As we move forward into a new era in the city of Miami, an era of development highlighted by the crane-filled downtown Miami skyline, it’s unfortunate that we have taken a step back with regards to upholding voters’ wishes. Back in 2001, there were two key referenda that took place.
The first was an initiative to create a Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP). Due to a string of shootings of African-American men and the Elian Gonzalez case, the initiative received support of more than 76 percent of the electorate, creating an independent panel as an added layer of protection to the average citizen.
The second initiative was the Watson Island mega-yacht marina project. At the time, voters favored the project on prime waterfront land with promises of job creation and added revenues for the city.
Thirteen years after the fact, where do we stand?
Unfortunately, within the CIP, there are allegations of racism, shoddy record keeping and approximately 50 cases remain open for review, according to the Herald article, Miami’s Civilian Board that polices the police is in turmoil. For a city that still hasn’t fully recovered from an economic downturn, the city has increased the CIP’s budget to well over half a million dollars, which has raised speculation on whether the money allocated to CIP could have been better spent.
I placed a discussion item on the City Commission agenda regarding the CIP and after hearing from various stakeholders, the City Commission voted to install a five-member review committee to evaluate the performance of the independent counsel — whether cases are investigated in a timely manner and to determine if the CIP is truly an independent panel — and to make recommendations on any of its findings. This review committee will have 60 days to present their report to the city commission.
Although promises continue to be made, Watson Island mega-yacht marina still hasn’t broken ground. This means that not only have the promises to the residents not been fulfilled, but the city has failed to maximize revenues for well over a decade on one of the most precious waterfront properties it owns.
I will push to require that a developer cannot land-bank for more than a decade under the notion that it received voter approval without an additional vote to adjust the minimum guarantee to equal the rate of return in today’s dollars.
We cannot allow voter-approved construction projects to stall for more than a decade without hearing from the voters again and we cannot allow voter supported panels to reach a stalemate. Anything short of delivering on what voters supported is a disservice to our city.
Frank Carollo, city commissioner, Miami