Stephen Ross and Norman Braman are both likeable men whose good intentions and heartfelt desire to do whats good for South Florida are surpassed only by their gift for making gobs of money in their chosen businesses. Theres no reason these two shouldnt get along.
Both love professional football, Ross as the owner of the Dolphins and Braman as the former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. Both backed and voted for the same presidential candidate. Both call South Florida home and are active in charitable endeavors.
But these gentlemen have been on a collision course for some time, and try as they might to understand or compromise with each other, they have for several years been at opposite ends of a fundamental question.
Now, that question whether the Dolphins should get public funds to go along with private money Ross is putting up for upgrades to Sun Life Stadium is not just a wedge issue between the men, but a personal issue.
Thats why in the last round of local elections, Ross backed one set of candidates and Braman countered by backing the opposing set. Thats why Ross right-hand man, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, the past couple of days called Braman irrelevant and a bitter man and something of a hypocrite in public, while Braman, among confidants, has referred to Dee as an [expletive].
Dont be shocked. Privately, Ross has said on multiple occasions Braman is full of [expletive].
Dee on Wednesday said Braman took public money to fund his car dealerships, and Braman on the same day accused the Dolphins of paying for union thugs to picket his downtown Miami car dealership and try to do the same at his home in Indian Creek community.
Braman and Ross both play to win. Both play hard.
And, ladies and gentlemen, in this match of South Florida pillars, it is on.
He has been the recipient of tax credits from the state as well as city of Miami community redevelopment money invested directly into his dealership and his businesses, so obviously he doesnt have a problem with governments participating and partnering with business, Dee said.
So his issue with us must be personal or unique and set apart from his own practice.
Hes crazy. Its nonsense. Hes talking about job credits everyone is entitled to. Hes talking about job credit dollars we received because we hired people during the recession. We did something that was good for people that needed work. We did something good for the county.
Thats not what the Dolphins or Mike Dee are talking about doing with what theyre trying in the Florida legislature or in county government. He doesnt know what hes talking about.
Braman insists his issue with the Dolphins, with Ross, and with Dee is not personal. He insists hes simply fundamentally opposed to any public funds going to help a billionaire grow his private business, because its not right. Ive been consistent on this for the longest, longest time.
Braman says he has known Ross for 30 years, and when the idea of tourist tax dollars to upgrade Sun Life Stadium was first raised by the Dolphins in 2011, he met with Ross and explained his stance.
I told him Im happy to meet, but Im not going to change because this is a matter of principle for me, Braman said.