As a former chairman of the City of Coral Gables Economic Development Board, I am surprised and concerned at the misinformation that the city’s development services director has put forth in her letters to the Soapbox ( Ex-mayor continues to mislead community, Oct.6). Her description of the Business Improvement District is incorrect and leads one to the conclusion that she either does not understand the BID or is deliberately misleading readers.
The BID is not a typical “special interest group” as she indicated but rather a special taxing district established under state and city law. She incorrectly states that “the agency is funded entirely through voluntary assessments.” Once a majority of the BID members vote to establish and later to continue the district, it is funded through a tax assessed against the member properties and collected by the city. Property owners within the BID are automatically members and must pay the taxes.
The BID is a public entity of which the city is a member – in that it owns property within the district. Moreover, the city also has a seat on the Board of Directors of the BID.
It would be implausible and of some concern to think that the city, as member of the BID, with a seat on its board, would have no knowledge of or influence upon its activities and recommendations. It is also of some concern that as reported in a recent news article, the city manager has not read “one word” of the BID’s recommendations; including such a significant recommendation as changing the city’s zoning code to include the addition of “night clubs” and “lounges” with “bars.”
It is also disappointing to see the administration using such misinformation to criticize a fellow citizen, former mayor Don Slesnick, who has served our city well, when he believes it important to speak out on such a significant issue dealing with the long term development of our downtown business district – the economic engine of our city.
Richard J. DeWitt, Coral Gables
City Hall officials are losing credibility
As H.L. Mencken famously said, “When they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.” So it is with some of our city’s leaders in City Hall and the BID. When they said it is not about nightclubs and lounges, it is about nightclubs and lounges after all.
I would like to thank the former major of our city for shining a light into this dark corner of city planning. It has caused me to pay closer attention to this issue. In the future, when there is a dispute between this former city official and the current civic leaders, it is obvious who will have the advantage in terms of trust. Call it Miracle Mile street cred.
Robert Johnson, Coral Gables