Miami Dade County Community Forum

Friday, January 29, 2010

Miami Today: Michael Lewis Editorial on Sport's Stadium Deals

As the Community knows, the UEL takes a dim view of public money and public land going to to private entities. We believe that tax dollars and public lands should be utilized to benefit the most people possible, and that public lands should not charge admission to the public for using their own land.

Publisher of "Miami Today" Michael Lewis complains about the bad deal the public got with handing over the naming rights to Marlin's Stadium to the Marlins. Here are some excerpts from his editorial, blasting the terms of the deal the County agreed to with the Marlins:

It took a great deal by the Miami Dolphins to spotlight a hidden side of a disastrous deal by Miami-Dade County.

While Dolphins owner Steve Ross was selling the name of the stadium he owns, the Florida Marlins stand to collect even more on naming rights for the stadium that Miami-Dade County will soon own.

It'll be big money, another taxpayer gift to the Marlins.

At $4 million to $7.5 million a year (the Dolphins won't specify) last week's title sale to Sun Life was the biggest sports naming deal since the recession petrified corporate activity.

It won't be the last.

The Marlins could collect an annual bonanza like the Carolina Panthers' $7 million at Bank of America Stadium, the Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers' $9.3 million at Phillips Arena, the Houston Texans' $10 million at Reliant Stadium and the Houston Astros' $6 million at Minute Maid Park.

All these windfalls far exceed the Marlins' sliver of spending on stadium construction.

And that cornucopia doesn't include the team's other goodies from a stadium that somebody else — the taxpayers — will own.

The team gets all ticket revenues, all advertising revenues, all media fees, all concession revenues, all luxury suite revenues.

The Marlins profit so much that when one commissioner on deal day focused on naming rights, others pooh-poohed the minor matter, though the team could reap $250 million or more on naming during its lease.

The team's total payout over 35 years for rent and construction combined totals far less, $154 million tops, depending on how cheaply the Marlins can build a county project. Finally Lewis says:

The Dolphins' good deal already highlights how badly the county got soaked in its Marlins stadium giveaway.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Should Tourist Taxes be raised for the Dolphin Stadium Upgrades?

The Miami Herald reports that Ron Book, a lobbyist for the Dolphins wants to raise the tourist tax to pay for renovations to Land Shark stadium, he says are needed to continue to attract the Super Bowl:

Aiming to raise public dollars to improve their privately-owned stadium, the Miami Dolphins and team backers have hatched a plan: get state legislators to lift the ceiling on Miami-Dade's hotel tax and then ask county commissioners to increase the rate of the so-called bed tax.

Backers of the plan, which has been presented to state legislators in recent weeks, say the move would generate millions of dollars for renovations on the Dolphins' Sun Life Stadium -- along with upgrades of the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Miami Herald: Glenn Garvin against public financing of Dolphin's Stadium.

In a stinging editorial, Glenn Garvin made a case against public financing of the Dolphin's Land Shark Stadium. He said that giving public money to the stadium is welfare for rich people -- the stadium owners:

The conga line for a stadium handout starts with the Estefans, but includes their equally glamorous Dolphins co-owners.

Garvin said about the $460 million income from the Super Bowl:

Without a roof and more luxuriant seats for the pale, tender butts of corporate aristocrats, Ross says, the NFL will stop bringing the Super Bowl to South Florida. And pffft! -- just like that! -- we lose the $460 million that comes with the game.

The problem with that argument is that it's -- how do I put this politely? -- a monstrously bald-faced lie. The economic impact of big one-shot events like Super Bowls is easy to track through sales-tax receipts, and literally dozens of studies have shown that they bring in far, far less than the Dolphins and their local-government toadies are claiming.

(Of course, the Dolphins have a study from a lobbyist company to back up their estimate. Funny how they won't let anybody see it.)

Garvin quotes economist, Philip Porter, from the University of South Florida: ``When we subsidize stadiums, we're giving money to the wealthiest class of people among us.''

Monday, January 25, 2010

Super Bowl by the Numbers: Is the Economist right or Rodney Barreto?

