The readers’ forum

Miami Beach voters deserve clarity on convention center

 

An Oct. 6 Other Views column by Jorge Luis Lopez, Bad precedent set on convention center, is just as misleading as the referendum that the 3rd District Court of Appeals removed from the ballot.

Both the trial court, as well as the appeals court, removed the Miami Beach Convention Center referendum from the ballot because Florida law requires that voters completely understand the ramifications of what they are voting for. Also, the Miami Beach Charter requires that there actually be a lease agreement before the voters are required to approve one. Miami Beach residents purposely drafted our charter and city code in such a way as to make it very difficult to sell or lease our most valuable properties like the Fillmore (Jackie Gleason) Theater and the Miami Beach Convention Center. This is a purposeful check and balance by the residents of Miami Beach against any potential abuse of power by the government.

The placement of a referendum to approve a lease, that has neither been negotiated nor drafted, robs the voters of the ability to fully comprehend the ramifications of their vote. Accordingly, the court ruled that voters have the right to be able to read the terms of the lease before they are asked to approve it.

No one suggests that the entire lease be on the ballot, nor does the law require such. What is essential, however, is that the lease (or the appropriate terms), be made available for those voters who wish to read it as well as for journalistic publications to review. Otherwise, the voters would be giving the elected body a blank check to enter into a lease that might severely damage our quality of life.

It is ironic that Mr. Lopez compares the convention center lease to other projects that did not commit the same mistakes as the convention center.

The Crandon Park Tennis Center was approved by the voters in Miami-Dade County after a well described ballot question told the voters specifically what was to be built. The city of Miami Grove Bay lease was negotiated by the city and the lease is available at city hall for voters to read before making their decision. Miami Beach voters deserve the same clarity.

Jonah Wolfson, Miami Beach commissioner and chairman, Let Miami Beach Decide

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