Mr. Abreu said he was interested.
Abreu said he consulted first with Gov. Jeb Bush, who in 2003 appointed the
former Miami District 6 transportation head to the statewide post.
a blessing from the governor, Mr. Abreu interviewed with the county's search
committee and County Manager George Burgess.
Abreu is to start his new job July 11. He said he will leave his current job
see my role as an implementer - take the policy formulated by the commission
and the manager and the mayor and implement it," he said.
Abreu said he does not expect to consult with the county aviation department
before his start date.
commissioners and Mr. Burgess often were at odds with former aviation director
Angela Gittens, who resigned in November.
Abreu said he would not have trouble working with other county officials. "And
I'm not telling you that to be politically correct," he said.
one commissioner I do not know personally is (Barbara) Jordan. She was just
elected," he said. "I've worked with them before. We agree more than
state's transportation leader said he hopes to bring new initiatives implemented
by the state that can help Miami International Airport and the county's three
general-aviation airports. "We'll see if there is room for any of these
ideas that worked so well for us."
cited one particular example - that of using contract dispute review boards
- to act as a kind of mediation board as contracts are awarded.
Abreu, considered a surface-transportation guru with 20 years of public experience,
was the only finalist for the job without aviation experience. He won the job
over aviation managers from Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Atlanta.
county may vote to take back management of construction of the new North Terminal
at Miami International. The project is over budget and off schedule by at least
two years under the management of American Airlines. Recently published reports
put the cost at $1.9 billion.
Abreu's hiring will not require approval of the county commission because he
doesn't plan to seek an employment contract. Commissioners must approve all
a Miami guy. I figure I don't want to be any place where I'm not wanted,"
he said. The rest of the county's directors, he said, do not have contracts.
His compensation, he said, is still under negotiation.
Abreu became the Florida Deapartment of Transportation's Miami leader in 1995
and worked with other elected and appointed officials on the Metropolitan Planning
Organization and Miami-Dade Expressway Authority. He is a registered professional
engineer and has worked in the private sector.
Bonzon issued a department wide memo May 27, the day Mr. Abreu's hiring was
announced, in which he urged employees to welcome the new director.
have known Jose for over 30 years and consider him a very good friend and excellent
public administrator. The department will be well-served by this appointment,"
Mr. Bonzon wrote.
Bonzon, expected to remain with the county as an assistant county manager, went
on in the memo to cite several challenges the department faces.
budget for the next fiscal year has been reduced, the number of passengers expected
at MIA for the next few years has also been reduced, the cost to complete the
North Terminal has increased (as has the timeframe for completion) - but opportunities