The readers’ forum

On Miami Beach convention center: Start over


Recently I delivered over 7,000 petitions signed by registered Miami Beach voters to the city clerk’s office. Joining me were supporters of Let Miami Beach Decide — a grassroots coalition that I chair. We are in favor of amending the city charter to require a referendum for the proposed mega development of the 52-acre Miami Beach Convention Center campus that must be approved with 60 percent support instead of a simple majority — the same percentage necessary to amend the Florida Constitution.

While we agree that renovating our aging and outdated convention center is vital to our long-term competitiveness in attracting business to our community, what is being proposed is simply corporate welfare.

Commissioners are being asked to award a contract to one of two finalists — Portman CMC or South Beach ACE. Miami Beach would be leasing the 52-acre campus to the selected developer for up to 99 years. The city would cede control of its most valuable land to an unaccountable private entity for a century.

If that sounds bad, it only gets worse.

Each developer has presented plans that are outside the scope of what’s necessary. The proposals include a 17- or 18-story, 600-800 room hotel and new entertainment and retail space all without any new options for public transportation. An already congested area would become unmanageable by this new space. Furthermore, the entertainment and retail areas will also have a negative impact on small businesses at the Lincoln Road Mall.

The plan amounts to a second Marlins deal for our community only at a higher cost given that each proposal is estimated to cost upwards of $1 billion. We are selling our quality of life so a handful of people can make an enormous amount of money.

Instead of all this excessive development, our city’s elected officials should be focusing on renovating the convention center. Thanks to the voter-approved bed tax increase, we have about $200 million available for that effort. Part of that comes from $55 million in general-obligation bond funds that have been available for 15 years. Let Miami Beach Decide is fighting for a responsible renovation that will not threaten to add more traffic, won’t hurt small businesses, nor threaten the historical nature of our neighborhoods.

The bid process itself is worrisome. The solicitation for bids was crafted by former City Procurement Director Gus Lopez who was indicted last fall on charges of bribery, bid rigging and receiving illegal compensation in unrelated solicitations. The current bid should be rewritten by a new member of our procurement team and the process should start over.

Our message is simple: Voters should have the ultimate say in what happens.

Jonah Wolfson, commissioner, Miami Beach

Read more Letters to the Editor stories from the Miami Herald

  • Where’s Joe Biden?

    The United States is facing numerous crisis, among them:

  • Rogue leader

    Our country cannot survive as an “adhocracy” by executive decree that advances the ideological whims of an oligarchy. Dramatically expanding the welfare state while creating a de facto open border by executive decree will not end well for the United States, especially in the midst of soaring deficits and difficult economic times. These two opposing policies are being implemented by a lawless president and virtually no debate in Congress thanks to Senate President Harry Reid. The president has gone rogue and the Democratic Congress fecklessly cheers him on.

  • Enough violence

    President Dilma Rousseff decided to call back the Brazilian ambassador to Israel in protest of the harsh Israeli reaction against the terrorism from Gaza. The Gaza leadership, which believes it can destroy Israel by terror and is willing to sacrifice innocent women and children by hiding weapons in hospitals, schools, residential buildings and ambulances, are totally responsible for their misery.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category