In one of his first moves as chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission, Jean Monestime plans to hire a top critic of Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Terry Murphy, a former aide to ex-Commissioner Natacha Seijas, would serve as policy adviser to the office of the chair, according to a Jan. 7 county intent-to-hire memo. Murphy would start Jan. 19, with an annual salary of $101,000, the memo says.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to serve the Chair, and am grateful for the opportunity," Murphy said in a text message Friday afternoon while he was in meetings.
Monestime's chief of staff, Gerard Philippeaux, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But Murphy's hiring raised eyebrows around County Hall, where insiders wondered whether Monestime, a Democrat, was sending the Republican Gimenez a message. Murphy, who has a doctorate in public affairs and is an adjunct professor at Florida International University, has been working as a government-relations consultant to county labor unions, who have locked heads repeatedly with Gimenez over contracts and employee benefits.
However, Gimenez's communications director, Mike Hernández, congratulated Murphy in a statement to the Miami Herald and made no mention of those disagreements.
"We look forward to working with Mr. Murphy and the entire commission staff," Hernández said.