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Mayor Gimenez promotes from within for department chiefs


Tara Smith, a deputy in Miami-Dade's procurement department, will take on the top job there, Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Thursday.

Smith's appointment as Internal Services director puts her in charge of an 880-person department that manages county facilities, runs its auto fleet and -- of great importance to County Hall's lobbyist corps -- oversees purchasing for a $6 billion budget. It was also the department at the center of the recent parking-services scandal, when Internal Services officials stumbled onto an alleged embezzlement scam.

Smith is a relative newcomer to Internal Services, having joined the department in 2013 after nine years in county government. An assistant director at ISD, she succeeds Lester Sola, who was tapped earlier this year as director of the Water and Sewer department.

Also on Thursday, Gimenez named  long-time aide Inson Kim to the county's Community Information and Outreach Department (often known as CIAO).

The 202-person department includes the 311 Answer Center, oversees the county's website and runs a 12-person television channel. Kim worked for Gimenez when he was a county commissioner, and continued as a top  aide when he was elected mayor in 2011. She recently left the mayor's office to run external affairs for the Regulatory and Economic Resources Department. 

CIAO faced its own scandal last summer when Henry Sori, then the department head, was suspended over an internal "team-building" video that featured employees air humping  and performing other antics. Sori, who left his post earlier this year, was suspended for five days after Channel 10 revealed the video's existence. 

Smith's yearly compensation will rise from $150,000 to $180,000 a year, and Kim's will go from $128,000 to $155,000, said Gimenez spokesman Michael Hernández.

The announcement said the appointments were effective immediately. County commissioners don't need to approve mayoral appointments, but can veto them with a 2/3 vote.