In denial, Carlos Gimenez has obsession with stadiums
Let’s start with his April 18 interview on the Joe Rose sports radio show on 560 AM, where he basically said there was no real opposition to the David Beckham-built Major League Soccer stadium proposed at the Port of Miami, and which already apparently has not just his blessing but his full throttle campaign.
“You have what I understand is one cruise ship line who is pretty vocal against it, but the other three major cruise lines are either neutral or in favor,” Gimenez said.
According to a December email to deputy port director Juan Kuryla — cited in the Miami Herald in a February story about port interests concern with the stadium — Norwegian Cruise Line VP of strategic development Colin Murphy expressed shock that a soccer stadium would be considered at a facility that handles more than four million cruise passengers a year.
“What are they thinking??” wrote Murphy, with more than one question mark. “Can I assume we have nothing to worry about with this? Or could it happen?”
According to the mayor, Mr. Murphy, it could happen. The mayor told Rose on Sunday that “there is no deal breaker for the port site,” which is pictured here. “That some people may say, ‘Well that’s not the right place.’ Well okay, that’s a difference of opinion. Everybody has a right to their opinion,” Gimenez said on the air.
Gimenez also told Rose that he had met with some cargo carriers after an anti-stadium ad came out in the Herald “to find out where they were and they’re neutral or they actually are in favor of it.
“One advertisement in the Herald doesn’t make a coalition. Most of the people I talk to have been either neutral or in favor,” the mayor added, characterizing any opposition as in the special interests of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines — who have a sweetheart deal paying undermarket rent for their Port HQ — and one stevedore company.
Say what? He’s got to talk to more people.
He also says that traffic will not be affected adversely, citing Beckham’s own commissioned and unreleased report. Why? Because Heat games and soccer games will not be scheduled at the same time.
But has Gimenez driven downtown lately, or is he still getting driven around by lobbyist Ralph Garcia-Toledo in exchange for that water and sewer project bid (more on that later)? There is choking traffic any day of the week, and not just at rush hour.
Then, Wednesday, news leaked that he had been working on a deal with Miami Heat owner Micky Arison where, basically, they would pay $26 rent over the next 25 years and the county would pay them $147 in subsidies. Yes, that is right: It adds up to a $121 million loss for the county, proving yet again that county math is special.
“He’s got to be on some sort of psychotropic drugs, or he didn’t get enough sleep,” said Cutler Bay Mayor Ed “Mac” MacDougall, who is heading a coalition of about 20 mayors who are against the Port site or any other welfare for sports billionaires. Among them: Mayors Cindy Lerner (Pinecrest), Philip Stoddard (South Miami), Phil Levine (Miami Beach), Shelley Stanczyk (Palmetto Bay), Jeff Porter (Homestead), Jim Cason (Coral Gables), Frank Kaplan (Key Biscayne), George Vallejo (North Miami Beach).
MacDougall also rallied the mayoral troops last year to go against the proposed Miami Dolphins stadium deal, where that billionaire wanted taxpayers to fund the renovations and roof to his facility.
Now, Fins’ owner Stephen Ross — whose net worth grew by $1 billion since last year — just wants to dump his monstrosity of a stadium on the county (read: taxpayers) so he doesn’t have to pay around $4 million in property taxes. Want to have more fun with math? Divide $1 billion by 365. This is a guy who makes $2.7 million every day before his feet hit his bedroom floor.
But Gimenez has said he wants to work to give Ross a break from the county’s share of the taxbill, if Ross makes payments in lieu of taxes to the school board and Miami Gardens, where the stadium is the No. 1 taxpayer.
“I don’t think Miami Gardens can take that kind of hit. If we can work around those issues, we’re talking and willing to look at it. Hopefully, we can work around those issues. I understand Mr. Ross point that nobody else pays taxes and he is being treated differently,” Gimenez told Rose.
“But, you know, the world is not fair Joe, and I’ve gotta watch out for some of the peoeple in Miami-Dade County,” then he stopped himself to make a correction, “all of the people in Miami-Dade County, especially the children and the loss of our tax revenue for our children and Miami Gardens.
“For them it would hurt. We have to resolve those issues before we move on,” Gimenez said. “But I know we are not going to get the suerbowl until it is done… and major soccer events at that stadium… it’s the sport of the future.”
Wait a minute? Soccer? At SunLife? Well, then, here’s an idea: Why don’t you put Ross and Beckham together in a room and have them figure out a way the retired soccer pro millionaire can help the developer billionaire renovate his stadium so that both of them can use it. Wasn’t that part of the plan when Gimenez was selling us that stadium scam? That without a new, renovated facility we would lose the ability to attract Major League Soccer?
“How many mistakes can you make,” asked Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairwoman Annette Taddeo, who calls Gimenez Stadiums Chief rather than mayor and was at the county finance committee meeting Wednesday to fight for the full funding of our libraries (more on that later).
A big soccer fan, Taddeo giggled at the notion that only 25% of the people are concerned about or against a Port site.
“We’re obviously against these sort of giveaways to private corporations or entities,” Taddeo told Ladra, adding that there are concerns about traffic and the environment. But the main problem is a lack of priorities, she said.
“We need to invest in libraries, in schools, and infrastructure so we can alleviate traffic,” Taddeo said.
Why is it that Gimenez can’t find money to keep our libraries staffed, or to keep our fire stations open (this is the second year of a federal grant but what about after that?), or to make employees whole after years of balancing the budget on their backs, or to fulfill the people’s will and mandate when they voted to fund a no-kill shelter and spay/neuter program, but he can find money for marketing incentives to private companies and giveaways to millionaire or billionaire sports team owners? How many more projects are the voters going to have to go into debt for while he doles out cash prizes to his friends and these celebrities?
Why is he willing to subsidize the Miami Heat or Carnival Cruise Lines but not the county’s own libraries?
And how on Earth can Gimenez be in such deep denial that he can say the majority of the people are with him on this?
There’s only one answer: He is delusional, at best. Or maybe something worse.
You know what they say about those who do the same thing over and over again expecting to get a different result.
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