The Miami Herald reported that economist, Victor Matheson, said that a Super Bowl brings in less than $100, million into the economy of the host city:

His research shows that the Super Bowl's economic punch likely tops out at around $90 million, though it can dip lower for large tourist destinations like Miami that already enjoy busy winters. His research found that in 1999, South Florida's economy gained $36 million from hosting the Super Bowl.

In today's Miami Herald Rodney Barreto's numbers are very different. He claims the economic impact to Miami Dade would be $219,622, 875. Mr. Barreto, as Chairman for the Super Bowl Host Committee, is advocating for public dollars to refurbish Dolphin Land Shark Stadium so Miami can attract future Super Bowls.

In a Miami Herald editorial Sunday, they balked at Barreto's appeal for money, they said the stadium is not a priority:

"Maybe if South Florida's economy weren't struggling there would be a way."

"Where would the money for stadium renovations come from? The public treasury is tapped out, and enhancing a privately-owned stadium would set a bad precedent."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Amendment 4 Debate

Last night almost 100 people showed up for the debate on Amendment 4. Florida Hometown Democracy President, Lesley Blackner, faced off against Clifford Schulman, an attorney who belongs to Floridians for Smarter Growth. Helen Ferre moderated.

Blackner believes giving people a say in Comprehensive Land changes --by giving them what amounts to a veto-- will lead to smarter growth. Schulman opposed her, saying the public couldn't be trusted with such decisions, He pulled out volumes and said, how can the public learn this. I was thinking, how can my commissioner either? He said there would be no growth or an economic recovery. Blackner believes the people will do the right thing and blamed the sluggish economy on the outfall from over development.

Senatorial Candidate Maurice Ferre was in the audience at the Rusty Pelican, getting educated for his Sentatorial campaign.

There was a section on St. Pete Beach that Schulman described as having a law similar to FHTD's Amendment 4 and he states everything has gone wrong. He said FHTD funded St. Pete's law. But Leslie countered that she didn't know anything about it until recently. She gave a pictorial presentation about St. Pete's Policies and where they went wrong. This seemed to stop the attack by Schulman.

The Amendment is expected to be on the November 2010 ballot. We are interested to hear your opinions, especially if you were there last night.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Miami Herald Asks: Will Super Bowl be economic windfall, or hot air?

In a story posted Sunday 1/17, The Miami Herald stated:

"...economists who study sports put the Super Bowl's net economic value at less than $100 million. And they accuse the NFL of dramatically inflating the Super Bowl's spending power for moments like this, when teams want governments to fund stadium expenses." The paper quotes Victor Matheson, a Holy Cross economics professor who co-authored a 2006 study titled Padding Required: Assessing the Economic Impact of the Super Bowl. The Herald said:

His research shows that the Super Bowl's economic punch likely tops out at around $90 million, though it can dip lower for large tourist destinations like Miami that already enjoy busy winters. His research found that in 1999, South Florida's economy gained $36 million from hosting the Super Bowl.

"Not that you'd turn down $30 or $40 or $50 million for one of these events,'' he added, "but don't tell me it's $400 million.''

Using a formula based on tax and income data, Craig Depken, an economist at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, estimated that the Super Bowl added about $58 million to Broward and Miami-Dade's economies in 2007.

"It's not nothing. It's not zero,'' he said. "But it's not nearly what the NFL says it is.''

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lesley Blackner will be at the January 20th UEL Dinner.

Lesley Blackner is President of Florida Hometown Democracy. Here is a reprint of a letter that Blackner wrote to Palm Beach Post on Amendment 4 which will be debated at our dinner tomorrow, you have till noon today to RSVP at

The Palm Beach Post
Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:
The November 2010 election is still a year away and yet The Post is already editorializing against Florida Hometown Democracy, on the ballot as Amendment 4. Given The Post recognized that Amendment 4 is “the biggest thing on the 2010 ballot,” it is very important to set the record straight.

The Post editorialized that under Amendment 4, voters will be forced to vote on every single change to a local comprehensive plan, whether important or meaningless.

In fact, the plain language of Amendment 4 establishes voter referendum only over comprehensive plan changes that concern “future land development.” Nothing else. These “future land development” changes often determine the future of a community for decades to come. The Post thus erred when it stated that Amendment 4 will require a vote on each and every comprehensive plan change.

