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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Florida Marlins gave $50,000 to support now ousted Miami Mayor against recall campaign

7/18/09 groundbreaking for new Florida Marlins stadium, seen are Bud Selig, Jeffrey Loria (raised fist), and on right in white shirt now ousted Miami Mayor Carlos Alvarez. Getty photo from ESPN.com 11/3/10, "Marlins give $50,000 to help Miami-Dade Mayor Alvarez fend off recall," Miami Herald, Haggmann and Brannigan
  • "After steering millions in public dollars to the Florida Marlins, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez is getting financial backing from the team to fight a recall effort."
"Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, in a bare-knuckled fight to keep his job against a mounting recall effort, has received a major financial jolt from the Florida Marlins and contractors building the team's new stadium.
  • The Marlins' owner Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson have given $50,000 to the political action committee Alvarez formed to fight a recall targeting him -- a year after the mayor successfully pitched more than $350 million in public money for the stadium.
The general contractor hired to construct the stadium -- Hunt/Moss -- has written a check for $5,000. The company pouring cement at the ballpark, Baker Concrete Construction, contributed another $5,000. The cabinet-maker, mechanical and electrical contractors at the Little Havana park have collectively written checks for more than $13,000. All told, the low budget ballclub and builders of the new stadium handed $73,500 in checks to Alvarez in the past 2 ½ weeks -- the biggest financial contributions yet toward the mayor's defense.
  • ``I think he's an outstanding mayor,'' said the Marlins' Samson.
The team president said the Marlins are not fundraising for Alvarez, and said he could not explain why a half-dozen stadium contractors have written checks just as the Marlins did. Facing a recall campaign led by billionaire businessman Norman Braman, Alvarez formed a political action committee in September called Citizens For Truth,
  • allowing him to raise unlimited sums of money to fund his legal and political campaign to defeat the recall.
Alvarez's decision to back public funding of the stadium in 2009 -- a deal approved by county and city commissioners -- is one of several flashpoints that have stoked voter anger. Braman, a car dealer who has often used his private fortune to wage public fights, previously sued unsuccessfully to stop the use of public money for the park. Alvarez said the stadium is creating jobs when they're needed most.
  • Yet on Thursday, some county commissioners critical of the deal may ask the mayor to reopen talks with the team, a long shot hope to up its contributions
  • in the wake of reports about its profits.
The latest PAC campaign finance report, detailing funds raised and spent up to Oct. 28, shows Alvarez has raised $207,650 and spent nearly $35,000 on lawyers and consultants. ``I'm thankful for the support from a wide spectrum of people in our community,'' Alvarez said in a statement. ``When it comes to money, this is a David versus Goliath story.'' Alvarez's second biggest contributor is the Dade County Police Benevolent Association -- the Miami-Dade police union -- which gave $50,000 on Oct 1, according to public filings. A former Miami-Dade police director, Alvarez pushed through a 13 percent salary increase earlier this year for police officers as county tax rates are rising 12 percent on homeowners.
  • Taken together, the Marlins and county police union account for nearly 60 percent of all the money he has raised.
``Why should that be a surprise?'' Braman asked about the team's contributions. ``He's given them hundreds of millions.'' He added:
  • ``This is how business is done here, and exactly what must change.''
The Alvarez PAC includes donations from companies who have received county contracts, lobbyists and county employees themselves. Jorge Munilla, president of MCM, a construction company that regularly does business with the county, wrote a check for $10,000, according to the report. Lobbyist Ron Book, who has lobbying contracts with both Miami-Dade County and the Miami Dolphins, gave $10,000. The Dolphins want Miami-Dade to raise hotel taxes to fund a $190 million renovation of their stadium, which Alvarez said he opposes. Developer Jorge Perez of The Related Group, who is business partners with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, wrote a check for $10,000. ``He has made the correct but hard choices that he knew would not please everyone,'' Perez said in a statement to The Herald.
  • ``Now with a little over a year remaining in what is his LAST term you are going to spend millions to try to remove him?? This is good fiscal policy??'' Lobbyist Jorge Lopez, who regularly appears in front of the county, wrote a check for $1,000.
There are smaller donations, too. The report lists more than a dozen people who have given $500 or less since the PAC was created. Among them: Miami-Dade County police's current director James K. Loftus, who wrote a $500 check.
  • Last week Braman said he collected 90,000 signatures in his recall ballot initiative. The petitions will be filed with the Clerk of Courts later this week. If certified, a recall election must to be called -- though a legal fight from Alvarez is expected before that happens.
Meanwhile, Alvarez expresses confidence he can prevail if the recall bid comes to a vote. Braman has chided the county for raising the tax rate -- while handing raises to most employees. ``As people learn the truth and get the full story about Miami-Dade County's budget, a clearer picture begins to emerge,'' said Alvarez. ``We are a leaner government that is spending less yet preserving programs and services that are vital to our safety and quality of life. I want to thank the many people who are standing by me in a time of need."
  • ========================================
3/15/11, "Anger over Alvarez’s policies, as well as his support of a publicly funded Marlins Stadium in Little Havana, persisted in other communities as well."...
  • "Alvarez, 58, (a Republican) was also criticized for raising salaries for some county employees as well as backing a deal to use nearly $350 million in public funds to build a new stadium to house the Florida Marlins baseball team in Miami's Little Havana district."...
Reference: 3/15/11, "Angry voters oust Miami-Dade mayor in special vote," Reuters
  • =============================================
5/6/06, "Marlins denied state funding for stadium," MLB.com ====================================== "On February 28, 2008, Miami police and firefighter unions grabbed commissioners' attention, protesting in front of City Hall and arguing they should win sole patrolling rights inside the new Florida Marlins stadium in Little Havana. The issue of who would patrol the proposed ballpark and with it receive coveted off-duty pay came into focus last week when Miami and county commissioners voted to finance a Marlins stadium but only after language saying the county would patrol the grounds had been removed. Police in black and firefighters in yellow, marched along the circular driveway in front of City Hall, chanting City yes, county no, and, -------------------------------------- Total: $515 million
  • Not included is the extra $10 million to go toward the demolition of the Orange Bowl, the site preparation that is outside the construction budget, as well as the parking garage which costs $94 million"
History of Florida Marlins pursuit of a stadium

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