News Column

Miami-Dade County Commission Helps Miami Dolphins More Than Voters

Jan 24, 2013

Marc Caputo

If deceptive inconsistency were currency, the Miami-Dade County Commission could make a mint.

And the Miami Dolphins would be happy for it. That way, the county commission could simply give the money away to help cover the football club's $400 million stadium renovation plan.

Unable to do that, the commission Wednesday urged the Legislature to give the county the authority to raise hotel taxes and give the Dolphins an additional $3 million annual state subsidy.

The plan has the slimmest of chances in the Florida Legislature. It's controlled by Republicans, many of whom can't afford to run in a GOP primary where they can be accused of voting to raise taxes or of doling out corporate welfare or both.

But the county commission asked anyway. Despite the long odds.

Is this the same county commission that decided not to ask the Florida Legislature to reinstate 14 early voting days because of the long odds in Tallahassee?

Why yes, yes it is.

"I'm not sure that you're going to get 14 days out of the state Legislature," Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Dec. 14 when a county election advisory group reviewed Election Supervisor Penelope Townsley's proposal for two full weeks of early voting.

So the commission essentially negotiated with itself and asked for nine days of early voting. That's just one more than the current eight days, which (coupled with county bumbling over precincts and early voting sites) helped lead to exceedingly long and embarrassing voting lines. The lines stretched for more than eight hours in some places, and made Florida and Miami a national elections embarrassment.

Again.

Even Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the early voting cutback and refused to extend early voting days, realized what a politically bad idea eight days of early voting is. Scott recently proposed a return to 14. That's not a guarantee it'll return to 14 days, but it's a good indication of strong support.

So the commission didn't ask. Despite the short odds.

The argument was bogus at the time. The commission often urges the Legislature to do things it might not do.

At best, it's inconsistent. At worst, it's deceptive. In reality, it's both. Whether the commissioners are self-deceived or not will take some figuring.

But it's a good idea of where their priorities are.

More early voting? Well, let's not ask too much.

Money for a football stadium? Hell, let's ask for $200 million from taxpayers.

But not every commissioner is to blame.

County Commissioner Esteban "Steve" Bovo, who incidentally supported nine days of early voting, was at least consistent and was one of four commissioners to oppose the Dolphins deal as well. Bovo was a state legislator and said his former colleagues won't go along with the idea. Also, he said, the last stadium deal from the county was a stinker.

Said Bovo: "The stench of the Marlins deal is in the pores of everything this is about."

That ain't the only thing that stinks.



Source: (c)2013 The Miami Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services.


Story Tools