For the past 25 years, the Florida Growth Management Act has mandated that each local government have a “comprehensive plan.” According to the law, each plan’s purpose is to “establish standards for the orderly and balanced future economic, social, physical, environmental, and fiscal development of the area.” The Growth Management Act acknowledges that Americans rightly expect a certain level of infrastructure and municipal services which will be paid for by a dedicated funding source. The American standard of living requires government to provide certain things like drinkable water, adequate police, drivable roads, decent schools, open space, etc. It’s what separates us from the Third World.

To that end, the law directs that each comprehensive plan must contain a map designating future land use categories. The plan must also contain other elements supporting the land use designation with levels of service for traffic; sewer and water; conservation, recreation and open space; and capital improvements. Commissioners vote on changes to these plan elements. Amendment 4 will not cover those changes. Commissioners also vote on changes to the future land use element, which controls the location, amount and type of development permitted. Amendment 4 will cover these changes.

The frustrating experience of years watching arrogant commissioners ignore the public interest and rubberstamp endless speculative overdevelopment produced Amendment 4. Too many local commissions forget who they represent when they just can’t say no to yet another piece of reckless sprawl that further raises our taxes and depresses our home values. Operating under the influence of developer contributions to their political campaigns, our political class drove Florida’s economy over the cliff. Yet most are loathe to take any “personal responsibility” for the calamity.

Unrepentant, too many elected local officials continue to mindlessly rubberstamp growth plan changes to allow even more speculative “future land development.” Anyone paying attention sees that our political class is incapable of self reform. Voters must take back control. Amendment 4 is the only way to bring accountability back to a broken growth planning system.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Amendment 4? Yes or No? By Fran Bohnsack

Although the 2010 election is still a year away, there’s no doubt that Amendment 4 is the biggest thing on next November’s ballot. Proposed as an antidote to reckless and speculative over-development, Amendment 4 has mobilized Growth Management proponents and catalyzed opposition from Chambers of Commerce and elected officials across the state of Florida.

The question on which the amendment centers is this: Should the public be allowed to ratify a vote on comprehensive plan changes that concern "future land development" since these changes often determine the future of a community for decades to come —in communities where voters reside.

Hometown Democracy argues “Yes,” pointing out that Amendment 4 requires a public vote only after a Commission approves sweeping changes to the location, amount, and type of development currently permitted for a given area. Opponents say “No” to Hometown Democracy, arguing that the citizen vote will be cumbersome and that elected officials already give the voters representation on the changes. Which side has it right? More important, how will you vote on Amendment 4? We hope after this discussion you will form an opinion.

The Uel is hosting a debate, on January 20th, at the Rusty Pelican, between Lesley Blackner Amendment 4 supporter and founder of the group Florida Hometown Democracy and Clifford Schulman, member of Floridians for Smarter Growth.

Please RSVP today at

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Michael Putney asks why should we pay for upgrades to Dolphin Stadium.

In an Op Ed piece today, Michael Putney asks why taxpayers should foot the bill for upgrades to the football stadium. He also answers the question with an excellent list of why we shouldn't:

We've just committed $490 million to a baseball stadium. The public schools have recently taken a multimillion-dollar hit because state tax revenues have dropped again. Jackson Memorial is so broke it can't pay for dialysis treatments for the poor. One in 10 home mortgages is in foreclosure. Unemployment is at a 30-year high. And in this environment taxpayers are supposed to fork over $250 million to bring a football stadium up to NFL standards?

I don't think so.

Wilfredo Gort Is City of Miami Commissioner in District 1.

The results of yesterday's election are in. Willy Gort in a race with 8 other candidates was able to win without a runoff. He got 55.5% of the vote. In District 5, Michelle Spence-Jones was returned to office last night, after removal by the Governor late last year. The Governor has vowed to remove her again if reelected. Rev. Richard Dunn came in second in this race.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Informal Herald Poll on Public Money to Renovate Dophin's Stadium.

94% said no to public dollars for renovation of the Marlin's stadium. This is why they won't let it go to a vote. The lobbyists and politicians know how the public feels about using their tax dollars for stadiums.

The Everglades Coalition Conference

The Everglades Coalition Conference was held this past weekend in Palm Beach Gardens. The Urban Environment League is a member of the Coalition.

