Election Day results were a mixed bag of landslides, squeakers and TBAs. In Miami, minus stiff competition, Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Frank Carollo were reinstalled. But there will be a runoff for District 5’s commission seat.
In Miami Beach, where political newcomer Philip Levine just missed winning the mayor’s seat outright, there’ll likely be a recount. And as of Wednesday morning, all three commission seats remained in play. In Homestead, Jeff Porter pulled ahead of Mark Bell late in the game to become mayor.
Countywide, a majority of voters stood up for Jackson Health System — again — by approving a bond issue of $830 million that will let the public hospital remake the aging facility, with new equipment, emergency room upgrades, more urgent-care centers, more just about everything.
These voters rightly decided that they would rather pay to keep Jackson alive, healthy and attractive to paying patients — while serving all comers regardless of their ability to pay — rather than absorb the steeper costs of a constantly needy, financially unstable institution.
Then there’s this thought that was probably lurking in the back of many voters’ minds: Anyone at any time might very well need Jackson to keep them or a loved one alive. Jackson, with its crack trauma unit, its University of Miami-trained doctors, its superb neonatal unit, remains an invaluable community asset.
Now, these same people, the taxpayers, must be assured that the money they are handing over for the next 30 to 40 years will be used efficiently, effectively and transparently. The county cannot renege on its plan for an independent appointed panel to oversee how bond funds are spent.
In the city of Miami, those who went to the polls saw the benefits of smart, well-designed economic development and approved a proposal to remake a shabby piece of city-owned Coconut Grove waterfront. The expanded proposal, if all goes as breathlessly promised, has it all: gleaming retail and restaurants; greenspace, parking, public access, historic preservation and $1.4 million in annual rent to the city. It has to survive three lawsuits to block the development. But voters got it right.
Not so in Miami Beach, where voters opposed to convention-center expansion plans opted to erect a hurdle so high that it threatens to cut Miami Beach out of the lucrative high-end convention industry indefinitely. In fact, the Beach was recently notified that a convention booked for 2016, with high expectations of gathering in a vastly improved facility, has pulled out. That’s not good.
Though voters’ concerns about the scale of the project can’t be dismissed, they basically cut off their noses to spite their city, and the rest of Miami-Dade County — both of which would benefit from the infusion of visitors’ revenue.
When the convention-center proposal finally gets to a vote of the people, it will now require that 60 percent must approve, meaning that a disgruntled minority can trump the will of a majority.
This leaves a potential void on the Beach that other municipalities should consider occupying. According to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Miami’s Downtown Development Authority and Doral have feasibility studies that they could dust off. Development around Miami International Airport could include a facility; Genting, which purchased the former Miami Herald site, could renew interest. The Beach is on notice — there’s more than one game in town.