Pictured above is Superintendent of Everglades National Park Dan Kimball with Congressman Ron Klein. Dan is a hydrologist and he wants to get Everglades National Park water right. The Park has been too dry. The conference is held every year so that Environmentalists, all the agencies (such as the South Florida Water Management District, the Fish & Wildlife Service, The Army Corps of Engineers, etc.) and the politicians can all get to talk with one another and learn the latest news on all the projects underway.

Pictured below is Thomas Strickland, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. He was the speaker at the dinner January 8th.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

We will not fund another sports stadium...or will we?

Hear this Rodney Barreto: You might want to find money elsewhere for the make-over of Dolphins Land Shark Stadium. A quick polling of friends of UEL, tells us this scheme to get MORE taxpayer handouts for yet another stadium is not going to fly.

Reprint from the:
South Florida Business Journal - January 6, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 5:15pm EST | Modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 5:37pm
Stadium upgrades needed to grab future Super Bowls

South Florida Business Journal - by Bill Frogameni
The Miami Dolphins would like to upgrade their stadium, and taxpayers might help foot the bill.

The Dolphins are set to host a Jan. 7 press conference to discuss renovating the 22-year-old Land Shark Stadium to ensure that the Super Bowl and other large-scale sporting events continue coming to South Florida. The region hosts the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 for a record 10th time.

The stadium upgrades, which would likely include a roof and seating closer to the field, could be partially paid for using public money, said Rodney Barreto, chairman of the South Florida Super Bowl XLIV Host Committee.

Barreto, who recently met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Dolphin’s owner Stephen Ross, said the consensus is that South Florida wouldn’t see another Super Bowl until the stadium gets a makeover.

The NFL wants to avoid fans getting drenched again as was the case when a rainstorm put a damper on the 2007 Super Bowl, he said.

“After halftime, the stadium was kind of empty – and it showed on TV,” Barreto said. “I think that was very displeasing to them.”

Miami lost to New Orleans in its bid to host the 2013 game, he added.

A Dolphins spokesman declined to comment in advance of the press conference.
But, Barreto and others are leaving open the possibility that tapping public money may be one way to upgrade the stadium.

“I think we need to look at all potential options, including the public-private option,” he said. “I think everything should be on the table.”

It’s still an open question where the money would come from and exactly how much would be needed.

Bruce Colan, chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and a member of the host committee’s executive board, said it would be best not to tap general revenue funds. Tourism bed taxes or creating a special taxation district may better solution, he said. Another possibility is to look to the state, he suggested.

“Over the years, stadiums have been getting better and better,” Colan said. “Our stadium is 22 years old. It’s no longer state of the art.”

But, for those who worry about money being diverted from other key drivers of tourism – such as the Miami Beach Convention Center, which is in the process of renovating – the stadium should not be considered any more important, Colan said.

“[The stadium] is something that is important to the community,” he said. “At the same time, the convention center is very important, and we need to find a way to do both.”

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 4, 2010

UEL Dinner on Amendment 4 on January 20th

Excellent dinner for an incredible price and a great program to boot!
(Hit on image to enlarge it.)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

GreenPrint: The County is conducting a Sustainability Assessment

To begin the planning process, the first milestone is an effort to research and assess environmental, economic and social equity challenges within Miami-Dade County and to evaluate the programs currently in place to address these issues. The assessment is used to gather baseline data and to identify the challenges to be addressed in GreenPrint.

Here is a link to Miami-Dade County's Sustainability Assessment Report by area.

* Table of Contents
* Introduction
(Executive Summary, Government Structure,
County Demographics and Our Economy, and Overarching Indicators)
* Climate Change
* Energy - Electricity & Fuel
* Environment
* Government Operations
(Electricity, Fuel, Water, Procurement, Airport and Seaport)
* Health
* Housing
* Land Use
* Local Business & Industry
* Schools
* Solid Waste & Recycling
* Public Safety
* Transportation
* Water
* Appendices

This published assessment is not final; it is a living/working document. There will be gaps, unanswered questions and open issues. That's why we welcome you to provide comments and input for a 30-day period, from December 18, 2009 to January 18, 2010. Your comments are important for the plan's development.